Saturday, June 27, 2009

Project 4: Feelings & Emotions

My apologies to those of you who are following this blog for not posting anything for the last 5-and-a-half weeks (has it actually been as long as that?) I have been unable to find the words for something I have been deeply engaged in and trying to make sense of myself.

A reminder of my intentions:
The Course itself is leading towards a painting style I already have in my mind - figurative painting done in a semi-abstract manner - and Project 2 started with a reprise of fairly straightforward expressive figure paintings (Project 1 being designing this Course for myself); Project 3 took me away into the outer reaches of painting "pure" or "free" abstracts, although at it's culmination I couldn't stop myself from bringing in figurative refrences in my "Scherzo"; this Project No.4 was intended to not only continue with abstract painting but to narrow the field down to exploring specifically how to express emotions visually in colour.

When I look at the work of some abstract painters I am moved by their work and fascinated as to where their images come from. In discussion with them over the internet they describe to me how their images arise by simply letting go and allowing their own feelings to surface and in so doing give visual expression. I do not know how to do this, and I wish I could!
So, unless I try this for myself I will never know if it is possible for me - always one for a challenge!

What follows is a description of the journey I have taken, and it will need to be fast because I am going on holiday in exactly one week's time to lie on a Majorcan beach till I am as brown as a berry!

With only the vaguest notion as to what on earth I was doing I spent over two weeks at the beginning of this project carrying out as much research as I could to develop a better understanding of just what's going on with these things we call emotions. It is a well known fact that Scotsmen simply do not talk about "feelings" and "emotions" - far too girly! We would much rather talk about football and hug each other when our team scores!!!
I don't care about what other people think (well not much anyway) and I view this subject as a fact of our lives and therefore something to be investigated.

To begin with, I set down my own understanding of what these words mean to act as a benchmark for future comparison. I then started researching whatever material I could find in books and on the internet turning firstly to my dictionary to establish definitions for the words ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’. This was useful if not overly illuminating. Then, by using the internet search engine, Google, I systematically worked my way through a plethora of sites related to emotions finding some which provided me with good, if often, somewhat standard views. Psychology sites in particular enabled me to identify and specify a range of emotions. But perhaps the most rewarding source for my purpose was a book by the Buddhist writer, Paramananda, on “The Body”, and his discussion on the connection between body, mind, and feelings. This helped address how feelings and emotions are experienced and how we can raise our awareness of them.
The conclusion I soon came to, however, was that better minds than mine have struggled to describe this subject in words and that it was ultimately much better to explore the emotions directly for myself to see how I could express them visually.

Sketch and Painting Studies:
With so much reading and long periods of contemplation I became agitated for action and started with a series of small acrylic paintings from my subconscious.
I started almost where I left off in previous project by quieting my mind and trying to become aware of what lay within. But after a long period of this 'meditation' I had to admit that I couldn't say I "felt" anything! Nothing particular arose, and certainly nothing I could identify as having a particular colour, a particular feeling, or residing in a particular place in my body. This was to become the focus of intense and constant probing in the weeks to come.
But I still needed to paint to explore for myself and aid the process.
These small acrylics were attempts at painting freely from my subconscious:

Emotions Study 1, acrylics on canvas, 20x20cm.

Emotions Study 2, acrylics on canvas, 20x20cm.

Emotions Study 3, acrylics on canvas, 20x20cm.

Interesting how dark they are! But what specific emotions they represent I cannot say, only that they are indeed quite negative.

During this session an idea arose which was to become my grand concept for this project: "Facial Abstracts". It occurred to me that while I wanted to produce paintings which were largely abstract and expressive of specific emotions this could well be done by also thinking in terms of human faces which is where emotions can usually be seen. This would also provide a suitable link between Project 3: Abstract Painting, and Project 5: Semi-Abstract Figurative Painting:

Emotions Study 4, acrylics on canvas, 20x20cm.

Emotions Study 5, acrylics on canvas, 20x20cm.

I have 11 postings to make on this project and with only six more days till my holidays I will be posting twice-a-day. I know it's a lot but the good news is that there will be little in the way of text to read and more pictures to look at.

I hope very much you will make this journey with me and perhaps even leave a comment or two, and certainly, ask any questions of me. I will be happy to try to explain myself.

No comments: