After experimenting with the natural paints that I have created in my sketchbook, I decided to produce some mountainous images on board. I took the shape of the mountains from twigs, painted with natural substances and also used sticks to apply the colour: articulating numerous relationships between art and nature. I feel that these experiments look very natural and communicate the colours of the earth, browns, greens and tones of yellow. I also managed to create a convincing bluey turquoise colour, using bluebells with which I portrayed a sky feel to the experiments.
These images are possibly a bit too aesthetic and I think if I experimented applying the natural paints with some nature tools that I have created they could be more gestural and even closely more related to my ideas. I have been communicating a connection between art, place and nature and I definitely think these experiments are successful in doing so, I am now thinking about the final outcome for the project and want to sum up my ideas and display my findings. Brainstorming begins.
After exploring the possibilites of creating paint using natural materials I decided that rather than just putting a blob of it on a page and writing down the ingredients next to it, I would try and use it to paint an image with. In my Sketchbook, I have explored blending the paints and using different mixtures of paint next to one another to create a landscape type image where the shape has been dictated by the shape of a twig.
Some of the paint surfaces are quite textural, others quite smooth, they all have different qualities. At first, I didn’t like the bits in the paints and wanted them to be smoother but actually having little bits of nature on the work that haven’t quite ground up makes the fact that the paint has been handmade more evident. I have used darker and lighter colour outcomes to create highlights and shadows and experimented painting one on top of the other. I had to let some dry before I could paint on top or blend the colours together successfully. It is very satisfying to create an image from paints that you have made yourself. These artworks are deeply connected to nature as not only are they painted using natural paints but they are also made up landscapes dictated by the shapes of natural stick forms that I experimented with previously. Experimentation has been key within my project to explore the possibilites of a relationship between art and nature and to create art that has a connection with it and could portray that to society/the viewer. I will experiment out of my sketchbook as well and maybe think about trying to paint with the natural paints using hand-made natural tools that I have created.
Art actually originated from nature which is highly relevant to my project. Cave paintings were the first medium based art dating back to around 18,000 years ago. People used natural materials to grind to make pigments to paint with. Cave painting paints usually consisted of pigments such as earth/soil, clay and charcoals mixed with a binder such as spit or animal fat. It is interesting that painting itself was developed out of nature and created using products from the natural world.
I am exploring a connection between art and nature within my work and attempting to incorporate the natural world and natural materials into my art making in a variety of ways. Grinding my own pigments would definitely make my work more deeply connected to nature because nature itself would be the components of my paints.
David Cushway is an example of an artist connecting nature and art, bring parts of nature into the gallery space by creating casts of it. Cushway created a cast of part of the summit of Snowdon.
“I was commissioned to cast the summit of the mountain, an icon of Wales’ national identity. I went to the summit and cast a small section of it; from the cast I made a model in unfired clay. Housed in a glass vitrine, it creates its own microclimate, representing the climatic experiences of the mountain. The piece refers to the mountains origins, as it began as clay on the seabed, and through igneous and metamorphic activity over millions of years it became the mountain we see today” – David Cushway
This artist also references the fact that the art material he uses originated from nature something that I have been thinking about through my artistic practice. This artist’s work showcases an example of how you can create a connection between art and nature and is relevant to my work.
Bryan Nash Gill is Best Known for his prints taken from tree trunks/logs, capturing all the detail of the pieces of wood including the inner rings and outer bark layers. These Prints really caught my eye as they are so simple but so successful. I was drawn to the different sizes of logs and tree cuts he uses to print from and how much detail he encapsulates into the result.
Thinking about the print making techniques I am employing in the artist’s book making project, using nature to make prints, this work is highly relevant. But also, here the log is being used as a tool. I am experimenting with creating tools using nature to draw and paint with and even though Bryan hasn’t made the tool here, it is still a natural material applying paint to the paper surface. His work gives me an insight into another way an existing artist has engaged with nature and how he has used it in it’s simplest form to create some visually appealing work. The connection to nature is stronger than if he just drew this image as nature has been used to create it and I definitely feel that when I look at his work.
Richard Long is highly influential to my subject work in that he uses natural materials but in a variety of different ways. Also, unlike Andy Goldsworthy, he brings natural materials back into the gallery space and exhibits the works he makes much like my incorporation of natural materials into my painting and art making. Making art that has a connection to nature without being out in it. He also draws and paints with natural materials like Mud which has an obvious connection to my project.
Richard Long documents walks through nature by walking backwards and forwards in a natural space and photographing the line produced. Documenting an experience of being in nature, a journey. I have taken photographs on nature walks and documented the collecting of materials etc.
Collaborating with Nature
One of my favourite works of his is the River Avon Book because the artist is collaborating with nature and employing “nature as artist”. He sets up the credentials for nature to make the artwork and it does, Similar to Tim Knowles work. I have briefly touched on and experimented with this idea a little bit in my project by placing drawings out in the rain and sleet so they would run and nature would change them.
Bring nature back into the Gallery or into more Traditional art
The fact that he exhibits natural sculptures and mud drawings in galleries is probably the most influential element of Richard Long’s work to my own. It shows me that the artwork does not have to be made out in the land for it to have a connection to nature and to expose viewers to the natural world. This gives me confidence.
Land Art – Creating works in Nature
Lastly, he creates Land Art, Artwork in the Land using natural materials. This element of his work isn’t as influential to my ideas and project work but it does give me an insight into what can be done through the use of natural materials.
The versatility of techniques and ways of incorporating nature into art in Richard Longs work is really inspiring to my work. Like me, he has experimented with different ways of including the natural world in the art world. His work has encouraged my experimentation throughout the project as I have been referring to it as I have progressed. Lastly, as I am doing within my work: Richard Long focuses on the River Avon in a lot of his works a place that is close to him and that he has a connection with.
In my field option: Drawing as experience, we had a go at making tools to draw with. An artist that was mentioned in this session was Stuart Cairns, this session inspired me to make my own drawing and painting tools from natural objects to use within my subject module where the outcomes has a connection to nature because of the tools it is painted with. I decided to look into Cairn’s work further and see the construction of the tools, and research his ideas as his work is now highly influential to my current subject practice.
“Stuart Cairns works as a silversmith combining natural materials and found objects alongside precious metals to create artifacts in the tradition of tableware and domestic objects”
He does incorporate natural materials into his tool making but this is not the only kind of material he uses. Obviously when using natural materials there is an ephemerality to consider, but i have attempted to preserve the tools by covering them in PVA so I can keep them as part of my body of work. He also draws and paints the tools themselves, this is something I could think about doing, but I’m not really sure what I would gain from it apart from documenting them if they were too ephemeral and I couldn’t keep them even after trying to preserve them.
He also documents the finding of the materials and the walks he goes on etc. His work has inspired me to make my own tools but it has also inspired me to think about documentation more deeply and to document the collection process, walking through nature collecting things to make tools with and to document the making process.