Reflective Journal Week 36, 31 May – 6 June 2020

Week 36 began with continuous experiments of salting natural objects. The dryness of the air and early summer temperature arranged a suitable environment for drying flowers. Also, in order to support local business in this particularly difficult time, I picked some roses from a local flora shop. 

This work is named Salted Confessor. It was produced for designing visual elements that could be used in the following works. 

In the last week, I had a thought about the device “The Growth of Salt”, which allow the audience to have direct observation of how nature turns natural objects with its might. Views would have experience regarding the time took to form the thick salt shell onto objects. 

Last Week’s Design
Its Development in Week 36, 1
Its Development in Week 36, 2

The inspiration behind this design is enlightened by the painting Golconda 1953, René Magritte, as well as Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach 1938, by Salvador Dalí. I learned from the surrealistic composition. They refined the fundamental concept behind objects, and place them directly onto the image to depict elements that usually impossible to visualise. As I would like to demonstrate the extremely long period of crystallisation, thus I sampled marks on the timer shaft and display them as slices. 

Golconda, 1953
Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938

Another finished piece of this work is the Growth of Salt 2. Judging by the statistics, which is the most important standard to evaluate practices in this great time of quarantine, the work received surprisingly positive feedback. The element I explored in this craft, which was the colour of crystal-clear seawater that washes a sandy beach, has been pointed out several times via comments. I could boldly suggest the experiment was successful. It greatly encouraged me to extract critical aspects that formed different parts of the context by reforming them into a variety of works. 

In the group crit of this week, Mark Fairnington advised me to take a look into Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida’s marine paintings of genre theme and landscape if I would like to add some loose brushes to transform my realistic style slightly.

Defensa del Parque de Artillería de Monteleón, 1884

The impact of impressionism and postimpressionism upon the artist’s oeuvre is substantial. In his early career, historical painting Defensa del Parque de Artillería de Monteleón, 1884 still reminds audiences of the flourishing of romanticism movement in 18th – 19th century Spain sparked by Fransisco de Goya. But this trend faded quickly, in late 19th century his work swiftly experienced romanticism, realism then gradually matured with genre themes brushed by bright and vivid colouration. His marine painting, surprisingly, seldom demonstrate those symbolic Spanish elements. As a matter of fact, the expanding size of colour blocks granted his painting a sort of maturity which is still fashionable in contemporary marine theme paintings appreciated by, for example, RSMA, or contemporary painters like Steve Hanks. His painting, A Walk on the Beach (1909), pictured the scene of his wife and his daughter walking on a sandy shore of his hometown Valencia.

A Walk on the Beach, 1909

The painting was produced at the highest of his career. The size of the canvas is overwhelming, almost 4 square metres large. While demonstrating his soaring confidence in the career, however, the painting shows a true devotion to his family. The unrestrained wielding of brush softly outlined two figures he deeply loved, shows viewers not only emotional response to his personal life but also to all subjects he painted. 

When I looked back on my career at this moment, I realised studying art in the UK did not teach me a single bit of painting technique. It seems been educating me to discover problems and response to it critically; therefore, art theory could advance, as for painting techniques is only a tool that utilised in this process. Overall, I have been learning a system to process information, to think and to react to the real world. In Chinese, it is “to be a person”. Each time I found as if I learnt something, I would understand my past behaviours, works and thought a bit more comprehensively. The repeating reevaluation is the most representative result of this MA degree so far. 

Andalucia, Spain occupied a crucial part in not only my career but also my life. I found there are many practical methods I could borrow from the past for demonstrating my love for Cornish landscapes. It basically completes a circle to the theme I worked on two years before: to demonstrate a possibility of mutual understanding that can be achieved by a common perspective. My effort so far is just seeking material methods in visual art. 

I found me paints incresingly loose, and my attention moved from reproducing landscape viasually to painting my emotions. Less I cared about the preciseness of figure and shapes, a concerntration on the reappearing of my feeling and experience would be focused much much more.

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.