Artist: Joe Packer

I was recommended by Emma to look at this artist because his work is aesthetically similar to mine. His works seems to deal with abstract landscapes, be that landscapes of the mind, the memory or a place (or all three).

I have hardly been able to find any writing or any published books on his work. The most writing I have found is a piece of writing called ‘Joe Packer Joining and Continuing’ by Matthew Collings:

“At the house I grew up in,” Joe Packer says, “You could walk straight out of the back door into a wood… Childhood memories involve being in the enclosed, interior/exterior space of a wood. The filtering of light through trees and foliage.” He says his paintings are not of those places, but he thinks of them collectively as “some sort of landscape and somehow connected to places familiar to me where I grew up.”

^ It’s interesting that Packer says “interior/exterior space of a wood”, is this how I think about woodlands as well? I guess I think of there being an interior and exterior of the forests of lived perception that I am painting. Lol that name ‘forests of lived perception’ sounds so pretentious…

his recent pictures… seem to be about emanation, light radiating from a certain point, not quite the centre.

^ Packer produces this effect by building up layers of glosses and transparent paint – the same technique that Pip has mentioned to me before I think, ask Pip about the name of it.
This idea of a light source is interesting. I have never thought about a light source in my oil painting, but it does seem to be something I consider in my ink paintings. His mysterious input of a light source creates a thick atmosphere in the paintings.

his particular way of painting, as a process of finding or uncovering. Unearthing, digging up,

^ Exploring as he paints. Letting the process reveal the work to him.

Is a painter a designer? They might be. But in his case a design is not conceived and then executed. It is arrived at by trial and error, making and unmaking.

^ This is interesting because it demonstrates to me how different my process is from Packer’s. My process is one of preparation and design, planning and doing. For example, I will test background colours and pick one to use, and I will pick my colour palette necessary for the day I am painting outside – so I will design my colour palette based on observation and preparation.
This idea of design is even more evident when working on the structure. I design the structure, then make it, then go through a second design process of designing how the sculpture will sit in the painting.
I have a very conscious process!
I do have a process of trail and error like Packer. But my process of trail and error is not recorded on the canvas. This is important.
My ink paintings on the other hand, do record my process of trail and error. The transparency of the medium means everything is layered on top of each other.

Thinking about transparency and non-transparency: that is the main difference between my ink paintings and my oil paintings. The opaqueness of the oil painting marks makes the landscape look physical, like a real forest, it looks like real matter, or at least that’s what I’m trying to achieve.
The ink paintings on the other hand, have no concreteness to them. The marks are ephemeral, un attached to any ground. So the marks are producing an atmosphere in the ink paintings, they describe a space with airy gestures. Whilst the marks in the oil paintings are producing an experiential landscape that takes (abstract but) physical form.
This is interesting.

Images of his work from :

‘Darklingthrush Wood’
oil on canvas

^ On first glance this painting looks like a forest, like I’m looking across at the scene. However, the more I look at the painting, the weirder the shapes get, and I realise are there white mushroom/cloud like shapes floating in amongst what the tree trunks:

The process involved in the making of the painting is also evident, since some of the paint marks are transparent you can see the way Packer has layered the paint up.
I would love to see this painting, and his other works in person! Since his work is about the textures and colours of the medium.

‘The Valley of Blue Shadow’
Oil on Canvas
oil on canvas

^ This work is very opaque, and look how his work changes because of it! You can see patches of the work where the under-layer is peaking through, where opaque paint as been layered on top. The work is far more confrontational. The opaque layer of paint on top is like a wall, a barrier, or colour and sensations that hits you when you first look at the piece.

‘Hauntological Landscape’
oil on canvas
 ‘Black Wood’ 64x84cm, oil on canvas
‘Blue Meatus Landscape’62x78cm,oil on canvas,2014

^ Softer marks, they have a radiance to them.

‘Dusk Fingers’,30x26cm,oil on canvas, 2014
‘MouldHead’,60x50cm,oil on canvas,2014
     oil on canvas,91x61cm,2013

From looking at these images of his work, it appears that the more ephermeral and layered the paint is, the more I feel like I can step into the painting, like it is a window into an abstract world.
The paintings that have very opaque paint application, still might have depth to the images, but don’t feel like whole worlds that I can immerse myself in.
If I built in transparent and opaque layers into my paintings, would they feel more like whole worlds? Would they feel more subtle and ephemeral and therefore more worldly? Instead of feeling just like paintings that have depth, but are still blocking the viewer out somehow. (That last statement relates to a converstation I had with the visiting artist Hannah today; she thought my painting was blocking her out of the scene, and that it might be related to the opacity of the paint?).

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