TRANSFIGURE expresses my aim and processes in these works: to transform materials, marks and forms into more beautiful and interesting paintings and objects.

In the first stages of paintings made in this way, I might use processes such as: flowing paint; folding and pressing wet painted canvas; painting with a rag; chipping, distressing or breaking of dried paint layers; breaking canvas apart; printing or transferring from plastic to canvas; and collaging bits of paint together.

After the first stage of the paintings, often done on the floor, I have somewhat undefined fields of marks forms and colours to look at, and work on. The colours I choose are sometimes experimental juxtapositions, sometimes to evoke a season or place, other times colours (like ultramarine) that I find contemplative and universal. But these (broadly speaking) preliminary stage works show mainly forms and tones – the main way we perceive volume or objects or places…and these give mental space for / play of suggestion. The half formed, that might become.

Transfigured marks and shapes or groups or patterns of these, made in these processes, can evoke environments processes or structures in the larger world: for instance I find that:

  • Running paint evokes watery processes, landforms
  • Repetition can suggest layering of geological forces , or topography, or landforms
  • Mirrored or doubled forms that arise from printing or pressing a canvas together have a magical or reflective quality (water and dreams)
  • Straight edges or lines suggest direction purpose human construction
  • Scratches or tears might evoke destructive forces

As I look hard at the marks and forms, see what they suggest to me, I paint into or onto them, adjusting shapes or colours, and finally adding gestural brushstrokes, until they resolve into something with more evocative, with more possible visual meaning.

Working with the initial fields of marks and forms, I gradually resolve them into a composition that seems lastingly visually interesting, and if intended, could evoke a sort of place or a structure. What I make, what I see, usually reflects my abiding interests and reading about – in landforms, maps, archaeology, layers of history, natural processes, and urban development.

But I also am deeply interested in the qualities of the materials themselves – trying to take advantage of, and keep the final work true to, or not totally concealing, the processes and materials. For instance, a painting made by flaking and successive layering might resemble some thing in the world – but at the same time I want it to be able to be seen as an object made with flaking and layering. This was the main driver of the series of small cast abstracts that pay homage to paint, to the vessels that holds paint, and the different materials that can be cast in not quite replicas of the original forms – paint, builders’ glue, paper, transparent pearlescent film. To make these, I assembled (or collaged) objects to make moulds from this assembly, then cast other materials into them to transform each into a new painted object.

Winsome Spiller 2023

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