Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Starting something new

I've decided to begin something new within my work, but I've been so busy doing it that I've only just remembered to write about it!
I've now completed 6 portraits, which I'm happy with, and it would be a good idea to have something slightly different to go alongside it. Working on something new is convenient now, because I had a subject for another portrait, but I wasn't sure who to use after that. I wanted each portrait to be of someone significant, who played a big part in my life in Finland, rather than choosing people I'd only met once or twice just because I needed a subject. I can think of a couple of people I might like to work on if I decide to make some more of these portraits, but after that I might end up scraping the barrel.
Recently I'd also started thinking more about memories I have of my time in Turku, and memories of the people in my work. This, and the use of my friends as subjects, relates to the idea of my internal world, and my domestic life.
I had an idea of filling a bag or envelope with pieces of paper on which my memories are written. Someone can take out a memory and read it. This worked well in my sketchbook, but I'm uncomfortable with doing this in a gallery setting, as there is a risk of theft. I don't want my work, or my memories, to be stolen.
I hit on the idea of embroidering a surface with the memories I have of the people in the portraits, colour coding the sentences to correspond to each image. Embroidery is traditionally a feminine, domestic act, but this is not highly important in my work. What's more important is that the embroidery will be consistent with the portraits. The surface I'll be using is a blanket I got on a night train in Norway, when I was on holiday. The blanket is too thin to be of real use to me now, plus it provides symbolism. It is an object that I acquired during my time away from England, even if it didn't actually come from Finland.
I feel that the blanket piece could still be considered as a portrait - a portrait of me. I think that your experiences and memories shape you, and make you who you are, and all of these memories and events have formed me and my life today. In a way, this piece puts me alongside my friends.
I'm planning to start sewing the blanket during Christmas, and this week I've been working on some preparatory pieces. This work may take a while, so I'll see where I am after that. In the future I'm quite interested in doing something focussing on the continuous line drawings I've been doing.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Paintings for sale!

I've finally got round to updating my Etsy shop, meaning that work is for sale again!
The pieces I'm currently working on are not yet available, but some other work, most of which is from the past year, are now available for purchase. Everything is reasonably priced, and I ship internationally. Please do have a look.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pushing it

I realise that my work could be considered to be formulaic, as I have quite a systematical approach to the work I'm currently doing. I don't want things to get boring, or have all the pieces looking too similar, so I'm trying to push one element each time I work, meaning that each painting has more individuality.
In the piece I was working on last week, I used more embroidery than I have in others. In my next piece I'm thinking of adding a continuous line drawing made with wool, as an extra layer between the background and the painted face. Today I was painting a new work, and rather than layering one drawing and one block of text over the painted motif, I repeated each layer twice. Below is a photo of the piece so far. I still need to embroider the canvas to bring the face back through, as the marker pen layers dominate it.

That being said, I'm happy with this so far. I'm actually quite impressed with what I accomplished today. I really wasn't feeling in the mood, but one of my friends suggested that I just get started and see how it goes. I ended up finishing the bulk of the painting. The background was the only part I'd already done, and all that's left now is the embroidery layer.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Some recent images

I've been working hard, and haven't posted for a few weeks, so here are some images of what I've been doing.

Two continous line preparatory drawings

A preparatory painting for a piece I'll probably start on tomorrow

The fourth final painting I've completed. I was aiming to finish five by Christmas, and I've just about done that already. I'll get started on the sixth one tomorrow.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Writing in cut-ups

I've been researching more into cut-ups recently, and I've found some interesting quotations and statements on the subject. I'm really getting into it.
To help my research, and to experiment more with the cut-up process, I've written a much longer piece than I normally would, just for experimentation. The poetry I use in the paintings is quite short, for practical reasons, so this gave me a chance to try something a bit different. It started with two A4 pages, writing in a stream of consciousness about various different matters, including moving from Finland, and going back for a holiday. Therefore it definitely isn't as focussed as the poetry I write for the paintings are. I'm undecided on whether that's a good or bad thing.
I like how this one repeats words a lot - I like the rhythm of this and the way it flows. The results are always so unpredictable because it's completely random. Another thing I like about cut-ups generally, and which has really worked here, is how some phrases almost make sense, but not quite. The results can be quite beautiful. I'm thinking that another fun idea could be to make a cut-up, rewrite that on paper as a block of text, rather than in poetry format, then cut it up again, just to see what happens. Of course, that idea could go on and on forever. It could be a solution for my work when I'm not satisfied with the results and want to try again.Below is what I came up with after cutting it up.

For me.
Today at the moment.
Planning to visit again in February.
In the summer I was so money, but doing something more would make appreciate London more.
I'm I hope I won't be very sad when I leave, but I I don't have walking home from work one morning, it was
Expect I will be.
However, winter was when I realised how much I I wonder what I worry that it to pass.
Taking some time away certainly made me however, it was very new it was beautiful.
Reflected the weather.
Motivated to work because I want the time will be the same this time.
Many of so glad I stayed there.
Actually do things.
I was in a lot of pain.
I have people to spend time with in is that I can now enjoy it on my own terms.
I'm so pleased that I'm going to Finland it was horrible to leave the I shouldn't spend too much
I miss seeing the good time.
Terms of having work and something fulfilling to next month!
Dull since I came back to London.
It was when I was loved Turku and Finland.
I'm really excited about my holiday.
More of an effort to sort things out, and happy and having fun.
Countryside, with the trees and snow.
My friends have moved away now, and it's also I'll be leaving more and more, I miss Finland.
Older friends more often.
Winter looked was so unique.
I hope he maybe the difference after all, but then I do have a lot of work city and my friends last time.
No coming in and out of Turku.
Restrictions are placed on me anymore.
By quickly, but also that I have enough
The house, but it would be nice to see my weekends have been quite winter was dark, cold, and it's Sunday today.
Time to get on with all my work.
The summer was wonderful, but the way much of a social life at the moment.
Maybe I was happier in Finland.
This time hasn't gone so slowly I've started to really miss it.
I hope the time goes certainly not in I miss the maybe I'm more me a lot happier.
Once we get to February, most of this year will I should probably make depressing.
Manages to save enough money for that.
Be over, which is exciting.
I never thought I'd miss Finnish winter.
Do, but I made so many friends and had a Jaakko behind once again, although he is
Sunny and snowy, and I could see the traffic it will be like when I got back in December.
It's funny that my situation and emotions.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Two finished portraits!

Both acrylic, marker pen, and embroidery

Today I finished the second portrait, and I'm very happy with these two. Initially I was concerned about using yellow and orange over grey tones, but I really like the the texture coming from the grey. This also serves to emphasise the concept of layering in the work.
Looking at these portraits, I'm struck by the richness of them, coming from the multiple layers and different elements. I think the continuous line drawings on each canvas really contribute to the intensity to the work. I also notice how more experimental colours really affect the mood and style.
I'm really happy, have already painted the background for the next canvas, and I'm ready to get back on it tomorrow!

Friday, 28 October 2011


I still have no internet! That'll change next week, and hopefully after that I can write more often. This week I've continued on the painting of Emmi, but the general direction has also undergone some changes. The poetry will now be written over the painting, rather than on a separate board, and embroidery will then be on top of that. As layering seemed to become more and more important in the work, this seemed like a logical progression. In the past I've been nervous of doing too much and overloading a piece, but now I want to push it. I have a bit more embroidery to do today, and then I'm done with this one. I'm thinking about tying additional hanging strings to the embroidery, just to add to the intensity.
Then I'll be moving on to a new portrait, this time of my boyfriend. This time I've decided to be more experimental with colour, and work with grey, yellow, and orange. The idea is to create something which may confuse the viewer, or create an unusual effect with the colour combinations. I like the idea of a dull grey background combined with the shock of the bright tones.
Below is an image of this portrait, prior to the addition of the line drawing, text, and embroidery. As I added more the face took on a tribal, mask-like appearance, which I find very interesting. This wasn't a conscious choice - just a natural formation. I'm really pleased so far. When everything is finished I'll post a picture.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Lots of experiments

Due to moving house and having no internet I've been unable to update this blog. However, I have been working away with preparatory work, and I now feel quite ready to start working on the final painting of Emmi. I've laid down some blocks of colour on the finalo canvas, and today I plan to start the portrait.
In a discussion yesterday it was suggested to me that the poetry and painting are at odds with each other - the poetry is deliberately mixed up and random, whereas the painting is intended to be clearer and direct. I'm trying to hit a balance between the work being immediately readable, and therefore not very interesting, and being complicated and challenging. I want to viewer to have to consider the work a bit, not just look at it once, understand it, and move on.
In order to create more harmony I'm thinking of adding a rough, continuous line drawing, layered on top of the portrait. In my view this will add an element of confusion, without making the image indecipherable. I hope that the loose threads will also add a degree of disarray.

