Monday, June 27, 2011

CATS AND FLOWERS: Post-Crash Photoshop Figuration

The Subject Matter.

I thought cats and flowers would be easy, uncomplicated and straightforward topics for pictures. I said it to Colin quite flippantly when he asked me for a title months ago. What I discovered was that painterly concerns come to the fore once the subject matter is decided, and this was good for a change. However painting them from life was difficult. Cats move all the time, even when sleeping and flowers and their leaves change how they look depending on the light.


I was surprised to see that the domestic cat has shades of a cartoon. This happens when features become enlarged (in the case of the green cat) or reduced. Cats will receive almost limitless amounts of love from us. They comfort us and demand attention for food and company. They like to dictate to their carers. They lead a life apart from us, often at night when all is quiet. They are also victims of human projection, when we bestow human qualities upon them.

When you paint you can't fail but jump into an enormous pool of art. So many people paint, and have painted over time that there is a gigantic back catalogue of art. To try to paint is to acknowledge who has painted before you. There is a custom at Art School that you try not to repeat what other people have done before you, nor repeat or mimic. I am now too old to still be trying to please my teachers but it is still a goal of mine to be original, and I am aware of many artists that I admire, such as Leonard McCoomb, David Salle, Michael Craig-martin, Andy Warhol, Eduardo Paolozzi, Claes Oldenberg, Edward Bawden, Henri Matisse, Mary Fedden, Mary Cassat, Gwen John and Winifred Nicholson.

Where do we fit in today? Are we in post - process-based Minimalism, Post Modernism, Post Feminism, Post Colonialism, Post-crash Photoshop Abstraction? Does it matter? It's just a game. Does the technique you use in 2011 in N.E Essex, UK, require us to reference one of the most popular image editing computer softwares - photoshop? I use a digital camera for taking visual notes, and then try out colours, and compositions when planning a picture using this helpful programme, but I like to leave in traces to show that it is made by human hands and choose oil paint because it is a traditional and challeninging medium. Do we become classified by our intentions or our technique? Am I a painter or a Photographer? Or Neither? It is for you to decide.


Flat space, with an all over pattern...that is how flowers and plants can work, as a textile pattern, or a decorative fabric. Take an object like a tea towel or curtain. A painting is an object, but they are objects with paintings on them. A painting provokes ideas or thoughts. So can any object. A paintings harnesses emotions and feelings. so can a photograph. A painting reflects our observation or can act like a kind of visual list with layers of images, one ontop of another or juxtaposed in a neutral kind of space. A painting is a document which carries the frail hopes of someone trying to entertain but also to learn. Painting as a process offers numerous opportunities for reflection as you go along. Filling in the blanks, painting inside previosuly drawn lines with colour or desperately fighting through chaos until a level of balance or truth is achieved. is in itself a pleasing and enjoyable thing to do.

Manoeuvring ever more tightly in the tiny space left by the painters who've done it before us is almost fractal in its dimensions; just when you thought there was no more room, a vast ocean of possibilities opens up before you.

Jane Ostler, June 2011
Level Best ArtCafe.

Jane's show runs from the 10th June - 8th July and you can view it monday - friday, 10 - 3:30.

1 comment:

  1. Well done Jane, I love the paintings, particularly the blue cat. My cat is jet black, I have never attempted to paint him! Michele x