Emily Jean Melville Little
2004-07-05: My approach to painting
When working, I prefer to keep intellectual questions out of my formal decision making as the process is more about feeling rather than being referential. A successful painting conveys meaning and evokes feeling through choices of, for example, colour, form and light, but these choices are the result of the highly intimate struggle between the painter and the picture plane.
As such, this art form often differentiates itself from other more ‘public’ forms of expression, where the relationship of the work to its ‘unknown public’ is vital to its existence.
2004-09-10: Art, process and tradition
Painting, like sculpture, can and does co-exist alongside the installation, the happening, video, photography and sound as a relevant art form, as a form which still has something to say and is still in some way about image making.
Everything contemporary has a past, just as undeniably as our inherited genetic patrimony makes us what we are today.
Today we live in the era of the image supermarket. We are constantly, perpetually bombarded. We can manipulate, enlarge, diminish, change, cancel everything at the touch of a button. While acknowledging these possibilities I personally feel that one should try to remain true to one’s path or ‘personal culture’ whatever that may be and continue to work through experiments, mistakes, errors, reworkings, doubts, flights of fancy and changes of mind, all of which make up what or who we are.
Art is about truth of some sort and one has to sacrifice things to get rid of the superfluous. Art which is only about process does not satisfy me.
2004-10-10: My work today
At the moment I am working on compositions made up of female figures. Together they create a solid assortment of forms which are very much tied to the earth. Although they are part of a single entity each single form creates its own impact on the space around it.
The mountains in Piemonte and the paranoic blocks of city flats have perhaps contributed to the ideas of form and space in my painting and sculpture.
Twenty years ago I would have said without hesitation Turner was my main influence. Today there are many people, such as Casorati and Bocchi, Pirandello and Sironi in Italy, Paula Rego and Blake in Britain, or Rosso, Marini, Arp and Frink for sculpture, all of whom I have taken some kind of inspiration from. This does not necessarily imply that my work resembles theirs in any way.
Additionally the theatre, its creation of a ‘magic’ space, its vitality and its suggestion of what is not visible is perhaps affecting my work in some way at the moment.
My landscapes and interiors are mainly collage and watercolours. This process is quite complicated and from a practical point of view involves creating two ‘palettes’: the preparation and colouring of the paper and the mixing, blending, superimposing and applying colours to the work.
Recently, a return to oils has given me the possibility of working with a reduced palette.
As I develop my sculpture however, which I tend to visualize in tones from black to white (and a garish red!), I have noticed how my painting is gradually freeing itself from a dependence on form, or rather that form is becoming pure colour.