Demonstration of visual skills: materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills
Materials and techniques –
I have learned a great deal about materials and techniques in Part 3.
I enjoyed using ink in a loose and flowing way, in the manner of Dumas, in the first exercise, and the experience will help me achieve one of my aims for my assignment submission, of making simple, quick portraits by staining fabric. The continuous line drawings I did as part of the exercise helped as an exercise in observation and a warm up for the ink studies.
The monotype process will add a great dimension to my assignment work, and to my future practise. It’s a technique that encourages loose work and invites the unpredictable. I’ve been delighted at the outcomes from my exercises, because I’ve begun to achieved, through monotype, suggestion, and a certain naturalness, in place of the instinct to want to master paint in an adversarial way. I’ve experimented with oil, acrylic, ink and watercolour monotypes, using glass and plexiglass as plates. I’ve used both additive and subtractive methods, and masks to add layers of monotype to backgrounds. I’ve added paint to monotypes, particularly to ghost prints. I’ve printed on various sorts of paper, smooth and textured, heavyoaper and tissue paper. I’ve made trace monotypes too, another delightful technique which can be left as drawing or combined with watercolour wash for example. In my assignment I’m planning to play with monotype printed on to semi-transparent supports, Japanese papers, silk and linen.
In my sketchbook I’ve made trace monotypes, another delightful technique which can be left as drawing or combined with watercolour wash for example. In my assignment I’m planning to play with monotype printed on to semi-transparent supports, Japanese papers, silk and linen.
I’ve made many sketchbook tryouts experimenting with staining fabric, Japanese mulberry paper (kozo), and tissue. I’ve developed a process for transferring inkjet printed script to fabric, tissue and paper, combined with watercolour washes, also with my assignment pieces in mind.
Observational skills and visual awareness –
Ink studies – the continuous line drawings I did helped as an exercise in observation and a warm up for the ink studies.
One of my most successful paintings in Part 3 so far is a small portrait of father and daughter fishing on the waters edge. The photo is old and poor quality and the composition mainly flat, empty sea and sky. But through thought, study and observation I became aware as I painted the plate, and then added coloured pencil in the next exercise, of a calm, atmospheric scene, and a radiance emerging that lights up that quiet moment of father and child together, a haunting, uplifting feel.
Design and compositional skills –
My monotypes for the exercises use photos as reference, and I’ve based my portraits on them, cropping, altering colour and tone to achieve the compositions I wanted. They are mostly fairly traditional – being carefully posed in the manner of the old days. The least posed are the compositions I prefer. The one of my father sailing his dinghy is very effective, with the subject in the bottom corner, emphasising the expanse of sea, the horizon and the clouds swirling behind him, adding interest and context.
My other favourite is the one of my cousin and her brother laughing infectiously. I reworked the ghost print to achieve a tonally better design, the original monoprint not working as a whole.
Quality of outcome: content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas
The content of my collection of monotype portraits is fairly interesting and thought provoking; each individual has a story, and as viewer we can wonder and speculate on their lives. I think this is partly because the monotype process has rendered these portraits atmospheric and suggestive – everything is not spelt out. There are hints – the young girl is serious and demure; the soldier’s eyes and smile filled with optimism and anticipation of adventures to come; brother and sister laughing and easy in each other’s company; careworn woman in her workaday clothes, proudly holding her chicken; etc.
I could imagine presenting these portraits in the form of a family photo album, interspersed with captions, or extracts from old letters and other papers; maybe interleaved with tissue as in the days of old family albums I remember from childhood.
I looked on the exercises as experimental and didn’t always produce clean edges and borders, or sensible impressions from my glass plate. This is something I need to focus on for the assignment
I’ve mentioned a few of my favourite portraits, and discernment leads me to equally reject some as not very successful; the watercolour monotype uses the medium in an opaque, dense way, failing to capitalise in the strengths of the medium; the acrylic monotype and the reworked ghost female head and shoulders were promising but became too detailed and overworked.
I didn’t really have any concepts in making the portraits for the exercises, just using them as a vehicle for experimentation. If there is an overall idea behind the monotypes it was to make images of my family and forbears, which I’d recently become engrossed in through an unexpected lost family contact. I don’t think I could have enjoyed making portraits from random images that had no meaning for me. For my assignment pieces I’m planning to develop this exploration of family ties, and what my own family history means to me
Demonstration of creativity: imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
There’s been lots of experimentation with monotype processes, and invention of processes for soaking and staining supports, using fabrics, tissue and Japanese papers, monotyping facsimiles of script on various supports. These are all documented in my learning log and sketchbook. One exciting result of this came from a ghost print I hurriedly made on cheap tissue paper to use the ink on a plate. The resulting portrait was more evocative of my young uncle and his vibrant youth, shortly to be cut down. When I accidentally laid it over a monotype of his young mother I discovered a discovered a beautiful layering of subjects, colours and compositions, which alters depending on the angle from which it’s viewed.
Throughout all this I’ve been developing my ideas and different ways of communicating them in the assignment. My personal voice is emerging, and I’m starting to explore and adopt in my practise aspects of making art that are me, and which up till now lay dormant.
Context: reflection, research, critical thinking
I’ve looked at a diverse range of artists and assimilated and adopted what I’ve seen into my work. Marlene Dumas influenced my ink studies, particularly watching her use of ink on video and seeing how portraits can emerge from flowing media. Re-reading Emily Ball led to several drawings, and helped me let go of the need to make a ‘copy’ of a person, instead searching for a quality or essence that expresses how I see them. Annie Kevans’ simple looking portraits are evident here too. My visit to Hepworth Wakefield has changed my views on how art can be presented, and even what my art could become. Working with fabric and special papers intrigues me, and Sian Bowen has opened my eyes to new possibilities for making art.