Experiment has been the focus this term where I have considered how to develop a concept by choosing different surfaces, scale, types of paint or method, exploring the language of collage.
Acrylic on MDF board 14 x 14cm
Black and white photography in an induction was not as successful as I had hoped, with photographs of “displaced” animals in the zoo, which was thoroughly depressing. I made a small etching using wildlife poaching as an idea, and a Baobab linocut. The Soweto Riot image was successful as a screen print and this is likely to be a route to explore using transfer and silkscreen combined with painting.
Large oil paintings included figurative painting for the first time, and the style in which the small figures were painted is much more descriptive than my previous work. I was flattening surfaces and simplifying marks, trying to create a psychological tension in the stillness of the work. I like this better without the pool as an intimate picnic gathering.
Introduction of the figurative on large scale linen
Paper, canvas, linen, cardboard, chalk ground, and MDF board all offered different surface solutions. I was painting in the expanded field as a result of Geraint Evans’ talk on the subject on 7 November 2018, and Lois Rowe’s observation that oil on canvas may not answer the questions I was asking about my relationship with South Africa. I started constructing three-dimensional structures and looked at the installations by Jonah Sack.
Three dimensional surfaces
After Tim Johnson’s talks about Painters Methods and Materials, I made some ‘memory boxes’ preparing chalk ground to experiment with this new surface in work that was about the ‘saccharine’ sweet memories of my childhood.
Preparing chalk ground using Tim Johnson’s Painters Methods and Materials recipes.
Now that I have permission to use Juhan Kuus’ black and white photography, there are a number of options open to me, including using the actual photograph and painting into and on top of this as Hughie O Donoghue does and which I am very excited about as this was my original intention.
Collage idea incorporating Juhan Kuus’ white border farmers photograph.
Different marks were made using spray paint in the garden area of the collage painting, creating crisp torn paper edges and soft blurring. This variation in mark making contrasts the aggressive marks of the male figures with the illusion of fantasy.
Stencil to create wall pattern to make meaning clearer.
The meaning of the wall in a gated community was not read as I had intended. I realised I needed to make the wall more obvious as a division. I cut a stencil and used spray paint to create the garden brick wall.
Work in progress, acrylic on Fabriano paper, 1.5 x 2 m
I cleared my studio space, bought a roll of Fabriano paper and covered my studio wall in it. This gave me the freedom I needed to experiment on a throw away surface with quick drying acrylic paint as I retrieved memories without editing or caring too much about outcome. The direct psychological link with the past combined with the physicality of making this felt spontaneous and instinctive and was read by others to have an energy and a connection.
Detail showing Biko’s face cut into a flash graphic shape commonly used to advertise coupons and money off vouchers in the 1970’s.
The first paper painting was not perfect, this is also its character, but I thought a flat paper surface may make a less student-like experiment looking painting. It was a disaster as it buckled overnight.
I had to find an alternative to paper but wanted to keep the same spontaneity in making, a pre- primed canvas stapled directly to the wall offered a similar result. Painting and collage developed well and integrated acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel and image as text. The materials began to feel part of the concept and the visual language of retrieval as an unreliable witness, with disjointed cameos isolated in the composition.
Thinking about painting as installation and using an object of personal history, I chose to paint the land rights idea on my grandmother’s old table cloth. It is very difficult to control paint on fabric as it bleeds. Unhappy with the portrait so far I considered silkscreening the image, but this too on fabric wouldn’t hold enough detail. Instead I made an acrylic image transfer for the first time which held enough detail whilst still breaking up in parts to reveal the gold paint beneath and ‘distress’ the image supporting the idea of inexact retrieved memory.
Acrylic image transfer
This shows the start of an experiment with inks on raw canvas, a sample to see how I could build up a painting using several pieces stitched together, a process of excavation and burial of memory and the constructed future we make in trying to understand the past. This was the method I intended to develop in the political paintings.
The development of collage resulted in this final series of work where poolside environments were constructed from found and created photography. These were adapted in Photoshop, drawn over in Litho crayon, silkscreened, and developed in paint. Process became an integral part of the language of this work where painting, drawing and screen print work together to create a new visual language in large works.
These images show some of the preparation involved in generating a silkscreen print, making a positive from photography using Photoshop to separate two layers from an image and thereby two screens for two colours. Some screens were tested including fabric screens for detail retention, positional proofs made on paper for compositional decisions with screen placement and finally printing in the Dye Room as the surface was too big for the beds in the print room.
Working in the Dye Room
This was the first layer of green leaves repositioning the screen around a preplanned composition.
The same process was done for the second colour printed in blue/black offset from the green.
The second painting involved making a collage from a found source for the house with the elements used in the first painting. Painting in acrylic was done first this time. The figure was also drawn in litho crayon on acetate from which I made a screen positive to overlay on top of the figure in the final painting. The leaves were printed last.
Wanting to keep the strong geometrical composition with white space, I decided to only print the leaves in blue/black over the linear screen of the litho figure as the leaves conceal a part of her.
The figure in the third painting was collaged using a different position for the girl, but the other elements remained the same. She was painted in oils with poppy seed to create juicy, fleshy skin tones and spontaneous method application, influenced by Caroline Walker. The architectural elements were painted next in acrylics and the a blue test painting on acetate to see if ultramarine was lively or distracting.
Positioning the screen to mark up for the final print layers. I went ahead with ultramarine as it feels fresh and contemporary, adding to a holiday atmosphere strengthening the idea that gated communities are detached from the everyday realities of crime.