Assignment 3 Monoprints

What is going to be the theme for the 3 monoprints?  Fitting into a culture was the theme from the previous assignment.   I could explore a continuation, expressing the differences in cultures or how I changed from arriving to current life and any changes.

Alternatively ‘being a father’.  Explore from my sons perspective by using photos of me taken by him.   I selected 3 photos, feeding his baby sister, playing with him, telling him to do something.   Interestingly these were not staged but more natural and I’m therefore seeing these as reflection of me being a father.

A similar theme could look at painting his sister from his photos.  Again I was liking the charcoal and finger painted approaches but not ink.    This is as much about the act of painting as it is the end result and the ink seems less physical.

 

I felt I’d benefit more from studying self portraits than that of my daughters mostly for practical reasons of getting enough time to practice.  I like the idea of using photos taken by my son to show his perspective of me being a father.

Feeding the baby

Looking to show closeness, comforting, quiet, warm and soft.  I’m thinking more muted colours, touch with the babies hand playing with my hair, soft light with no strong contrasts, relaxed, eyes closed.

 

My exploration involved looking at making the paint glow like Kim Baker (Baker, 2017) with layered, bright large brush marks showing the form on a dark background.    I liked the large sweeping brush marks and the way they simplified the form taking away any unnecessary marks I often make.   However the bright marks on dark is too intense for this subject.  I could try adding another layer or starting another with different strokes to get a different look but felt either was unlikely to be successful.

The red/pink painting created a more gentle feel but the brushwork is not clear, getting messy suggesting simpler would be bettter.

The blue brushed painting on aluminium felt like how I was intending except the cool colour didn’t feel appropriate.  Here the eyes draw the most attention and help show this more about comforting.

Including the babies hand was more a personal touch which relates to an intimate moment and associated feeling.  Whilst this is not necessarily relevant to my sons perspective it is something that did happen often in such moments and added subtle meaning.   On balance this may have come out too strongly in some prints.

The angle of the head in the photo suggested I should make the profile a feature of the print and start by removing the highlights with various things which I explored in the exercises.   Tissue for the face profile, old rug for the clothes and paint stick for hair.   Wiping away the profile proved hard to follow the underlying drawing and was always going to be less accurate and different each time.  In the first print I found a strange circle on the head caused by some material getting stuck under the paper whilst printing (I liked the effect and noted it to reuse later)

The prints on rice paper (which was very absorbent) looked asian which maybe because of the simplified eyes and light paint.   I kept the paint thinned to create a more subtle portrait in the same way little ink is used on Chinese paintings background.  Interestingly the ear looks like a tiny hand playing with hair and this led me to use the combination intentionally in some of the other prints.

Once I had prints of the other two portraits I started to see the choice of colour needed to fit in more ( a shade too red) when seen as a series.  Also looks like I’m concentrating on the phone.

Playing

Looking to show humour, playful and noisy.

I started with a painting on aluminium that had more likeness. This is probably the most likeness I’ve achieved but it felt too serious to be about playing.   The simplified paintings using Annie Kevans approach didn’t look like me and also didn’t feel fun.   I then changed to using my fingers and using primary colours.  This felt more playful both to do and the result.  Adding a hand to hide behind was also interesting and made me focus on the eye peeking through.   I found painting with my fingers and palm created greater connection with my face and the painting.   I’m finding the ink paintings tend to end up with me painting edges or lines in a way I’ve always done and unless I exaggerate something it lacks expression or feeling.    Charcoal sticks offered something in between where I could use my finger to smudge the marks.

For the print I wanted to capture a likeness following Annie Kevans (Kevans, 2016) simplified approach where the eyes and mouth stand out the most.   I like the composition with the portrait almost coming out of the paper, the direction of the brush strokes and lines of the clothes makes a flow along and around the length of the head.   Its clean.   The print made using kids paint and my finger lacked any interesting features or definition.   Using oils I used rubber gloves to paint with my finger which came out similar to the original paintings I’d done.    Whilst there is a personal element to using your finger the   Per

The final print held greater definition around the features like eyes and smile lines.  There is a more playful expression but the extra focus makes me look older.   Eyes take focus and the clothes looked better with less uniform creases and varying colour.  The darker marks on the neck helped define and bring out the face.

Talking

Looking to show full mouthed, expressive, defined features and high contrast, bold, authoritative, loud.   Mouth to standout (red on blue), looking down slightly.

An earlier exercise using charcoal dust led me to try using my palm to quickly make the first layer of paint before using my finger to paint key features.   This I felt created a strong image of someone making a point.

I used a small ball of material under the print paper (like the mistake in the feeding baby print) to intentionally capture my open mouth telling my son to do something.  The mouth now becomes the focus.   This also led to me smudging the lower part of my face. Whilst this didn’t look like me I found the gaze intense and direct and along the right lines.  I didn’t paint the glasses thinking I could paint them on after.

The vertical straight background print felt too calm and quiet besides being too faint.  I used paper which was not absorbent enough.  I painted this in 3 layered prints and the first had faint marks which didn’t contribute to the portrait making it feel less clean.

The next print felt louder and cleaner and as if about to say something.   I think the direction in the marks in the background help show something is radiating out.   The lips felt over the top and inappropriate for the portrait like I’d kissed it with the paint.  These 2 portraits were made by doing 3 prints on the same paper, layering different elements such as background colour, more detail, key facial features.   This worked ok and enables you to create dark strokes over light keeping them much cleaner that if painted in one layer.

I tried to layer a distorted portrait with large coloured strokes like Kim Baker’s flowers however it came out dull.   The marks not really helping to create form or expression.   I think the layering thinned brush work over any other paint would come out dull and not suited for printing in this way.

The distorted swirling print influenced by Yuko Nasu (Saatchi Art, s.d) looked asleep.  I do like the swirling patterns and perhaps could use to form a portrait.

The distorted face with a receding eye reminded me of a cloud blowing.   The framing of the face so close would not fit with the other portraits so I quickly discounted it.

Changing the background to a salmon colour helped make the cooler face project forwards.  Using the heavy weighted printing paper enabled the extra solvent mixed paint to bleed more especially around the mouth where I was hoping to achieve a pulled effect with something under the print paper.  This didn’t work as effective as the first time but I did get some interesting bleeding and blurring of the colours.   This contrasts well with the straight lined clothes and overall feels like I’m talking in a serious manor.

Final 3 prints

First a look at how artists have displayed their series of portraits.

Annie Kevan’s portraits (Rosen, 2017) show famous people (mostly historical) together as a collection with instant likeness.  The consistent emphasis on key features, hair and clothes with simplified strokes and colour provide a visual consistency that make who is in the collection stand out.  They are positioned equally with space between so that you can view each individually and that the collection is also important.

Yuko Nasu’s (Nasu, s.d) portraits are mixed with different emphasis, colours and level of distortion.  They are positioned very close, almost touching with just a small gap.  Its a bit like lots of people in a room with those crazy curved mirrors where everyone gets some part of their face blown up or shrunk.

Luc Tuyman (this is tomorrow, 2015) takes a more extreme approach compared to the others by displaying them on a brightly light white wall with huge amounts of space around each painting.    They have visual consistency of colour and style and subject and are small relative to the wall.    It seems the subject is on the depressing side and the space allows the viewer to feel and explore this better without being distracted by the next.

Chantel Joffe (Cheim & Read, s.d) gives each of her portraits (of various sizes) space, often a whole wall.

I think my prints are to be viewed as individual moments of being a father which is basically happy.  There should be sufficient space to feel each separately and relate to the next.   When comparing having no space between each and then with space I find no space is too much to take in, too overwhelming.   Giving each print space feels more relaxed enabling you to view each one whilst seeing them as a series in a similar way to Annie Kevan’s display (Rosen, 2017).   I find the talking print needs to lead from the left because it shouts the most and I felt its best to look from left to right.   Vertically is harder to view them although it reminds me of the photo print strips you get from the passport photo booths.  Vertical arrangement may have been more appropriate if my son was included and you get some surprise photos.

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Most successful print is the ‘talking’ print because it captures the expression and sense of saying something.   This print also has the most variety of marks such as the blurred mouth arising from the print lifting around a piece of rug placed over the mouth. Contrasted against straight sharp almost formal clothes.  The bold simple dabbed eyes and the neatly brushed hair.  The others have interesting marks and simple bold eyes but the marks are perhaps too conservative.   I wanted the playing portrait to appear louder more fun than the others or at least the feeding portrait and I feel this is not so obvious. The feeding portrait needed to be softer.

To develop this work I would like to look again at making the playing print more fun or humorous.   Look again at using some of the finger painting but applying in multiple printed layers with some brushed work, use of other body parts?    For the feeding portrait I could try a lighter background to reduce the profile contrast, then more exaggerated features in subsequent layer but lighter on the hair.   Having seen Luc Tuymans The Shore (this is tomorrow, 2015) I could try zooming in on key features of each moment such as eyes or mouth.   I did consider this but thought this would reduce the consistency in the series and often its more than the eye or mouth which is defining the moment.   Obviously I could look to extend this series by looking at other moments such as being tired.

References

Baker, Kim. (2017) Floral Landscape. At: http://www.kimbaker.co.uk/portfolio.php Accessed on:24/8/17

Cheim & Read. (s.d) Chantal Joffe. At:http://www.cheimread.com/exhibitions/chantal-joffe/gallery/installation-images Accessed on:12/9/17

Kevans, Annie. (2006) Shakira. At: http://www.anniekevans.com/girls?lightbox=dataItem-ijyuviy3  Accessed on:24/8/17

Nasu, Yuko. (s.d) Hayley Lock None of Beauties Daughters Yuko Nasu & Liv Pennington. At:http://yukonasu.com/works/2010/coexist/coexist2010.htm Accessed on:12/9/17

Rosen, Miss. (2017) Artist Annie Kevans sets the historical record straight. At:http://www.craveonline.com/art/1189199-artist-annie-kevans-sets-historical-record-straight Accessed on:12/9/17

Saatchi Art. (s.d) 0108 Painting by Yuko Nasu. At:https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-0108/25573/1676080/view  Accessed on:24/8/17

this is tomorrow. (2015) Luc Tuymans: The Shore At:http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/luc-tuymans-the-shore Accessed on:12/9/17

 

Author: Paul Hunter

A self-taught British artist who paints landscapes using mixed media. I'm currently exploring life in Singapore through paint.

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