Jennifer Letchet Paintings

My work explores fundamental elements of painting, the relationship between colour and line. I intend my paintings to affect the viewer optically with the illusion of shapes moving and receding. Colour theory is very important to my work. I use specific hues to symbolise ideas or emotions. The contained shapes on canvases seem more like objects than lines. My recent work explores natural and man-made disasters and the impact this has on our environment. I want to record the changing landscape through simplified shapes and colours.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Colour Swatches

I make my own paint swatches to work out colour combinations and to find the place where colours 'click', i.e. when one colour meets its complementary.  I mix my own oil hues with damar varnish and linseed oil, which makes the colours more glossy and therefore they reflect light.  I mark my swatches with the ratios of hue to hue in order to find a colour again.  I use this process when planning a new painting.

Morden Hall Park

I have been continuously using photography, not with a concise idea of why, but I want to take the time to explore it and to see if it will feed into my work.  I found these interesting forms in Morden Hall Park, a National Trust maintained park and wetlands.  Their physicality and intricate linear forms attracted me.  It was a wet day, so colours were exuberant and vibrant.

Crit 1 with Geraint Evans and Edwina Fitzpatrick

I had my first studio crit yesterday with my group and the above tutors.  There were several interesting and thought provoking readings into my work.  The drawn shapes were seen as, "crumbling patches in the wall", that were appearing three-dimensionally or dissolving on the plane.  The unrecognisable shapes were seen to have individually different presences.  Viewers were unsure if the forms were sitting or floating on the plane.  Ideas of positive and negative space were thrown into the mix in an attempt to understand what they were seeing.  My most valuable feedback was that the work needed a title to help cipher its content.

The pieces were seen to take on a completely different guise once the shapes were known to be islands.  It was seen to affect the illusionary makeup of the work.  A title would need not to explain or describe but to give a new route in, to the concept and issues surrounding the work.  This confuses me as I consider myself to be a process painter/drawer.  Why would one impose a concept to a process?  Surely the process is the concept?  One cannot exist with the other, they are mutually exclusive.   If the process is not clear, then this is surely a crossroads I need to consider; to be a concept artist or a process artist?

The paintings were viewed in an orderly and systematic way due to my meticulous colour measurement.  In contrast to the drawings, they were more intuitive and emotionally felt.  I could perhaps use colour or numbers as a key to the forms in my work and to reference the ideas of mapping.  The work needs to be more fluid with an easily understandable narrative.  Maybe my islands could become a metaphor for wider issues, or would that destroy the integrity of the work?  Bah humbug.

Wall Drawing

I am in the process of drawing my forms onto a wall sized piece of paper (200 x 250 cm) using 6B graphite.  This is the piece in its early stages.  I have been collating forms from various islands and archipelgos from the Philippines and Canada to the Faeroe Islands.  These forms I gather and draw on spontaneously and intuitively taking into account composition and space.  I want the forms to get smaller closer to the centre of the piece to highlight the sense of the shapes disappearing, or falling.  I do not know how the piece will eventually look which is a quality I am most excited about.  All my previous work has been meticulously planned, but I want to construct a piece which evolves naturally and gradually.  I want it to appear as if it grows and expands, like a tiny universe.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Kensington Gardens 20.11.2010

Anish Kapoors beautiful sculptures in Kensington Gardens, London

Tate Modern 30.10.2010

I went to see the Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall featuring Al Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds.  This piece provoked an astounding reaction and was only seen as the artist perceived for a couple of days before the health safety dictators restricted access (apparently visitors frolicking could give them Cancer), and so I unfortunately got to see it behind a wire barrier.  It does look amazing though; millions of handcrafted porcelain seeds in a political response to the mass produced culture of China.

Friday, 19 November 2010

18 Canvases

I've started a new piece and have spent the last two days completing the arduous task of stretching and priming.  My process involves several steps: stretching cotton flax onto board (which is on a stretcher), I then apply three layers of acrylic primer (or gesso) and sand each layer down to create a smooth surface without trace of the weave.  I want to remove brushmarks to enhance the illusionary surface.  This will be contrasted by the unprimed edge of canvas to reveal the process and the act of painting.  The eighteen canvases will have one form; depicting one island from an archipelago.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Drawing I

This is my first piece; it comprises of 18 drawings of similarly sized forms.  It appears to create an almost alphabet of my visual language; a form of iconography.  The forms are taken from satellite imagery of the Faeroe Islands.  I have changed the scale and essentially the contours to meet my own demands.  I have drawn them in a specific manner to make them appear 3D, like floating forms which are ordered and regimented.  I want to cataloge my forms and have begun recording and documenting my shapes.  I haven't begun to think of titles for my pieces, therefore this drawing (as a collective) is as above.

Developing my research question

I want to narrow my field of research; I think the relevance of abstraction may be too broad a question.  Is process painting the most appropriate method for my practice; appropriating shapes to create my own iconography?  This could be diverging a little.  The relevance of abstraction is interesting in respect to contemporary painting.  Painting is considered almost outdated.  Abstraction in particular has not been 'popular' since the 1970s.  In relation to Nicholas Bourriaud's 'Relational Aesthetics', how can abstraction, which is devoid of meaning and interaction with the viewer, be seen as relevant?  How does process painting have a place in this context?

Saatchi Gallery

A mountain of speakers surrounding a piano.  Vibrations of sound were played which could be felt underfoot as you walked around the exhibit.

This exhibit filled a room of black geometric structures forming a web.

The dials of the 24 individual clocks would turn once every minute to tell the time as above.  I want one.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Kew Gardens

I've been experimenting with photography at the moment, playing with light and shapes.

My Research

This is what I am researching on at the moment:
Is pure abstraction still relevant in contemporary painting?  I will discuss what constitutes as pure abstraction in relation to the last popular abstract movement: Minimalism.  I am not going to define abstraction and discuss its various previous forms.  I will research into how Abstraction has progressed since Minimalism to analyse whether it still has a role to play in Modern art.

Firstly, I want to challenge the validity of Minimalism as pure autonomous abstraction in terms of painting.  Minimlaism as a concept constantly strived for pure art that was devoid of emotion, subject, content and references to reality.  I will look into the works of Frank Stella, Richard Allen and Peter Halley.  I want to see if Minimalist fulfilled its aims of abstraction free from representation through geometry, and whether this constitutes as, ‘pure‘ in terms of autonomy.

Secondly, since Minimalism, I want to research into the development of Abstraction and how it appears today in the context of artists Ingrid Calame,  Peter Zimmerman and Anselm Reyle, whose work revisits Modernist ideas.  How did Abstraction progress from Minimalism and what forms did it take?  I will examine what forms of abstract painting are created in contemporary art and the common themes and theories; if there has been a move from extreme autonomy like the Minimalists, or referential art in the form of Abstract Expressionism, reductive abstraction as in Piet Mondrian’s paintings or a creation of something completely new and alien to past ideals.  Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe states that,

‘‘One could see it coming when, in the late 1970s, artists and critics of the more literal and sentimental sort started to vociferously denounce what they called and still call, ‘blank Abstraction‘.  And despite its detractor’s malicious intent, it was indeed abstraction’s blankness that was at issue.  Minimalism…was all about blankness."

Finally, I want to address what is relevant in painting today; current concepts and theories, and whether Abstraction has a place in relation to these.  I will identify and categorise modern painting from the last decade and argue that Abstraction has a part to play.

Paintings at The Flyer, Bristol