finding your mark

I remember my ex-husband Graham talked a lot about the need for artists to "find their mark." I think he meant by this that an artist needed to experiment with a lot of different techniques until they arrived at a "mark" that they knew was truly their own, and one that would sustain them for many years. 

I've been thinking about this idea lately, and thought that a good way to demonstrate the claim might be to document Graham's painterly marks in a chronological photo-essay of cropped details from the artworks of his that I have at home.

The first two images are details from a painting called Mapusaga (1996) produced when Graham was still at art school Auckland's (Unitec). Marks made with brush and stick.

These two works are from his Mistint series (1998). 
Marks made using a squeeze bottle and letting the paints bleed into each other.

Detail from Jungle Painting series (2002). 
Combination of brush work, dripping and bleeding.

Detail from Wish Landscapes (2005).
Marks exploring the sculptural properties of paint.

Painted sculpture from The Eternals (2007)

Detail from a collage produced during Graham's Doctorate in Fine Arts (circa 2008). 
Marks made with pastel and cut paper.

Detail from Lounge Room Tribalism (2010), Graham's graduate exhibition.
This is the point at which Graham found his mark. 
Look at the duck figurine on the bookshelf.

Now look at it more closely and you'll see that it is made up of a few loose patches of paint.

The same is true of the books on the shelf.

Close up, they almost dissolve into abstractions.

So does the vase of flowers on the table. Gorgeous!

I've found it really interesting to document the circuitous route that Graham took in his painting from the mid-90s to 2010 - that eventually led him back to good old brushwork on canvas. In the process he found his mark (or rediscovered it at least), and the joy of that realisation is present in every painted mark he makes. At least, that's what I think anyway.

I guess the reason I've been thinking about this lately is because I wondered if the same idea about finding your mark could be applied to crafting. I've worked with many different materials and techniques over the years - I've bound books, collaged, paper engineered and hand-printed on fabric and paper. I've baked cakes and bottled fruit. I've embroidered, quilted and appliqued. I've sewn clothes, bags and cushions. But of all the crafting activities I've undertaken, nothing has given me more pleasure than making my own felt.

There's something deeply satisfying about transforming wool into fabric with water, soap and friction.

When I'm playing around with felt I can see infinite possibilities for projects using different colour combinations, shapes, and thicknesses, and I can see art works, accessories and jewellery...

I think that maybe, just maybe, I have finally found my mark!


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