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  • Writer's pictureGillian Holding

Iterative endeavours

Untitled mixed media on paper 90 x 125 cm

Since returning from Florida, I’ve changed a fair few aspects of studio organisation and practice.

In terms of studio set up, it’s involved a wholesale clear out to open up more wall space with clear sight lines for stepping well back and contemplating work in progress. I have a strong desire to eliminate all materials and tools not relevant to painting: the chop saw, sculptural and modelling materials, textiles and volumes of collage papers. Not to get rid of them completely, but just keep them somewhere else as and until I need them.

The studio space is now not just that of a visual artist, but very specifically, for the time being, that of a painter. Just because I dislike labels and am reluctant to define myself as anything doesn’t mean I can’t wholeheartedly engage right now with the practice of painting.

For the time being, the work is not being driven by any exploration of anything happening in this screwed up world. To the extent anyone wants a contextual underpinning, I would say these are paintings of anamnesis (defined in Wikipedia as “the idea that humans possess knowledge … and that learning consists of rediscovering that knowledge within us“) both in terms of how I paint and how through this I (eventually) make sense of my world.

My current focus is to take each work in progress each day as an entirely new surface requiring an entirely new painterly response. Push through and beyond the tightening and fear of ruining something after an initial, pleasing, rapid flurry of working. If something is “merely ok” then acknowledge there is nothing to be lost by radical transformation, and act on this.

This is simple but challenging. It used to be quite hard for me to radically rework an ok/reasonably satisfying piece. It was too easy to think piecemeal dabs would do the trick; but they never do, if it’s fundamentally merely ok. And even radical surgery may not change the “so so” nature of the piece. There’s a chance it may make it far less satisfying.

But there’s an eternal truth in life in general that you often need to take big risks to achieve big results, and once in a while, magic happens.

These are the most exciting studio moments.

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