Finger painting rocks

Tonight is the preview for the 2023 Fronteer Open and I’m proud to have a painting included in this exhibition.

 Vibrant oil painting of Ilkley cow and calf rock formation with blue sky and clouds

Promise – Ilkley's iconic cow and calf rocks bask in the sunlit promise of summer days. This finger painting celebrates the connection I feel to land and skies. It's an expression of courage, possibility and feeling at home in Yorkshire. It’s also a celebration of my creative journey.

Did you enjoy finger painting as a kid? I’ve always loved finger painting. I was a messy kid and being told I could paint with my fingers was simply grand. I couldn’t figure out why they stopped offering it as an activity as you moved up to the next class.

Because my art is very intuitive, as a grown-up artist, I often find I need to feel the mark I create. So finger painting is often a part of my work. It enables me to connect with the painting. 

As young adults we pick up all sorts of silly judgments. Very early in my art career, I was temporarily back in South Africa and had a conversation with a gallery owner who said they could see that I sometimes painted with my fingers. I was mortified. How did he know? He’d only seen a few photos of my work and back then I primarily used brushes, except for the odd intuitive gesture. 

I didn’t have the confidence in my work then to own this part of my process. Imposter syndrome took over: I’d been found out. If I were a real artist, I’d use brushes and palette knives, not cheat with my fingers.

Now it’s time to celebrate. I’ve fully embraced that finger painting is often a big part of my process. It might be the way I connect with a blank canvas at the outset of a project, putting my feelings and the music I’m listening to onto the surface to create a base. Or, it might be the way I map out proportions to get an idea of composition and space. Or, it might be the way I feel the movement to create a dancer, making sure I don’t overwork the figure. Or, it might be a little detail I add to confidently accentuate movement or light or colour.

Or … it might be the whole painting. I’m really proud of this Yorkshire landscape because it is a finger painting. The limited belief is gone. The joy is in the process. 

The Fronteer Open runs from 1–18 November at the Fronteer Gallery in Sheffield. Pop along and have a look for yourself.

Flyer for Fronteer Open 2023 exhibition

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