i have been taking an amazing 6 week course called Going For Growth in which I am learning about business. I have written business plan, a marketing strategy, and also my mission statement and elevator pitch. Its so far been an amazing experience! more insights to come soon...
I am pleased to announce that I have some work going down to a show called Home down in Birmingham, open July 21st -August 3rd These are works out of my new series. I am the M
No More Nostalgia: No More Nostalgia: This is another building from Marin County, however in this case its context rests in connection to a grandiose mythological narrative about patriarchal religion handing over the baton to feminine spirituality. The characters to the left are appropriated out of a Giotto painting, and the feet are those of actress Blake Lively--Hollywood stars as our modern goddesses. This painting took on a life of its own as its meaning during the process of making, but I see the connection between the personal and the universal, and the individual life as an embodiment of universal themes.
The Bank: This piece depicts a bank in Marin county California--on the north of San Francisco Bay. Having spent my childhood here, I returned in 2014 to the area to live for a while. I was struck by how certain buildings triggered memory and nostalgia, and something about this 1960's era building made me recall running around as a wild teenager, waiting outside convenient stores to ask someone to buy fags, or meeting friends just to hang about. I took a snap off my iPhone but also used google street view screenshots to make an amalgam image reference. This means the painting is largely informed by the textures and qualities of the images I worked from. I glazed the painting and sanded and scraped it multiple times to give it a worn down, distressed look, somehow to show the tiredness of old memories that do not serve a purpose to your life in the present.
Looking Up: This piece is about longing for home. But she is on the outside looking in. Home and family represent both belonging and a fetishistic middle class consumerism and idealization of the family unit. The house looms, asserting itself as a symbol success behind a property line fence. The woman disappears into her role as mother--and they are but cartoons of real life. Of course much of this is based on my contradictory feelings of being home raising children and understanding my own desires for home, and a sense of normalcy. I express this sentiment in art, but in real life am living it. I think the main point of this painting is contradiction.
The Old Print Works is proud to announce It’s first open-submission exhibition, HOME.
Featuring the work of fifteen, emerging contemporary artists.
While each practitioner retains the integrity of their vision, the work is linked through a
common thread, exploring the meaning of ‘home’.
Exhibiting a selection of painting’s from her series ‘The Connectivist’s Dilemma’, Jessica
Kirkpatrick explores the notion of home from both the real and the conceptual. Her ‘mashups’
of stereotypical suburban America and the Scottish landscape study the experience of
fragmentation during migration and the act of reconciling and assimilating oneself.
Through her work, Jessica explores the utopian desire for connection, community and
Whilst Matthew Humphreys, a filmmaker, photographer and the hearing child to two
profoundly deaf parents, draws on languages and communication embedded in social
relationships within his work, creating an installation based on his parent's living room, he
reconnects with his childhood experience.
Along with Sylvia Chan, who returned to her hometown in Hong Kong and captured the
juxtaposition of the cultures bustling, over-crowded streets and ingrained loneliness.
HOME investigates meaning through differing mediums, interpretations and ideologies.
Opening on the 21st July at 12 am in The Old Print Works, Upper Gallery, benefitting from
the factories classic, industrial architecture and vast, undisturbed natural light.
Surrounded by creative organisations, projects and in conjunction with ORT
Galleries ‘Schwarmerei Members Show’. Free entry and drinks.
For more information on selected artists featured, please visit the Old Print Works blog.
Oil on Panel, 45" x 50" 2018
Watch how I made this painting from beginning to end. This piece is intense and dramatic, speaking to my own childhood in Northern California and but also carries themes of religion and the feminine body. This piece went through several incarnations, which is frustrating and confusing, but I know that when that happens in a piece that I am probably growing as an artist.
I start out collecting images I am attracted to as painting sources. These are mostly my own photos, but I will also source found imagery. Such as the one of actress Blake Lively's feet from the foot fetish mecca--wikifeet.com. Consciously or not, I tend to combine a landscape background, architectural mid-ground with a figurative element. These collage mash up create surprising narratives, and I enjoy how meaning and making inform and assert each other.
Below was the original concept. I inverted the building to negative, and overlayed some floral patterning. I liked the confusion in perspective between the high horizon line and building looming ahead. I like the widescreen format of this composition but I ran into a lot of trouble when I attempted to adapt to a much more square shaped substrate--a panel I had on hand I though would suit this painting well.
working in a series--I will make lots of watercolor studies. This helps me to find some common themes and develop a palette. Because I work from digital collage, a small study helps make the transition from photo to painting, to see how my ideas will translate into paint.
Stage one: getting a color scheme and placing the composition. Starting a new painting is always the most exciting because it feels so fresh and vivid. Each brush stroke is alive with potential. I had to decide how much sky I wanted on with the squarer composition.
stage two: I love some things that are going on, but at the end of the day just dont feel that back ground works. Looking back it was maybe not as bad as I thought, but the painting still felt claustrophobic.
responding to some of the problems I recognized I went back to the computer to resolve. In the way I added a few more elements which created an entirely new narrative. I was very interested in Giotto for how he treats architecture and space--often skewing perspective and scale to make an image work, but also to show the importance of the characters. I followed his inspiration directly by "quoting" him into my painting. I was also responding to the state of decay in these old fresco, in which little chunks of plaster and paint fall off. I enjoy that sense of history and how the image is embedded in the ancient plaster. I emulated that effect by using distressing techniques like scraping and sanding on my painting.
while the sky was really beautiful and romantic somehow it still wasnt capturing what i wanted. I imagined just abstracting it and darkening it. So I use the computer just to imagine some options.
i felt so crazy painting over my lovely sky. but it also felt refreshing just simplify the composition and palette.
i went even crazier and scratch out the top layer of paint and then pored creamy paint all over! i decided the painting need a vertical element. however the pore came out a bit scary and alien like, which wasnt my intention. However there were some wonder marbled effects i want to keep.
finally! i tied it all together with a thick glaze of dark blue which added to the drama, and made the building stand out. i carved out a moon from my paint pore, which ties in with the concept of this piece being about patriarchy handing over the baton to feminine spirituality. i worked on the disciples section and cleaned up my goddess feet. i appreciate the journey this painting took me on, realized i want to paint on panel more often. i think i am getting better as an artist stepping into the unknown--however i hope that my next projects are a bit more straightforward. well that being said, i think each painting has its own fight--and if there is no fight you always wonder if you pushed it to its highest potential. i just mean to say, i really love simplicity and i guess that sometimes i have to go through a complicated process to enjoy simplicity.
art practice as inquiry
The human mind demands certainty; panic strikes when we don't know where we are--the first thing we ask a new acquaintance is what they 'do'. We classify and name everything, and when there are no words our brains go numb. Artist statements, bio's and gallery talks--art college and the art market demand that an artist communicate with focus and clarity; and granted, conviction puts you on a creative straight and narrow. But just for the sake of this blog...I want to honor that state of not knowing what the fuck you are doing, why or for what purpose, with no prospect of discovering such any time soon. Because I believe uncertainty is the life blood of the creative act. Questions compel your research and nourish your innate curiosity, so maybe the asking is more important than the answer. This combination of simple questioning and allowing the answer to evolve as you do assists you in verbalizing your work, keeps you on track artistically, all while nourishing a vibrant creative circulatory system.
- your why develops over the course of your career
- creativity is contingent upon uncertainty
- your line of inquiry is your mission
At the retrospective of one of my favorite British Painters, Paul Nash, at Laing Gallery in New Castle, it was fascinating to see his work change during his lifetime. As an official WWII artist, the young Nash depicted vast battle scenes in blasted landscapes, forecasting his sensibility for the surreal, and use of blocky shape and chalky color. After the war, recovering from PTSD he settled into the Dorset countryside, creating psychologically intense images, inserting what he called "imaginative events" into sparse scenes of fields or seashores. By the end of his life he made romantic and beckoning dreamscapes. As I strolled the exhibit, I loved witnessing his expression move from political outrage, to psychic angst, to longing. Though his work always remained recognizable as his own, Nash's ideas and imagery changed as he did. Artist's who's work show evolution and growth are the artist's our culture cherishes. Living inside of inquiry is the key to that growth.
Making great work lies within the limitations of transforming thought into materiality. You learn to direct the chaotic forces of imperfect tools, imperfect studios and imperfect moods--frayed brushes, cheap paints, dull blades and hangovers then work towards your artistic intentions. The art making process is somatic; our emotion and thought packed bodies act upon elements and objects. But this is the magic of art making; within the surrender of our minds to the circumstances and perimeters of stuff and life, our work reveals us to ourselves. Once we are clear on a certain process, creativity craves new unknowns. Being an artist is equally about receptivity and trust, as it is control and power.
I've realized that if I fully apprehended my motives and purpose, I would probably walk out of the studio and shut the door forever. Its the pondering, and ever deepening mystery of creating art objects that keeps me engaged. When I take my idea into form, maybe only 100% of the time is my project different from its original conception. Detaching from a specific outcome delimits possibility, which when used towards a larger question, funnels creativity into a coherent project without it becoming predictable or conceptually one dimensional. By continuing to ask why you make the work you do and asking what is the next step? what now? Your work will tell you. You just need to know what follows what, and the ultimate answer is your North Star.
I feel the urge to run. I am in a stand off with these tired pictures--colors need tweaking, elements added or taken away, areas masked off or sanded. Avoidance. Eating, emailing, caffeinating--knowing i need to stand, put on my painting jeans, pick up a brush and work. But that threshold of discomfort must be traversed. I get it-- this unease, the not knowing whats next makes the creative process interesting, the pulse of fear and excitement to compel a life's work. I start tentatively with a few misfires, color too dark, too saturated--I sift through a tray of pulverized discolored tubes for a selection of paints to mix and mix and mix. A little Mars black to desaturate, some indigo to cool, and some Napthol to punch it up. The pigments dance at their molecular levels to speak my color poetry. In the past, I strove for a dark neutral palette, and then there was the phase of beiges and creams, right now I am into my pastels and pinks. My current interest in pink is probably some childhood regression, (recovering my inner princess--its pure cliched beauty a balm to middle age disillusionment). I love oil paint's heavy inkiness, like clay from the earth; like minerals and insect blood and flower tincture smeared across fabric. As I begin to make panicky strokes, regret them, rub them out, try again, thats better, I feel my hips loosen, my breathing take pace. I am getting into it--finally-- and I have a few hours before its time to pick up baby (whoops don't mention babies--this is the professional realm here!) I would love to say this is where the fun starts, but its more of a frantic, semi-possessed frenzy, of dripping, splattering, scrubbing and blurring. Then the pause: Like? Not like? Am I ok in my not liking it? Is there something interesting happening, or is it just...crap? The deeply humble place of non-judgement where you don't know if your a fucking badass, or just another person who went to art college ages ago.
Have you ever had a creative block and what did you do to get over it? How did you get your work back on track when you saw it going awry? How do you cope when you were at the studio and werent sure what to do?
I am very excited to present new artwork at Patriot Hall Gallery in Stockbridge. Please attend the opening Saturday May20th!
Visit this photo album to see the reception! https://goo.gl/photos/tV1UXqTtPVBZjdBT6
Nursing while Working
In summer 2016, three weeks post-partum, I walked to my painting studio down the road from my flat in Edinburgh—pushing a gleaming new pram, disoriented yet proud of my recently aquired status. Mother. I still had jelly belly, was wearing maternity pads and healing from an episiotomy, yet with hormones swirling I felt intoxicated by my fresh peach of a baby. For about twenty minutes, I sat in the chair of my work space, nursing, staring at unfinished paintings. My creative control center was no longer hermetically sealed; myself and my activities were now in service to and prioritized around my son’s needs. However, ‘maternity leave’—this break from the 9-5—provides the artistic mind with its most vital nutrient: time to space out. Mothering is a doing, but contains a quality of being—simply laying, nursing, cradling, playing is not so much an action but an exisitance. I’ve found I could give my body (and love) to my baby and keep my mind to myself. In this way, motherhood and art making can be quite complementary (on the days I get some sleep).
