I travel locally to do a lot of plein aire paintings on my bushwalking expeditions, but in 2018 I’m considering a longer journey.
HEADLAND PROJECT 2018
I am planning a long trip down the NSW east coast to undertake a major writing and painting project called “Headland” starting 2018. It will culminate in a gallery exhibition and a book of my writings on philosophy, politics, memories and responses to that amazing coastline. I am seeking donations on my website to help pay for camp fees and petrol and the framing and publications of the project.
My artwork has a strong philosophy behind it that seeks to foster appreciation of our natural environment (which is fast disappearing) and to challenge our thoughts about who we are and how we are living within our chosen lifestyles. My work has a strong spiritual aspect about treading lightly on the land and working in harmony with the rhythms of the Earth to support all forms of life we share the universe with. Your donation has supported and encouraged me to do more of this work.
The development of the project will be updated on this blog, so join and follow progress here. Posts have already begun on my Facebook page: Jessica Blythe Art Studio.
I’ve been reading up on Aesthetics from a Uni course posted online by Oxford University – “Aesthetics and Art”. I’m working my way through the semesters, but got caught in Emmanuel Kant’s ideas about the experiencing of beauty. He thought it was the pleasure created in the mind before the mind assigned concepts to the experience. That really resonated with me. He also thought that experiencing the Sublime was similar. It gives us pleasure to be “In the Now”, having a “Direct” experience of something that evokes intense pleasure which we cannot name.
It reminded me of my close encounters with wildlife when we lock eyes, smell each other, experience the magic and are frozen in a state of wonder. It is those moments when the mind is open to simply experience, before the cognitive functions kick in and the concepts of “wallaby”, “joey”, “fear” etc are not yet formed. Then in an instant they are gone, rustling into the undergrowth and I am left feeling high on pleasure.
The pleasure is partly because the animal is a warm blooded creature with cognitive functions I can recognise. I can see it jump, lick its lips, blink, scratch itself and … it can see me, hear me. What a thrill to be noticed.
So I am curious … how can art and beautiful things compare to the living, breathing creature I encounter? Is the engagement anywhere near the same?
I receive a number of email notifications from magazines and galleries which give various images from contemporary painter/artists. I don’t know whether it is the format (online image) or whether it is the art, but I find very few that fire up my imagination.
I find image after image which consists of no more design than plonking an item (be it figure, unnamed form or anthropomorphic animal) in the centre of the image and adhering to nothing more than two or three layers at best.
I seek art that takes my breath away – that awe inspires me. I’m looking for intriguing design, expert technique, a interesting idea, imagery which connects to memory and mediums which support the industry. Only one of these is required for me to be impressed, but I’m constantly disappointed in the vast majority of images I see today, even those by the art world’s heroes and heroines. Most have even lost their ability to shock while others simply disgust me.
Del Barton’s paintings were the last paintings that inspired me from the major art prizes held in recent years. And William Robinson’s body of work never ceases to move me to the heights of artistic ecstasy I keep looking for in other contemporary work.
Perhaps I just don’t get out enough, perhaps I haven’t read enough contemporary writing to convince me or perhaps it is, as I suggest, something in the artwork itself.
I have been pondering on these topics and reading widely to find an answer to the disappointment I feel as I engage with the artworld with my own paintings.
Australia has a dismal record for supporting the arts, so perhaps addressing this issue will help to overcome the deficiencies in the art market too.