I feel as though this year has been incredibly defining for me as an artist. The decision to start using oil paint in my work has given me direction throughout the year. The first oil painting I did was a blue-tinted landscape, with a large portion of the image being sky. I only did the painting to test out the paint at the time, but I think that was the starting point for the Cloud Project, that has been a work in progress throughout the year.
I haven’t ever done a project that I wanted to continue working on after the deadline, but I think this is definitely the case with The Cloud Project. After handing in the dissertation, I was pretty certain that I was sick of painting clouds, but after only a month or two I was finding myself being drawn back to it for the Travelling Circus. I painted a piece that I would later use for Spectacular Spectacular. Shortly after this I displayed a selection of my work from The Cloud Project in the cabinet for a week. Seeing the work on show as a collection, with a body of text alongside it to give it context served to reignite my interest in the project. I think having work from that project in the cabinet was successful, as it was well received and it helped move The Cloud project from being a pile of work on my desk to being work that had a place in the world.
The piece I did for Spectacular Spectacular was incredibly successful, in the sense that I managed to sell it. I had been considering putting it for up for sale but there was a part of my brain going “but if no one buys it then that means it’s not any good”, and I didn’t really want to deal with that. What happened instead, I was approached and made an offer, which of course I accepted. It really boosted my belief in my own ability, and it reinvigorated my enjoyment for The Cloud Project.
The other main body of work that I have been developing this year was the Pit Pony project, which still doesn’t have a better name then that. I was very lost after the Christmas holidays, and I was in the period, as I mentioned before, where I was sick of The Cloud Project. Over the space of a week several different things occurred that made my new direction feel like fate. I had been looking at some pictures of mining horses on pinterest, not deliberately, but I had been looking at other things and it had caught my attention. A few days after that I took a trip to St Fagans to get inspiration, which I found in the form of a book in the gift shop called ‘Harnessed’. It details lives of the horses and men who worked in the mines, specifically in Wales. A few days after this we had a visit from Kate Dicker, who I was lucky enough to have a tutorial with. She has been an incredible inspiration throughout this project, and I think it was her who properly kick-started it for me.
I spent the rest of the year working mainly on the Pit Pony project, occasionally dipping back into The Cloud Project, and then bringing the two together in a sense, for the exhibition.