Acrylic paint, pen and collage on canvas. October 2021 (90x60cm)
This painting marks a turning point in my artistic approach. It is my first painting that I would describe as being purely expressionist. The Tate website define expressionism as ' art in which the image of reality is distorted in order to make it expressive of the artist’s inner feelings or ideas'.
The title of 'October' not only refers to the month of completion, but also the use of my actual journal entries and sketches from October 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. During the creative process I used PVA glue to apply these to the canvas. Often these bits of paper aren't immediately obvious unless you are up close to the painting. The most pertinent piece of paper that I chose from my journals had 'I saw Karen today' written on it. She was a counsellor that I used to see.
Before starting this painting, I didn't really have an end point in mind, nor did I know that the painting would be called 'October'. To start, I wrote down various things using pens and acrylic markers. I wasn't too precious about what I was writing or doodling, just thoughts and feelings I had at the time. I remember writing down the words 'Where is Cy?... I need his help!'. I studied the work of Cy Twombly at school. At the moment, I feel like I'm 'feeling' my way through the art world, learning what works for me and what doesn't. I'm also working out what I want to stand for in the art world, which I'm very close to doing. Having Cy Twombly over my shoulder as a mentor whilst doing my first out and out expressionist painting would have been extremely useful, but I enjoyed the process nonetheless! Making art should be fun, playful and messy!
When I'm creating I do what feels 'right' and intuitive to me. When I discovered all of my old sketches and journal entries from previous Octobers, there was no question that I wouldn't use them in this painting. For the past few years October has been a very productive and reflective month for me.
I was also listening to 'My Future' whilst starting the painting so I wrote down the words 'I'm in love with my future (self)'. This is a song by Billie Eilish. The lyrics resonate with me as I see life as something that is constantly evolving and that nothing is permanent. I believe there are lots of versions of us out there that could exist, have existed and will exist.
After writing down my thoughts and feelings on the canvas, I used PVA glue to apply my drawing of Glencoe within the map of Scotland to the canvas. I call these drawings 'A Glimpse of Scotland'. I started making these earlier on in my art career and produce these to order. If you have a favourite place of Scotland, or any other country get in touch! An original A4 drawing in the Scotland map is priced at £95. In the October painting, I painted a rough box around the Glimpse of Scotland because I see it as a type of artwork that clearly has it's place.
Then I went on to add paint around the canvas as I felt, using colours and marks that felt right to me at the time. I can see a very clear horizon line and a sky. I have done a lot to overcome strong anxiety in my body, although I still have intrusive thoughts and sometimes my mind can go in to overdrive. I now experience anxiety much much less in my body. Somebody that had viewed this painting told me they thought the calm water represented that my body experiences less physical anxiety symptoms but my mind can still experience a flood of thoughts, represented by the sky in this painting.
I have shared videos of this painting on TikTok and Instagram. It's always amazing to me the different responses I get when I paint an expressive piece like this. When sharing videos I often ask what do you feel when you see this painting? People can often see different things in the painting as well as feeling different things. People have seen a face in the top left corner, an Egyptian symbol off centre to the left and more. What do you see?
Since completing this painting I have gone on to paint more expressive pieces, including the 'I'm Still Here' painting, which you can see here. https://www.douglasfindlayart.com/product-page/i-m-still-here
At the time of writing this post I have also completed two expressive pieces about two people in my life that have impacted me. There will be more to come in this series!
I was also listening to a song whilst starting the painting so I wrote down the words 'I'm in love with my future (self)'. This is a song by Billie Eilish. The lyrics resonate with me as I see life as something that is constantly evolving and that nothing is permanent. I believe there are lots of versions of us out there that could exist, have existed and will exist. It's all part of a process where your present habits will become your future.
As well as being expressionist I see it as an abstract seascape. I see the colours at the bottom as a calm water and the colours above as a turbulent sky. This reflects me as a person and the anxiety that I used to have. Although I do still feel anxiety, my body feels relatively calmer, represented by the calmer water, but my mind can still feel really busy represented by the more turbulent sky.
'October' is an extension of me, containing emotion, memories and life experiences.
I'm interested in people that were close to the edge, that dared to do things slightly differently and also weren't afraid to be fully themselves.