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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

Week 8: 21st – 27th March

Hello! Haven’t we been having lovely weather?! I hope you’ve all had a chance to enjoy it. The clocks changed last night, and I forgot about it so I was very confused and sleepy when I woke up this morning, but it was nothing throwing the curtains wide on a sunny day couldn’t fix. The last week has passed very quickly, I barely remember what I did. It’s a good thing I make notes at the end of every day and keep a diary, or this blog could have been tricky to write! I did get my painting photographed for the exhibition catalogue on Wednesday though, so that was very exciting. Alright, lets get into the post!

At the start of the week, I was thinking about how to add geometrics and abstraction into my oil painting experiments as well as finishing off my initial realistic painting of the Lagoon Nebula.

Based on my plan to increasingly abstract the subject through the remaining three paintings, I looked a little at Action Painters, especially a painting by Gorky where the features and movement of the paint represented his subject rather than a clear image/form. I started to work on some new underpaintings, but as I was doing it, I came to a bit of a realisation. While an acrylic underpainting really added something positive to my realist oil paintings both physically and also for me mentally while painting, I simple could not see what the oil paint could add to my acrylic painting technique. I would simply be learning to do the same things in a different medium and putting acrylic as a base for the sake of it. I like how acrylic works for me, so I just don’t need to add the oil.

So… I changed my plan again. I’m going to continue to use acrylic underpaintings for my oil paintings, but I’m going to continue in realism – I can experiment further with canvas again and trying to prime it to a really smooth surface, and painting in realism will help me improve my accuracy of painting and observation skills it’s also a nice colour mixing exercise. So, here is the new plan:

1. Lagoon Nebula 8x8 inches board

2. Ant Nebula 8x8 inches board

3. Orion nebula 12x12 inches canvas

4. Pillars of Creation (Eagle Nebula) 10x8 inches canvas

I completed my underpainting for Orion this week and today began to layer oil paint. It’s definitely getting better, but it is not complete yet, I’m just waiting for the paint to set a bit before I move on with it.

I have also started the underpaintings for the Ant Nebula and the Pillars of Creation, but I’m not sure if I think they’re ready for the oil paint or not.

Another big thing I did this week was do experiments for exhibition layout. I don’t know yet the space I will have, so I just tested all the options for each possible scenario. Should they end up all flat on the wall together as a four, I would arrange them as such: Sgr A x-ray, Sgr A radio, M31 x-ray, M31 radio. This arrangement puts a painting on each end with directional lines that point inwards and thus keeps your eye within the four and not leading you to the adjacent works. Should they be all four together but on a corner, I would arrange them like this: Sgr A x-ray, Sgr A radio, M31 radio, M31 x-ray. With this scenario, the two red paintings frame the four nicely, giving the effect of keeping your eye within the boundaries of the frame. And if the diptychs are displayed not next to each other, they would be: Sgr A x-ray, Sgr A radio and M31 x-ray, M31 radio. This is the order I figured out previously as working best individually. Honestly, I’m surprised by this discovery, but I actually would ideally like them to be displayed together. It’s not necessary, but I think it creates more of a ‘space bubble’ to envelop the viewer in – it makes it more of an experience, which after all is what my work is all about.

Next week I really want to finish off The Orion Nebula and get started on one of the other two. I also want to get a finalised structure with points I want to make for my essay. The finish line is in sight, and there’s only one more week before Easter, which is wild.

I hope you all have a wonderful week, stay creative and curious, and I’ll see you in the next one!


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