It’s been a while since I’ve posted any work in progress. I’m not sure that I want to post photos of uncompleted works, so I thought I would try a video update. Here goes …
This is an image from a workshop I did with the wonderful Kate Boyce at Northlight Art Studios. We spent the day learning how to layer collage, paint and image transfers using a range of techniques. After months of painting and intensive research for my BA course, it was wonderful to just play again! I’m wondering about using this technique to incorporate written memoir and other ephemera to do with memory.
LiteracyHead is a new online magazine providing resources for literacy educators. According to their website “A Literacyhead is someone who is intensely serious about exercising creative literacy, making connections across multiple literacies, pursuing thoughtful literacy as an individual and as a teacher, and constantly searching for ideas. Literacyheads may have expertise in different areas of literacy, but all are committed to children’s literacy, passionate about the arts, incessant thinkers, and display a propensity for having fun.” On this site, creative literacy is not just about words, but also about visual literacy – the art of reading pictures.
The other thing that these paintings have made me think about is working in series. When you present a series of works to a viewer, how much time do you want or expect them to spend looking at each individual painting? And how much of the meaning comes from them making connections between the paintings, and responding to a mood that gets built up by looking at them as a set? These questions may consciously or subconsciously influence my decisions about the level of finish or clarity that I give each individual painting. If I’m viewing them as a group, then I must expect the viewer to as well. And this will influence my decisions about how I hang them. Do I create a cluster of them, or do I space them out with plenty room around each one? This will also depend upon the space that I manage to get for my final show.
Oil on paper 5″ x 7″
Another work in progress. I’ve reached the point after a long period of not knowing what to do with these where I now want to work on them again. I’ve been struggling with the balance between retaining the immediacy of my initial painted response to the photograph, and working it up into a more realised image. After a period of looking at these on the studio wall, I realised than I do want to work them up a bit more. I now have my work cut out to do this in time for them to dry before the show!
Oil on paper, image size 5″ x 5″
Another idea I was working on before Christmas which I will continue to work on as I get time. I was intrigued looking through photographs of myself over the years by the number of different roles I seemed to play. I went through some of the images and cropped my head and shoulders to create a series of ‘mugshots’. I am now working with these, initially painting them in the same format as they appear on the computer printout.
I had a useful chat with my tutor about the final show, where he helped me to work out that I just need to do what comes naturally. I need to paint what I want to paint (or make what I want to make) and the show will come together in its own time. ‘Thinking’ ahead is not good for my creative process. I need to ‘do’ first and ‘think’ later when it comes to my art. I feel a weight dropping from my shoulders …
Finally, after a month of snow, ice and freezing temperatures, I made it back into the studio today. I am now gearing up to prepare for my BA final show. I had hoped to be able to take some of the little pictures in to college, but unbelievably they are still not dry. Clearly oil paints cannot dry in sub-zero temperatures.
I did manage to pick up a paintbrush, and started two more of these little paintings. I’ll post pictures tomorrow; I forgot my camera today.
I am also trying to visualise how I will display them. It is not enough just to paint pictures and hang them on the wall. The way in which they are displayed, how they are organised, and the space that they are in will all affect the way they are experienced and read. So I’ve started by doing a sketch to visualise how they might hang in a space. I had an idea of painting the space a dark green/grey colour to create a sense of intimacy and delving into memory. However, having painted a little sketch of how this might look, I’m not so sure.
I want to give the viewer a sense of surveillance – how perhaps snapshot photographs become a form of surveillance in the way that we experience them being taken, and being looked at afterwards. Also, I wonder whether we use them as a form of self-surveillance. Surely everyone sits up and pays more attention when they see a photo of themselves. What are we thinking? I know what I’m thinking most of the time – too fat, too grey, what-a-stupid-smile.
Not sure how this project will turn out, but I’ll blog it here as a way of helping me think about it.
This painting completes the series of six, which I will be displaying during the Hebden Bridge Winter Open Studios next weekend 5th/6th December 11am – 5pm at Northlight Art Studios. I will also have a couple of paintings in the ArtsMill Winter Art Market opening the same weekend. Open Studios is always a good time to visit Hebden Bridge, because there are four major arts organisations opening their doors for visitors to poke around studios, visit exhibitions and buy totally unique gifts.
This is part of a series of six (at the moment). Many of my paintings are leading me to ideas about how we feel being photographed. I don’t know about you, but I have always felt very self-conscious in front of a camera. What sort of expression should I arrange my face into? How should I stand? What should I do with my hands? The problem with having a camera pointing at you is that you know there is going to be a permanent record made, a photographic image which you will then have as ‘evidence’ to judge yourself against. And with digital cameras, camcorders, mobile phone cameras and CCTV, we are very often in front of a camera, and a lot of ‘evidence’ is being made. What does this do to our sense of self, and how we present ourselves? And just how many images of ourselves are ‘out there’? Then, of course, we put our photos onto the internet. Who knows what happens to them then? My painting has led me to a whole discussion about surveillance and identity. Next stop – the library!