Ideas? Technical issues?
» Feedback to a-n
By: Bernice Wilson
Studying a BA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins, specializing in 2D - mostly painting and photography with a bit of animation and sound thrown in for good measure
# 22 [19 April 2010]
Been pretty busy again this last week. Painting yes, how did you guess. But also, I have at last worked out a system for posting updates more frequently on my phone.
I'm also investigating Twitter, yes Twitter. I've been ignoring it for forever, I do Facebook and have done for about 4 years now but haven't really understood the advantage of Twitter over Facebook. Still don't as yet. But, thanks to Richard's invite, I now have a Twitter name "BeNice4" and will try and get my head around it this week during my commute time. Any tips will be most gratefully received, or should I say tweets??? Q: Can you update your blog via twitter? Is that a step too far? I guess thats the next logical stage, isn't it? Maybe when I know more about it I'll be able to answer that question myself. It does look like it could be a useful info bank.
Anyway, paintings. I had my second record week last week. Put in the hours mind you, but it paid off. Nice and refreshed from my holiday I guess. A couple of them were a bit daunting: "Kaysha's" skin colour I was worried about and the fact her glasses split one of her eyes in two; "Roger's" rimless glasses and I guess with him being that much older, then there was his moustache; "Tom's" (we have two) moustache too, I'd applied the latex all wrong on this one and feared it would cause me some issues, it was at the wrong angle.
# 21 [11 April 2010]
Our new timetable has been published on our college site and there's a couple of tutorials coming up, it will be good to chat through my progress so far and discuss the idea I have for a sound piece to accompany the paintings...I will have to give this some more thought, not only the logistics of making it but also if indeed it would work in the space, there being fellow students work hung there along side it too.
Need to find time to update my website soon too. Can't decide on whether to give it another total revamp/look or not. Guess the time I have to do it will ultimately determine this!
I'm getting kind of excited now but also a bit nervous, there's so much more to do than just making the physical work for the show, so much more behind the scenes stuff - documentation etc... that needs doing and I have barely enough time for the painting let alone everything else. I'm more often than not in the studio 10/11 hours a day, Mon-Fri, thats without taking into account the commuting time either side. So weekends are the only time I have for, lets call it the admin side of things!
Need to make a list and prioritise!
# 20 [11 April 2010]
Decided to take a short break - a few days in Cornwall. Partly because I've been working hard and needed a break, and partly enforced as the college was closed over the easter bank holidays and rail strikes were threatened.
Had a great time, lovely weather - sunny and warm mixed with cold, wet and windy. Just what I needed. So back to college tomorrow, one more week of holidays before term starts back, and 3 more weeks after that till we have to be finished our degree show work....
It's pretty exciting and daunting too.
There's so much to think about! I still don't know right now what the answer is to the selling/pricing question. I wonder, though I suspect not, whether we'll get much advice on this when term starts. I mean there may be some guidelines, but ultimately its you the artist who needs to make the call. And this is a new phase to my practice that I am totally naive about. I guess everyone makes mistakes initially so I shouldn't worry, just relax and see make a call nearer the time.
Back to my paintings though, when it came to paint on the purple grounds - "Pheobe" and "Alex" (see next post) - I had loads of issues. More so with "Alex" though, he has caused me the most trouble to date. Firstly the purple is such that the complexion, no matter what I do gives a stoney-cold look because of the purple shining through my paint - it's quite fascinating really. Secondly I just really messed up and had the proportions all wrong - eyes too close, nose too short etc.. so at one point I rubbed half of it off and started again. Got there in the end though.
Must have been tired, I guess.
# 19 [5 April 2010]
As time moves on and my piece grows, the inevitable conversation comes up over and over – am I going to sell the individual portraits at the degree show? What a great idea I’ve had, I’ll make a killing, earn loads of cash. Obviously insinuating that this is what I’d planned from the start. Hmm… When some fellow students first said this I was quite shocked. Not at the fact of the matter, more that it was really the farthest thing from my mind. Sure all work is potentially for sale at these shows, but I hadn’t really thought that my peers or their families might want to buy their portrait … as they are suggesting. Naïve? Probably. But of course there’s an obvious dilemma here. I see the piece as a whole. I don’t see each portrait as an individual piece of work and in fact feel that, looked at in isolation; they don’t have the same power as I hope/intend that they have when they’re all together. The thing is: if I refuse to sell an individual painting to eager parents/partners or the buying public at large, am I declaring that they are not worthy, are they not my intended audience…. and equally if I choose this route and sell say 1, 2, 10, 20 pieces, where does it leave the remainder? The piece is no longer whole; it can no longer work as it was originally intended. I don’t know about you, but this is going to really be my first foray into selling my work. Equally this is my degree show work, a seminal piece on which to hopefully launch my artistic career. I don’t want to get it wrong. This has to be carefully thought out. While I may not want to sell it in piece size chunks, the likelihood of selling it as a whole is pretty slim, isn’t it?! I don't know. We may think, we’re artists, we should just create art as best we can and not go into the nasty buying and selling world that is the art market, but let’s be realistic here, we still have to eat! We still have to live.
