IAS371: composition + attempts at perfection

So, enough experimenting! (though I could go on indefinitely I suspect... all to avoid commitment and take a warm, snuggly bath in my fear of failure hahaha). First I pulled out my favourite compositions from the experiments in charcoal, pastel, oil paint, oil pastel and mask and resist and put them all together so I could look at them as a whole and see the interwoven threads. I'm attracted to soft edges and blurry effects that some of the pictures have. Also the more expressive, scratched and drawn images and the images that speak of weight and heaviness interest me. But these marks tell too much of their own story and the ones that have most power for me are made of simple geometric shapes: squares, rectangles and circles.

I then made a ground inspired by Agnes Martin with pastel and drawn graphite lines on watercolour paper and cut out black and white shapes. Something magical started to happen when I reminded myself how to draw an equilateral triangle with a ruler and protractor - the realm of perfection started to open. Being precise and measured and patient felt like something I knew how to do. It was in my comfort zone and felt more familiar than a free and intuitive, expressive approach to mark making. I then arranged and rearranged and photographed the shapes on the ground to have a felt experience of composition and discover what moves away from transcendence and what moves toward it. It was fun. There's tons! Check out my triangles, rectangles, circles and squares composition experiments. It took me way back to first semester art studies where we explored positive and negative space and composition with black paper on white paper. As far as the ground making goes, watercolour paper picked up a lot of texture from the pastel and I think for my final pieces, I'll use a smoother paper to attempt to approach some kind of purity free from imperfection (HA!).

This was a fun activity. I got into the felt sense of the story of each shape and how they relate to movement and solidity. Triangles are super playful - they wanted to jump off the page and dance with pointed tension; black and white circles spoke very loudly to me of the presence or absence of light - of something being projected out or sucked in like a vacuum; rectangles are the endless horizon line; squares are definitely the most transcendent shape - they don't move, or they can tip but not bounce. Their story is one of stillness and their stability is inarguable. The rhomboid shapes also had a density but the sharp ends wanted to go somewhere. Both circles and triangles brought to mind loud associations with Eastern and Western spirituality. I found that the more shapes there were on the ground, the less they spoke of transcendence and silence. Check out the compositions I explored here (I got a bit carried away with triangles - they were so much fun!).

From these compositions, I willowed it down to my favourite twelve, most of them based around the square. It's been done before by so many artists... specially my heroes Mark Rothko and Agnes Martin) but I guess it's new and original to me. I've never gone so deeply before into a study of shapes and the impact they have when I look at them and touch them and move them around so it was a nice discovery and a deeper understanding of what I'm doing opened. Below are the twelve compositions. I've included the original photograph of the physical paper play composition and worked each through a photo editor to see what it might look like on a light, medium and dark ground. 

Composition 1

Composition 2

Composition 3

Composition 4

Composition 5

Composition 6

Composition 7

Composition 8

Composition 9 

Composition 10

Composition 11

Composition 12

Composition 13

Composition 14