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.

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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.


RIVER WATER: Watercolour Experiments

Exploring with integrating nature into my art and attempting to portray a connection between the art world and the natural world, I decided to collect a jar of river water and use it to paint watercolours with. Here the materials from nature and art are together on one page, natural river water and paint from watercolour tubes. They are working together to create the outcome.  I expected the water to be more dirty and muddy perhaps, but actually it was very clear.

I decided at this stage in the project, I need to move away from the colour palette in John Piper’s work and so just freely applied colours using the river water to blend them together. In keeping with my projects to connection to a place that means something to me and that I connect with, inspired by John Piper I have depicted simply the Brecon Beacons. I do think these little experiments would have been more interesting if the river was a bit muddy or the water wasn’t so clear because it would have changed the colours and texture. However, controlling the elements from nature is out of my hands, I just use the elements to make the artwork. I have incorporated a natural material in the work here, but I could also look at the river as artist and put my pieces in it and see how it changes them etc.

These experiments will be a positive edition to my sketchbook with many other experiments and techniques exploring a connection to nature. It is important to produce quick experiments a long side more major pieces to keep the ideas flowing and i find it helps keep me interested in my project doing lots of different things. I just want to keep exploring, the relationships I am achieving between art and nature are incredibly interesting to me, some are visually more successful than others but the process and material usage is of high interest in these works.


Practical Experimentation: The Materiality of Drawing

After gaining an understanding of what the materiality of drawing really was, it was put into practice through undertaking a variety of different workshop exercises. On Reflection, this practical session was the one I found the most enjoyable and the most beneficial in terms of inspiring my current and future practice.

Firstly, we were put into pairs and one of us was given an object. We were given the task of describing the form of the object so that the other person could draw it and then we swapped over. It was really challenging to have to think of ways to describe something to someone who couldn’t see it so they could represent it through drawing. I found myself thinking of the object in terms of line, shape and marks rather than a physical object. When it was my turn to draw, interpreting the description was at first really difficult but as I really thought about it, I started to make an interesting drawing that very closely resembled the object which in my case was a Whisk. This was a very valuable exercise because it took out being able to just draw what you see and you really had to consider the marks being made.

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Next, we had to do the same but describe the object only by touch. Describing the feel of an object for someone to draw accurately is nearly impossible but made for a very interesting drawing containing mark making and line.  I started thinking about alternative materials to use to draw and chose lipstick. The object that my partner had was a large piece of burnt wood/charcoal with rough edges and sharp parts. It was very difficult for her to describe. I just drew how it felt to her, its very interesting what can be drawn when only guided by the senses.

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Exploring the materiality of drawing further, we were encouraged to think about the materials that we were actually using to apply the paint and consider the marks that they make much deeper. Moving away from the humble pencil or common charcoal we were asked to create our own drawing tools and to experiment with them to explore the marks they made on the paper.

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I was incredibly happy with the tools I made and it has really inspired me to make some tools using natural elements and use them to draw my abstract landscape drawings within my subject work to further my experimentation into nature being intertwined into artwork. The whole idea about making your own tools to draw with I thought was a very creative idea and takes the making of a drawing to another level. It made me consider the materiality of my drawings a lot more carefully and was really pleased with the variety of marks I managed to make on paper from the tools I created alone.

Lastly, We were asked to pick an object and a strip of paper with words on it to make a drawing from. I had to consider the materiality of the object and the things I was drawing with but also think about how I could incorporate the words into the work. I picked an old rusting teaspoon and my words read “The Shadow Flutter”.

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I decided I would use the words to title the piece and relay them visually by incorporating the shadow of the spoon into my work repeatedly as if it were fluttering around.

I also incorporated sensory markings of how the spoon felt, the rough texture and the smooth handle with a few grainy parts. I was so surprised to see the outcome and couldn’t have been more pleased with it. I couldn’t believe that I created a successful art piece inspired by a spoon and three words but I did. The materiality of drawing sessions have taught me to consider my materials and the marks they make in more depth and to consider the fact that an object could inspire a whole piece of art or words an artist has said or from a poem could be intertwined in some way. I have learnt that it isn’t always visual things that stimulate drawing and mark making and the combination of sensory drawing and visual objects can make successful work. These realisations are useful to think about when proposing and making my sensory story for assessment.


REFLECTION: Painting Performance

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 push the limits of ways that I could apply paint and discover what marks could be made.

