Practice of painting 1 has without doubt been a challenge for me. It was a steep learning curve starting with having to learn how to hold a brush again. The module enabled me to progress in many different areas from the more physical aspects of painting, such as experimenting with different media, trying out different styles and different palettes, to the more cerebral aspects of painting such as responding to the marks I have previously made rather than planning the whole painting before hand. Throughout the module I have been striving to gain an understanding of ‘what paint is’ (and at one point really focusing on what ‘colour’ is) and ‘what paint allows an artist to do’. By continually exploring and experimenting with different styles and techniques my lightbulb moment finally happened during the completion of my person project. Here I really started to understand the process of constructing with paint and what it means to be responsive to both the subject and the resulting marks on the support. Prior to this point, whilst I sometimes achieved this level of enquiry in final pieces, mostly it was only found in my sketchbook work or quick study work. Working on a series of finished of paintings for my personal project was a really valuable experience. It allowed me to consolidate my learning and I was finally able to let the work lead me rather than me lead the work which resulted in a huge leap forward in my painting development.
In putting together my portfolio I have chosen to submit work that is successful not just because of the mark making but because it is energetic, dramatic and has a strong sense of vitality: qualities that I want to continue to develop in my art practice and that say something about how I want to paint – an essence of ‘Anna’ if you like. Most pieces (no’s 1 – 4 and 6) are studies as that is where most of my most engaging and investigative work is to be found.
My portfolio and supporting work
I have chosen to submit Painting 1 as it has a striking, dramatic composition, the shapes are enquiring and the forms are modelled sensitively and my brushwork inventive. Compared to the supporting piece there is more of a narrative to the composition: through the sensitive brushwork, the bench has become part of the whole painting rather than something that the eggs just happen to be sitting on.
Painting 2, whilst quite a small study, this painting also displays vitality. There is an energy to the painting created by a fluidity between the apple and the space around it that the final painting lacked. Whilst the palette is quite bold, the treatment of the colours as a whole, and in particular in the shadow work, is sympathetic and harmonious. At this point in the course I was really trying to understand colour. I have included as supporting work one of the final pieces that arose out of this investigation showing the same sympathetic treatment of colour. However the brushwork in this supporting piece is less inventive and the painting lacks a sense of enquiry about the apple in space that painting 2 has. I have also included Lemons and Blue Bowl as supporting work. It is a successful piece in its own right: there is a harmonious cool colour palette and it really shows success at constructing with paint and use of brushwork to create form. However it is in a more refined, realistic style so I have chosen not to select it in order to maintain the coherence of my portfolio as a whole.
Paintings 3 and 4
I have chosen to submit Paintings 3 and 4 as they are full of energy and life and use paint as an enquiry. They were both quick works, completed (deliberately) with very little planning. I have started with forms and not line, and then responded to the marks representing those forms. The results are very honest visual responses to each subject. Painting 3 is particularly successful in this regard and creates quite an intense viewing experience.
This response to mark making is also evident in Painting 5 in which it was the negative spaces that drove the work forward. As well as the forms being constructed rather than coloured in, this painting also shows a consolidation of ideas from a variety of points in the course of using implements other than brushes to both add paint and subtract paint. Evidence of these ideas can also be seen in both supporting works for this painting and also painting 6. The result is that Painting 5 is quite a dramatic painting full of atmosphere that draws the viewer in. ‘Walking the Dog’ (supporting work E) also has value as a finished painting. All the elements work together and there is a sense of space and atmosphere. However I have not selected it as part of my final portfolio as whilst a very successful painting, it (like ‘Lemons and Blue Bowl’) has been completed in a slightly different register to the other paintings and its inclusion would dilute the impact of my portfolio.
This sense of atmosphere is also seen in Painting 6. This small study contains much loose brushwork and is very much a response to the shapes and the colours of the city scape. As a result there is also a fluency between the tower blocks and the air around them that is missing from the final piece (which, although very experimental in its approach, I have submitted as a supporting work for comparison).
Paintings 7 and 8
Painting 7 and 8 were originally part of a longer series of 7 paintings where I started with a very realistic style portrait and then took the marks I was making in each successive portrait and tried to move them to abstraction. These two paintings were the most successful of the series and show the use of 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 (submitted as supporting work) which are much less engaging and more just paintings of the sitter. I consider them responses to the subject in front of me rather than paintings of the subjects in front of me.