Reflection Assignment 5

I set out to do more sketches for this assignment and yet in practice I still seem to fall short of doing more.   Only four from list of ideas for the assignment were actually worked on, the rest were skipped either because I needed to plan them (e.g. morning sketch) or unable to see anything of interest like with the idea of things faded by the sun (which surprised me with all the sun we get).    Time was also against me because I’d lost child care and so was reduced in opportunities to explore.   Using oils added to the challenge because they take so long (from days to over a week) to dry and I’m not used to working in a stop start fashion with a plan.

Having watching a video by Cheryl Huntbach on her practice I can see there are obvious practical steps I can take going forward such as drawing for 10 mins each day for a number of weeks with a simple focus.

Oils has been my main focus of materials for the assignment because of its ability to be manipulated for longer periods.   I’m not convinced this will be my main material going forward because of the longer drying time and not being able to use unpredictability in blending when thin.  I think would prefer to use acrylics if I can find a way to achieve similar effects (to look more closely at Iain Andrews).

The technique for moving the oil paint over a smooth white ground is very simple yet can result in such striking results.  If I had more time I would have tried again with painting the tree roots but with much more liquin and paint.   My feeling at the time was they were just too weak and I attribute this to surface preparation with glue and gesso and also the amount of liquin and paint loaded on the brush.    Appropriate sized brushes were used in each painting relevant for the scale.   Although I still haven’t grasped Iain Andrews technique which is partly down to the paint mix being too thick and also finding interesting marks which represent the leaves.

Luminosity is evident in the beast although I feel it could be improved with stronger value background and muted colour.

The composition of roots came about through sketching the roots of many trees and finding a view which used the urban walls as a natural frame.   The portrait view provided a natural narrow strip for the roots to grow.   For the beast I did a number of sketches from the garden and photos to try to find a composition showing its grotesque elements as well as its beauty.   Reaching out was lacking in an effective composition, whilst it did show the fingers clearly reaching out I felt I did not explore this sufficiently due to time.

The monoprints were only used to look at the form of a leaf or root and find a simple base to use in the painting.   Unfortunately I didn’t immediately see how I would use it despite a feeling there was some potential.

I’m pleased with the beast in terms of how it brings out the grotesqueness with the composition and use of materials.  Bursting out is a little more confusing because the flower bursting out is more about beauty and was not intended to be the focus of the painting.  It just naturally went this way with the result overpowering the tree roots.  Reaching out worked well at showing the grotesqueness with the finger like roots coming out from the bark.   Perhaps together they help balance each other as a collection.  I would have liked to have done far more paintings and had a choice about leaving some out especially when there are so many interesting plants growing.  One area I didn’t explore was using greater subtlety so that the horror appears not at first but through more time looking.   It maybe that I can achieve greater grotesqueness by not drawing attention to it through the materials and mark making but by subtle tones like Alex Hanna’s work.

There was experimentation in the composition of the beast and finding appropriate mediums to use for the eyes and eye lashes which represented more animal than plant.  I experimented with different displays of the collection to try to bring out the grotesqueness in each painting.  Using dark places such as cupboards and hallway helped  support and relate to this concept.  There has been an element of balance between experimentation of ideas and use of techniques which allow you to take something forward not knowing exactly where you are taking it.    This made me question whether I actually worry too much about how something will look and whether I’m unconsciously dismissing ideas without some basic exploration.   I think at this stage I just need to expect to take more time on the assignment to remove any pressure.  Previously i said my practice is developing, drama and ephemeral and I believe these still hold.

Mimei thompson’s work is hopefully clearly evident in my work because of the striking and simple technique which I’ve used predominantly in both the beast and bursting out.  Archie Franks helped me frame much of the work with an element of grotesqueness. His use of a liquin impasto in the oil helped me create a sharp and slightly distorted view of the roots although I don’t feel I can take his influence much further.  Iain Andrews influenced the flower in bursting out and I need to explore his technique further with appropriate mixes of acrylics rather than oil.  Turner is going to be an artist which will always influence my work in the way he achieves a level of luminosity in the paint and his expressive use of white impasto early on below thin washes.

In addition to these key artists I have found Tim Stoner helped me see how scratching the surface to show highlights can lead to a striking result and Alex Hanna can make use of subtle tones.     These would motivate me to use such ideas in the future and encourage me to seek out opportunities to see more artists work.

