• Today I visited the Camden arts centre gallery where I saw the exhibited work of Vivien Suter and Athanasios Argiana. At first I wasn’t too inspired by Suters work, thinking it was quite limited in terms of its creative process. However, the way she had exhibited the work hung like trees all around the room made me feel immersed in the colour and scale of her material pieces. Alike to my own work, she has painted on large scale pieces of fabric and suspended them freely in the air with no stretching onto a canvas. This made me reflect upon ways in which I could display my work in order to impact the viewer.  Furthermore, the context of her work was further intriguing, using the environment around her of nature by which she is inspired by to affect her work. Allowing leaves to fall and rain to pour when leaving her work outside to dry. I found this inspiring as i too within this project want to portray the environment in which i inhabit. Leading me to further think about the differences between her environment and mine, and the sadly different ways i could be inspired by the industrial landscape around me in a more physical sense.  Argiana’s subtle use of poetry within his installation has similarly led me to reflect on different ways i could portray my social criticism on infrastructure today. 

After taking some photography of the Camden market, (in hindsight i should have brought my sketchbook)and of shapes on the train tracks, i wanted to throw myself right into my work by attempting to create an experimental piece in my sketchbook. I followed a different process to normal, where i accurately drew some tubing on a brick wall, attempting to capture a sense of serenity within the industrial landscape. I proceeded to paint the foreground a pale orange pink. I liked the simplistic effect this gave but I felt like this was potentially just the base of the rest of the painting. I continued to do a considerably looser, more painterly sketch with both ink and charcoal. I thought the depth the harshness of colour this gave was successful.

sketchbook page A1

Looking into the work of Debbie Smyth, I want to experiment with different mediums, inspired too by Albert Oehlens’ ability to freely experiment with materials. Henceforth leading me to try incorporating stitching into my work. Though Smyths use of embroidery is all she uses, very successfully presenting sketch like responses to architecture and general life; I’d like to use the embroidery in a more subtle way, perhaps only truly noticeable after observing my work more intently.

I really liked stitching, especially as i’ve never done it before i liked the discrete detail it gives. However, I think in the future I will try and use a sewing machine, attempting to bring a stronger effect of using this material within my work. Although, I do like how each layer of the piece can be seen in the overall painting, with the foreground still permeating through the buildings and gaps. I do think I brought a level of beauty to an environment that I don’t traditionally find beautiful. However, I cannot seem to help but contrastingly portray the intimidation of the environment surrounding us. Perhaps beginning to prove the unfortunate reality of the struggle to live in complete harmony within the quotidian world we have created as mankind within Western civilisation.

I began this morning with sketching using a paint pen on tracing paper on the train on my way to uni. I then sewed this sketch into my book and surprisingly actually liked the messiness of the back stitching that came onto the back of yesterday’s painting which was interesting. I obviously enjoy the more messy painterly abstract style rather than realistic and reserved.

oil on canvas

Leading me to experiment on rough canvas, thinking again about simplifying shapes and wanting to maintain a level of simplicity through the limited palette of orange, black and white. For me, this allows a level of contrast between light and dark, exposing the beauty in industrial society alongside the loss of ease i personally resonate with. I extended the orange lines of the fence to bring a sense of pattern, parallel to the lines of the sideways structure bringing balance to the piece. Though i feel like more could be added i think i’ll leave it here before i do too much, perhaps also evoking a sense of lack of finality. Which I quite like.

Today I made more experimental sketches thinking about shape, negative space and layering. I like the numbers used in both paintings. I think they bring a  sense of urban life to the scenes, this is definitely something I’d like to explore further.

sketchbook page A1 multi media
sketchbook page A1 multi media

Though i don’t really like the colours used in the second painting, they are too vibrant and harsh for my liking. However I do like the chaotic setting created. Reminding me of Victor Wilings exhibition at the Turps Gallery. 

