The painting for the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Daedalus Ward - for dementia sufferers - is entering a new phase.. This time I am adding texture to the work. It is understood that some patients come into the ward in crisis and can be very distressed - hence they may prefer to pace up and down the corridor where these pictures will be hung. So... the work will have various types of texture added to them, so that the patients can touch the work if they wish. It is hoped that members of staff can engage the patients with some sort of sensorial experience whilst pacing the corridor, and then explore the patients thoughts and possibly reveal memories in some way through touch, sight and discussion of the paintings as they perceive them.
As we look at things and live our every day lives we can see metaphors, memories and emotions through smell, taste, sound and sight. How often do we hear a song that reminds us of earlier days of our lives or special events - how often does eating a sweet instantly take us back to our childhood times.. (licorice cuttings in my case!!)? So as I develop the paintings there will be some things which I hope will do just that for you. Some elements are designed to be subtle and subliminal. By looking at the processes and seeing all seven of the paintings coming together in this blog, you should be able to understand the deeper elements of what may appear to be simple structures and ideas, but will also give you some insight into how creativity may reveal elements of dementia and its treatment. I am a great believer in creativity - not simply as therapy - but as a diagnostic tool that can show specific directions in a persons disease, whether that be dementia or cancer for example. .. But that debate will be discussed more in a future blog. So let's look at the next process of this first painting- the orchard in winter...
So.. I start by adding texture medium - small plastic beads set in PVA. This is painted onto the canvas and left to dry. (Fig 1)
Putting on the texture medium is really good fun - and you can follow the shapes and forms of the objects in the composition. It adds another dimension to the work - bringing the foreground objects more obviously to the front of the canvas plane. Other areas where I have not added texture makes those objects recede into the mid-ground and background of the canvas plane.
Then I start to look at my research drawings and photos of the orchard. I don't usually like to work from photos - but this work has a specific purpose - as this is an imagined landscape with elements of my 'experience' of the orchard, rather than simply a figurative observation of the orchard.So I start to look at my memories of my visits (so far in both winter and spring) and recollection of the textures on the tree bark (Figs 2 and 3).
Figures 2 and 3
So I take thick acrylic paint and apply it to the tree objects in the painting. All the time thinking about the textures of the orchard, and the inspiration of the place. (Figs 4,5 and 6)
Figures 4 and 5
The work starts to take on a life of its own, and trees start to develop their own character. (Fig 7)
So the basic structure and some of the texture is now complete - and now further details and colours will be added to this painting. There are lots of further small branches and possible buds to form - snow and grass and mud to add...
But in the meantime - I have to go back to the orchard, as it is now in fruit and I need to see all those little apples growing on the trees!! - and there's a nice farm shop and a lovely country pub nearby!!!