Today, I spent time reworking the silkscreen prints from last week by exploring potential colour combinations and working with opaque and translucent inks. The forms within the compositions reflect those in the large canvases in the studio. As well as images in their own right, I have begun to view these as potential designs for large painting works. Once the prints are dry I'm hoping to use some of them as grounds for further collage experimentation.
I was lucky enough to attend a special day event held at the National Glass Centre - The Common Room Project - with artists Katie Schwab (www.katieschwab.com). Using a variety of strategies we were tasked to design a pice of glassware which reflected the idea of 'public space' on Wearside. I wanted to bring an image of a tower block into my design as I've been looking at these iconic symbols and Sunderland is home to a number of imposing blocks within the city centre. Additionally and more personally, my grandmother lived in one of these blocks for many years and I have a number of prominent memories of that time. So, it seemed appropriate to take design elements from forms directly related to the towers. It was amazing to see glass artist Jeffery Sarmiento (www.jefferysarmiento.co.uk) interpreting my design in hot glass. I can't wait to see all the competed pieces from the workshop. The experiences of the day have made me contemplate potential possibilities for developing handmade glass elements within my own work. Definitely something I'd like to explore further.
Gelatin Prints - I was invited to join in with a Gelatin Print workshop and really enjoyed the process. It had a real resonance with the way I like to produce and think about my work. The way in which the gelatin plate has a memory for the marks which have gone before and the capacity to layer these memories was fascinating. I felt much more flexible with the colour pallet (though still tentative!). Wanting to find a way to utilise colour again, this was a risk free process that has suggested to me some potential modes of working.
Silk Screen Prints - In order to explore some potential ways to develop surface, colour and compositional elements within my work, I've begun to experiment with silk screen printing. These are some of the initial testers on a variety of grounds. I wanted to use a more mechnaised process but one which also allowed for the element of chance occurrence. The joy of being a novice meant that there were a lot of 'happy accidents'. Here I've tried an open screen with improvised torn paper stencils as well as a photographic transfer stenciled onto the screen. Working onto raw canvas, canvas with collaged elements, plain paper, photocopies, collage on card and plywood allowed me to see a variety of outcomes and how different surfaces responded to the ink. There is a lot more to explore and I'm keen to get back into the print studio to re-work some of these as well as to test more ideas.
These canvases are starting to feel more resolved to me, even in this reductive state. I'm glad that I listened to my gut and stopped when I did. It has really helped to live with them in the space while I have been exploring other avenues. This could very well be a case of "less is more". I'm starting to see a correlation between these pieces and the installation maquettes I explored recently - there is a distinct connection between the placement of the forms within the picture-plane here and the placement of the sculptural elements within a three dimensional space. I am curious to see if they will continue to 'work' outside of the studio. They could certainly become a more extended series of explorations and would lend themselves well to placement alongside sculpture. The dialogue which could be established between the illusion of texture/form/space and actual 3D texture/form/space is of great interest at this point.
This is how the light box has progressed to date. I've worked into the textured surface with various inks, oils and acrylics to achieve the chiaroscuro effects. The light plays differently through the unembellished areas, depending on the time of day, which has been interesting to see. My next move is to take the piece into a dark environment to see what can be achieved with various artificial light sources. As well as the light source, the presentation/installation of the piece is going to be a challenge. Whilst working the surface I have positioned the box in a portrait format and on the floor. Each movement/shift in position has created alternative ideas as to how the piece could work in the final instance. I'm considering the idea of the piece becoming entirely sculptural. Many aspects of my recent work have been pointing in this direction and it is an interesting proposition. All the works in this series of monochromatic and heavily textured pieces would benefit from being tested out together in a single space in order to explore the relationships between them. I need to investigate whether they have reached their potential and if indeed I am truly ready to move on form them!
This is how things are looking in the studio now. I've been working on multiple pieces simultaneously, treating each one with the same material in sequence. I find that this 'production-line' approach helps me to avoid over-working a single piece and helps me to avoid undue procrastination over every mark. As well as the canvases, I've three pieces started on card, which I'm developing as tester pieces/safety net. At this stage the elements are in balance across all the surfaces, but I know I will hit a point soon where I need to do something uncomfortable and that is best done on the small test grounds first. I've made a decision to try and take the work in a new direction via these canvases and move away somewhat from heavily developed textural surfaces. However, the textural techniques are still at play in the light box work. So far I have built up the surface using collage and plaster to create the 'windows' and 'walls'. It will be interesting to see how these 'windows' appear once illuminated. At the moment I'm relying upon the daylight to give me a sense of how these openings in the surface will work. Soon I'm going to need to deal with developing the light source, though I'm still undecided about exactly what format this will take. I'm interested in the possibility of animating the light source/using moving image. Colour will also be a key consideration here. With all of the current work, colour will be important and will create a shift away from the almost monochromatic pieces of late.
After restructuring my space and putting away the works which have dominated the studio for the last few months, it is good to be starting something new. However, all new beginnings bring a tinge of anxiety, that minor crisis of confidence. What if I can't make these surfaces say what I want them to say and what is that exactly anyway? Suddenly the canvases seem twice the size...It is the knowing that this is simply the beginning of a journey and once I begin, these empty spaces will no longer be daunting. I can take what I have learned, build upon it, develop and adapt and that makes this moment good.