The Importance of Experimentation

I have come to realise the importance of experimentation, not just in the studio, but with life. I’m not talking about anything life threatening or physically painful, but just enough to push yourself out of the comfort zone. Why? Because stretching yourself in one area releases courage in another.

Experimentation in my arts practice shakes up my routine and forces me to reconsider my process as well as introducing me to new ways of discovering texture and mark making. Is it uncomfortable? – yes, does it always yield good results? – no, is it worthwhile? – absolutely!

The images below are those I considered worked, I used a mix of media; acrylic, pencil, pastel, ink, and watercolour with various bushes.

The image below did not work as a stand alone image, however, there is something in the washes of greens and the high horizon line, sitting next to the hard bristle strokes of the purple marks that I will be further exploring…nothing is lost.

Last year I attended an online workshop with Louise Fletcher an artist and tutor from Yorkshire in England. I am repeating this workshop this year. The six acrylic squares at the start of this post is part of the first exercise from her course, it is a great way of loosening up and having fun with acrylic.

Reflections of late Autumn – mixed media.

This is one of three pieces I have been working on and it seems as the temperature drops here in New Zealand, so the contrast darkens in my work. I have always been a lover of a strong black line with its potential for drama, and I think that is apparent in this piece. Below is the first landscape in this trilogy, and although signed does at this point feel a little unfinished so I may possibly revisit this.

Below are the starting points of the three landscapes. Middle image was the beginnings of the work featured on the easel.

What inspires me…

When I look at my local ranges – the Tararua Ranges – I am lifted up with a sense of freedom. I am in awe of their rolling contours, their strength, their unmovable presence and grace.

My painting and drawing reflect this freedom, with lines and marks; steady and determined, light and delicate. I walk, I fly across my paper – I am the brush, the pencil, the pastels, the eraser, the piece of black velvet charcoal. With water I merge each mark and rework and re-walk each line, building layer upon layer. This process places my feet firmly in the land, my mark firmly on the paper, with this familiarity my relationship with the subject deepens, my appreciation grows, I am awake….my work is a melding of my spirit and the land, we are at that moment one.

Horowhenua Landscape – colour studies.

Although smaller in size these four colour studies were just as challenging as my larger work. I wanted to maintain fluidity and freshness with each whilst at the same time bringing depth through layering a mix of media. This included charcoal at the start, followed by watercolour, water-soluble wax pastels, soft pastel and back into each one with either black or indigo water-soluble pencil. I will endeavour to replicate parts of these works into a further series on Colourfix pastel board – a completely deferent surface from the smooth hot pressed Fabriano Artistico paper these studies are painted on.

Each study is 10.5″ x 7″ unframed and available to purchase. Please see my Landscape Gallery for further details.

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