The hardest thing I find about doing work over the summer is the lack of constant expectation for me to produce things. At sixth form art was so structured that I had a daily routine. I would stay in the studio from morning to evening, walk home, have dinner, and then work on my practice some more. The constant production of work and emphasis on development and process gave me plenty to do and kept me focussed. Ar University you have the occasional workshop which inspires this production, but most of the time the tutors leave you to your own devices with a nudge here and there when they realise you haven’t actually been in the studio for a week.
This relationship to art is something I find so interesting. Art is ultimately a craft, and you are always expanding your skill set and developing your ideas. At once it is compelling and you want to immerse yourself in your work, but also seems overwhelming and inaccessible, leading to these long beats of inactivity.
This is never so apparent than during the holidays when you don’t even have the structure of the studio to keep you going. Add on the pressure of multiple jobs at uncertain hours and it becomes difficult to find that rhythm that once so consumed you.
This summer, in 2016, I managed to find a balance despite this, although I found that as I was at home my practice turned more traditional rather than the experimental practice I maintained at university. I turned to inspiration from exhibitions, as well as traditional mediums like photography and painting.
The first body of work I produced was inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, as I visited the retrospective at the Tate Modern in London. This summer I spent much time when I wasn’t working walking in the countryside in West Sussex, and so nature and plants were already a primary concern in my mind.
Whilst I walked I used my phone to snap pictures of flowers and create a body of natural inspiration to draw from. I wanted to re-engage with the technical aspects of art making and so went to my fallback medium of acrylic paint. The materiality and physical connection with acrylic paint embodies the tumultuous relationship I have with art. My painting style is incredibly detailed and based almost entirely around the colours I see in the photographs I take, which is often to the detriment of the piece overall. This produced a piece that translates poorly on photographic reproductions, but the colour range I used (mostly varying tones of purples, blues, and pinks) is a testament to the engagement I had with the piece.
I was also able to explore texture in this piece as I used palette knives, a technique that I had never fully explored before. The background of the piece was certainly the most difficult aspect of the painting, and it underwent several revisions. The result was a piece that was inspired by O’Keefe, but also expresses my own relationship to colour and texture.