Work space: new studio syndrome

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Dungeness series. Small mixed media on paper.

How perverse the creative mind can be. If we’re lucky, we may get to a stage we’ve worked for, strived and hoped for for some time (with me it’s my ‘new’ larger studio), but then frustratingly we can find it difficult to accept the new (improved) situation without a sometimes lengthy period of mixed emotions: imposter syndrome; guilt (‘I’m not making the most of the new whatever-it-is’); bewilderment (‘where do I go from here?’); ‘I’m supposed to produce great stuff now… what if I can’t?’. And did you notice that word ‘lucky‘ near the start of this paragraph? Of course, there’s an element of luck in everything, but still… giving ourselves some credit is never easy.

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Dungeness series. Small mixed media on paper.

I’ve been working in my large new 1930s airbase studio for a few days a week, for the past month and, when not actively engaged in painting (a few examples here in this post), I find myself floundering a bit – the space, the extra storage (where do I put stuff… and then find it again?), the light’s different (it’s often very good, great natural light, but it’s late in the year and I don’t have my daylight tubes in yet, so when daylight fades the lighting is a bit ‘yellow’). I feel like one of those rescue hens which, when first put out into lovely open space, huddle close to their hut for safety, as I seem to have gathered my easel and paints etc around me in the middle of the room, a bit like a wagon train under siege. I’m not looking for sympathy. I know many artists would give their right arm for a space like this. But it’s still disconcerting.

I’ve read that artists can often take quite some time to get used to a new space, and that it can inevitably affect their work. So I was anticipating this stage somewhat before I moved in. And I’m fairly sure a big part of it is my usual S.A.D. syndrome kicking in with the shorter days and the current murky wet and windy weather.

The answer, I know, is to go to the studio as often as possible and get working, and keep working until it becomes second nature – here, working, in this strange new studio, with its different light, different sounds, different surroundings.

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Dungeness series. Small mixed media on paper.

at the easel …

I don’t believe I’ve posted this video of me working in my studio on this blog before. In it I’m working on one of the recent reedbeds paintings in the scrumptious new palette I mentioned in a recent post. Apologies for the less than ideal angle of the camera, I seem to be blocking a fair bit of the process, but hopefully you’ll see enough to get the idea.

I’m in the zone here, happily blending acrylic paint directly onto the support (in this case Daler Rowney line board). The sunshine in my mind from the first day of Spring seems to be emerging in the process!

 

getting messy with monoprinting…

Pulling the monoprint © Mari French 2017

Pulling the monoprint © Mari French 2017

I’ve wanted to try monoprinting for some time. The one time I had a go (years back) I was not impressed (excuse the pun) but I think I’d used the wrong type of paper, plate and temperament! A monoprint (or monotype) is a unique print taken from a plate on which ink or (in my case) acrylic paint has been spread with rollers. Marks, textures impressed into the ink/paint and shaped masks (eg. paper) can all be used to create and enhance the final image.

Recently inspired by the beautiful and original monoprints of artist Tonie Rigby I decided to try using a gelli plate. These are very popular at the moment but I’ve not been taken by the proliferation of bright colours and patterns often produced. Gel plates can be a bit tricky to get used to and some artists dislike the texture, but apart from the shape (A4, I prefer square sizes, so may have to cut mine down) I quite liked the slight give of the gel.

Having been stunned by Tonie Rigby’s ‘Urban boxes’ work (see her blog link above), I wondered if I too could achieve something different, a progression of my current painting series maybe. If nothing else it would be interesting and hopefully, fun to try.

 

 

Well, today in the studio it was definitely interesting AND fun. I produced over a dozen bits of rubbish before I started loosening up and getting messy, employing more painterly techniques, which is when I work best. I used various acrylic paints and watercolour paper. As with my paintings I wanted to experiment – what would happen if I used this or tried that? …

I must admit I actually liked the look of inked up gel plate itself, perhaps because the transparent surface added another dimension. Today’s work was just the beginning, I’ve just started and have a way to go yet, but I’ll keep at it. Will post more of my monoprinting attempts at a later date.