Leonardo da Vinci declared, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
I’m not sure about that but I do know that I struggle and agonize over some pieces of work and return to them sometimes several years after they were once declared finished. Most of the time my sense of completion is a purely intuitive one. I just instinctively know that it is finished and sign it off and never touch it again.
Nearly all of my paintings start with a colour, mark or line and develop from there. There is a process of adding and removing, applying and covering until a concept, composition or idea emerges, evolves and becomes complete. All well and good until doubt creeps in. The doubt may be may be rooted in a lack of self-confidence, the ability to see with objectivity, or the alluring idea that something more might make the painting better.
I finished the picture on the left in November 2017, named it Lost A Big Shoe Birdman! and showed it in my exhibition Exit From Coaltown at Summerhall, Edinburgh (November 2017 - January 2018).
However, I recently began to see it in a different light. I removed the title, the egg and added more phrases, words and marks and now, it seems to be truly finished and to me, to have a better balance and meaning, even if that meaning is quite personal.
This week I have been listening to (and painting and designing to) David Bowie, Sound + Vision Box Set, Astrakan Café by Anouar Brahem, Jungle Revolution in Dub by Congo Natty and Matthew Bourne’s Isotach. All sublime, all offer different rhythms and atmospheres.
I have recently been working on an A3 poster design for a Scottish Mental Health Art Festival exhibition to be shown in Summerhall, Edinburgh later this year.
Here are two draft versions that are loosely based on the theme of ‘new beginnings’, for ‘Out of Sight, Out of Mind’.
Now in its sixth year, Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind is a collaborative exhibition of over 100 artworks in various media. It is a mix of works by professional artists who have experienced mental health issues, and self-made artists working with community mental health projects. There are a range of motivations, from personal expression, development of artistic practice and the experience of the therapeutic benefits of working in a group or solo, to formal art therapy and political activism.
My preferred version has a totally empty sky with all the text below the horizon. I think this emphasises the vastness of the cosmos, of ‘new beginnings’ and in an ironic way, puts all the exhibition information ‘out of sight and out of mind’ below the horizon. I also like the logo as a reflection of the moon! The text layout needs more focus once the overall image has been agreed.