For the next painting centred around the garden I wanted to once again go back into the garden to paint in the natural environment. I had done a number of colour sketches of the area to consider composition so I felt to have a good sense of what I wanted to do. It was a lovely warm day without rain (!!!) so packed up all of the gear and set off into the garden.
I painted what I saw. The greens, pinks and pale yellows seem to come naturally onto the page and I spent an hour or so getting this information down onto the paper, using my hands and the palette knife. When I took the painting back to the studio I sat for some time looking at it. It was a nice painting and you could identify it completely with the part of the garden I had been painting….a good representational image.
But there was none of me there!
My first reaction was to feel despondent…was this all I could do? How dull! What is it I want to say? …and so on! So the only thing to do was to go and have lunch….maybe it would look different when I returned!!!
Well, it didn’t!
So there was nothing for it but to set to work to paint what I felt. I took out all of the outline shapes and simplified these into colour areas. I took out the colour and replaced it with all tones of blue. The colours of the flowers and plants is just suggested with flecks of colour which I feel is as dynamic as it would have been with large areas of colour. Structure and definition is just suggested. So underneath this image is the representational painting of the scene but over the top of that, is what I feel about the scene.
I seem to have to go through a similar process with all of my paintings at the moment. The struggle to bring out what I feel is immense and seems to come at the end of a long line of experiments/ mistakes – I don’t know what to call it. What is becoming clearer is the recognition of what I don’t want to paint!
As I look at these four paintings at the end of this module, I have to feel pleased with that I have learnt. This is mainly to do with the search for my own voice. I looked back at the first still life painting I did when I started this course, having never learnt painting before. I thought that wasn’t bad for a beginner but now at the end of the course, I can see the road I’ve travelled. Obviously I am more familiar with the medium, I have grown to just love paint, I love colour and am not afraid of it now and I have had experience of tools and methods of application. But all of that has been the easy part!
The real road I have been travelling over these months is about myself. There is a drive inside to express myself and it seems to push through everything I paint. I know I have the technical ability to paint what I see and I am still needing to do that…but then something else takes over. Maybe at this stage the images I am expressing of my own inner responses are not good (I have no way of judging that!) but they are all I want to do….and I have reached the stage at the end of this course of knowing this and being confident in it. The struggle is hard and continual but it can’t be denied.