Formative Assessment

Degree Proposal



  1. Lard and Oil Triptych
  2. Sketchbook Studies
  3. Studies for a Series (2)
  4. Female Figure
  5. Framed Painting


  1. Olga Davenport
  2. Marlene Dumas
  3. Richard Diebenkorn
  4. Alberto Giacometti
  5. Salvador Dali’s use of Perspective

Degree Proposal

In my current works, I am trying to convey the carnal and bestial nature we as humans are dealt with in mundane life. Through stripping the human form to its bare, fleshy structure, the paintings are pushing away from the transcendence and glorification of the human form seen within portraiture and appraise our animalistic nature. I wish to portray the figure within limited space to convey the spatial relationship the human form has with the outside space, implementing only shadow to force this notion. In order to achieve this representation of the human form, I have been inspired by the portraiture conveying the Human Condition and the figure through artists such as Frank Auerbach, Marlene Dumas and Francis bacon, married with the ideas of spatial representation through studies by Giacometti and landscape artist Olga Davenport.
I intend of having a series of portraits representing the primitive human impulses we inhibit as conscious entities. The figures will strip the male pose of its once idealised Utopian ideal as once seen in Classical Greek art, or the transcendence of the body and soul in early Christian art, and through highlighting the susceptibility and limitations of the body will be a recognition of the relationship between the condition of the mind, body and outside space. I am considering the portraits to be arranged in a triptych series, but am currently unsure of scale, as I am still unsure of how this will affect the lard applied onto the canvas, but I am currently interested on a larger scale series of approximately 1m x 1m canvases hung in order to carry out my final piece.

Dali’s Use of Perspective

Dali 1

Although my work is situated more on the Human Condition as opposed to Surrealism, I wish to obscure the form and exaggerate the perspective in order to instil the idea of the body being within time and space, rather than sitting on a flat surface. Through Dali’s use of perspective the body is set within time and space, and because of limitation of background information we are still none the wiser of the size of these objects, whether they be gigantic or petite. The perspective and hanging figure in “Christ of Saint John on the Cross” push the hands of Christ to the foreground and allow the legs to draw back. The body is wilted and sagging, representing the limpness and limitations of the Human form, whilst using great tonal contrast to give context of the shape of the figure.Dali 2

In my own works, I am trying to force the perspective in order to allow the body to sit in time and space, but also through this perspective, married with the flat, obscure background can give little information to the form, allowing it to look far grander or miniscule as seen in Dali’s paintings.

Female Figure

12810103_10201773612898810_287329866_oIn contrast to the female figures represented by classical and Renaissance, I want to represent a bare and confronting female figure as seen within the male forms I have expressed. I wish to push away from this observed Utopian object that the female figure has been desired as, and allow a more forward and allow a theriomorphic presence to come forward.

Using the solid blue background, I wish to manipulate the figure so that the background encompasses it, allowing one solid tone to become Foreground, middleground and background at once, reflective of the landscape paintings of Olga Davenport. Through this application of shadow, the figure sits on the space, and with inclusions of the background seeping through the contrasting tones of the figure also confirms the presence of the figure being in fact far closer than the blue.

However, although I feel the work is a success when representing the human form within space, I feel that the pose used with the figure does not do enough in order to portray a bestial figure. I personally think a more heavy and sagging pose is more adequate in expressing this animalistic nature, as the pose in this current work looks more leisurely. In addition to this, i feel that the tones used are more trivial, and mass produced rather than expressing a contemporary nature.

Studies for a Series(2)

Picking up from the progress of the previous series of paintings, I intended on manipulating a solid set background which becomes the foreground, middleground, and background at the same time, setting the body within space. Initially, I’ve used a series of studies amongst brightly coloured flat background to determine how the figures sit within the space with regards to contrast of fleshy tones.12787218_10201773612818808_447061806_o

In the my initial study (Yellow), I used a lying figure painted with lard to once again give connotations to that  bestial nature seen in the previous triptych. I included the pencil marks as I thought this would give a sense of movement, but i feel in fact hinder the painting in this manner. I have also decided upon further removing the lard, as I am primarily looking at how to structure the form, with its relation to the background, I am also beginning to question its significance to the figure or whether it hinders it.12768013_10201773613018813_1101018698_o

I began looking at the way the body sits on the bottom of the canvas, using a solid pink background against the form. The fleshy pinks sit against the background, similar to the Diebenkorn figures, however the complimentary tones of the study allow the shadow to push through among the flat background and represent the figure more spatially. I am not convinced with my choice of pose, as what was initially supposed to be a yawning pose – used to convey the susceptibility and vulnribility of the male figure, when upright evokes more of a masculine image of power.

Framed Painting.

12776869_10201773612658804_1725116542_oContinuing from the female figures I had studied, and how the body sits on the solid background, encompassing the space around the figure. I have decided on a pose, inspired by the confronting poses present in the works of Marlene Dumas, however where Dumas has used these raw poses in order to challenge conventions of the female figures role in Western art, I am using it to convey the natural human instinct in which we still obtain. I have decided to keep in Pencil marks, amongst brushstrokes, to instill the sense of movement across the composition. I am still unsure as to whether to include the shadow, as I feel the weightlessness of the figure gives a sense of falling to the figure. The perspective of the feet compared to the body  is used to push the body backwards, forcing the depth into the picture, with larger brushstrokes coming forward and smaller brushstrokes sitting in the background.

The painting includes a frame, on which I’ve decided to keep amongst the composition to ask questions of the transcendence of the human form, as seeing a figure so brute contrasts the Utopian ideals of Classical art, although I am still skeptical to the effect it has on the work. I wish to continue these concepts when creating a final piece, possibly creating a triptych which confronts the preconceptions of the Human Figure being something of a higher power, and celebrating the natural inhibitions that were once perceived as sinful.

Giacometti Drawings

Within the sketch studies of sculptor Alberto Giacometti – whether it be still life or the human form, there seems to be a harmony between object and space. Giacometti seems to manipulate the use of line in a way to almost sculpt the figure within to the painting, paying attention to the form of the back of the head included, to try to make sense of the form withing a 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional plane. I am very interested in how the curvature of the lines contour around the face, harmonised with the varying use of tone in lines create a almost hollowing out of the face giving it depth in space. In my own work, I am looking to how the form can be manipulated to give it a spatial significance within my paintings, and in sketchbook studies I am using these techniques to achieve my own understanding of the human form within space.