There is no particular order to these paintings although chronological is probably the most appropriate. For me, in a statistically defined ‘at risk’ group and with no end in sight to that risk, lockdown has been the defining feature of this module and probably will be for the next one at least. I have had to invent ways of meeting the requirements without access to people, or landscapes, or sometimes sufficient space. This in the context of also accessing reliable food supplies for myself and my five cats who would be quite unforgiving if deprived of Felix As Good As It Looks. In the early days there were no supermarket deliveries, no fresh fruit and vegetables from my regular supplier, shops were closed, people were frightened of everything and everyone. This has stabilised, our village pulled out all the stops with small armies of volunteers suddenly stepping up to a plate they never knew could exist. Now we have this new normal where some of us are almost as free as we were before and others feeling less free because of that. As yet, there is no preventative vaccine, no treatment, and no cure for COVID-19. This is the context for my short series of paintings.
Trapped landscape. Using a reference photo of an old lock, this is a painting in acrylics on packaging paper that arrives in quantities from one of my lock down lifeline delivery services. The trapped landscape is the ‘outside from inside‘ painting from earlier in this module. Its development is here, and here.
Details showing colour/paint application on folded, glued packing paper. The first shows the rooftops across the lane, and the pathway from my house to the road, the second is a detail from the base of the tree to the right of the pathway. I still have the bunting out there.
Evening Landscape with One Keyhole. This painting is another riff on Friedrich’s ‘Evening landscape with Two Men’ (1830-35) which I had found in Norbert Wolf’s 2017 trot through landscape painting, this time placing one keyhole where the two men, and later two sanitisers, were located. Again this is acrylics on packaging paper which I have pushed and moulded into landscape contours. Its development is documented here.
Details showing paint application and texture.
The final, untitled, painting in the series takes up the lock theme again and transforms it into a mask, resistance to which in many factions of largely western society, seems to comprise another locking down, this time of liberties, identity, and voice. I have tried to represent this perceived loss by placing the face, originally my own in a photograph, within the space between the body of the lock and the shank, and pushing it back by placing the wooden slats background between the face and the lock itself. I’ve used acrylics and the same packaging paper as before, this time pleating strips to make the mask area. I have also used string to represent strands of hair and also the grooves between the wooden slats. Its development is tracked here.
Details showing texture, 3D areas, and colour. Close up photographs often surprise me by showing more accurate or better executed areas than I can see when I look at the whole. In this instance, the eyes seem better formed and described, and in an earlier landscape I was astonished to see petals on flowers I had thought comprised quite random brush strokes.
I think I have been influenced heavily by the integration in an earlier series of exercises of various extraneous elements such as pumice, collaged paper, my ‘painting by wildlife’ experiment, and the use of my freezer paper palette with its OHP transparency protector in a second version of the Two Sanitisers painting. This made using packing paper a small step and not the huge leap it might have been and, in another version of this world, I might have sourced an old door as support for the last painting.
I have also enjoyed discovering how to use video, to collect sounds and manipulate them to make soundtracks to run beneath pieces of art work. I have been greatly influenced in this by Janet Lees, a poet and photographer who writes and films very short but very powerful observations on 21st century life. I think I might be using this more often in future work.
Other influences have come from the Coursera course on post war abstract art and while I have too little space to replicate a Pollock, the method did not escape me and dripping and dribbling is another freedom to keep in mind for another time.
My palette is quite wild but my style nothing like Bisa Butler’s very illustrative work, and nor is it Fauvist but it probably has some of its roots there. Another possibility is that it’s entirely cultural in that I hit young adulthood and Brighton at the time of The Beatles, Yellow Submarine, posters of psychedelic Hendrixes and Cream, Pink Floyd in the courtyard of Sussex university on midsummer’s night, and my one and only acid trip featuring curly clouds and jewelled insects on the pebble dashed wall. That kind of experience burns your metaphorical retina and imprints itself on your DNA.
Bonus Video made with iPhone 8+ and processed in Filmora9 by Wondershare. Soundtracks made using Voicerecorder for iOS and also processed in Filmora.
Wolf, N. 2017. Landscape Painting. Taschen. P61. My review is here.