Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Oil on Canvas Panel

This is another painting from the Carol Marine workshop. The challenge was to paint entirely in rectangles - and using a flat brush, that's kind of the default mark. It's difficult to force yourself not to 'fiddle' with the marks too much (Carol called that 'noodling' - I asked her if that had anything to do with catfish noodling, apparently not!) The idea is you carefully mix the right colour, decide where it will go, put one mark down and leave it. It's a really precise, economical way of working, and it taught me a lot about accuracy and observation. Carol is amazing to watch while she's painting - I realised I've never actually watched anyone paint something from start to finish before, and it's fascinating.

The trick now is to take all this information about painting and apply it to my own style. I think it would be too easy to slip into simply aping someone else's style just because you admire it, and you've seen how it's done. Looking back at my own art education, I can see the merits and severe limits imposed by the art college stance on teaching. The emphasis at all levels of my education was on expression and ideas, not technique. This meant that there was no 'house style' as such, and we were forced to experiment a lot - but the downside, I'm realising now, is that there are big gaps in my knowledge of materials, and the specifics of using them. What Carol has taught me amongst many other things, is that mastery over your materials is crucial to achieve the effect you want.

All this learning is brilliant, but it's making my head hurt...or maybe that's just the thinners.