Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Starting off

The painting on the right is not representative. I paint as the mood takes me. This is one of a series of oil and acrylic paintings based on Mendelssohn's piano series of "Songs without words". I painted about 15 of them last year. I've moved on to Scriabin recently and will try a series of paintings based on his music, which is less gentle than Mendelssohn's, but has some tender passages and is very "painterly".

Actually, I find I am torn between painting and composing and will post some of my original piano music here soon. Piano is my first love, but I was an opera singer for many years. The magic of the opera stage is an enduring "fantasy" in my head, but strangely, does not find expression in my paintings or writing.

Visit my home page, or  faithart  (redbubble: writing and paintings), fayanne (artwanted: a limited collection of paintings) for more stuff.

On my website I published a statement about my painting. Here it is:

Most artist websites have what is known as an “artist’s statement”. I always read them, but I find it difficult to talk about myself as a painter. I am still searching, as it were, but people don’t want that. They want a clear indication of what is going on. This can lead to ludicrous exaggeration of one’s prowess! I have started a collection of these aburd self-assessments and will publish it one day! I am trying to avoid falling into that trap.
So what is going on in my paintings? I have painted lots of flower studies and a few still lifes and landscapes, but many of my paintings are - sort of - abstract and I try to give them voices of their own rather than pinning labels on them, though I have to confess that I would rather have any title on a painting rather than none at all! Giving a painting “voices” is certainly an extension of my composing techniques in music. I am basically trying to transform sound into colour, so colour is really a major factor. Maybe a good name for this would be “tonal painting”
I am looking for new forms of expression, very modestly trying to discover something new rather than imitating others. But this does not mean that I do not admire the work of many painters, famous and otherwise. They include Georgia O’Keeffe (of course), Matisse, Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, Renoir, Kandinsky, Manet, Picasso, Paul Klee (earlier works) and many more.
I would rather the paintings spoke for themselves. If you like them, that’s great. They are visual evidence of my search for personal expression. Or are they? When I look at some of them I can’t connect to having painted them, but I assure you that I did, so my subconscious is certainly wrapped up in the process. All the abstracts are entirely original. The figurative works are often adapted from photos I took and edited myself, but that’s because it’s impossible to paint in oils at speed, unless you go for small alla prima works. You have to keep records of what you are painting, as the process can take weeks or months. That’s one good reason for painting abstracts. They seem to metamorphose all by themselves. I usually photograph them at various stages of development, and they usually end up quite differently from the way they started out and remain a source of constant surprise right up to the end. Not only that, but some of my abstract paintings are multi-directional i.e. they are still coherent when hung a different way up, so if someone likes to hang a painting at a different angle, that’s fine. Don’t be irritated by the signature. I once exhibited a painting, noticed it wasn’t signed, so signed it only to discover that I had signed it top and bottom! Your eyes will tell you if it’s a satisfactory solution for you.
One major factor for many artists ist the fact that agents and galleries want a lot of the same, so many artists cater for this trend and paint long series of almost identical works. This is probably the way forward as far as sales are concerned, but it’s hard to do if your work is complex, as mine usually is, and not bound to many of the trends to the splash and rub type of work familiar in modern painting. and if you think that is an anachronism, then you would find it interesting to visit websites or galleries of artists who seem able to come up with exactly what gallerists require by the dozen. Many galleries do not want anything other than predictable “products”.
People sometimes ask me if I sell my paintings. I have to confess that I have given most of them away up to now, but that is not really a good idea, especially if one would like to enhance one’s standard of living or even be able to invest in new, high quality equipment. However, the giving goes on apace. I have well over 200 paintings looking for new homes.
And yet I find it very difficult and painful to part with paintings I have taken a long time to complete which are genuinely unique and have absolutely no second copy. One answer to this dilemma is socalled Giclée printing, which is really clever inkjet or laser printing of photographic images of the original. This technique is now very popular with established artists and is of course good if your cash flow as a buyer will not stretch to an original. These prints are better than posters since they are on canvas or textured paper, but they are not paintings. I haven’t tried giglée printing yet! The precursors to giclée (fine art) printing included monoprinting which is still popular among artists who can afford and/or have space for the equipment. A giclée numbered 99 of a long print run will only really have sentimental value whereas a rare monoprint by Picasso would buy you at least a modest villa!

So what if you don’t like my paintings? Move on and forget them! There are over 2 million painters active just in the USA at the time of writing. The choice is yours.
I was once told that my abstract paintings are NOT abstract. The artist who told me that maintains that artwork goes on mainly in the head rather than having visible results comparable with classical, romantic or earlier modern periods - a theory which seems to me to be a contradiction in terms - like music you cannot hear. Surprisingly, conceptionism and informal art - arguably the two most provoking styles - have been around for a long time, though one might think they have just been invented. Informal art breaks most if not all the rules - I suppose that’s what makes it appealing. But abstraction has been around since the cave artists. It’s a flexible term and there are endless degrees of abstraction. My own sort-of-abstract paintings have identities beyond the purely abstract, but I do not normally set out to paint a fish, a flower, a hen, or a person, so the results cannot be defined as deliberate realism. There are many other styles in abstract art, including lyrical abstraction, abstract expressionism, suprematism, cubism and surrealism. A rose by any other name ...

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