The Power of Community
One of the things I like, or should say liked (past tense) prior to lockdown, was time to myself creating art. I spend much of my working day with members of my team or colleagues, so escaping to the studio always gave me a much needed break. Since March, however, the vast majority of my work interactions have taken place over Microsoft Teams. Like most of the country I’m craving the company of others. This means my studio time is less a break from others and more a means to destress and switch off from work, lockdown and all things COVID.
Asking and Getting Feedback
Unlike many other artists I’m not an active member of a local art group. I only moved to the area at the end of last year and I haven’t quite got myself organised yet. This means I don’t have a community available to help provide guidance and feedback. Whilst I have very creative friends, none of them really paint, so it’s definitely something I need to sort out in the new year. I’ve never had the confidence to actively ask others for feedback but I really benefitted from it when I completed a summer school at the Leith School of Art in 2020. Getting the views of other, more experienced, artists helped me develop not only my technique but also helped me focus on what I liked and didn’t like. This in turn helped me decide what to leave in or remove.
Recently I completed the Art2Life Spark programme. Like many similar learning platforms, a big chunk of the programme involved sharing exercises online. This is a practice I’m generally comfortable with. They are set exercises, and whilst everyone has a slightly different take on how to do them, it’s a safe environment. Generally you don’t get too many comments or feedback but since completing the programme I’ve been trying to push my art and take more risks. As a result, I recently ended up with a painting which felt like I was getting somewhere but I had absolutely no idea how to resolve. So at the moment, it is far from finished!
So, I decided to be brave and post this in the group. Maybe it was easier because I don’t actually like where I’ve got to. My gut is telling me there’s something there but at the moment its quite ugly. And wow, I’m so pleased I did! The community provided guidance on how to take it forward by
- getting more clarity
- quietening it down
- and a whole host of ideas on techniques for standing back and assessing my work which I’ll be able to apply to future paintings.
The Results So Far…
The painting I created was a very different direction for me – much more colourful and loud. Granted, it’s a bit too loud at the moment… Deep down I knew what I needed to do but there is something so reassuring to hear it from others. I haven’t finished the painting, as one of the suggestions was to set it aside and start something new. I’ve done that but with the second painting, I followed a similar approach and managed to get into a flow. This one’s still a work in progress too, but it feels more resolved than the first.
My inspiration for this piece only really emerged when I got to the 3rd layer. I was thinking back to Sparks and flicking through my sketchbook. I landed on the page where I’d captured ideas for things I loved. Children’s literature, and specifically the Alice stories, jumped out. Through the Looking Glass came to mind and I found myself painting in a checked pattern like a chess board. I’m going to look at working in some form of reference to the Red King and White Queen. I need to play around with what form these should take that works within the piece, but it’s a start.
I’m not sure I’ll keep going in this direction, but I’m loving the challenge its giving me and I’m learning so much.