The physical act of painting is the final outpouring of our personal observations, thoughts, experiences, life. A realisation best known through a kind of summary, a distillation. What we dream can never materialise as the subconscious has no form. The artistic process begins with the flickering of the imagination - thoughts that seem as fragile as gossamer gradually reveal themselves as a strong narrative. Continual painting for over thirty years has gifted me a backlog of imagery that plays within, it comes through my system and reveals itself again.
‘Further Afield' looks to places or areas other than those nearest or most obvious to me. To go further afield is to remove myself from the comfort zone, referring to not only the physical landscape but also the mindscape. In the last few years I came to embrace the act of taking an ingredient from the place I find myself standing in. I wondered, how can I capture this moment in time and form a bond to the earth, a connection of strength and depth?
After researching the soak-stain technique of New York’s Helen Frankenthaler, I found a passage to take my passion for watercolour painting and transform it onto canvas in a similar way that paralleled with my watercolours. Every work in this show was born while I was embedded in a particular landscape. Dragging canvases through muddy dam water and a mineral rich creek allowed pigments to penetrate the surface. Microscopic particles of the earth's pigments became captured into a creation forever. This raw under-being was then overstained with brighter pigments, breathing in more colour.
The early stage, that first session of a work, informs the direction the painting will eventually take. The first layer/imagery is always the most explosive and extremely physical. Cathartic yet meditative. The second and further layers of oil and wax at once juxtapose with the underlying forms and softer shape while enhancing and bringing forth the landscape lines that I have sought out.
The dance with a painting is very personal and emotive, it can last for weeks or months but finally the act concludes and I can present an exhibition that is a reflection of a segment of life I lived.
Sidney Nolan once said - "It's a curious sort of life in which you dream one image and paint another."
Belynda Henry May 2022