With painting as my medium, I have explored an array of
materials and developed a fluidity in my work that would only have developed through choosing such material. I chose to paint as an escape from thinking; to merely create art using only the practice itself to guide my development. As such, being directed purely by the act of painting has led me to produce a series of detailed paintings of the rawest of subject matter: skin and skeleton frames. Working from my initial sketches of – in the broadest sense – ‘life’, I have developed a substantial body of work that encapsulates the human and animal spirit: youth, development, sex, death… I found that replicating the skeleton was most easily done by painting light tones onto a dark background; the texture of the human skin and the way that light reflects off it is also formed successfully through this technique. Reacting bleach with fountain pen ink, I found, was the most effective way to utilise this notion.
My initial subject matter – the anatomy – was intriguing; however, I was truly fixated by how the bleach reacted with the ink. I enjoy watching the ink leisurely turn golden where I have applied the bleach, and how a figure gradually takes shape with time and persistence. I find the process tranquilising, and over the semester I have searched for other mediums which capture this subtle way of painting. Using other bleaches and solutions such as cream peroxide, bleach powder, hair dyes, fabric dyes and fabric paints, I experimented to find something that was aesthetically appealing and simultaneously enjoyable to paint with. Mixing cream peroxide with bleach powder fitted both of my requirements. The cream peroxide and bleach can take hours to fully emerge on the page and I am constantly anticipating what it is I have created. The said “mystery” in my art allowed me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, meaning I am increasing the scale of my paintings and thereby becoming more expressive with my brushstrokes.
The subject matter of my work has become increasingly valuable to me. Given that working with bleaches has been so fitting in terms of texture and tone, it is essential that the richness of the human condition is represented through the surface onto which I paint. I moved away from paper and onto fabric, adding materials such as wool in order to provide a more immersive experience for the viewer; the texture is pleasing to touch as well as to observe. I have further added acrylic paint on top of my bleach paintings to add a pop of colour
– and this concept of “taking away” (using bleach) and then “adding” again is reminiscent of the flexibility of life.
My final body of work displays two distinct methods of painting at their pinnacle: a controlled, small scale work multiplied many times to create a huge grid-like work of art, depicting the animal physiology; the other, a more abstract painting onto a large textile. The two paintings complement each other in the sense that they explain both the physiology of life and the psychology of the human spirit.