Reading the intro to ‘Vitamin P – new perspectives in painting’ and I come across questions such as:

‘Where does conceptual art leave painting?

Does painting still have specific capacities of its own to discover and exploit?

So that set me and now I’m wondering – how can my practice be a part of the contemporary art conversation?

Well my answer is to go and see exhibitions by international artists that excite me. And I am enjoying this book enormously, even though I have only read a few pages. I have looked at Suzanne Mcclelland’s work (covered in the book) and then googled her and I am very excited at what she is doing. And I think, how come I haven’t found her before? (This may just be my gushing reaction to discovering a new artist I have something in common with)

She uses overheard snippets of conversation in her work. This is something I’d done in previous work – in a landscape sketchbook where I sketched the scene and noted down my observations and overheard conversations and written record of sounds and movement – typed those notes up and cut up into strips which formed fronds, partially covering the image. (Pic will accompany)

The influence on my work now is in my writing what i can hear in my current work on the fabriano paper. (I had begun to form some recognisable words in the work, but more my thoughts than the sounds I heard. Writing what I hear gets me closer to ‘listening’ and I haven’t known how I wanted to do this before now. (It has really helped to have a whole day to do my own thing – haven’t had that for 7 weeks! It’s all been in snatched periods)

I have previously considered working in different enviroments to see how listening in paint changes and now I can see I have something to get going with.

(Another thing I am currently drawn to going for walks after dark. The sounds are more intense and this could be a time to do more practical work.)


I’m currently working on a piece on large Fabriano paper, but this time ‘writing’ in all directions and not going in a straight line.

Breaking down the pattern of writing a bit more.


I’ve been sounding out and experimenting in the work I’ve been doing recently. The times and periods I have available are limited and often sporadic. I have a lot of time to think about my work while away from it and this changes the way I view it when I revisit. So far summer work has been revealing in that much of my time has been spent doing admin and organising. I flourish when I know what I need to do (having a checklist!) and work through it systematically. Then I come to my practice and don’t have a straightforward plan – ‘If I knew what I was going to do then what is the point of doing it?’ (Picasso) rings true. But, just because I don’t have a plan, it doesn’t mean I should work in a willy-nilly fashion. Sometimes I find I start a piece, and have to leave it midway and by the time I get back to it I no longer see any point in it. (Without interruption I would have completed it). My perception of my own lack of time (though, after all, I do have 24 hours in each day like you!) affects me and has for the entirety of my degree course. It affects what I think I can achieve and what I set out to do. Somehow I need to adjust this and make the most of the available pockets of time.

When I get into my artspace to work, I often start with catching up with admin/organising and emails, which I somehow need to manage better as this can take over completely and then I am left feeling wretched that I haven’t even got the paint out!

So far this summer holiday I have tried:

Spraypainting writing
large watercolour writing
3 x 20cm2 canvas’ placed in mini room arrangement
watered down white on black acrylic (x2)
beige on browny beige background (slightly vintage looking)
Black acrylic over old very textured work. White acrylic over

And now I’m working on (approx. A1) thick watercolour paper with watered down grey acrylic writing in any direction. For the first time I am not writing in lines, the writing is staying the same size, just swirling around the page.

I am finding it useful to come back to work done a while (week or two) ago and analyse then rather than straight after doing it. Immediately after finishing a piece I am quite black or white about it, I either think of it as a failure or ok, but not much in between and I’m either too critical or not at all.


I’m considering the surfaces I’m painting on more carefully, the meanings they may bring by their previous use/purpose and what could be read by them.

I’m currently working on carrier bags and so my painting on them is a form of re-use, I’m giving some cultural signals about where I have shopped at some point. Something else that occurs to me is the value or lack of that is ascribed to these carriers. A contrast to painting on canvas or watercolour paper.

I’m considering:

How does this change the work?

Why use carrier bags?

Now what?


Does going with the flow mean I have no agenda?

It means I haven’t defined my agenda clearly enough to enable a clear way forward.

Hence ‘Wood for Trees‘ piece…

I have been working on another piece intially called ‘word weaving’ and I feel in need of carrying on with relatively unthought-through work for the sake of giving myself a time and space to think and reflect. This (busy – do hate that word, could be busy doing so many pointless things and I probably do) time during the school holidays is a time of never doing enough (with son) but having so much I need and want to do that I can’t fit in during my limited me-time.

Enough of that, this is not intended to be a moan-diary! It’s a questioning and solution finding space for me.

Last week I visited Tate St Ives (shocked there are no free-of charge rooms for visitors) and happened upon Andrew Jackson’s guided tour (see bit.ly/1eAuakd for a taste of the exhibition). It was so engaging, like no other tour guide I’ve listened to in recent years – he was fascinating to listen to.

I was particularly interested to hear about Partrick Herons last series of Brushwork series of paintings using sensory input through vibrations his feet/body rather than using his eyes (since hearing that I cannot find any record of this from my initial internet research and my memory is bound to have skewed it).

Questions to myself:

What makes ‘listening’ my key concept?

Why write?

Can writing be questioning without being legible?

WHAT exactly am I questioning?

Why do I want to listen?

How can I push my work to be astute?

How do I push/pull my work towards the conversation?

What is the thing that matters most about what I produce?

And to finish on an upward note:

I like my work being in Germany

I like seeing and hearing about others’ practices.

I like it when my output is high!