Saturday, April 30, 2011


After working on a painting for six weeks for the ASTT show on "Celebrating Forests for People", I decided at the last minute before taking it to frame that it didn't cut the mustard. I liked the first sketches, based on some photos I took in Lopinot last year. The painting in the end had a whole raft of techniques incorporated in it, not for the sake of it but each one for a specific reason or for some effect that I wanted. Some of the techniques might be my own inventions, I haven't heard of them before although I tend to think there's not much new under the sun in painting. I found myself not remarking on my "inventions" or even realizing I'd invented anything, only remembering them days afterwards when the matter of "invention" in art assessment came up in conversation and only then did I recall this ... and that .. and the other. Even now I have to rack my brain to remember those  so-called inventions. For example ... I started the painting off by taking prints from the final block of the croton linocut with different coloured water-based inks. My intention was to glue them to the board to give a subtle background texture of foliage and exuberant growth lines. Then again, water-based ink is not waterproof and I needed to overpaint in acrylic, so I tried spraying fixative over the prints. This worked fine and the inks didn't run when I painted acrylic on top. A useful thing to know.

The first sketch had an invention too.  I haven't read about it or seen it done, but I'm sure it must be used routinely by artists for roughs, it's so useful and quick and effective. The sketch was done with markers (Faber Castell Pitt pens) which are strongly coloured. To lighten the background I glued on tracing paper which worked well.

Forest sketch, markers on paper 9 x 12"
The downfall of the painting was one invention too many, when I added some oil-based printing ink to the last layer. I didn't like the resulting marks and tried to remove them with turps which was a mistake -- it got to be a little like Mr Bean with Whistler's mother.  So that's the story of the forest painting.  It wasn't a big loss, it didn't have anything of the freshness of the sketch above, they never do! I have to get  out of my head the idea that a spontaneous lively spur-of-the-moment drawing can easily be scaled up or translated to a different medium.

At the same time, I've gained confidence in my ability to invent and now realize I do it all the time without remarking on it even to myself. It's a matter of bringing unconscious things into consciousness which might not always be a good thing? Besides, I doubt any of these are new, they're things that happen naturally.  You encounter some sort of obstacle when making work and look around the environment for a way around it. I bet if I googled any of these I'd get pages of results.


Unknown said...

This drawing is inspiring Mary. It makes me want to go and buy some new markers. This is beautiful in its own right and although different, I am sure so must be the painting. Studies have powerful qualities.

Anonymous said...

This is such a vibrant sketch Mary. I keep coming back to look at it. I wouldn't have imagined that markers could have this effect.