Having moved out of Studio 4 Whites Old Workshops last week I am considering what areas of my work to concentrate on now. I spent a few happy hours on my allotment yesterday harvesting autumn produce and weeding around parsnips, carrots and beetroot still in the ground. Now that I don't have so many hours travelling to and fro the studio I have more time to meander, which means noticing small things such as little grey mushrooms growing out of a tree trunk and a focused beetle marching across the path. I am planning a return to clay but who knows what might happen...
I've been in my new studio for three months and it's interesting how spaces lend themselves to different things. It's light and bright with two big windows and two skylights. I've been making pots more than painting so far. I am trying not to be over-cluttered so have just the necessary equipment - wheel, table for clay prep, sink and shelves for pottery. I take dry pots home to glaze and fire in my kiln in the garage as I'm not able to have a kiln in my studio. The other side of my studio I have another table, drawing desk, shelving and a big empty wall for painting.
The paintings are still about walks I make regularly and my observations of almost invisible things, like spider's webs revealed by a rare mist. I seem to be using a scalpel more than a paintbrush and then photographing the canvas with sunlight casting shadows through it like dappling through leaves. I have all the cut-out pieces, which I'm yet to decide what to do with.
I'm particularly enjoying making pots in two parts, some of which are going to be lamps. I enjoy the way the pots surprise me with the forms that emerge when joined on the wheel. I learned this technique from one of Simon Leach's Youtube tutorials, which have served as a refresher course for my return to pot making after many years. Thanks Simon!
Some weeks ago I was browsing in a very splendid Penzance bookshop - Barton Books - and saw this box of postcards. As a child I was drawn to boxes full of colour - my brother had a box of colour-coded wooden measuring tools that I remember vividly. After a few weeks of thinking about the box of postcards I went back to buy it and it had gone, but an order was placed for me. Some more weeks have passed and I have opened the box, shuffled and sorted the cards a number of times and replaced them. Last night I came up with a plan. It is the juxtaposition of colours that intrigues me, one colour seen through another. So, I thought I could cut irregular holes in the cards so that when shuffled they would find their own combinations. I once made a hole through an Alice in Wonderland notebook by burning each page in turn. This box is now contained in a large frame of personal memorabilia.
I am starting a new journal of phrases associated with colour observations made on my daily walk. I will write the date and phrase on the message side of the relevant postcard and cut out the closed shapes made by the text as I have in my recent paintings. The process will be complete once every card has been pierced in this way. I anticipate eventually having to search for colours that haven't been 'taken' early on in the process.
This work began in July as a large canvas and evolved into two works relating to nine walk-related phrases with leftovers from the days work archived in cellophane packets, four monotone, underground drawings and a wearable canvas made from remnants, performed at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens by Toby of Roaming Penzance.
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.
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.