I spent a good 2 weeks grumbling, as a mixed media painting I worked on slowly slipped from ‘promising’ to falling out of favour in my mind.
It’s frustrating when this happens.
Sometimes you can coax it back, work through the challenges and rescue the work, satisfied and basking in the glory of conquering the beast and standing proudly on top of it with a flag, grazed knees, and a couple of bruises.
On other occasions there’s a point when you think, ‘Is this worth wrestling with? I’m getting bored now’, and it’s not worth chasing—the prospect of sunken cost fallacy gnawing at me and winning.
As I struggled with the painting over a week, and then through 2 weeks—working first in acrylic, and then over it in pastels—I discovered that within the landscape were all these snapshot views-within-views. Slightly abstract compositions that—removed from the big artwork and scaled-down into smaller pieces—play with shapes and colours, rather than trying to create some grand gesture of open space and distance.
"The paper was an interesting challenge: it’s Nepalese handmade Lokta paper. Fine, silky-soft to the touch, and slightly transparent with a definite slub (the fibres and plant material included in the pulp at the time of pressing) its natural, unbleached colour darkens considerably when wet paint hits it."
So, in a bid to recharge myself and have a break from the beast, I made a tiny 4cm x 3cm paper viewfinder, and laid this over the top of some of the reference photos I was working from at the time. I moved it around to frame a new image, and made a study each time.
These 6 new paintings are the result:
Starting with charcoal drawing to block in the composition, I then loosely splashed in with watercolour to give a coloured ground to work over. Once dry, I worked in pastel, building layers up, and knocking them back with alcohol and fixative, then once again working over this surface to create the finished piece.
The paper was an interesting challenge: it’s Nepalese handmade Lokta paper. Fine, silky-soft to the touch, and slightly transparent with a definite slub (the fibres and plant material included in the pulp at the time of pressing) its natural, unbleached colour darkens considerably when wet paint hits it.
Until you get used to it, this makes for a bit of a guessing game when it comes to applying watercolour, because the surface changes colour and lightens again as it dries out. You have to know roughly what colours you’re mixing, and apply them ‘blind’, so to speak, hoping that when it all dries out something interesting (useful) will have happened.
Building the painting up by laying pastels down on top of that painted surface has resulted in some fantastic texture and colour effects—it’s been great fun creating these small pieces.
I’ve posted this collection of 6* on my Instagram feed, for sale as part of the #ArtistSupportPledge, but you can also find them in my website shop - just click on the button below:
Each artwork is 21.5cm x 26cm (8.5" x 10.25") unframed, and will be wrapped carefully for shipping.
If you decide you'd like to purchase one, and would also like it framing (see 'Section #1' image just below), just select 'Mounted and Framed' from the options on the shop page, or contact me and I'll arrange it for you.
Price Each - Unframed: £175 (+p&p)
Price Each - Mounted and Framed: £265 (+p&p)
For more information or enquiries, contact me here.
All images and text © 2021 Julia Brown