In trying to understand myself better and by extension develop my thinking around my work, I asked myself a couple of leading questions.
What makes me want to paint?
It’s the process for me – it just has to be done. I get an idea and I have to pursue it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but that is the whole point, it’s the journey.
Do I have an agenda? Is there something I want to say with my art?
If left to my own devices I would entirely work in the abstract because this gives me the freedom to experiment with medium/colour/texture etc. I enjoy painting landscapes and also working with soft pastels. I can work quickly with soft pastels, I think that’s why I like them so much. I do not believe I have any underlying theme or motif that I am working with or to. I know that I have to paint and have to understand the work I make but I never set out with an agenda, I am not trying to change the world and even if I was, nobody would take me seriously.
What things don’t I paint and why?
Up until I started this course, I didn’t do any figurative/portraiture work because I honestly didn’t think I was any good at it. I’m starting to understand those genres now and have figured out a few things that have helped me make portrait paintings I like and am happy with, something I didn’t expect to ever happen. I don’t paint grotesque scenes or macabre themes – there is no need for me to do that in my life. I have experienced pain, anger, depression etc. often in my life (as we all do) but I don’t see why I should paint about it graphically. Those emotions (including the positive ones like joy and love) manifest in my work, if you look carefully enough.
Where is contemporary art now, is painting dead?
There are a plethora of so-called post-modern artists around today who we are asked to study in this course. Some of the work I cannot relate to – I feel like the artist is ‘taking the piss’ or doing something controversial just to get a reaction. I find that depressing. Contemporary art and specifically painting – in this 21st century – is up against a vast array of competitive visual media. This doesn’t mean it has to be ugly, sarcastic or confrontational in order to prosper. I feel that painting is on the verge of a major developmental shift. People are still making valid, profound works of art using paint. I believe we will still be painting pictures long after electronic visual concepts have become passing fads. This is a lively time to be a painter!