For this contect I have chosen to examine my process is it is one of the most influential things in my practice, I will also look at some artists who use process art.
For my Second context I have decided to look at the history of abstract expressionism as this is relevant to the work I am completing.
The first context I have chosen to expand on that influences my practice is the physical environment in which I feel most comfortable. For me that means focusing on the West Coast of Auckland where I have spent most of my life. I am aiming to map the history of the West Coast and the history of Te Henga as this is the beach I have been closest to. The West Coast has a long and complicated history. I want to deliver a informative history without entering some of the more complicated tribal relations. I will also explore how this has influenced my practice and who I am as a practitioner.
History of West Auckland Coastline:
- Thirteenth Century: The first tribes from the Pacific had started to migrate into the west Auckland area. The two main groups who migrated to the area were the Ngaoho from the North and the Ngariki from the South.
- Fourteenth Century: The Ngaoho from the North were in control of the area. In the middle of the fourteenth century the famous Tainui waka was dragged across the portage between the Waitemata and Manukau Harbour. Once the Canoe had crossed into the Manukau some of the tribe settles in the West Coast while the Tainui continued up the coast.
- 1600’s: A tribe from Taranaki conquered the West Coast.
- 1650: The tribe had been established as the Kawerau and now they held all the land from south Kaipara to Manukau Heads including the Waitakere Ranges.
- 1700’s: Ngati Whatua, a tribe from north Kaipara began challenging Te Kawerau a Maki, and despite a lot of intermarriage between the two tribes the Kawerau tribe were pushed southward in their territory and subjected to a long-time period of domination. These wars lasted until the 1740’s and involved some very bloody and violent encounters.
- 1740’s: The Kawerau tribe were left alone in the ranges and Ngati Whatua left to conquer other arears of land. A peace was established on the cliffs of Te Henga and Kawerau lived in peace for a century.
- 1790: Kawerau had their first encounter with European culture when their northern neighbours introduced them to pigs and potatoes from visiting whaling ships. They also suffered an outbreak of Influenza brought by the Europeans.
- 1820’s: Te Kawerau a Maki were subjected to the Ngapuhi Raids. The Ngapuhi raiding parties were armed with muskets and seeking revenge on Ngati Whatua. Because Kawerau was aligned with Ngati Whatua this put them in harm’s way. They fought Ngapuhi at Karekare and Te Henga but did not fare well against modern weapons. The remaining survivors fled south to the Waikato and left the coast from Whatipu to Te Henga deserted.
- 1835: It wasn’t until this time that Te Kawerau a Maki returned to the coast. First, they returned to the shores of the Manukau before moving back to Te Henga, where they stayed and built a Pa to protect them against further musket attacks or raids.
- 1840’s: By the 1840’s most of the Kawerau tribe had had their first contact with the Europeans and majority of the tribe had been converted to Christianity.
- 1854: By 1854 the Kawerau numbered less than 100 people and owned only 3,000 acres between Piha, Te Henga and the coast towards Murawai.
- 1870: The tribe remained in possession of this land until the 1870’s. Happily having access to the benefits European civilisation bought.
- Next Twenty Years: Over the next twenty years the railway arrived and majority of the kauri forests of the ranges were milled. More land was sold off and the Kawerau were left with around fifty members at Te Henga.
- Modern Day: In modern times Kawerau now only own around four Hectares of land on the coast.
History of Te Henga (Bethells Beach):
Bethells Beach has been the most influential beach to my person and practice over the years as I have spent a lot of time there and in the Waitakere Ranges. This is a timeline of how the beach has evolved over the years.
- Te Henga was formed by the explosion of the volcano Waitakere. The combined explosions of Waitakere and Kiapara formed most of the West Coast and the Waitakere Ranges. Before the volcano exploded Te Henga was part of the undersea foothills of the volcano. After the explosion, the area was about a kilometre underneath the water. Over time sea levels dropped and the beach emerged to where it is today. After a while copious amounts of sand built up, trapping some fresh water sources and creating three lakes around Te Henga, Wainamu, Kawaupaku, and Waiataru.
