M.A. Visual Arts: Research and Development Module
This module has taken me on a journey, helping me to develop my practice and understand more deeply theory and how my work relates to it.
I initially was concerned with both the urban and natural landscape. This quickly changed as I decided I wanted to work purely on one view within the natural landscape. Concentrating purely on this one narrow view has given me the freedom to focus intensely on the things that inspire my work the most; atmosphere, light, elements and scale of nature (Genius Loci: Spirit of Place).
I thought I wanted to explore textile techniques and processes; this has become much less important as it is too restricting for the way I work. I love to work in a very immediate and spontaneous way, the textile techniques slows me down and can be frustrating. I want to work with a wide variety of media the important thing for me is to capture the immediacy of the vision or reaction to the landscape expressed in whatever medium I feel best captures it at the time. At present I am favouring pastel, pencil crayon or dyes used as watercolour. I am still enjoying the unpredictability of working on fabric pieces in an informal unconventional way.
At first I wanted to make very large-scale pieces to create impact and heighten the emotional response of the viewer. I still love to work on a large proportioned work but going too big brings with it a whole load of technical issues, and physical restraints. I feel the work becomes less personal and handling of the media is restrictive to my spontaneity.
I was thinking that the work would be more abstract in concept but I realise I still want to maintain a sense of landscape, moving away from hard-edged geometry towards a more lyrical abstraction with a starting point in visual reality. Perhaps the more I absorb the landscape the work will become less representational and more an expression of feelings and emotional response.
I love the pure joy of the creative process, the journey of the unknown, how the piece will evolve. I am prepared to let the processes and media lead me as well as the response to the landscape so that I cannot predict an end result. I think this is really the heart of my practice.
The art movements I have been studying and feel relate to my work most strongly are:
- Romantic Movement: Ruskin’s love for and intense study of nature and Turners use of light, softening of subject matter and unique approach to watercolour, working on site. Samuel Palmers moody, mysterious moonlight scenes, Constables sky’s and investigation into representation of nature alone having deeper significance and meaning.
- Neo Romantics: Nash, Sutherland, John Piper and in particular David Blackburn’s pastel drawings. There love of a particular area and heritage.
- Colourfield/Stain painting/Lyrical Abstraction: Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell. Looseness of approach, paint not on the surface but part of the surface, bleeding of colours, allowing the medium to have some control over the outcome.
- Land Art: Connection with how the elements and landscapes alter and change things or how elements of the landscape can be used to create marks. Andy Goldsworthy. Although not totally ruling it out yet, I feel that time based pieces are difficult to sit with my spontaneous approach. I could document myself working in the landscape producing work on site using the water and the mud, something I plan to explore in the summer.
- James Turrell: I adore his use of light as a medium to create atmosphere, very ethereal and sublime work to be experience rather than looked at. An interest in celestial vaulting.
- Impressionists: Monet, Whistler, abstraction of nature, repetitive painting of same view, atmospheric conditions, light, colourists, speed of production, working on site.
Initially I started my work by taking photograph of the landscape, and using them as a prompt to work from. I still wish to use photography, but I find them of less importance as inspiration, I prefer to draw on location as it translates and records my immediate emotional response in a more fluid way. I have gained a lot more confidence in my drawing skills. I also enjoy using the app on my phone to sketch on site, or later when remembering a view. This is a new medium for me; it has an organic feel working with my fingertips.
I have noticed the curvature of the landscape effecting my compositions, this has evolved naturally. I was interested to find that curvilinear perspective was used by the romantic artists, particularly Friedrich, as a device to produce an unsettling effect. This curve is inspiring my practice at the moment.
I have found my blog to be extremely helpful and have got rather addicted. It is a brilliant tool for recording thought, work and inspiration and keeping everything in chronological order. The best thing about it and the thing that surprised me most is the interactive quality. The supportive comments are immensely encouraging and having such a variety of people following me is overwhelming. It has helped me feel involved with the global creative community and grow in confidence.
Through the excellent and thought-provoking tutorials I have had I realise I need to question myself more deeply about what I am doing and why. Do I purely want to represent the landscape translated through the medium, or am I trying to translate my personal and emotional response subjectively into a piece of work? What is my emotional connection to this landscape? Does it connect somehow to its similarity to the flat, coastal landscape I grew up in? Do I use it as a sort of meditative trigger to set my mind free to evoke feelings and emotions? (Music is also important to me in this respect to help the fluidity of producing work.) Do I need to be more reflective? Perhaps my work is a poetical response? The answers to some these questions are slowly forming as I continue immersing myself in the landscape and in my practice, but others may always remain enigmatic.