A Common Metaphor
I spent the whole of 2020 doing these abstracts. My colour palette choices came from noticing that the sun is a common metaphor for happiness in song lyrics and it's what I moved onto: following on from text-based work I'd been doing the previous year focused around affirmational phrases. I was prioritising using oil on canvas to paint these and it's because I'd barely ever used oils before. Like many working-class and otherwise 'common' people, I place value on technical skill. So, I was keen to start practicing with oils as part of a more general focus I have on mastering my use of materials. Prior to 2020, for the whole time I've been practising as an artist, I primarily made work with acrylics. Acrylics, for example, are what I used in my Liquitex residency: where I did my final affirmational work. Even then I was still working on my materials mastery, by mixing my paint with with mediums for the first time. I experimented with their whole range. I do think it's funny in it's irony that I was focusing on technical skill while making a series of abstracts, which is the quintessential "I could have done that" artform. But from a strictly materials-centric view, I think there's a lot to digest in these works. Even my switch from text-based work to looking at colour was about approaching it as a specific tool to learn more about. That including the ways colours interact with each other in their contrasts and in the ways it interacts with other tools like mark-making. I did the first two paintings below with oil, at the start of the year, back in my studio at Central Saint Martins: where I was studying at the time. Then I moved home to stay with family, just before the first UK COVID lockdown was announced, when it was becoming more apparent how serious the virus was going to be. The next four images are from that transitionary period when I didn't have a studio set up. All of the physical pieces after that are from over the summer, with a bit of overlap in each direction into spring and autumn. I did them at a rate of about one every month. I was fully in the zone during that period and was doing my paintings in the shed. But as the weather got colder it became less practical to work in that space. Things I left in there were going mouldy. It was also cold and dark and paint simply wasn't drying in there. I briefly switched back to working with my phone. Then I tried one last physical painting, this time switching back to acrylic for its fast drying time, but that still wasn't practical enough. I called it a day on this series at that point.