In my practice I have found that taking a break from one material, and immediately beginning to play with another, offers insight into the work I am temporarily (but perhaps not really) distracted from. Specifically, working with film as a ‘break’ from having a stab at a painting helps my creative process by letting my hands focus on something else, whilst my mind is freed to mull over and work out the obstacles I’m facing in a painting.
For me, moving from tactile, flexible surfaces to a digital, narrative-led material, helps balance conflicts without the need for over-thinking (and thus, allows me to avoid the dreaded ‘stressing out’).
Moving from a painting to a film – and back again – highlights weak spots within the work. Manipulating film and focusing on narrative, atmosphere and sound, brings to light ‘missed’ elements that perhaps exist and can be strengthened in the painting; movement versus staticity is exposed, arousal of senses is questioned. What does the painting sound like? What does it feel like? Does it create suspense when I look at it? Do I feel excited when I touch it? Upon looking at it, does my mind imagine a story, a place, a time? Am I invited in or am I shut out? Is there a narrative? Yes – what is it? No – why not? What does this add/take away from the work?
Of course, some of these questions probably seem silly, and some probably can’t be answered, but thinking ‘around’ the answer (and working out why a question can’t be answered) helps to inform the next steps of the work.
Playing with film then – in its eye-squinting, data-collecting, image-sequencing nature – draws the mind away from the immediate challenges the painting presents. In the space provided, quiet, slow and natural resolutions to problems can be achieved.
Both languages – filmic and painterly – are methods of visual research, where repetitive development and cyclical processes take place. The differences between the ‘doing’ of the languages allows enough room to breathe, whilst their familiar, similar qualities highlight the path needed to reach new developments.
Painting -> Film <- Painting