It was a strange day today - several things went wrong. I decided to work on 'walk 2' before 'walk 1' partly because some things about it have already not worked out quite right so I have found that I am using it as a test. I used brown paint instead of green, by mistake and the result was not good and even worse, when I was emptying the slip trailer into the jar before cleaning it there must have been a blockage as the slip trailer burst open and the entire contents went everywhere! I then deliberated for ages as to whether or not to continue adding layers to 'walk 1' as I was pleased with the way it was looking after yesterday's work but to stop would mean making an aesthetic choice based purely on appearance rather than process, which is the basis of my aesthetics. I asked myself what I could learn from the day's disasters so far. I decided to continue with my process-led aesthetic as I think it was my confusion that had caused me to loose concentration earlier in the day.
I'm working with the daily phrases into the the two walk paintings as well as experimenting with ink, white primer and crushed charcoal on long strips of paper. I now have to consider whether to continue layering phrases into the paintings until all the leftover strips from the original canvas have been used up. I generally allow the process to decide for me rather than making an aesthetic choice… it's a dilemma!
While throwing a ball for Olive on the beach today I noticed that the circular pattern of her paw prints in the sand resembles the marks I make when drawing with paint onto canvas.
Today I have cut away the sections from both 'walk' canvases and painted the reverse sides of these, which left to dry begin to curl like fallen leaves. I took some time to decide what colours to use and settled on copper and gold, my thinking being that the underneath connects with what is hidden beneath the surface of the earth.
The day began with a visit from an artist friend who brought me violets. I decided to drive her home to St.Ives and visit my allotment since the weather was reasonable. While I was there I warmed a tin of soup, reconnected with the land and created a new purpose for the figures from long ago that had been scaring the birds this summer. They now have the job of holding down mulch fabric I am using to cover my freshly dug beds , ready for spring planting.
I returned to the studio and began to cut away one of the two 'walk' paintings, which have developed from the larger 'walk' canvas, revealing the original painting behind.
I've moved into the next stage of the 'walk' painting(s) in relation to my new phrase journal. I had two friends visit my studio on Sunday and I was explaining how my collections of leftovers are a more tangible reminder of the day's work than anything I could write, and one of my friends said 'it's evidence!' - he's quite right as can be seen from the 13/11/16 leftovers that are trimmings from sewing. I have been sewing up fragmentary parts of the 'walk' painting with the intention of creating a wearable painting that can be 'walked' in the landscape by another friend (a life model) whom I will employ to perform the walk, which I will film.
On my walk earlier today I was gazing through an oak tree that had shed all but the last few of its leaves. I recognised in the shape of the leaves the path that I had mapped out as my walk and see this as a kind of echo of what seems to be present in my subconscious. I sometimes wonder when I'm walking if I should be taking drawn, written or photographic notes… I sometimes do this, but I prefer to allow for my surroundings to enter into my subconscious osmotically and then emerge in this more surprising way.
I've been preparing 2 canvases with 'walk' sections in behind a stretched canvas with the intention of working on them using methods I've stumbled upon in the previous few months. I've also decided to re-introduce 2 other previous working methods, both in the form of journals. The first is a collection of leftovers from the day's work with the date and a word to describe the contents, e.g. 'sweepings 8/11/16'. The second method is to use strips leftover from the 'walk' painting to write day-to-day phrases that I will use as before, cutting out the gaps, immersing them in paint and dropping them onto the 2 new canvases I've prepared, then writing the phrase over, cutting out gaps and integrating them into the painting.
I have been sewing together the drips and creating objects that I experimented with stuffing and which then reminded me of stalagmites and stalactites that places my thinking underground once more. However, when I was removing the stuffing to repair a section I had my arm inside the object and I realised I had created a strange kind of organic extension to my arm that I think might work in some kind of performative way.
It's been a week of amazing dry and sunny autumnal weather so I've been digging , clearing my plot and cleaning out my shed. I left the big spiders alone that have made themselves at home around some small drawings I'd made and left there over a year ago. I am never too sure when is a good time to burn uncompostable debris but the allotment association chairman happened to walk past and when I said I was concerned not to to be a nuisance with smoke he said 'now would be a good time'.
I opened out the ongoing canvas on the floor before I left on my last visit. I went away with a plan to recycle an old 6'x5' stretcher and to fix the canvas to the back so as to be able to work the front using a similar method to some smaller recent canvases. However, I eventually decided to use 2 other medium-sized stretchers so that the backing canvas would be complete and not pierced in any way. I cut out the required sections, picked up the remaining pieces, which are now many fragments and painted the stretchers white.
I had an idea to create a dish inlaid slip by trailing the slip into a plaster mould and then pressing a slab of clay onto it. This didn't give me the result I was looking for at all but it provided me an interesting embossed alternative.
I continued to work into the charcoal drawing using monotone chalks and black ink.
I am interested in things and processes that are often overlooked or spurned as irrelevant. In 2006 I began working an allotment in Derbyshire that became my field for research and working the ground has been important ever since.