Well, as you can see, I have been continuing on with the series of works devoted to the centred circle motif. For these three pieces I went with a lighter tone of blue for the background, and a subtler texture, by way of using finer sea salt with the watercolour.
The circles, cut from paper primed with sand texture, and poured onto with various acrylic colours, you will notice are slightly smaller than the black circle onto which they are glued. This is for practical reasons, and I think it gives the added effect that one is peering into a portal. The segments cut out of the circles I see as suggestions of euclidean space in three dimensions, and as relevant in two dimensions as quantities, judgments, or phases in a cycle which contains its own novel feeling, atmosphere, or mood.
We use the term “sync” a lot these days, and maybe the third piece could be seen being “out of sync”. Two dimensions, or entities co-existing, but not resonating, perhaps.
I’ve been exploring ideas for scaling down the size of my work. This is in-keeping with my kind of bohemian minimalist philosophy. I live and work in my little flat, and thus, the need to maximise space. I believe in tailoring my art to my living circumstances, and allowing them to be the constraints which inform my processes.
It’s early July, which in New Zealand is the middle of winter, which for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, makes productivity difficult. I can’t get away with straining my hands to paint finnicky details, and my window for doing art is from about 11am until about 3pm, with 1pm until 2:30pm being the best time. My work space is north-facing, which means it can actually get quite warm on a sunny winter day.
Needing an approach which requires less hand strain, I have reverted to my graphic design training, where I learnt that less is more, and to “Keep It Simple Stupid”.
The technique I’ve been using involves building up layers of watercolour onto which salt crystals have been evenly applied.
I have been beginning with Sap Green, and adding a little Pthalo Blue for each successive layer. After about five layers, for this piece, I have chosen to draw a simple circle in the centre, and to paint it white:
I intend to continue this approach with the circle motif, and then begin to experiment with other shapes and colour combinations in the future.
As I mentioned previously, I had realised that the formalist approach was limiting, in that it’s not an approach designed for expressionism. I wanted to work in a way which was more intuitive, and could express my feelings in a simple way which could appeal to a wide range of people. Of course, I was still wanting to use non-toxic mediums, but I hadn’t really experimented with watercolour and acrylic.
So I purchased some hardboard and gum tape with the intention of building up grounds with blending and blotching techniques. The resulting textures I could then gaze at for a while and anthropomorphise whatever figures and forms I see. I was getting into various conspiracy theories at the time, and these kind of became source material for the works, which were devoid of colour, for the dual purpose of making the process simpler, and expressing feelings of despair which were associated with working a lowly part time job and needing some welfare to supplement my income.
I continued exploring the same themes while beginning to bring in colour, especially by way of water soluble crayons and acrylic.
I was enjoying these much more, but still felt like they were a means to an end. They are imitations, especially of Jean Michel Basquiat, from whom I was definitely learning helpful things, but whose style i also wanted to divorce myself from a bit.
I decided to look a little closer to home for inspiration for how to move forward. I took the time to watch a few documentaries on New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere, whose ingenuity gave me some good ideas. He uses words in his work, and he manages to merge minimalist style with expressionism. I’ve also been lucky to have been exposed to the paper assemblages of James Robinson, who really exploits paper in ways which allow for the element of surprise akin to that of how I imagine the alchemists of old went about their work.
He’s also a fellow chigong student, and introduced me to Yuan Gong, a simpler style of chigong invented by Yuan Tze, which I have since begun to learn and practise.
These two artists, along with Shane Cotton, have managed to continue along the same line as Colin McCahon, in the way that they explore the sacred and the sublime aspects of New Zealand life without resorting to obvious and over-used “Kiwiana”, as so many here are like to do.
During this period I picked up another part time job, so another challenge these days is managing my time so that I can continue to be productive with both poetry and painting.
This almost brings us up to present day, where I find myself trying to find the best way for me to do all of the things I want to in painting, and to make it cost effective.