Up until my baby began walking, he accompanied me to the studio. I made art, but not without instances of a guilt-laden cycle of frustration, snapping then crying (both of us). Amid my fractured attention—one eye on my work and the other on my ink splattered son—I’d apprehend, brush in hand, the precarious moment to catch a fall, or the scissors with in hand’s reach. I made it work for myself; I painted in ink which I could set down quickly; I made video art, filming at home, editing footage after bedtime. Looking back now I wonder if I proposed that exhibit at Patriot Hall Gallery just to prove something to myself? That I was still an artist, that I was not going to succumb to this one dimensional identity of mum. My son has certainly injected me with renewed ambition; I just hope its for the right reasons.
Nowadays, I am back to painting in oil, going to my studio on his nursery day, bewildered by the silence and space of an 8 hour stretch to work. Somehow in cognitive dissonance, I feel like I want to paint more, even though I am there doing it. That being said, family living is seeping into my imagery, as I flip through holiday photos farming painting sources, conveying a surreal version of mid-life angst.
JK Rowling famously said she didn't do housework for four years in order to write Harry Potter. I don't want to live in squalor, but I get it. I am ok with putting my 20 month old in front of CBeebies while I mess around on Photoshop in another room. I will let him walk to me, sit on my lap, pull down my shirt, and drink from the breast—all while I am typing away on grant proposals, blogging, or working on my website. I will raise eyebrows at his using a bottle to create milk art on our dark blue carpet, or sit amongst a heap of gaudy toys, all underneath the contents of his wardrobe and nappy cupboard he’s determinedly strewn across the flat.
I believe being an artist prepares you for the lack of control that children wreak on our lives. In making art, things rarely work according to plan. Similarly, children have a way of obstructing your day’s scheme. You want to go to the shop? Baby falls asleep. You want to make a sandwhich? Baby bumped their head. As maddening as it is, both art and motherhood teach one to live with acceptance, connection and flow of circmstances, which can only make you a better person. These days I have settled into some systems and routines, and as long as I am physically proximal, emotionally semi-present, with low standards of tidyness, a willingness to tickle or soothe every ten minutes, I can get some projects slightly closer to completion alongside my magical son. I aim to structure my life so that I can be less of a multi-tasker, however, right now I love our dance— the blending of maternal and creative passion.
Most recently I have given up figurative narration in preference for abstracted landscapes. The past few months I have desired to build a new relationship to paint, color and process that affords me opportunity to develop my own sense, for lack of a better term, of non-representational painting. I crave a wide spectrum of color and organic open shapes, in addition to a variety of marks speaking the language of paint. However, an abstract/figuration dichotomy is ultimately false and so working from an initial image propels a process. I take great pleasure in painting observationally-- you are excused from making choices and can mindlessly copy your perception, especially if using a photo reference. However, knowing i will paint over my little landscape study allows me to work with a measure of abandonment and levity. Using gradients, scumbles, dry brush, quick or slow strokes i compose colors and shapes, attempting to retain the underneath landscape as a negative space. Here is one before and after shot.
We are already divorced from nature when we begin to represent it through art. A landscape occurs when art happens to land, we make aesthetic choices which positions nature as an object of pleasure, or too reflect our human drama. In making 'abstracted landscapes' I aim to show the landscape painting genre as already artifice, a pure cultural product rather than a reaction to nature. However, nature is the ultimate sublime and genius of life, which I think produces that artistic impulse to make and play with form.
I have a series of dramatic landscape photographs I shot on film that have been filed away for a decade. My photos were kept in storage in a friends basement for four years and were damaged by moisture, which fortuitously created some interesting painterly effects. To further emphasize an image/material contrast I have been painting Richter style directly onto these film photos, or over the glazing.