This exercise asks that I produce a number of sketchbook/sample combines following my research of artists that work/worked with Combines. After gathering research from a range of artists, I have decided to use Rauschenberg’s combines and way of working as inspiration for this exercise. Throughout this course Rauschenberg and his explorative processes have been a large influence and inspiration over my own work. Rauschenberg developed a style of combines in keeping with his other works; visual interest, texture, layers, a range of techniques, mediums and an element of mystery.
In the last assignment I worked on the play between sculpture and painting and bringing these two elements together, which has prepared me to a certain extent for this piece of work. However this piece feels considerably larger in ambition due to the outcome required being that of an installation piece.
I wanted to continue the ideas I began in the last exercise looking at the tree, using the environment and the structure of the tree to explore medium and alternative materials to create the fractured image. I feel there is more to explore in this area and during assignment 4 have only just touched the surface of this subject matter. Inspiring me to use this as my subject is the effect of one on the other, the contrast of the environment with the tree, as in their physical state – movement and stillness, coming together to two different elements and the qualities of these.
This exercise required the planning and creation of combines using any of the researched artists as inspiration.
My starting point was to explore the tree structure and surrounds within my sketchbook, firstly focusing on the painting part of the combine. Capturing sounds, colours and movement are my short videos of the tree, the sounds and movements.
Having these videos of the tree has enabled me to work both outside and inside, refreshing my mind of the subject whilst facing the blank pages of my sketchbooks. Playing the videos, listening, seeing and reflecting I started to put pen to paper and getting some ideas down in response to the sounds.
Listening to the videos I began to work in the sketchbook, making marks as responses to the sounds and colours. I experimented with ink, acrylic washes, paint and pen. Repeatedly playing the video, listening to the overall environment and again concentrating on one layer of noise at one time. Stripping back the different elements of the scene. In terms of verbal sounds and communication, there wasn’t much that could be picked up on my videos, I focused purely on the organic noises.
This stage took quite some time but it enabled me to think about the approach to this piece and connect with the subject. Given my past work tends to move towards abstract I wanted there to be a recognisable form within this combine, I started to explore the moving figure and the vehicles captured in the video. These two elements are visual representatives of the environmental world and explore movement which is constantly playing with the tree.
In my research of other artists who produce combines, I found that the object dominated the work, becoming the work and the painting as a compliment. I have focused on the painting and gathering information and ideas around how I can put this together, materiality of the mediums and appropriate images.
I now need to focus on the object itself and what would best express the environment and what I want to convey. I do not want to over work painting and ensure that visual restraint is apparent in this combine.
Working with actual wood and bark could add in the tree to the painting but in a literal way rather than using this within the painting and risking this becoming overly complex. Prior to this exercise the tree has been used to explore an abstract shape compiled of line and mark making, looking closer at the tree I dig deeper into the interest of this.
Noting Rauschenberg’s use of texture within his work; recreating snippets of this within the painting I want to use the bark itself.
Creating texture with ink acrylic whilst focusing on a closure up of a branch, I had the urge to use the bark further, painting it and using it as a printing tool to create further texture. Then again I took another step – fixing sections of painted bark to the page allowing me to view the colours and textures at close range, playing with the materiality of medium.
I want to add a figurative element into the painting as this represents movement and sound into the painting, which in turn creates an environment. Taking colours and textures from the tree paintings could work into the painting to instil further movement. The contrast of the stationary and strong tree and how it remains whilst others revolve around it is my interest in the tree and this needs to be portrayed within the combine.
Looking back over my preliminary work; chosen mediums and images, could these be more emphatic? Could I push them further? Can I allow Rauschenberg to influence my work further? – Yes!
Beginning work on the object…
Gathering branches of trees I began to draw them together, creating lines of the negative and positive shapes. Beyond the materials this piece is about seeing, listening, sounds, movement and the environment beyond the organic, still object – the tree. The contrast between the two in terms of movement, sound and organic and geometric shapes.
