Friday, 25 February 2011

Be here now

The first full week in my revised studio space has seen some bold and positive steps in my work. The space and the scale afforded me has given more freedom than I have experienced in a long time when painting.

For most of the week I continued to work on newspaper, although the rate of their progression slowed to less than one a day, as I began to narrow down my scope and focus more on a goal. Gradually, more and more time was spent on each piece. By the middle of the week, after some long and hard thinking, I decided it was time to move to a more permanent setting and so bought some heavy-weight paper.

As I sit here, on this sunny Friday afternoon, my fingers are spotted and smeared with paint, ink and pastel. A new piece, painted on some of that heavy, heavy paper is behind me drying. It may well be the start.

Friday, 18 February 2011

I read the news today

After the small throwaway paintings reached their end, I wanted to keep painting every day yet not on the same restricted A4 scale. The next logical step, to me, was to move to newsprint, specifically newspaper pages, which I would gesso then paint on.

Whilst the first couple were made in the much same manner as the smaller pieces, they soon began to move into markedly different territory. I wanted to challenge my habit of drawing shapes and then colouring them in, a recurring pattern from my pop art that seemed to have been creeping back. This took me off in an unexpected direction and whilst I had been thinking Motherwell in my head, Miro seemed to come out of my brush. The ongoing evolution continues, however, and that moment has already passed.

The increased scale is a joy to work on, giving me more freedom in my movement, allowing my brushes to slide with more fluidity. The contents of the pages under the gesso has also been interesting, adding textures and shapes where I have allowed it to show through. The pieces feel a little more mature than the smaller works. Which is good, as I am now starting to think about my next body of work, about what I want it to say.

The other big change this week has been in my studio. I've moved my furniture around and where once I had a painting corner of my living room, now I have a living corner in my studio. It is a better use of the room and the increased space is going to be great to work in.

Friday, 11 February 2011

The throwaway paintings

For nine days I have been painting quick, small paintings on sheets of A4 printer paper. The idea was to free me up, to get me painting enough to stop worrying about what I was painting and just paint. This then would help me move forwards, to try to get to the place I have been fighting my way towards for the last year and some.

I made thirty paintings over these nine days. The biggest challenge, in some ways, has been to try not to think of this as a series. My brain works that way, is always trying to make connections, looking at the continuing narrative. Trying to disconnect that impulse was not all that successful, although I did manage a few times. I'm still to close to these pieces to look objectively. A few of them I quite like, a few I really don't.

Throwaway paintings from stewart bremner on Vimeo.

There has been a lot of art thinking and art talking this week. I know I'm still not there yet, not at the point that I need to be at, but I'm getting closer. What I need to do now is keep on moving. Right now, the best way to do that seems to be to continue to make throwaway paper paintings. I might, however, change the scale. Stay tuned.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Letting go

This week has seen more discussion about art take place than in any other of my life to date. They stemmed from one fairly short painting session on Sunday afternoon, when something finally happened.

I was working on the larger piece I documented here last week. It had the piece down was on the floor and, along with a box of pencils, I was down there with it. My intention was to add some lines to the piece. Once I had started, my hand steadily became more and more free. The lines became less controlled and my began to jump around and across the canvas. Soon, in a frenzy of sharpening, flying hands and pencils I lost myself in the work. Finally. I stopped trying to exert conscious control. I let go…

A little while later, when the music I had on stopped playing, I sat back on the floor, panting, heart racing, head swimming. I was shocked, sickened, frightened, shaking and later, when I calmed down some, I knew that I had finally taken my first true step into art.

Gone from stewart bremner on Vimeo.

Simply, I had to talk about it. During one conversations, with my friend the artist Megan Chapman, I was challenged to paint a bunch of quick, throwaway pieces. Megan's idea was that by making these pieces, they would help negate some of my entrenched ideas about what art should be and how it should be made.

The challenge made was to paint at least one piece a day for nine days on cheap printer/copier paper and that no piece would take more than an hour. I was somewhat reticent about the idea to begin with and was rather unwilling to try. However, using her wily American ways, she 'double dog dared' me to do it. I was too amused to do anything but accept. Below is one of the pieces from day one, when I painted three.

'Day #1, Piece #3' - acrylic, ink and graphite on paper