Throughout my practice I am interested in creating a relationship between art and nature. I have been exploring a variety of methods to portray different ways that nature, place, landscape and environment can be integrated into art work. My Ideas stem from the work of John Piper and the Romantics who aimed to capture a sense of experiencing a place through a more expressive approach to painting. They didn’t simply paint a landscape, their work connected with it. Attempting to capture an essence of being in a natural surrounding, I incorporated natural objects physically into my work. I quickly realised that I was particularly interested in the connections and relationships that art and nature could have and wanted to explore these avenues and challenge the more traditional landscape approach.
In a world with a growing urban environment, advancing technologies and environmental issues contributing to the depletion of the natural terrain: I feel that art has an important role to play in connecting or reconnecting people with nature for our sake and Nature’s sake. Through My art I intend to expose the viewer to and connect them with nature. Inspired by Artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Richard Long and Stuart Cairns to name a few, I have produced a body of work that explores the interconnections that art and nature can have. I work with what Nature has to offer and the colour palette reflects that. Nature links my experimentation together and is embedded into my practice.
5 Key Points – Documentation
1. Chosen Artwork: Starting Point: Development of Ideas. I started this project inspired by the work of John Piper, particularly his piece “The Rocky Valley, North Wales”. After researching the artist, I discovered that he aimed to capture a sense of place within his work and integrate an experience of the landscape he was portraying. I started experimenting working with the theme’s of Landscape and Place, particularly a place that was close to me, The Brecon Beacons.
2. From a Connection to place to a Connection between Art and Nature: Experimenting with Ways of integrating Art and Nature. Experimentation Led me to realise that creating a sense of Landscape and place could be captured by including thing’s from the place in my work, this is where I began working with art and nature and investigating ways in which art and nature could be integrated.This is significant because this realisation influenced the rest of my project. It came to my attention that our world is becoming highly urbanized and distanced from nature. I thought about how including natural materials in my art could expose people to it and somewhat reconnect them with a natural environment. I set about exploring different ways I could incorporate nature into art whether that be through my use of materials, drawing with natural found objects or by collaborating with nature.
3. Mixing Natural Materials into Paint.
The idea of creating a connection between Art and Nature led me to mix acrylic paint (an art material) and natural matter together. I was interested in the textures that could be achieved and I kept exploring the possibilities. I enjoyed the process but lost my ideas a bit and I felt that even though this work included natural materials it wasn’t really showcasing them. Infact they were being hidden within plasticy man-made paint. A connection between art and nature was not evident enough. By this point, I also felt I had exhausted images of the Brecon Beacons and so more deeply connecting my work to nature by formulating landscapes influenced by the shapes of twigs.
4. Experimentation: Making Paints and Painting Tools from Natural Materials.
My work largely developed from here and instead of mixing materials into man-made paints, I created my own paint from natural materials and started experimenting with grinding my own pigments and binding them to paint with. Inspired by my the Field Modules, I made tools from natural materials to apply the paints with. My colour palette and mark variation was limited to what nature had to offer, I was creating art with nature and out of nature.
5. Making Landscape work from Natural Paints applied with Natural Tools and Final Assessment Space.
After going on a journey of investigating ways to integrate art and nature, I decided that the most successful method was to work with natural paints and apply them with tools made from natural materials and so I started working on Landscape pieces (formulated from the shape of twigs) in this way. My work showcases ways in which art and nature can be intertwined and challenges traditional landscape painting. The paints and tools I also see as artworks in themselves so as well as my paintings I have chosen to exhibit them in my assessment space.
My Space is set up for assessment. After seeing the size of the wall I had been given, I decided to display the landscape mark making experiments I produced on hand-made paper using my tools as well as the original plan of the three paintings, the tools and paints. I am very pleased with how the display looks. I have kept it quite minimal and I think it looks clean and proffessional.
