Process or product?

I’ve been thinking about the excellent William Scott exhibition since seeing it at the Jerwood in Hastings last weekend.  It’s taken me a while to come around to Scott… I confess I’ve been in the grip of thinking that a painting ‘should look like what it represents’.

I’ve been hooked on trying to ‘paint what I see’… or actually- more accurately, trying to make paintings that look like my photographs.

I’ve attempted, for instance, to create the textured and layered effects of this photograph of a group of ceramic posts.  But time and again this approach proves to be completely unsatisfying because it’s driven by the end result, rather than the process.  And for me, the absolute joy of the photographic process is the exploration and experimentation along the way.

Scott was urged in his art school training to paint what he saw and not ‘what he thought he saw’… and I’ve heard and thought this numerous times in relation to my own efforts.  But what IS seeing?  Is it really just what the eye records?  Scott seems to have ‘seen’ through the filter of his experiences and his emotions.

I think it’s time for me to liberate myself from the tyranny of attempting to paint what my eye ‘sees’ and to try a different type of ‘seeing’ and in doing so focus on the process rather than the product.