What a rant! As you can tell I’ve been giving this some thought. It may just be irrelevant anyway, but it has to be considered in order to deal with any eventuality that may arise. Solutions to consider: (a) don’t sell (b) only sell as a whole piece (c) sell new commissions of individual portraits as required, so the original stays intact (d) sell individual portraits if interest is there and not worry about it (e) sell individual portraits and replace with a blank coloured square – the piece stays intact, albeit it morphs into a new state of being as it changes over time when/if parts are sold…..
# 18 [5 April 2010]
One bad week followed by one great week. That’s the way it wants to be, but luckily enough that’s how it’s been.
Thanks for the comments David, Carolyn. Carolyn, Photoshop has been an invaluable slave, assisting me in planning and preparing what the whole piece is going to look like. That’s how I’m pretty clear in my mind what the end result is going to look like and why I’m so excited. Trying to convey this to my tutor on the other hand took some work, some printouts of my planning pieces etc. I’m pretty confident he gets it now as when it came to allocating degree show spaces I got the space I wanted as a result of my proposal submission, so all’s good there :O)
Interestingly we’re into Easter holidays now, the college is open as usual apart from the bank holidays, so getting access to the studios is easy, and amazingly there’s almost as many of us in now as there is in term time. All working on our degree show pieces, so a good encouraging atmosphere. Funny how it makes us start to realise that with only 7 weeks prep left, 5 now actually, that soon we’ll be without studio space. We’ll have to source our own spaces; we’ll all disperse and go our separate ways, quite sad really. We forget how lucky we are having space in the centre of London like this, and I’m only relieved I’ve been making full use of it, yet it also highlights more what I’ll be missing when its gone.
I keep getting asked why I’m painting on coloured squares. Fair question I guess. It all stemmed from an initial conversation with my tutor over the tone of my palette being very warm and that maybe I should consider using ‘cool’ grounds, help create more contrast. On this piece of work I couldn’t choose just one colour and thought about maybe three, but which three…. Then I got thinking about Chuck Close and how all his portraits start with coloured squares, that’s when it hit me; I’d build the portraits onto a random collection of coloured squares. So there you have it.
Having painted quite a few this week, I’m now in a good position to create an image for the degree show catalogue. I did consider submitting something completely different, but have settled for an excerpt from this piece. I’ll montage together some individual images into a partial grid like the one I’ve attached to my previous blog entry, but more realistic of the final piece. What I mean by that is, include some blank canvas squares. You see there are some peers who should be part of the piece, but for whom I don’t have a photo to work from. Either they’ve joined the cohort after 1st year or they weren’t in college that day in our 1st week of 1st year when the photos were taken. For these I am including a blank coloured square. I could have photographed them, but the time has passed, and the aesthetic would be totally different so I haven’t.
# 17 [24 March 2010]
Last week was a bit of an off week in terms of work, I guess they come along every once and a while and need to be accepted. I could have easily stressed over it but that would have just made things worse.
That said its not like I didn't accomplish anything, I just didn't keep to my schedule and lets face it a hard task master created that - me!
It had been mothers day and I found that quite hard having recently lost my mum, and I was feeling a bit poorly too - a lot of us were at college, end of term, needing a break kinda tired. Anyway, all my canvases are built now, prepared and ready to paint on. So now all my efforts over the hols will be on painting the portraits, which is nice.
Someone asked me yesterday am I not sick of faces? They had spent a summer doing portraits and by the end of it they were well and truly fed up with it. I'm not, thats not to say I won't be by the end. But in a way thats part of the challenge. I have this innate desire to paint portraits, I feel compelled to do so. I often ask myself, nae tell myself, "Isn't it about time you did something else?" But I just can't pull myself away from the fascination they hold. How different each one is, how a few marks with the brush can capture a likeness and yet the addition of another and you might lose it again....
Thanks for the tip on the printer Sharoon, I have been doing a bit of research and am now thinking of investing in A2...
I rearranged all my paintings this week onto a wall that I can stand back and take in (tutor wanted to see this, as I've been working in a narrow corridor up until now). I have a vision in my head of how the whole thing is going to look and I'm really excited by it, so it was nice to get a partial view of this for others to get an idea. It was kinda freaky but very encouraging - highlighted how tricky the final hang is going to be though. Yikes!
# 16 [12 March 2010]
Got some more images to share with you. I'm really chuffed at how the progress is going. Some are still giving my some trouble but on the whole i think I'm making progress.
I've discovered if I use too big a brush I put too much paint on the canvas at a time and then end up not being able to work with it. I've found also that if I use vibrant colours like red or green I need to use them really sparingly as they are really strong and take a lot of work to blend in - like what happened in 'James" and "Cheiko". I've also learnt a trick from a fellow student on the application of the laytex - use a pipette and an old water bottle and make a squeezy bottle for it, that way I get more control over it - can draw thinner lines, indicate the hair better and not have 'fingers' like in 'Cheiko". So now I make up a job lot of it and do a load of canvases at once. It's also easier to peel off this way cause its not been brushed on.
