After a fairly long break from the medium I have turned my hand to ink again and expanded my range of Everyday Tales Prints. They're not up on the website yet so the first look is here. ( Below. )
When people see them they are sometimes surprised that they are mine. My usual style is expansive, complex and colourful, and couldn’t be further stylistically from the stark minimalism of these small pictures.
I have never believed that artists should constrain themselves to one style, medium or subject. It makes it easier for an agent or gallery to market your work if you do, but I suppose art and economics never have gotten along very well.
What I have found is that the only way I can avoid boredom and stagnation is to challenge myself, and what is artistic style really but the artist deliberately putting constraints on themselves, a set of specific obstacles in their own way?
When I first started on the little pictures It was during a stressful and depressing period just after I had a flare up of a chronic eye condition. I was lucky, my vision was permanently affected, but not as badly as it could have been.
However it did make me worry for the future ( the disease is usually degenerative) and question a lot of my feelings about art as a visual medium, and my own motivation for creating art. After a period of not painting at all, I one day found myself doodling this:
There's something about the image that is familiar. But I’m sure I never saw it anywhere. Something poignant and iconic but at the same time almost cliché.
The theme is obvious: Childhood. Snippets of memory, that almost hallucinogenic imagination mixed up with ordinary activities, illustration from story books, those moments that meant nothing at the time but stand out retrospectively.
They are red, black and white always. These are the most primal and basic of colours, highly symbolic and applicable to a myriad of things, mythological, psychological and historical. They can’t be anything but a kick in the stomach for most of us.
It is interesting how varied the interpretation is. Some people are charmed by them and buy them for their children. Others find them utterly sinister and scold me for having made them.
I have no desire to stop painting in oils and make them my life’s work, but they act as a palate cleanser of sorts. I’m able to see clearer after having worked on them. When every line counts and every colour has meaning it gives one perspective.