It has so far been rare that I connect to a painting that I produced quite as much as I did with Virtue: a light and ethereal take on a flock of doves.
I enjoy working on every painting, some I would keep for myself and some I couldn’t wait to show the world and allow someone else to connect. Hoping for others to connect with your artwork is a pointless effort, it can only really be seen as you would like, if you paint with the intentions of making yourself feel a certain way. Only then, maybe someone else can channel into its meaning or create their own. I love this about art. Production based from feelings gives a timeless result to the artist.
‘Virtue’ came together incredibly fast for a painting of its vast size but tricky and slight proportions. It is often the case that when working so close to a large scale painting, you can become lost in the finer details, only to be surprised by what you produced when stepping away. It can look entirely different after this few steps backwards. ‘Virtue’ was a moment for me. I had applied the base layer in yellow ochre, then gone straight in with a background, to set a tone. When I had sat at the easel to work on the detail of the birds at close range, blocking in the light and shade and pruning the details as much as possible for a good subject base. I had been working for an hour (listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers…) and stepped away to make a drink. I turned to look at the piece and although it was in its early stages, and wouldn’t look appealing to anyone else, to me it was my favourite thing I had ever produced.
I work with such variations of subjects from tigers to fish, aggressive to delicate. I see myself in my work of course, although I don’t know how I came to produce the work I do, it is clear to me that is a part of my soul that escapes on to a canvas. Within ‘Virtue’ I saw aspects of myself in the painting. Bizarre as I in no way resemble a flock of doves, but I just did, no further explanation necessary! I took to messaging other artists’s for their take on this and if they had ever felt the same. The answer was begrudgingly unanimous. Even in paintings or creations that were not made to be an aesthetic delight, artists often see themselves reflected back in their art.
It showed me that when you let yourself get mindlessly lost in a creation, you effortlessly transfer an aspect of yourself into the work. Its a wonderful thing, but not great if you don’t plan on keeping it for yourself… As much as I struggled to hand over ‘Virtue’ and agonised over keeping it for myself, the collection as a whole was missing a vital part. I wanted the collection to feature this piece as the whole message of The 21 Grams Collection was that it was ‘a collection ensouled’ and a body of work that I had let myself run away with. ‘Virtue’ embodied this, and only made sense within the collection.