Saturday, January 31, 2009
Retracing My Mis-steps
For several months, my energy has been consumed by my enamel paintings. Even when I haven't been working on them, I've been recovering from the physical damage the toxic medium wreaks on me. However, now that I've managed to set up a better process to complete the works – it's just a matter of slow, steady, well assisted production – I am, at last, able to think about new work. These large-scale, enamel-on-board paintings – which are very deliberately glossy and seamless, as if manufactured rather than hand-wrought – have revived my interest in small, obviously hand-made works. They have also inspired a desire to show, somehow, the history of how each was created within the completed work: the ideas, structure, initial marks, even mistakes. I'm tired of trying to hide all trace of me beneath a flawless surface. When I was at art school, I was criticised for not making 'process' drawings. Too conscious of time passing quickly, I didn't see the point of them. I visualised sketches instead and worked each piece over and over (sometimes to the point of destruction). I wanted to obscure or even eradicate any hint of process. Now I write detailed notes on ideas (and different media) I want to explore. As I experiment with each, I sketch and document the various stages of their evolution and try to leave traces of myself – and my mis-steps – within the work. I end up with a record of my original thinking and of the artisan trial and error to translate it into art. I'm learning to value the process and value the learning I gain from it. It's surely better than throwing it all away and forgetting about it once I've finished.