I’m continuing my work producing souvenir sculptures for each city in England. I’ve started adding colour and they seem a lot brighter than my usual work. This feels a bit unnerving, but I’m taking that as a sign that I’m doing something outside of my comfort zone and that it will lead to a more creative result.
I began this process by researching each city, elements of its history, mythology, and heraldry. I then began sketching each object to determine how I might create it in paper. My intention was to do more sketchbook work around the imagery that would be painted on the objects, but I decided to take a more organic approach by working directly onto the sculptures, using a process of appropriation and intuition. Through working in this way, new possibilities arise for this, and future work.
For example, the objects of Bath and Brighton are represented using human figures. I began by painting them bright colours in a similar way to the others. However, I wanted to pull out their features a bit more, so I repainted their faces white. Although I will do more work on these sculptures, I like the effect of the white against the colour so I’m documenting the process to return to later.
One of the finished souvenirs, representing Bradford, takes the story of a wild boar from the Middle Ages, the motif of which is featured on the city’s coat of arms. Using the boar as the object, I then took the image of the brick well and highlighted the shape of the bricks as a reference to the building material of the Industrial North. The design running across the top of the boar’s head reflects the water motif also taken from the city’s coat of arms.
As I am working on each of the sculptures, I have started to see similarities in some of the motifs, therefore they have come to represent both distinct and general aspects of the histories of English cities, to highlight the separate elements of a homogenised country, united through language and government.
So, after deciding to commit to the #tweetart project I was very pleased that it only took me a couple of days to complete my first painting and I began the next one in earnest, with renewed enthusiasm for making art. It’s usually at this point that the realisation of the task starts to dawn and motivation begins to wane ever so slightly. What seemed like an amazing idea in the first instance, gives way to the realities of actually making the work. I would feel a bit guilty about this, but I’ve sat in lectures with internationally renowned artists who have expressed just that sentiment. I suppose it’s one of the pitfalls about valuing ideas over process; once the idea has been had, the rest is the donkey work.*
Anyway, to help me get into the flow
** again, I decided to look at a few of the Twitter avatars of people who’d RT’d and/or asked to take part to see if I could get any inspiration. Apart from anything else it was great to see the reach of my part of the project and I started to find people who I’d not spoken to before who were tweeting about my venture.
This was how I happened upon @jimrali
, whose avatar, a pixelated graphic of a man’s face, seemed like a relatively simple painting to make after my initial @peepart
one. Not so dear reader. Turns out that painting small squares well enough to satisfy my perfectionist streak is the hardest thing I’ve ever done artwise (cue dead funny joke about artists and structure). So, after two failed attempts, and a couple of minor strops, I finally completed the next edition of my #tweetart project. Ladies and gentleman, I give you @jimrali.
* Of course there are many things to learn and explore throughout the process of making, but I find that it rarely beats the rush of endorphins that accompany the initial idea.
** If ever you find yourself struggling to get started on things, then watch this video.
This is my second blog post in as many days so I’m feeling quite proud of myself for that. As for art making, I’m currently wrestling with a few opportunities and exhibitions, so I’m stuck in my studio trying to trick myself into thinking that I don’t want to go outside and enjoy the early spring. One of the shows is a project called #tweetart, instigated on twitter by @peepart, with the only requirement for entering being that artists had a twitter account. I’ve been meaning to submit something for a while but didn’t have any inspiration. That is, until I decided to go meta and paint avatars as a kind of visual #ff to people who responded to the idea of being involved.
My first thought was to draw them onto board with pastel as I’ve been working a lot with this medium lately. However, it seems acrylic was the most effective way to make the images, so I picked up a brush for the first time in years and started painting.
Those of you who are artists will understand how a non-painter feels about this, after spending much of my artistic career explaining to people that I don’t paint despite the fact I’m an artist, but I’m not one to restrict myself arbitrarily. One of the main reasons I stopped painting tho, is that I’m notoriously messy, and usually get the urge to make art when I’m wearing nice things, so I’m expecting to run out of clothes without paint on them within about a month. I’m currently working on the next images for the show and hoping that one or more will be finished soon. So for now I’ll leave you with my first #tweetart contribution, a portrait of @peepart.