Sunday, September 20, 2009
Scratching The Surface
As hard as it is to get to grips with a new medium, it can be even harder to get to grips with a new idea. I am struggling with both right now.When I first started working with watercolours, four years ago, I was determined to strike out in a completely different direction from the hard-edged, tightly constructed, Pop-infused images that defined the enamel paintings that had been my enter output for nearly ten years. As I've written before in several other posts, I wanted to puncture the seamless, shiney surfaces of these works and expose the unpretty emotional and psychological mess I'd wanted to entomb beneath them (think Chernobyl and thousands of tons of concrete poured into its nuclear reactor to seal a rupture).My first marks on paper felt like I was committing some nameless crime and for several days after – and several dozen false starts – it didn't get any easier. The breakthrough came only when a close friend picked up one of many discarded attempts off the floor – one in which I'd deliberately defaced a pair of serpentine female demons with slashes of heavy black paint instead of tearing the paper apart – and said, simply, "Maybe look again at this one. I think it says something." I did and during the two days I spent repairing and reworking it, I came to understand, finally, what I was trying to get at. It took just four weeks to produce the other dozen works that were exhibited with it at my first-ever exhibition of mixed media works, Venus In Hell, in Melbourne.I haven't yet had a similar breakthrough with my experiments with pen and ink. Again, my lack of self-confidence and frustration are such that I over-work and destroy nearly every picture. And yet, somewhere in the recesses of my psyche is an imprint of past experience that reminds me that, although the next few days or weeks are likely to be bloody hard and unproductive, something will eventually emerge as the key to unlock the meaning of all the disparate symbols now scattered – like unresolved cyphers – across these pages.Until then, I have to keep reminding myself not to give up – and resist the impulse to destroy all evidence of my failures.