• Li An Li

Letting the paint lead

This week is the second week of half term for my children. They have been sick so we have stayed home and not visited the galleries I had wished to. I decided that I would continue with my 'main' (quotes because with all these shows I am uncertain as to what that is anymore) body of practice see where it goes and what happens after all 'JUST DO'. Each time I got stuck I thought about the show 'OpenCut' especially the concept of excavating what is near/present to me. To be honest, I did not think much I just did. I believe that God leads me with the immediate or instant thoughts, some may understand this as automatic thinking, however for me I feel sure that it is Holy Spirit inspiring me mostly because I disagree with the ideas.

Motherhood and the challenge that brings was all I was surrounded by. I felt brave enough to try and take realistic images of frustrating drama that faces a mother with a young child. I have found it and exposing and vulnerable experience. The images show a realistic moment without context of the unreasonable demands. I feel guilty because I am recording a negative moment in my daughters life and the impact it may have on her in the future. I remind myself the raw struggle of motherhood it is not often represented in art or perhaps I have not been exposed to it. Also how if it was, would it be able to raise awareness of its difficult reality?

I found it interesting documenting something I would not usually and something I am embarrassed to document. I keep thinking that art is about showing something in a new way... be it a combination of elements put together differently or presenting something that enlightens the viewers or experiencer. I prefer the term experiencer because viewers imply they are inactive where as art is taking a turn to be more kinetic so I think the concept of experiencing a work is even more relevant.

I have been challenging myself to the Open-Cut task, especially the concept that I just need to look at what is near/present to me. I have also been playing with paint. My tutor had mentioned that my two streams of work; painting and photography may combine, so I thought I may as well explore this. At this first stage without much thought and the need to be efficient I embed the photographs in the paint. I am curious to turn the paint into fabric, as I did with the bag made of hair which I trialled for Generations and Nations.

I lined a canvas with greaseproof paper and poured over the top. The paint swirled and looked reasonable when I went up to bed, however in the morning it was not so. The canvas must have been rather unbalanced because at the far end the paint had flowed off. There was not as much paint on the canvas as there was on the floor. I had used cotton sheet to line the floor but the paint had soaked through and the floor was covered in paint semi dried. As I was clearing the disastrous experiment and wonder if trying to get any work done during half term was actually a bad idea and a waste of a lot of paint. I tried to correct my attitude and see what had happened and how this was a record of the properties of paint. How I could use this moment and what was right in front of me to make another work. I must admit I was grumbling a bit was I went out side to the cold dew covered garden to see where on earth I could hang two large sheets drenched in paint.

I took a risk and just hammered them to the shed. Isn't it absurd that the concept of making two small nail holes can prevent me from trying something new.

I stood back and looked. It was not pretty, it did not compel any emotion itself, but it did remind me of my diploma work. Where I threw paint on to large tarpaulin to watch it run. But it also made me think that I could paint straight on to cotton and hang it like the tarps of Chris Horner.

I hadn't had time to clear the remaining baking paper from the floor, but as I passerby it one time I stopped to try to peel it.In the back of my mind, I have been wanting to peel paint and I have not known what I want to do with this but perhaps paint on cotton would help it hold so I could manipulate it like fabric. I had once tried it with clingfilm as the joining element however the paint doest not harden since the plastic causes it to be air tight. That was part of the original plan, I had just felt so discouraged I hadn't even attempted to do as I had initially wanted. I started to peel it. It was difficult because the paint was so thin and at places it was stuck to the baking paper. It did not come off in one sheet as ideal it would be. It came off in sections, I found it mesmerising and satisfying. a bit like picking a scab. I kept the photos that were embedded in it. Again I felt there was something to it, but felt that it was far off.

A day went past before I realised I could actually hang these sheets up. The moment I did I knew there was a point to what I was wanting to achieve. After today my aim is becoming clearer - exploring the properties of paint, including recording it, and exploring the way it behaves in varying states.

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