Here I am returning to a favourite subject – a family of horses which for years lived in the field next to me .  I used to glimpse them everyday through the canopy of trees as I drove past.  I am excited to be looking at this subject again especially after working on spatial and abstract series.  Here is a set of 16 little sections, and a sample of one of them.   Each is a seed for further work.  Only the trees remain as this ancient field, “The Seven Sisters” has succumbed to houses and streets.

Here is a version (800 x 600 mm)  which considers space rather than detail.  Becomes clear that the upper part of the picture is lighter with the dark silhouettes of the stationery horses outlined.  Below that there is a very dark area and then the scrub and foliage.  I really enjoyed that!

I was still not satisfied.  I still felt bound to the subject.  Although I loved  the subject, I felt there was something else to explore, and I made 16 little canvases 360 x 280 mm from sections of the original photo.  I am getting nearer a new and deeper level, in which each area has its own energy and life.  But it takes time.  I particularly enjoyed the foliage.   Here are a few of those little pieces.  I am  realising that the key is the horse silhouettes.  Those are the most interesting for me.

The series of small paintings have now thrown up a deep library of shapes and ideas.  Here are two “travelling” versions of the subject, done spontaneously, drawing on the haptic knowledge gained from creating the small paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super time making drawings which explore space but which are mostly born from imaginary subjects or are distantly related to real ones!

All charcoal and paint on canvas 800 x 600 mm   More in the pipeline to make a series of six

 

 

I am revisiting a series of images from my 2022 exhibition “The Nature of the Horse”.  Here is the first one.  I would like to explore it further and create a different version which will form a proposal for a new exhibition, centred again on the “private life”of the horse quite separate from humans.  So far I am simplifying the original into tonal shapes and translating it back into colour again.  I begin with just three tones plus black and white.  It is surprising how much information just those shapes can convey and how much freedom of expression.

Below are my first experiments and sketches from the subject.

I have cut out the main shapes and translated them into colour.  I will take this into a collage.  Again, the simplicity is pretty powerful.    I am learning an amazing amount from this exercise!  The piece is already finding a different aspect and voice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am now experimenting with colour – keeping the same palette and tones but getting looser.  These are the cut out shapes again.  Once I have really grasped them, their tones and their colours I will start to play with them.  I know I am moving with this project but it is still fluid.

I have made some collages from the basic shapes and am using them as the springboard for further abstract interpretations.

Here I have made interpretations (left to right) of the collages in layers on a large canvas 1200 x 1000 mm.  I was not happy with the final stage, so I reworked the canvas using elements from the different collages (see large painting below).   It has been an interesting experiment.  I prefer the lightness of #1, but I wanted to take the experiment as far as I could.   I now feel I really “know” the subject and am confident enough to make some small paintings using ideas and elements from the project.

 

Further searches for the ultimate abstraction

 

I am inspired by recent visit to Patchings Artfest to revisit and complete some favourite drawings.

“Big Mystery” A large mixed media work on canvas. Charcoal, chalk, collage and paint. 100 x 120 cm.

 

“Horse’s Head” Charcoal and chalk drawing from imagination, on paper 50 x 42 cm

Demo drawing from imagination in charcoal and chalk 60 x 40 cm

The final statement “Meghan Carrick Essentials” – charcoal and paint on 800 x 600 mm stretched canvas. This definitely relates to the monoprint stage, but I am satisfied that I explored many possibilities.

Looking more deeply at the shapes by creating a three dimensional structure based on drawings, and creating collage pieces from it.

 

 

Monoprint experiments with colours and shapes from Stage 1.

I am a great admirer of Franz Marc (1880-1916).  He loved and respected animals and the natural world,  and is famous for his “Blue Horse” paintings.  The painting above is a small watercolour but shows his use of colour, the abstracted shapes of the horses and how they are integrated and subsumed in a larger design.  He was a member of an experimental artistic group, “Die Blau Reiter” in Munich.  I am interested in his empathy with the animal and his wish to depict animals in a different “inner” way and also in his development from tradition figurative art to abstraction.

I decided to make a study of this painting by “unpicking it” as I learnt from painter Liz Hough in St. Ives.  In order to get behind the skin of the painting and engage with it in a deeper way, Liz suggests starting by making lots of drawings based on small areas of a painting.  Here are some I have done.  They bear little resemblance to the original starting point but it is always present as a reference and inspiration and by doing these drawings I began to look more closely at and understand Marc’s painting better.

The next exercise involved using monoprint technique and colour to understand shapes  better.  I have had a go at this but am not sure I have fully grasped it.  The colours and textures run away with me.

For Stage 3 we were asked to create a 3d construct from cut-outs of simple line drawings.  Then I made drawings of this construction from many different angles. I found this a very engaging process. The three dimensional aspect tunes into my own sense of physicality.   Here is the construction and a couple of the drawings derived from it.

I made a series of collages on board derived from the set of these drawings, and then a large “travelling” final version on canvas.

 

The next stage – working from a black and white photocopy of my painting of Meghan, I masked off different sections in quite a random way.  This is a simple composition so the options were limited.  I did two stages, trying for a richer and more abstract mixed media in the second stage.

                     

 

I have spent some years now in learning how to create a figurative illusion of reality.  But I want to go deeper and explore the links between the subject and my inner self.  At the moment I am making a series of oil paintings depicting the Clydesdale horses that share my work space in the upper Forth Valley, Scotland.  I have got to know them all in various degrees and feel a strong attachment to some of them.  That give me the basic drive and motivation.

Now I am “unpicking” the images to explore shape, colour, texture and feeling in the hope to learning more about them and making much freer works.  It is very difficult to dissociate from the methods and energy and meaning involved in making the figurative work.

Here are some of the first pieces I did after the painting, thinking about the main shapes and colours.  In my next post I will show how I developed this project towards a final painting.