- The name ‘Te Henga’ comes from how the beach looks from at sea as the dunes look very different from that viewpoint compared to on land. The shape of the dunes was said to resemble an upturned Waka and the word ‘Henga’ refers to the gunwale of a Waka.
- Te Henga was the main beach on the west coast that was occupied by Te Kawerau a Maki. They lived in the area for many years as shown in the above timeline about the West Coast.
- 1900’s: One of the major changes that happened to the beach was when the Waitakere dam was built in the early 1900’s. This meant the Waitakere river that flowed out at Te Henga became mainly a wetland and was no longer a navigable river.
- 1860’s: In the 1860’s European families began to settle in Te Henga. Most of the families that first lived at Te Henga still have family living there.
- Most of the land at Te Henga was owned by the Bethells family. In the last 100 years they started to offer holiday accommodation to friends and family and the occasional group pf tourists. Te Henga started to become more and more popular and the nickname of Bethells Beach stuck.
- 1976: The council made the name of the beach official, Te Henga (Bethells Beach.)
- 1930’s: From the 1930’s onward small parts of land at Te Henga were sold for housing. From this time, onward parcels of land have been sold. However, Te Henga has remained a very small community with a limited number of housing and has managed to prevent people from subdividing the land.
Bethells and the West Coast has been a personal influence on me since I was small. Growing up on such a wild coast and being able to experience the beaches and the bush in such a natural and untouched environment has made me appreciate nature in a very profound way. I often find myself drawing upon my environment as and influence for my work and have always been very influenced by water and I think that these influences stem from being able to experience these environments all of my life.
Arrival of The Tainui Waka – Canoe. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.kawhia.maori.nz/tainui-waka.html
backgroundrpt-part2-humanheritage.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/abtcit/ne/pdf/2011/backgroundrpt-part2-humanheritage.pdf
Discover West Auckland. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://westauckland.net.nz/
History of Te Henga/Bethells Beach. (n.d.). Retrieved November 20, 2017, from http://www.tehengabethells.co.nz/history-of-te-hengabethells-beach.html
These are my pieces for the final works I have decided on.
This is the final piece in my series of works. For the last work I wanted to explore on a larger scale so increased my paper size and incorporated a lot of techniques previously used. I also have made a small time lapse of my process which is shown below.
I created these works as a further but slightly faster iteration of the process and trajectory I have been on. These works are some of the works I have found to be the most successful even though they are slightly smaller. I have become very happy with the direction these works are heading in and feel as though my process has been very successful.
These were the first works I completed in watercolour for this project. As I was creating them it became clear to me that this was the best medium to be using. I drew inspiration from Heather Day and used more water than I ever had before to create splashes over the page. I used a palette knife for a lot of the spreading and brushes to help add colour. In the fourth work down I soaked the entire page before working on dam paper, to spread the watercolour in a softer way.
In a few of the drawings I have added mark making to the composition. I chose marks that for me represented some form of the environment that I was abstracting. In most of these pieces the marks represent how I have interpreted the surrounding plants or environment.
In each of these works I was very clear to myself about what I was creating and I think that this improved my work vastly. I tried to make what parts of my environment I was illustrating clear. In all of these works the blue represents the water in the river or sea and the surrounding marks represent the motorway bridge, plant-life and surrounding pieces of the environment. However, in saying this I wanted to keep my painting as abstract as possible and do not expect for the viewers to make the connection to those specific subjects. I was also thinking a lot about how the river made me feel and trying to channel those emotions into each work.
I am quite satisfied with these works and feel as though my process has taken me in the right direction and that I am nearly where I need to be in terms of what I am creating.
After my change in process and medium in the project I began conducting further research to help inspire me with how to go about the next stage of the project.
