When a shed becomes a studio Part 1

As mentioned in my last post, I am turning my shed (summer house) into my studio. I have insulated the walls, floor and ceiling.

All insulated

I left a gap in the ceiling so that it can breathe and drilled holes for air to pass through the roof. The holes are protected from insects etc by mesh that I cut up and tied around curtain rail loops.

Roof ventilation hole covers

Plasterboard and paint on the the walls (white of course). I spent ages deciding what to do with the floor leave it bare (cold in winter), carpet (warm in winter but wet dirt from garden) or lino (easy to clean but cold in winter). My wife suggested artificial grass and I love it, makes me smile every time I see it.

Green on the inside (artificial grass)

Part 2 coming soon…

What am I doing at the moment..

It has been a while since I have posted or painted anything. I have a shed in the garden that I am setting up to be my studio, it is 2.4m x 2.4m on the outside. The shed has been multi-tasking for the last few of years, my plan is to have a space that is permanently set up for painting only. When finished it will be a bit like Dr Who’s Tardis inside… 2 walls with windows, one wall for displaying work, a big work surface to paint on, lots of storage, and most importantly a music system and a comfy chair.

This has been an ongoing project that I have been working on (as well as all the other jobs around the house) for the last couple of years. I have lined the shed and painted the walls, now I am sorting out how the things I want inside will all fit in including me…

When it doesn’t look like a building site I will post some pictures…

What is Abstract Painting?

So where to start, I create abstract paintings.  That sounds straight forward enough until you try to explain what they are about and how they were made.

When you paint a landscape for example, you are attempting to create a representation of what is in front of you.  The finished work gives the viewer an image of a landscape full of things they instantly recognise trees, sky and so on.  Even if the viewer does not know the particular place the painting is depicting, they still understand what it is and can decide if they think it is a good representation of a landscape or not.  There is nothing recognisable to focus on in an abstract, therefore when you view or paint an abstract painting a different approach is required.

Writing about abstracts is a bit like writing about music, it is difficult to put it precisely into words how it works and why we like it.  I think the best way to view or paint an  abstract painting, is to use the same part of our brain that we use when we listen to music.  Again this is not easy to do, but well worth the effort when you can do it.

Abstracts use the interaction between colour, line and shape to put the painting together (similar to composition in representational work).  Looking at an abstract painting is more about how it makes you feel and what attracts your attention, be it the colours, the shapes or both.  The painting has to feel balanced, all the individual parts of the painting need to gel together.  For me a good abstract painting draws you in and the more you look at it the more you see.

We are programmed to look for recognisable images in paintings even when they are not there, also no matter what we are looking at everyone sees things slightly differently.  This is very apparent when you listen to different people talk about what they see when they look at the same abstract painting.  From my own experience, I often find that when people look at my work they see things that other people do not see.

Painting an abstract is not easy, you have to undo all your ideas about how you would normally create a painting.  I begin a painting by trying not to ‘think’ to much about exactly what I am doing, allowing the painting to develop as much as possible by itself.  Even when I have a preconceived idea it rarely ends up there, each painting is an adventure into the unknown, which can be scary and exciting at the same time.  Once I have made that first mark it feeds into the next and so on, the same applies with colour.  I personally avoid straight lines (me rebelling against my engineering background!) it helps me to keep the painting feeling freer.

When I first started painting abstracts the hardest part was knowing when to stop, often adding a bit more and ruining what I already had.  It is difficult to stop especially when you are happy with one part of the painting and not so much with another part, it is easy to mess it up.

Regardless of what you are painting some paintings are more successful than others and some just do not work, painting abstracts is no different.  As with any style of painting the more you practice the better you get.   I learn something from every painting that I do even the ones that fail (more so sometimes).

Giving an abstract painting a title is another puzzle do you or don’t you?  I think it is down to the artist, I thought about this a lot when I first started painting and decided that I would give my paintings titles.  There are several reasons behind this decision.  An interesting title can add another layer to the work and  may even help to give the viewer a way into the painting.  Therefore going back to what I was saying about the link between abstract paintings and music, I decided to title my paintings using bits of song lyrics that I feel relate to each individual painting.

Hopefully this all makes sense…