Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reclaiming My Work

Turnbull Winter (work in progress)

Have you ever gone down a road and realised after a while that you should have turned left some way back, but continued on in the mistaken belief that you might find a way to your destination? Me too. I did it with this painting. I've been unhappy with it for some time, probably shortly after it got started.

As time went on, I realised that it was someone else's painting; I was trying to make it work by making it look like paintings by some other artist. As a result it didn't look like mine and I didn't know how to finish it. It had become misty, undefined, and the one thing I think you can say about my usual work is that it's well-defined - chunky, someone once called it. I also didn't like the fact that it was painted with a different palette from the other paintings I'm preparing for the Xmas show.

A few days ago, I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to take a radical swipe at it and make it my own again. I did that today and while it still has, to me, an unusual look about it, it feels like my unusual look. There are elements in it of paintings I did years ago and elements of what I've been doing more recently. In that sense, it may prove to be an important piece of work for me. Even if not, I feel that, with a bit more effort, after the paint dries, it'll sit far more comfortably in my oeuvre, as we say in Gateshead.


Jean Spitzer said...

just caught up with this post and the one before. McWilliams is fascinating talking about his work and intent and accident. And you, talking about reclaiming the past and making work that is different but still you. Very interesting.

harry bell said...

Thanks, Jean. I guess just talking about their work is something that most artists find useful. It helps to sort out thoughts.

Pam said...

Coming to this late and scrolling down, part-way down on my computer screen this picture had a lot less sky and looked a lot more like your usual work. Dunno if this works for you, but maybe you could consider cutting the top off the canvas?

harry bell said...

I could, but then it wouldn't be square and it would be a lot smaller, not something I want in this show where some paintings will probably be six feet square. Also, cutting down a painting on canvas requires the cosntruction of a new stretcher.