7.5.2014 – Studio notes on starting new work

by deanmelbourne

Days at the start of a body of work can tempt me into a panic. There is nothing solid in my vision of the new work just a vague notion. Sometimes an image that I want to start with. Often i have a sense of an atmosphere i want to create. 

This time I have an idea about palette and tonal range. A loose notion of where the drive to make this work is coming from in an internal sense. My motivation. Everything else after that is hazy and difficult to grasp. 

I try to visualise making the marks, imagine me at the canvas and i go through the motions mentally. I guess like a athlete visualising their performance. 

Today the sense of direction has moved in and out of focus. Trying to paint to early, to force it feels all wrong and the results frustrate and only add to the panic. 

There seems to be one artist standing out as achieving in some way what i want to attempt in the new work. 

Cecily Brown’s balance between figuration and abstraction , her rhythmic mark making. Her variation of marks and her attempt to let painting do more than just describe. 

a few things I must try to remember 

  • Don’t start with a brush. Rags , etc to give variety. 
  • to be brave and instinctive in my choice of subject matter.

Do not over think it, don’t pre judge it or second guess what people might say or think. CB often goes for erotic content in a way that I would always shy away from, but her boldness is a reminder that I can go with my gut and not be afraid to make images that are arresting. 

  • She say’s “that the viewer can’t tear their eyes from” 

i have images that my instinct tells me will make urgent and potent paintings that I have continually overlooked. In fear of a reaction, maybe its the reaction to a male painter painting the female nude or an accusation of objectification . I am confident that my intentions are only to bring a viewer into a situation of high drama or tension or uncertainty, unease. to gently provoke and to paint images full of heart pounding moments and complex urges or impulses that exist often only in our private moments. 

In my latest counselling session I had a long conversation about reconnecting with my intuition. to make choices that feel right. (FOR ME) I do that when in the the middle of a painting, but at this point in the process self doubt and the concerns of a fictional set of critics paralyse. 

What I have, 

Palette – Pastels, pink, blue, yellow, green, Flesh tones 

Sizes – 1 x 220 x 190 , 2x 190 x 130 , 3 x 120 x 100

Imagery sources – 80’s vogues, clothing catalogues, sapphic erotica, porn

Personal drive – To revisit after a long gap my fascination, fetishisation and deep rooted longing towards femininity. Revisting key habits form my childhood and adolescence to inform my visual exploration. 

 aims for me- the paintings should echo my thought processes and idiosyncrasies. My remembered fetishes and obsessions. The sexualisation of that relationship with femininity (cross dressing) and recent revelations that have removed that sexualisation. 

 external source research – Freuds ” riddle of femininity” in men. 

aims for the viewer  – make paintings that recreate a sense of siren call, mesmerising, seductive, a soft almost mystical beckoning of a place that is safe and beautiful with a suggestion of something darker , secrecy and guilt , and sexual fetish.