Assignment 5

Starting with my strengths using directional mark making of varying size and weight and use of contrasts in tone and thickness, I decided to focus on the garden.  The garden contains various tropical ornate plants and trees selected for their looks and is well cared for by gardeners.   These gardens are repeated in every residential area of the village.   Whilst these plants and trees are beautiful many of them have an element of horror or grotesqueness which I thought could be shown in contrast.   Archie Franks plays on this in a fun way with his monster munch paintings (Franks, 2016) and lead me to think I could use his highly contrasting impasto marks to bring out these features.  The form of the trees and plants are very much alien to me having grown up with more temperate vegetation and so thought sculpting an environment like Mimei Thompson (Thompson, 2014) would also help.  

First I started making quick observational sketches from the list in the assignment to try to bring more inspiration and depth.   Painting at night helps view life with a very different set of colours from the artificial lighting and with stronger shadows creates a different atmosphere.  The view from the window is always interesting with the varying light and weather.

 

 

 

Then I started focusing on selected plants and trees which where new or showed signs of grotesqueness.   The plant with large palm like leaves had a trunk with eye like features and tentacles which immediately inspired me to focus on capturing its form from different angles.

 

Monoprints were used to try to capture the twisting trees, roots and patterned leaves.  I also tried out painting the oil + liquin on smooth card and aluminium (with enamel ground).

 

 

Plant with eyes
The beast.  Oil, resin and enamel on aluminium

The beast draws your attention to the eyes with the dark hairs.  The strong leaf stems lead the eye away towards the large leaves.   The strong tentacle like roots hold the body in in place.   It does have a slight grotesqueness about it although not as strong as I’d like.  At the same time large leaves and strong colours provide an element of beauty.    Shadows give it greater dimension creating more depth and realism.    The background is brightly light but not dazzling making the whole painting feel light perhaps balancing the heavy looking hairs.  In comparison to Bursting out it feels wetter and the perspective is lower.  Composition is orientated for looking up so that the plant is towering above.   The right hand side clearly drawing attention and is balanced by the lighter left.

img_8976
Bursting out.  Oil on canvas

The tree roots and flower appear more exposed to the sun with bright light, feeling much warmer and dryer.   The eye is drawn to the flower leaves in the middle and then down the roots.  The flowers stand out more alive and vibrant than the roots which are similar in tone and colour to the stones either side.   The flowers burst out of the tree.  The tree roots are pushing out of its’ urban walls  which seems to be trying to contain it although this is somewhat happening in the background.  Composition, the portrait view makes the tree long and squeezed into a tiny space between the walls.

img_8974
Reaching out.  Oil on card

The tree roots appear more abstract with their appearance broken up by the rough textured paint.   Overall it is much darker.  The eye is drawn to the roots which are sharp and rough with contrasting values.  The composition in portrait gives detail on the tree but looses context.  The roots are like fingers bursting out of the tree trying to pull apart the bark and get out.

img_9073
Looking up.  Lacquer, acrylic and oil on canvas

Another idea was to focus on the leaves which have a very different look when viewed from below than above.   It is interesting to see the leaves with light shining through and see bright colours and patterns.   This painting uses white lacquer paint to mark out the brighter lines.  I then layered paint on top with a mix of acrylic and finally oil.

 

Looking at the work as a whole, the garden is seen in a different light showing beauty, otherworldly grotesque forms and hints of urban life on the edge.    The painting of leaves from below shows a beauty you don’t normally see when walking around the garden however it doesn’t contrast an element of grotesqueness and for this reason doesn’t quite fit with the others.

There needs to be subtlety and similarity perhaps in tone to tie together the paintings.  Given these gardens are all around and form an everyday background I’d like to allow the viewer to see more and more as they stop and look.    Therefore a natural and familiar feel at first glance would relate to the current experience and then start to reveal unnatural otherworldly things like the eyes on the plant.   This could be interpreted in different ways, to put more in so that the grotesque elements are not so obvious and can be seen with more time or to tone them down.   The idea of toning down the whole piece would need to be explored to see if the grotesque element works.  Putting more grotesque elements in without toning down may become overwhelming.   I like the potential for differing sizes and that the smaller ones encourage a greater focus compared to the larger more open and immersive paintings.

The ideas for displaying the work play on the experience of moving through the garden or feeling a little afraid when looking in dark places.   Viewing them in the wardrobe was fun and made it feel like the plants were hiding.   The darkness helped bring out the horror element.   Looking at them on the floor created a pond like view with the reflection in the floor.   The depth seemed to imply a viewing order from front to back.  When displayed on the wall in a more traditional arrangement it didn’t feel as interesting or engaging.   Using shelves creates darker views of the smaller paintings to help bring out the horror element.  There is no space under our beds to set up the paintings to create a display.

