Is art like popcorn?

Do you prefer salty or sweet? Or, as we do in this house, do you like to have a mix of the two, (with the sweet at the bottom of the carton obviously!)

This analogy makes me think about my paintings. 

Firstly, to really appreciate the one you have to compliment it with the other. Recently, I have been taking a course, Spark, by the artist Nicholas Wilton. He has been so inspiring and has brought up many different ideas over the weeks. The one topic he raises that I really mull over is the power of difference. How our eye only appreciates one part of the painting if it is different from the other. If everything in the painting is tonally similar it does certainly produce an effect, but then how powerful to introduce a contrast – a difference – to ‘spark’ one’s engagement. I have been playing with this recently – adding citrus tones to my work. So far, I am happy with this new element. I am adding new flavours to the mix.

Secondly I have always leant to making my art “pretty”. I remember in art school having this discussion with one of my tutors about why I felt the need to prettify and he asked me to try and have the confidence to stop before that process began. To realise that I didn’t need to spoon feed the viewer.  Rather, a work that challenges you initially will only entice and draw the viewer in further. To offer something too “sickly sweet’  (popcorn theme!) on it’s own, in my opinion, is not giving me enough bite.

Finally, when I have a bad week in the studio I have realised that this is part of the journey and that I need to go through this frustrating period because there can be no “good” work without this period of mistake-making ‘bad’ work.  I heard this theme being discussed in the Art Juice Podcast (Alice Sheridan and Louise Fletcher’s weekly podcast) and this really rings true to me. Again, another way that making art has it’s see-saw process. If I don’t spend 14 days sitting under my table pushing paint around hopelessly then I might never reach a point when something fabulous happens – or if it did happen,  I am not sure I would appreciate it!

So, next time I am in the cinema I will savour our carton of mixed popcorn in the knowledge that salty and sweet sit beautifully together.

Thank you for taking time to read! Love

Katherine xx

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About katherine palmers-needham

Katherine Palmers-Needham is a Berkshire-based contemporary abstract artist. For over 20 years, she’s been producing custom pieces with a focus on colour, mark making and surface textures. She has extensive experience working to briefs for clients and agents and is available for commissions. Her works are show – cased across the UK.

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