Saturday, May 16, 2009

Working process

The process I am using to create the work in my Reading a Garden series physically reflects the erosion of memory we all experience with the passage of time.

I begin each piece with photo transfers of a particular place in the garden. I consider this "the real". Then through a series of manipulations using paint and papers, I combine and alter the photo transfers into a blended "summary impression" of a place, feeling or event experienced in the garden.
While the work still looks highly realistic when completed it has strayed greatly from the initial transfers and morphed into a composite of photo images and remnants of frayed memory. As more time passes and the details in my memory are less distinct, the nature of the work is also changing subtly. There transfers are less visible and the invented sections are taking over.

I began with the wildflower meadow because I've had an intimate relationship with meadows since my childhood. The wildflower meadow at
Birr Castle Demesne had a wildness and simplicity when compared to the more controlled and cultivated Millennium Garden where I always felt slightly out of my element. The meadow was nature left wild and wanton; I felt free there.

When I start a mixed media work I never know how it will look when it is finished. The process of adding things moves the work along in its own direction. It is as if it is leading me and not the other way around. The end result is always a surprise for me. I would love to say I have it all figured out beforehand, sketched, with a tonal study completed etc. While I am very organized in most aspects of my life, I cannot imagine working in that manner. I love surprise of what my conscious and unconscious mind produces!

In this piece, I began with roughly 30 image transfers from photos I took in the meadow. Different sections of the meadow had different wildflowers and different feelings. Some photos were close up, others more distant. I laid out all available transfers and begin to sort and resort them until I had ones that I felt worked together. They produce more of a hybrid of the meadow area than an actual representation of it. I then use medium to attach some of them to the board.

In the next step I connected the transfers with a dark background that gave me a working surface with lots of contrast to fill in or connect the disparate sections using papers and paint. These areas represents my" sense" or memory of the meadow and could be considered invented when compared to the photo transfers.

I work back and forth without too much thought and the painting slowly emerges. I like to combine abstract elements with the realistic imagery. The small circles are reminiscent of seeds and also infinity. I've played around with certain letter representations in Morse Code that are created using dots. They allow me to insert messages in the painting without using text.


Miki Willa said...

This is really beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thinking behind your process.

Ram Bansal, the Theosoph said...

I like your seriousness and dedication to work accomplishment in one way or the other. Keep up and take care of your memory. It is matter of practice only.

Poetic Artist said...

I love the process. Thank you

Sherwood Harrington said...

This is astonishing, that you have taken several pieces of "reality" (photos), broken them up, and assembled some of their pieces to produce something that is, in a sense, more "real" than its component parts. If that makes any sense.

This captures (and enhances) my memory of the meadowlands in the Demesne wonderfully. Of course, now I have to go learn Morse Code and try to translate the dots!

Margaret Ryall said...

Thanks Sherwood,
Ah... more real than the real. I think it's safe to say there are many versions of reality and we can often help it along.

HeartFire said...

Those are great Margaret, thanks for sharing your process too. I have done a little photo transfer experiments in painting, and this inspires me to try more...