In this project I have worked with a range overtly stylised nature-forms redolent of the culture and politics of their eras, reinterpreting them through the materiality of paint and the attendant gravitas of painting. They draw in equal parts on the rich history of western textile patterns, traditional watercolour painting and the elastic, seamless surface of the digital.
Nature painting traces a long history of perfect worlds; a series of fantastical images that both draw on and in turn inform, a collective imagination of a world in which places, plants and animals conform to our desires and ideals. On one hand we know this is a fantasy, particularly when we wear it on our sleaves, or adorn out home with it as pattern. Yet as a species we take ourselves so seriously that we begin to believe in our construction and yearn for this perfect world. We attempt to recreate it in gardens and parks, seeking out preordained vistas imbedded in our minds to photograph as wilderness, to paint as landscape.
This series of work has grown out of a body of experimental digital paintings made on my Samsung tablet and extends my ongoing interest in the play between the hand and the digital machine in the processes of painting. While properties of the digital tablet are in many ways opposite to painting, the tablet quickly became my favourite tool for imagining my way through paintings. The tablet is virtual, instantaneous, reversible and capable of producing many versions of an image. Conversely painting is labour intensive, material, irreversible and singular. The two elements they have in common is that they are both worked in layers, and they both use paint, or in digital terms ‘fill’. These two characteristics mean that the one is the perfect playground for the other, each informing and moderating the other in my practice.
The icon for ‘fill’ is the pouring paint can. The colour pours seamlessly from the cursor to flood all areas bounded by the lines on that layer, interpreting the image via its internal logic, just as water fills a puddle, filling anywhere there is a tiny gap in the containing structure. Paint also does this, a material property exploited in traditional watercolour painting. I am interested in how this may be reinterpreted when applied to watercolour’s cousin acrylic paint, despite it having been developed to extend the tradition of oil painting. The result of this somewhat monstrous coupling is a technique of digital inspired watercolour ‘flooding’ exploiting the specific materiality of acrylic paints and the fluid mechanics at play in its ebb and flow.