Back to Basics

If I am going in the right direction with subject matter and the reading supporting that, then now is the time to get back to basics with regard to materials.

For years I have painted intuitively, sometimes with glorious technicoloured results.  Now is the time to inform that intuitive approach.  Starting with paint I am going to explore colour combinations and properties, so that I have more control, particularly with regard to subtlety.

I will be researching the history of colour and the impact different colours have on our emotions.  This together with my continuing research into harnessing the unconscious mind creatively, will inform my research question for this year,  which is currently, What Am I Trying to Say?

I am starting with yellow and blue mixed green






I don’t feel this way has worked so I am going to try a simpler method.  I want to build a reference library of colour combinations and reactions.

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Where Am I Now?

Caroline has requested a short statement of between 50 and 100 words and up to 6 images of work I would like to discuss at our tutorial next week.  Simple!  But is it?  On reflection, this is the crux of my dilemma.

On the system I spot Level 3 courses (final year of BA?) and checkout the very gentle Elizabeth Blackadder in her studio.  A career based on the delicate and sometimes watercolour representation of flora.  There is also a guide to assembling your thoughts, ideas and interests.  In the absence of a better starting point for my response to Caroline (it doesn’t hurt to go back to basics, for that is where I feel I am at the moment), I make my list:

.    Colour, bold or subtle

.    Transparency

.    Edges

.    Disturbance, lack of control of the outcome

.    Not quite comfortable viewing

.    Then, now and now again, as if recording the history of emotional         footprints

Now to record all ideas/thoughts/interests on post-its, and see what bubbles up from my unconscious mind.


Shapes, mood, subtelty, windows




Charleston, local connection, mood, emotional connection


Masking, highlighting, overworking



Experimenting with paper over canvas with edges, image masked and overworked


Monotone working of family images


Emotional response to place to be overworked

Reflecting on Tutorial

Having explained where I am trying to come from, Caroline confirmed that she felt I am working in the right direction and that I am taking risks in what I am trying to do.  I need to do more and be better informed, so that it follows through into my work.


Letting Go…

I know this is the year to take risks, big risks.  What I don’t yet know is what those risks are.  It is not that I am afraid to, far from it.  I just don’t yet seem to be in tune with what a risk is.

I have spent the summer understanding the mind, it’s power and how to seize back control; understanding intuition and how to tap into it; accessing the unconscious mind and how to use it creatively;  how to shift my perception from ‘left – logical’ to ‘right creative’.  I am practising techniques for ‘letting go’.  I have researched the work of dozens of artists, with the aim of gaining resonance within myself.  I have spoken to Rosi in year 3 to determine whether it is an ‘age’ thing.  My head is swimming and the term is only a few hours old.

I spent very little time creating last year, choosing to rightly focus on bringing myself up to speed with the art world, it’s history and it’s players.  This year is all about identifying my personal barriers and blasting through them.

My aim for this year is quite simple.  I want to produce authentic, contemporary work, preferably in watercolour.  I would like to be recognised for what I am achieving.

Summer Reading – a Voyage Inside My Head

The plan had been to research colour, colour history and symbolism, but I got distracted, and that is now my next reading project.

Eric R Kandel – The Age of Insight

The Summer started with Nobel Prize winner Eric R Kandel’s The Age of Insight, The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present.  (Thank you Monika!)  Long fascinated with the power of the unconscious mind (UM), I am slowly beginning to understand that this is how I work and may be the reason I have such trouble explaining my process, and answering the simple question, ‘What Am I Trying To Say’.

Kandel, a world leader in neuroscience and intellectual history, examines the intersection of psychology, neuroscience and art through the lens of 1900 Viennese culture.  In this academic work Kandel effortlessly weaves these three disciplines, the Vienna School of Medicine, the work of Sigmund Freud, the writing of Arthur Schnitzler with supporting artwork from Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele.

Split into five sections:

1    A psychoanalytical psychology and art of unconscious emotion

2    A cognitive psychology of visual perception and emotional      response to art

3    Biology of the beholder’s visual response to art

4    Biology of the beholder’s emotional response to art

5    An evolving dialogue between visual art and science

I didn’t understand it all and at over 500 pages, it was a lot to absorb, but it is in my unconscious, somewhere, and I will revisit this amazing work from time to time.

Ted Falconer – Creative Intelligence and Self Liberation 

I have owned this book for a number of years, since my NLP training, but it was only after reading Kandel, that my UM directed me to it.  The sub title, ‘Korzybski, Non-Aristotelion Thinking and Eastern Realization gives a clue to the scope of this slim volume and the skill with which Falconer succeeds in distilling a diverse range of sources, to produce an outstanding insight into creative intelligence and how to free yourself from rigid patterns of thought.

Edward De Bono – The  5-Day Course in Thinking

A slim practical and insightful guide to opening the thought process, to see the world in other ways.

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch

My poolside book, all 800 pages.  Angela had mentioned Pulitzer Prize-winning Tartt during our creative writing session, for her style and subject matter.  I enjoyed her eloquent prose and the woven thread of art history, but I found her characters weak (I thought the main character was female for the first 100 pages).  The storyline, whilst engaging, was overly long, with large tracts that could easily have been condensed.  Her writing reminded me of a modern day Colette, where her enjoyment was in the descriptive, with the ‘gripping’ storyline an editorial request.