Creating a form which is not overly complex, still, strong and representative of the tree. Instead of using string or rope to tie the branches which may have looked discreet, I used a material which linked in with the theme. Man made netting, brightly coloured, taught and contrasts with the natural form and aging of the wood. Drawing in the environment of the tree, on to and surrounding the tree to keep it strong – this was my initial thought, however looking at the photographs the tree could be suffocating and restrained by the human surrounds. Maybe this could be a question provoked to the viewer?
Materials should enhance the meaning and story of the work. Given this I want to keep the branches as organic as possible in form and create geometric, strong, still shapes. A splash of colour will tie the tree to the painting, allowing the painting to expand beyond the paper, unlike Lily Van Der Stokker I do not want the colours within the painting to engulf the object or to be linked by the viewer purely by colour association. The textures of the bark create sounds alone.
Gathering found images for my painting, I began to assemble images which were reflective of the sounds and movement from my videos and observations of the tree environment. Car engines, car horns, birds, people walking, moving. Allowing Rauschenberg to influence me further in this exercise I used Rauschenberg’s transfer technique to compliment the collage.
The next stage was to select images and build these into the A2 card. Firstly I responded to the branches and environment by adding the texture of the bark as a starting point to the large blank area.
Trying to respond to the sounds captured on my video I worked to this, whilst keeping in mind composition, texture and being open with the mediums used. Pushing myself further away from the preliminary studies with the use of collage, charcoal and even sticking small areas of bark to the paper.
Using collage and paint in conjunction with each other, thinking about Rauschenberg’s combines and his balance of simplicity of block colour with the texture of collage and image. Working on the card, seeing what worked, knocking back the colours and images and adding others, with an aim to not over work the painting or create an ‘all over’ feel.
Images were found images from a variety of sources, chosen appropriately with the sounds and environment in mind.
By this stage I was pleased with the progress made on the painting, the images are not overworked and those I felt I could push back into the painting has been. Textures representing sounds have been created, more strongly so on the right side and the pen and charcoal adding line whilst listening to the different layers of sound. Avoidances for this piece were: Over working, ‘all over feel’, misty/cloudy layers, following exactly my preliminary ideas. Given this I feel this painting has been successful, translucency of layers of sound and image are clear as is space for the eye to rest – untouched areas of care and allowing the images to dominate without feeling the pull to over work. Adding the two segments of bark on the left side of the painting add a different layer of texture, depth and interest to the piece which is meaningful, rather than adding different papers or images for the sake of adding other elements.
Movement is created mainly in the way the paint, pen and charcoal have been applied to the paper, enhanced by the image of the small figures. Sounds is created by the large sweeping motions and in contrast to the small more controlled pen marks. There is a feeling of movement both fast and slow dependant on the area of the painting, which is reflective of the changing environment studied.
There are many options for how the wood should sit with the painting, like Rauschenberg – this does not require over thinking, the link of the two can be made in many different ways be the viewer.
‘Nature Combined’ Object and Image.
This exercise has taken many weeks of looking, taking a step back and re-approaching the work to get to this stage. I have the urge to move further with the painting, amending and adding, but I know this will add complexity and potentially overwork the piece. This is a feeling I need to compress as I am not looking to achieve an aesthetically pleasing art work.
Moving around the painting with the branches, repositioning and photographing became interesting and I could have continued to do this, watching the play between the two. As this project has been about the influence of Rauschenberg and how he invites the viewer to engage in their own concept, I want to revisit this piece later, with a fresh eye, I wonder if other concepts and images will emerge?
Still really enjoying the movement and the natural element of the tree along side the use of artist mediums to create a number of outcomes, fresh in my mind is the woven piece of work I recently re-worked with the word ‘Maybe’. Using pastel in conjunction with the movement and light/shadow of the tree. This exercise was something new, fast paced and I found it motivational working with the unknown movements of the tree.
Above with this combine, the work is static, both in its outcome and in its process. The work of Klingenberg and his use of colour and liquid is exciting, colour and again working with the unknown, in terms of outcome.