I researched Heather Day, Jaime Derringer and Michael Cina. These three artists were the mot influential and relevant to me. I also did visual grazing of other images.
Day has been one of my biggest influences in helping me move into this stage of work as her work parallels with the work that I am doing.
Day is an abstract artist that has created many of her works from influences and scenes in her environment. She often conveys emotions through colour and abstracts the landscape to form her works. She uses mixed media and a variety of non-traditional techniques to create large and small-scale paintings. Day often creates her work on site while travelling or brings her experiences back to the studio to paint, majority of Days wok is based on environments with water and most of her impressions are about the moods the water gives her and how she interprets the landscape. This was hugely influential to me when I found this information as I was studying the patterns the tide makes and how this imprints on my feelings physically before abstracting those subjects.
I heard of Day through one of my lecturers’ and instantly felt drawn to her work. When I began to research he work and process I realised that I was approaching my project in a similar way, only just with one location and a different context.
I could draw inspiration from her work from looking at her different compositions and methods of mark making and painting. These helped to influence how I was looking at portraying my subject and environment.
Jaime Derringer is the first of the three and potentially the most influential to me after Day. Derringer is the found of the blog Design Milk, which I have been actively following for some time. I was unaware of her work as an artist until I reached this phase of the project.
Derringer uses shape and colour as a way of exploration in her works and often works using layering as a guide. She is a self-taught artist and practices part time along with running her enterprise. I have drawn the most inspiration from her series ‘Nebulae’, ‘Palm Springs’ and ‘Abstract’. Out of these three series I was most attracted to Nebulae because of the similar water colour style medium paired with layering and strong mark making. Derringer uses ink instead of watercolour, however I found the works relevant to my project in the aesthetic properties. Derringer uses a subject matter that is largely based on experimentation, with inspiration from electronic music, Japanese language, Sci-Fi and architecture.
Michael Cina is another artist/designer that has influenced these works. Cina mainly works in the graphic design industry and has built up an extensive career over twenty years in the industry, but in recent years has also branched into painting and has merged the two practices. While being interested in his graphic design work, his paintings grabbed my attention and interest. I found his abstract paintings to be the most compelling. Cina’s work is relevant to the first and second stage of my project because he creates works that have a lot of flow and paintings that have more abstraction and layering. Cina’s colours that are used in the works are encouraging me to branch out with the palette I am using and helping me to realise different palette combinations that work well together.
Cina does design work for the company Ghostly. These works are a pairing of his design and fine art practices. These are the works that I have found the most inspiring because while still having a fine art aspect they also hold the properties of streamlined design and effortless flow.
After creating nine canvases and exploring the acrylic pouring I decided it would be in my best interests to switch to using paper. The next works I created were a further exploration of abstracting my ideas further than I had previously and using a palette knife as my applicator. At this stage I began visually researching again (this is evident in the top half of my pinterest mood board.)
I fixed my colour palette to a range of blues and greens as I felt that these both represented the environment of the Whau physically as well as an accurate colour representation of the feelings and emotions I received from the Whau.
At this stage I felt that the project had become very colour orientated and that I was getting lost in the colour of the paintings and finding it difficult to create compositions and focus on techniques. I decided as a solution to create some new works in black and white until I felt confident enough to move back into colour.
These works helped me to center the uncertainty towards the coloured works I was creating. I found that they helped me focus on what techniques I could be using to create my other works. However, I also came to the conclusion that a large part of the emotions I wanted to channel into the paintings I was creating came through colours and that colour was essential to my work. I realised that I was finding the acrylic colours very overpowering and that I needed a softer medium. I am also not the most comfortable with using acrylic, making these works using acrylic paint has taught me a lot and made me much more comfortable with using the medium,
At this point I thought it would be a good option to change to using watercolours. They would be soft enough for what I wanted and also had a tactile relationship to my subject.
