Assignment 5, Part 3: Evaluation

The most successful outcome of this whole assignment has actually been two paintings: Plugged-in IV and Plugged-in V (No 4 and 5 in my series)

These two paintings were the most successful of the series and show me using the paint and brushwork to construct and inform. They very much demonstrate a visual response to the sitter , compared to the three preceding portraits in the series that are very much portraits of the sitter. The final 2 abstract portraits, whilst they served a purpose, were not ultimately as engaging as these two. It must be recognised, however, that without the idea of pushing through to paintings 6 and 7 I would not have undergone much of the exploratory exercises that resulted in the two paintings above. 

It wasn’t really until I got to the fifth painting in the series that I really started to paint in a different way, and to view the subject in a different manner. In order to create an abstract painting I tried to simplify and minimise the number of brushstrokes needed to create a portrait that still retained character of the person. I did manage to do this eventually, however the end result was not that satisfying to me as a finished piece. The final abstract portrait feels quite crude even though I feel I did achieve my objective on the brushstrokes. The process of painting this last portrait, however, was very satisfying. There was something about the act of painting that I was exploring, making the brush do the work for me! Academically it may not be very good, but creating the sweep of the form of the nose, cheek and ear was so satisfying!

I have never painted 7 paintings of the same subject back to back before and whilst I found it quite exhausting, it was the process of this repetitive painting that I found extremely interesting and got the most out of as an artist. I had to work very hard to move out of my comfort zone (paintings 1 – 4) but then I did start to view the portrait as a series of planes, mostly following the bony structure, rather than thinking of the pose and composition as a whole. The harsh lighting of the pose both hindered and helped me in the process. It hindered because the lack of tonal variations and subtle shadows creates a very flat looking surface in which it is hard to find form. Conversely I was helped by the necessity of having to think about the underlying anatomy to find that form.

I have strived to move forward and develop as an artist throughout this module,  sometimes not succeeding as much as I would have liked .Once I had completed a couple of these portraits I found I was much more confident in making bold marks. It still took until painting 5 to finally reach a level of mark making that I recognised as something akin to me. Up until then there was always the frustration that paintings weren’t turning out how I envisaged in my head. That frustration wasn’t there with painting 5; there was a certain edginess to the portrait that I identified with. On completing it (abstraction aside) I felt as if I had arrived somewhere! It was a real lightbulb switching on moment for me. This recognition of painting style has alluded me for most for the course (with the odd exception of a quick study in a sketchbook) although I look back with interest at the fact that I have never liked including a background!

Looking back over the course, the parts that have provided me with the most creative resources have actually been the more simple techniques, the mark making with brushes, working on coloured grounds and creating painting studies (rather than drawing). That is not to say that I don’t understand the value of all the other areas such as applying paint with different materials, sticking stuff in paint, impasto techniques and the like. They were fun and I will endeavour to incorporate those into my practice when I feel the need. However for me I think I needed to just paint repeatedly without feeling encumbered by all the different techniques. In this final assignment, repeating the same subject over and over again has allowed me to do this. It will be interesting to see if it takes 5 paintings to get to that point next time!

Assignment 5, Part 3: Evaluation

One thought on “Assignment 5, Part 3: Evaluation

  1. Jennifer says:

    This is an impressive development of a portrait. Unlike you, I’d have included number 6 because I think it shows key steps in the development to more abstract.


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