After my customary summer break to recharge the batteries (which had started to run low after the energy expended creating my newest body of work), I recently started to feel the stirrings of my artistic core letting me know it was time to start painting again.
I’ve also recently moved house and started to feel an enormous pull towards a headland near my new abode called – perhaps aptly – Magic Point.
Over the last few years I’ve been at times experimenting with working outdoors in order to be more open to the energy of a particular spot, therefore it seemed really natural that I start venturing onto that headland, almost on a daily basis, in order to work en plein air; with the emphasis being not exactly in working from nature but rather in nature.
My new neighbourhood
What goes on at the Headland?
It all started with me going for walks there, as a response to the initial pull I felt towards that place. I immediately started thinking that I would like to paint there, as a way of paying homage to the place but also to learn from it – from the way its energy might shape my paintings.
I use the way energy shapes a painting as a metaphor but also as a tool in order to grasp the way in which energy may shape life.
On my first journey to the headland I was mostly familiarizing myself with the place and feeling its powerful vibrations. Pretty soon though I started looking for natural materials to use on my paintings, as a way of letting the landscape dictate bit more directly the way the paintings will go. I’ve painted in this manner on other occasions in Brazil and on the South Coast.
Finding materials in nature
After the first few reconnaissance treks I started to take with me a small backpack containing some watercolours, pastels, copper powder, a limited palette of acrylics as well as gum Arabic and acrylic binder. I also took with me a folder with some sheets of handmade paper.
Although I took a few painting materials with me what I have become more interested in is using materials I find there, therefore the very ground becomes my palette. There is a great array of different coloured sands there, and they vary from each other just as much in texture. There are a whole lot of different kinds of mud available and also rocks that I can grind into powders.
All of this gets splashed, poured, rubbed, dragged and bound onto the paper, letting the materials themselves as well as the energy contained in them and in the atmosphere decide what the painting will end up looking like.
The weather also plays an important role. If there hasn’t been a lot of rain the mud becomes scarce and there is no water for me to mix watercolours with, so I turn to drier materials such as sand and rocks, and I may then use acrylics and pastels. I can also use the wind to help me shape the painting by letting powders float on it and fall onto the paper, as I may use water for its fluidity when it is available.
A little connection to fellow artists
For the sake of purity I almost always try to keep external artistic influences out of my work, however I can’t help but acknowledge the similarities in the process, and even the debt I’m in with Action Painters such as Pollock and Frank Bowling (above), whose work I greatly admire, as well as with the Japanese Gutai movement.
It will be interesting to see where these paintings are going to go. So far I’m loving the process and getting some quite powerful results.
Below are some images of my time spent on Magic Point.