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  • Sophie Perkins

An Embodied World on Canvas

Over the last year I have shifted towards a new way of working. The canvas now starts on the floor and the paint brush has been swapped for loaded cups of watered acrylic mediums. The medium is given some chance to lead the composition. This way of working on large scale canvases requires a more bodily gestures rather than from the wrist and hand, I catch and drag that paint with my hands and arms, I quite literally ‘carried the landscape in my arms as a did it’ in the words of Helen Frankenthaler. Again, uniting the body’s interaction with the world expressing the landscape through myself as a medium in the process that transcended a landscape to the viewer immersed in ambiguous abstracted spaces and dimensions.

It has been a process of discovery in learning a new technique of painting and moving on from the familiar buildup of gestural white painterly marks, however, this period of experimentation has given me the chance to learn as I go and think whilst doing while exploring the materiality of the paint as I have started to unpick elements of chance and control in my paintings. I wanted to argue how the process of creativity is involved in the sensory engagement with the world, and although the experience of the landscape drives the work, it is the material and process of painting that takes precedence in unfolding what I mean by the ‘inner landscape’. It is through the pouring technique and process that bodily encompassed movements of gesture give language for the incarnation of body and landscape. The soak-stain technique has it’s own ‘living’ quality to amplify the phenomenological interaction with Landscape, body and painting. It is only through the embodiment of the landscape that the process of painting is capable of releasing landscape allusions that ebb away and flow back, pulsating like reverberations of deep perceptions.

When does the stain just become a stain? Or should the question be when does the stain become a painting? What qualities does the single touch of paint have to qualify a sense of space, form and dimension for us to be able to read. Is it possible for it to be rich with these features, or is it within the subtly that they harmonise more than the painted surface? These are questions that I find myself asking and addressing within the process of painting. For example, ‘Angel’ consisted of one layer of the soak stain process, but with playing with chance and control, moments like this magically happens. The small details in how the pigment bleeds and separates reaching out in it’s flow motion, however, these moments are hard to come by with purpose and intention. You really have to let go of any predetermined ideas of how it will turn out and give control to the process. Its only with the time to reflect on a painting once it is dry that I am able to assess what the paint has to offer, and is there room for improvement for the level of painting I am trying to achieve.

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