Over the past 6 weeks I have taken part in a second on-line course called Find Your Voice (FYV) with Louise Fletcher. This is a follow on to the Find Your Joy (FYJ) course. You can read my review, including my results, from FYJ here. The purpose of this second course was to continue to focus on developing our own personal voices. But with an intention in mind and looking at 4 key painting principles: tone; composition; colour and mark making.
Why a second course and what did I hope to achieve, beyond what I had got from FYJ?:
- FYJ focused on developing our understanding of our own joy and preferences in painting. Intention/what we wanted our art to say was a small part. I now wanted to explore how I keep with an intuitive, playful focus, whilst bringing in a specific intention and developing a series of work. In my case, the interest area for the course is Cotton Mills. You can read more about it here.
- I wanted to gain a greater understanding of the 4 key areas of tone, composition, colour and mark making. And explore and start to develop my way of using each of those contrasts in my own work in series.
- I was keen to further explore my thoughts and ideas through journalling. The course framework facilitates more in depth exploration of our preferences in a journal.
Find Your Voice 2019: Intuition vs. intention
Intuition vs. Intention was the subject of the first week of the course and one we came back to for the final week when we painted just for ourselves!. For me, the value of this exploration has meant that I now always start a painting intuitively (instinctively, going with what I feel like doing). I then respond to these first marks. Starting with experimentation is key for me, even though I have no idea where it will take me-that’s part of the fun! When I tighten up, the magic stops! The challenge is to nurture the relationship between intuition and intention. We need to somehow dance between the two of them, in some sort of seamless transition….No easy task! I liken it to chasing a bag down the road in the wind! If in doubt, shake it up and keep taking risks!
4 key contrast areas
The middle 4 weeks (2-5) are devoted to looking at each of the 4 contrast areas: 1 per week. Although in the real world, you have to juggle all 4 areas in a painting, it was very helpful to have one as a focus per week. There are lots of things to think about with each of the 4 areas and Louise shared a wealth of knowledge about each. All this takes some time to understand and then integrate into the work.
Although this can sound quite theoretical at first, once you start to explore, you realise their power. For example, looking at Tone (Dark and Light), its important to think about the mood you are trying to create in the painting. In my case, I am keen to develop an ethereal, magical feel, reflecting something of the history, heritage and beauty of these old mill buildings. So in black and white I feel my paintings need to be more light than dark, but with some drama through the strong darks. I also want darks around the painting so that your eye is led all over the painting. Your intention is always a driver for the ways you manipulate the contrasts in your paintings.
Find Your Voice 2019: Journalling
This part of my process is a big deal to me. It is through these two courses that I have realised the huge potential and need for keeping a journal. Each week of assignments has included journal prompts that have opened my eyes to possibilities. My journal is now a book that contains my treasure trove of information about the project:
- It’s where I write about and explore my intention for my work: Why am I fascinated by Mills, what is it about them? (I’ll cover this in posts in 2020);
- The place I write inspiring quotes and ideas that help me move forward.
- I draw, paint and create small pieces of work that explore ideas and thoughts in my journal.
- It is where I document my preferences for painting details: e.g. my colour pallet and preferences, interesting textures and mark making, etc.
- I analyse and explore paintings and images I love and identify preferences.
Find Your Voice 2019: A review. In summary….
I don’t think that in 6 weeks I can claim to have fully identified My Voice (that probably takes a lifetime!). However, I feel that I have some of the essential tools that will enable me to continue on the journey to discovering it. The online community that is developed through these courses is hugely supportive and a very important part of the learning and development. The main credit for all of this must go to Louise, whose guidance, inspiration, direction and generosity has made this such an amazing experience. Please do check out my youtube chanel here for videos on aspects of the course.