Courtney McClelland is an emerging artist, interested in translating the way humans interact with each other by painting emotive, amorphous scenes.
Courtney is based on Gadigal land in Sydney, Australia. She engages with a variety of paint media, using paint stains to generate bodily compositions that she layers using both thick textural marks and soft glazes into large, amorphous scenes. Her often large-scale paintings negotiate between figuration and abstraction. Creating impressions of bodies in spaces, her works step into a liminal, psychological space that are a response to both the paint on the surface and the social conditions around her, responding to themes of social ritual, intimacy and community.
- My Graduate exhibition at the National Art School
- Being awarded an exhibition at Australian Galleries
- Moving into my first studio
What medium do you work with, and why have you chosen them?
I have always been drawn to painting. I use a mixture of acrylics and oils and a variety of mediums to create a thick, layered, textural surface. I love the bodily and organic suggestions that paint can create without using defined forms. Paint also allows me to constantly edit the work and it’s exciting that a painting can go through so many stages after a few months in the studio until it finally comes together. I love the immediacy of painting and how I can generate a moment between figures using colour, shape, and texture.
How does your artwork get from initial concept to exhibition stage?
My paintings are often heavily layered and are worked on over a few months, with some afternoons of energetic painting, and a lot more time looking and deciding what my next move is. When I start a painting I stain the canvas with a thin wash and look for a composition in the shapes it forms. I work intuitively but am almost always drawn to finding an image of a group of people together in some form. I love evoking moments of contact between bodies, whether they are tender or harsh and creating a scene around them. To complete a work, I aim for my figures to be distorted and indeterminate, opening the image to be more about the psychological and spiritual sensations of being a human existing in a body and a community.
Can you tell us a little more about your creative working environment/studio?
I moved into my first studio after art school at the beginning of this year. Being in a shared studio space with a lot of artists who have had longer careers than me has been really helpful. I work on several paintings at a time, learning from each of them as I go. I like to be surrounded by my paintings, being able to look around at them and make sketches in my downtime. Music, podcasts with artists and time in the park across the road are all very important to me for a successful day in the studio.