Keeping this project close to nature I think about how to keep my art relevant:
- Filming – process / changes
- Liquid – paint / water / bold
Beginning to form an idea of how I would like to work with the tree… (see sketchbook for further ideas).
What is my enquiry?
To work closely with nature, allowing it to affect my work and place its mark on the canvas. Using gravity and environment to aid me in my instinctive mark and decision making.
Emotionally responding to the tree and all factors that come as part of this.
Art and nature working together to create a combine, working in an action painting manor to explore expression and work to the fullest of my physical being.
Each exercise film is at the forefront of my mind, it shows working, captures sounds and light. A large part of this piece is to work with nature, listening rather than seeing during the process of making combining nature.
Working within the environment is essential to capture the essence of the surround, how does this affect my work? The outcome? my feelings and mood when painting?
Beginning my painting as closely as possible to the wet outdoors and the tree; the original influence within many of my pieces, getting into the studio at 7am to capture the wet and wind. If I am working with nature and how this affects my work and takes control over it, I want a good wet day!
Using a palette similar to my original work, yet influenced by Klingenberg and his brighter tones, after revisiting research taking note of Stokker’s vibrancy too, after all this is bringing me back to what inspires me. Using the original cerulean and yellow ochre, mixed with a cadmium red and lemon yellow to move closer to that rainbow like palette of the ‘Baroque Worlds’ project.
Beginning in the studio I wanted to listen and work with the rain, the sounds and the movement that I saw outside, on the window panes and the nearby objects, working with the brush in a way that mirrors these motions and sounds. Unconcerned with final outcome, aiming for movement and partially the pleasure of working to such a fresh wet morning.
Listening and using my phone to record sounds, capturing anything else that may occur, a bird, a dog, cars… Although the camera was recording me working (this is purely to show the process) the recording is also to record sound. Rain, splashing, dripping, birds, background traffic noise, echoing. Sounds are repetitive, loud, soft, delicate, quick, some more clear and others indistinguishable. I here no people, there is no sense of human presence apart from my own, which is preoccupied with the movement of the brush, gathering sounds, the noise of the brush on the canvas, the feeling of excitement.
This work is responsive to the sounds, I play with moving my brush in the way that works in conjunction with the rain and the tree. Washing, lines and marks using acrylic, a medium which can be altered by water and retain its vibrancy. This is challenging as I am emotionally responding to my environment and therefore working instinctively, working to try and widen the ‘vocabulary’ in the palette and marks to respond to the changes in sound. Using a variety of brushes and paint textures supported me in doing this.
Finishing up in the studio I took to the tree, suspending the canvas on chains and string to allow movement with the weather and allowing rain to catch the canvas at different angles. I couldn’t help but remind myself of the delicate works by Goldsworthy and how he allows nature to take hold of his work, his masterpiece and make it even more brilliant. Suspending the canvas was allowing nature to take hold and complete my work. I let it remain for a number of days.
Straight after suspension of the canvas:
Working in the studio / outdoors / showing the painting working with nature:
How will this canvas become part of a combine?
I feel that using the chains as part of the combine would insinuate restraint and a harsh element to the work, which is not the case at all. How can I give the impression of the importance of nature within this piece?
Vines? Branches? If I were to display this work at home it could be left outdoors within the tree itself but this cannot happen.
The chains were the best choice to secure the canvas overnight but in terms of meaningfulness a more natural material would have been in keeping with the process of the canvas painting.
Canvas weathered by the rain, wind and the tree and other surrounds, removing it from the chains I felt like the canvas became one single element, where it began.
A combine could easily consist of the canvas and the chains… but how would this be interpreted? The painting needs to be linked with nature and the importance this has played within the final outcome.
Pushing forward I sliced the canvas.
Immediately this gives the painting the movement it needed, its original inspiration within the paint, the branches and Klingenbergs work.
Disappointed in the visual movement whilst working on this piece, unfortunately this was not captured within film, only in images following movement. Bringing this back through slicing the canvas and allowing free movement. Keeping the canvas on the stretcher allowing for wood to hang, I began to try settings for the canvas which allowed me to move closer to this piece as a combine.