Friday, 29 July 2011


With two pieces currently under way, I stopped to look at them at the beginning of the week. Somehow it feels, at least presently, that something is not quite right with them. I've really enjoyed making them and I feel there is a definite progression to my mark making, however something small and niggling just is not clicking. So it is lucky that for most of this week, I am away on holiday. It will be interesting to return to them next week.

Friday, 22 July 2011

A little tighter

The large canvas painting that I began last week has been put aside to rest, while I think over my next move. I reached a point with it, delicately close to completion, where what I do next will either make or break the piece. It is a fine balance and I need to be careful not to take the piece backwards. This is always a risk with every painting and the trick is to accept that this can happen, will happen, and not to let it stop you from making a mark. Nonetheless, with this piece I simply cannot be certain what mark to make at all and so it rests, whilst I contemplate. It is a dynamic presence opposite the foot of my bed and I see it there every morning. One of these mornings, I will look at it and I will know what I need to do to it next.

Untitled work in progress
© 2011 Stewart Bremner
Mixed media, 20"x16"
In the mean time, I have began a new painting, again on canvas although smaller at 20"x16". It has been interesting to move to this more intimate size after the freedom of the larger canvas. My mark making has been tighter and slightly less expansive. In musical terms (music being the driving force behind my current work), I have been concentrating on tightly intense periods, as opposed to massively powerful ones. A sharp guitar solo, instead of massive riffs, for example.

Interestingly, the size of this piece, and perhaps the immediacy that has been engendered by it, makes me feel that this is far closer to completion than my larger previous painting. A little more time with it should suffice.

The week has also brought me a few more sales from my Etsy shop, which has been very exciting. It is very rewarding to see my works shipping across the world and I want to thank, again, everyone who has bought one of my pieces. Your support allows me to continue on my journey and I am truly grateful.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Automatic writing

The only proof of what you are is
in the way you see the truth

© 2011 Stewart Bremner

Mixed media 5.25" x 8.5"
In 1919, Les Champs Magnétiques by André Breton was published. It was the first known use of a technique he developed called éciture automatique. Described as the "dictation of thought without control of reason", it was seized on not just by the Surrealist movement, but by many abstract expressionists across the century. Reading peripherally about it this week, I realised that this was a method similar to what I had realised in my own work at the start of the year. It was also the method that I used, in combination with the lessons learned while painting with Megan Chapman, to paint sixteen small paper paintings last weekend.

The paintings were created using particularly-chosen music to provide both an emotional focus and the energy to drive my will. I listened to the songs very loudly through headphones, allowing my movements and marks to be dictated by my responses to the music and to how I was feeling at the time. This could very much be described as painting "without the control of reason". It was a freeing and enjoyable experience, although incredibly wearing, and I was unable to paint in this manner for much more than an hour at a time. I consequently worked on the pieces over several staggered sessions, across four days. The results surprised me.

Because you know we do it right
© 2011 Stewart Bremner

Mixed media 5.25" x 8.5"
I had set about these paintings with the intent of loosening up and trying to find my way back into working on my own. Quite unexpectedly, the pieces developed quickly into a small series in their own right and, better yet, gave me motivation sufficient to start my first (solo) painting on canvas of the year.

The pieces share a sense of dynamism, of energy. They also all show a central shape, that I would describe as a body if that did not engender anatomical expectations. The shapes are at once being acted upon by forces and exerting forces of its own. They are part of a story, of something possibly bigger than themselves and looking at them now, I am faintly stunned that I made them.

Don't know how long I've been awake
© 2011 Stewart Bremner
Mixed media 5.25" x 8.5"
Dynamic and energetic is both how I would describe these pieces and my reaction to them. I am genuinely thrilled by where these paintings have led me. It feels like I am at the start of an exciting moment in my work and I can't wait to see how it develops and how I develop with it.

You can find the new paper pieces in my Etsy shop, where I have priced them quite affordably. There has been one sale and plenty of interest already, so don't wait too long to snap one up it it grabs your attention!

Friday, 8 July 2011

All you need to do is turn up

Today has been a victory because I have painted. Today has not been a victory, although for slight more complicated reasons.

© 2011 Stewart Bremner
Mixed media on paper
Being an artist may seem to many an easy life: all one needs is to have a bit of talent, some technical skills, materials and a studio. From then onwards, one just turns up. Sadly, that's not the case. As an artist, as a painter, most of my professional working time is not spent painting. Rather, most of the time is spent thinking about art, looking at art and fretting about art. In particular, fretting about my own art.

When I making a painting well, the feeling is incomparable. It is sublime. It is what I live for, yet it is a fleeting moment. When I am not in that moment and the periods bookending it, doubt will all to frequently creep in. I doubt that I can ever break free of the painting the same idea ad nauseum ("how do I paint something new?"), I doubt that I will ever progress ("where do I go from here?") and I doubt whether I can, or even will, paint ever again.

© 2011 Stewart Bremner
Mixed media on paper
Painting is a balancing act. To do it well, an artist needs to walk the line between order and chaos, between head and heart and between joy and doubt. Artists use all their skills and their materials to walk that line and it is a line they walk almost always alone, because painting is mostly a solitary process. It is a process of reaching within, subject to and powered entirely by one's own energy. It is an incredibly personal mode of expression, where often as not one is laying bare ones inner-most being. To explore these depths, to pull out the material needed, to mine one's soul, is an intensive and tiring process that is simply not sustainable over lengthy periods of time. Those creative moments are then limited and, in the fallow periods that exist between them, the doubts bloom.

With the recent completion of my Life is the Process series, with nothing but a void of empty, gessoed paper in front of me, today I face these doubts. However, I painted, I made marks and for a while I lost myself in the work. I have started to address the question "Where do I go from here?", even though as yet I have no answer. And so I clutch desperately at my tube of cadmium orange and I stand in front of those sheets of gessoed paper and I wonder "How do I paint?"

Friday, 1 July 2011

Moving on and letting go

Yesterday, I completed what may well be the last of my Life is the Process series of paintings. When I came back to this work after a months-long break, I was unsure what kind of success I would have, whether or not I would be able to make a cohesive series. Happily, I believe that I have. It seems to me to be my first mature body of work, although I will admit that I feel this way because I am so fired up for what I am now painting and how I am painting it.

I'd love to share these new paintings today, however they are currently under several stacks of records. When I removed these pieces from my painting board, they were more warped by paint and water than I deemed acceptable and so I decided it would be best to properly flatten them. Once they are freed from their oppression, I'll highlight the whole series here.

I'm also going to soon highlight a new series of paintings, that I began work on this week. They are all going to be small and affordable paper pieces, taking my Life is the Process series as a starting point. I'm making them because I really believe we should all have original art in our houses and that current financial circumstances makes this difficult for most of us. I'm also making them in order to move on from my Life is the Process series. I'm consequently expecting to see a gradual progression in my work over these pieces.

Treading Water available on Etsy.
These affordable paper pieces will be listed on Etsy, as and when I complete them, so do keep an eye out for them there. You'll also see over the next few days on Etsy, that I will be listing paintings from my archive, all at reduced prices. Many of these are paintings I've been holding onto for some time and have decided that the time has come to let go of them. These are the remnants of my decade as a pop artist, as well as some of the progressive pieces I made as I moved from that tightly controlled style, to the freedom of abstraction. I really hope you enjoy the glimpse into my past and that some of you out there will give them good homes!

Thanks again for stopping by.