Statement about my Display of Work
Natural Landscapes have for a long time, been a subject of artworks. John Piper’s ideas about creating an experience of being in a place within a painting and his work “The Rocky Valley” got me thinking about how some landscape paintings today document landscape visually but don’t really connect with the nature within the place. I started thinking about how I could create connections between art and nature and expose people to nature in a world that is becoming increasingly urbanized and technological. After much experimentation, investigating how to work with the natural world within the art world, I decided to create a final body of work to bring my experimentation together and consolidate my findings. Three Natural Paintings, accompanying hand-made equipment and sixteen tool mark making experiments framed with twigs make up the space. The Colour Palette is dictated by Nature alone. Within this work, the landscape type images themselves have come from nature, the shapes of sticks dictated the form of the mountain shapes (these are displayed below the paintings). Inspired by my Field Modules, I have used elements from nature to both create the paints I have painted with and the tools with which I applied the paint. I have chosen to display the tools and paints that I have made on shelves with the outcomes as I see them as artworks in their own right and give the audience an insight into how the work was produced and visibly show the relationship between art and nature that I am portraying.
I now just need to display the jars of paint on the top shelf and my space for assessment and an exhibition is complete.
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.
PAINTING PERFORMANCE – 500 word REFLECTION
I decided to undertake the painting performance module to push the boundaries of my practice and explore new ways of creating artwork. I was a little nervous about what to expect but eager to get stuck in to the challenges that were to be presented to me. I learnt to utilise my own body as a tool for painting and discover what marks could be made.
In the first practical session, I was determined to explore the possibilities of making marks with my body and really move the paint around in inivative ways. The exercise where I was encouraged to paint using a brush and use my left hand to make marks made me consider the role of a paintbrush and to what extent it controls me. I felt much closer to the artwork applying the paint with my body and realised that using a paintbrush to apply paint can actually somewhat remove the artist from the work.
I had the opportunity to work from an aerial perspective by dropping paint from a scaffolding block. This removed any control I may have wanted to have on where the paint landed on the paper and forced me to create a completely free piece. I learned to remove any preconceptions of what my outcomes may look like and to be surprised by the marks the paint created. In the past I have focussed on finished outcomes and struggled to be free in my approach to art making. I have learnt that exploring the possibilities of art is highly important and that actually an artist’s experimentation can be more of a success that a final culmination of that experimentation.
Collaboration was a crucial part of this module and taught me vital skills about working with others which will undoubtedly benefit me indefinitely. Paint performance is a highly enjoyable practice and not only did I gain personal confidence but I learnt that the process of art-making can actually be more interesting than the final outcome. Documentation was a crucial part of my experience on this module and encouraged me to document my subject work in more depth.
One of the sessions encouraged me to experiment with my choice of materials and push the boundaries of what can be used to make marks in art. I learned that you don’t have to stick to conventional art materials and that sometimes it is more appropriate to use materials not typically associated with art to convey a certain message or image. This I feel is relevant to my subject work. I am more confident in experimentation now and want to explore my materials and not just stick to working with tubes of pre-made paint. I have just started experimenting with creating a connection between art and nature in my work and this field option gave me a chance to incorporate natural matter into my final piece and mix natural materials into paint which is something that will influence my subject work.
DRAWING A EXPERIENCE – 500 Word REFLECTION
I chose to undertake the drawing as experience module because I felt quite distanced from the practice of drawing and thought that I would be introduced to new techniques to apply to my practice and reinthuse my interest. This module has not disappointed, it has pushed the boundaries of what I previously considered to be drawing and equipped me with new tools and techniques to document not just the things I see but my experience of the world as a whole.
I have learnt that drawing can be used to provide someone with a visual insight into an experience . Drawing does not have to be about documenting something exactly, it can be more representational. Once I got used to the idea of creating marks to represent sensory experiences, I started to understand drawing as a much more vital part of an artistic individuals life than I ever realised.
Throughout the module, I feel I have been building my own visual language step by step whilst trying to decipher how to use that language to convey a certain experience. Being introduced to sensory stories and learning that visual stimulation can aid so many people’s understanding really inspired me to focus on working on creating marks that universally could be recognised. Having to represent smells, tastes, sounds and touch using pen and paper was incredibly challenging but really made me aware of my own senses and forced me to deeply concentrate on thinking about how I would represent experience.
The musicality of drawing session also gave me an insight into how you can respond to the surroundings, the only difference being that I was tasked with responding to the senses and experiences through drawing rather than through music. Drawing in the dark environment of the Opera unable to see the paper forced me not to think about the outcome and only to focus on documenting my experience.
