That it would be a good idea to do a photo shoot before painting the subject and selecting a pose that works the best.The composition of paintings and photographs in portraits actually varies quite a bit so it would be a good idea to nail down exactly what these differences through research are so i can apply the knowledge in an intentional way. This would allow me to have more control over how photographic or painterly the works appear so i can hone in on the right balance.
Using a live model has a huge impact on how long i have to make the work, practically this is relevant in a few ways. Firstly because i am painting, usually layers of paint are built up to generate the shades of colour that lead to depth. The limited time frame means that a lot of the time i am painting wet on wet which is pretty different. So i need to either work out a way around that like finding faster drying paint or work with it and adjust my technique. In addition photographs of wet paint look very different, taking a photo of the ‘painting’ means that if there is a section of wet paint in the shot, that paint will forever be wet. Which in itself is not a bad thing but it needs to be used or avoided intentionally. Rather than a haphazard globule of shiny wet paint that looks like a mistake and spoils any illusory effect. As seen in hair of the raw photo Rose Test 1: Initial Photo. Lastly and probably a bit more of an issue, is that i am trying to paint a life sized work in a couple of hours. Granted that a heap of time is saved because i am essentially doing paint by numbers in 3D.There is a lot of paint to apply and the challenge of making a real person look like a 2D painting of one. I am really glad i did this practice with a person but i think that before i do another one i need to do more practices using inanimate objects.Resolving these process issues, refining my techniques and working out how different time limits effect the finished work.
I also realized that the background is just as important as the model, when i originally planned this initial experiment i thought i would try to paint her into the back ground. Using the same blues to bind her to the flat surface.When i came to actually painting it i couldn’t seem to get it right and because it was a piece of card that was a set size it impacted the composition of the final work. I felt quite constricted by the four sides of the panel and kept plonking her in the middle. Looking at it now it reminds me of those old backgrounds used for school photographs. I had planned to get around this with cropping post taking the photo, as i have done in the example above. In hindsight i dont think that it really enough; it doesnt quite work, i thought of a few reasons why. Probably the biggest is that the person is three dimensional and the background is flat. This disconnects them when taking a photo with a camera. This could be played with by trying different apertures and pre-painting backgrounds and then making slight adjustments when the sitter is present rather than doing it at the same time; meaning they would be better and less rushed. However I also think it is a conceptual issue. The works are about the interface between the flat and three dimensional, painting a 2D backdrop is always going to generate a distinct disconnect between the sitter and the setting. I want express a balance between what is tangible and the painted landscape, sculpture vs. image. In so doing engaging with ideas of representation; questioning what images are really saying and how history and our own understanding and experience shapes the way visual input is translated into meaning. With regard to the setting issue, im not saying that this disconnect is wrong, simply that it has impact and needs to adressed with intentional awareness. I plan to do this though practical experimentation; playing with painted backdrops interacting with tangible objects, works that are made entirely of tangible objects within real spaces, revisiting works splicing them with each other creating layers of flat/tangible planes. I plan to use the same selection of objects in these experiments so that i can draw some conclusions through comparison. Also so i can examine how the different spacial relationships in the works in turn interact with each other when seen together.
Lastly and on a more practical level i need to get some different brushes, the one i used wasn’t very big and was pointed. I want to step away as much as i can from ideas of traditional body paint/make up. I want the sitter to be part of a painting, which means brush strokes and layers are really important. I need to find a way of thickening the paint (with out poisoning someone if i decide to work more with people); aesthetically i want it to scream: i am a painting. I plan to achieve this with chunky impasto brush strokes and clear highlights and lowlights typical of impressionist painting (my next post will explain in more depth why i am referencing impressionism in these works). I am eager to see how the thick strokes will interact with the lights and the resulting spacial relationships. The lights i use and how i use them has a big impact on the final work, the experiments i conduct over the next few weeks will give me a better understanding of this so i will be better equipped to shape the final work.