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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Focus on Abstract Texture

I have been thinking a lot about the intention and value of the artwork I create, especially in consideration of our MA teaching session on AI. With this existential threat of AI replacing artists, looming overhead – It’s really important that artists define their USP and understand what makes their work irreplicable by technology.

 One thing I’ve always noticed with my abstract oil paintings is that they don’t photograph well, because it’s impossible to capture the thick layers of texture in a 2D image. This is frustrating since most of the time I am sharing photographs of my work online as I have very few opportunities to exhibit them in a physical space. When someone recently came to collect an abstract oil painting which they had commissioned, they remarked that it was far more impressive in-person than the photograph had conveyed. I've also noticed that some of my abstract paintigs are more compelling in the evening, when the light is dimmer and the texture casts shadows. Considering the ability of AI to generate 2D images, I realised that textural richness of my abstract oil paintings was a USP which the technology can’t replicate (until they link generative AI to 3D printers – then I will be screwed). In light of this realisation, I decided to create some abstract artworks focussing explicitly on the textural richness of the paintings.

The first artwork I created was a monochrome 40 x 40cm oil on canvas painting. I wanted the painting to be monochrome, since all of my abstracts are very colourful and I thought that by removing the clour from the artwork I could focus more explicitly on the texture. I chose to use a smallish canvas, seeing as oil paint is not cheap and the thicker the texture, the more expensive the artwork becomes to create. I began by creating an extremely thick base layer, mixing white and black oil paint with a wide brush to create a texture of gestural waves. Once this had dried (which took several months), I added splattered globules in grey, white and black.

 The second artwork I created was the same size for the same reason, 40 x 40cm. This time I created a thick, base layer using a mixture of different brown hues – I will be honest that the reason for this colour scheme was because I had a lot of brown paints left over which I needed to use up. I tried not to blend the browns too much, so the individual hues were discernible. Once this extremely thick layer was dried, I added splatters in different shades of green. The reason for this was that the base layer had come out looking like the bark of a tree and I wanted to create the impression of ivy trawling up a tree trunk.

 In reflection, I think the monochrome painting turned out better than the brown and green painting, because the contrast between the colours was too stark. But in both cases, the thicker base layer was an asset and something which I will try to do on a larger scale – although this will require an expensive amount of oil paint!

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