Thursday 19 March 2020

Sofa work

Pen and ink wash (with peeping face).

iPad drawing of Laura

I drew this on an iPad using a stylus pen in pencil mode. For the most part it felt like using a pencil the way it responded to pressure, although broad sweeps with the edge of the stylus were more charcoal like. This is the first time I've made a digital drawing and I rather liked it. However, because the resulting image has much in common with a pen and ink wash, a medium I also have little experience of, I have been inspired to experiment with that instead of doing more iPad drawings! I'm sure I will do more digital drawing, the ability to flawlessly undo marks is fantastic. But, may be that's the appeal of pen and ink; every mark counts and is more or less permanent and scratchy corrections, unwanted blobs and smears all add to the challenge and character of a drawing.

Monday 21 March 2016

Honor and Olivia

Oil on canvas, 90 x 85 cm, 2016
Commissioned portrait, painted from 10 sittings.

Monday 16 February 2015

Selfie - updated status

status update
Oil on canvas 65 x 50 cm

Know Thy Selfie

This painting is an exploration of the relationship between the painted self-portrait and the selfie.

Someone taking a selfie will take (or select from several recently taken) a photo that adequately reflects how they want to be represented at that moment. They then upload it to a networking (or sharing) platform such as Facebook or Twitter where it goes to the top of a time line. Typically, there will be many images of this person earlier in this time line and there will undoubtedly, be more later too. So a virtual version of the person exists in parallel that they can control in order to maintain a certain self-image; it is a curated self that aims to impress.

This self-portrait was painted from life using a mirror, not a photo; the phone was just a prop. Although I've adopted the pose of a selfie taker my intention is self-study, born from curiosity more than propaganda. I find that to get a reasonable likeness I have to examine myself with forensic care and record what I see with ruthless objectivity (not always a kind process). It is a reflective practice that strips away ego and hopefully reveals something honest and without pretence. The painting took several days to complete so it captures the full variety of the relationship between me and my reflection over that time: different moods, thoughts, etc. Also, how a portrait is painted says as much about the painter as it does of the sitter so in the case of the self-portrait you have this extra layer of information. It is a distillation of time into a timeless image; a milestone that acknowledges mortality.

The selfie is a captured moment, a disposable image that joins a stream of images past, present and future; images whose main function is not memory (like the family album), but to maintain the existence of online ME. A stream of images that flow into a river (the sharing platform), then into an ocean of yet more images.

Does this ocean of images represent a new generation of self-obsession expressed through photophilia, or could it be that as technology becomes more integrated into our lives then everyday experience and ideas of self are increasingly mediated through this technology? Then, the posted selfie becomes a natural and inevitable practice for many people.

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Saturday 26 April 2014

Melon on a Cloth; a Metaphor for Resurrection

Oil on canvas 36cm x 36cm
This study of a cut up melon on a white cotton sheet is as much a portrait of the sheet, with all it's creases, folds and subtle coloration, as a depiction of melon with it's contrasting strong chroma. If any additional layer of meaning arises while arranging a still life, a process that usually takes hours, then those elements tend to stay and become a focal idea which informs how the painting is painted.

The red melon flesh lying on a crumpled sheet stained with melon juice reminded me of the idea of the body of Christ lying on a shroud, and the old master paintings depicting this and also the still life paintings of the C17th monk, Juan Cotan.

There is also a trinity aspect; one melon cut into three pieces.  Unequal in size, there is a large piece on a raised level, a medium sized piece and the  smallest teeters on an edge. It is three aspects of the same thing from a spherical whole.

My studio is located inside a Baptist church. Before Easter I was chatting with the minister, James, about his preparations and mentioned this painting. I discovered that the apostle Paul describes Christ’s resurrection, as ‘first fruits’ (1 Corinthians 15:23). First Fruits is a harvest term, it’s an offering, an opportunity to give the first fruits back to God as a show of faith. There are also other references to fruit concerning Jesus and his teachings in the Bible. I was not aware of this when I started the painting, but did feel that somehow fruit was a good metaphor for Christ, crucifixion and resurrection as it conferred ideas of ripeness, seeds and growth, regeneration and rebirth.

He then invited me to talk about this painting during the Easter service. This was a great pleasure and an honour as it was also the churches 75th anniversary service.

Ceramic Skull with Orange