A common question that I am asked is the distinction between ‘finishing or abandoning’ a painting (in terms of completing work) and which one applies to me?
There are two very different feelings when a painting is complete and is at most an unpredictable part of the process for me. Occasionally my idea is crystal clear enough to see when the finished version is in sight, or be unable to stop until I meet this mark in my mind. This is finishing the work that you set out with a cause, process and visual in mind.
Abandoning the painting is a very different but equally as satisfying feeling, in when you reach a stage in the work where you feel it is right to stop. For whatever reason, it may be that the balance is right and anything more could be overworking it. Maybe you feel that what you are trying to put across has been successful and in going further could potentially spoil that. A number of reasons, even just that it ‘feels’ right to stop could cause for you to purposefully abandon a painting.
‘Flutter’ for me was a small scale painting that was initially started as a way of playing around with composition, textures and movement. I didn’t intend for this painting to materialise into a finished piece of artwork that I would happily sign my name to, gloss and pass over to be released as a limited edition print. It was a blank board that I intended to use to practice on. This led to me to believe that part of the enjoyment of creating Flutter was in the zero expectation from myself or anyone else. There was no question of room for error, there didn’t need to be a right or wrong, no time scale, no rush, no boxes to tick. This light playfulness leant itself to the nature of the subject I was working with. After spending some time playing around with this painting I let it sit in my work area for a while as I figured out what to add to it next. With this in mind I decided I did not want to add to it, or take anything away. It was clear to me that I aught to sign and abandon so I couldn’t tamper with the ethereal lightness, mixed with the erratic movements that I felt I could see through the painting, and complimented the nature of a butterfly darting around. With Flutter it was a case of abandoning with full satisfaction that it had naturally appeared at its correct finishing point.
As with all subjects that I work on, it begins by flicking through as many images and videos as possible. Videos of movement can show you a lot about the way the animal is built to manoeuvre, which then tells you more about its capabilities in the wild and what it can or can’t do. Movement is the most important thing to consider even if the animal is stationary. The way a stag might sit or lie down still provides a use of muscle which will show varying definitions which are important to make the stance look believable. With something as airy as a butterfly, the action is part of the essence. If these qualities are not captured then you’re not catching the soul of your subject, but just transferring its physical appearance to a canvas.
My research led me to find that a butterfly wing is made up of minuscule scales. These scales hold the colour but not in the form of a pigment. The scales are arranged physical structures which react with light to create the colours we see. With butterfly wings much like bubbles, films of oil or mother of pearl, and other iridescents the colour depends on the angle it is viewed at which means the colours are created by an optical effect based on refractions and diffractions of light. Imagining these built up scales can draw many parallels in my mind of sections of artwork that I embellish with heavy, layered and multicoloured brush strokes. Close ups of these wings are just like an abstract art in their own right.
After establishing the points of interest that I felt would be important to build up a painting depicting butterflies and their chaotic/light tendencies, alongside the intricate structure of their wings which create the incredible colours they display naturally, I then without restrictions and just for fun worked on this piece until it felt right to abandon.
‘Flutter’ has been incredibly popular which was a big surprise to me, and one that has been requested repeatedly to be made into a Limited Edition Print, which was launched recently at Smart Gallery. To find a stockist for this piece go to my website www.katyjadedobson.co.uk and look for the affiliated galleries. For help finding a gallery close to you that may stock this print, you are welcome to send an email to email@example.com
It’s a great piece and has me re-thinking some stuff I failed at/abandoned recently (something that involved butterfly wings actually).
Neat bit to know about the way we perceive colour in them, I would have thought their wings were an actual pigmented material.