What were my paintings depicting and why did I choose the materials used.

The beast is focussed on a plant which appears to have lots of eyes and tentacles which makes it a bit scary.   Oils mixed with liquin on aluminium was easily moved and sculpted like in Mimei Thompson’s work.  White enamel is used to ground the aluminium to make the paint glow brighter rather than the actual metal which can look darker. The oil used for eyes and eye lashes had an impasto additive and Liquin oleopasto added. Whilst both created more relief the impasto was glossy for the eye, the liquin oleopasto is more mat and very thick for the hair.  Resin added a transparent shiny layer over the eyes.  This was then about adding qualities relating to eyes and eyelashes rather than the actual plant.

The roots painting was focussed on the banyan trees’s varied roots and how they grow in tight urban spaces.  The ornate flower which often grows in the tree was included because the roots were not as strong as I’d hoped.    Oils mixed with Liquin is used to sculpt the roots on a canvas primed with glue and gesso.   The glue is added to reduce the absorbency of the surface and make it easier to move the paint.   The flower is oil with impasto and liquin original to give volume and make it more viscous.   This was to follow Iain Andrews approach to painting impasto for the main focus of the painting.  Emulsion was used to pour out the very thin roots.

Oil with Liquin oleopasto is used to paint reaching out’s roots which are like fingers pushing and reaching out from under the tree’s bark.    I wanted to get an uneasy feeling of many fingers bursting out of the tree, reaching out.  Card was used to give a rigid surface to support the thicker paint.   Thinned down paint was painted across the dry surface to bring out a calmer view of the sea opposite the palms and the paint was allowed to drip down through the roots to tie them together.

How would I develop further?

The beast was painted in a similar fashion in the exercise except it was composed with a looking down view which lead to it being darker.   Exploring painting at night whilst maintaining or enhancing luminosity may help increase the fear factor with different unnatural light shining on the plant.  Furthermore making the painting bigger might make it much more imposing whilst keeping the same perspective.  The background white was not pure white and would have reduced luminosity and so a pure white might help.

Bursting out’s background absorbed too much of the paint leading to a heavier feel with the yellow which was not intended.   This is also meant the roots were not as strong as I’d hoped and would therefore like to explore stronger roots without the need to paint the flower over the top.    Other thoughts are around how the roots grow contained within the bounds of the picture frame yet feel like they are not.

Reaching out’s roots whilst are bursting out are numerous and may benefit from a larger view with more a repeating pattern.   Better yet a wider view of the tree amongst other plants and trees at night so that there are subtle shapes and forms all around and then the tree roots seem to have a light directed them highlighting the fingers reaching out.

Looking up through the leaves could explore use of Iain Andrews technique to paint the brightly coloured leaves.   My mix of oil with liquin and impasto was not what Iain Andrews uses, he paints in acrylic so I’d like to try something closer to his mix for the leaves without oil.

Artists which influenced me.   Mimei Thompson was a major influence with her fluid sculpting of otherworldly landscapes.    Her work in particular has lead me to focus on smooth bright surfaces and to use paint which can be manipulated for longer periods.  Archie Franks impasto with contrasting values to show form on the plant in focus (eyes, tentacles or roots).  Iain Andrews for his swirling bright impasto work (Saatchi Art, s.d).   Turner for his use of white impasto paint for highlights.   I think Mimei, Turner and Iain have all shown that painting light to dark is best for getting the brightness in colours to then contrast against darker tones applied later.  In addition they all show that its not about recreating what you see and that you can create something which works visually using their technique.

References

Franks, Archie (2016) Monster munch with moonAt:http://archiefranks.com/portfolio/monster-munch-with-moon-2016/ Accessed on 11/1/18

Thompson, Mimei (2014) Bin bag closeup.At:http://www.mimeithompson.com/work/view/binbag-closeup/ Accessed on 5/2/18.

Saatchi Art. (s.d) St Soutine. At:https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-St-Soutine/10759/1461952/view Accessed on 11/1/18

 

Reflection Assignment 4

The tondo got me looking for simple compositions with interesting contrasts of tones and objects reflecting the nature of working in circular frames.  In the exercise I painted the ac control in oil on a smooth  paper plate where removing paint was just as important as adding paint.    This lead me to focus on oil and smooth surfaces to enable me to sculpt.  Despite this being what attracted me to it I also wondered if there was a better medium to represent it.   My research into atmosphere created by artists such as Marlene Dumas led me to trying watercolour to produce some atmospheric 3D representations.   However when compared to the original it still didn’t have the impact.   I couldn’t see how I would combine watercolour with impasto paint, they just seemed too far apart.  This helped me focus more on oil and acrylic.

