PODCAST—Contrast and Personal Voice
This week Rebecca is speaking with you from Ballinglen Arts Foundation in County Mayo,
Ireland, a place she returns to every year for teaching for her own time to paint. She shares some of the ideas that were the focus of her advanced cold wax workshop there, and we discuss how they relate to personal voice in your own work.
My 7 th time here and the 2 nd or 3 rd time I have taught only more advanced students, those that have used cold wax for a time on their own or in other previous workshops
A little about the workshop—a full week, includes some day trips, lots of independent work time, review demos, PP presentations, discussions, individual meetings, very busy week. More advanced students benefit from some structured exercises rather than just trying to work with the techniques at intro level.
Class structure based on several related ideas: importance of contrast both in visual elements and in the duality of concept. And the relationship of form and content in getting all of this to work together.
Complex so let’s break it down in the way that I presented the material to the class.
Starting with visual elements—asked to focus on 3 (imp. of limited elements in abstraction)
Explored these as studies, in a number of small paintings on paper. Emphasis on CONTRAST.nContrasts of color, value, kinds of mark-making, types of textures.
Then introduced idea of dualities—working with CONTRAST in terms of ideas. Dualities=opposites yet dependent on one another such as growth and decay, light and shadow, organic and human made, anxiety and release.
Dualities provide more interesting ideas in an abstract work than single ideas alone.
Students did some more studies using the contrasting aspects of visual elements but now
bringing in ideas and meaning from a chosen duality.
Accompanied by discussion of the alignment of form and content—the form = objective
aspects of the work, what can be factually described--how do the way you use the visual
elements, the medium, the principles of design
Content= meaning, idea, mood
How does the form you are using support the content/they should be interdependent and
aligned. For example in a painting meant to express anxiety and release, there could be
contrasting aspects of color and line that would relate to each emotion.
many of us operate with awareness of dualities in the back of our minds. This can be very intuitive work. But bringing the process to light also seemed helpful in providing ideas and a clearer sense of direction.
How does this relate to personal voice?
We covered the basic idea of personal voice in episode 20
We’ve also touched on the idea in various other episodes that most forms of artistic expression such as music and writing have a rise and fall, times when the action is high energy and other times calm, some kind of conflict and resolution –provides both structure and energy
Consider how to approach your current ideas and work with the idea of dualities and contrast.
Can be very energizing and open up new ideas.
Also in describing/presenting your work it brings in more interest and focus. More conceptual.
Example you may do beautiful ethereal abstractions—hard to describe and may be so subtle
that they fail to attract much notice when presented in a juried situation or to a gallery.
You can find yourself backed into a corner of "this is what I do"
Could you bring in a contrasting aspect to the work? Perhaps consider the concrete world in relation to the ephemeral--this does not deny your interest in the ephemeral but gives it
additional depth and meaning. Part of the painting more solid, or maybe diptychs of contrasting panels? Or simply exploring the duality in completely separate works.
Idea of chaos/order—many artists fall into one aspect or the other but what about finding a
way to include both sides of the duality in your work? Ordered chaos, or broken order?