Nocturne - 12" x 12" acrylics on wood panel (sold)
At some point in the past year I was busy messing about with black substrates, which led to testing different varnish finishes (matte, satin & gloss) on dark paint. The results, while straight forward enough, piqued my curiousity. What happens when you use all three types of varnish on the same black surface, side by each?
The answer is: a fascinating visual effect.
Beside the swatches of gloss, semi gloss and matte varnish on my sample of black acrylic paint, I'd also added a patch of Golden's Micaceous Iron Oxide (finely ground mica suspended in a clear polymer). Hello Texture!
It was from this experiment of black with black with black that the painting, Nocturne was born. What interested me is how the piece changes with the light and when your viewpoint does. Looking at it straight on you see just curving lines on a dark panel. Depending upon the source of illumination you might have to get very close to see even that. Things change when you step to the right or the left, shift your head up or down....as the differences between the matte, gloss and texture reveal themselves amongst the swirls of the design. Like the phosphene patterns that we 'see' dancing when we close our eyes.
I have no way to photograph the shifting tones in order to replicate what is to me so utterly cool about this piece. It's literally artwork that demands the viewer to interact with it, repeatedly...in order to understand why it even exists.
It's a process I have no intention of repeating any time soon, if for no other reason than the act of applying different types of varnish in tiny, sharply delineated areas on a surface that is one colour courts madness and eyestrain. Keeping track of 'this' black vs 'that' black so that at no time did two of the same meet was an additional frustration ....specially when matte acrylic goes on glossy. Yeah...mistakes happened which needed to be corrected. There were many 'argh' moments.
It was slow, exacting work applying the coats of paint and varnish....but it gave me a lot of time contemplate while pouring my thoughts and feelings into the piece. It's hard to explain how an artwork can guide the artist, but Nocturne was very much the master of me.
I'm proud of the result and immensely pleased that it has found the home it was meant to.
Welcome to the Year of the Rat.
I have been negligent in the upkeep of this blog. This is unfortunate not because I have anything important to impart to the world, but rather it would have been nice to have written down my thoughts and experiences on a weekly basis since November 2018, so that I could look back and reflect upon the lessons of the past 14 months.
There was my first solo art show at Button Factory Arts in Waterloo Ontario, which both humbled me by the worked involved in such an endevour as well as the positive reception I recieved. Thank-you to all who supported me in this effort.
I found myself picking up the embroidery needle for the first time in 20 years to discover a love of reworking vintage materials into art. Explored working with porcelain for the the first time, reacquainted myself with the delights of collaging and took time to explore book binding. I learned about hanging artshows, leading workshops and generally being more personally involved in the local arts community.
For me.... 2019 was a very good year. I am setting my cap to learn and create more in 2020. Updating this website & perhaps pausing 'the making' to reflect upon the 'creating' on a regular basis is the plan. That is at the very least....my resolution.
Wish me luck.
"How long did it take you to make that?"
Regardless of the medium, people seem to have an innate curiousity about how much time is spent working on a given piece. I expect it's a genuine interest in the actual process, which is outside their experience. An artist usually has a ballpark figure of the hours (days, weeks, etc.) they clocked in creating an given work; which of course doesn't take into account the years spent practicing their craft or planning the project. All of which certainly contribute to the end result. So the answer to that question is dependant upon a lot of variables, many of which are difficult to quantify.
Artists work at an individual pace; regardless of medium or methodology. While it is certainly possible to overwork a piece, I don't feel that there is such a thing as spending too much time on art. The creator spends as much time as they need to complete the work as they see fit. Period.
Speed of creative pursuit is determined by: artistic temperment.
I am a slow painter. This doesn't mean that when I put pen or brush to a surface I move at a glacial rate. I prefer to work at a measured pace over a stretch of days or weeks, rather than racing to cross an arbitrary finish line. While working on a fairly modest scale my method can be viewed as tedious and measured. The thousands of tiny dots or lines I have chosen to draw, take time.
"I don't know how you have the patience!", is something I hear a lot.
I am as guilty of impatience as the next person; particularly when a webrowser is lagging or the line-up at the coffee shop is one too many people long. It strikes me that the most of our world seems to be stuck in fast forward mode.
Making art doesn't have to be.
For me, creating art slowly is an exercise in calm; although I hesitate to label it meditative. Even slow art has it's 'argh' moments. Generally it allows one time to reflect and contemplate the work at each stage of the process. There is value in stepping away from what you are doing and looking at it with fresh eyes later. Hitting the pause button on 'creating' allows the artist to evaluate the work done & make adjustments if required. Admittedly it has a side benefit: reducing incidents of smeared ink or paint.
Mostly I work slowly, both in medium and method; because it makes me happy.
And who wouldn't make time for happiness if they could?
It would be safe to call myself a creative individual; someone who is always being inspired by the world around them. Sometimes the inspiration leads to projects, which for lack of a better word can be referred to as 'art'.
There are those who are able to happily channel their artistic energies into narrow fields of specialization. I am not one of those people. Due to my generalist nature, I'm happiest working across mediums and following my aesthetic whims wherever they may lead.
A consequence of travelling several paths simultaneously, is that it's difficult to pigeonhole one's style of artwork or elucidate the thought process behind 'all' of the pieces. Sometimes I just make stuff because it's fun! This has only become an issue once I decided to share my creative output with the larger artistic community.
Confronted repeatedly by the term 'artist statement', meant applying myself to the task of explaining: Why I do, What I do.
If you are familiar with Edvard Munch's iconic painting; The Scream, then you have a fair visualization of my inner turmoil on this topic.
Everything I make is a result of observations and my emotional response to the former. Sometimes I'm very serious, but mostly ideas are hatched because they entertain me. I will have poured a lot of time, effort and soul into them; but am not overly precious about the end results when I've achieved what I set out to do. Explaining my motivation is where my brain simply stalls.
However, after some reflection I have come to the conclusion that artists are visual story tellers, and as such it is unfair of me to leave the observer of my artwork(s) without context. That then is the purpose of this blog. While I'd rather just get busy creating, perhaps there are those who are curious about the process behind it.
Welcome to my desk.