The glowing fuzzy feeling from the sofa painted with layers of acrylic was a nice quality  considered for the final tondo because it created a soft warm feeling you get when relaxing at home.   I found this initial experiment to be too dark which is why I didn’t progress it.

The eye is drawn to the control and moves freely around and down and slows around the base of the sofa and the mat.   The control sits prominently on top in a relaxed manor.   Form and structure is implied by the brush direction.     I was able to use a large brush to move the paint around and respond to the tactile feeling of the sofa and ac control as well as how it looks.   The sofa looks a little stretched and squashed perhaps more than intended.   Despite using bright colours the overall feeling is muted.

The tondo does reflect many of the intended qualities such as a AC control which is relaxing on the sofa and also draws your attention.   I did miss making the buttons explicit and more obvious like a child would play with it although I wasn’t sure it would help and it was not essential.   The mat below the sofa is soft and doesn’t distract from the main focus even though I used thick impasto paint.   The colours seem to tie it all together unlike the earlier attempt at trying complementary colours which didn’t enhance the contrast as intended.    There is a level of depth to the sofa where the back is less sharp through heavier strokes and the AC control and base of the sofa seem more in focus and closer through lighter thicker marks.

I still had difficulty deciding on the final tondo because the qualities of the painting were not all that clear and did not form a clear story or idea.   I was under the belief oil would be the right medium to use but for various reasons I keep returning to the familiar acrylic.   I do need to try finding an additive for oil which supports impasto work in a similar fashion to acrylic gel.

With the intention to use impasto paint and add and remove paint I felt that applying the blind drawing I’d learnt in the previous assignment would help with depth and relevant qualities.    Given it is such a simple object it did help to add more features which is not easily seen when looking.

Experimenting with watercolour was helpful to compare against the work in oil and acrylic.   I can see its possible to paint blurred out of focus areas and sharper in focus areas to add depth and draw the focus.   I haven’t yet worked out how to control the atmosphere and will be an ongoing area to research.

Oil on enamel provides a mat against gloss contrast where the oil stands out over the gloss and felt like it was working despite the colour problem.   Adding a layer of resin on top can create interesting depth where in this case shadows were cast by the layer of white oil onto the layer below.   I also considered creating a layer of resin to make it feel like it was covered in plastic like that on the peppa pig tondo.   I didn’t include in the final because I thought it would obscure the brushwork on the sofa.

Iain Andrews use of impasto paint influenced how I painted the sofa and AC control and the background.    Whilst my final tondo seems balanced the bright paint in the sofa is not as bright as I’d hoped.  Returning to Iain Andrews technique I realise that maybe the dark parts of the sofa should have been formed from a dark thin wash rather than thick paint.   I therefore need to return to this technique look at how I can make the paint appear brighter.  Also he responded more to the way the paint dried which leads to more unpredictable results and could help my process.

I should continue looking more into atmosphere and emotion and how both Marlene Dumas and Turner carry this out given how it seems to play a part throughout my work so far.

 

 

 

Assignment 4 Tondo

The contrast of the the AC control against the sofa is why I think the initial tondo and idea stands out.   This is important because it reflects a love hate relationship between the AC’s necessity and its frustrating manual control.

I started sketching the AC on sofa with different compositions and found the original face on view still appears to be the best because the others do not provide the impact or opportunity.    Except perhaps a low view from below the arm looking up  which creates an interesting zig-zag.     A blind sketch using charcoal enabled me to differentiate and focus on what I could feel with one hand.  This I thought I could translate into a movement or removal of paint.   At the same time I also returned to the shoes in the cupboard and painted a different arrangement in acrylic on paper.    I liked trying to use thick impasto paint to paint the flip flop and shoe hoops which add movement.   I also sketched toys left around the apartment .   I still felt the AC on sofa to be the most interesting so I progressed.

img_6688
Relaxing indoors.  Acrylic on canvas.

 

This seemingly simple assignment proved challenging mostly because I was unable to articulate how I wanted it to look and therefore what would be the best medium.    I knew there are key contrasts between the sofa and ac control to express the sense of feelings from touch and using it.    I ended up experimenting with different mediums and looking at different artists.    My final tondo ended up using acrylic even though I intended to use oils.

