Above are some of the paintings I’ve been working on recently. They are quite large in size and are definitely challenging me in terms of my technique and ease of painting. When I was painting on a smaller size it was much easier to move about and to manipulate the conditions I was painting in but when I paint on a large size like this the way I paint and all the factors in painting are very much determined by the size of the painting.
I like the idea of working on a large scale and I think the photographic images I’m painting definitely work well on a larger scale. However I need to find a way to paint on a large size without totally distorting the image. I’ve found that the bigger I go with canvas/surface size the more distorted the image becomes and the less effective the image is. I’d like to try to simplify the images by not fussing with them too much and by not being too precious with them but I don’t want to totally lose all detail. I need to strike a balance between it all.
In addition to the large paintings I’ve been working on smaller figure paintings where I’ve just been sketching people in everyday life. Although this doesn’t really have anything directly to do with my project I think studying the figure in situations like this will indirectly inform my paintings. By understanding the human form better, in theory, it will help improve my paintings where I paint the human face. And hopefully I’ll be able to progress into painting the human figure onto a large scale like these.
I’ve been researching the portrayal of sex within art and the role it plays. Some big key themes have come up in my research such as feminism, gender, sexuality and even politics to some degree. Along with Jeff Koons, Gustave Courbet and Egon Schiele, one artist that I have become attached to is Cecily Brown.
I looked at Brown’s work a long time go in my second year but quickly dismissed it because it didn’t suit my work at the time. The use of paint and texture was something I was naturally interested in but that was as far as it went. However, it seems I was missing a trick between all the artists that I have been exploring previously. The notion of sex is a key theme not only in Brown’s work but also the work of other artists that I have come across in the past. Whether it be the use of paint, the gesture or the subject matter; there is always a reference to sexuality.
I’ve been reading a book about Cecily Brown, it just so happened to be the only book about her in the library. It focuses particularly on the notion of sexuality within her work; not only with subject matter but also the sexual way she uses her materials. “Sex is the most obvious subject matter with which to tease the guilty viewer and, in Brown’s case, has provided a perfect subject for her early explorations into painterly narrative” pp37 (Cotter, S. 2005)
I’m really interested in the way the figure is portrayed in her paintings which is a little out of my comfort zone as I normally only focus on the human body from the neck up. I think I should definitely explore portrayals of the human figure as a whole. Although I’m primarily interested in the facial expressions I think it might be interesting to explore the human body when there’s no head depicted which then almost rids the body of any personality.
I have noticed that in Brown’s paintings there is a distinct lack of heads/faces and in some of her works the human figure is barely recognizable. She forces the viewer to focus on her paintings and look through the medium. I really like the way she uses paint, the short and fast strokes of the brush give a certain hesitancy to her work. It feels very rushed and panicked. I’m also really intrigued by her colour palette. Where she sometimes sticks to particularly warm shades in other paintings she’ll stick to cool shades.Hardly ever mixing the two.
I’m going to focus on the human figure more within my work and focus less on the face. I’m also going to practice a little more with my technique in painting possibly using different tools to make marks on the page.