Thursday, 2 February 2017

Increasingly Process Driven

During the last six weeks I have been working hard on a series of paintings. I had expected to be working on stills taken from microscopic studies that I filmed at the Natural History Museum. But my focus has once again turned to the English landscape short films and the stills that I took from those. It's the foliage in these pictures that has prompted further developments in the process of my painting.

There has been a series of steps within this process that I have been following;

1. The initial experience of the walk, being in the founding environment. Actually being out in nature looking at the land around me is an important part of my decision-making and the first step.

2. I use a digital camera to record this experience. Other than the process it’s self this stage transfers the actual physical experience onto a digital, none physical, media and places it within a frame behind a lens. This is the first level of transition or interpretation of the given landscape.

3. The next stage is to watch and select stills from the short films. These stills are unlike normal photographs because they are at times blurred or part of an action that is different from composing a standard photographic shot. They feel and look more like the interpretation is moving through the landscape rather than standing still and simply taking the shot. They feel and look more like the viewer is moving through a landscape rather than standing still and simply taking the shot in a more contemplative state.

4. These selected stills are then printed. There is a conscious decision on my part not to print these out at Hi-Res and this is because I personally like the way a standard printout affects the visual image and colour. It's a reinterpretation of something living and another level through which I interpret the visual world. But there is something fake about it, fakery that comes about through a modern technology and one that we could use daily or allow ourselves to see as a true reality when actually this is another lens through which to interpret something, another level that can distort reality.

5. I then looked carefully at these printouts and sketch out some of the distorted forms that the plants have taken. These were forming abstract, yet recognisable landscapes. They look like twisted shapes that in a sense I've taken on a new identity. I draw these onto paper or directly onto the canvas and then interpret the colour in a loose, more minimal and palate restricted way. I'm subconsciously making decisions about formers as I allowed the sketching to draw out something that has more of an outline, is more solid than say the softened edge of the photograph. Shapes are becoming harder and existing more on one plane rather than the depth that the photos depict.

6. This solidifying of some of these fluxing shapes creates Totem like forms, that look primitive, basic, but there is something about them that is recognisable. I isolate these, increase scale and potentially placed them individually on a canvas or in groups or pairs. Strangely they seem to come alive and imply different types of movement or identity. The edge of these forms is important because the initial abstraction of the form was the result of the light behind the plants in the original film footage that was then manipulated by this series of lenses as described above. So I pay particular attention to the edge translating the light into a series of canals or outlines the frame the forms.


This is my most recent stage and I gaze at these larger primitive bodies staring at me from brightly lit backgrounds. They speak to me of something primitive or tribal and in them I see people. This is the bizarre thing about these forms that I extracted through this process; the fact that I see a humanity staring back at me. Maybe this is more a reflection of me rather than of the work itself, potentially what this shows is when we look at something we try and see something human there? Or that we are so tuned to the shape and movement of the human body that we subconsciously or willingly translated it into every unidentifiable form, humanising and even giving it a character or motive.

The work continues.