Stephen Riley: 'I Can I Can't' - in its latest guise.

In the studio: Mossley, Tameside, Manchester, October 2013

Work in progress....
In the artists' studios at Woodend Mill in Mossley, work on various paintings continues. This photograph – one done just on the phone, so don’t get too excited about the quality! – is where I reached this week with what used to be ‘I Can, I Can’t’.

The earlier version had a much lighter ground, which I felt did not work. Some work had been done on that by last month, but how there has been more darkening and more attention to detail. The asterisk shapes have now been scratched out and repainted several times and have a kind of lived-in quality. Decisions are about relationships between groups of colours, between the tightly delineated areas and the more fluid ones, and between areas which might look to be on the surface and those which might have hints of space and shape in 3-dimensions in the finished artwork. These are recurrent themes. The painting evolves.

Interestingly, I was talking to students this week about the ways artworks of many kinds (including novels, screenplays, paintings etc.), can start without any clear idea of where they’re going: the artist/writer/author/auteur etc. discovers as s/he goes along. This in turn was a part of a conversation about identifying ‘intent’ in an artwork: how can we know what the artist intended, when the artist him/herself did not know and only found out what the work was about by doing it?