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All creative people experience fallow periods, those days and weeks when we feel little progress is being made and virtually nothing is produced. It comes with the territory, it's part of the creative process, the temporary block, the loss of inspiration or a way for the mind and body to restore fertility and avoid meaningless overproduction.
Just like a Winter landscape of frozen fields with all life above ground dead or dormant. At least, that's the argument I use to explain my general lack of engagement and purposeful activity. Somewhere in the psyche, in that soporific subterranean world, reserves of latent energy are ideally restored and renewed. Of course, if you prefer to bypass the gestation period you could kick-start the whole process, cut out the middle man and be swiftly back on track. Here are some ideas and techniques that I often use to get things moving again, think of them as nature's natural remedies.
Take Risks: Risk-taking should be at the centre of what we do as artists. It is hard to see how you can create something new if you avoid taking risks. Playing safe is a holding strategy, it ensures your work will be acceptable and conform to existing, already established standards. However, it is unlikely you will produce anything that ignites a spark, that surprises either you or your audience. The willingness to leave our comfort zone is a prerequisite, as it opens up the possibility of both failure and success; what we do may not work immediately, but does it matter? Failure is just a word with negative connotations, it derives from Italian and originally referred to the notion of breaking something apart, into pieces, hardly a catastrophic judgement. Sometimes you have to break things to see what is going on inside and then reconfigure them.
Try New Materials: I don't want you to misunderstand me here, I am a great believer in the acquisition of skills and practical expertise and I know this is only possible through discipline and repetition, but an overreliance on the technical control of a specific medium can be an unintentional straitjacket. Working with new materials will challenge your understanding and your motor skills and force you to look closely at how you work. A new material may interact with other media in unusual and unpredictable ways, but remember, this is a good thing, it guards against complacency.
The default approach to painting is to use brushes. Paint brushes allow very fine control and application, they are extremely versatile. You could paint with the precision of Salvador Dali or the brutal power of George Baselitz. However, this versatility has its downsides and limitations. I find that the dexterity that paint brushes encourage also discourages the unexpected and the accidental. In this work seen above, I have used oil paint, cold wax, bitumen, vinegar, acrylic, modelling paste, plaster, sodium bicarbonate, linseed oil and a heat gun. These materials have been applied with brayers, palette knives, sponges, and metal scrapers. I have poured, spattered, dripped, trailed, burned, scratched and stained. Each approach offers a glimpse of a new departure, a new way of thinking about image-making.
When you are trying to recreate elements of the world in a painting, you have several options. You can use the tried and tested methods that centre around the direct and conscious manipulation of line, tone, colour and shape. Three-dimensional forms can be represented through chiaroscuro and texture through surface patterns.
When you have developed a range of technical skills, this will eventually yield very fine results indeed. Trees will look like trees, clouds like clouds and people like people. However, you will have missed the opportunities provided by chance, by the interaction of different materials and the way they work together, sometimes in harmony, sometimes in conflict. It is a fact that nearly all paintings, at least from the Renaissance to the mid-twentieth century, rely on the suspension of disbelief. We readily take cues from the deployment of tonal, textural and colour differences and we reassemble them into known aspects of the visual world. We are willing participants in this age-old conjuring trick, we voluntarily complete the visual puzzle. But what if we let the materials do most of the heavy lifting, and our recognition and automatic cataloguing systems are forced to do the translation for us? What happens? We engage those systems in a creative endeavour, finding equivalences, and commonalities. If there is a mismatch, a glitch, or an error in our decoding we should welcome it with open arms, because this is the element that keeps us looking, keeps us involved, and keeps us searching, deconstructing and rebuilding. This is how the viewer becomes part of the work and is brought fully into the creative process.
'Earth Stood Hard as Iron'
In the Fenlands, bleak midwinter
In medieval times I would have been an alchemist, well, maybe, maybe not. But I have been busy reconstructing Winter Fenland fields from the base 'metals' of tar, plaster and bicarbonate of soda with a little help from the remnants of a tin of Magnolia satin sheen. I don't think it will extend my life or the life of anyone else, but I do get completely lost in the process. In practice, I'm probably shortening my life.....need to do something far less engaging if I'm going to live forever
a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life
a power or process that changes or transforms something in a mysterious or impressive way
an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting
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I hope to see you there or around the Cambridgeshire art galleries and UK exhibitions. If you can't wait until then, you can view my artwork online! If you find an artwork you love and want to know more about or make a purchase just contact us directly. All artworks are for sale and commissions are welcomed. I look forward to hearing from you to guide you through the process of buying art online from the UK to anywhere in the world. Another option is to come to one of the Affordable Art Fairs in England, my work can be seen in person at the affordable art fairs, and come back to find details on free tickets to future fairs too.
Upcoming Exhibitions and Art Fairs
I will be exhibiting abstract landscape artwork inspired by the Fenlands in Britain at future Affordable Art Fairs, for the newsletter to keep up to date. I will be exhibiting with Linton 59 and Darryl Nantais Art Gallery is representing my artwork. I do hope you can be there.
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Thank you for reading my contemporary art blog. Please take the opportunity to look at my collection of paintings in the online gallery. All of my paintings are original artworks on high-quality canvas frames. If you are interested in purchasing a specific painting, please get in touch to check current availability or to discuss a commission. Please contact me.
I am a UK based abstract landscape painter/artist with a range of compelling and popular original mixed media paintings available to buy. You can follow my artistic practices, latest artworks and painting techniques and news by reading my contemporary art blog.
If you have seen an artwork that you like, you can buy my art online and easily order a painting by contacting me directly using the contact form. Please add the name/title of the artwork in your message. It may have already sold, but if that is the case, don't worry, you can request a commissioned piece just and get a painting you will love.
I ship paintings worldwide, and they are professionally and securely packaged for National and International courier services. They are delivered to your home in a reinforced box within 3-5 days of your order. You can buy my art online and order a painting or request a commissioned piece by contacting me directly using the contact form.
Each artwork will arrive unframed with painted edges, ready for you to hang. If you wish to frame a painting, you can make a direct request at an extra cost or contact your local framing shop.
I am a British artist based in Ely, Cambridgeshire and my work is sought by collectors here in the UK and worldwide. I have exhibited recently at the Battersea Affordable Art Fair, The Babylon Gallery in Ely, The Art in East Anglia Gallery, in Bury St Edmunds, The Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, The Michael House Centre and The Locker cafe in Cambridge. I also have collections of my artwork in prestigious office settings in major towns and cities throughout the country.
I work in mixed media, oil, cold wax, acrylic, bitumen and on both medium and large-scale canvases. My techniques involve a range of techniques and processes including, drawing, painting, collage, printing and mixed media applications. My main subject matter is landscape and abstraction and many of my paintings are located somewhere between figurative and non-figurative approaches to image-making.