understanding a painting – summer abstract 2020

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Shifting through Time

when you find yourself in front of a painting you don’t understand
stay there
stand still
wait
and look…

look for a shape you recognise
look for a colour you’ve worn
look for a line that could be part of your own name

search, imagine

if you scraped back a layer
what might lie beneath?

can you find the first time you fell in love?
can you find the first time you were afraid?
can you find the first layer of paint laid down when you were still in the womb?
your first word
your first step
your first act of defiance

search, imagine

when you find yourself standing in front of a painting you don’t understand
stay there
stand still
wait
and look

you are watching your own life unfold

 

This started out as a much different painting –
an attempt to convey a family separation that happened in my early years.
I wasn’t happy with the painting, it felt too contrived and stiff.
When I decided to paint it out and start again –
suddenly – with those two sweeps of white – it was as if I’d overwritten the past
and shifted into the present.
Strange how things work out …

The poem was written in April 2019 – some sort of foretelling going on there.

clairegriffin©2020

 

drawing and painting

A couple of favourite pieces from the last few months.

A portrait Based on a reference photo of Georgia O’Keeffe (by Philippe Halsman). I know I’m not alone in finding her an inspiration.
And a portrait based on a photo of Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth in the film, Elizabeth, the Golden Age.

(using acrylic paint)

And these two drawings from the evening class I’ve just started going to.
(using charcoal to sketch, and Conté à Paris colour crayons – these materials are a whole new experience!)

portraits 1 – 9

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January to February 2019

I’ve been working through a portrait painting series of workshops called “Take Thirty” by Misty Mawn. This is available from her website http://www.mistymawnart.com/ .

These are my efforts from the first nine workshops. There are a couple here I really love as they are, and many that would be worth starting over again. Proportions, angles, shapes, relationships that are not right. But just to show that we all have to start somewhere, and we all have days when things just don’t work out that well – I’ve decided on “full disclosure”. So here they are – all nine so far.

What I’m finding is that I am beginning to work more quickly, less obsessing over getting every detail perfect, and more able to tune in to a more intuitive process. I say that – but I’m still aware of being quite analytical, constantly making comparisons, choices, decisions. But sometimes this process seems to slip just below the surface, so I can feel it happening, but there is equally that emphasis on the word “feel”.

Perhaps its more about the power of practising something enough that you begin to draw from that in a way that feels more natural, more personal, because its based on your own experience and knowledge of what’s worked previously.

I’ve discovered that now my creative practice has shifted into this visual form, I’m writing much less. Its as if my brain isn’t comfortable working on words and images at the same time. And yet, there is a time when I want to be able to merge the two.

I’m about to start the eighteenth portrait – so I’ll be sharing that soon.

Grace

This is Grace – a beloved dog who lived with her family for fourteen years.

This painting of her is my absolute best painting yet – and I’m proud of it but a little nervous too.

That internal critic sneaks in with “hmm – well this is good – but can you do it again …? What if this is it…?” If only that voice could be silenced.

The only option is to keep working, keep trusting myself. And finding gorgeous creatures like Grace to motivate me and make me fall in love with the process of bringing their image into being on canvas.

painting

A work in progress – nearly finished.

A few thoughts on painting …

I’m finding that I’m becoming more able to look at a rough shape in the early stage and “see” the thing I’m wanting to paint.

I’m working from a photo – I can see that, all the details, but I have to be able to see it in a different way – it’s as if I have to take the image inside and then project it back out onto the canvas.

And in that process things change a little – colours, composition.

It becomes real in my mind’s eye first – and then I need to create that on the canvas. That’s the challenge, the frustration – finding how to bring that inner vision into reality.

And another discovery – when I’m painting for someone else (as with this) it doesn’t feel right to share until they’ve seen it first. So I’m only comfortable sharing very early stages or oblique views – it’s as if – once I’ve started – it doesn’t really belong to me.