Lisa Genova – Still Alice

A surprisingly  lighter and enjoyable read by the neuroscientist Lisa Genova, who with her first novel offers an authentic insight into Alzheimers and Dementia, of which my family has  a history.  A clever way for a scientist to create greater awareness of the condition and it’s early stages.  Just as everyone should learn CPR and the F.A.S.T. stroke recognition, everyone should read or see the film, to be able to spot the early warning signs.

Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now

I read and watched Tolle a few years ago and couldn’t comprehend what he was saying.  A friend suggested that I re-read as I am now in a different place.  Glad I did.

His message is so simple.  There is only now, this second.  Fear and anxiety, those twin devils of the mind are illusions of time, past and future.  Once the mind has lost it’s control, it is then available for the work that it was intended to do, namely, support.

I need to understand his concept of ‘surrender’, and work on that and forgiveness, to be really free, but I feel I have made huge progress in my quest to harness my intuition and let go of my ‘clutter’.

Lynne McTaggart – The Field

This book, written as a scientific detective story, is an astonishing read.  At it’s heart is the evidence that an energy field, the Zero Point Field, connects everything in the universe.  McTaggart  eases the reader through the history of the discovery of this energy field, effortlessly bringing together individuals practising throughout the world, from disciplines as diverse as quantum physicists, philosophers, electrical engineers, astronauts, a theoretical biophysicist, medical doctors, engineers, mathmaticians, research scientists.

Her skill is to distil a vast amount of leading edge scientific research into an accessible format, which she succeeds in achieving admirably.  The scientific explanation for homeopathy, for distance and self healing, the power of ‘prayer’, the power of the individual and collective unconscious, levitation, fuel-less travel, the realisation that the bedrocks of Newton and Darwin were probably wrong, are all here.  The energy of the writing is so hopeful, that you believe the world is in a position to move forward with this abundance of knowledge, but sadly that is not the case.  We learn that the promised happy ending is not to be with most of the key players marginalised within the scientific and world stage.

Penney Pierce – Leap of Perception

Again a book I had had for some time, which I felt could help me move from the historic dominance of the use of the logical, left side of my brain (although I now appreciate from The Field that this isn’t strictly true), to the creative right side of my brain.  What I actually learnt was so much more powerful.

We are entering the Intuition Age, the age of rapidly expanding possibilities.  Continuing the idea of energy fields, Pierce explains and provides exercises to increase your energy frequency, to attract more of what you desire into your world, releasing your ego and attachments, developing telepathy, integrating physical and non-physical worlds and, what she terms ‘pretend dying’.

A fascinating read requiring an open mind and a willingness to practise the exercises without scepticism.

Reflecting on my new found knowledge

There is a seriously wide world out there that bears no relationship to landscape and accepted beliefs.  Spiritual and primitive beings have known for years, but in a world where everything must be scientifically proven to be ‘true’, we are only just beginning to catch up.

I am not religious, which I think has helped my journey into the unknown.  I have always felt that the space between ‘things’ is full of ‘thoughts’ being released into the universe.  McTaggart, Pierce and Tolle support that view.  Pierce has opened my eyes to the possibilities.  What I now need to do is reflect over the next year on how my knowledge and new skills (still in their infancy) can best be used to develop my work.  I still don’t know what I am trying to say, but I am now more confident that my unconscious mind and the power of the collective unconscious mind are available to me and there to support me.



Bridget Riley

It has been a while since I last saw a Bridget Riley in the flesh.  The exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion spanned the last 50 years of her career, focusing on her curve paintings.

Bridget Riley: Andante 1, 1980

Image credit: Andante 1, 1980 © 2015 Bridget Riley. All rights reserved, courtesy Karsten Schubert, London.

Rajasthan 2012

Her earlier work was ground-breaking and painstakingly executed, quiet and contemplative, with plans displayed to show Riley’s process and precision.  Her more recent work is freer and joyful, with bold use of colour.  Less obviously her signature, but exciting none the less.

Griffin Open

As part of my Personal Practice Plan I have been entering a number of Open competitions, not with the particular aim of being accepted this time, because I am still experimenting with direction, but to test the water with my old work, to see if any comes close.  It doesn’t, which doesn’t disappoint, but endorses my decision to undertake the MA, with a view to developing my work.

The Griffin Gallery has just announced its long list of 20 artists.

The gallery are interesting because a large number of their stable of artist have MAs, so the academic response is clearly important in their selection process.  This is evident in the language used by the artists to describe their practice.  If I am honest, the words impressed me more than the work.  The only artist who stood out for me was Tess Williams, who has just been awarded a distinction in her MA at St Martins, and is already making waves in the art world, having been selected last year to be part of the UK Young Artists.

{imgtitle}fragment  Medium: Ink and Acrylic on Canvas and Cotton Year: 2015  Dimensions (cm): 310 x 200 cm 

She describes her practice of ‘exploring the physicality of painting and the evocative potential of structure and materiality.’ ..’My work goes beyond the boundaries of the picture frame, amplifying the physical presence of painting, the resonance of materials and structures, whilst continually referencing the history of painting.’

She describes her process

Her words remind me of Angela’s comment about edges and Stewart Geddes comment about working with the materials.  Tess has achieved both objectives.  I have much to learn.  I feel I am still holding back.