After completing several still life studies and paintings surrounding the work of Cézanne, I have began to observe painters within the 20th Century in which their own work has derived from the influences of Cézanne’s innovations. Giorgio Morawhatndi is a key example of what elements I wish to portray in my own work through the style of Cezanne.
There are many key elements in which impressionistic styles are brought forward in Morandi’s work. The form of the still life paintings are exagguerated from their true form, appearing solid, weighty and due to the colour almost flat, similar to the changes of perspective I have encountered in Cezanne’s still lifes of pots, or the differentiating perspectives seen in his landscape painting, in which the pots used in these studies often have altering perspectives and uneven lines. This lack of form is heightened with the minimal shaping, bringing these light, chalky structures forward. The Colours used are often muted in order to bring forward the forms of these pots, and I think that the use of chalky colours, married with these structural forms gives the everyday objects an architectural feel to the subject of still life, and the simplicity of form seen in these objects exemplifies the simplistic composition of shapes used in each painting.
Morandi’s use of brushwork is also reminiscent of that seen in Cézanne’s, with thick impasto mark-making bring these pots forward in the work, and compliment their bold and robust appearance. This is also seen in Cezanne’s landscape work where there would be a thick dragging of paint suggesting a distant tree or one block of colour when looking at architecture
Before today’s practice we were instructed to bring in several objects and assign them as evidence before the lesson. I didn’t prepare as thoroughly as I could have, and due to the ambiguity of the brief I brought vague objects, such as miniature table tennis paddles, animal bones, and a raffle ticket. the full itinerary consisted of the following:
- 2 Miniature Table Tennis Paddles
- 1 Jar of Peach Jam – empty
- Candrel sweetener packets – 2 sachets
- Taxi business card with card with number
- Poker Chip – casino and value unidentified
- Animal Bones – Species unknown
- Raffle Ticket. Number 409
- Bus Ticket – Cardiff Metropolitan
At first I felt overwhelmed by the obscure objects I had put in front of me, and with everyone around me bringing forward interesting stories and illustrative ideas, however I had to remember that when reflecting on these objects I should approach it from a Fine Artist’s point of view I can tackle the problems put forward. After much waffling I had realised that the obscurity of these objects can work to my favour, and as not all the objects had to be used I could pick and to my own discrepancy.
As I went further into developing ideas, I pushed away from an idea of a story and more onto reflecting ideas within portraiture and showing someone’s character through that image. To begin with, I had planned on creating a storyline with some of the evidence, yet I was drawn to some connections and recurring themes within the objects. I started with the connotations of luck and Fortune with the Poker chip and raffle ticket, and more obvious representations of Death with the animal bones. The Taxi number and Bus ticket coming from my wallet were strong evidence for Travel, or possible destination. With more ambiguous objects such as the sweetener sachets and peach jar I had much more difficulty with, but I saw reflections on the idea that they were sweet, and both substances made my man as delicacies and treats, so I assigned them under the persona of Gluttony or greed, and following suit with tagging the paddles under the description of Play and Youth.
With these objects I currently am playing with the idea of creating a series of portraits representing a character under each of the roles (Youth, Fortune, Travel, Gluttony, Death), or possibly a story that is already created which tackles each of these themes within its story and reflecting the character in the story within each portrait, although these ideas are currently early in development and I intend on progressing on them further in the next practice and in my own time
After the satirical works I have created with soap characters, I’ve prioritised the idea of developing the textures and tactile notions in the sculpture. I’ve decided upon using my own face for the next bust as it allows me to move away from the satirical ideas embedded into the previous works, although I think the works previously created will bring forward a sense of personality to the piece without attempting creating a likeness within the work, such as slight exaggerations in the portraits, inspired by Daumier’s political Busts, and also Cézanne’s portraiture. In order to avoid making this an art piece dedicated to conveying a likeness, I’m restricting myself by not using a mirror or any other method of looking at my own face, and only using my hands to scrutinise my face, pressing into my body. I think the process of this became almost as important as the final result, as it felt almost like a performance piece in which I was exploring my own bodily form, and pushing my body into the work, similar to the movements experienced in my Painting Performance lessons in Field.
I personally think the restriction of sight has complimented the self portrait, with mounds of clay pushed and moulded giving a solid representation of my own form. I wanted to ensure that even though my body is quite skeletal in form, and even though this is reflected in the bust it still has aspects of flesh like folds. In addition to this, the work is almost like a performance as you can see passages of fingerprints, where my fingers have unintentionally been pressed and dragged across the clay – creating a sense of time within the piece. When looking back on the celebrity works I have done, I think this has improved this bust by allowing characteristics of my own body into the portrait, such as the long neck, protruding collar bones and cheek bones. I personally am intrigued by the lower sections of the figure, such as the overlapping folds of clay representing the neck cartilage, or the marks being dragged under the jaw.
I shall be restricting myself even more in the next developments of my changes into sculpture, such as wearing gloves to allow myself to think in different ways of approaching the clay and how this will affect my work.