Working on different coloured grounds is kinda scary, the last few have been on yellow, pink and white resp., going back to white was weird!
Spent all day in the workshop yesterday, and wed afternoon, the guys have been great there. Going in today also, getting the remainder of my frames together so that I can crack on and with the portraits during the easter break as planned.
It may seem like a production line, and in certainly has those qualities especially when it comes to the actual making and preparing the canvases. But thats where it stops. Each portrait is considered and all the mark making and colour addition are all very considered. I get in the zone and consider constantly whats working, whats not. What I can improve on, what I should change etc... I only wish I'd spent more time painting last term rather than spending time on my animations, that said it was really satisfying to finish them, even though the problems I faced were due to lack of knowledge and consistency in the creation of the source material. Hey ho, its all part of the journey eh.
Oh can anyone recommend a good A3 colour printer?
# 15 [11 March 2010]
Carolyn, thanks for the tip about YouTube, had a go at setting it up but didn't have much time, will look again.
Managed a chat with tutor, more emotional than I'd have liked! Really wish I'd seen it coming - the mark I mean, seen that my expectations didn't match up with my tutors, maybe they could have been managed better. Maybe something good will come out of it, but I have to get on and enjoy the here and now, regardless....
Once I sorted my head out I did just that, I got on with my paintings. I plan to paint my fellow students, well all those in 2d anyway. That's 66 at last count. I plan to create a grid and use coloured grounds. It's a mamouth task and I have to say I did reconsider in light of the assessment mark but have decided I'm doing this for me. I have a clear vision in my head of what the finished piece will look like and I'm excited by it.
So that's what I've been working on. Part way through the second painting I was trying to find a way of masking off the canvas so I could avoid painting it, leave the ground colour clean, then I discovered laytex, and loving the effect :0). So far I have painted 12. Did I say I have to paint a min of 1 a day? No easter break for me.
Yep, well it's a tight schedule especially as I'm making my own canvases too. It's a challenge but a nice one. I'm getting lots of positive feedback from both peers and tutors as they pass my corridor space, which is really encouraging.
Academic tutorials this past week too, that seemed to go well, tutor really engaged with looking at the paintings, how they might fit together, how they might be hung for the degree show etc.. Things he wants me to think about are on my radar already: the hang, the close proximity of each, the disparity in quality across the group - inevitable, deliberate, necessary... I also talked about creating a book/catalogue of the works, he liked this idea, going 360deg, talking a photo to a painting and back to a photo again.
Lots to do, but progress is going well. Workshop guys are being a great help putting all my lengths of wood through the table saw and mitre saw, which is great.
Anyway best get on.
# 14 [24 February 2010]
Well I thought last entry was a long time coming....
I could make a whole load of excuses about being too consumed in my work etc which would be true and my work being my top priorty which is also true. But that doesn't excuse it doesn't excuse the lapse, the promise I made to myself at the outset to try and run the duration with this blog. I knew this was about the time when I'd falter, 2nd term in.
So what have I been up to? I guess after the dissertation got handed in i spent a lot of time on the 2nd animation and also on a photo montage (of sorts) that I was collecting images for. Thankfully I did get both completed for the assessment which I was really chuffed about (shame I can't upload moving images here). For two different reasons: the animation because I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get it finished, and the photo because it's almost a 5m scroll about a metre high and looks great opposite my paintings.
We had the assessment week 2 weeks ago now and got results back Friday. Not a happy bunny really. The marking doesn't seem to make any sense to me. Hoping to have a chat with tutor and that he can help me make sense of it all. :0(
On the upside I have decided what I want to do for the degree show and have certainly given myself a tall order! I ran it past the tutor (before I got marks back) and got the thumbs up. Now it's all systems go.
Should be able to keep more regular appearances on here now too - just got a new phone which if I'm lucky will enable me to do it on the train :0)
# 13 [18 January 2010]
Well, well, well.... crazy times. Got back from 30deg heat in NZ to nearly 30cm of snow in Reading, nice! Been hiding ever since to get dissertation finished, which was finally handed in on friday, hurrah and hussar, been letting off steam ever since.
New year, new week, and new dawn, now need to get focused and ready for assessment in 3 weeks time and added to that need to think further ahead to degree show, try and figure out where to go next, what's on the agenda for that....exciting and very very scary!
I didn't get as much work sorted out over the xmas break as I set out to, but then I guess it was really unrealistic to think I would when I was going to NZ for 3 1/2 weeks. I did get my ma applications in and one animation done, quite pleased with it and I'm part way through the other one, but it's proving more difficult. Still I can fully concentrate on it now, yippee :O)
Tutorial tomorrow, hopefully that will help get my head straight ....
Just getting ready for my degree show now. It has been an extremely busy and exciting year.
I have succeeded in keeping up this blog - something I thought would be sure to fall by the way side part way through the year.
I encourage anyone considering starting one to take the plunge, see how it goes. I've found it really helpful and hope to continue on Artist talking after the degree show. Good luck everyone.