Iain Andrews movement of thick bright impasto paint (Saatchi Art, 2007) inspired me to try to use it to draw attention to the control and sofa.   The almost pure bright colours stand out even though the background may also be bright.   It was important to keep the background thin and bright and reflect some of the colour seen in the control.   In addition keeping a uniform feel would support the tactile feel I got and also Iain’s thin uniform washes to contrast the flowing movement of the thick paint.   Acrylic is mixed with a matt gel and thinner and applied with a large brush to bring out the folds of soft leather.  A medium sized brush was used to sculpt the heavy hard balls felt in it’s base (Lee, 2014).   I then drag the control down to reflect the smooth display and then across for the sharp buttons with the large brush.   I add a gloss gel for the control to create a sheen.   The mat follows the same approach applied in other versions but with acrylic where the paint is applied with a medium sized brush softly in dabs to slow or halt the movement above.    The control sits in a reclined relaxed position and feels consistent in approach and part of the sofa.   The buttons are hinted through the direction of the stroke.     The sofa was intended to be dark relative to the control and I hoped the colours would appear brighter in similar way to Iain’s paint.

The Tondo shape gives opportunity to find a focus and put all effort into that rather than more of the context.  It can help provide a more natural frame around the focus as opposed to a more traditional frame such as the square and rectangle.    If the composition is without the necessary context it can mean there is no obvious right way up which allows you to view it in many different orientations.

I found it sometimes difficult to find something which fits into a circle or oval which has everything.  For example scenes with more than one thing to see such as the object and a reflection can be difficult to fit.   I can see that landscapes which require a more open experience would not work as well as they would in a more traditional rectangle.    It can be difficult to identify the correct way to orientate the tondo if there is insufficient context or indication which way up is without an appropriate anchor.

Influences have been mainly Iain Andrews use of impasto paint in a fluid way.   Also Mindy Lee (Lee, 2014) used acrylic in a sculptural way for detail.

To develop further I would practice using Iains technique to see what more I can use with brighter colours for the impasto and use of thin paint for the background and shadows.  I would also look at additives for oil to see if I could use oil instead.

Other painted tondos…

Simply painting the AC control with thick paint in oil over black ink for the sofa lacked impact especially when compared to the original.   The composition seemed compromised because nothing touched the side.

Looking at Morning Dew by Marlene Dumas (Glover, 2011) I thought that maybe I could get more from watercolour.   Using a small amount of watercolour and wet-on-wet I managed to get a more interesting representation with blurred light areas and stronger sharper areas.  This made it feel more 3D and this also made the control stand out more.  Again I still prefer the contrast of the original and the composition.   On another attempt I explore blurred around the edge moving to sharper in the middle of the tondo.   I found that including a print of my palm (white acrylic) as a base layer and top layer with watercolour for the shadows helps to bring out the texture of the sofa.   The pastels used on the mat standout with the different texture drawing attention.

Following this printing with white acrylic I try again using more coloured acrylic glazes to paint the sofa and a top glaze with black acrylic ink.   The result is a heavy textured glowing surface which gives the general form but lacks any definition and the control stands out rather well.  This gives a fuzzy cozy feeling of being sat on a sofa.  The control is sharp but perhaps not sharp enough in comparison.

Using the paper plate again I try sponging the background to create a soft uniform feel which reflects the tighter feeling than the loose material on the sofa.   I then paint the sofa with black oil and remove the highlights including the control.  This looks better but I find it all seems sharp and in focus (even the background).  I add a thick painted mark in acrylic for the control and move the paint for the buttons and screen.

When priming canvas with glue I get to move the paint easily on the surface like the paper plate but the final effect is all slightly blurred even where I’ve used thicker oil paint.   I should consider going back to this and adding another layer of oil to see if this is still true.

Black on white works but I wanted to know if there are better colour combinations.  Complementary colours should enhance each colour to show contrast so I look at red for love and green for hate.  I use green enamel to create a smooth glossy ground on which to paint the sofa red in oil and the mat in a similar green impasto to get a soft feeling which is not over powering.   Thinned down red paint appears darker than impasto so enabled me to change the tone a little.   Through curiosity I try painting the control over a layer of resin which adds greater depth.   The control appears somewhat normal against the red and a little lost because its size is relatively small compared to the sofa and tondo.   Its also looking a lot more like a monoprint from the previous assignment with the layering of single coloured prints.

