Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Painting for me is never just about painting.

exploring the dross, process painting © 2012
Roisin Markham
...right now its about everything.
 A few years ago I used to be able to go into the studio and pick up a paint brush and paint for 20 minutes and stop. Then again at that time where I painted was in the garden shed between the washing machine and the motorbike. Around that time two people started poking and prodding at my process - is that all you paint? is that all there is? They were people I trusted an artist friend and one of my sisters. They made me question what I was doing they made me search for more but in that search have I lost my connection to the purity of just being able to paint?
My process was deep and thoughtful the painting flowed because I was in the flow. My work was selling well.
Now painting is never just about going into the studio and painting - do I meet a deadline? what about working on that project? what about cleaning the house, playing with my kids, driving them of somewhere, what about, what about ... everything else but painting! and then I had fallen out of the habit of painting yes I was still being creative making textiles, working on community based arts projects but I was n't painting.
Painting begins like a yearning deep in my soul. 
I dream about it talk about it and gather my cells together to convince myself to open the paint tubes and dip my brush in water. The brushes in my studio have been dry too long. Now as I attempt to start to reconnect with my painting I have to clear a space, my studio is full of ideas works in progress and other abandoned.
So now full committed to making the time and mental space to paint I decide on paper, what weight? what size what texture? I think about what size I want to paint. Does it matter small/big? yes it does matter so I veer away from the A4 size that surrounds me in my paper trail and I go for some wonderful Fabriano paper heavy paper a wonderful lightly textured 160gm.
journalling before I paint is typical 
Do I write - yes it is another component of starting to paint. Typically I do a type of journalling, a beginning of searching within my soul for rhythm and colours and emotion and shapes and textures, tone and pace. It is all part of the process that I describe as painting. I know the words will be lost behind the painting but I photograph them now as they too feel important.
So I start. Routing in my paint box an old wine crate that I brought back wine in during the early 1990's. I find all the colours lumped in together I separate out the greens and bring them to the table where I am exploring white paper words and colour. Even the size of the paint brush is important. I start. The leaf motif presents itself. I get cross something old and familiar I want something fresh and new. I stay with it for a while as the greens move from water colour to deep opaque and from fresh spring growth to dark winter holly. Sometime later I think that my painting starts from where the last painting left off. But in the moment it felt like the dross poured forth - I was restless...
The painting tight, tense and controlled. I start a new page. More fluid but still tight. the flow is not there. So I pick a smaller piece of paper and let go. Diving into the sense of constrained framing aspects of the painting with strong primary colours. Switching from frustration to exploration meeting that sense full on. The children drift in and out of the studio, I allow that just to be part of my space. I return to the painting process easily this time still frustrated their distractions have not pulled me off centre but given me some space to step away and return.
Then at last I find I want to use the blue tube of ultramarine - a colour I work well with and have a particular reputation for painting with. I hunt for that square textured piece of paper that I cleaned away earlier. The leaf symbol appears again an aquatic boat all in blue. I'm done getting there with reconnecting but not fast enough and not fluid enough but for now its a start...impatient woman that I am.
Light greens the darkest hues, playful shapes then circles of red, deep dark red into brown and orange. The red circle also reappears in 2005 I stopped painting for a while as no matter what paint colour I put on my palette I ended up painting a red circle... its like to start this new round of work I need to connect in with old paintings and I bring them to mind by repeating elements of them. Along the way I think of making things of how the creative process of making things and crafting textiles is different. I continue...
Only slightly frustrated I am sort of content with my progress. Each brush stroke takes me closer to better work. Each painting removes a layer of dross - it has its own pace and I must work with it. I try to find balance it's elusive.
I wrote most of this post yesterday today I added the photography and I can see more clearly the links to past work as a preparation for future work. This morning walking in the bright sunshine of this fine April day I came across something it too has added to my process.


niamh said...

Roisin - Detoxing through painting.
a wonderful honest and sincere piece told from the heart.

Xx Niamh

Ballygarrett Art Studio said...

Is it detoxing? is that how it reads - perhaps it is.
Honesty well why would I write any differently? Wondering how your writing is coming along?

Catherine said...

I loved this post Roisin. I think because the process and the struggles are not articulated much. I am so happy that you are painting it is in your cells as you say:~)

Ballygarrett Art Studio said...

Thanks C. Process well I am that but it is the perspective on the process that textures my map and really illuminates my path.

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