When I started this course, I was fresh from an under-graduate degree [just down the corridor in the BA Painting studios], so I was familiar with the college and how it worked. I could go straight into making work without any waiting - for inductions and such.
At that point in time I was happy with my core practice, I liked the work it was producing and the ideas that I was using, the evaluation of pattern [and all that it encompasses]in art. However I knew that I could easily become stuck in a rut when it came to the type of work that I was making. There were no great developments apart from the style of design used. My work was typically a circular board with a tessellation made from no more than 6 different types of materials, although many colours were used.
My starting point for the work, once the pattern has been settled upon, is usually a material or paint, to which I then base the rest of the scheme on. The materials are usually patterned paper, printed fabrics or household materials such as net-curtains and lace or textured fabrics such as foamy-felts. The colours could be new ones that I have mixed or have come across.
The scheme as stated before follows rules that I have applied to my work. These entail 1. Make/choose/edit a symmetrical or balanced pattern. 2. Pick a starting fabric, paper, texture or colour. 3. Plan out several colour schemes around that starting piece. 3a. No more than three colours [but as many shades of those colours].3b. No more than three textures, no more than three papers, no more than three fabrics/materials. 4. After testing and experimentation pick the best working scheme. 5. Plan out the board. 5a. Divide up the board into a number of sections, making sure no two of the same touch. 5b. Number each shape. 6. Make.
At the beginning of the first term we had an 'exhibition' held in the Project Space and Corridor. It was in the third week, I knew I wanted to continue in my circular fashion so that was fine, and at the time I thought there was still space to move around in with the tessellations.
I had a tutorial which led me to consider Systems Art and Generative Art, Marlow Moss, Jean Spencer. Zombie Formalism / Crapstraction. After Constructionism by Brandon Taylor. Also the technical side of making; using Plywood / Perspex instead of MDF boards, have a split baton on the back of each board [for stability and accuracy] and using a conservation grade glue - Lascaux Acrylic Glue - mainly because of yellowing that occurs due to acid in the PVA and Pritt Stick that I use. This would degrade my fabric and materials over time.
However in the making of this board [I still finished the board], I learnt that I had won a commissioning prize. ORBIS Art Prize. So for this prize I had to make thirteen boards, in my geometric tessellation style, in seven weeks. [Thirteen boards are what I would normally make / create in an academic year.] This did put a halt in the development and experimentation of my work as I had to continue in the same style to fulfil my proposal.
A few weeks into the commission we had a group critique in the studio, by this time I had the six smallest boards completed. From doing these I had learnt that a stipulation that I had used in the proposal, of using mainly blue as that was the company colour, worked in my favour. It meant that I had a connecting factor over all the boards, as they were all very different. Another connecting factor I decided on was that the two largest boards would be made of / use fabrics from the earlier boards [boards 1-11 would all be made of entirely different materials]. And the critique got me considering Chaos, Op Art [undulating pattern] and Orphism, Mirror and Portholes [enterable space] and Psychological Dimensions.
Over the next few weeks I was working towards the completion of the commission. This included the largest of the boards, going up to 1.05m diameter. These I found the hardest, because they were the most complicated, but also the most interesting, as I had so many shapes to play around with I could go fairly crazy with the combinations.
The next stage for me was the Pecha Kucha and my last tutorial before Christmas. I was still heavily involved in the making of the ORBIS boards but these discussions brought to light an important question - Is the line important or is the filling in of line/shape important? From that I thought of - Is the geometry important or is the evaluation of colour, pattern and texture important? I was also looking at the field of expanded painting, as technically I was not a 'pure' painter.
DAY OF ORBIS INSTALLATION. This got me considering about the professional side of my work, the technical side, as I had planned on my batons being enough to hang my work from. However the installers stated that this was not safe enough for a public environment, so they had to screw d-rings into the batons as a precaution this I did not mind as it got me thinking about other ways of hanging my work, such as the split baton.
After Constructivism, by Brandon Taylor
ORBIS Proposal, Page 12
One Hundred and Ninety, 2015
To figure out ways of doing/understanding this and to rationalise my process in making these I started with five small boards and on each board would be a colour. Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple and Red. On these boards would be everything that I would normally do, every material that I would normally have on a board. Artex, Acrylic, Cotton, Enamel, Ink, Lace, Paper and Tissue Paper. However there would be no restrictions on what would go where or how anything would behave. There would be no boundaries.
My reasoning for not using orange was that even though it is the natural contrasting colour to blue and so can harmonise with it, I feel that it clashes too much with blue and it clashes horribly with green, maybe because I use so much blue I am against its opposition. And for not using pink I simply do not like the colour. Black I feel is not a colour, much like my opinion of white and Caravaggio might disagree with me but it is an enemy of colour. It is the absence or complete absorption of light. It is a 'colour' without colour or hue.
The ideas I drew from this type of work were that they were a type of landscape [echoed in the Angels' Den/when seen flat, not on wall], they looked as if they were ways into a different worlds, portholes. They were chaotic in their appearance compared to my other work, even though there were rules still involved. But I started looking at a lot more visual sources compared with the geometric pieces. The word landscapes kept echoing for me and the idea that they were from a different world, so I looked into Nebulas and astronomy. I started making drawings from the nebulas and how I thought that a drawing would be for these types of work. This type sketches functioned as the technical/construction drawings for the non-geometry.
Now that the ORBIS commission was finished I was able to focus on my practice and its development. I had thought that the geometric style showcased the materials enough, but now looking back I am not so sure. Yes, they were an appropriate vehicle but it had become stale as it basically became a material filled tessellation. There was nothing exciting about them and whether this was because I had been doing them for a few years or working solidly for seven weeks with no break for the commission jaded me towards them as it I am not entirely sure about. I felt that the geometry was not enough.
From tutorials and discussions about by work I knew that I wanted to change my style of work, not the research behind it but its physical makings. I knew which ideas were important to me Ornamentation, Rules and Circles, and I knew what I was willing to bend on Geometry [specifically the line dividing the materials].
One of the things that I had picked up on was how labour intensive the pieces were, for example; if I had not planned out every board for ORBIS then there is no way that I could have made the thirteen boards in seven weeks, as the planning of a board is what takes up the time, not the assemblage or making. In the Pecha Kucha it was mentioned that I consider making quick works. This led me to remove the geometry from the making equation, the lines that separate the materials, the underlying patter. This decision means that there is no boundary between materials they can intermingle. In terms of physical aspects I kept the Circular Shape, Colours, Materials and Textures.
With this new work forming I wanted to still have rules as I knew I would over think and over complicate things. 1. Choose one to three colours, no more. 2. Choose no more than three fabrics of each colour. 3. Choose no more than three textures for entire board. 4. Lay down a structure on board comprising of one texture and two fabrics. 5. Make.
N.B. I had always named my geometric work after the number of shapes there were on the board, and these were always spelt out - One Hundred and Forty / Eighty-Eight. As I now had no shapes to name from I decided to base it from colours as this would be the next important idea in my practice and there would be a heavy emphasis on it. So I looked into colour names - Pantone, Dulux, Valspar, and made up my own. Citron Sunrise, Damson Delight etc….
The next step was to slowly introduce the colours together. For this I was using bigger boards. 500mm dia. Yellow and Green, Blue and hints of Green and hints of Purple, Purple and Red. With these I was learning what the limitations of the materials in this context were. Yellow, [much like red] unless I go into the ochre/orange side of yellow, does not have much of a contrast over its shade. Blue, does not mix well with yellow in liquid form. Green and Red will always look like Christmas and turn to brown when mixed. Purple and Yellow do not ever go together. Red mixed with white will always go pink no matter how much you try to change it. Turquoise and Crimson are a complimentary mix. Most of this was basic colour theory but I was reaffirming it with all the different types of paint - acrylic, enamel, ink - and with all the other materials.
My final step was to introduce all the colours together. Well; Green, Blue, Purple and Red. Yellow was not on this board because I felt that it would clash too much with purple and wanted a more harmonious effect on this board. In regards to this board I think I have got the composition and how I am using the fabrics, in this case, right and how I am manipulating the other materials; acrylic and enamel. However I am still unsure about the artex. Not my reasoning for using it is that I still feel a connection to it and the texture that it creates. But I am also aware that in this case I was too dependent on it, I used too much on this board and it over whelmed the piece.
From this I realised that maybe I needed more rigorous rules than I thought when it comes to making my work, well at least the non-geometric work. I know that one I will need to learn is when to stop. As with these works there is not natural end as there was with the geometric tessellations.
Ideas moving forward…
An idea that I did come across was that maybe I do not have differentiate between the geometric and non-geometric, they are just different forms of geometry.
Repetition has always been a part of my work, and I still think it is an aspect that I want to keep in my work, but at the moment I am not sure how.
What I understand by any material that I use will be different to what others understand when they see that material. Any material I use will bring all the connotations that I associate with that object.
Letting the materials do their own thing.
Turning these 'objects' into quite grotesque/horrendous pieces by going overboard with the materials. Complete opposite to what some might see as my work being twee.
Seventy-Three, Detail, 2016
Electric Cyan, 2016
Ruby Plum, 2016
Technicolour Cocktail, 2016