Viv Martin: studio work











Flower Power Project Plan - August 09  


The project is documented in five phases after each of which a reflection and review of progress lead to a revised plan. The phases are:
Phase 1: June – end of July 2009
Phase 2: August – mid September 2009
Phase 3: late September – early November 2009
Phase 4: mid November – mid December 2009
The Phase 4 reflection led to an unexpected Phase 5 which completes this project and looks forward.


To focus and challenge my practice by taking only one of my images and using it as a vehicle for experiment, to reduce the extent to which I predetermine the outcome and increase the extent to which I develop questions that can only be addressed through studio practice. To this end, I will explore the potential for the idea based on clustered flowers to develop into an image that references relationships between the individual and the collective, achieves a balance between chaos and form and that commands its own space.

Studio research objectives

  • To explore the idea of clustered flowers, building on the woodcut of the hydrangea head but exploring the potential of other materials and techniques as appropriate;

  • To explore the tension between detail and generalisation;

  • To explore the tension between realism and abstraction;

  • To explore the tension between mark and space;

  • To explore the tension between line and tone;

  • To explore the tension between large and small;

  • To explore positioning of the image in space;

  • To explore the illusion and development of 3D appearance;

  • To review, select and discard from these experiments to identify directions to pursue;

  • To learn from this period of practice in order to inform planning, action and learning in practice for future practice;

  • To document the process and the learning.

These objectives are intended to propose ‘What if?’ questions that offer a direction and challenges for studio practice rather than providing boundaries or limitations. Answers to these questions can only be researched through practice and there may be many possible answers to each question.

Process and timescales

The process is a cycle of:
Select and discard
Several different pieces of work are in progress and at different stages in the cycle at the same time, but there are planned review periods. This process is a form of Action Research and reflects the Kolb Experiential Learning Cycle.

Background and context

In my previous work, I had been trying to develop bodies of work around a theme. These collections consisted of small painted studies, larger paintings and often an etching and a relief print. I began to realise that although it was interesting exploring an image in different media, it was not surprising me very much or taking the original idea any further.

Since 2008 I had mainly been making etchings but had also made some relief prints with card or lino. I learnt to make Japanese woodcuts and began the series of woodcuts to try to break away from previous practice habits, by using a medium that was unfamiliar and that forced a new approach to mark making. I began to use chine colle with the prints and found that I did not have enough choice of texture and colour in found materials (for example, Japanese tissue), so I started to paint my own chine colle papers.

I was also researching the use that printmakers made of websites, thinking of developing one that was different from my shared Martin Studios one (  and I noticed how many artists were mixing printing media (e.g. using silkscreen with etching or relief print) to achieve more complex images with different types of marks. I was familiar with Jim Dine’s printmaking and had seen some of Howard Hodgkin’s recent larger etchings and wanted to develop my approach to make more substantial pieces of work. I also found several good examples of artists recording their work as projects and writing up their project reports as part of their websites. I wanted to explore size in printmaking, both by working smaller and larger, but I was frustrated that the printmaking techniques that I was familiar with seemed to restrict the size of my work to the availability of presses. I thought that size might be important in developing work that is compelling.

I was particularly interested in trying to approach my work as a series of projects with planned reflection and learning periods, because this is a form that I use in my educational practice and I have been hoping to bring this closer to my fine art practice. I hope it will allow me to shape the direction for periods of studio practice and also identify periods of reflection. I have also tried to set objectives that pose ‘What if?’ questions that can only be answered through studio research. This approach will therefore explore a way of recording practice as research.


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