Look up, look up and see the sky.
See the birds soaring on high and
for a moment see through their eyes
Look up, look up and see the star
laden sky filled with dreams and
hopes and the face of our
neighbour in all its beautiful
glorious stages of time.
Look up if just for a moment
and breathe become part of
Something much bigger than this
©Alison Slade, July 2018
I’ve always been fascinated by the sky weather it be night or day but until now I never thought to use it as a creative force for my work… I spent many years labouring away at the human form and an obsession to make things as realistic as possible… It never twigged for me when studying at Winchester that the most alive drawings I made were of landscapes and skies… I doggedly continued with life drawings that weren’t ‘alive’ just buried in the heaviness of reality. The for me art has to have a spark of life, a certain essence that slavishly copied reality lacks. Skies and landscapes are easier, for me, to express feelings through. I can mess with what I see to what I really see and experience which I have never been able to do with the figure… Its like a mammoth stone block that I can neither break through or climb over the tightness in my body that inbuilt realistic interpretation just ties me up in knots… So for a better creative life and sanity I shall concentrate on my skies and landscapes and feel joy!
I’ve always told myself that I can not paint… Which is why I studied sculpture and drawing always careful to keep things monochrome perhaps a little red to emphasize a line or shape within the whole drawing.
This sudden urge to work in oil pastels and paint seemingly came from nowhere but if I’m truthful it’s comes from being unwell… Painting helps take the focus off the pain. I’m now feeling a little more confident with colour and it allows me to explore things not always possible with sculpture ie the sky and the sea!!
I remember trying oil pastels many years ago and struggling. I couldn’t get the fine layers I wanted so I abandoned them. They weren’t a medium that was encouraged at art school either so I never tried them after my degree. It was only recently that frustrated with pencil and watercolour I brought a set of Pentel oil pastels and discovered the baby oil on cotton tips technique… I spent time in a rag paper sketchbook playing with them the range of colours was good they were a little on the hard side but it really sparked with me. I’ve now progressed to a larger canvass laid down a base of acrylics and am working into it with a mix of Pentel and Van Gogh pastels (Van Gogh are much softer) and I’m slowly building up an abstract sky painting… The white is oil paint applied with a knife I’m also using my fingers in stead of brushes but then I’ve always been hands on!!
I’ve been questioning my reasons for painting… Subject etc my work always revolves around faces and bodies to a certain extent. What concerns me is the passive expression the fact that things happen to them, the subject, and they accept it… What does that say about me? I have a fear that if I allow true passion I will not be able to contain it… Control it, so instead of embracing my feelings I keep them in a box with the lid closed, locked, chained and padlocked. Whilst this has served me well over the years, I have faced grief, pain, physical and psychological, I have been able to view it as one does a film or read a book, but it has stifled my creativity, has put limits on my ability to push the boundaries of my art and practice to face that which I fear and disturbs me. Its taken a long time to secure my feelings in a place of safety.. How long will it take to re-open the box and feel… I have doubts I will do it before I pop my clogs!
It’s amazing how paintings grow change and suggest their own development. I’m the kind of artist who likes to work idea’s out in a sketchbook first then progress it upwards to the size of canvas I will be working on. What I end up with in the finished painting only ever has a passing resemblance to the drawn studies. I know many artists just start a painting, they have an idea, or not, before they put paint on the canvass and they allow the work to flow organically right from the start, but me I need some kind of plan just to get the whole process kickstarted. That’s not to say that I don’t just draw, drawing on any level is one of the most creatively stimulating things you can do in my opinion…it is the foundation of my art practice. Often, even after I’ve started a canvass I will draw from it exploring new ideas but being careful not to dictate too much…in fine art there is no formula no method of ‘you must do it this way’ James Elkins in his book ‘Why art can’t be taught’ advocates the an approach that nurtures, advises and allows the artist the space to explore their own creative path no one is there to hold your hand or show you how to hold a brush or how best to mix paint, they just expect you to do it…failure is almost required as it forces you to open up and go find your own answers whether looking at other artists researching your subject till you a filled with as much information from as many sources as possible whether its landscape or the human condition art is as much an academic subject as it is studio based practice…How lovely it would be to buy a magazine from Tescos that will tell you exactly how to paint abstract, or pretty life-like flowers…art is individual, good bad or indifferent it’s about taking what you have seen and studied and forming an opinion that is communicated visually. In my opinion.