In my subject work, I find it difficult not to think about the outcome and to be free in my approach to producing art because I get quite stressed about doing well and so worry that if I loosen up a little the outcome may not be as successful. This module has taught me that being less controlled in my approach to creating artwork is a positive attribute and can also lead to successful outcomes. I have learnt that exploring the possibilities of art making is highly important and that actually an artist’s experimentation can be more of a success that a final culmination of that experimentation.

The first session of practical painting performance work that I undertook was inspired by the work of Yves Klein. 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 or artistic tool to apply paint actually somewhat removes 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 and the marbling of colours that occurred when one ran into another for example. Working with amplified sound made me consider the possibilities of combining sound and painting.

Collaboration and working with artists from different disciplines was a crucial part of this module and taught me vital skills about working with others which will undoubtedly benefit me indefinitely. Collaborating and feeding off the ideas for others encouraged me to think outside the box and to learn from the ideas of others. Paint performance is a highly enjoyable practice and not only did I gain personal confidence but I learnt that the process of creating an artwork can actually be more interesting than the final outcome. I learnt to appreciate the process of art making. The Process that has been undertaken to create a piece of art is worth knowing as it can change your view of an artwork. Documentation was a crucial part of my experience on this module. I didn’t feel that the outcomes created would give the viewer an idea of how they were produced and so videoing the process allowed for that.

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 to make art 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 may be 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 premade paint in my subject work. 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 materials into my final piece and mix natural materials into paint etc. this is something that will influence and further my subject work.


FINAL PERFORMANCE: The Disharmony between Nature and Urban Society: PHYSICAL OUTCOME

I have documented the physical outcome of our final performance piece. It is interesting to consider whether the performance and the outcome on paper have a symbiotic relationship or whether one becomes more important that the other. In our piece, I feel that both the performance/Process and the trace left behind are equally important. Both the process and the physical trace document the disharmony between nature and urban society, only in the performance it is conveyed through action and in the outcome through aesthetics. You can look at the outcome and see that there are two sides that are disharmonious from one another and that the order (the line) has been merged in with the disharmony and so is successful.

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The outcome is successful both visually and conceptually in my opinion. It is not like making a painting or a drawing as it isn’t fully planned, you cannot know what marks will be made and what the outcome will look like, you can only know what actions will be performed. In terms of colour, there is a clear disharmony between the sides of the paper, one is very organic in colour and the other brighter and more man-made. Also in terms of marks and materials, the disharmony is evident in that one side is made using organic materials as drawing materials and making natural movements and the other is purely evolved from the human body. I think it is very visually appealing because of the variety of marks within it and because you know it was a performance, you question how the marks within it were made. The brooms scratching into the paint have added texture to the piece and given it another focal point. The line is more visible in some places than others and even though this wasn’t planned I do feel it shows how society can be more disharmonious to nature in some areas and maybe become more harmonious with it in others. Overall, I think the process and the outcome portrays our learning as well. We have incorporated many elements from the practical workshops and had no previous experience of paint performance before.


FINAL PERFORMANCE: The Disharmony between Nature and an Urban Society: PROCESS: STILLS

Here are the photographs captured from the final performance that we produced on Thursday. There will be more to come from other cameras and devices of the university and my peers but these are my personal shots that a member of another group kindly took for me.

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The Performance Piece was highly successful and I feel like we delivered it very well. Everyone was very aware of their bodies and the marks being made whilst having our concept in the back of their minds. We managed to achieve what we set out to do and even though we couldn’t visualise what the outcome would look like, I think it definitely shows disharmony between the sides which represented nature and urban society. 

In comparison to our plan, there were a few things we didn’t do, but I think performance is about what happens in a moment, the here and now and so cannot be too vigorously planned. We set out to swap sides once Sarah had walked along the tight rope line, but we ended up two of us making marks on one side and one on the other. All of my group had never really delved into performance art before and so I think we all successfully managed to learn from the sessions and create a successful performance based both on what we had learnt and the work we were doing in our on subject areas. Importantly, our audience appeared to be intrigued by and engaged with our work.

If I was to do this performance again, there are little things I would change in order to improve it. I think I would have put more organic material at the side of the paper, so I didn’t have to walk up and down the piece as much to get leaves and twigs to add to the piece. Also, I would ask Sarah to walk slower so that we had more time to switch sides and make more marks but these are only small and really insignificant things in comparison to the large successes of the piece. On reflection, I am very proud of what we achieved and how much we managed to take on board from the sessions and apply to our own work.