Making your mark
Shirley Trevenna talks about how important it is to develop your own distinctive marks. It’s what distinguishes your work from every other artist. What makes your work unique? What is it about your work that conveys your distinct ideas?
It takes a while to develop a style. Sometimes it has felt as if this aspect of my work would never emerge. But in time, every artist develops something of a style – even if it’s not a conscious one. If you paint enough, your way of laying pigment on paper will start to become apparent.
I prefer to think about my mark-making style. To make it something I experiment with and develop. Every time something happens on the paper that thrills me, I think about how it happened, and whether I want to incorporate that aspect in my work in future.
One of the methods I’ve found quite useful is to tackle a subject using a number of different palettes, styles and papers. Invariably one will stand out from the others, or something will make me do something different. In this instance, I’ve chosen a glorious photograph of poppies taken in our garden. I’ve used sections of the photo in many different paintings. This time, I worked on Arches smooth and added a few layers of glaze. The final details have been added with the point of a sharpened stick, used to drag the dark background into the poppy petals to emphasise the papery texture of the petals.
I love the freedom and slight randomness of the pigment marks on the paper, combined with the little granulations and the meandering stick marks. They all combine to give this painting an organic feeling – each poppy is a little different, and each has its own character. Will do more of this.
Here’s a photograph of the full painting: