I am highly inspired by the work and the concepts of John Piper. Particularly his views about the landscape work you create having a connection to a place and therefore a connection to Nature. I have started playing and working with the idea of incorporating parts of a place and natural objects into my work with success and I think connecting my painting and drawing with nature itself is an interesting idea to work with within my project. My tutor thought that my abstract drawings were a successful and visually appealing element of the work up in my studio space and I agreed but I felt that they lacked a connection to the place I portrayed.
Over the Weekend, I went home and collected Ivy Leaves from the area of the Brecon Beacons and primed them and started drawing my abstracted landscape drawings on to them. I chose Ivy Leaves because their waxy quality means they don’t shrivel and die quickly.
I think there is something quite charming about these delicate leaf drawings. After producing these three drawings, I experimented with adding watercolour of a similar colour palette to my chosen painting – John Piper’s Rocky Valley, North Wales.
I am very pleased with these little drawings/paintings. I felt that only drawing on paper didn’t tye in well with my project, especially considering the fact that natural trees are cut down to make it. I was restricted by the surface and so found a new surface that fits in with the concepts of my project to paint and draw onto.
Using nature as a surface to work on is something I am keen to experiment with further. I am thinking about painting onto stone and drift wood or bark as well. After completing my drawings, I took them back out into the Landscape and photographed them back in their natural environment. My drawings have a strong connection to the place they portray because they are drawn on nature from the place and put back into the natural surroundings. I am moving away from John Piper’s influence and making a current body of work with his in mind but it is not dominating my ideas any longer. This idea was inspired by being introduced to Ian Mckeever’s Painting in a hole in the ground. He made a painting and put it in a natural landscape. This set of photographs are incredibly interesting and juxtapose the man made with the natural. I have changed the natural environment here. The leaf would usually just blend in with the others but I guess it has a sense of power and importance because it stands out amongst them. I could also experiment with painting abstract Landscapes onto leaves in similar colours to the surroundings so that they do blend in and maybe they may almost become part of nature.
The morning session within my second performance workshop involved a strictly directed repetitive drawing exercise. We were told to listen to all instructions and were started and stopped from fulfilling the commands with a whistle. We started the session with exercises that would focus us in on our own bodies and our breathing to help us relax and become more aware of our actions and senses. Once completed, the tutor started to strictly instruct us to draw and make specific marks for specific amounts of time. Tap dots with the right hand, draw a diagonal line with the left hand, draw a vertical line with both hands, make a circular mark with the right hand and so on.
For me, It was incredibly intense and tiring, but it made me more aware of the movement of my own body because I was not concerned by the mark that was being made on the paper. Some exercises seemed to go quicker than others. It was intriguing to see what other individuals made of what we were doing, you could tell that some people were getting bored, others frustrated and fed up. I tried to embrace it as best I could but repeating something over and over again can become very tedious and there is only so long you can concentrate and be interested in doing it.
Territory on the paper was another point I thought about. Four of us were sharing paper, personally I did not mind if others drew over my drawing because it gives the piece a sense of working together and collaboration but another member of my group seemes really agitated by the fact that I was drawing over their work and getting in the way of their line drawing. The last drawing instruction, making angry marks was the most exhausting to me and once completed we were told to sit quietly with our eyes closed which helped me relax and reflect on the whole experience and how I had felt.
I think this was definitely a valuable exercise as it taught me to forget about what was going on around me and become immersed in what I was doing at that moment in time. I completely lost my sense of time and my body was just focussed on drawing. It was interesting to see how the marks of my work seemed to become looser and further across the paper as I became less self concious about my drawings and more free in my approach. This is relevant to my practice as I do need to loosen up in my work, be less organised and experiment deeper with abstraction.
