raw with more

i have stashes of old paintings in various parts of my studio. some are tucked away on a bookshelf, others sequestered in plastic display folders and then hidden in a drawer.

some are in journals that are then stacked precariously upon one another, never to see the light of day.

little pieces of me, quietly gathering dust and waiting to be rediscovered.

i forget what i have. sometimes that causes me to believe i haven’t been very productive at all. that i don’t have enough to stock an etsy store.

last week i decided to start collating, scanning and photographing my finished paintings. it’s a tedious task, but a necessary one if i ever want to be a working artist, and i’m easily distracted from it.

it’s the equivalent of having your mum ask you to tidy your room as a kid. you end up finding stuff you’ve forgotten about, or thought you’d lost, then playing with it and making more mess than you started with.

i was that kid.

i’m still that kid.

in april of 2014 (don’t you love that everything is time stamped now so we don’t have to remember dates?) i took one of mindy lacefield’s primitive portraits classes and produced a couple of quick, raw studies on 5×7″ canvas boards. i had the opportunity to sell them at the time, but i felt they were worthless practice pieces and i couldn’t bring myself to put a price on them.

fear? probably. i’m sure at the time i beat myself up for being a big chicken.

but now i’m really glad i didn’t let them go, because when i found them a few days ago, even though i still couldn’t see worth in them as they were, i realised there was the potential to take them further. earlier in the week i’d been playing in my journal with a redheaded, slightly punk/goth girl and decided to give these two old paintings a similar makeover.

they’re such simple creatures, right? they were painted very quickly with big brushes and a limited palette and i loved how raw they were. i wanted to preserve some of that crude technique but give them a little more depth.

i had just two rules.

no expectations and no overthinking allowed, just intuitively grabbing supplies and distressing the hell out of them with a scraping tool whenever they looked too polished.

i used stark reds and lots of black, colours i tend to shy away from for their boldness. i’ve avoided black because other, more experienced artists told me to it has a tendency to flatten a painting, and the only reason i used it here is because i blindly picked up the wrong bottle (right next to the payne’s grey) during my not-thinking practice.

hurrah for happy accidents as i really like the end results.

File 28-11-2015, 12 31 15 PM

File 28-11-2015, 12 30 44 PM

File 28-11-2015, 12 31 45 PM

i’ve since found three more primitive paintings in a similar vein.

sweet.

 

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fractured portraits. beginning.

i feel as though i’ve turned a corner in my art practice this past week.

for the longest time i’ve been going through the motions. doing the work. getting better. working on technique. but i was flip-flopping between the art I want to do and the art I had settled into, like a comfortable pair of trackie daks (tracksuit pants for non-aussie speakers), and the indecision led to a breakdown in my desire to motivate myself.

seriously, i began to wonder if i wanted it enough.

what was wrong with me? why was i not skipping gleefully to the studio every day or challenging myself to try something new? why was i only doing class assignments and not picking up my paintbrush in between lessons?

yeah, i think too much.

my heart had moved on from where i’d started out, but my head was having a little trouble keeping up.

stay.

paint the safe thing even if it no longer fires you up.

in painting whimsy, i’ve had several commission queries and offers to illustrate books. people like the cute little soulful girls in my journals and as much as i enjoy sharing them with everyone, they were always about my own personal healing and never about selling my art. don’t get me wrong, i’m grateful for every offer of support i’ve had from the people who want to buy my art.

of course i want to sell my art.

one day.

but not this day.

right now i just want to keep growing toward having the ability to paint the art that i enjoy. the aesthetic i’m drawn to. and that involves changing the way i select the online classes i enrol in, or the artists i study and try to emulate. it means not signing up to every class even though i know the teacher is a rock star, or buying every shiny damn art supply that a teacher demonstrates in class, but learning to master the ones i enjoy and are used by the artists i want to be like when i grow up. charcoal, acrylics, oils, plaster and digital mediums.

i’m learning to assess honestly. does this fit with the aesthetic i want for my art?

that doesn’t mean that there’s no place for soulful little girls in my journal. there is always healing to be done. but they do need to budge over a little bit to make room for the other stuff.

the first step in the right direction for me was taking Kate Thompson’s new Fractured Portraits class. kate has long been one of my favourite teachers and her aesthetic always resonates with me, no matter which direction she takes it in.

we’re learning to sketch the planes of the head with charcoal and then sculpt them using paint.

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and to loosen up by drawing from a photographic reference with two pencils taped together.

Two Pencil Drawing

gelli plate printing and plastering on ledger paper to make backgrounds for the next painting project.

Background 4

i’m feeling a little guilty about this one because the ledger paper i’m using is 116 years old! obviously not guilty enough to use something else though 😉

the feature image on this post is ledger paper with drywall tape, venetian plaster, cheesecloth and stencils and it’s all so textured and yum.

and i can’t wait to see what happens on it next.

isn’t that how it should be?