Tanya Raabe in residency - Week 3

How time flies when you’re having fun! I can't believe it's week three of my residency already.

The Summit has finished and left me with a wealth of images I want to paint, conversations to draw from and an overall feeling of an artistic philosophy that connects us over international waters. This is an exciting time for international artists with learning disabilities and their shared studios, and I see a quiet revolution going on in learning disability arts practice and the recognition of this learning disability art and culture in the mainstream.

I wanted to illustrate the summit, its artists, speakers, visitors, volunteers, tutors and international studios in a triptych panoramic painting. An ambitious feat you may think! But I also wanted to push the boundaries of my own practice and create a painting on a large scale. An opportunity not to be missed whilst in such a cathedral like space. So I set to the task in hand, to review my photos of the Summit, to start building an illustrated narrative to draw upon for my first panoramic canvas.

I set the photos on the floor in front of the canvas and with my pocky stick, very much like Matisse did in his later years when he became disabled and he used a stick to move around his cut-out collages, I poked the photos I wanted to use and my assistant Lorraine stuck them to the canvas in the position. A sense of what I wanted to paint was emerging. I set up the canvas ready to paint in full view for all to see the progress as it happens in the Aspire studio.

I want to emerge myself into the culture and philosophy of the studio so that I can learn about how other learning disabled artists approach their work without the use of the usual spoken word dialogue. I also want to learn through listening to conversations between tutors and artists that also seem to be seamless and sensitive to the artists’ needs, without influence of subject and contents. This I want to portray in my triptych too, in a subliminal level.

In just two and a half days my painting has begun to take shape quickly as I draw the figures on with paint and brush and think about my approach to the methods of how I apply the paint to reflect and illustrate the artists and the Summit. I want to keep a looseness about it, keeping the paint fresh and loose.

In this first canvas I place Project Ability’s internationally acclaimed artist Cameron at the centre of the piece to represent the host of the Summit. Whilst painting, I'm thinking about why and how we all came together and discovered common goals and artistic philosophies that bridge international waters, language and cultural barriers and how we can build on this to create a solid network that could feed and support our work in developing exhibitions and recognition of learning disability art in the mainstream. In week 4 I will be developing canvas 2 and 3 whilst continuing to paint canvas 1 in the Aspire studio, so I hope you can pop in to tell me how it's looking, in person or visit my Facebook and blog https://summitportrayed.wordpress.com/

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