Paint Box

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Looking Forward

Having completed the exploratory project plan, I felt that it was important to review what I have learnt during the project and attempt to answer some questions which have been raised in tutorials and group crits. As suggested I put up all of my practical work in my studio and photographed it. There were some pieces which I had forgotten about and of course I wasn't able to display unprinted photos and some of the collages as I bound them into a book. I sat in front of my wall of work and made notes in order to truly reflect on what I had learnt.

The looser drawings - moving, more gestural, living
Ambiguous images 
Development of collage and photographs into painting
Incorporation of animals to add another dimension but not in their current form
Manipulating viewpoint
Merging figures
Shadows and superimposing
Whole bodies
Rapid generation and selection

Elements to leave behind (for now):

More fashion-like images
Paint on unprimed canvas - although some of the twinned compositions work
Early paintings which seem overly static
Superimposing with line drawings (figure) - however there is potential with pattern

Clear link with 'red' twins (early) and 'yellow' twins (from day of making) - I prefer the scale of the yellow pair

Strongest image in this shot is more the one with the whole figure, feet closest to the viewer due to its ambiguity

I enjoyed making the 'books' and how they would make the viewer physically engage with work - however the imagery is not as strong as in some of the other pieces

Oil in progress development from day of making twins - I much prefer the quality of oil as it allows you to gradually build layers of colour

From these compositions, the ones which work best are those with feet as they have potential to be set in context - this is a huge move for me in terms of composition

'I need to think carefully about what makes me choose my ‘model’ as my figures seem to be representations of self ' (Tutorial Report)

This is an observation which is frequently made which we discussed in my most recent tutorial with A. With my overview of the work it is clear that I prefer depicting girls and women - this is because I find their faces more versatile and my ideas about gender fluidity and identity sit more comfortably with female form. The choice of blond hair is not deliberate, but may be as I often choose red, yellow and blue as my core painting colours. The age of the subject is partly dictated by my contemporaries, partly ideas about adolescence and change, partly children and play. I need to explore what impact different types of subject would have on the meaning of my work.

'I need to look at the context of images and the environment that the figures inhabited.' (Tutorial Report)

Although I admire the surface of paintings, I am attracted to more photographic works. This may be because the subjects are placed in context which implies a narrative, often ambiguous. I will continue to try and place my figures in context during the next unit, building on The Yellow Wallpaper reference, and other environments.

Small group crits: 1st March, 19th April, 26th April

Although it was difficult to schedule in meetings with the others, the meetings we did have were supportive and valuable. There were other opportunities during the unit to meet and review work with others so it worked well having two of our meetings towards the end of the project as we were able to review the progress we had made and discuss what we might do next as this arose as a mutual area of concern.

How can I take my work from the Exploratory Project back towards painting? (Small Group Crit)

James Fisher - I Quaked Like The Ague
We discussed ways of incorporating layers into painting through building up layers to create an ethereal appearance. J suggested that I look at the work of James Fisher for surface and narrative. I really like the softness of some of the paintings, in particular 'I quaked like the Ague' and others on page 6.
We also discussed using lighting to explore superimposition and shadow and possibly investigating linen to paint on. I have quickly experimented with overlaying on an existing painting and photograph to screen sections off but intend to try layering different painted images with figures.
I also plan to try 'peopling' a space through repetition and crowding - building on what I have been reading in 'Crowds and Power'.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Layers and Transparencies

As the second stage of my Exploratory Project plan, my intention was to continue to work rapidly but experiment with using layered and transparent images to create composites and play with composition. These pieces have largely been made as development from stage one, evolving collage or photos and combining surfaces. Obviously, as exploratory work I wasn't clear at the planning stage how I would approach these pieces but they are what I feel is a natural progression from the earlier pieces while still addressing similar themes. I am keen to move my work back in the direction of painting so have lapsed from my rules slightly by beginning one painting on canvas - a development from the day of making.

Painting in acrylic from collage with ink line drawing overlay from photos

Two sizes of figure on acetate over magazine collage

Collage and photos on acetate layered on OHP. Photo of projection on canvas.

Double acetate image combining two viewpoints

Collage and hanging photo layered

Images exploring photos mimicking posture or distorting scale of limbs


These pieces were a really good way of very quickly exploring composition or manipulating already existing elements. I don't think the line drawing over the painting works visually although it did make me think about the Janus images I have looked at. I like the ambiguity which is added by the layers in the images as some areas are obscured and recede and others emerge. However, the found images and my photographs jar so I think that these only really work as compositional explorations, not outcomes. 