These works were the ending of the shift in how I was thinking about the project. I made the top work using a palette knife and differently mixed paint colours. i swiped the paint onto the canvas instead of pouring. I found that this worked well because it allowed some of the colours to recede and some to advance in the frame. I found that the way the paint spread over the canvas also appealed to me. It was a more abstracted version of the feeling of the tides and I found that quite an intriguing concept.
The middle work is the last poured work I have created. I used a method of a flip cup and adding normal paint on top. I then tilted and helped mix some of the paint with my palette knife. I then continued repeating these steps until I was happy with how the pour was sitting. In my opinion this is my most successful pour out of all of the poured canvases I have created. It was not enough to keep me convinced on continuing in that direction but I was very pleased that the amount of practice I had enabled me to create a fairly successful pour that communicated the emotions and patterns I had been trying to create. These are some process photos:
I created the last canvas work by collecting the leftover paint from the last three paintings and dripping it onto the canvas while the canvas was upright. This work didn’t turn out as I expected, however, I am happy I tried the technique so that I knew that it was not a work that I was interested in creating more of.
For the second series of work I decided to change my approach and try some different techniques. The first blue work is a dirty cup flip pour (when all the colours are in one cup, then the cup gets left upside down on the canvas for a few seconds before being lifted off.) I found this technique much more successful as it produced a very fluid and tranquil work. I discovered that a lot of the colours had mixed in the cup, resulting in the work being mostly one colour instead of blue and green. I didn’t have a big issue with this and decided to take note of what had happened for the future paintings.
The green work was another dirty pour flip cup with more colour then poured over the top and tilted. I found this work to be one of the most successful paintings I had created so far as it had a consistent colour palette and flowing patterns that resembled tides.
After creating the first five canvases I felt like this method of acrylic pouring, no matter how much I modified it, wasn’t quite conveying the impressions of the flowing, natural and tidal flows I was aiming toward.
After having a discussion with the lecturers about the feeling of the work and what I wanted to achieve I decided to approach a different method while still on a similar track. The next work I have created here is the start of the jump I made in a change of direction.
I decided that instead of pouring the paint I would drip/roll it across the canvas. This worked well because not only did the end version mimic water but in making it the process resembled natural waterways.
I found this work successful and decided to continue trying different methods and different colours and variations of paint.
Research on Acrylic and Resin Pouring.
I looked and researched different techniques used to create acrylic pours. How thick your paint is can factor in hugely to how the works emerge. I found this mix quite hard to achieve and am not sure I have been close to the desired consistency throughout my work. I chose to use a Liquitex pouring medium to thin my paint as that is what the best option seemed to be when I completed my research. This resulted in quite thick paint and I ended up using a combination of Liquitex and water. I am happy with most of the outcomes of the paint and have appreciated the challenge of learning how to mix the paints to the desired state and learning more about the effects of good quality paints and pigments when thinning paint.
One of the most popular techniques for creating an acrylic pour is pouring mixed paints straight from different cups and tilting the canvas to blend the paints together. You can then use a palette knife or popsicle sticks to help create patterns in your work. Another technique, called a dirty pour, involves putting all the thinned paint you are using for that canvas into one cup before upending the cup on the canvas. This method can help to create more cells in you work. Cells are little circle outlines of another colour that emerge over the base coat of paint. I wanted to try creating some of these as I found them ascetically pleasing and I had read that they are difficult and take time and practice to get right. To improve your chances of making cells and to help your paint settle well on the canvas it is also advised that you use a small blowtorch to torch any air bubbles underneath the paint. When these bubbles pop they can create cells. There are a few more methods I tried exploring, one of these methods is a variation of a dirty pour and is called a flip cup, where you let the cup sit on the canvas upside down before letting the paint out. One of the last methods used that I was interested in was swiping. the paint is poured onto the canvas and then swiped over with a palette knife, creating a more spread mix of colour and often producing cells and new patterns of overlaying and emerging colours.
These are some of the websites I used to help gain an understanding of the topic: