Week E1 – 26/03/18

I’ve decided to stay in Norwich and carry on working over Easter, I’m very aware of time constraints and not being able to use the studios after the degree show install. I’m also struggling at the moment with scale and reference material – there is a danger that I make something without fully experimenting first, and the work will come out looking uninformed or under developed.

The 2 smaller blue paintings I’ve been working on were stretched this week, I’m sort of a bit disappointed in what they look like now – without the blue border I think they loose a bit of the depth that they had.

I think for now I’m going to keep them stretched, but it might be that if I come to display them at some point I might consider taking them off the stretchers again. Working in this way with a very limited palette seems to have helped me – I think the kitchen scene with the figure in the door frame works much better like this, I’m now considering going back to the original, large-scale piece and trying to apply the same sort of neutralness. I think In future, it might be better for me to prime on-stretcher, remove and then work on the canvas unstretched as I had some trouble lining the images up on the stretchers with no guide. The canvas also isn’t as taught as I’d like, in fear of splitting the acrylic paint I went for a slacker stretch, so I think stretching, then priming, might be the way to go.

I’ve started preparing another surface, a canvas I primed last year but never used. I’m planning on using some stills from a recording I took of myself and a housemate watching TV. I’m not going to edit these pre-painting, but I’m hoping that if I limit the number of sessions that I paint in the colour will stay fairly neutral/accurate. I’m a bit worried about the graininess of these images and whether or not this will affect the way they translate onto a larger scale.

 

I’m also beginning to think more about how I market myself, trying to create some sort of online presence so that there is a greater chance I will be motivated to carry on my practice beyond university. I’m also considering publishing a small book of writing and documentation so submit alongside my work. I think that the more professional I’m able to come across and the more conscious I am of how I present myself, the more accessible my work will be.

 

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Week 23 – 19/03/18

This week I went on a study visit to the Netherlands, visiting galleries in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. It acted as a sort of refresher, being able to take a bit of time out as well as see some primary examples of work.

I particularly enjoyed being able to see some of the more historical works – Vermeer is an artist in particular that I have liked for a while, but haven’t necessarily contextualised/been able to relate to my own practice. Seeing his work in the flesh made me really aware of the way that he composes images in a way that was very unusual for the time – there is evidence that Vermeer had access to the camera obscura, a very early version of the camera – it could not take a still image, but could take a 3D arrangement and translate it into a flat, contained image. I have an ongoing interest in the way that painting and photography relate, how one takes something 3 dimensional and flattens it in a way that represents, but also denies the original, 3 dimensional ‘thing’.

 

 

These are a few of the photographs I managed to take of various works I felt showed particularly interesting compositional tools or featured a sort of ‘portal’ as I often do in my work. Its always really useful to be able to see work like this in person – its really easy to misinterpret scale and colour when looking at an image of a painting. It’s strange to see the diversity of works and how there are distinct similarities between the older paintings and the more contemporary ones. For example one could draw connections between the Francis Bacon work and the images of Adriaen Van Ostade’s A Lawyer in his Study – the dark colour creates a sort of void behind the subject, drawing the eye in whilst also keeping the viewer at bay – I find that in some cases I don’t want to look too far into the work in case a face or strange shape manifests itself in the darkness.

I was also really excited to see some of Van Gogh’s paintings – these are the prime example of photographs lacking the ability to communicate the original work. The level of detail in his paintings sometimes goes unnoticed when looking at a small image. I was particularly surprised to find The Potato Peelers at the Kroller Muller gallery – this was a painting that came up repeatedly in my research surrounding the tableau and the everyday, so seeing it in person was really exciting. It was much larger than I’d anticipated – the marks he made were really chunky compared to his characteristic, almost pointillistic style so I think this led me to believe the painting would be small – like looking into a miniature room. In reality I found the scale quite off putting – it was a non standard size, too large to be a condensed representation and to small to be proportional to the body. But in a way, that draws the eye in. I have a canvas of a similar size in the studio, so might look at this  image for influence when thinking about the scale of my figures and how I represent them.

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Overall, the trip was a really useful experience – I want to be able to utilise the information I’ve gathered, and perhaps think about writing something based on the experiences I had at the various galleries. The Kroller Muller in particular felt quite surreal to me, so I’d perhaps consider writing something more poetic about it.

Week 22 – 12/03/18

This week I’ve tried to throw myself back into studio practice. I had a really brief chat with one of the tutors about my recent paintings and the struggle I’ve been having with physically finishing things and making the painting look cohesive. He suggested that I try altering the colour of the image before I print it, so that the range of tones is still there, but there is less confusion when it comes to different colours.

I did this with the 2 image I’m using for the small rectangular pieces of canvas.

The difference in colour is very subtle, but the toned down saturation means that I’ve been able to really limit the palette I’m working with.

This is the progress from this week. I’m really happy with the outcomes so far – the blue colours have been exaggerated quite a bit, but I think this works quite well with the subject matter and the sort of blue light that comes off a mobile phone. The first image ended up being a lot more successful, perhaps because I was a bit reluctant to paint the second image again (it’s essentially the same photo I was working from on the large piece of canvas) however I can see a visible improvement in the way I’ve handled the areas of light and dark. The proportions are slightly off in this painting, but I don’t think I’ll work into them much more because I plan to go much larger and don’t want to spend too much time on the details.

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The plan from the start for these paintings has been to put them on stretchers – the greyish borders were initially to show the border I’d have to leave, however it frames the scenes really well. I’ve made up 2 narrow stretchers this week, and so  hopefully once I am back from the Netherlands I’ll be able to finish the works once they are stretched.

The canvas I used was an offcut, so when I initially started painting I didn’t realise how small the canvas would be once stretched – working on a larger scale will hopefully help to combat this in future. I’m a little worried about loosing the grey border – in the hallway painting it definitely helps to create the sense of perspective and helps to draw  the eye in. The darker line on the left hand side is not actually within the ‘limits’ of the painting, it was just an impulsive way of reinforcing the edge – however I might add it into the stretched painting as, again, I think it’s important in helping the eye travel forward.

Next week I have a trip with the department to the Netherlands,  so will effectively be taking a week out of the studio. I’m hoping that the gallery visits will help to inform my research – without being required to write anything for this unit, I haven’t really done much reading or looking at artists, so definitely something to think about. I’m also thinking about writing some sort of review/documentation of the trip as part of my writing.

Week 21 – 05/03/18

I’ve been at home this week, I haven’t managed to get much done, however while I’ve been away the editorial board had a meeting with the design for publishing students to view their pitches for the publication.

The designs all look really successful, although the one the group chose has a really interesting ring-bound structure and stood out from the rest. I believe that the intention is to get the publishing students to cost up this design and choose this one if it is within our budget, and if not, chose a booklet that has a similar design but is traditionally bound.

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It’s a bit frustrating that I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, initially it was scheduled for last week but was cancelled because of the weather. I’m hoping we’ll be able to schedule another meeting soon between us to discuss the next steps in gathering texts and images for students and how we will organise editing these – I think we also need to have discussions about chasing contributors for texts and making sure everyone is on the same page.

I’ve started trying to write a short piece about the interim exhibition based on the transcription of the curation team meeting, it’s still in the very early stages but i’m hoping by next week I’ll have something more substantial to show the group.

Week 20 – 26/02/18

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I’ve been experimenting with painting again this week. I managed to find another image that I feel correlates well with the image I was using for reference on the large canvas painting, and have started making grounds with the intention of doing 2 smaller paintings as a possible series. I really like this image and the modern context that the use of mobile phones implies, so depending on how the smaller painting works, might consider doing another large canvas painting of it as a stand alone piece. I really need to start painting a bit quicker and using the experiments as a way of informing a degree show piece.

I’ve also been revisiting filming people watching tv – the setup of my current living arrangement means that the images are perhaps not as exciting as some of the earlier videos I took, but I still think that some of them are effective and could be used as painting reference.

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There was a curation meeting this week where I had the opportunity to look at the space I’ve been allocated for the degree show. The wall was a lot larger than anticipated – I was concerned that the dimensions I initially proposed were not really taken into consideration, however it gives me the opportunity to work a lot bigger if I’d like to, or submit more than one piece. I’m a little bit concerned at the time I have left and the practical considerations that come with making up a large stretcher. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks when I’ve had the chance to experiment more with what I’m working on currently, I’ll be able to come up with a definite idea of what I’m going to make and plan accordingly. I’m going home next week because of a family matter, so don’t think I will be able to make much practical work or get much done in the time I have. Hopefully I’ll at least be able to do some research to inform my work for when I come back.

Week 19 – 19/02/18

I found out this week that I had been selected to exhibit in the Free Range exhibition after the degree show.

