A few years ago my sketching friend and I went to a workshop at Leeds School of Art. The focus was to study the work of David Tress and take inspiration from his work into our own art. In retrospect I really gained a lot from the session, moving away from detail and towards elements of abstraction.
With time on my hands I thought I could revisit what I’d learned, so I picked up a small, narrow piece of mountboard and looked for a subject. I found a photo of a waterfall in Wales which appealed and suited the dimensions of the card. By collaging packing paper and newsprint I created a textured base on which to paint with acrylic. I went a bit mad with colour (I thought at the time) but was pretty happy with the result.
It’s rough and ready, but I think it looks at home mounted on some brown paper.
But I’ve not been entirely idle, I’m pleased to say. Last weekend my painting friend Andy and I went on a course at the Leeds College of Art. Titled ‘Atmospheric Acrylics,’ the objective was to look at the techniques used by the artist David Tress, focusing on landscapes.
We’d chosen this course as it looked like it might help us to loosen up our painting techniques in acrylic – we weren’t disappointed! The tutor wasted no time in getting us to scrunch up and stick paper (and anything else we fancied) onto boards to provide a basis for painting. We were encouraged to expand the boundaries of our boards, which was interesting – I think I might keep working on that idea. I’ve never tried to mix collage and paint, and I found the process at first a bit bewildering, then, very quickly, liberating. The tutor expected that we would be churning out four to five pieces, from small to large, during our 5 hours on the course. That seemed ambitious at first, but the techniques we were using were very fast indeed. The tutor was excellent, and provided lots of welcome encouragement and advice where needed.
Big brushes, splattering, sticking, smearing and scraping – all pretty new territory for me, and I loved it. I definitely made lots of mistakes and errors of judgment, but it didn’t matter as the day was all about experimentation and freedom from constraint.
What did I take away from this experience (apart from paint spatters all over me)? Well, I think that I would be happy to use all the elements – torn paper, expanded boundaries, splattering, broad brushwork – again. I’d like to experiment with incorporating some of these powerful techniques into my own style of painting. Should be both challenging and fun!