June -I went to the Czech Centre as they had an open day and saw this young boy playing and singing folk songs, I knew I had to paint him so I asked him to pose and play the violin. I then printed off the photo and started painting him.
I painted a small version then decided to go life size.
I thought I had finished the painting then I went to Madrid and when I walked back into the studio I felt despondent, it didn't look like how I remembered when I left it .Or maybe I had changed how I viewed my work? It played on my mind for 2 weeks and someone mentioned I could put a background in it. Then for fun I thought I would put the part of Las Menina's that intrigued me the most.
For next painting I decided to do a self portrait, I dressed up in the costume, and wanted to be looking down to show assertiveness and also have command over the composition , this is in direct opposite to the first painting I did of the folk costume where the figure is lying down on the floor.its also to show the journey of coping to terms with identity either in myself and finding peace with the past.
I think its finished for now!
For this painting I wanted to practice a looser gesture.
I'm not happy with this as it stands, but Ive decided to leave it and start another painting then go back to it.
For this painting I put the folk costume on again and sat in my daughters small chair and looked out onto suburbia. I was vaguely thinking of Millais and his painting 'Wandering thoughts' for some reason and also Vallotton's 'Gabrielle Vallotton' (1905) with thinking about living in the UK in suburbia and how that feels for immigrants and sometimes how ridiculous it feels.
For this painting, I didn't want to use a print to draw from , so I painted it freehand, I didn't want to scale it up, i wanted just to use my eyes only and be as gestural as possible as well as being accurate.
Still a lot of work to do on this to resolve it, but I will take a break and come back to it .
New painting -The Kitchen
I used a sienna pigment with rabbit skin glue as a primer as I wanted to give the painting a luminous glow . I think I've been successful as it could be evening in the painting which was the effect I wanted. This is the kitchen of my step father when he was a child which he helped build when he was 9 years old that I visited in 1991 and I wanted to capture my memory of it.
A thought occurred to me after finishing this painting , whilst I was In the Prado I was transfixed by Las Meninas which I mentioned previously and the way Velasquez painted his edges of objects. This has been a recurrent theme for me on the course which I have wrestled with, whether to be neat or more gestural as I can do both. I did half way through the course resolve it by focusing on one area making it more detailed and the rest more gestural but it was only after I finished the painting below did I realise I had achieved it subconsciously . I printed out Las Meninas in A0 size and put in on my studio wall and every now and again I would look at it and remember being in front of the real painting in the Prado.
Then I took it down as I ( thought I) wanted no immediate influences and started painting, I took off my glasses as they are varifocals and distort when close up and it helps my painting process by focusing on tone.It wasn't until a few days after that I realised that I had blurred the edges and this was not only because of the glasses not being on.
For me personally this has been the highlight of my painting practice on the course as it has helped me understand my process, it also has resolved an issue I was struggling with. I can now understand how my learning process works and I have to give things time to imbed into my subconscious and become intuitive.
Funnily enough when I look at this painting ( The Kitchen ) it reminds me of my 19 year old self , and I think this might be because that was the age when I was there. It also reminds me of the way I painted in my sketchbook a bit.
By reflecting on this process I realised some paintings just flow and are not forced, these are my best paintings but I cant seem to harness this energy in every painting , and some take a long time and some I have to give up on completely. But when Im in the flow it feels so rhythmic , almost poetic . When Im painting in this flow every brush mark feels right and I just know intuitively where to put the paint brush, I have the finished painting in my head, I feel I'm just bringing it out into the open, but then sometimes the painting changes course and becomes something different which surprises me and these accidents sometimes add a more interesting image than the one I had initially envisaged .
Im going to focus on these conditions and try to set them up but I feel that if they are forced it wont have the same desired effect, I also think a lot of it is painting practice and all the discourse and research has consolidated and this painting is the result. So for me personally this painting will for me always remind me of the accumulation of this course and of course Las Meninas ha ha in my dyslexic way of making connections between things.
At the end of July I went to visit my cousin in Bratislava and I wanted to paint us together from the visit. This ties in with my essay about how we didn't know each other existed until we were grown up due to communism and my Mother being unable to return until communism fell. I got the idea for this painting in Budapest when I went to the National Gallery and saw the painting 'Unititled' 1999 by Akos Birkas which is painted on 2 canvases.
Self portrait in the role of the Ancestors
I decided to go back to this painting and change the background again to the colour it was when I first started it but with the black showing through.
Its based on a title I saw in the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
'Portrait of Ann Brown in the Role of Miranda ' by Zoffany