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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

An update on the direction of my work.

Although personally, the last two weeks have been busy, art wise, not much has happened so I though I’d do something a bit different today. A fair while ago (maybe even last summer on my old website) I wrote a piece explaining my art as it was then. Well, my art has now evolved further and so it really is time for a revised explanation. This piece of writing started life as an assignment for university, but I have rewritten it slightly updating it and refining it a bit further to make it more relevant for the blog. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Growing up in the Norfolk countryside, to me, Aberystwyth seemed the obvious choice for university. The surrounding hills and castle ruins sung to me of adventure; and now studying here as an artist, inspiration. Initially studying astrophysics before switching to Fine Art, it is clear to me that my varying interests are a continuous influence on the artist I am becoming.

Near the end of the first semester of this year, I hit a turning point in terms of the development of my artistic style, and I worked hard developing the abstract geometric paintings I’d begun to explore, trying to get a firm grasp on my newly found process. After a month or two of creating solely geometric work it started to feel a little too easy. Well, easy is perhaps a slight hyperbole as part of what I enjoy about creating these works is the challenge: puzzling together the placement of colours and tones to create a balanced composition, but creating these compositions was starting to feel like second nature, I was comfortable: it was time to push myself further.

I find it highly likely I will return to these basic geometric paintings at some point; as I find them so satisfying to look at. In the future, I would like to study light in more depth as I think a good sense of light can really make a piece of art sing. Sometimes I think I capture it and other times I am very aware of its absence. Perhaps these simpler compositions would be a good starting point. Perhaps my next step is clear…

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterwards you can remove all traces of reality. There is no danger then, anyway, because the idea of the object will have left an indelible mark.” Pablo Picasso.

Abstract or not, my paintings are rooted in reality. My source of inspiration may not always be recognisable in them but they are not made up. My paintings are my interpretation of reality, their ambiguity allowing them to become the viewers reality also. Regardless of my intention as the ‘artist’, the viewer will respond in their own personal way.

I paint landscapes; although some are not what most would call a landscape. Some are more obvious landscapes, but they are no more landscapes than any of the others – and I’m sure some would argue that they aren’t either. To me landscape is a space. It invites you in, exciting and mysterious, it’s a place you want to explore. I aim to create that space in all my paintings, it is a defining feature.

Architecture; grand and historical or bold and modern, ruined or fully functional, it creates a solid foundation for my work. “But buildings aren’t landscapes!” I hear you cry! Well, they can be. What about a ruin? Has it not become part of the landscape in its decay? Do groups of buildings not create new landscapes of their own? Perhaps ‘artificial’ ones, but still landscapes.

The geometric forms of architecture create the structure of my compositions, but it’s the way I render them that creates the space I desire. I have been using the geometry of buildings to create space in my landscapes for a while now, but now I am also trying to utilise organic gestures and textures in my paintings to bring a sense of nature too.

There is yet more to my explorations though, an exploration of time, or how to show it. Representing the passage of time through my paintings is a fascinating challenge and I currently have two main methods I’m exploring (sometimes individually, sometimes together. The first was what sparked my interest in representing time and is best explained by comparing it to many of Picasso’s pieces (although I do not consider myself a cubist). His subjects are depicted from multiple angles all at once. The multiple angles in my paintings tell the story of the journey travelling around the subject and thus time. The second method comes from the concept of process art.

“The term process art refers to where the process of its making art is not hidden but remains a prominent aspect of the completed work, so that a part or even the whole of its subject is the making of the work” Tate website

I like the honesty of process art – letting the painting be nothing more or less than all the layers upon layers of paint and hours of struggle taken up trying to resolve it. Taking around two months of painting over and over, my first ‘attempt’ at process art ended up with the so many layers as I struggled to resolve it. I do enjoy that you can see the struggle through all the layers and experiments; it feels like a relief to not be trying to convince the audience that it was effortless.

My increasing confidence in my abilities is getting me excited for third year and beyond. As I worry less about creating art and focus more on exploring my materials and ideas, I release the pressure on myself, freeing my creativity and producing far better results than when the final outcome was my focus. I have learnt there is no failure, only lessons and with every day I’m getting more excited (and a little terrified) at the prospect of seeing my paintings up on a wall. The future may be uncertain, but I couldn’t be more ready to meet it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog post; it won’t be last that I write about my current thinking and process. For now, this is where I am, wherever I might be in one or two years time. As an artist I’m constantly evolving. It does not become static when you think you’ve got good at something, you move on to the next thing and then the next because there is always more to learn and more ways to improve. In my opinion, you don’t get good as such, you just get brave. Brave enough to try new things with less of a fear of failure; it doesn’t matter if what you try ‘fails’, you just know how not to do it the next time… or perhaps in failing that one thing you accidently discover something else.

Have a great next couple of weeks, get creative and I’ll see you in the next one!


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