Taking what I have learnt from the malleability of clay and its composition from the Ken Barlow bust, I have tried to emulate this feeling of a caricature in the portrait. Also, when attempting to convey the character and likeness within the portrait, it’s also a priority of mine to bring forward the physical properties of the clay, and how this can be manipulated to convey a strong sense of flesh-like properties – similar to what I have been trying to achieve in my paintings with respect to Cézanne, how those changes in marks can represent different textures on the canvas.
As a likeness, I think I have successfully created a bust which brings forward a sense of personality and character, and the selected pose adds to the satirical feel that I have decided to go with. However, I don’t think there is much development in what I set out to achieve with regards to playing with the clay, and trying to get the physical qualities forward; a fatty viscous glob representing the lips or cheek, or solid structures to bring forward a jaw line or cheekbones. There are some aspects of this portrait in which I have started to achieve this, such as with the pressing of fingers under the eyes, leaving marks that give suggestions of age, blending with the bags of skin under the neck giving almost fluidity to the bust.
In my next piece I intend to move away from the satirical and caricature-esque developments in my work in order to ‘play’ with these textural qualities and really scrutinise the facial structure, and I feel that the work I have done with portraiture previously will allow me to do this even more than I have done.
In this final portrait, I have been more thoughtful of my mark making. The marks vary, from thick blocks of paint pressed into the board, as seen in areas such as the coat, to dark shades scribbled into the cheek etched in almost like a pencil, similar to how Cezanne works in paler blue tones in his own works. I have also used linear/ diagonal lines to emphasise the shape of the face as seen in his self-portraits, and I think I have set out what I wanted to achieve on canvas. I think this looseness exagguerated the rough character portrayed by Zak Dingle in the TV drama Emmerdale, however I think there needs to be more contrast into the tonal work to make it a piece of better quality. I’ve continued working on recycled scrap wood, as I feel these everyday materials are reflectant of the fact these are idols of the working class person, and the characters themselves are of working class background. The fact it is of recycled materials also highlights the reflection we see of ourselves in these characters, and how the storylines are recycled from events in day to day life.
layering of paint and use of mark making
After choosing to continue upon painting portraits of fictional TV characters, I’m going to continue with a series of three different portraits. I think this will divert the attention off Dot as an individual portrait and allow the viewer to ask questions of why soap characters themselves are used, and not individuals. This will help strengthen the idea of celebrity culture within modern day times and a reflection on how we idolised characters past and present. I decided on choosing Ken as he is a legendary figure within the world of soap, being the world’s longest running and practically first Soap TV character, and his persona has been in the public eye recently in Current Affairs due to the court cases the actor Bill Roache has been through recently. I find it intriguing how the public then takes these affairs of the actor with connotations for the character, and in vice-versa how portrayals on screen can make people judge the actors themselves.
In this portrait of Ken Barlow of Coronation Street I’ve attempted to continue my style of portraiture that I had achieved with Dot, but also maintain the application of paint shown in Cezanne’s works. The portrait itself is painted on scrap wood found in the recycling area of the University workshop, similar to the Dot portrait. However, this wood was slightly thicker, and rather softer to paint on. This allowed for more absorption as I applied the paint, which had a different effect on the board, which made it rather difficult to get those thick marks on the painting. I also found that because I was so attached in trying to find a likeness in the portrait, that I was forgetting about the importance of the paint. This, coupled with the absorption of the paint made for a very soft, and realistic portrait, but I didn’t find the qualities I want to achieve in my work. In the next portrait, I hope to scrutinise Cezanne’s own portraits more and be less precious of the likeness I am trying to convey.
In this portrait I wanted to express Cezanne’s impasto mark-making and his style of brushwork, whilst also retaining my own personal approach to the painting. I have chosen upon looking at Soap Television culture as a topic of the portrait. I don’t think the painting necessarily needs a reason to why I am painting a Soap TV character, similar to why it is not necessary to ask why any artist decided to paint a still life of oranges or any figure, however I feel a certain attachment to characters of Soap programmes and how the world treats as almost celebrities within themselves. These non existent characters are treated as almost distant relatives or close friends and have a connotation of reality to them. We reflect in ourselves through their stories and they themselves are a reflection of us in the world, which in a Marxist way would make programmes such as Coronation Street or Eastenders art in their own right. The style of Cezanne compliments this idea, as most people of celebrity or wealth in this era would have their portrait painted in order to immortalise themselves, and therefore this painting becomes a reflection on how we immortalise non-existent characters through celebrity culture.
I feel that I have achieved a successful likeness within the portrait, whilst maintaining a thick brushstrokes which are suggestive and simple, reminiscent of Cezanne’s work, such as a simple block of colour on the forehead or a long dark run of the brush down the side of the face. I personally think I want to develop more with portraiture within Cezanne at the moment, and possibly reflect on this idea of celebrity the non-existent characters