January 3rd 2019
Today I enlarged a photograph of my Mother and her brothers taken in 1963 in Slovakia . I thought this image would be a challenge to paint because of the detail in the children's faces and the surrounding landscape. The story behind this photograph is the other brothers are holding their little brothers hands as he didn't want his photo taken and they were trying to stop him running away.
If the French philosopher Roland Barthes were looking at this photograph I can imagine him saying the 'Punctum' would be the little brother. I like how he steals my attention but I can't see his face.
Friday 11 th January 2019
Today I spent all day trying to resolve the painting below that I have called 'The Picnic.'
I was struggling to get the girls feet right so I gave up in the end and changed her outfit so that her feet are hidden.
Wednesday 16th January
Last night I spoke to my Mother on the phone and I can see a pattern developing. She said that the painting I'm doing at the moment ( Above left) is of her 3 brothers and her in the Chapel meadow where they used to play in Slovakia in 1954. She then revealed something that she hadn't told me before that they used to play with 'the bones in the Chapel' she said 'They were laid out in trays in the chapel ' ( Probably had been dug up to make room for other graves!) I couldn't believe what I was hearing and had to ask her twice. She said that they were children, there was nothing sinister about it, and that children are fascinated by bones etc and she had 3 brothers so she was used to playing with them.
When I started painting from her photographs , I would email her the work in progress then follow up with a call and she started telling me about the photos in a detail that she hadn't before. It is like the painting is making her think about the past as it is different from the photo.
Saturday 19th January
Today I carried on with my large painting resolving the foreground and working on the smaller painting to the right of this photograph.
The problem Im encountering when working to this large scale is that its hard to get a good view of the whole painting and look at it with detachment in the studio space that I have. I have found putting the painting high up helps with painting the foreground.
Monday 18th February
Below is the start of a painting from a photograph that I took on Friday.
Today I started a new painting, it is based loosely on a conversation that I had with Mark Farnington during the the group crit last week when he said to look at Manets 'Dead Matador' in relation to the painting above and a conversation I had with Geraint about peasants represented in art. The wheelbarrow is a reference to these conversations and the toy record player is a reference to my childhood which places the painting in the 1970s and combines my fragmented heritage with life in the UK.
I added a fisher price record player, this was because I used to have one of these in the 1970s and I have memories of playing with it, as my work is about identity and the stream of consciousness I wanted to show how you can remember things in a non linear way
April 15th - Compton Verney
On March the 29th I went to Compton Verney to see the Childhood Now exhibition and to hear a symposium on childhood. It was hugely inspiring and I write more about it in talks and exhibitions, the painting "A Souvenir for Velasquez' by Millais enthralled me as I had been struggling with the structure of my painting, of whether to get neater or looser, this painting seemed to have the answer, Millais had painted the face in detail and the rest of the body very gesturally , I thought I'd adopt this technique for my next painting and to reference the painting I decided to get my daughter to wear the Slovak costume and style it in the same way as the Millais paining , I think this painting was a success as I pushed myself to try something different and my inner critic was happy as I'd resolved a long standing issue in my work.
My Slovak Granny was an orphan at 7 years old and in 1942 when she was 20 years old she was married off , on her wedding day they cut her hair off because it wouldn't fit under her married women's cap...........she cried all day and she didn't let anyone take any photos of her. I wanted to paint this story to show her on her wedding day. I think this painting has been successful as I applied the same principle as the previous portrait where I paid attention to the detail of the hands drawing the viewer to the hands and made the foreground gestural.
New painting started today I wanted to play around with making the image look faded, now I need to wait a few days before I add the next layers