Paint Box

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Fairy Play

Unit 1.4 viewpoint photo

Unit 1.3 collage created using legs from 1.4 photo and same face from different angle repeated

My idea for this piece was to juxtapose two figures who interacted with each other, suggesting a sense of play. I wanted to use costume and scale to create contradictions and ambiguity; a sense of inside and outside context to make the viewer question the setting, and a different composition from my original collage which is why I introduced the bird to triangulate the gaze and keep the viewer's eye in the image. 

What is your art practice about?
This painting explores narrative and sets up conflict between scale (giant bird, small figures), age (girls appear young but faces betray older knowledge/experience), environment (inside/outside) and inanimate/living objects. The wallpaper references Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' and seemingly wilts from the printed wall design. The girl in the foreground is hunched and awkward, and peers intently at the viewer. She is goblin-like with exaggerated features which adds to her power.
How has your work developed in the last six months? What do you wish a viewer to derive from the experience of viewing/hearing your work?
This work again uses far more saturated colour which adds to the intensity of the work. The paint surface uses stains, dribbles, washes and glazing to create a much more complex painting. This is intended to make the figures more believable, and to bring particular areas to the viewer's attention e.g the face of the figure on the left. There are layers and a clear mid, back and foreground which set up subtle space relationships to link the 3 main components. This was a real experiment and I am still unsure as to whether the cropping of the bird works; I had difficulty in creating a believable space but I think this is reasonably, though not completely resolved. The figures are hybrid and share legs which originally came from the same series of photographs. Although this a subtle addition, I used this device to link the two figures and address duality.
How do you position your practice in a contemporary context?
Although there are thematic references which link all of my paintings, there were some specific images which were instrumental in my construction of this work.
Anna Gaskell - Wonderland - The sense of play, costuming and reference to literature are all relevant to my painting construction. However, I didn't want to use the extreme cropping employed by Gaskell or the averted gaze in such an extreme way. I also responded to the way that there are dominant colours and dark shadow.
Tim Walker - Walker has played with scale and brought inanimate objects to life to create scenes which reference recogisable tales. The figures inhabit a domestic setting which I have experimented with in my painting.
Tim  Walker - showing outside, inside, strong lighting creating dark shadows. A sense of play, hiding, mischief and subversion.
Meghan Boody - Psyche's Tail - Juxtaposition of opposites and a sense of duality, one good and one bad 'twin' in settings with animals, give viewers a glimse of narrative
Nicky Hoberman - Honeybun - I love the high viewpoint in the this image and the way that the central girl meets the viewer's gaze directly in a challenging and manipulative way. The other girls are awkward and angular and the lack of background displaces them from their original context (this is something that I have tried to move away from in the last 6 months.
Claude Cahun - playing with scale and taking on the guise of a much younger girl. The chest seems to dwarf the figure and although sleeping, she is wedged in awkwardly, seemingly concealed or hiding.
Claude Cahun - This photograph is much more confrontational. The kneeling pose, open and suggestive. The costume is hand made and reminds me of a children's nativity play. Cahun stares out from the image, accusingly, as if inviting us to challenge her. Where I used myself as a reference to add age to the faces, Cahun seems appropriate to reference as she almost stages a younger self.
What criticisms might be made of your work?

This painting presented huge challenges for me which I could not have anticipated when I made the original composition. I have never tackled space in this was before and found it really difficult; firstly this was because my painting skill prevented me from painting convincing perspective, and secondly because I wanted to play with scale but this then posed a problem where the expected relative size of components didn't relate to the viewer's expectation of how they would encounter them. This repeatedly came up in crits and tutorials so I tried to use glazing to push certain areas back and emphasise the layers (foreground, midground, background). This piece may also be too ambiguous; however, I really wanted to push the oddities in the image and this evolved over the months of making. I had difficulty painting the face of the smaller figure because she was bleached out in the original photograph, so I took photos of myself to look at the light and angles of the face. I then worked into the left hand figure from photos of myself too, this made the figures seem older, further jarring them with the concept (successfully). 

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