Looking back to my first thoughts on this subject of Trees, I can see that my list of possible areas to paint was an intellectual response. But the experience I have had over these weeks has been entirely different. I decided that I was going to put everything else on hold for this final series of paintings and just immerse myself in the work. This was very hard work, much harder and more demanding than I had thought. The initial list seemed to be irrelevant, except as a starting point, and in some ways it led me down wrong tracks.
The most significant thing was in “listening’ for the ideas! Each idea for the next painting emerged from the previous, not easily, and sometimes with quite a struggle. Images from photographs stimulated a thought sometimes, looking at artists’ work triggered a response and sometimes the paintings themselves nudged me into new possibilities. There were also times when I realized that my ideas were taking me into a direction which needed more depth of understanding and experience than I had at this time and I had to abandon these for future exploration.
*In what areas does your work show progression?
I feel that the main area where I can see progression is in abstraction. As I painted each image I could feel myself getting looser in the interpretation. I have left the paintings in the order in which I painted them and I think you can see this happening. I could have painted 5 scenes just like the first which is the most representational but I wanted to explore much deeper. Abstraction encourages me to get beyond the seeming reality of what the eyes perceives and find another reality. This was not difficult with the topic of Trees because I feel such a bond. What was difficult was how to put this down on paper in a meaningful image!
*Did your use of colour, tone and composition improve?
I’m not sure if it improved and I’m not sure I was thinking about it. Colour plays a huge part in how I see the landscape but it seems to be quite intuitive, possibly because it represents how I feel about it. Composition in regard to abstraction is still very new for me and so I have needed to think about it. I love the freedom abstraction gives and the release from perspective etc but I’m at the stage where I still like the abstract image to include some realistic features. This is not at all easy to achieve, I’ve found, and it does make me spend a lot of the time simply staring at the paper to see how to construct the composition.
*Are there any interesting changes in how you applied the paint?
The intense focus which this work has required of me had brought about much more confidence in using the paint. I realize how instinctive my painting has become and also the real enjoyment I have in the paint itself. I love seeing what it will do. I also have begun to work with a wide range of brushes and other means of applying the paint. I have used the sharpened end of sticks, my fingers, I have blown the paint through a straw and really enjoyed the introduction of other media with the paint.
What has been interesting to me as I look at the series of paintings is how little I have actually used LINE! As you can see in my sketchbooks, drawing and line have been a dominant feature of my work through the course and I spent some time in the A3 sketchbook doing a personal investigation in how artists use line in their work. This was fascinating! But I always wanted to be sure that the line I was using was an expressive addition and not just an outline to give structure to the image. In this series, line has been used very little and only where it was needed in the creative process. To me this means that the creative use of paint has begun to take over!
*How has painting in a series developed your style?
This is a hard one to answer as it is difficult to know yourself in this way. My painting has become very intuitive in this series and consequently I think a style has begun to develop. I know that people looking at the work can see a style. I think the series helped this because there is something about a ‘flow’ of ideas and responses which takes the work far more into the subconscious.
Personal style is an interesting subject. I look at many artists and there are so many that I truly love and I often wonder what is it that attracts me to these images. But it is also impossible to copy them.
EVALUATION AND MY PROGRESS AS A PAINTER
I’m pleased with this series of paintings. I am still only at Level 1 in my study and development and I’m very aware of how far there is still to go if I want to be a serious painter. But I feel at last that I’ve achieved a level of skill that I’m beginning to be happy with. As I look at them I feel I have been able to convey a genuine love for the subject and my individual language as a painter is beginning to show itself. This language is not conscious, in fact I’m quite surprised at the strength I can see in the work. I feel that a turning point happened with the painting of the RED TREE. It was one of those special experiences when I felt caught up in the creativity…as I’ve put in my Learning Log, the painting was done in a very urgent, spontaneous way. I loved the image of the old tree I was painting and the paint and the ink just flowed. I don’t think my ‘brain’ was engaged at all in the process – it was all from deep within. But the interesting thing which happened was on the following days. I simply couldn’t paint anything! There was nothing. Over and over again I tried to develop ideas which all came to nothing. And all my confidence went! It was only when I went back to digging deep into my feelings about the forest that an image began to appear and the work began to flow. The last three paintings for me represent a new way of working which I’m keen to develop.
This is the final phase of Level I for me and as I look back I’m just amazed at the progress I’ve made. I can really feel myself becoming a painter! All of the three courses have challenged me for different reasons and I can see how there has been a steady buildup of skills and awareness during this time. The Watercolour Course has been especially rewarding for me and I’m glad to have ended this level with it. Because of the exquisite nature of the medium, it has pulled me away from my love of drawing and this I didn’t think would ever happen. Drawing comes easily to me and always has but I wanted to move on from this and express the same qualities in other ways.
I’m also very aware of the careful and thoughtful way the courses have been put together. There have been times when I have railed against the emphasis on skills but now I am able to see the benefits gained from this. I no longer think about washes, blending, mixing etc, etc…they have become instinctive and what a joy that is!
Perhaps in reading these final thoughts, you may think I’ve reached a complacency with my work. That is certainly not the case! There is so much more to learn about me and my visual language but at least I can finish here in the firm conviction that I am at last able TO CONTROL THE PAINT!!