Artist’s Statement

Portraiture has always been rooted in the foundations of art since time immemorial, and over the past 150 years through technological advances and the work of artists such as Cézanne has undergone great scrutiny as we ask ourselves what it is about we wish to extract from the human form and why we continue to paint people.

As a painter I wish to give a sense of character as I invite the viewer into the painting, whilst exploring how the substance of paint and mark-making techniques can be used to convey emotion through replicating flesh. I intrigued by the viscous forms in painting, the dragging in passages of paint, and glutinous masses layered onto paint to represent flesh and masses.

In my studies surrounding Soap Television, I am trying to highlight the relationships we have with these fictional personalities, and representing this relation we have with them through portraiture. Although fictional, there is a resonance that these characters have in our own lives similar to close friends or relatives, and are glorified as celebrities as we reflect through their on screen lives through our own troubles, and due to our own empathy with these personalities I believe they should be accredited in art culture.

Continuing on my interests in the application of paint to represent flesh, I looked at how I can represent this in a 3 dimensional form, however it became more about the representation of body as a mass, and how I could give these sculptures a tactile feeling through pressing and moulding these shapes to leave impressions how the body contorts and becomes almost malleable, but abstracted enough to leave the viewer let their own experiences become more prominent. I think the collaboration between Latex and lard in some ways replicates how our body fat becomes one entity with our skin and even bone. The latex offers support to the lard, allowing it to remain upright and maintains its tension,as the lard allows the latex to become more pliable, and thus makes it unified.

Sketchbook studies

Although my work has now become more about representing the human form through sculpture and 3D form, I still regularly keep my sketchbook handy and note quick studies of still life, portraiture and landscape. The practice of having a small sketch/notepad I feel is very important as an artist as it keeps the mind aware of composition, and improves mark making and general ability to draw. It is also just pleasing for me to just be able to pull out a pencil and just reflect on what I see and give my own personal representation.

Skull and Animal Bone Studies

Field: Summary

Over the course of both projects I feel that I have been influenced greatly with regards to my application of materials and how I approach my work. I believe that how I create my work has changed greatly and what I sought out to achieve in my work has been highly influenced by these tutorials.

Within the subject of Painting Performance, I became much more aware of how my body can manipulate the work, and more importantly how creating the artwork at hand becomes a performance, you are part of the artwork itself; giving yourself to the work. This was very apparent in my sculpture works, as the application of my hands moved through the clay. I had developed from where I had moved from creating these realistic busts, moving towards dragging my extremities into the clay, leaving mounds of imprints, very much similar to the way De Kooning would leave swooping passages of paint on the canvas. Through the process of making it, I found it almost ritual-like as I questioned my own bodily form, and then translating that into the clay became a performance within itself.

The lessons at hand has also played an important role into my portraiture, and have begun to question how I apply paint to a canvas. After leaning what my body can do with paint, such as with the swooping of an arm or running of toes can leave very different imprints, my use of mark-making with a paintbrush and other found objects can change an image greatly. This goes hand-in-hand with my material, as when we started to experiment with the viscosity of paint when introduced with common household materials, I have begun to experiment with flour and earth into my own paint.

After the tutorials undergone in Beyond Fiction, I have become more pensive in terms of looking at my own portraits and how they reflect on the subjects character and how this is reflected on the canvas as opposed to creating an accurate depiction of a person. When producing my cartoon illustrations I found that simple use of line can give a stronger impression of a person than a highly detailed painting could, and thus my economy of line has become more sparing in my work.

The inclusion of humour into my illustration has made me question what It is I want out of my work, and what art is. Through the characters I have developed in my field, I have been able to look at the role Soap characters have in the world of art, and what aspect my clay mass ‘blobs’ have to play with their suggestive implications of genitalia. I personally believe that humour can allow for strong social debate of my works, and can deal with big issues in current affairs.

Further developing working with both P.P and B.F alongside my own practice is very important to me, and I am eager to discover how both will develop my studies and work in the future.

Beyond Fiction: Epilogue

In order to further my understanding of fictional characters within my own work of portraying soap characters, I chose the Beyond Fiction module to develop on the ideas of storylines and play with the creativity offered through the tutorials. I wanted to see how these new ways of working would have an effect on my own work and the way I portray my Portraiture.

To begin with, I found it very difficult to develop ideas through the ways of working offered in the lessons, such as our first lesson which involved creating storylines or ideas for discarded objects, but I felt I couldn’t quite conceptualise ideas through my own way of working as a fine artist. However, I was given a great amount of help from Amelia and began to look more into what I can take from each object as opposed to trying to connect them all together.

Further into the module, I found that the workshops such as collage or the trip to St. Fagans gave me a lot of opportunity to work creatively and conjure up good imagery, but I felt that I was doing these collages for personal pleasure, and couldn’t find any way to develop on my loose storyline. I wanted to link to my own portraiture, but was struggling to represent it without an outcome of portraits, which I believe wouldn’t have allowed myself to utilise the opportunity I had to be adventurous in my work.

After some deliberation, I had realised that it’s not a literal portrait that I was looking for, but was the idea of giving a representation of personality, and essence of people. I began designing cartoonised illustrations of working-class characters in everyday situations, because I wanted to highlight that the fact that there’s character in the most ordinary of places, and that it can be something relatable to anyone. In developing these characters, I found the original lessons and tutorials to be of great help when furthering these ideas. I was inspired by Reg Smythe’s newspaper comic illustrations of Andy Capp, and the illustrative works in the television series The Ricky Gervais show, which both extract humour in everyday life and present a person’s way of thinking in a light hearted, but sometimes tongue-in-cheek way. I found similar inventiveness from the illustrators of Modern Toss, however I wanted my characters to be more inviting and relatable as opposed to the simple designs featured in their work.

To conclude, I think the project has taught me that humour is an important aspect to art, as I will start to question what role it has in my own practice, and how the lessons within the module can help develop ideas in my own work. To further these images I’m thinking of presenting these works as possible newspaper comic designs, or even as illustrations in a pub itself. Athough difficult at first, as I began to play and as the more work I produced, the more ideas I had to explore.