After many years of using different genre, tools and media to express what I was feeling I have found a practice I love. I have painted abstractly for some time but was still dissatisfied with the results, partly because I found the process too quick to feel I had truly contributed to the work. Before covid hit I was already experimenting with new media, having used mostly watercolours, and I took the opportunity of lockdowns and fewer exhibitions, to step back and think about what I wanted to achieve with my work. Without doubt I knew I wanted to express my feelings about my life and my environment but in a way that was authentically me. There was work by other artists that excited me, and that I admired but I did not know how to achieve what I wanted. So I started to play, and have fun. I have filled numerous sketchbooks! I also took several enriching courses over the 18 months and have found techniques and ideas that allow me to reveal what I want to express in a way that is satisfying and most of all fun.
These multimedia paintings use layers and layers of collage, ink, paint and other media to build up a deep history of marks and stories. The paintings take many hours of work over several weeks because each mark is in response to the previous mark, each layer is built up in response to the previous layers. It can take time to reflect and intuit what the next move should be and is a fascinating and enjoyable process. Glimpses of multiple previous layers are visible on close inspection, allowing the story of a painting to show through, and ensuring that all the history and previous layers go towards the whole. There always comes a point where you step back and think it’s ruined, it looks dreadful, but with a deep breath, carry on, and it is saved.
David Mankin – “I want to translate not just what I see but what I feel about what I see. This is abstraction: how you express the feelings about what you physically experience”.
Reflecting life, we are all made up of a multitude of layers, some near the surface are obvious, some show through if you look hard enough. Many are hidden and covered and never seen again.
My paintings, often done in a series, reflect how I was feeling at the time of painting. This may be a response to my external environment, many of my paintings are influenced by daily walks along the coast of Portsmouth Harbour where I live. Equally the work is driven by my internal struggles and reflections as I unpeel layers of myself.
Whilst I may have a mood or a subject in mind, and I do choose a colour palette, after that my painting is intuitive and driven by fun. Each layer is put down in response to the previous marks and colours, without thought or judgement. I collage a lot of papers, either found or made, often using my own photography, and use a variety of tools, from household objects to found sticks or leaves to make the marks, as well as the more usual brushes, nibs and pens. Many of the marks are made with my fingers as that has always been a favourite ‘tool’ of mine for acrylic paint. One painting could easily comprise acrylic paint, inks, oil pastels, charcoal, graphite, acrylic pens, water-soluble crayons and more.
Each layer is sealed with acrylic medium, which adds to the depth and starts to bring the painting together as a cohesive whole, as well as ensuring the collage papers are well adhered. The final painting is sealed, and given two coats of matte acrylic varnish, which unites all the layers and maintains the deep texture and character of the finished painting.
The current tryptic series was created at a time of turmoil in my life when I was making some big life decisions and was feeling battered and bruised. The paintings reflect the vulnerability I was feeling when I created them.