14 May Process – Caroline Le Vine
“Every piece of work is an exploration; many are a battle. All try to reveal something of the human experience.”
Caroline Le Vine is a self-taught artist from the South West who lives in Frome, Somerset, and is one of our Core Artists here at Heart of The Tribe. She considers art to be an act of quiet rebellion against the dominance of the rational; for her it’s about understanding and connecting with the psyche and bringing the unconscious into the light. Her work is non-representational but she does not consider it to be directly abstract. Below she speaks about her thoughts on this and explains her creative process.
“The art I make is non-objective or non-representational. It is distinct from abstract art. Abstraction happens when an artist abstracts (takes out) elements of what they see in front of them (a still life, a landscape etc) and creates art from those elements – line, say, or colour or shape.
I don’t do that. My inspiration comes from within rather than from what I can see outside of myself. So, how do I get what’s inside me out and onto the paper, canvas or wooden panel?
Good question! And it’s not straightforward. I do my best to follow my intuition. I never plan. I just make a start, using colour I’m drawn to, using up leftovers from previous projects or making marks with pencils, charcoal, graphite etc. Sometimes I make gestural marks, letting my body or parts of my body (arm, shoulder, torso) express what’s there. If I’m feeling angry or bold, the marks I make will be different from those I make when I’m timid or tired.
Once I’ve got some marks and shapes in front of me, I have something to develop or respond to. And this is how I go on with the work: I make a move and then respond to what’s there; back and forth. And, gradually, something emerges that I can begin to grasp, that feels as if it holds some kind of truth. I probably won’t know what that truth is until much later, if I ever do. If you saw a piece at the beginning of its life, you wouldn’t recognise it as being the same thing that hangs on the gallery wall but it holds within its depth the energy from all the marks and brushstrokes I’ve made.
I follow a very organic process – not thinking, just following; exploring and making many changes until the piece satisfies something in me; until it feels like a part of me. This is not to say that I know beforehand what it is I want to express. I don’t. And I often don’t really know what a finished piece is conveying. I only know that it satisfies. I’m relying on my sub-conscious to guide me. I’m not expressing something I know intellectually so I can’t say it. It’s like groping about in the dark until something starts to take a recognisable shape. Towards the later stages, I will be aware of important considerations such as composition and value (the light and dark in a piece) but I find that my intuition will usually guide me towards resolving issues around these considerations, too: something will nag at me in a painting. If it doesn’t feel right or settled, I go back and do some more until it’s no longer nagging. Or I abandon it, often coming back to it after many months, probably to re-work it entirely, leaving nothing visible of what came before. It’s all part of the same process, really, just much longer!
When a painting is complete, it’s over to you. If you connect with something in it, if it generates a feeling in you, my job is done (even if it’s what you might experience as a ‘negative’ feeling). That’s all I’m after. I have no agenda to push, no desire to make you feel a particular emotion. I don’t have the power to do that, after all; they’re not my feelings, they’re yours. But we will have connected somehow. Something in me, via the painting, has touched something in you.”