 

 

References

Glover, Michael. (2011) ‘Great Works: Morning Dew 1997 (125cm x 70cm), Marlene Dumas‘ In: Independent [online]   At:http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/great-works/great-works-morning-dew-1997-125cm-x-70cm-marlene-dumas-6267513.html Accessed on 27/11/17

Lee, Mindy (2014) Better Out Than In Venus  At:https://mindylee.me/2012-2/ Accessed on:11/10/17

Saatchi Art. (2007) The Ecstasy of St.Teresa by Iain Andrews  At:https://www.saatchiart.com/art/-The-Ecstasy-of-St-Teresa/10759/99692/view Accessed on:11/10/17

Reworking Assignment 2

Its useful to hear someone else talk about the painting which has helped me reevaluate against the idea of fitting into a new culture.

The strong shadow suggests being unsettled which I was when I first arrived.   The cultures are very different and this unsettled feeling is in response to the overwhelming differences to consider.   There were differences in the environment as well as with people.   I found the asian culture differences intense in each of the senses where when simply walking down the street you face strong smells and a overwhelming variety of signs and noises.   Being unsettled also pushes you to try fitting in more to get more settled, this suggests I need to add marks to balance out the strong shadows.  What would provide balance or a move towards balance and reduce the unsettled feeling?

Fork has a solid linear quality and allows the aluminium support to shine through and uses negative space well.    The spoon is again a solid smooth quality which is more realistic despite my intention to reduce it down to some minimal marks and work more with negative space.  Theres an intimate connection between fork and spoon reflecting the connection with the western culture more than the asian.

Chopstick is hammer like, painted in a more straight forward manor reflecting a basic connection and less expressive.

I like the idea of sensing the culture in different ways and reminds me of the blind portrait sketching I did in assignment 3.   Would drawing and painting the chopstick, spoon and fork blind reflect an experience of sensing something new like the culture by translating the touch visually?

 

The chopstick felt light and smooth at one end moving to sharp pointy at the other.  The chopstick rest felt mostly spiky and sharp with smooth bits in-between.   The fork and spoon felt heavy, solid, curved and smooth.    I liked the idea of moving oil paint around on the surface to create the rests spiky feeling or smooth curved parts to reflect more what I felt.

The environment is mostly colder inside than outside with extreme difference adding to the unsettled feeling.    This could translate into a mix of warmer blurred areas and cold sharp areas.   I could use the transparent gesso to create the blurred areas and leave the sharp cold areas or add some smooth flat areas.

img_4233

I applied oil with liquin for the rest and moved it around with a knife and stick to create sharp points and lines.   For the spoon I used oil and liquin again but used a brush to apply and attempted to push the paint down and outwards as I moved down the handle.

I applied transparent guesso on parts of the background and enamels to create smooth shiny flat areas.   The result was more unbalanced with the chopstick shadow being too strong so I applied very thinned enamel over the fork shadow to balance.

I find this version more interesting with greater variety and in particular the chopstick rest feels very sharp.   Interestingly whilst the sharpness reflects the physical cultural symbol it also suggests the asian culture is menacing or difficult to handle which is not really what I intended but can be true for some things.   I felt I over did the gesso creating confusing marks in some places once it had dried.   I feel I could swallow up lots of time trying out different ways to balance out the parts I don’t like and I’m not sure its worth me progressing further at this stage so I decided to stop.

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Assignment 3

I found a greater sense of awareness of the marks I was making and how they relate to the subject.   In particular drawing and painting my portrait blind helped me start to rethink my mark making and how the movement and pressure relates to my sense of touch.   For example feeling the shape and hardness around the eye compared to the eye lashes leads came out as putting pressure with a sharp movement around the eye socket and delicate lighter brushed marks around the eye.   These differences can be more pronounced than when I look at them because I’m so used to drawing what I see.

Exploring different paper surfaces enabled me to show more contrast with more paint absorbed into the paper versus less absorbed leading to blurring and a spongy effect.   This led me to select the paper knowing I needed a darker saturated look or one with blurring together with sharper marks.   I would have liked to have tried more variety of surfaces in printing had there been more time to source and try out.   The choice of paper coupled with more or less solvent has enabled me to produce sharp brushed marks compared to softer blurred marks.

Removing paint was a big part of making the marks and creating definition.  Oil is relatively easy to remove from or move on glass and finding appropriate tools to use during the exercises really helped.   Using tissue to remove the feeding baby profile proved to be effective at absorbing the paint and creating a unique profile.

The size A5 of the print is small but surprisingly I didn’t feel the need to go bigger in order to focus on the technique.  I think this encouraged me to be more efficient with marks.

