Shifts and Transitions

Happy New Year Everyone! This post is about what has been happening over the last couple of months. I've been getting into the thick of painting and researching new and old ideas alike.

To update you as to where things are now, I have to go back to Autumn just past, and to the forest that has become more and more deeply embedded in my practice.

This has to begin with mushrooms, in all of their shapes, colours, life-cycles, I can't escape my fascination with how these aliens erupt from the earth with such strangeness, and then disappear again in a matter of weeks: the more I think about it, the more questions I have.

Mushrooms are fruiting bodies that are deeply connected to the forest as a whole through mycelium, the network that they pass messages through and use like a kind of brain. I have the most basic understanding of how they work, but it feels like enough to start a journey.

A lot of my research, whether that be through watching documentaries, reading, or visiting places, is based around religion, myths and universal stories. These ideas feed in to the symbols and geometry within my work, sometimes the colour, or a title, either way, they always make an appearance.

Sometimes I felt that this was a bit at odds with the major influence that the natural world has on my work: like I was moving in phases where I has sometimes more interested in one over the other. This is where the forest created a big shift for me.

I visit the forest local to me a lot, especially in the autumn to photograph mushrooms, mostly because I love them. However over December 2021, long after mushroom season had ended, I kept on going to the forest and thinking about what it is as a whole.

Mycelium in my mind, is like a physical manifestation of consciousness: the soil, plants, animals are all inhabited by a giant, infinitely complex, decision-making network. Reflecting on this thought over time, It makes so much sense that in mythological tales, the forest is also representative of a psychological space, one that is magnificent, daunting and full of possibility. This realisation, coupled with moving into working with oil paints has led to a big transformation in my approach to painting.

I came to deciding to try out oils through seeing the work of Agnes Pelton and other artists from the Transcendental Painting Group. They had a way of using the medium that was like watercolour: soft, ethereal and incredibly precise. After some research into Pelton in particular, I found out that she was using thin, glazed layers of paint, slowly worked up to create form. Once I decided to buy some canvases, it wasn't long before I was hooked. This approach is like working on an infinite watercolour painting, where one layer becomes the starting point for the next. I'm still learning more about it though doing, but it just feels right.

Back to the forest: I can now work with multiple layers, and use the symbols and the language I am developing to bring these ideas together. Any moment of seasonal change in a forest could also represents a psychological shift in a folk tale or myth. This is where I am now, at the beginning of merging the natural and the anthropological through peeling back the layers of moments of change and transition, trying to get to the core of how we understand nature and ourselves.

I don't know how my practice will evolve from here, but I do know that I am at the beginning of a lot of exciting possibilities which I look forward to sharing.

Thank you so much for supporting my work and reading these posts, I hope that they bring something positive to you in the same way that writing them does for me.

See you in the next ramble...

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