30 June 2017

HOME – a painting collaboration with Celia Sage

Born & Bred & Bored & Dead
by Milé Murtanovski 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Home Away
by Celia Sage 
24" x 24", collage and oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Where the Heart Is
by Milé Murtanovski 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Home Builder
by Celia Sage 
24" x 24", collage and oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Always on My Mind
by Milé Murtanovski 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Home Range
by Celia Sage 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Conform or Be Cast Out
by Milé Murtanovski 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Homemaker
by Celia Sage 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Scarberian Rhapsody
by Milé Murtanovski 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]

Home Made: Squall Shadowed Hills
by Celia Sage 
24" x 24", oil on canvas, 2017
[Phase One]


==============================================
=====================================
ABOUT the HOME PROJECT

You can scroll down to read the lengthy description in the Origins section below for more details, but here's the gist of this project:

Celia Sage and I each painted five paintings on the theme of "HOME," then we traded pictures and painted over half of each other's work. The final ten paintings will be shown in August at the House of Falconer in downtown Picton alongside photos of their original versions.

This post is now being updated regularly with the original ten paintings, one at a time, then, after the exhibition, the new "hybrid" final versions will all have their own post.



Opening reception is on August 1 at 7:30pm.


==============================================
=====================================
ORIGINS of the HOME PROJECT

Up until now, all of my personal painting projects have been solitary endeavours where I come up with the ideas and images, and then I paint by myself, and that's that. And I like working like that. But I have long envied the collaborative nature of other art forms (specifically, music, theatre, and film) and I wondered if I'd be able to make something like that happen for me with painting (I know others have done so to varying degrees, but I need my own thing).

First, I needed a suitable project; this wouldn't simply be a show by two painters –we'd have to actively make the final product together in some way. Sure, I could "jam" with someone and do a bit here, they do a bit there, simultaneously on the same canvas, but I find the end result of that kind of effort too random and unfocused, compositionally –I need more control over the final images.

I had one idea for a project that could be adapted to a collaborative version, to wit, we each would create the same number of paintings on the same theme, trade them when they were done, then we would paint over half of each other's original paintings with a "response" to what they'd done, working within the same theme as before.

That sounded like a perfect project for me and a willing cohort: weird, exciting, challenging, and potentially mildly controversial (we're painting over another artist's work!). All I needed now was a willing cohort...

And the first person that came to mind was Celia Sage.

I'd admired her paintings since I first moved to PEC in 2010 and in my many conversations with her about art, I felt that, not only were we on the same page concerning a variety of art topics, but we were in the same paragraph. Her work is of a high calibre and not too dissimilar to my own, but still very identifiable as hers, so our respective styles would complement each other well for this project. So there was no short list; there was only Celia. If she wasn't into this project, I would have then had to make a list of people to ask. I approached Celia in late 2015 about this and I was very pleased, but not surprised, when she agreed to participate in this weirdness. I trusted her to give me great paintings to work with and also to do great stuff with my paintings.

We initially planned for an exhibition in 2016, but our already busy schedules dictated a later date would be best and a longer gestation/production period would give us the opportunity to make the best work we can. We talked with Alex Fida about a show at the House of Falconer in August 2017 and he was happy to accommodate us.

PROCESS

We met a few times to discuss potential themes and specific parameters: we would each paint five 24" x 24" paintings, primarily oil on canvas (but other media could be used as needed/wanted), then we would cover up exactly half of the other person's work for Phase Two. This division could only be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal –for simplicity; it would be too complicated to scatter our half all over the painting or do it in quarters or whatever.

For this initial collaboration I felt keeping it as simple as possible was best; I like working within strict limitations/guidelines and seeing how far I can push the boundaries –after all, we could mess around with other divisional/conceptual permutations on future projects. Other than those guidelines, I wanted her to feel absolutely free to paint whatever she wanted/needed to.

After whittling down an already rather short list, we agreed that "HOME" was a good universal theme that would give us lots of leeway for interpretation and images. The theme might have been a bit too universal as the challenging part of Phase One was limiting ourselves to only five paintings!

We kept our ideas a secret during this phase because I didn't want us to influence each other in any way (perhaps a painting I was planning was too similar to Celia's, I'd maybe reconsider doing it, or she would see I hadn't covered a certain subject, so she'd feel like she might want to, and so on).

PHASE TWO

By February 2017 Celia and I had each finished our five paintings and met at Small Pond for the trade...

Celia paints around to her edges;
I paint my edges black.

Now, let me be absolutely clear: I had no doubts about asking Celia Sage to collaborate with me on such an unusual project...but IF I DID...if I had even the faintest whisper of a ghost of a shadow of a doubt...it would have vanished as soon as I saw her five paintings. Celia delivered work with lots of variety, interest, and beauty (as I knew she would), but what I didn't expect was that our paintings had some key elemental similarities that it looks like we'd planned them!

In a theme as universal as "HOME," and having only five paintings in which to explore that theme, some similarities are inevitable, I guess...but some of ours were uncanny: we each painted family members; we each used one word as a prominent design element; we each have floating objects; we each have some kind of surreal landscape; we each have a sort of map element; while the overall group of ten paintings is quite colourful, we each have a rather limited colour palette within the individual paintings; and, rather than taking an objective, conceptual approach to the theme, we both went with a highly subjective, autobiographical approach.

I know that painting over Celia's beautiful work is an integral part of this project, but it took me a long time to get up the nerve to tape off and "delete" half her work with white gesso.

Phase Two wasn't about using pre-planned ideas or ideas left over from Phase One; this time we had to take into consideration what the other had painted and respond to that while staying on-theme.

Stay tuned for more Process and the final paintings from Phase Two after the show in August...


No comments: