Art as Experience

I have talked in previous posts about how I’ve been thinking a lot about money in relation to my art at the moment. It’s sad that we need to think about this, but the fact is that, if I’m gong to spend as much time as it takes to make beautiful and interesting art, then I need to receive money from somewhere. The model I’ve been following in the past, the one that ended up making me feel angsty and disillusioned, was to spend several hundred hiring out a venue then hope that I sell a couple of pieces to at least make my money back. Obviously exhibitions are also the primary way that we let people see and enjoy our work and to raise our profile as an artist. The fact is that most people don’t buy art, and very few people go to a gallery with the intention of even considering making a purchase. Even if people can afford it, there are only so many pieces of art you can buy until you run out of space! I feel like this is a strange conflict of interests – I make work for people to enjoy and engage with, yet in order to make this possible I have to focus on trying to make sales.

I think that one of the issues is that the understanding of what we’re producing and selling isn’t correct. I’ve seen myself as creating objects, but in reality for most people art is an experience they have rather than an object they own. Therefore might it not be more sustainable and more interesting to find ways to focus on art as experience, and to sell the experience for a small amount to each person rather than a large amount to one? Of course for performance artists this is already what they do a lot of the time, but I have very little desire to be a performer, and I think it would be possible to try and adapt these models for visual art and installations with less of a focus on performance. I spent many years as part of a collective organising queer events with bands and performers here in Bristol (it was called FAG club and it was awesome), and I’m sure it would be possible to use the lessons from these sorts of events to create something new and exciting that would support visual artists and give people access to some awesome art.

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New year, new direction

10854403_425227764295054_2313507484739253353_oThese aren’t great pictures, but I wanted to share what I’ve been doing and it might be a while before I can get descent scans. I’ve still been painting in acrylic on canvases, but I’ve been doing abstract monochrome/duochrome paintings. These are the first two I’ve finished that I’m really pleased with. My focus is on flow and shape, creating a feeling of organic movement across the canvas, building up layers with a roller to get texture and depth. I’m really loving doing abstract painting, it feels so liberating to not be constrained by representation. It feels more like dance, focusing on the form and the composition and seeing how the shapes want to flow around and across the canvas. It also feels like it matches my new year’s resolution to not attempt to be an art business or to sell my work, or at least not do it in a way that puts pressure on me to produce work in a certain way. I was a bit worried that doing these paintings would “confuse the brand”, but now I know 10428063_425227747628389_7480084365097184770_nthat I’m *not* a brand, I’m an artist, and if I want to produce good work I need to follow my own flow without putting perimeters onto it. I want to just play, to focus on creating and to see where my work takes me. This new style of painting feels very apt for this!

I’ve also found myself thinking about abstraction, and what it means for these pictures. There’s part of me that really resents the idea of people trying to see anything pictorial in them, although I know I have no control over this. I definitely have no desire to give them names that might even hint at an idea or an atmosphere. As far as I’m concerned a name or an image or an idea that there is an idea outside of the piece which it is representing would distract from it. They are flowing lines and shapes, and the relationship that each person who encounters them has with them is their own.

Happy new year!

So I’ve decided to get back into using my website for the new year, after over a year since my last

Acrylic on canvas, 2014
Acrylic on canvas, 2014

post! I’ve changed the layout and updated my gallery pages as well as others, have a look around and see what you think.

I’ve been very ill over the last few months (I spent a week in hospital at the end of October) and it’s given me a bit of perspective on what I’m doing with myself. I’ve done a lot of thinking about what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, and I feel that I’m in a better and stronger place with my work than I was last time I wrote on here. I want to focus more on the making rather than on worrying about selling, so therefore this blog will become a little more relaxed and a little more personal. I have also started painting in the last couple of months (the results of which you can see here), and it feels very refreshing to be doing something completely different and not worrying about things like confusing the brand, which I was told were super important when selling oneself as a creative professional. My hope is to do more of this, as well as exhibiting my felt work around Bristol and beyond. Continue reading “Happy new year!”