I've been a very busy boy these last couple of weeks. After my short trip to Milan I found it very difficult to get going again with my head full of Last Suppers and whatnot.
Following my Tutorial the previous week (which I look back on with very mixed feelings) when my Tutor suggested that for this project I start with the Theoretical Study so that I might incorporate some of the things I learn from it instead of leaving it to the end and rushing to complete. Even though I had mis-givings about reading so much about what others have done that I get confused (which you should know by now, I do very easily!) and try to copy their work instead of doing my own thing.
I'm pleased to say, however, that it turned out to be the ideal way to get myself into the course-work again and finding inspiration in my readings. Firstly I read through in it's entirety "Abstract Expressionism" written by Barbara Hess (pub; Taschen) which gives an over-view of the movement and small bite-sized pieces on all the major players.
This led in turn to a book I have had for many years: "Hans Hofmann" by Karen Wilkin (pub; Naples Museum of Art, Florida) and while I understand (I think) what he was achieving with his 'push-pull' abstracts I found myself losing interest. I was already beginning to want to narrow my focus to not only "Abstract" painting as opposed to "Abstraction" but to "free" abstract painting, or "pure" abstract, or simply painting intuitively from the sub-conscious. Quickly I realised that the whole subject of Ab-Ex was far too wide (and already covered extensively in print) and needed limiting to something more specific and of interest to me. Sadly Hans wasn't doing it so I moved on to reading the relevant sections in yet another of my books on the English artist "Gillian Ayers" by Mel Gooding (pub: Lund Humphries, 2001) which I remembered in Chapter 4: 'Seeing What Paint Could Do: Free Abstraction and the Hampstead Mural, 1956 - 1957'.
Two problems arose for me: the first concerning the use of the word 'Abstraction' which I take to mean removal, by degrees, from reality, but which was used frequently at the time to simply mean 'abstract painting'. I have decide to stick with the former as I prefer it's distinction. The latter, to my mind, is more appropriate for non-objective, non-figurative, images from the sub-conscious.
The second problem that consumed me for the best part of two weeks was that as far as i could see all abstract art was wall-size and needed a huge studio to lay the canvases or panels out on the floor to work on them. Happily I now know this is not the case, but more of that later.
In the meantime, with a growing sense of unease that I was reading too much and not actually making any progress I got myself into the studio and made my first "free" abstract:
Abstract Painting #1
Acrylics and collage on hardboard, 36x53cm.
Not large but to my mind very satisfactory, and I was off and running!