Today I went to the Turps gallery to visit David Hephers work. Fascinated by the scale of his work and how this left an imposing and pervading effect on the viewer, contributing to the experience of the massive brutalist apartment block. I found this interesting as it created the same sense of threat that he might have felt by the stature of solidity of the structure of the building. This is definitely a feeling I personally resonated with. He uses the materials of his surrounding within his work too, such as the graffiti and concrete itself. I like the idea of using spray paint, creating an urban setting and bringing about a further likeness to the architecture and how its been adapted by human culture over time. I would also like to experiment with external materials such as concrete and see the directions in which this experimentation could lead.

sketchbook page A1

I proceeded to make a series of sketches of his work, the gallery downstairs and observational sketches from the blocks surrounding the gallery. I found this amazingly inspiring, motivating me to consider shape and pattern in a new realised way. Looking how shapes interact with each other within architecture and the repetition and solidity of shape and line. I similarly became interested with the use of metal bars and poles, the sense of aesthetic beauty they offered the buildings alongside the usefulness they provided for society. I then made some further explorative sketches to consider composition, limited colour and negative space more intimately.

sketch book page A1

Going back to Taoist beliefs, despite the threatening nature of the huge grey buildings, I did feel a sense of harmony and beauty within this space. Reminding me almost of a steampunk city landscape. Leading me to reflect upon ways in which I could manipulate this setting into a new landscape. Capturing the harmony amongst the dark, and for many, ugly surroundings in which I’ve captured.

  • Today I wanted to go straight in and start creating work that had height and was on a larger scale. Fuelled with inspiration from the day prior I bought 5 metres of linen to create a large scale piece of work that I’ll create in sections. Perhaps sewing these sections together or staple etc depending on the outcome of the piece. After looking at Benet Spencers work alongside Albert Oehlen and Patrick Caulfield, I want to attempt to merge flatness and negative space with chaos and depth. Creating a composition that insinuates a setting. Victor Willing’s work has also led me to think about a sense of stillness alongside a sense of narrative. 

Due to my limited space in the studio I want to create a long piece of work that stretches from along the floor and suspended up to the ceiling. Hanging alike to Vivien Suters work, giving a natural effect. This is also alluding to the waterfalls often depicted within Chinese cultural Taoist artwork. Created to depict a harmonious environment aligned with peace and nature. Although, mine will serve as a rather ironic depiction of this, looking toward the threatening nature of our high rise buildings and industrial architecture. To emblematize the difference in culture; seeking to provide a likeness as well as a disparity. Merging both the pervading and rather isolating nature of these buildings, reflective of the people who inhabit them; alongside revealing the potential beauty and harmony these structures still adopt. I’m excited to see where this could lead and what materials I could use from the outside world to add to this effect.

oil ,pen and oil pastel on linen

I began by doing an accurately drawn , using a ruler , pen drawing of the apartment staircase. The stained background of brown and black watered down and scrubbly applied paint brought a concrete effect. I then proceeded to stain the surrounding of the building in black inky paint to draw a discrete sense of depth. I wanted to give a more free flowing and urban sense to the piece so free handedly drew an abstracted spiral of the ramp. I thought this was very successful to incorporate a sense of motion through circular shapes rather than all geometric blocks.

 I proceeded to upside down, draw the shape of a building and roughly sketch some windows and a terrace. I was also very interested in the shadows I noticed from my sketches, wanting to incorporate this insinuation of shape. Henceforth, outlining one of the shadows from down an alleyway in blue cobalt watered down paint. I flipped the painting upside down to allow drips to fall the other direction and realised I actually preferred the piece upside down. And likes the empty vacuous space above juxtaposed with the chaotic atmosphere created underneath. Reminding me of how i personally feel when looking up into the sky, almost as if the sky is no man’s land, the only place we haven’t conquered.

  • Quarantine…. Bit of a problem but we shall work with it;)

Made a couple of experimental sketches with some last minute mediums I was able to find and pick up. Here are the results

I really like the vibrancy in this work, it’s interesting, it’s almost like my sketchbook is becoming a visual quarantine diary. These colours make me feel more excited about my work at the moment and I think the confusion and fear/disorientation I am going through is really being reflected within this triptych in my sketchbook. I like the clashing of the dark pink and orange alongside the harsh contrast of the cool turquoise. Pinks and greens are two colours I definitely want to work with more. 

I’ve been watching plenty of documentaries about consciousness and watching other people’s experiences in quarantine (especially those trapped outside of their home countries) This alongside a lot of reading has led me to reference a statement from Terrence McKenna that “culture is not our friend”. A statement I’ve been deeply considering when thinking about evaluating myself as a person during this period. Exploring what parts of me are authentic and which parts of my personality have been prescribed to me by society and culture. More of this was explored in the research file.

Walking to my garage today I decided that my next big piece of work should capture the ghost town that I had walked through. With no one on the streets it feels very abnormal and alien. I do want to capture this experience in my work. Moreover, I also want to capture the industrial and urban nature of my garage as a working space and allow this to feed my inspiration.

