Digging Deeper

I recently shared how I'd begun to see my art journey clearer. I think it's quite natural that as I practise daily and see more art in my day, I see more of myself in my art. However, I still have a long way to go. 

As an artist, I connect most with the Expressionist movement, who, at the turn of the twentieth century and with the growing popularity of photography, believed artists must give something more than mere reality.  Their paintings expressed the artist's inner feelings and ideas. 


Artists, such as Wassily Kandinsky, used colour as a universal code for emotion. For example, a particular tree, which we might expect to be green, may have a deeper significance for Kandinsky: connected to a sad memory. He would therefore paint the tree violet as a colour associated with mourning. 

He felt these colour coding connections were true for everyone and, to a degree I think he's right: we all find certain colours either warm or cold and connected to nature. Although this gives artists a solid foundation, I feel colour is a very personal language.  We can have a strong response to a certain colour and if we were to dig a little deeper we'd probably discover a very personal reason for it. For me, there is a deep shade of turquoise that immediately takes me back to my teens, when I made a pretty cool blouse I was very proud of. I've realised recently that I use that colour in my paintings to represent ambition and accomplishment.  

[Kind of interesting too - and it's just this minute come to me - I've taken to collaging with dressmaker's cotton within my paintings. Another throwback to my dressmaking youth maybe??]

With this in mind, it's a vital part of the painting process to not only choose a subject matter for a piece, but also to understand how I feel about the subject and explore ways of expressing those feelings. 
When I choose to paint a building or city I've visited it's because I've uncovered a narrative I emotionally connect to.  This dialogue with the subject matter continues as I begin to paint.  

I often work intuitively, I respond to the subject by meaningful process; in effect, the act of mark-making becomes as much a part of the painting as the final piece, with each process contributing to the storytelling.

While working on my piece depicting Singapore [close up pictured here], I believe I made important steps in personal expression. I love the energy conveyed. I'm discovering my language here. With diluted paint, allowed to drip uncontrolled, I express wounds; paint stripped back reveals the past; the suppression of one colour by another builds my personal colour legend; stamping becomes "branding" of a belief or stereotype; the continuous lines represents curiosity and examination.

Right now I've taken to painting these large scale city views.  One of the first activities on the list when visiting a city is to find the highest point and take in the overall geography of the place. It's a big picture viewpoint, discovering - from an impersonal distance - its shapes and colour.   Then we take a locally guided walking tour with the view to getting up close and under the skin of the city. This creates a wonderful fusion within me of the visually pleasing and emotionally challenging; architecture, culture, stories and experience that produce a set of personal reflections and affinities.  I carry these with me when I come to paint. 

I'm currently working on a series of paintings pushing this language of expression further and, in particular, building my colour legend. Next on the easel are New York and Lisbon!

 I hope to share these new works with you very soon.