As a teenager I knew my head was full of colours. I knew I had a brilliant memory for colour but had no idea at all of what use it might be… it did not feel like a talent or of any use. I just felt like the inside of my head was full of paint tubes.
Once I began painting in a serious way I recognized that colours popped up as ideas and I used them as a matter of course. I did not have a developed sense of how to select. It was often intuitive – mainly…. but occasionally informed by study. Then there were one or two light bulb moments. Those moments keep one in focus and able to make progress.
To start way back, the colours I used in my earlier work referred back to growing up in West Cornwall. These references were gathered from the local light; the atmosphere; shadowy places between houses; the changing surface of the sea; the layered paint on fishing vessels. This palette developed out of being a Cornish girl in a traditional Cornish setting.
This ‘sense’ of colour lasted me into my sixties, as I dipped in and out of painting. Recently I have begun a growing sense of unease about continuing with that palette. At that point I see that I need to make progress by thinking anew; take a chance and most importantly asking the question ‘What do I want to communicate in my pictures?’
I have grown past the ‘earlier’ way of referencing colour in my painting life. I have reached past a crossroads where I thought I must definitely learn about how other artists use colour. That has happened, and now I find myself developing and working with colours that come from a present time relationship with life and joy.
At this point I see that the palette I had been so married to was in fact weighing me down and had begun to feel like an anchor that stopped me moving my thinking forward and deprived me of the chance to ‘light up’ and to express what is current and immeasurably wonderful to me.
When it comes to it, I still go back to the environment I live in. In that sense I have not changed. The difference is in what I actually select to put in my work.
Not being squashed under the commercial elephant
‘It’s all very well’ says the struggling artist… ‘all very well to keep to the high ground and assert that we should all beourselvesand not get caught up in making our work commercial so that we can earn a crust!’ ‘Huh!’ AND….. I have to agree!
Artists are caught between being true to themselves and risking being unmarketable, etc., etc. curtailing their inclinations that lead them into creativity, in order to have work accepted in galleries, to be known and to be acknowledged.
It is an old dilemma but one that is also current.
I wonder if things could be different? Could we live in a society that, perhaps, sees art as intrinsically important to it, and so could put a higher value on creativity.