Friday, May 02, 2008

The Medium Is Not The Message

As I grow and become more confident as an artist, the desire to paint has begun to wane. I was never particularly enamored of the act of painting, it was more the medium with which I painted. For instance, I used high-gloss enamel because it best expressed the ideas within my early work: the seductively creamy texture and hard candy shell it formed, when dry, created the illusion of a machine-made luxury product. Its glossy veneer sealed the canvas, but also, in my mind, suffocated the imperfections I perceived beneath the paint surface, the imperfections that really lurked in my psyche.
I used oils and acrylics for different reasons but again, it was about the physical and psychological effect of the media not the technique.
As my ideas for new works evolve, painting has less and less to do with them. This has caused me to re-examine my identity as an artist because I realise that I'm regarded almost exclusively as a painter.
The only paint that I remain interested in is watercolour. I don't really see it as a paint. I see aqueous emotion, uncertain colour and texture, bodily fluids like ejaculate and blood, even odours. Right now, I don't want to show anyone these works (even if I offer glimpses of them here). I don't know if I will ever exhibit them. I like it a lot better when I keep some works private, detached from any critical or economic value – when I don't have to think about from what they might mean to an audience.
My recent drawings and watercolours have become my secret diary, publicly separate from (but privately, still very important to) my emotional and intellectual processes as an artist.
As for my future work, I'm invigorated by having an idea then thinking of the medium in which to express it instead of the other way round. I'm no longer working backwards.


Anonymous said...

I hope you tell us when you plan your last show of paintings so we can stock up! But please reconsider. Love your work.

Kate said...

Good thought!
I have a journal of at least two dozen quite specific ideas that i would like to express, but the thought of using a brush with oils on canvas to do this is almost unbearable. Hence, they remain as sketches and words in a book (for now at least). In my research for the Art Prize, it is really evident that artists are becoming *very* multi-disciplinary, rather than sticking religiously to one meduim. Like you say, choose the medium that will best express or facilitate your idea rather than the other way around. One student I read about, was doing his final year degree in Photography and refused to take photos in the traditional sense.....he constructed 3D pieces representing his ideas then submitted photos "of the 3D works". I like that!