This tutorial came about when I have felt like I'm at a crossroads with my work. I have been feeling frustrated at the lack of development; I believe my work has not been moving as quickly as I have wanted it to. I have been feeling bogged down and bored with painting the same things. It's not that I feel that those paintings are unsuccessful, but I feel I have more to say.
G. Evans asked several questions of me about intentions of my work, what the viewer will read and what I am interested in. He felt I needed to work out the most important aspect of my work. In order to accomplish this, he felt I needed to spend designated blocks of time perusing each element: island drawing, materiality of paint, and colour. He suggested I research into Phenomenology, maps, the idea of mapping, and topology. He pointed something out which I had not given thought to before; when talking about my work, I put most of my attention and emphasis upon colour theory and process. I think this is because these are the elements which you notice first. I also spend little time in choosing the shapes, I like them for their quality, but I do not rigorously alter them. I pick a series of islands and explore formats.
This raised an important question for me - why do I draw and why these shapes? What do I want to draw? Another problem is my blur. Let's not call it a 'problem', but a conflicting element. I've always intended it to create movement (with the help of complementary hues) and a feeling of disorientation in the viewer as a result. Evans believes this is not the case, and I am inclined to agree with him. Movement is caused but there is no other emotion or sensory effect. This brought several concerns to me.
Firstly, my work is perceived as unclear, it does not do what I set out for it to do. Maybe, I am not arguing its case well enough. However, I feel f a work cannot speak for itself and relies upon a large amount of text, it fails visually.
Secondly, the islands do not sit well with my approach and ideas on materiality. They create something which feels Political or Geographical in content. I have no desire to make comments on such matters, therefore, islands are inappropriate.
Thirdly, I spend a heavy amount of time considering colour theory. Obviously all artists must pay attention to colour theory as all colours reference something and react to each other in very different and unique ways. However, I am not sure if I can sustain these ideas and create work based purely on colour theory and remain interested. This brings me to my fourth and most problematic issue. The use of colour theory has been used ad explored before. How can my work relate to contemporary art? Art which is solely about art has been attempted before, it is not relevant. What are my other concerns?
As a result of this tutorial, I began reflecting about my work and asking for the opinions of those around me to gather other responses to my work and ideas. It seems I am beginning to be labeled a Landscape Painter (which is no bad thing, it's just incorrect), someone who is interested in geography. I do not blame the viewer, I blame myself. My intention has not been clear. By painting/ drawing islands I bring connotations to the work immediately. Even by refusing to state the shape, I am lying to the viewer. Islands automatically reference territory and borders, therefore disputes, Politics, Geography and, environmental issues.
I have been using islands in my work for the last sixteen months. It was a natural progression for me. My previous work stemmed from drawings, using reduction techniques, of places and nature. My work reduces objects/places to silhouettes or contours, therefore giving a bloblike quality which felt to me like islands in an ocean. I wanted to play upon this idea and actually depict something which it looked like already. I quickly became interested in the idea of collections, compositions and so archipelagoes were my new interest.
I liked islands for the wealth of imagery, quality of shape which I could easily manipulate. I could paint for weeks without looking at a single map. I am not interested in maps or geography, but of mapping as a concept. The creation of space and creating pictorial boundaries in the mind is my sole purpose.
In the last two - three months on the MA, with constant reflection and reactions from those around me, I have come to realise I have not been successful in my aims. My work does not do what I thought it could. I need to abandon islands for the work to progress. Which leads neatly on to, what shall I paint now?
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.