Both the materiality of drawing and the psychogeography workshops were the most beneficial, influencial to me. In the psychogeography session, I almost mapped the pathways that I walked, physically documenting my journey on paper. This encouraged me to think about the versatility of ways that you could document an experience of landscape or environment which could be a useful skill to tie into my subject work. The materiality of drawing workshop encouraged me to work with a variety of materials and to utilise every day items to make marks with. The use of unconventional drawing tools made me consider the fact that the object you use to draw with and the connatations of that item are embedded in the drawing. I am keen to link this into my subject work and with a theme of art and nature running through, I want to use natural materials to make tools from and connect my art to the natural world more deeply. This is something I would not have experimented with if It wasn’t for undertaking this field module.
OVERALL SUMMATIVE 500 WORD REFLECTION – How has Field fed into my Subject work?
The field projects that I undertook have definitely affected the direction of my studies and fed into my subject work. Before undertaking these modules I was working with themes surrounding landscape and place, my interests soon shifted to creating a connection between the art world and the natural world and my experiences of field equipped me with the implements and ideas to be experimental, branch out from the restrictions of more traditional mediums and tools and explore the relationship between art and nature.
Painting Performance encouraged me to consider the process of art-making far more significantly. I have struggled to be experimental in the past and explore ideas in depth, this option gave me the opportunity to be less controlled and more free when producing art. I have become more confident and consider experimenting with materials and techniques a strength of my practice now. The session that pushed the limits of what could be used to make marks and gave me an insight into using unconventional, everyday items as paint was a stand out learning experience. I learnt that it can be more appropriate to use materials not typically associated with art to convey a concept or idea. I explored mixing organic matter into paint in my final performance and continued to do so within my subject work but how could I create a connection between art and nature when I am using plasticy man-made acrylic paints to produce my work? I progressed to grinding my own pigments from nature and making my own paints, limiting the colour palette of my work and connecting my outcomes more deeply to the natural world. This module also encouraged me to film the process of some of my subject work like tool making and drawing outdoors.
Drawing as Experience has broadened my understanding of what drawing can be and equipped me with the means to document not just the things I see but my experience of the world as a whole. The materiality of Drawing session within this module was an invaluable learning experience for me and has been highly influential to my practice. Being introduced to the idea of making my own painting and drawing tools from found everyday items inspired me and encouraged me to think about the possibilities of using natural materials to make marks within my subject work. Drawing and painting with a tool made from natural objects conveys a much deeper connection to nature than painting natural imagery with a typical paintbrush. The tools that I have made are artworks in themselves.
Combining my experiences of field has pushed my subject work forward and allowed me to experiment with techniques and materials that I would not have employed otherwise. I would never have thought of physically using natural materials to make paints if I hadn’t undertaken painting performance, nor would I have made tools to apply the paints with from nature without inspiration from drawing as experience, two key components of my subject outcomes.
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.
In a recent tutorial when talking about the large painting that I have produced where natural materials is mixed into paints, my tutor and I agreed that the synthetic plasticy paint was not creating a reconnection with nature and infact doing the exact opposite. Why was I hiding the natural materials under the surface of the paint if I was trying to reconnect art and nature and society and nature? I should be exposing it. Here I have experimented with creating landscape imagery out of visibly natural materials. I definitely think that these experiments emit a greater connection to nature than the pieces I have done mixing nature into acrylic, coloured paints. Also, Rather than trying to make the natural materials fit into the form or image of an existing landscape or existing mountain and manipulating them to represent a physical landscape such as the Brecon Beacons, I have used the natural shape of the twigs to dictate the shape of the scape, skyline, mountains etc. Here, the forms of nature has dictated the image, the twigs natural shape portraying a landscape and the leaves filling in the gaps, without them being snapped, changed, put under paint or withdrawn from their natural selves. Furthermore, the only colours within these pieces come from the natural elements themselves. This is a fairly simple way of making up an image, almost collaging the material onto wooden board, but I do think it is effective and definitely has a clear connection to nature and exposes the viewer to nature physcially. I have utilised the natural shapes of the objects here, the landscape has almost come out of nature.
However, this is quite a literal representation of nature and I think I would like my work to definitely be an art piece rather than just simply sticking found things to a surface and I feel that I could still include these natural colours and elements out of the natural world in other ways such as grinding them up and making paints from them. I think this experiment has taught me that if I am trying to reconnect people with nature and create a connection between nature and art then I must use natural materials and expose them and be creative about how I do so rather than disguising them within art materials such as paint.