I’m back in a temporary studio at home, before I move to London in the Autumn for an exciting project!
I’ve been living and working in the Scilly Isles for the summer. I really missed having a studio, I don’t want to go without a studio for that long ever again!! It feels amazing to get back into the swing of things. I’ve been working now for a few days, reflecting on the small works I did in Scilly, and experimenting with them in ink:
I made this long thin ink drawing, depicting the coastline all the way around the edge of St. Agnes. The left edge of the drawing connects up with the right edge of the drawing to create a 360 degree view of the coastline of Agnes. All the way around the drawing I am looking out towards the sea, with the land behind me. The drawing is partly representational, partly subjective mark making based on memory.
I then printed out a photo of each drawing & painting I did whilst on Scilly and placed them firstly on the birds-eye-view map of Agnes. Placing the images above or next to the location on the map where they were made:
Then I moved them to the long ink drawing, placing the prints above or below the location on the ink drawing where the prints were made:
I wanted to see if there were any reoccurring shapes appearing in both the plein air works and the ink drawings I had done from memory in the garage, and amazingly shapes did reoccur! Which led me to write some things down: I think that am involved in my own subjective world, a phenomenological world of memory, storytelling and event, which I am getting down on paper when I work.
This world is constant when I draw it repeatedly over time, and from varying geographic locations, or in other worlds from different perspectives within the world.
This world that I express through painting and drawing seems to me already built, predetermined, already formed. And this is because the thing that I am expressing through painting and drawing is my built perception of the world, bound up with my emotions, narratives…
This world inevitably morphs with new experiences, and my memory is inevitably overwritten. I would like to read and think more about this.
As I draw and plot and paint the world, it becomes clear, it bubbles up from my subconsciousness and is recorded visually (with paint – shapes and colours).
The reason I think this is because my of experience when I draw or paint this subjective(the right word?) world: The shapes and colours coming out make sense. They may most surely need refining into more articulate shapes (and colours?), but they are already cohesive. I mean that if I repaint the same location repeatedly, the same shapes appear, even if my viewpoint of that location changes, the shapes still appear in the same place.
My task in getting this world down is to refine my methods and select the best materials for articulate descriptions. The more refined my methods the more cohesive the world is???
So how would I describe this world? A world of phenomenons, of matter-events, and in the case of this body of work, the matter-events that took place on Scilly, as I saw subjectively experienced them. Then these events were recorded both in my memory and occasionally on paper when I made work out there.
This world is not exclusive to my own head, nor is it purely a product of my location. This world is the resulting effect of a continual emergence of events from human and non-human vitalities. – Here I am borrowing language from Jane Bennett’s wonderful book ‘Vibrant Matter’ which I am currently reading. This resulting effect is ephemeral, because this result will continue to morph as new events happen and my memory is re-written repeatedly, as I have already said. But by getting this result down on paper/canvas, I am cyrstalising it, into a more permanent product; a point of discussion, from a specific point in time, never to be replicated again due to the vibrant and ever changing nature of everything. DEEEP!
So, my process for recording this world which I am striving to get down: I am starting out with ink, a brush and large pieces of blank paper. I am making blob shapes in varying concentrations of watered down ink. From pale grey to pure ink black.
What I’m really doing is arranging the event-world spatially. I am blocking everything in loosely, not worrying about colour or detail, I am being playful, giving control up to the bleeding of ink in water and trail & error. This part feels very low pressure, very fun, very playful, like the first parts of an investigation: blocking in the events loosely, getting a large and loose big picture.
My plan next, is to start refining. I am going to pay more attention to the shapes in the print outs and the ink drawings, picking out the reoccurring shapes, and refining them, drawing on my memory and the images for help.
Writing this intention down highlights that by picking out the reoccurring shapes, I am identifying the shapes that are in this event-world, and the marks, shapes that are not, that are just a fluke of the moment of drawing. I think there’s a word for this in scientific methods: cross-checking? or cross-verifying? Yeh! I am doing something similar to that.
There is one shape that I’ve already done this process for. On the first big map of Agnes, this part of the map had an interesting swirly shape:
This shape describes a beach called ‘Beady Pool’ on the island. It had been a dark strong shape for this drawing and for smaller drawings before that, and then I noticed it was there in the drawing I did on location:
You can see the cone shape on the left half of the paper in light blue.
I imagined this cone shape as a 3D object in a landscape. I starting sketching this cone shape, changing it’s position slightly so it funnels outwards towards the horizon, getting thinner farther from the beach:
This shape seemed to fit the place so well. It seemed to capture a feeling I had when I visited the beach, in my memory. And so when I drew this part of the map on the long paper I drew it like this:
This somehow captures my beady pool. I’m sure I will continue to refine the image as I rework it, but this is a good start.
I want to carry on doing this for other parts of the island.
This process also exposes which parts of the island draw my attention and which don’t. I can expnd parts of the map and shrink others depending on which parts of the island are important – which parts of the world have greater, significant events to be grown into large shapes, like Beady Pool – which was one of my favourite parts of the island, and which can be left out or reduced in size on the canvas.
I’m excited about where this is going! I feel like I am getting so much out of this process already. Painting an island feels like painting some sort of world microcosm, its imagery is simple and strong. It’s exciting!