It’s that time again, time to review the ~~ Artist Statement ~~, that most toe-curling of jobs – not least because its a rare person that enjoys writing about themselves, but also because you find yourself trying to condense years of work into just a few sentences, and because you really have to think about what you do (and why)…

As I was working today I found myself pondering what it is I do. I don’t mean so much the subject matter I paint, the inspiration, the materials I employ… More the processes that excite me, the little rules I can’t help but follow (or have to force myself to ignore) that make my work mine… It’s a way of disecting my work and looking at it afresh that I don’t fully employ, and I thought I’d explore it here (for myself as much as anyone else who might be reading)…

Texture

I can’t get enough of it. It’s just something I am drawn to. In the past this was in equal proportion to a love of vivid colour, but now my obsession with texture far outstrips my love of colour. All white and ten different textures? Devine!

By texture I mean simulated texture in painting and drawing (the different qualities of clouds, replicating drapes and fabrics, that smooth / grainy mash up that is snow, depicting water…) but also actual texture (dabs of impasto paint, the special fuzzy-matt quality of charcoal, smooth glazes, grainy paint media, adding collaged materials and found objects, embroidery…) and abstract and invented texture (clouds of tiny painted dots, stencilled and printed marks, scoring and scratching, wandering pencil marks, splatters…).

 Texture - Nicki MacRae Art

It was rather a eureka moment reasling I was obsessed with texture as it freed me. I has always struggled with highly representational work in any media as I felt I wanted to include every single detail. I couldn’t see the line where to stop and feel enough of an impression had been created. I realise now this was only a small part because I had some sort of disorganised observation method, or had a tendency to overwork, but actually mainly as I don’t just get lost in the detail, I revel and delight it in above the nuts of bolts of the rest of the composition.

Texture - Nicki MacRae Art


Randomness

I’m not referring to weirdness here, or trying to make my methods sound ‘wacky’, I mean random in the original sense of ‘following no pattern’.

I love any way of working that allows me to introduce an element of danger, of something that’s just outwith my control, something that might spring surprises and take the work in a new, unexpected direction – be that working outside, fighting in rain or wind, or working in rushed and fast way, letting watercolours mingle and mix, scorching paper or fabric, making dots so fast you can’t fully control where they land, using a worn out brush over a good one, painting with plastic bags, using spray paints in dangerous ways (make or break kamakazi detail adding), grottage / making rubbings through the work…

Randomness - Nicki MacRae Art

The Physicality of Painting

 Nicki MacRae, Artist

Really I should have been a potter, or a sculptor of stone, or a land artist… For something that can be somewhat of a dainty process (f you let it!), I’m rather preoccupied with the physicality of painting – the feel of paint on my fingers, the way it moves about in globs with the brush, sanding, scraping, moving my body around in large gestures when making big paintings… Not only that, but I guess any type of process in making work that involves the physical, the tactile, expending energy – taking photo’s in stinging hail, ripping fabric for collage, collecting things on the beach – gets me fired up.

I don’t have the greatest relationship with my body, it naturally veers to the portly if I don’t watch what I eat, I’m rather short and I didn’t develop a lifelong love of sports as a child. I suppose, in an odd way, making art in a physical way allows me moments of feeling in harmony (or perhaps in control of) my body… And of course it’s fun!

 

Decay

I love faded, moss-covered, cracked, peeling, weathered, graffitied surfaces… Playing cards with turned up corners, piano keys with finger wear, mirrors with age spots, dirty signposts, bubbling rust, gateposts turned veiny with rot… I guess this partially comes back to texture, partially back to randomness, and also links in with the joy I find in the sense of the passing of time, history, stories in objects, objects linking to social history…

I love the subject matter so much I collaborated with my good friend, photographer Gavin Hookway on on a whole body of work / exhibition on it, called ‘Ruin’, in 2012.

I like to recreate destructive processes when making work – sanding paintings, scraping through layers of wet or dry paint, ripping up old work to collage into new work, abandoning work to the rain or fire…

Decay - Nicki MacRae Art

I’ll keep thinking, I’m sure there are more…

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