Monday, 11 September 2017

Thirty Days hath September - Day Eleven - Jaz's Thirty Days challenge

Hi all, Jaz here. While Ali is at SAA HQ I've hijacked her blog to bring you a little challenge I set myself for Thirty Days hath September. However, before I delve into that I think some context is needed.

As some of you already know I'm passionate about art and I have my own practice, although it's by no means as established as Ali's and slightly different. Here's some pictures to illustrate my point:


My work is very research-led and often focuses on new technologies and how the internet affects our visual language. I have very little agency in the making of my work and I usually use various computer programs to create it or I employ someone else to do it for me. It tends to be a slow process with lot's of thinking and writing. 

With this in mind, I decided my challenge would be to do the opposite of what I'd usually do; I would create a painting intuitively, quickly and with complete control.

I set up a still life using objects from around my house, choosing anything that took my fancy and then aranging and rearranging until it felt right. I took photos to test the compostion and lighting.


The problem this caused was I just wanted to photograph it. The lighting, colour and textures were very seducative and would've looked best in a technically sound photograph, but as I'm a photographer as well this wouldn't be the opposite of what I usually do.

And so, like many painters before me, I questioned what a painting could do that a photograph couldn't, and I settled on a very selfish answer; A painting meant I could paint, and I really wanted to. The last time I picked up a brush was during my A-Levels six years ago, and I missed the escapism you feel when you put brush to paper. There's also something romantic about painting on your own on a rainy day.

I was on the path of self indulgence, and the painting process reflected this. I drew what I wanted to paint and left out anything I didn't, and I used a very old mix of inks, some of which were my step-great grandfather's, the best neighbour I ever had. As the painting developed I enjoyed the gaps where I'd hestiated and moved on to another part, and I decided they didn't need filling. I love things that feel completed to the point of functioning and not elaborated with decoration. I think it stems from watching my dad fix things in the shed with odd bits and bobs, and it's one of the reasons why I love Ali's work so much. Her paintings aren't overworked and feel like they're moving. Too much detail can make something feel static.

I fumbled through the rest of the painting, and this is the result:

It's not groundbreaking or exciting, but it was a liberating and theraputic experience. I particularly loved adding the bronze part in the centre where I didn't want to add something in. I wanted to celebrate my selfishness with something big and shiny.

After years of contemporary art education I've built up a lot of rules for myself, and this made me realise how much they can squash creativity. I love academia and using my practice as research, but I should also continuing painting or drawing for the love of it. I'm going to start a new sketchbook just for myself (I had to write this here so I didn't chicken out).

I challenge you to be completely selfish with your next artwork. Put all your rules and preconceptions aside and create something where you call all the shots, and then enter it into the SAA Thirty Days competition:

(the SAA competition is for members only, you can become a member here:


  1. Jaz, Thank you so much, this is such an interesting blog, very different from my work and I'm happy that it has got you back painting again!

  2. Hi Jaz! Lovely painting... thank you 😉

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  4. Hi Jaz.....thank you.....great blog and an insight. Love your artwork and so pleased it has kick started you into painting again. Do let us know how you get on xx.

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  6. Hi all, Jaz here, thank you for your kind comments, I'll make sure to share any future paintings with you, most likely on the Downend Farm Studio Facebook page.