Working in the Studio

I attended a four day intensive painting workshop led by John Skinner at Seawhite Studios, Partridge Green. This was a good opportunity to start some paintings from my collected resources from CFT. I chose to work with The Rehearsal as I had most information on this play.
The studio space, being shared with a number of other artists, was smaller than my own studio, so my large canvases felt quite cramped to start with, until I was able to organise the space better.

The Rehearsal Paintings

The Rehearsal Paintings


I like to have preparatory or reference material on the wall as I work.
Painting at Seawhite Studios

Painting at Seawhite Studios


I started two paintings, but I shall follow the path of just one of them for this post. The ground was already painted with a dark, dark blue. This is not my usual practice, but I am trying new approaches, whilst I am working out how to show the darkness of a theatre, brought to life with light and colour.
The first attempt to cover the canvas is always a challenge, but this is a good time to consider the composition of the painting.
The Rehearsal 1
I was working on an easel, not something I am accustomed to doing and probably not to be repeated if possible. It tips the painting up towards the light and makes it harder to see the colours when the paint is wet. With a lot of canvas to cover (1200x1000mm) progress seems slow at times. The advice was to emphasis something that we like in our source material. This was an easy decision for me. It was the odd shapes in my drawing of the flour de lys shapes on the set for The Rehearsal that had first captured my attention, so this is what I wanted to emphasise.
The Rehearsal - Set drawing

The Rehearsal – Set drawing


The Rehearsal 1

The Rehearsal 1


Painting is a process where marks are added and removed from the canvas at every stage. On reflection, I removed the red ribbon-like line where it crossed the light green ‘ribbon’ and this made a more cohesive composition, allowing two entities to exist in their own space in the painting. I spend quite a lot of time mixing paint colours, rarely using colours straight from the tube. when I do it tends to be for emphasis or highlights only. Once you have used pure colour you have nowhere to go to intensify your colour.
The Rehearsal 1

The Rehearsal 1


I continued to work on this canvas between working on another painting, back in the studio in artOne at the university, where I shall concentrate my work for the summer, giving my husband a bit more space in the studio back at Lavant.
I extended the red ‘ribbon’ down to the bottom of the canvas and removed the patch of light purple from the base of the painting. I liked the purple colour but didn’t feel it was in the right place. However, I was now faced with a composition which sits on the surface of the picture plane. This is again out of my comfort zone. I was tempted to change this to make it a painting that I would feel able to ‘walk into’. I resisted the urge to make the change and instead will take on the challenge of something more abstract than is my usual practice.
Still being in love with the purple, I added it to the right hand image, feeling that it worked well with the green, but being disappointed in the overall composition.
The Rehearsal 1

The Rehearsal 1


William Dudley had told me that he liked the way I had captured the chaos of the play and his interpretation of the set in my drawing. This wasn’t coming across in the painting. I needed to introduce some movement to this rather static painting. I tore myself some stencils and set to work to mix a brighter green. I left small interstitial glimpses of the purple.
The Rehearsal 1

The Rehearsal 1


Now it feels as if there is a conversation going on between the two images in the painting. By now the red ‘ribbon’ was a little the worse for wear and so I re-mixed the colour and re-instated parts of the line, where necessary. For the time being I shall leave the painting. Sometimes I need to live with a painting for a while before I know what to do next or simply decide to move on.

June 2015 Interim Crit

My time as Emerging Artist in Residence at CFT is part of a collaboration between the theatre and the University of Chichester’s Art Department. As an MA student approaching the last leg of her studies, I had to show my work to date for the final module in an Interim Crit with University Tutors and fellow MA students. Much of this work has been created in CFT and consists of drawings, some of which are exploratory and are perhaps preparation for paintings. Part of Interim Crit is to show the pieces of work that are significant to the development of my art practice within the MA programme. This has been a useful exercise for me, during this time of reflection on the material gathered so far at the theatre.

Interim Crit: lessons from the theatre

Interim Crit: lessons from the theatre


I made some notes on painted paper, about the issues that my time so far with the theatre have made me consider, both in relation to my practice as an artist in general and as a painter in particular. I shall put this ‘reminder’ list on the wall of my studio so that I can interrogate new work in relation to them. They do not represent rules as such, but I do want these elements to be evident in my current body of work.

Bringing light to a dark place is fundamental to the theatre and very much part of the magic of live performance, and so I have made studies where I start with a dark background and impose light areas or remove the darkness:

Set for The Rehearsal

Set for The Rehearsal


My palette has historically been light, colourful and even pastel. Bringing darker tones to my paintings has been a challenge for me.
Auditorium

Auditorium

Symmetry is very evident in the refurbished building of the main theatre, including in the Foyer area. Through collage and editing, I have taken two very similar drawings based on the stairs up to the auditorium, and played with the symmetry and mirroring which existed within them.

Interim Crit June 2015

Interim Crit June 2015

Repetition is an inevitable feature of the rehearsal process and eventually, the run of any show. I found the repetition of shapes within the set of The Rehearsal became magnified against the back wall of the stage,when the direction of the light source was changed. This was quite compelling. I am considering how repetition might be incorporated into my paintings.

I wanted to show Katherine Kingsley and Niamh Cusack very simply in my observational drawings of their rehearsals, whilst locating them within the intimate space of the Minerva.

Katherine Kingsley

Katherine Kingsley


Niamh Cusack

Niamh Cusack


By contrast I enjoyed the space surrounding Edward Bennett and Jamie Glover in this drawing, whereas there is a closeness and tension between them, in quiet conversation together.
Edward Bennett and Jamie Glover

Edward Bennett and Jamie Glover

On entering the theatre, any painter can find a multitude of subjects to work with. I have found the discipline of being forced to be selective in my gathering of material very helpful. The auditorium in particular presents so many areas of interest, even before the ‘set’ for the production is considered. The need for selectivity aligns with an approach that I have already introduced into some of my compositions, as in this painting from the Oaklands series.

Basement 4 Oaklands Park House

Basement 4 Oaklands Park House