Paint Box

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Using Photography

In response to positive feedback from the Exploratory Project, one of my action points for this unit is to take more photographs to support my practice. Unfortunately my yellow cardiganed model from before has moved to Australia so the challenge is to find new characters and sources of inspiration to document and add to my recipe book of images. 
I am interested in incorporating birds and animals, partly as symbols, largely as another dimension to triangulate and add context to my compositions. Previously, my work has been critiqued as being 'decorative' so it is important for me to reference real, three-dimensional creatures to ensure that they are believable. 

I have always had a fascination with Peter Pan - playful, fantasy, childlike - and his shadow - fleeting, free, unstuck (also linking to some of Francesca Woodman's photography). On my second visit to Tate 'The Tanks', I explored this notion of shadow with the kids in Lis Rhodes' 'Light Music'. The space was immersive and playful, the children less self-conscious than myself as they bounded in front of the projectors. Sometimes they seemed to disappear, sometimes their shadow was caught but only as a trace, sometimes their blurred forms emerged in the foreground of the photo.

Very early on, I tried working with found images and photographs. My intention was to create 3D paper mache heads (which I did), photograph them, then collage on top. However, I made my studio investigation much more focused and specific so didn't develop this idea as it didn't seem relevant. However, through some simple experiments, I did discover some compositional devices which I used to construct my paintings. This included juxtaposing scale, distortion of the face/body, and using triangular composition to keep the viewer's eye within the image.
Christiane Feser
My experiment with distorting facial features - small scale

My experiment with distorting facial features - larger scale

Experimenting with triangles - gaze comes from 3 points in the composition

Juxtaposing scale - would really like to experiment with this in my paintings

Impact of photography on my practice

I use photography to collate images hich I then manipulate through collage and drawing to develop compositions to work from on a bigger scale. I find that there is more attraction and reference points for me in photography and have considered extensively how this relates to my painting practice. Through discussion, particularly with the tutors, and attending a talk about painting at the Walker Art Gallery, I have established a number of ideas which define the link...
  • The fact that I'm interested in the imagery and the themes it addresses is enough for me to confidently identify these photographers as reference and context
  • More artists are using photography as a way to communicate ideas - it can be rapid, immediate and plays with the line between fact truth and fiction
  • New media is on trend. There is a more level playing field for different media where there was a hierarchy with painting at the top.
  • Photography reflects technology developments works within the realms of social media and advertising, it can be easily shared and reproduced
  • Painting isn't dead but the energy is elsewhere, painters must create dialogue and continue to make relevant and challenging work
  • Painting requires extended studio time and can be a solitary activity, this isn't necessarily complimentary to social lifestyles
  • The photographs I respond to explore narrative and play with staging - my work uses photography amongst other media to explore these ideas in the initial stages before moving into paint
  • I value painting because of the making process and the way that the layering of media puts the work through a series of transformations, photography doesn't allow for this as the capturing tends to be immediate and the scene set before hand. The painting has a longer life, the photography is more fleeting.
  • Photography feels like it references truth even when you know it's a constructed image. However, Hockney did say that he had a problem with this as the world doesn't look like a photograph. Is it important for my work to feel truthful? I think it's moving more towards the imaginary with some hint of familiarity  to help the viewer relate to what they are seeing.

Broken Eggs - Julia Fullerton-Batten

Vee Speers - The Birthday Party
Francesca Woodman

Francesca Woodman

Mirror - Julia Fullerton-Batten
Miwa Yanagi
Psyche's Tail - Meghan Boody (from Psyche and Smut)
Yinka Shonibare - The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (after Goya)
Dina Goldstein - Rapunzel (from Fallen Princesses)
Tim Walker - It rained so we camped inside
Anna Gaskell - From 'Wonder'
Dindi van der Hoek - Interior

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