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  • Writer's picturematilde tomat

experimenting /04

This is all about experimenting and the need for belonging, as realised at the end.

Being at College and noticing all my colleagues who seem so good in drawing and painting, spurred me into trying.

I bought a new set of colours and brushes. And watched videos.

I was writing part of the story and then I was feeling the need to visually create the location, that house, that bridge. I was looking at artists I liked, hating them with a vengeance and envying them for their abilities. Still, I sat there trying to reproduce my world their way; translating my world and my vision into their language.

I am here talking about Mark Rothko, Ben Nicholson, Helen Glassford, and many others which are all listed and visualised in my pitch.

I tried watercolour, gouache, oil, acrylic. Using brushes and pallets and sponges. I tried copying, morphing, stealing. But all my results left me feeling frustrated and with a definite sensation of being always a couple of steps behind. Like if I were listening to a joke in a new language and understanding it only the week after. I also noticed how the biggest mistake I made in all of this was to have the finished piece in mind. I did not allow me to learn, to make mistakes. I tackled oil as I had always painted. I embraced watercolour as if I spent all of my summer holidays painting waves by the beach.

But I did not.

So, these are some of the experiments:

And as much I like some of the stuff I have created, and I look at them with tenderness, I cannot say that they have any artistic value.

Then, I have noticed how my hand started changing. The mark felt more “mine”. So, these are some of the pieces I have created:

I can see that I am more abstract, less figurative and definitely not pretending to be realistic in any way. I have experimented adding plaster, paper, glue, even coffee whitener! And I felt I was having fun. But at the same time, I felt I was getting progressively anxious because even if I was in pure experimenting, I was “in-between”. I left a safe room where I was learning and allegedly belonging (or desperately trying to) and I didn’t know where I was heading, if I were safe, or if I was getting anywhere. Those sessions left me drained and overwhelmed. More than anything, I felt terribly lonely. Scared of being misunderstood, and not accepted. Being branded as “different” and not liked. Not just my pieces, but me. Me not liked.

At that point I watched more videos, I touched more, I felt more, I tried more, I pushed more, and this is what I created:

And I really liked some of them. I still like some of the details, I liked some of the vibes. And I wanted more. I so wanted more and to make it all more “mine” and not simply by copying processes from others. I did not want to get to the stage of switching on a youtube video, have it in the background and paint with someone else’s in my ear talking me through my next creation. I was wondering if I was turning into a future potentially “cheap and mass-produced hotel lobby abstract painter”. Because this is not what I want! I didn’t want it then, and I don’t want it now. I am looking for my hand, for my mark. Because now I know I have it in me… whether close by or not, I don’t know.

My next stage was to go big!


And I like the experience. I like working on wood and not on board. I haven’t tried canvass and I might or I might not. I like the experience, but the marks are not mine. I am still copying someone else. Don’t get me wrong: the story portrayed and told here is mine. I like the layering, I like the details. But more than anything I like the scribblings on top.

THAT is my mark.

More in the next post.

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