• Claire Burke

In the groove

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

My last blog post was written in a flurry of excitement: I had the ideas, materials and time to embark on a project that I'd been hatching for a couple of months and the stars aligned for me: I got some time every weekday to move the series along and was delighted with the result.

Quick recap: I'm doing a 14 canvas project called my 'Ancarva Series' where all the paintings will be standalone pieces but they will have the same artistic beginnings. I've begun to think of them as siblings: they have the same origin (me) and gestate from the same single idea (the Cornish landscape: sky over land over water in tranquil abundance) and will all be related (they began with the same mark-making, colour palette and shape structures as composites of one large abstract landscape) but now they need freedom and guidance to become independent before they reach maturity!

In that first 10 days I was really 'In the Groove'. I worked on the series a lot. Below are the video updates on the series from the first week: they take the viewer through my practical approach (and the unexpected changes that have been thrown up) and the project's development so far. Here's what you'll see in these clips...

First clip: Small rethink on the project already

Like many areas of life, even a really good plan can come unstuck for practical reasons - here I talk about my first little hiccup with my new body of work and how it’s evolved into a better plan quite by accident :)

Getting the first marks on canvas

Here I explain the plan for the body of abstract work I’ll be concentrating on, introducing the method I’m using and the madness behind the method

To get some cohesion I’m going to make all the first layers of paint and line across all 14 canvases as if the composite picture is a single landscape. By overlapping the boards and canvases there are interruptions and when I start to work on each painting separately who knows what direction they will go in. Will they still look like a family at the end 🤷🏻‍♀️

Getting some interesting shapes to structure an abstract art piece

With 14 canvases to work on, I need to quickly establish some common features and background to give me ‘hooks’ on which to hang more interesting additions. It can be hard to introduce visual interest to a painting and I discovered ages ago that planning doesn’t help much on this exercise: freeing up and making shapes that are pleasing seems to be a step in my process.

I’ve just decided that the shadows as the canvases overlap and butt up against each other add some really useful verticals to my horizontal piece so I’m going to paint some in with very pale washes. The largest of these canvases are about 1m square so they will benefit the most from some serendipitous mark making .

Update on Ancarva series

I’ve started to work on the paintings as individuals now and my video updates will slow considerably as a result . Of the 14 canvases in the series I’ve started breaking up the background on just three so far, messing with the precision and getting some movement and interest into them. In this video I show a ‘before and after’ demonstrating how the same colour palette can take off in different directions. More colour will be added in layers until some interesting shapes and blends and contrasts introduce themselves...at least that’s what I hope will happen

The process of working on so many at the same time is quite freeing: I have no expectation that any of them will start looking good any time soon so it’s all play and experimentation - which isn’t always easy to achieve in the studio. It’s very easy to fall under the illusion that every day spent ‘at work’ will have positive outcomes and it’s taken me a long time to realise that you can’t force the magic!

This blog is all about how the project started - see all video clips in the series by clicking the IGTV icon next to the grid icon on my Instagram profile page @ claire_burke_art. I’m also composing a Highlight on Instagram of the series (in one of the small circles) called Ancarva series where stories and clips will compile chronologically. Let me know what you think or if there's anything you'd like to know about my art process.

Thanks for reading, see you next time :)

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