artwork,  from my desktop

Punching Resistance in the face and getting back on track

So I just got done scraping my new artwork after pyrographing it and cleaning up my workspace in readiness to start my favourite part of the process – painting! However, I find myself needing to pause a minute before I dive headlong into colouring and happily lose myself in it – hoping this isn’t another ploy being used by Resistance to stop me…and I’ve had a lot of Resistance to contend with in the last few months.

But something tells me it isn’t, because one of the main things I’ve actually been resisting is writing my newsletter and blog!
I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time now but been stuck on how to go about reconnecting with my subscribers without sounding pathetically apologetic about not being consistent with these updates.
Now I think the only way to do it is to just DO IT! To simply fill you in with what I’ve been up to (and what not) and really be honest about what my life is really like – unpredictable, fickle, sometimes on cue and sometimes not, full of self-doubt and insecurity and a lot of the big R – Resistance.

I will say that when I write I don’t really get much feedback so inevitably I feel like I’m either writing to myself or talking to the wall. So, more often than not the thought that overwhelms me and has me stopping before I’ve even begun is,

Who the heck cares about me, my life, my thoughts and work anyway?!

But enough of that self-pity already!

I will begin by updating you on what I am doing now which will slowly lead up to getting you up to date as to how and why I got here, doing what I’m doing.After a long pause from doing anything with the pyrograph I am back at it with a new series I’m working on, which is also part of an ongoing series. The new series is called ‘Greek Horse’ and is, of course, part of my larger series ‘The Greek Collection’. But this series is quite different in a few ways relating to the reason I haven’t been doing any pyrography artwork for so long and which I will explain immediately.
The last pyrographed artwork I did was ‘Myrto of Attica’, (see images above). Part of my ‘Greek Collection’, she was the second in a row of artworks I planned to do based on Greek traditional costumes. Actually she is the fifth, if I consider 3 older pieces which are included in the collection before it became a collection.
‘Amalia’ came just before her, ‘Evzone Marching’ came before Amalia and Carpathian Lady before him. (See images below).

I had begun some intensive, expensive and time-consuming research into the origins and designs of Greek costumes and my last two pieces were a result of that.
Most of my artwork is on a large scale, mainly because I love working on expansive surfaces with lots of space and also because it’s easier when using the pyrograph and adding a lot of detail. And these last two ladies certainly had a lot of detail!

Not only did they have a ton of detail but I also decided I would try to use oils. However, both the fact that there was so much detail and the fact that oils take forever and a year to dry before you can rework them, these two pieces took me forever (or so it seemed to me) to finish.
The result: by the end of that marathon I was burnt out.
After I’d finished them we went on our summer vacation and then I went to the UK to visit my dad who’d recently had heart surgery and so by the time I got back I thought I’d be rearing to go.
But I wasn’t. My heart just wasn’t in it.
I was tired and looking for something lighter, easier and faster. I felt my art had frozen and become fixed by the technique I was using (pyrography). I wanted to loosen up, become freer in my expression. I was also suffering from what I’ve since learnt a lot of artists suffer from, that being I felt my art wasn’t good enough for what I wanted to do and how I wanted to paint it.
So I started exploring different media, from dry and oil pastels, watercolour and finally gouache, the latter of which I have become a huge fan!

But that’s for another update! Meanwhile, let me get back to why the artwork I’m working on now is different to past pyrography artwork.

A sampling of various sketches and illustrations I did while experimenting with various media.

I did a lot of experimentation with other media, both on paper, canvas and my journal and I found that what I was being drawn to was ‘simpler’, illustration-style artwork, pattern -in particular repeat patterns- and a minimal colour palette. I was still being drawn to using Greek-style elements and drawing and I’d also spent a month preparing for ESPI’s Christmas Bazaar whereupon I created many, many horse-related objects, which I thoroughly enjoyed creating. Specifically, hand painted ceramic pomegranates featuring my own horse designs. (See images below.)

This led me to where I am now.
After allowing myself to experiment and make a lot of ‘bad’ artwork -something I was loathe to do in the past, but which I now find a necessary part of the process- I found myself creating artwork on these lines, as described above, and focusing on using these elements in a whole series rather that one or two pieces.
I find this helps me in developing my style, reinforcing what I learn on the way and what will and will not be used in future works, both large and small.
My mind is always working at high speed. In my mind I have finished works that I haven’t even done yet, but because I’ve ‘done’ them in my mind I get lazy about actually doing them in the physical!

One important factor in all my experimentation and discovery is that I have realised how much I like flat colour, in particular a matte finish -gouache is superb for a matte finish- and so I’ve found ways of creating the same effect using acrylics on wood.
Which brings me to the series I am working on now, ‘Greek Horse’.
Having finished two already, I am now on my third piece and itching to get painting it as I have finished pyrographing it.

As you can probably see, they are quite different to past work in the following ways:

  • I am working on a smaller format (max size so far is 60 x 50 cms)
  • I am using a monochrome palette rather than a plethora of colours
  • I am focusing on one subject
  • I am allowing more for more negative space
  • I am using a matte finish which will continue throughout the series

and most importantly

  • I am allowing myself to follow my own drumbeat

Time to get back to my next piece!

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