These pieces are all OHP projections of combinations of my photos which I have printed onto acetate. I love the way these look really ghostly although I dislike the lack of colour as this is an element which is particularly important in my work. When I was playing with the composition, I tried again to make some areas more prominent and so less so. I imagine these figures as the shadows of paintings, although I'm not sure how or if this could exist alongside paintings, or whether they are just a trace of the process.

Oil on canvas (initial stages) details below - experiment with layering on one surface instead of multiple

A2 ink on watercolour paper from viewpoint photo - details below

Acrylic paint on top of original collage enlargement - sepia pen on details below


These pieces are what I feel is a natural progression from previous works, although they are still quick pieces and unfinished. I wanted to take one of the figures from the day of making into oil - I like the rapidity of acrylic on paper but you achieve a completely different surface effect to when you build up oil over time. This painting is in the very early stages and I have included some details to evidence how I have started to build up the paint. In this version I have included the whole figure (the previous one has her head cropped) to see if this changed the power balance. I don't think it does, although the cropping forced the figure's face into the top section of the paper which may be seen as more confrontational. 

I chose ink for the second piece to experiment with something different. I found it really difficult to work with, particularly on the face which has taken on a terrible tango glow but enjoy the way the fabric and shoes look. This is largely due to its link with the oil paint surface. Compositionally, this works for me as the who body is included and the viewer is placed low down in the image which manipulated their perspective.

In the third piece I have painted on top of one of my collages, using the bodies but not the (squirrel) heads which I had placed on them. I roughly took the faces from my own photos to make the figures look similar, although they are dressed differently so less clone-like than the others. I was really unsure as to what to do with the background so I blocked out the goat but left some of the envelope visible. I like the way the figures relate to each other and how the one on the left look like she is leading the other away while directly meeting the gaze of the viewer. This image has potential to be enlarged in paint on canvas, but I would need to think carefully about the background. Between the two they create their own relationship and context so it could be possible to leave the background plain.

Day of Making

These photos record the point I got up to after the morning of making...the colour is slightly muddier than in real life but perspective is right (photos taken from above). The top image shows the paintings the way round that they were intended but I have also shown them the other way round which I feel has quite a different dynamic as the figures lean into each other.


On Saturday I took part in my first MA day of making with C, A and S. I had thought quite carefully about what to make and taking preparatory photos. This is not how I usually work at all as I tend to work slowly on a number of investigations, but the day set up was very complimentary to my exploratory project plan. Throughout the morning, I was more focused and for want of a better word, motivated, to show that I was making actually progress! Although being early, and my mind being filled with Hockney and Freud from the night before this was a really valuable opportunity to virtually work alongside others from the course. If I had had a whole day I would have started other quick paintings based on my stimulus photos to further explore the idea of power through viewpoints.  I would also have liked to 'check in' with the others throughout the day to see more progress. 

Feedback from group 

  • The figures looked sinister.

  • Even though the viewer is looking down at them, the way they look up meet your gaze makes them hold a position of power. 

  • The viewer is challenged by their direct gaze. 

  • There is a sense of cloning - repetition but slight difference

  • Like the Midwich cuckoos

  • Could make more and fill a room with them so you are watched from every angle

  • A sense of being watched

  • Must research Gary Hill - tall ships and Bill Viola - figures in water 


The day of making experience was really positive and I was suprised at the progress I made in a reasonably short period of time. I will definitely try to initiate more opportunities like this outside of the course with opportunities for dialogue and possible collaborative working. From the work I started, I intend to make more 'studies' from the photos, possibly incorporating the images with either the collage or transparent surfaces from the second stage of my exploratory project.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Viewpoint Photos

I have gone back to thinking about power again - this seems to be a recurring theme. I'm wondering if it's the space between figures rather than their environmental context which creates power realtionships. There is also the viewer and their relative space from the subject or subjects in the image. The photos in this post were exploratory shots playing with viewpoints inspired by Anna Gaskell's photography. 


This was a rapid but very useful exercise for me in really exploring the relationship between the viewer and subject. Not only do these photos create interesting composition including cropping, some or all of the body (not just the head) but they forced me physically into a dominant or vulnerable position when taking them. I found it much easier to adopt the higher viewpoint that the very low ones as it was difficult to achieve a real worm's eye view.

I thought that the high viewpoint would make the subject would place me in the position of power, however the subject's direct gaze towards the camera placed the control with her. The photos with an averted gaze or looking completely away made me feel that the viewer was observing rather than challenging the subject - this may also have put the viewer in a position of power as they for that moment remained unnoticed. The images of with the hands in the foreground attempt yo reference my earlier collages with the outsized hands or claws. I was amazed at how feet or hands very close to the camera lens changes the whole dynamic of the image. Although you can't see the whole body, the space is occupied in a completly different way. I intend to experiment with these compositions in paint and drawing on paper and repeating an image, with the view to exploring more power relationships.