Thursday, February 5, 2009

fish in the nest

Long long ago, Ampersand Duck tagged me for a meme  in which I had to write seven things about my art Practice and I have been very slow in doing it.

I mostly use oils, because I always have and I prefer the longer drying time. I desperately need a new palette, which is a laminate off-cut from the kitchen factory on the next corner. I don't want to waste any paint though, so I'll continue with this one. In the heat the paint is drying much too quickly. 

I use all different kinds of brushes, but cheap ones leave hairs all over the canvas. I usually underpaint with a colout, and I use a tile grouter for this. In the blue paintings I have not used an undercolour because I need the white underneath to make the light show through.

Sometims I use watercolour brushes at present, even though I tell my students never to use watercolour brushes with anything other than watercolours or ink.

I am known for putting glazes over the top and letting them run, I love the way pigment is suspended, and the layers evolve. I used to make all my own glazes and media, including Damar Varnish and beeswax paste but I don't any more. I also always used surgeons gloves, but if I did in this heat I would faint. Truly.

I have an ongoing obsession with resurrecting fragments from renaissance and Baroque paintings: usually drapery, and bits of the sky. Last year in the heat I played Allegri's Miserere endlessly, till midnight, and started a series which recently seemed to reappear underwater.
I used to make brooches with miniature oil paintings of Renaissance women, which took hours, so I know many of Titian's women quite intimately. Also many hands, and dresses.

I have pictures of special and beloved things around me.

The largest piece I am working on is 2000x1600 and the smallest is 30x30. The big one above is completely dementing me, the canvas keeps getting loose, and it has also absorbed a long distracting conversation which seems to have completely derailed the picture. I am going to have to rest it and go on with something else.

I often put words in my pictures. I love the aesthetic of writing. I write in layers so you can only half interpret the meaning.

the writing is usually fragments of poetry, since I believe painting and poetry are sort of the same thing.
The above is Dylan Thomas. 

There are piles of books around me, some albatross bones, and all sorts of objects.  I swear it wasn't me drank that gin, but the bottle is nice.

I also draw a lot. Mostly in charcoal, often with indigo pigment and pastel.

and pencil, for when I need to work out something, like this upside-down-lady.

and here is Miss Cranky, guardian goddess of the Tap Of Doom, watching over proceedings.
I think that must be seven things now. I'm off to the sea before I do anything today: it promises to be as hot as ever.


Mary said...

I can't tell you how much it means to have this insight into your (painting) world.

There must be an exhibition coming up. Is there?

Anonymous said...

I loved the tour. Thank you! How nice for us to get a little insight into your work and see some of your inspiration.

There is something very fresh and magical and alive about your paintings.

It's wonderful to see that you've been able to combine your love of the ocean with your artwork.

What an amazing combination...

genevieve said...

Oh, lovely practical post.
I have finally decided which of those beautiful blue canvas shots to use as a desktop background.
Miss Cranky is rather splendid.

Fusion said...

This is indeed a nice look into your world fifi.

I suppose you're going to say you had nothing to do with that bottle of Absolut in that last photo as well? ;)

Red Hen (dette) said...

Lovely lovely blue paint. I am listening to Allegri's Miserere as I read this post. It's beautiful and I just realised it's layered and delecate like your watery blue canvases.

Eleanor said...

This is a fabulous post. Painting and poetry, huh, so true I think...The aesthetic of absolutely wonderful.

Thanks for sharing this with us. I can SMELL the oil paints all the way over here, I swear I can.

P.S. Please let us know about any upcoming exhibitions!!!

Kirti said...

Thank you Fifi for that beautiful insight into more of your wonderful youness, your creativity. For me this is exactly the pearl of blogging. Mwah xxxxxx

Kirti said...

PS very good to hear you were not to be shark bait this summer.

Ampersand Duck said...

Oh, good girl! Such a lovely cool post to read whilst I'm melting (say the last two words as if your skin is green).

Even though I've seen photos of you, I always have a mental picture of you as Claudia Karvan, a-la Frankie from Love My Way, since she's under water in the credits and her paintings are lush like yours and it was set with her living in a house beside a Sydney beach...

But you're the REAL THING, and I just love your work. Thanks for sharing!

Regulus said...

Damar Varnish? Wasn't he the Prime Minister of India for a while.

The only part I related to was the gin bottle. Ha ha.

Very nice. But you said your largest piece is 2000x1600. I'm assuming that's in millimeters?

Loved all the cool blues. That's usually how I feel. And they remind me of the ocean.

Anonymous said...

Lovely to get to know you better and see your working space. I feel like I've been invited home for coffee, after a chat and catch-up at the beach!! Thanks Fifi! Always knew you were talented.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking I would have nothing to say to this piece cos I know nothing about painting. And then I saw your Bombay Sapphire bottle. I have a line of these along my window sill in the conservatory - I love the bottles and they capture the most beautiful light and reflect it all around the room. I still have another side of the room to line with them so I guess I will just have to force myself to drink more gin!! Such hardship. It's great gin.

I do paint walls and I never buy cheap brushes cos I get so angry at having to pick off the hairs.

alice c said...

If I painted I would be terrified of the blank canvas. How do you start - do you see it complete in your mind before you start or do you bravely start on the canvas and see what happens?

Noelle Swan Gilbert said...

i love peering into the artists process. thank you for sharing. noelle

meggie said...

Love all your blues!! My favourite actress has been Meryl Streep, for her sheer do remind me of her. Not the thin sharp Meryl, but the gloriously rounded, so pretty, version. Please don't be insulted!

fifi said...

What lovely things you all say. So cheering on this sad day! Thank you all of you.
I wish I had watched Love my Way, I'd love to see this character, but I don't watch TV usually.

Meggie, that's hilarious...!

Catastrophe Waitress said...

it was like spying in your net curtains, Fifi! i LOVE that piece that you're working on.

did you ever watch the series "Love My Way"? the opening sequence as the credits happened, with the characters swimming in deep, dark water. i just adored that. some of your photos remind me of that.

how amazing to be surrounded by such beautiful things, knowing that they came from you.

thank you so much for sharing.

Catastrophe Waitress said...

that was me rushing in and commenting before reading your comments.

here's the opening sequence on youtube, if you're interested:
love my way

fifi said...

thats amazing!!
she even has my red dress on!!!

Catastrophe Waitress said...

i think you'd really like it.
i just borrowed the series on dvd from Blockbuster, that way i could watch it in great, delicious chunks!

i actually saw it up there this week and thought about watching it all again. Claudia Karvan is wonderful. i cried my eyes out over and over again and loved every bit.

Shoufay said...

Ok...I can't resist, I confess to being responsible for the Bombay and the absolut. And whilst this lovely fi(sh) may appear in your minds eye to be Claudia Karvan incarnate, another interesting connection is that her character in the show won the Blake prize for religious art...and what do you know, so did I! In case this makes no sense, I'm the one who dwells on the periphery of Fiona's underwaterscapes.

molly said...

Ah, Fifi! Been preoccupied with family matters and missed this... lovely to peek into your studio and artistic life......You are a fish of great talent!

Anonymous said...