The work from the exercises on utensils were successful and I liked the way the light reflected from the aluminium surface and wanted to focus on this for the assignment.
Collection with knife, fork, spoon and a flipper.
The shadows, reflections and surface were key elements that stood out to capture. I explored sketches of the composition. Then I explored the use of enamels on aluminium.
I started with black and white enamels and found the best approach was to paint like watercolour, with thinned down black leaving the metal for highlights. Blurring the paint at the edges proved to be a challenge partly because the enamels found their own resting point which creates a sharp edge. Going back over the paint later to blur the edges changes the surface with an undesired result usually. Need to look at painting white first and then use very thin enamels overtop like have done using acrylic. The use of ink creates extra depth with the ink reflecting more light and pushing the enamel paint forward.
Detailed reflections on the spoon/flipper draws you into the painting and makes it more realistic compared to the the closeup without background and reflections. Without these reflections and background details the closeup became more abstract and flatter and more effective at this scale. This close up of the fork spoon knife uses negative space to draw attention to the form creating a good relationship. The bare aluminium makes them stand out and adds drama to everyday objects with the spoon taking centre stage. Without any context in the background or reflections makes it feel flatter more abstract at the same time I’ve tried to make them feel real with simple tonal changes reflecting the light.
Using PVA can help to mask highlights however its not very accurate. It can be painted over giving interesting surface with a little distortion.
Collection fork, spoon and chopsticks
The idea of curating the collection to contrast chopsticks against fork and spoon like Fred Wilson’s mining the museum could add something interesting and relate to me personally. Angling the light to create exaggerated shadows added another interesting dimension to show the form and show another perspective.
I needed more from other artists so I looked closely at Geraldine Swayne and Clare Woods. Clare Woods used oils to show the form from a fluid flow of brush marks. The painting Daytime Despair 2014, oil on aluminium, 150x200cm comprises of 2 paintings of different things in the same style and linked by a continuation in background. Both focus on something of interest, the left less clear the right the feeding of a bird in a nest. Both are flat yet 3D with the foreground standing out over the pale background with expressive strokes in oil on aluminium. Colour is bright, muted and calm. Foreground is more controlled than the background which seems to be more animated. The title suggests this is not necessarily calm or content. My understanding is the left is a pile of receipts which is more mundane work to do and the right is a bird feeding a much larger bird which seems unnatural. The negative space is used to show the form. The darker warmer colours used on the bird draw your attention and creates depth over the background. I found the work by Geraldine interesting but I could not see why her technique would be appropriate for expressing the utensils.
Whereas Geraldine’s small enamel painting on metal (6x10cm) 2017 is about capturing an intense facial expression through contrasting strong tones and colours. This portrait immediately draws your focus on the eyes and mouth before moving up to the hair and down past the ears. Theres a mix of strongly painted marks and some less controlled thinly painted marks over the top. The background has been painting over to give a clean edge and without features so that the portrait takes focus. The size of all her work is on the small side which really focuses you in on the detail, demanding a closer look.
I’ve had difficulty applying most paint other than enamel to the unprimed aluminium so I’ve purchased some pre-primed aluminium and also some transparent gesso. Oil paint was the the best at showing the brush marks in one stroke and anything on gesso the worst because it became too absorbent. However the unprimed aluminium still enabled me to paint slow purposeful brush strokes to create form which also created a relationship with the negative space.
The closeups of just the fork created interesting shapes but I felt it was becoming less a collection of items. This could work if I’d focus on the reflection of the collection in the fork surface.
Looking at the collections with many chopsticks led me to focus on the shadows which created interesting shapes. The use of gloss on the shadows adds too much reflection to the painting. Placing the spoon from another photo on top like in an earlier exercise did not stand out because it was too dark relative to the background which also has a lot going on. The background could be more about the shadows which can represent the chopsticks without painting the chopstick, this would allow the spoon to be painted over.
Moving forward, Claire Woods approach feels to be an appropriate response to apply because it encourages me to not be so realistic and focus on the form and composition and use of negative space. I would need to look at the use of brush sizes to ensure the scale is appropriate.