I began the second piece similarly to the first, as to let the foreground permeate through the beginning sketches, that almost too slowly become the foreground themselves. Inspired by Caulfield and Oehlens work, I want to keep the foreground as a constant throughout this piece. Almost highlighting the stillness of the current world in which we are all inhabiting and hiding from in a way. The lack of community within this adventurously built up setting exposes the contrast we are all a part of during this time.

I proceeded to focus on this block and built it up using electric blue ink mixed with water, pink purple pink acrylic and oil pastel. I like this corner so much I think it could stand as a completed piece of work in itself. Inspiring me to perhaps create a series of work like this later on as i continue to explore this style. Again I                                                                                                                          purposely have placed this upside down, playing with the themes of alienation and displacement.                                          

I wanted to continue this more urban atmosphere that i’ve been creating in my work, freely sketching a rough structure of a high rise building overlapping the outline of a car park ramp. Using some left over spray paint to messily outline the building’s geometric shape. Inspired by Hepher’s use of spray paint, this is a medium I have not yet explored and I am excited to experiment more with it. Perhaps using letters, words or numbers within my art too to potentially bring the buildings and my messages to life in a different sense. I’m looking forward to finishing off and being able to go over all the pieces at once. 

Today was a slower day, I have been feeling odd with self distancing and isolation. It’s a challenge to keep motivation levels high but i am proud of myself for making the most of what i have. I decided to stop adding to this piece and give it a chance to breathe, being able to approach it with a new mindset tomorrow.  I wanted to add the blue shadow to draw a comparison to the first piece. I’m currently unsure of whether this was a successful decision and am unsure of how I’m going to have this flow through to the third piece and what shapes I should distribute and if so where?

Instead I thought I’d make some more sketches of high rise buildings in my area on my walk home.  I always become most inspired by sketches and transcribing these sketches in different experimental ways within my book or on external pieces.  

Firstly, I sketched using charcoal over a page that had random stitching over it from previous work, I wanted to see if this added anything to the sketch in terms of its looseness and I do think it was effective. 

Interestingly i do prefer the messier and incoherent use of embroidery, preferring the side that is meant to be hidden. Perhaps due to my personal love for abstraction and texture.

Despite liking the sketch just black and white I did overlay a section of canvas that can be removed to see what it was like next to a pop of turquoise spray paint. I like this to an extent though i think i prefer the raw sketch as it is.

I then again was looking into Patrick Caulfields work, in particular ‘Blue Posts’. Hence experimenting with this piece bellow, pushing myself to not over add to a piece of work and allow for simplicity. I do find this challenging sometimes and find it hard not to over do it. I like the blocks of blue alongside the complementary colour contrast of the yellow and purple. The yellow paint adds a sense of detail to the otherwise very simple sketch. I am happy with this and may create some larger work in this style.

So unfortunately my family are showing symptoms for coronavirus so we are all completely isolating ourselves and not going out to shop or exercise. So creating work right now will be a lot harder. However, today i thought i’d lay out my composition for my final piece so far and see how i should compose the last piece. Though I do like how I’ve been approaching this piece with intuition. I think a sense of processes is additionally needed as I want to feel a sense of direction. However, after i’ve planned this base drawing i shall fill it in with paint and other materials in an intuitive way.

So whilst in isolation I cannot add any more to my final piece because I need to be able to visit my garage which is a 20 minute walk away and hang it up. Henceforth leading me to set myself the personal challenge of starting and finishing a large piece of work external to my sketchbook. To help with my development and experiment more with spray paint, ink and colour. Furthermore, I wanted to practice using my phone as a way of vaguely mapping out my intuitive composition.

Firstly I used black and blue ink and roughly painted the background, I poured the liquid onto the canvas and allowed it to drip and flow around the piece as I moved it. After this I used my turquoise spray paint and intuitively sprayed shapes and lines all around the canvas, emblematic of graffiti in urban landscapes. I really liked this as a piece itself though I wanted to push my experimentation further.

After taking this photograph I wanted to approach this piece differently. Using my phone to experiment with how colours and shape may work in a piece.

