Texture, control, layering & Artist Mal Levittoux

After my previous two experiments I have become interested in texture, control of the medium and layering different techniques to create the impression of a landscape.

Below are some paintings from the RA Summer Show 2017 that I visited last year that demonstrate this idea well.

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Both of these paintings play with this idea of abstracting the landscape. You can see the movement of the artist in the brushstrokes. There is an element of letting the medium control the outcome, especially in the top painting. Letting different mediums sit together – blend, bleed into each other, separate etc to create these patterns and textures that remind the viewer of a marsh scene.

One artist that uses these ideas a lot in her work is Mal Levittoux.

Levittoux’s work explores the balance between abstraction and recognisable shapes. In the top painting the only recognisable shape is the dandelion (top-centre). Using one familiar item in the painting gives the viewer enough context to then start making sense of the rest of the painting. It’s like giving the viewer clues, then letting them interpret and create their own meaning for the rest of the composition.

On Levittoux’s website she writes in her description:

Just as in the conversation there is a secondary silent dialogue in which the real exchange of feelings takes place, so in painting, there is a rich background of unstated knowledge, a tapestry that is never unrolled.

The colours and lines built up in layers really capture this sense of the underlying and unstated. The idea of a tapestry works so well with the rich visual she creates.

Levittoux’s painting feel very whole and complete without having filled in all the details and covered the whole canvas. This idea reminds me of when I was halfway through my last experiment:

IMG_0063Looking at a piece half finished you can see the process and layers far more easily. It is a much more revealing showcase of work, because we are not just seeing the perfected finished piece.

 

 

 

This idea of leaving spaces in paintings/drawings works so well in Levittoux’s work perhaps because the scenes she is drawing – nature, is always constantly moving, growing, dying. Therefore having a piece that shows what marks have been put down far before and hints and what else could be added is fitting.

What next? 

In summary, there are some ideas that I would like to experiment with next:

  • Leaving pieces more unfinished, not having to fill in every part of the paper, showing the process (less is more).
  • Carry on abstracting the subject, and using recognisable shapes occasionally to give the viewer some context (without telling them everything).
  • Work on a bigger scale. So I have more room for details and big gestural marks.

The Forest at Fontainebleau by Matisse

I saw this piece whilst visiting the National Gallery in London and thought it was relevant to this project. Below is my initial response that I wrote down standing in front of the painting.

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Vibrant colours create magical atmosphere

Thick brushstrokes have very painterly quality

Texture light movement energy emotion

A painters perception of the landscape – using that word that I can’t remember when feelings are put onto inanimate objects in literature – like that.

Unfinished and flawed

Childlike

Looking at the piece now 

I think it was the bold shapes and fauvist colour palette that caught my eye. This playful approach to painting landscapes is something I want to include in my own work.