As I work through my project, I am becoming more interested in creating work that has a connection to nature, or that contains nature within it. Initially, I started with the influence of John Piper and after researching his work discovered a connection to place that he was trying to achieve. He wanted to capture the personality of the rocks and the feeling of the grass etc. After working under his influence, I have experimented with portraying a connection to place, as he has, which has led me to collecting organic material from the place and using it in my art work, drawing with it and painting onto it.
I now feel that my project is moving towards the concept of a connection to nature and using nature itself as a surface to work on as well as a medium to mix into paint etc. I feel that incorporating nature into landscape paintings makes them more significant because you can see the organic material that you would usually find within the landscape on the board or the canvas. You can imagine being amongst the leaves and twigs in the landscape and this could mean the individual viewing the work has a more sensory and immersive experience of the painting.
After undertaking the Collage workshop, I decided it would be useless if I didn’t put what I had learn’t into practice and try and make a collage referring to the notes I had made and the new techniques I had been introduced to in the session.
I decided to integrate my subject work in with what I had learnt during this workshop and attempt to produce a collaged Landscape with an element of abstraction to it.
In terms of process, to create my collage I used imagery from newspapers and 1960s magazines to construct it. Older printed papers are easier to scratch into and manipulate than newer print. I used both sandpaper and wire wool to scratch into the surface of my collage. Drawing on top of the paper was another technique used. I also included tracing paper and printed text within the work, as well as using various imagery to produce a textured affect.
Above, are a few close ups of my collage. You can see that the scratched surface both adds texture to the piece and helps the paper that the image is printed on to come through. I think this makes my collage more exciting and appear less flat.
I think I managed to successfully create a collage encompassing all the new ideas, artists work and imagery that I had been exposed to in this workshop. It was enjoyable to create and I will definitely be revisiting these techniques in my artistic life. Here, The imagery was supplied in the workshop and so I was restricted as to what I could use to make the piece. Visually, this fits in with my subject work but also my idea of documenting a journey through found objects is at play here. If I was to make another collage, I think I would work on creating more perspective within the work and more of a distinct foreground.
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.
Many of Terry Setch’s works are themed around the coast near Penarth in Wales, where Setch is based. These works act as a witness to his surroundings, in the literal sense via the materials he uses and the layers he creates within them, but also in the wider issues his art works often raise.
“Setch is well-known for utilizing varying materials in his analysis and interpretation of the conflict between nature and society. His huge painted canvases are often augmented with materials and debris found on the beach, a combination of both man-made and natural matter. This contrast in itself creates a tension, raising questions on pollution, mankind’s apathy, the forces of nature in the weathered objects, inadvertently representative of demise. This juxtaposes the notion that there is new life in the objects used to create such histrionic representations of the world around us.”
Setch’s work is highly relevant to the ideas that I am looking at within my own work at the moment. His concepts include an approach to nature and he uses found objects within his work like Debris from the beach and natural matter. I have experimented with including natural matter within paint and I am going to embark on producing an abstracted Landscape painting containing natural elements within the paint and on the surface. Terry Setch’s work will be an interesting reference to refer to when producing work within the areas I am currently interested in.
Setch’s subject matter enables the onlooker to fully experience the world created within it, via the use of textured materials; such as encaustic wax, melted plastic and polypropylene, however it is not through realism, as his works require the viewer to suspend disbelief in order to fully experience what each piece evokes for them.
Similar to the work of John Piper, Setch’s Landscapes capture a sense of the place. They are highly interesting in texture and evoke the mood and atmosphere of the surroundings, to the point where you could imagine yourself being there. It is interesting to come across an artist where their abstract and less abstract works are relevant to the ideas I am working with and I am sure his work will influence my project highly.
After seeing Kiefer’s work in Person in an exhibition in the Royal Academy I was highly inspired. There are so many different textures and surfaces within his work and seeing it in person has really inspired me to be more experimental with mixed media and to maybe play with mixing unconventional materials into my work. I am highly inspired by the confidence of his work and I am hopeful that one day people could view my work and think it was bold and confident. Also, I am looking at nature and a connection to place and landscape surroundings and nature is a recurring theme in Kiefer’s work. He mixes natural materials into paint and includes them on the surface of the work, something I would like to consider. I will definitely be revisiting Kiefer’s work in relation to my own.
Anselm Kiefer’s mixed media work is highly inspiring and In terms of my project work, I can see a strong connection. He incorporates both natural imagery into his pieces as well as nature itself in the form of soil or rock or tree branches etc. This is highly relevant as I have been experimenting with adding natural forms to paint myself, admittedly inspired by the exhibition of his that I went to see.
As well as adding unconventional material into paint, he also applies it to the surface of whatever he is working on. He really inspires me to want to experiment and play around with untypical ways of working and mediums. I have been experimenting with twigs in my work, but on a much smaller scale, Anselm inspires me to work on a larger scale (not quite as large as his work though).
Combining the work of Anselm Kiefer, his use of nature and John Pipers work I think will make for a highly successful outcome. I intend to capture a connection to nature that John Piper talks about so much through actually including nature in the work. I also intend to include abstract shapes and mark making and influences from the colour palette of his work. For me, art is about experimentation and I am looking forward to playing with these ideas.
Searching for artists that paint nature itself or mix it into paint as I have recently been experimenting with, I came across the work of Katharina Grosse.
“Grosse typically designs intricate but ramshackle constructions using mounds of dirt, found objects and fabricated abstract shapes in wood, Styrofoam or plastic. Once the tableau is in place, she dons protective gear that resembles a hazmat suit and wields an industrial spray gun. She moves through the environment—usually on foot, but sometimes on scaffolding or suspended from a crane—covering almost everything in her path with brilliant, saturated color. Occasionally, she coats the gallery’s furniture, walls, windows and ceiling, incorporating the architecture into the art.”
I am intrigued by the fact that the texture of the soil is highlighted because it is painted. This is also evident in my experimentation work. Visually I think this work is very fun and appealing, I feel it relevant to my work in terms of material and the concept of combining paint with natural objects. It inspires me to be confident in what I am doing and keep experimenting.