Theres a sense of wanting to create something which is not your normal portrait especially when seeing work from artists like Yuko Nasu (Nasu, s.d) and having read Emily Balls book about portrait painting.  However developing this into something which works in printing and compared to doing something more obvious visually is difficult and must take time.   I do feel I was able to apply relevant marks and emphasis in each print to achieve some of the strengths I set out at the beginning.  For example the emphasis on the mouth with a pull effect helped reinforce the talking moment.

Displaying the prints with space in-between improves the ability to take in the each portrait better than if they were displayed without space in-between.

Its interesting that this time I found ink to be less useful compared to charcoal or acrylic and use of fingers when creating the portraits.   This maybe a result of the blind exercises opening up new possibilities and a greater awareness of my face.   This is pushing me to look for and try things to achieve different emphases such as sharper bony parts of my face and how tight the skin feels.   Obviously using touch is something new and I’d like to explore this further.   I see it as a form of direct observation but I need to relearn how to interpret into marks.

There has been an element of creativity out of drawing and redrawing my portrait through the drawing from photos to adding what I find through touch to painting and removing paint on glass, each time I’m slightly altering the image.   This reminding me of the exercises from Emily Ball’s book and how this process can lead to very different results.  This was most evident in the feeding portrait where I couldn’t see the image I was copying.

I realised the potential for using a piece of rug left under the printing paper to create the mouth and surrounding skin by how it appeared and how I felt my mouth in such a position.  I also liked that the print would be less predictable in terms of how the marks would mix.

Spending time to look at artists such as Annie Kevans (Kevans, 2006) helped me to focus efforts on simplifying portraits down with minimal marks.   It opens me up to trying things I like in different contexts even though it looks like it might not work such as using Kim Baker’s approach to painting large bright marks on dark backgrounds.   I often find I think too much and that when I try to paint more it leads to more insight.   Kevans portrait composition also influenced me to keep a similar head and shoulder frame.   Also the way she displayed the work compared to other artists helped me see how to give the viewer more space to see each portrait  and as a series.

Emily balls book (Ball, 2014) influence on mark making and trying to look at my face differently from touch and seeing different angles.

References

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

Ball, Emily (2014) Drawing and Painting People. Marlborough: The Crowood Press Ltd.

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

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

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.

img_3987

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

Reflection (on assignment 2)

Making my brushwork more evident seems to be important to me through this and the previous assignment.  Whilst I spent most of my time practicing with enamels on aluminium I ended up hardly using them in the final painting, partly because it did not show brushwork strongly.    It was the research into Claire Woods which brought me back to showing brushwork and working with oils instead.    I was hoping enamels would have an element of chance where the paint would still move and mix but this did not have sufficient impact.    Maybe I could have continued with enamels following a more natural style similar to those in my earlier research and used work by Geraldine Swayne as an influence.

I spent time sketching to see the overall composition and the form of the key elements. I’m not convinced the sketching helped me arrive at an effective composition however I do think it helped me see the form and structure of the utensils.    The composition immediately draws you into the spoon then the background takes you around in a clockwise motion.  Out of the tools I used to sketch (charcoal, pen, pencil, ink)  ink and brush  helped me quickly capture and get a feel for the composition.

I feel more confident now with aluminium and I like its’ qualities such as light reflection and ease of applying or removing paint.   There is a feeling of greater potential with more to learn and I’m excited about using aluminium again.

The background shadows appear as strong as the objects casting them which adds an unintended conflict.  The painting of the spoon and chopsticks was slightly too controlled.   I think the way I painted the background is starting to reflect my personal voice because it captured a sense of energy and it felt good whilst painting.   Part of the difficulty has been with me focussing more on the technical and visual aspects throughout the work rather than on a message.    Whilst I have thought about a message (fitting into a different culture) represented by the choice and expression of utensils I’ve often used intuition or a feeling of what to paint and how. Having read Contemporary Drawing by M Davidson about intent I realise there is a lot to consider and that there is a lot going on when I paint and much of this is unconscious or perhaps slightly hidden from me.   Looking at this intent maybe useful moving forward both for researching artists and also my own work.

I have experimented with different content (fork spoon and chopstick) and arrangements to understand more about what I wanted to show.    Experimentation also included materials and I particularly liked the effect of ink and enamel on aluminium and how transparent gesso changed the aluminium to something more like canvas which is more absorbent.  I would have liked to have used some of this experimentation such as the gesso but following some small tests I felt each was taking away rather than adding to the painting.  This gave me a feeling I was stumbling a bit with what to do next.