I’m really excited to partake in this, as the exhibition will provide a really good opportunity to network and make my work known. Among the few of us who got selected, we’ve decided that we want to be as active as possible in the process, making titles, statements etc, and using it as a way of really representing ourselves. We’re also thinking of putting on an event after the private view to try and network even further in an informal environment with other exhibitors. Today, during the first meeting, me and 2 others decided to take charge of the writing element, based on a title that the full group came up with: ‘Visual Interference’. As a representation of the course, the work is all really  diverse – it ‘clashes’ but in a really interesting way that, whilst showing the bredth of our practices, allows for interesting discussions about collaboration – this is what we want to promote in the short text. Relating to the degree show publication, the statement also became about the end of our university experience and how we move forward without the constant input of our peers in a very stimulating studio environment. The rest of the group responded really well – I think that in spite of the pressure on us at the moment with degree show planning etc, there is a really positive energy surrounding this project and everyone is really eager to contribute.

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Sort of along the same lines –  I also recently received conformation from 2 of the external organisations the editorial board contacted in relation to the degree show publication. Both the Dyad Creative and Kaavous Clayton from OUTPOST/originalprojects seem really eager to participate, so this is good news. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks we will have seen the design for publishing pitches and be starting to form the foundations of what the publication will look and read like. The process so far has been a little frustrating at times with chasing people and having difficulty organising meetings, but I think we’ve done a good job so far.

I’ve finished work on the pink piece I started last week –

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I’m pleased with the outcome, and have actually entered the piece in a painting competition. I’m not sure how successful it will be as the brief was specific about strong directional light and technical painting skill – but having put myself forward for the free-range exhibition and being selected I feel I’ve got the confidence to put my work out there a little bit.

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In the studio I’ve started prepping some more smaller surfaces, with the intention of painting some small studies of myself watching TV – I’ve been looking at the surfaces all week without really wanting to start work on them, I think possibly because of the prospect of having to do 4 paintings that are very small (and perhaps limiting in terms of what I can communicate) . I might now re-think the idea. Someone in my studio suggested that I paint one of the images across all 4 pieces of canvas – I’m really intrigued by this – it’s a definite way of drawing attention to the picture surface – especially if I make it so that in order to understand the picture, the viewer must fill in the gaps between the individual canvases. I’m still deciding where I want to go with this, so will probably paint on them at some point next week as a bit of an experiment.

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Week 18 – 12/02/18

I’ve been developing my large painting a bit more this week – I’ve had several tutorials at this point, and the response has been fairly positive – there  are definitely areas of the work that are successful. However I feel as though  I’ve reached a sort of dead end with the work in terms of finishing it. I think the longer I spend on a work the harder it is to finish/make cohesive. I’ve learnt that although I use the same photographic reference, when I paint in multiple spaced out sessions, the details I focus on differ, and so the work  becomes quite confusing in terms of colour, level of detail etc.

I think that to combat this I need to start working on a painting for no more than a week – so that there is a consistency in what I’m doing.

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Again, I’m struggling with the facial  features – I think a lot of this has to do with  the lighting in the reference images and the slight distortion of the original because of the  stretching that happens when you take a photograph on a phone. Again I think this can be solved by working quite quickly/not leaving the face as the last area I focus on. That way, even if it is  a problem area, it will be consistent with the rest of  the painting.

One of the painting tutors liked the idea of revisiting the concepts and themes surrounding the screen/watching television. I think it’s a really appropriate subject matter – she suggested looking not just at television and the traditional ‘sitting on a sofa’ viewing experience, but the new ways we watch things, in bed, on laptops, on phones. I think the danger here is loosing the deliberate panel-esque confrontation that comes across in the original work, but I’m definitely open to looking at different subject matter.

To try and motivate myself a bit more I started work on a smaller monochrome piece, using quite bright colours. I  started with a really vibrant pink, which put me a little bit outside my comfort zone, and used an image that I  knew I’d have to work with rather than from.

I deliberately made the ground quite choppy, just to add a bit more interest, and tried to work with a very large brush in relation to the size of the board.

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This sort of scale always seems to work quite well for me, and looking at this work, I always seem to be able to proportion a profile portrait quite well.

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This is the progress as of this week, I’m really happy with the outcome so far, it’s quite refreshing to work on a smaller scale, and because it’s going quite well I’m eager to continue.