Working towards my Assessment Space: Painting with Natural Paints and Tools

Assessment is approaching, and I am starting to think about consolidating my project and working out what I want to show on the wall. I have sifted through my experimentation and come to a conclusion as to how the greatest connection between art and nature is made, simply by being more natural with my materials and more inventive in my approach to how I use them rather than just sticking them to the surface etc.

My project started off being inspired by a landscape painter, I have always been interested in Landscape and producing landscape style pieces with these materials will not only emit a connection with nature but the landscape in my eyes will be more connected to the outdoors as it incorporates items from the environment. I challenge traditional flat landscape paintings and reinvent them using natural materials. People recognise a landscape painting and so using this imagery as well as my natural paints and tools to make art will emit a connection between art and nature to people more recognisably and somewhat expose them to and reconnect them with nature in a world that is growing more and more urbanized.

Triptych Landscape Painting

I have produced a triptych of landscape paintings connected to nature in far more ways than just the imagery. The landscape images themselves are taken from nature, I have referred to the shape of twigs to determine the shape of the mountains and hills. The paints used to paint these are made from natural materials and they have been applied with brushes and tools made from leaves, sticks, grass, pine cones, etc. The colour palette has only emerged from what nature has to offer and so is recognisably natural.

Working with nature is a highly experimental and interesting process, each paint incorporated a different texture into your work and each tool creates a different mark.

I definitely think these pieces are successful in portraying a connection between art and nature. When I started experimenting with these ideas, I would never have imagined I would have ground my own paints and create my own painting tools (inspired by field). Experimentation and trial and error have been key elements in my work and have aided my success.

A relationship between the art world and the natural world is clearly evident here and against a white wall I am confident that the natural colour pallette will stand out and so I have chosen to use these within my assessment space, I feel that the paints I made and the tools I produced are artworks in their own right, taken from nature and utilised as art materials and so I will be displaying these in my assessment space as well. As well as these pieces and my tools and paints, I will paint a line drawing style landscape onto handmade nature paper with each of the 16 of my tools and display those aswell. Mark making has been integrated throughout my project and so showing the marks that the tools can make more gesturally to accompany these more clean final style outcomes could make for an interesting display utilising nature in art.

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Drawings: Drawing/Painting tools made from Nature

I have been making tools to draw and paint with out of natural materials and playing with using them to make marks and images etc within this project, in a recent tutorial, my tutor suggested that I should draw them. I started drawing the tools with a variety of media.

I had thought about drawing the tools before inspired by the work of Stuart Cairns but I didn’t really have a reason for doing so. As I have experimented with the tools, I have grown to see them as art objects in themselves and not just tools for creating art and so I definitely think they are worth being drawn and being used to draw with.


Further Experimentation with Natural Paints

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.


Experimentation: Painting with Natural Paints I Made

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.


MIXING NATURE INTO PAINT: Working on a Larger Scale and Reflection

Continuing my Experimentation creating a connection between art and nature in an urban and technological Society. I have experimented with mixing natural elements into paint and using the mixtures to create landscape paintings to portray a connection to nature and attempt to somewhat reconnect the viewer with the natural world. My thoughts behind this experimentation were that after viewing flat generic landscape paintings of the Brecon Area in Local Galleries, I thought they were nice depictions for someone to hang on their wall and have memories of the place, but I didn’t really think they connected with the place or connected the viewer with the natural world. I decided to experiment with producing landscape paintings incorporating natural matter (from the place depicted) into the paint to connect the piece with place and nature more deeply.

I started experimenting with mixing soil and twigs into paint and applying them to the surface, incorporating colours inspired by my original starting point piece by John Piper. Even though this is only an inital experiment, I don’t think it is very successful, there are too many areas on the surface of the piece that do not include any natural elements and are just painted. I don’t think that this piece particularly emits a deeper connection with nature or place and so I decided to continue experimenting incorporating more nature into the work and attempting to cover the whole surface in this mixed up nature embedded paints.

I do think that these paintings are more connected to nature than if they were just flat paintings and I think they would encourage viewers to think about the natural world and therefore experience a slight reconnection with nature. However, I’m not sure how strong this would be as the natural objects are mixed into synthetic paints that are plasticy and bright. I do think the textural element of the works is particularly interesting but these experiments are quite small, I wonder how the impact would be if the painting was on a large scale and the natural elements were even more prominent on the surface. Would they appear hidden under paint or would they give a new dimension to the painting and a deeper connection with place and nature? I experimented on a larger scale in an attempt to find out.

Working on a Larger Scale

I am pleased with how this piece looks visually and texturally, I think viewers would enjoy looking at it. However that is all I’m pleased with, After creating this larger image I do not think the technique of mixing natural elements into paint is particularly successful in creating a connection between art and nature other than the fact that the materials are put together on the same for surface. I don’t think that this piece would reconnect people with the natural world as the natural elements are hidden under synthetic plasticy acrylic paint. I didn’t really think about the unnatural qualities of acrylic paint but I think it is evident in this piece that there is nothing natural about it apart from the materials that are embedded within the paint. The colour choice is poor as well. I wanted to incorporate colours from the original piece I looked at by John Piper and colours that I had experienced being in the Brecon Beacons but I feel the whole thing is too bright and doesn’t look natural at all. It doesn’t capture the natural feel I want it to and I think this is mainly down to the man made paint use. I think I need to move on from this and progress and physically make my own paints/pigments from natural materials. That way it would be all natural. I also wouldn’t be able to control the colours that occur as they will also come from nature. Displaying the jars of hand-made nature paints with the piece could be interesting, the paints also being artworks themselves. I have learnt a lot from producing this piece and need to create a deeper connection to nature and not combine that with synthetic material because it defeats the object. Lastly, I think the image is too tight, it isn’t expressive or gestural enough.

I am thinking now about making my own paints from nature and using tools made from natural objects to apply the paints. I could display the paints and the tools with the work. Hopefully using the tools will make the work more gestural and less illustrative and also a deeper connection to nature will be evident because nature will have made the mark in the form of applying the paint and in the paint itself.


David Cushway: Casting a Mountain

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.


Artist’s Book Making: Week 3: Screen Printing

This week’s session introduced screen printing techniques. I have experimented with screen printing techniques before, but only using paper stencils and pulling the ink through them. In this session, we were taught how to expose an image/drawing onto a screen in order to print it, coating the screen with photo sensitive emulsion and exposing.

We were shown different ways of creating marks that would expose onto a screen by drawing and printing onto drafting paper. Inkeeping with my nature themed book, I decided to roll ink onto natural elements and burnish them onto the drafting paper. I used a wooden spoon to rub over leaves (which printed most successfully) and make prints from them on the paper.

I was suprised at how much detail this technique picked up. And as well as using these to expose onto a screen I am going to incorporate them into my book as transparent pages. In terms of exposing them, I used a short exposure time and washed the emulsion off gently.

The images were very delicate and lines thin and so I wasn’t sure how much of the image would actually be visible when screen printed. I printed with blends of colour and as I predicted at first, they didn’t print very well but after applying more pressure and giving it a few gos the images were printing. All the examples of screen print I have seen has been very bold, full of block colour and definite lines but I wanted to achieve a much more subtle print through screen printing. I rotated the print and kept pulling to fill the page with the leaf prints and make patterns, I also printed on top of some of my existing book pages.

Even though I am pleased with the screen printed outcomes, I much prefer some of the other processes we have used like mono-print and embossing lino, however screen print is a good way of making a lot of book pages quickly. I don’t think screen print is something I will be revisiting and I didn’t really enjoy the process of it but I have learnt a new skill and make some valuable pages for my book.