Reflecting upon the alienation in society all over the globe currently throughout this pandemic. I wanted to explore themes of a dystopian world and reality within my work. Expressing the sense of chaos heavily juxtaposed with the lack of movement and isolation within our lives. This roughly dissecting shapes and outlines of buildings coerced with more simple homed in shapes such as panels on my garden fence. As I applied this rough plan onto my piece physically, I wanted to allow my intuition to develop, using a gold varnish spray paint over the fence panels which created an ominous blur effect. I found this outcome particularly ugly and was rather disappointed with its lack of vibrancy and sense of emergency.

Inspired by earlier sketchbook work, I wanted to incorporate numbers within this piece, excited by how numbers and words can be used in subtle ways to bring about a sense of familiarity or emphasise a key message. I’m nor sure how much this adds to the piece. I think it would perhaps be more successful in a messier font and perhaps a different colour such as yellow. However this led me to reside back to digital planning. Wanting to grasp a similar energy to my first step when it was just the spray paint. Henceforth roughly mapping this mental urgency through the use of white wall paint.

I found my online plan successful and thought this filtered through to my final product successfully. I also like the insinuated sense of motion through the curved and straight lines. This is something I’d further like to explore to highlight juxtaposition between isolation and chaos. Stillness and movement etc.

I wanted to create another large scale piece external to my sketchbook. Using a darker more apocalyptic colour scheme, attempting to bring a sense of stagnation and eeriness for the observer. For the background I used black wall paint and orange, scraped against the canvas giving a dry  effect which I liked. I continued to splatter black flecks across the canvas to give a different sort of print and offer some deeper texture. The white drips were actually at first a mistake i decided to emphasise further as i did like the sense of depth it offered. Thinking of the grid, I also like how they almost crawl up the painting rather than drip down, giving a sense of unease/discomfort, drawing the viewers eyes to the isolated sketch of a brutalist council block I sketched in Elephant and Castle. 

I proceeded to add watered down mustard yellow to bring the front of the building to the fore and offer a sense of depth and perspective, alongside dark green ink and white paint successfully did this. 

After some thought and reflection upon my current thoughts and feelings I wanted to stretch myself in a new direction of exploring this alienation. Leading me to think about how storytelling can be constructed through artwork.

Though my final piece is still exploring the pursuit of harmony within nature through an industrial world. As this pandemic has continued, my interests within the final piece have also steered to the feelings of isolation, and again trying to apply a Taoist peaceful mindset upon the world ; despite our current shortcomings.

However, within this experimental piece I wanted to push this alienation to a new extreme, experimenting once again with digital planning in order to construct an abduction sci fi setting in a painterly way. Metaphorically exploring how Covid 19 has affected our world diversely and within all cultures and regions. Mother nature feels like she’s taking back control by showing us how venomous we are to the world. Ironically depicting this through a very futuristic image, something that makes me feel very out of control and afraid. 

My two weeks self isolation with no outside contact is now over so im able to go back to the garage to finish my final piece :))

I began drawing out my rough plan that really identified where I should balance shapes in my composition to balance the observers eyes. However, I began to really struggle with colour; I really liked the vibrancy of the spray paint and wanted to bring a sense of vibrancy inspired by graffiti in urban areas. It was hard applying straight onto my piece as i didn’t want to get the balance wrong and still wanted negative space. Hence leading me to use photoshop to explore these colours further.

I added brackets and threw away pieces of wood I had collected from around my garage. I wanted to, alike to Bradford and Hepher, using 3 dimensional materials that reflect not only the environment I’m working personally within but also the external inspiration of industrialisation. Taking these objects that are made for particular purpose and playing with them in an ironic representation and criticism of this world. Where everything now does have to serve some sort of purpose, where we are growing further away from spiritual purpose and progression.

I proceeded to add dark blue oil pastel to balance colours throughout the triptych, alongside further experimenting with use of numbers up the side of the building lift. However, this time writing over fragments of glued and varnished wood, naturally creating a more abstract chaotic effect. This doesn’t stand out from afar but is a subtle detail noticed when observed closely, i like this idea that there’s things to explore and find within this piece. Representative of a city landscape itself. 

As finishing touches i went over all three paintings at once, balancing colours and adding vibrancy with pink oil paint and a palette knife. Now all I need to do is sew them together. I want to create an overwhelming atmosphere and I think this would be achieved through the overall height of the piece. Furthermore, I wanted to present a contemporary criticism but also a comparison to ancient Taoist artwork of waterfalls. Traditionally making paintings of landscapes to reflect spiritual harmony.

FMP page will have the finished outcome, alongside variations of presentation.