Abstracting the land – Landscape Painting

Observation of the Welsh Landscape begins to take form into a Painting that balances somewhere between the realms of figuration and abstraction.

I start off with small thumbnail sketches through direct observation and then work them into a composition. What happens from there is a response process. I begin to layer paint and just respond to the colours, marks and forms that have went before. The way I paint relies heavily on intuition, and there are times that I have to just trust in my process. This then creates a kind of constructed experimental landscape, that’s organic and natural. I try to keep things gestural and expressive, to convey and essence of the landscape as well as translate the transient, fleeting nature of creation.

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Untitled ll, acrylic on canvas, 6ft x 3.2ft, £210

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close-up detail

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(see Paintings section for more info as well as other works)

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” -Vincent Van Gogh

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Preparing for Exhibition, April ’14

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When Painting doesn’t come so easily, and you feel that you’ve really hit a block with it, something that always frees me up again is changing my colour palette.  With  less than a month  to my first Postgraduate Exhibition at Aberystwyth School of Art, this is exactly what I had to do.  I introduced a darker colour palette, and eliminated most blues, purples and greens that I usually rely heavily on.

This is my take on some snowy hills that I have witnessed while travelling in a bus from Wales.  They fly by in a short, transient moment and appear insignificant.  Truth is, it’s these small moments that have a way of unravelling from my sub-conscious and find themselves compositions or themes of my paintings.  It’s not until I’ve almost finished works, or see a photograph, or have a distinct memory that I recall where I’ve seen it.  To me, that’s amazing.  One small snapshot you took with your eyes, reveals itself in such a powerful way years later.

The power of observation has never been so tangible.

 

I feel so blessed that us artists can work in this way, it’s a great and underestimated gift.

 

Rachel

Making Progress…

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Some Paintings together that I have created since the beginning of My Master’s degree in September 2013. The exciting thing about painting, although the uncertain nature of it is really daunting, when I see all my work together in one place, it’s exciting. I’m not sure of the direction my work is taking, but it doesn’t really matter.  I trust in my Process of painting, so I know the product will follow.

The more I trust my own instinct, the less I am able to articulate what I do. < This seems more relevant than ever.

Throwback, reminiscing on old works to help inspire the new.

When I come to a block in my current painting progress, I always look back at the old to try and use it as a way to free up some ideas. I decided to look back at some of the old aerial views that I was creating in 2012-late 2013. Although in this period of time there were inevitable stumbling blocks and problems I encountered, I found that it was a very encouraging and promising time for my painting progress. I developed so much as an artist and learned a lot about paint in a relatively short amount of time. Two of my favourite studies were two of the first small Aerial Views paintings I created. At this time, I was heavily inspired by Artist Anna Warsop and used her work as a foundation for my own. Her work is so beautiful and subtle, as well as painting she creates some striking prints too.

Check them out @ http://www.annawarsop.com/index.html

Aerial View l, acrylic on canvas, October 2012.
Aerial View l was a response to a flight experience of my own, memory, intuition and being inspired by the work of Warsop. This is a monumental piece in my practice, as it really marked the first move away from painting into maps, to creating direct aerial views.

Anna Warsop, Enclave, Acrylic on Canvas

Aerial View ll, acrylic on canvas. December 2012

Aerial View ll was a piece I created soon after, and was very much based on a flight from Ireland- Wales, hence all the more local colours. I learned to use accents of colours to represent buildings, structures etc. The idea is that the landscape was transient and fleeting worked very well. I tried to incorporate clouds to give a tangible sense of depth and add movement to the painting. I used layers of acrylic canvas with a glazing agent and worked quite slowly. I painted onto to the canvas in some areas, and in others I painted directly onto old maps I had torn up and glued on, furthering and adding an extra dimension to the ‘aerial view’ concept.

Aerial View ll, acrylic on canvas, December 2012

Snowy Scenes, Painting Progress

During the Winter Months, my colour palette began to naturally change to more Winter-esque colours and this was a reaction to a trip to Snowdon that I encountered. I was really happy with this painting as it was very quick, gestural and expressive. I used thin layers of acrylic paint and then use a spray gun to spray it off in certain areas which allows the ‘dripping’ effect of the paint.

close-up detail, acrylic on canvas

Although this is quite a time consuming and laborious process, I have found this way of painting really enjoyable. I then worked in on some areas with a glazing agent, pearl spray paint (isn’t visible in photographs) to give a different kind of finish. I used a palette knife to apply the orange accents of paint, which I feel finishes the painting.

The rugged nature of the Welsh Landscape I feel is adequately achieved!

Snowdon, acrylic on canvas.

Best Seat in Wales? Painting as a direct reaction to landscape, Nant-Y-Arian, Wales.

views from Nant-Y-Arian, Aberystwyth
Is this seat pictured above the best in Wales? Stunning views are featured at this Red Kite Bird Reserve, called Nant-Y-Arian just outside Aberystwyth, Ponterwyd in Wales. I took a trip down here with my friends at the beginning of November 2013 as it’s a spot we always escape from the small town life that Aberystwyth has to offer.

We followed one of the trails, and found this seat, where I sat for approx. 40mins just looking. I took a few photographs to document the type of day it was, but there are very few times where I remember being so stopped in my tracks by the beauty of the land around me. The transience of the landscape, and the fleeting nature of it was very apparent to me that day, and I felt inspired to paint.
close-ip detail of the painting in progress..

The next day, I began to paint a direct reaction to the landscape I had just seen and that was so fresh in my mind. From photographs and a few small thumbnail sketches to work from, I relied heavily on my instinct, intuition and memory. I adjusted and readjusted previous marks, responding to colour, form and what was left from before to build a constructed and experimental landscape. I wasn’t interested in achieving a direct representation, but rather an impressionistic interpretation. I was chasing the ‘essence’ of the landscape. I wanted to portray how the landscape made me feel, I tried to keep it light, vivid and full of life.

my coursemate Kristy has a go reacting to the piece in progress

My coursemate Kristy had a turn at reacting to marks that I had placed on the canvas. The result is a moody, landscape-esque type of painting. It balances somewhere precariously between figuration and abstraction.

Falling in love with paint all over again!

Silent Valley, Newcastle, Ireland.

Silent Valley, Newcastle, Ireland.

Transient, fleeting moments of the landscape is what I try to capture in my painting practice. I try to capture the ‘essence’ of the landscape, even though when I paint it may not appear completely figurative.

A trip to this Reservoir In Ireland at the Start of October, left me inspired. Stillness, colours, sense of depth, composition were all things that stayed with me.

Landscape is All-powerful, uncontainable, untameable.

Departing from Aerial Views

Undegraduate Degree show, May 2013 Aerial View 1

These three Aerial View Paintings marked the peak of my Undergraduate degree in Fine Art Painting at Aberystwyth University. Throughout my Three years in Aberystwyth, I had been heavily inspired by the rugged Welsh landscape, and found a love for cartography in my second year of study. Moving away from Map work, the concept of the Aerial View stayed an important influence. Being from Ireland, I always loved flying back and forth to see the land from above. I was fixated with the natural forms, lines and colours of the land and how from above the earth looked like some kind of abstract painting. I began painting instinctive and gestural Aerial landscapes which were a direct response to my experience of flying and the earth from above.
However, at the end of my Undergraduate degree, and embarking on my Masters, I strived to move away from the Aerial View, with the idea of beginning to incorporate the skyline back into my works. I still was interested in forms, and experience of being in the landscape, but just didn’t have such a specific ‘category’ as such for my paintings. I was excited to begin experimenting in my Masters degree, unsure of the outcome, but relying on the process rather than the end product.