I am beginning to think about the process that I have gone through with my art work development over the past weeks. I am intrigued by the landscape of wild, open spaces, preferably with mountains, water, wind and wetness. But i am not interested in trying to recreate what these places look like in a representational way in my own art endeavours. I find it difficult to articulate the processes and aims – if I indeed have any – but I guess that it is not only about looking – it’s about looking and being excited by what you see and trying to communicate that excitement in the marks I make. That’s the bit about working in the open spaces… it’s not about making marks that look exactly like the place – but which feel like the place. There might be an element of ‘looking like’ – but only to begin with. As the ideas distil with working to develop first sketches, the marks might become calmer…and in doing so might become removed from what is ‘out there’. The marks then become part of a dialogue with the work – rather that a first hand response to what is out there. Thus the initial energy is often contained in the first works – and in the sketch book –
I have been reading about Icelandic artist Georg Gudni
in whose works I have become very interested. From the book Strange Familiar, here are some quotes that resonate with my processes:
spending quiet time in the wild is a kind of meditation. Stand still, empty your head, and open yourself to the experience…stand in one place for long enough…gazing into the infinity…of a blurred horizon, and it will become no longer specific to itself, but resonant of all landscapes – it is as if…there lie the vistas perceived by every other person who has ever stood and looked at that view, rendering it both alien and familiar at once.
I think the move from landscape to geometry ( or memory or light) was just something that happened step by step, very naturally. I was painting these mountains and little by little I got very interested in how one colour touched the other or how the sky touched the earth or the mountain.
…when I started to paint landscapes, I started with paintings of horizons. These paintings are more about the empty space between you and the horizon… the works are very much about air…
Rain radically changes a landscape and the way in which we see it… I think the rain materialises the air… in other words a valley that appears empty is full when it starts to rain… it simplifies everything both in colour and in form… the rain obscures and never tells the whole story so you have to use your imagination to construct what is potentially there… it is like a black and white photograph.
…when I’m painting, landscape and memory are more important in the first stages of the work than in the final ones. What matters in the end are the emotions and the issues related to painting… I have always made a lot of drawings. They are really sketches and I make them when I’m trying to find out what to do… most of them never end up as paintings… i have been making drawings outside which relate to specific places. They are the exact opposite of what happens with my paintings, which are made in the studio and from memory…
I would never put myself on the same stage as Gudni, but I find it interesting that he can articulate his processes in this way. I don’t think I have even begun to develop my own process yet, but I know that it is a complex series of decisions for every artist, and it is important to have the time to reflect on it.