Summer between 1st year and 2nd year: 3 months in Hong Kong and Taiwan
I travelled to Asia with water based paints and bought beautifully pigmented pens for drawing
Experimented with waterproof Japanese ink and Chinese rice paper
I did not have a studio but drew on the move in many sketchbooks and most days painted on the roof of our home or inside the apartment
In to books or on to large coloured pieces or clean dazzling smooth white card- A3 sheets or smaller thicker A5 pieces
Space and heat guided my material choice and painting size. I was absorbing and gathering, storing and journeying whilst creatively reflecting with colour. Readying to return to ECA in September, loaded with imagery, symbols, stories and experiences to reflect upon, inside large paintings.
And I made some paper money drawings. Paper money is burnt in Temples to bring good fortune to the burners and as a gift to send to their ancestors.
And then I came back to Edinburgh College of Art in September 2012 and I painted in C09.
I felt a need to express the extremity of what happened to my family in Hong Kong while I was there in the summer. My brother was ill. He and his wife separated. So I booked out the beautiful huge white space; studio E26 and made some quick A2 paper paintings and cried.
SCALE/ SIZE OF PAIINTINGS- Two factors guide how I decide what the dimensions of paintings will be- the first is convenience; adapting to studio parameters and physical size restrictions. The second is to do with the magnitude of what I am investigating, expressing, contemplating, reflecting upon. If I am expressing something specific thematically small then the painting size can be small; appropriately sized to contain what needs to be talked about with paint. If the theme is vast and for example, as recently in ‘Conscia’, is reflecting on universal things, then the painting needs to be vast also. Middle sized paintings= middle sized theme. Ideally I would always have unlimited studio space so size could always be guided by a need for expressive output and investigation/ thinking through the process of paintings, learning through painting. But it is also good to be able to adapt to surroundings and it is essential as constantly creating, in all circumstances, is essential for me.
In other words: SMALL= express specific issues, pin pointed things, ideas, smaller themes. LARGE= contemplating larger thought patterns, ways of living, ideas, larger themes, inclusive of more people a large space of reality/ larger physical space etc. SUCCINCT SIMPLE SIZE- IMPORTANT INDICATOR AS TO SUBJECT DENSITY, SCALE AND MY INVOLVEMENT WITH IT. SMALL= IN MY HEAD, OR IN RELATION TO ONE OTHER PERSON- BOTH OF US PORTRAYED ON ONE BOARD. LARGE= MY WHOLE BEING, PHYSICAL, TO DO WITH ME IN RELATION TO THE UNIVERSE.
Size is also significant in terms of how I want a painting to be perceived, how I feel about it and what I want it to say. Scale of painting size in relation to human proportions and also scale of figures within paintings in relation to human proportions. Imagined scapes, reality, here, there, beyond, aware.
Materials used also are guided by circumstances and by the speed at which the creative expression needs to happen. I often use paper and water based paint to enable realisations via paint to happen and to translate emotion from within to outside. (As above when I hired E26 to process some difficult experiences in Hong Kong.)
Mono printing is a useful process to use when in need of a quick expressive outlet. It produces a different image to an emotionally charged watery painting. The preparation for each process is different but both allow me to work fairly immediately. The contrast in the end result is useful as the monochromatic prints I make appear like direct statements or posters, where as the watery paintings seem much less resolved and more poetic.
Processing, expressing, understanding first hand experiences and embedding them in expressive, ensnaring compositions, (like Nancy Spero); entrapping the viewer by creating pleasing aesthetics and then shocking the viewer with piercing content, beautifully threaded into the work, only to be noticed through pensive time committed to perceiving the whole artwork.
I have learnt to use the process of painting (and all creative outlets of expression, drawing, printing), to gain greater understanding, to work through issues, to figure out why symbols are symbols and to learn to use them in different ways; to reach deep awareness. Symbol: snakes: scary, work through, understand, thrive off and wriggle from the discomfort, learn about what it means, reach understanding and a triumphant level of acceptance and then, snakes= empowering symbols of strength. I am with them, not against them. I have learnt to use the process of painting to feel free, to feel whole and to feel complete.
I want to continue exploring how to use scale for different purposes and specifically re-enforce my recent learning of how to make a giant painting by creating another one of equal or larger size.
I feel sure that my artistic research of 2013 needs to include a time of studying large early renaissance paintings.
Researching the 15th century paintings of European masters will tremendously expand the vocabulary I use in future paintings.
Over the last year I have been studying images of Botticelli, Giotto and Fra Angelico paintings to learn from their balanced, expressive compositions and vivacious spectrum’s. Research the works in reality and enriching my understanding of frescos at this point in my career seems imperative After spending a couple of years exiting in Taiwan and absorbing and being inspired by the the vast painted symbolism within Temples there, I feel that contrasting that knowledge of Asian spiritualism in painting with European fresco’s would be a positive level of comparison to add to my painted vocabulary.
Recently Graeme Todd spoke of ‘Conscia’ in relation to the 18th century paintings of Teipolo in terms of the expressive non-realistic variation in figure size.
I have placed figures in relation to bits of the earth and to the movement of air in space and also as a symbol of life beyond our universe (small boy looking through diamond shaped gap in the high sky).
Teipolo places figures in surreal formations which emphasise scale as significant in portraying the power and hierarchy in relationships between the figures in his paintings.