On looking over my blog, it has become clear that I haven't shared much about my work on here over the past year, so I thought today I'd focus on my current body of work and share what I have been up to in the studio over the past several months.
Over the last 12 to 18 months I have seen quite a dramatic shift in my work. Most notably I have started using a variety of media, like acrylic, gouache and oil pastels, that I previously barely used. I have also started working at a much larger scale, sometimes stitching two big sheets of paper together. I'm experimenting more and have taken on a very gestural approach to mark making. Overall, I feel like I've loosened up considerably, and the results are resonating with me on a deeper level. It's not so much a stylistic thing as it is to do with the process. I enjoy creating pieces without a firm notion of where they are going - the possibilities are endless and the process can be mysterious and fulfilling, if not somewhat challenging too! I'm letting things evolve much more slowly and intuitively without second guessing my choices. It's been a big year of learning and growth for my work and though at times it has felt painful it has brought me to a place where I am very happy with the results of my labours.
Although a lot has changed, what hasn't changed all that much is the subject matter of my work. I am still deeply interested and intrigued by the world beneath the waves. I don't think that will ever change as there's just too much scope, too much wonder! Lately I've become fascinated with the ocean floor and the surfaces one finds on the structures that make up the seabed. The textures, shapes, forms and colours are such rich fodder for the mixed media approach I am currently pursuing.
Of course, moving to where we are in Perth has been a great source of inspiration. It being summer now we find ourselves snorkelling at the small local reefs at least once a week. The more we visit, the more I am familiarising myself with the world below the water's surface. I have even started giving certain structures and areas names, like we would landmarks in the landscape. I have come to know the fish that live in certain territories and where octopus are likely to be hiding. On the most magical, beautiful, crystal-clear days I will spend a very long time examining the surface of the shelves, seeing what kinds of weeds, corals and structures are growing. I don't know what most of these growing things are, or if they are even plant or animal! It's amazing and the more I look, the more I see.
In my work I've tried to break a lot of these structures down to their simplest forms and build layers of media to get the busy, dense look of the reef. The colours are most often a bit exaggerated or saturated, but this does help in bringing the 'feel' of these spaces to life - the noise and busyness of a reef can be a lot! The reef can be very colourful, particularly on a clear, sunny day, but other times it is more muted and murky, full of shadows and dark places and I'm working on pieces that bring this mood to life as well.
I'm focussed on completing a cohesive body of work this year so it's all heads down over here in my cosy little studio. Thankfully the New Year has treated me kindly and I've found a nice flow to sink into. Additionally, I'm still developing my printmaking skills by attending classes (I'm actually heading off to a week long linocut workshop in Bali this weekend!) and also experimenting with clay when the mood takes me. So, it is all systems go!
It's my plan to document my process here as I continue to delve deeper into this body of work. There's a lot of primary research I do - capturing photos and videos on my snorkels, sketching shapes and forms in my sketchbook and finding source inspiration online. I even have a whole stack of small paintings where I test ideas for the larger pieces. I'm very enthused about this new direction and look forward to seeing where it all leads! Hopefully in some beautiful works that honour the deep complexity and essential life force of the oft-overlooked sea beds.