The afternoon session saw us experimenting with paint performance under the influence of the Gutai Group. A japanese performance group that fling paint around to create work. One of my favourite pieces of theirs are when the artist dipped a ball in paint and threw it at the canvas. We climbed up a scaffolding structure to gain height to drop paint down onto the paper below in any way we liked. It was a really interesting process because you could not control the marks that were made on the paper below. Also, because a whole group of you were working on the same piece of paper, you could not visualise what the outcome would be like until complete. When choosing colours, we chose colours that represented our personalities and that would would well together in one piece of art. Other groups just dropped the paint and observed the outcome but we thought of movements to apply the paint, becoming more aware of our bodies. A friend of mine dangled paint buckets of her ankles and kicked her feet until they fell off. I swung a bucket of paint round and around my arm until it had all been dispersed. You could see the process in the marks that had been made. Using your body as a tool to apply paint is very empowering and free.
The whole of this session was about the process of creating and being in the moment, not worrying about or focussed on the item created. This is true experimentation which could result in a successful outcome or an unsuccessful one that you would learn from. Thinking about being in the moment will definitely help me to relax when making artwork and to think about the process of actually making my art work.
Putting everything up in my Studio Space helps me visually view my thought patterns and to take in all the experimentation that I have done to progress. Looking at my wall at the moment, I have definitely delved into a variety of different techniques and all the pieces are becoming one distinct body of work as a whole. You can see the journey that I have undergone so far and my thought processes.
As you can see from the photo, I have accomodated a large board on which I am planning to bring my ideas together and incorporate mixed media into an abstracted Landscape piece. As I have experimented with, I plan to include nature into the paint as well as on the surface and just enjoy producing the piece of work.
Reflecting on what I have done so far and writing down my ideas and progressions in concrete will not only help me progress but make the work I have been doing clearer to me and to others.
Within this project, I have decided to make work inspired by a piece by John Piper called the Rocky Valley. Initially, I was very interested in the textures and the colour palette of the work. On closer investigation, the abstract marks that were making up the rock face became a key inspiration to the beginning of my project. Firstly, I have experimented with creating my own work inspired by the visual aspects of the piece, creating continuous line drawings with abstract shapes and gestural mark making and painting those elements onto photographs etc. Other influential artists like Dryden Goodwin and David Hockney encouraged me to create Landscapes with abstract shapes and elements through methods like scratching into photographs and digital work.
After exhausting the physical and visual influences, I decided to research into the concepts and reasoning of John Piper’s work. I found that he wanted to capture a sense of the place he was producing and express the personality of the nature within it and around him. He wanted his work to have a strong connection with the visual elements of the place as well as the feelings and emotions within it. I have chosen to work with my home area of the Brecon Beacons because it is a place close to my heart and I believe I will be able to capture it appropriately because I have experienced it first hand. I attempted to make some I-Pad collages combining real pictures of the place with levels of abstraction and marks. I also incorporated the colour palette and because the place was in it, I felt there would be a connection to it, but it was not strong enough.
Capturing a sense of a place has become a key concept of my work. I have been taking things from the outdoors and using them within my artwork, instantly creating a connection. At first, I was incredibly unsure where I was going with this and so started drawing with twigs dipped in ink and making line drawings from the nature within a place. I have also been experimenting with collage, textures and abstraction. Again, the connection was quite obvious and not very exciting and after seeing Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in the Royal Academy in London, I started thinking about other ways of incorporating nature into my work.
Currently, I am experimenting with adding nature itself into the paint that I work with. I have produced experiments where I have mixed organic materials like soil or leaves into the medium and I am incredibly happy with the results. Not only does it add texture to the paint, but it gives a sense of the place you are painting, because nature from it is in the work as well. Combining the influence of John Piper and Anselm Kiefer seems to be giving my work a lot of direction and I am excited by the Ideas that are emerging.
In terms of progression, I am hoping to produce more experiments adding things to paint and using them to create abstracted Landscapes incorporating abstract shape and encompassing gestural mark making. I think combining everything that I have learnt from investigating and researching so far could lead to a successful outcome and then I could stand back and look at it and see how to progress further. Incorporating nature and organic matter actually into the art that I produce takes the connection to a landscape further than the work of John Piper. I have started to think about other ways of documenting a place and have created a few abstract pieces from collected found objects from the outdoors but this is something I will have to investigate further also.