I began to reflect on the King River as a source. Its river stone beds and shallow streams, sometimes bubbling around arrangements of boulders, sometimes disappearing into deep, dark, still waters, which had never been beautiful to me when growing up and I had never thought of its significance in our lives beyond its supply of water. The river as a source which had branded a primordial sense of dependency and intimacy within me over my half lifetime. The river that constantly flowed, had always flowed, will always flow. The river that bound us around itself and preserved us. I slowly connected to the idea of source and slowly felt that my own dependency on this source was being revealed. That I had felt a need for years now, to constantly return to this source. I began to connect with the notion of origin and that just as I sat on the banks of this river or swam or drank from it, all I could ever do was draw close to it, to be within in, return to it. I had to return to this river. I have always returned to the King River.
From, Returning to the river, Marco Corsini, 2016
Marco Corsini’s paintings feature the landscape and his immediate environment. Using shifts in viewpoint and perspective and often painted over extended periods of time, the works explore perception and the nature of painting as a recorder of experience rather than as a representative tool. Alongside a phenomenological interest in consciousness and experience, Corsini’s work also incorporates personal motifs such as the horse, indicating the artist’s own presence. The paintings explore perception and subjectivity, asking us to go beyond everyday discourse into deeper engagement with the nature of our existence.
After a few dead ends which I can’t bring myself to show you, the painting is beginning to get some momentum.
The figure has been overlaid with a baby and a wing, while another wing appears on the lower left side. I’m enjoying the freedom to layer images and ideas without feeling the need to resolve them yet. My technique is very painterly with enough medium to keep the paint flowing and sometimes even more medium to create a transparent glaze.
I like the juncture of the legs and the wing which reminds me of the myth of Icarus, with which I have been fascinated since I was a child.
Why the baby? I thought it would be quite powerful if there was a baby looking out at us at that point in the painting. I have also wanted to paint babies floating over water for a very long time but never did. I don’t know how it connects to the rest of the painting but I will find that out as I work the painting up and discover other connections.
By observing the development of the top right hand shape or form, you can see how I am adjusting the composition. I have placed the image from my work yesterday above and some previous versions below. From last week to this week ,this form has gradually shrunk and then moved to the edge. The main hanging form has also shrunk to the left and become more resolved. The fire which began as a few strokes of white paint has moved to the left and become larger. If I can sort most of the composition out now then it will be less work for me later.
I’m also thinking a lot about tone at this stage and how it impacts the overall composition. For example I have darkened the bottom left hand corner so as to get the observing eye (being directed down by the strong verticals on the left) to swing from the left bottom corner back to the fire. In turn, the central hanging form catches the eye leads it up and to the left, where it is directed down by the trees. A little visual loop which will be joined by a loop through the figure later. The form on the upper right echoes the central form and directs out of that rectangular shape of the background landscape back into the painting, it is getting close but may not be fully resolved until the figure and background are painted.
A quick note that the figure is hovering over a river, now with one foot splashing in the water. The fire also sits on the water. The forms in the air are taken from drying tents that are hanging. I’ll write more about my inspiration soon.
The river is being painted mainly in transparent glazes, using medium, while the upper foliage and sky is being painted with mainly opaque paint and less medium. All the rest is mix of both approaches. Some parts of the edge of the river are reminding me of the work of Paul Cézanne, of who I am big fan. Although interesting to see this quotation appear it was not intended and is probably a direct result of the big brush strokes and technique that I am using at this stage.
I’ve continued to work up this painting but it is still early days. The full image is below. Very much enjoying a looser approach. Much of what I am doing is with glazes using a 50/50 stand oil, mineral spirits (solvent) mix.
I’ve just begun laying out an initial underpainting. It’s made up of several elements having begun with an image from photo of a river and large rocks, where we camped and swam last summer. Then I painted the images of tents that were hanging to dry (the blue) after that trip and the pencil pines which line one side of our back garden (top left). The figures were then added from my imagination. Whereas most of my work of the last years would have the figure grounded, I want these and all the other elements to be more like collage although with careful consideration of how they all fit together. As with my little experiment of the vase a few weeks ago, I would like to push the fracturing of the space further and the range of technique also. Hopefully this also gives the possibility of developing the concept and narrative a bit further.
I’ve used oils with a mix of 3/4 mineral spirits as the solvent and 1/4 stand oil although it was all done in a flurry so that ratio might have varied. Rather than just one colour, I used a limited palette of Raw Umber, French Ultramarine, Ochre/Raw Sienna and a cool red. These were what had been left on my palette, so not a lot of planning there. The river is fairly limited in colour but complex so a little colour helps differentiate the forms at an early stage.
This is the first time I have documented my process so it will become clear how many changes a work can go through. At this point I will begin working up everything apart from the figures and use a model to paint the figure properly once I am sure of the composition.
The two works above are a result of my new year’s decision to play for a period of time. I have enjoyed working in a more painterly, looser manner as I try to let go of what I was working on last year (Odd Nerdrum inspired space and textures) and allowing myself to breath new ideas into the work. These works are painted from objects on a little table I set up in the studio. In this case a vase, seaweed fragment and then a figurine.
I like painting from life, it allows me to paint what I see and I tend to do this more naturally and fluidly than if I use a photographic image. I don’t find myself second guessing the photo for colour, distortions or how space ‘would’ have looked. I know I won’t always be able to work without a photo but it really helps if I don’t.
The image of the vase plays with space quite loosely, allowing the objects to sit in the composition in an irregular way that is geared towards how the objects are perceived in space. The objects float in and out of focus, or become more or less painterly dependant on how they sits together overall. I would like to bring these qualities into my existing work although when I look back, similar elements have been slipping into the work for a long time as you can see in the three works below. Perhaps then, I am reverting back to what has been an interest all along.
This is where I do my work, it is my personal studio where I run to follow a little golden thread of an idea and then pour hundreds and thousands of hours into seeing it come into fruition.
As some of you know, I teach in our art school, Melbourne Art Class and administer it with Lauren part of the week. That is at another wonderful studio in Richmond. This studio here however, is where I hide, where I try and where sometimes, for a moment I see a glimpse of something wonderful.
I have always considered myself a private person and as you can probably tell from my website, I only like to show finished work. However, as I teach painting and drawing, I’ve become aware of how much I emphasise the need to understand the creative process with all its multiplicity of directions, its searching and its setbacks. I would like to open up that conversation a little by bringing you into my studio and showing you what I do. That means showing you some of the things I do that don’t work out, my little deviations and experiments. Hopefully, some of the technical knowledge that I teach will become evident in my own process.
This year, I will be painting three days a week, so I’d like to aim for at least a post a week about what is occurring in my practice. My focus will be on the process I go through to get to a finished art work.
At the moment you can see a Still Life on my easel. I have set up a little table in the corner, near the window which overlooks a narrow street. On that table I have placed various objects and I am experimenting with working from life but also collaging the image so that it is spatially ambiguous or at least, interesting. This ties in to my interest in perception and space. I’ll talk more about this painting as it develops.
I hope you like the black and white images, I’m using a fairly simple phone camera so the images looked much better in monotone.