Sunday, 18 January 2015


They say "you never know until you try".  And in my current creative mode, there is a lot of trying going on.

Henri Matisse said "An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation or prisoner of success".

I find it hard to change, and after many years of painting, had begun to feel a little like a prisoner of my own well-established painting I have taken a few leaps sideways. 

 I am currently using alternative mediums instead of paints or pastels. I use powdered glass to create drawings and images .....enamel powders, which are glass, were used to create this landscape on a sheet of copper.  I have to sprinkle the powder onto the surface of the copper, and move it around to create shapes.   I have had to learn how the material will react to both metal, and kiln.  Some enamels are opaque, others transparent.  Seconds make all the difference inside the kiln.  Lots of unusual things can happen!  But that makes it all really fascinating.    I call this image "Melting off".   As you can see, there is a great deal of simplification going on here...a lot is left to the viewer's imagination........and after many trips to the kiln, I have ended up with a form of semi-figurative image - or semi-abstract if you like, looking much like a painting:

And here is another work in progress.  I am quite new to the medium of glass.  This "drawing" was created with black glass powder - very fine indeed.  I sprinkle this onto the surface of a piece of glass, and working in a similar way to the piece above, I move the powder around with brushes, sticks, rubber shapers, fingers - all sorts.   This has yet to be fired, it is just the "raw powder" onto clear glass.
In both instances, I really had to work hard at allowing myself to respond to a new medium, while at the same time, remembering and using many of the traditional principles I have used for donkey's years!
In so doing, I have almost come full circle.  Through working with enamels, and now glass, I have found myself returning to figurative imagery...but in a rather different way.  It is really exciting.  I have always liked the idea of semi-figurative art pieces, where reality is gently manipulated and abstract elements combine with illustrative ones to create a piece where suggestive illusion and viewer interpretation both play a part.
I once read this, and wrote it in a sketchbook:  "there are countless ways of creating a good painting, but there is one certain way of creating a bad one;  depicting precisely what you see".  This is because we "see" too much.   A painting - or creative image such as those above - needs to be more than just an imitation of objects.
So - if you are feeling a bit stuck, and have a nagging sense of dissatisfaction with what you are doing - why not try a change of medium -not necessarily the ones I have chosen - there are plenty of alternatives -  you never know what might happen as a result.
"Art only begins where imitation ends".  Oscar Wilde


  1. Your timing is uncanny. Today my son comes over to help me move out of the studio all the materials I no longer use, and will probably not return to, to pass on to a homeless program where they can be used for clients in their art therapy studio. I am at one of those art crossroads, and the materials are blocking new adventures. I'm already working in different media, largely textiles, so I need the elbow room, literally and emotionally. You're so right -- you can get wedded to what you've been doing for years at the expense of what you will do from now on. Thanks so much for this post.

  2. Inspiring! And the Wilde quote at the end caps your endeavor perfectly!

  3. Awesome post.
    The abstract landscape really is a stunner and I understand the magic of the figure not being too perfectly precise - it seems alive with the lost and found edges.
    New media is stimulating if you allow the time to explore so kudos. I will enjoy your journey thru your blog.


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