Clare Woods approach with progressively thinner, more controlled painted marks appealed and formed my approach.   Whilst painting the background I felt the need to form a spiral to draw focus on the spoon and this fitting naturally with the shadow shapes.   I remember seeing this work well in many of Turners paintings of storms.   Another influence has been in the time aspect where I’ve broken the flow of thoughts and painting from the initial experimentation to the final painting and preparation by 10 months.  This may partly explain the change in direction as well as the later research into Clare Woods and Geraldine Swayne.

References

M Davidson (2011) Contemporary Drawing: Key concepts and techniques.

 

Assignment 2 Painting

My exploration of subject, media and techniques lead me to ideas which I wanted to try to use in the final painting.  The key ones being a contrasting view of a fork and spoon with chopsticks expressed using oil on aluminium.   Ideas about how they could relate to me personally were about fitting into a new culture.

 

 

Applying everything so far on a larger scale was both exciting and overwhelming.   I choose A1 size mainly because that was about the size of the aluminium sheet pre-cut and because I wanted to paint something big.

 

 

My intention was to show more of the brush work in a similar approach to Claire Woods and use oil paints.    I used a large household brush for the background and a brush one third the size for the utensils.  Oil mixed with solvent and refined linseed oil was used to reduce the consistency and make it slightly transparent.   This allowed me to be more gestural and less precise with sweeping brush work across the surface which I really enjoyed and would like to do more.    The fork highlights were wiped off whilst wet.   The result was striking and intense and after completing another smaller test I decided to leave it. Originally my intention was to apply a transparent gesso to blur the background further and make the utensils stand out but this combination didn’t seem as appropriate as when enamel had been the ground.    This was because I didn’t want to loose the brushwork which I felt took a step to expressing the culture and also I was expecting to create a relationship with smaller brushwork on the spoon.

At this point I’m wondering what I’m really trying to communicate and whether simply showing the fork/spoon next to chopsticks as I see them in the photos is meaningful.    I knew I didn’t have a strong message and was relying more on a natural expression of form and shadow to represent my intent.

IMG_0156
Leftside: oil on gesso on enamel, right side oil on gesso on oil, both on aluminium
IMG_0157
oil on gesso on enamel on aluminium

Next I used enamel to paint chopsticks because it was less expressive and more about being able to control the brush in such a long straight line.   Enamels where good for dragging and dripping and so I thought should work in favour.   The relationship with negative space was also important so I left highlights and painted the parts in shadow.    The difference in style with the long straight stands out and makes me question whether it fits in with the painting, perhaps it’s too representational compared to the background?   Is this a reflection of the challenge of fitting in with a culture?

Finally I painted the spoon in oils with the smaller brush and tried to paint only the highlights.   However I needed to paint the darker parts to bring the right tone for the spoon relative to the background.   This was moving away from what I liked about the work from Clare Woods however I was trying to get the reflection of the chopsticks into the spoon as well as the highlights.

IMG_0122
Untitled Oil and enamel on aluminium 32″x26″

Overall it is a striking painting of the utensils with dramatic contrasting tones.  The brushwork helps direct the viewer through the painting.  The negative space relates well for the fork and chopstick holder but to a lesser extent with the chopsticks and spoon.   The straight on view allows you to easily see the shape of the utensils and compare.    The intense big brushwork of the shadows is perhaps more overpowering than the actual objects because they are painted with smaller less dramatic marks.    This view was not consciously intended and again moves away from what I observed in Claire Woods painting.      The intent is less clear in terms of the message I’m trying to communicate.  This is partly because I’ve been less clear on defining up front the idea and more focussed on the techniques and composition most appealing to me.

How to develop this is difficult when I’m not clear on the message however I could have taken my approach further and painted the chopsticks as realistic as possible to enhance the sense they all didn’t fit together.    I could try extending the fork approach to the spoon and chopstick and remove paint for highlights and then evaluate the need to paint any darker tones.   This later approach seems appropriate because it would remove the actual utensils leaving the shadows to take focus.   Alternatively look at the way the utensils are used e.g. chopsticks can be more precise compared to using a fork or spoon.   Also I needed to try harder to find other work and artists who have looked at this subject.

Artists who have influenced my work include Clare Woods with the fluid brushwork in oil.  Turner with his dramatic swirling stormy landscapes.

References

M Davidson (2011) Contemporary Drawing: Key concepts and techniques.

Assignment 2 research

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

 

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.