The other thing I'm currently working on is a philosophical text to be shown alongside these paintings, examining the nature of distance and separation. The individual works are more concerned with particular people, whereas this will reflect on distance and long-distance relationships more generally. I began writing notes on this last week, and don't want to publish too much right now.
I'm also considering how to present this text so that it fits with the other work. This is still in the early stages, so nothing is certain yet.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Embroidery experiments

I have continued preparatory work by experimenting with embroidery, and the idea of physically connecting the portrait to the poem. I think it's worked well. The embroidery works to add higlights to the image and provide extra definition. I like the contrast between the tight, controlled stitching and the loose, fluid strings connecting the two pieces. I think the strings, running across the subject's face, could be interpreted as a block between the viewer and the subject, however fragile it may be, which reinforces the idea of separation.
The loose strings are tangled here, which I'm not sure about. I would prefer them to simply overlap and hang freely. However, the idea just popped into my head to weave strings together
where they hang loosely. I'd need to ensure the web obscured the image, but didn't block it completely.
I also think that, considering the final piece will be on a larger scale, it might be interesting to combine cotton thread and wool as they hang between the pieces.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Preparatory sketches

Once I've chosen an image to work from it's important to me to familiarise myself with it before starting on a final piece. I usually make multiple preparatory sketches to get myself comfortable. If the piece is to include another element, such as collage or text, I often experiment with this in the initial drawings too.
This is the first sketch I've made to prepare for this piece. I chose the photograph because it shows the face clearly, and I think it is a beautiful picture of my friend. This was a simple sketch done with a pen, but I'd like to try something that also incorporates embroidery before launching into the final piece. I haven't used embroidery within my work for quite a long time, so I'd like to experiment with that.
My style of painting uses much bolder lines than in this drawing, so I might also do a preparatory drawing or painting with bolder, thicker lines. I often begin a painting by creating a simple collage as a background, and I have recently got into laying down blocks of colour. Starting the portrait is less intimidating when there is already something on the canvas. I may also experiment with layering the image with colour blocks before moving onto the final work.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Cut-ups are a form of writing which takes a simple paragraph of prose, cuts it up, and rearranges it. William Burroughs popularised the method by using it to write poetry and other texts.
There are many ways to divide up the prose, such as separating every word, or simply cutting the whole page into quarters and rearranging the four pieces. I choose to cut out the lines, and sentences within the lines. I have written the first poem I want to use, which is shown below. I have not included the original text as it was quite boring. Cutting it up improved it. This poem was my second attempt. The first seemed too nonsensical and the sentiment wasn't clear at all. In the second attempt I wrote more about Emmi's personality and characteristics, which seemed to improve the result.

Our personalities clicked instantly.
She makes me laugh time in Finland would have been best friends.
We talk for we can talk about life without her.
Now I consider her one of my anything.
Planning to move to England.
Can trust her and rely on her.
A friend I have such a good connection with.
Kauppahalli, and went for coffee.
She is a loyal, supportive I know I much harder.
I cannot imagine my constantly.
She wanted an English friend.
I met Emmi because she was of time together.
Never lets me down.
Without her, my we first met outside Turun we spent a lot
Is a very caring person, and she she helped me
So much; I'm very grateful.
I feel very lucky to have made

The gist of it

Readers of Frozen in Finland will already know that I am primarily a portrait artist, and I have recently returned to England in order to finish my education (BA Fine Art and Critical Theory). When this is completed next summer I intend to move back to Finland permanently, and paint and write for the rest of my life.

The year I spent in Finland had a profound effect upon my life, and changed it in many ways. I met some wonderful people who are now very important to me. My work has always involved people who I personally know, and who have a significance to me - painting generic figures has always felt cold to me. I have decided to begin making work about the friends I met in Finland.

Whilst I lived in Finland I read work by William Burroughs, and became inspired by his cut-up poetry. This involves cutting up a paragraph of text and randomly rearranging the words and phrases to create surreal poetry. Poetry and writing has always been of interest to me, and I will write a cut-up poem to be shown alongside each portrait. I will begin with a simple text about each subject and our relationship and rearrange it. Through the vague poetry, I hope to reinforce the feelings of distance, communication difficulties, and fading memories.

Recently I have also renewed my interest in embroidery. My work is often in mixed media, and embroidery was once used heavily within my work. Over time my interest waned, but I am now keen to use it again as a method of adding highlights and texture to each painting. I also want to include it in the presentation of the poetry as a way to connect the portrait and the poem. I am considering using embroidery and thread to physically connect the two parts, but currently my ideas on this are not completely solid.

My intention with this work is to demonstrate the value of these people and this experience, and to show my affection for the people I paint. I hope that the poetry will help viewers to understand the fragility of these connections, caused by being in different countries.

I have started by writing the poem to accompany the portrait of my first subject/victim - my friend Emmi, who became my best friend in Finland. My process, research, and work will be documented here as it goes on.