I recently attended the last of three “Alumni” days at West Dean College. There were 13 students all working on their own projects and two tutors were on hand to guide and support us in our work. My passion is for found objects but I struggle with how to move them on in an artistic way when I consider them to be beautiful in their own right.
A year or so ago, I found a strip of seaworn rubber on the beach:
I love the marks and textures here but took the plunge and tore it into pieces which I then reassembled, adding some found papers and stitch. I was still unsure as to whether this was enough so, on this last day at West Dean, I decided to try and paint large using one piece of modified rubber as my starting point. My first attempt was on lovely smooth white acrylic paper and the result, whilst a reasonable likeness, was flat and boring. I started again, this time on a coloured ground as suggested by tutor Mark Anstee. I decided that a blue or grey would contrast nicely and the West Dean shop offered me a choice of pastel paper or Khadi paper which was heavily textured – I tried the latter as I love texture and often work with collage. Here is the starting point:
Here is the painting in progress:
Up until this point, I had been working on a desk and Mark suggested that I fasten the painting to a board and work upright – a first for me! What a change this made! I felt so much freer working like this and, of course, could more easily stand back and view what I was doing. I found that I was not happy with what I had produced. My normal course of action at this point would probably have torn it up and used parts of the piece in a collage version of the rubber. However, I did not want to follow my usual default, despite the obvious temptation as collage woudl easily give me the texture that I sought. Mark suggested that I effectively start again, painting afresh as if the first “layer” were not there. I mixed some more paint and covered up a good portion of the painting and went again.
The day came to an end and I felt that the painting had potential. Mark asked me to consider one point in particular, noting that the upper left hand side was now looking quite three-dimensional – did I want to make a painting of the found object … or “a painting?” A point for me to ponder on before continuing. I will also, by way of contrast, recreate the piece in collage as it will be interesting to see which I prefer. Any feedback gratefully received!