Winter Project: Painting Portraits

My first step was, as planned, to make two identical drawings. I decided to trace an image of a man in a suit onto two A4 pages of watercolour paper so that the man himself could be standardised.

The style and surroundings of the people were the only things that varied, so that they alone could inform the viewer’s impression of the man depicted.

I aimed for the first image to make him appear like an admirable man, and painted it in Kerry James Marshall’s style in acrylic. The image below aimed to make him appear as a hated man, and was painted in Lou Ros’ style in ink.

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In our crit is was mentioned that neither one seems like a particularly good person, due to the flag’s connotation of Nationalism.

Winter Project: Plan

This winter break, I was given the task of looking at my classmate Jamie Ampleford’s blog and creating an interpretation of his work.

I found this to be a difficult task, because his work is superficially similar to mine, in that we both like to do portraits, and painting. I therefore cycled through many ideas before landing on the final concept. It was clear from Jamie’s blog that the medium that he used, and the fact that he kept his focus on portraits, was extremely important to him.

I therefore focused on showing the power of portraits, and their medium, on people’s interpretation of the content. This related strongly to political propaganda, and since Jamie’s final piece centred on political figures, I am creating a diptych of propaganda portraits.

The two portraits will depict the same person, who is introduced to the audience as a politician, but the context and style will determine how the subject should be viewed. I am considering displaying the two images separately so that those who see the first image will see the subject as good, whereas those who see the second image will see the subject as evil.

I will be manipulating this by using different environments for the subject in each, as well as different colour palettes. I think the lighting of the faces is important, and so I will need to take some photos of a man lit from beneath, and from in front.

The main manipulation will be in the painting style, as I will use a different style in each. I chose Kerry James Marshall in acrylic and Lou Ros in ink to influence these paintings, based on Jamie’s artist influences last term, although for the latter I will be aiming to reproduce the style that Jamie himself interpreted from Lou Ros.

The graffiti-esque style of Lou Ros lends itself well to political propaganda, and I may also look at Banksy. Another artist that I will be incorporating into both paintings, to tie them together will be Njideka Cosby, who I saw in the enhancement week. I think that Jamie would like Cosby and find her work very useful himself.

I will be using her technique of transferring photos on top of the painting, to add more context. Here is my current plan:

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I will also now be adding to my Artist Influences section.

Personal Project: Exhibition

As soon as the third years were finished with the flatscreens, I snapped them up. With Dave’s help I hung the brackets and the three TVs onto the wall. They were just what I was hoping for, although in future I will paint the animations to the same aspect ratio as the TV I think.

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When I finally turned on the TVs and set up the films from my USB stick, I found that the films were in fact upside down. I made the decision to rotate the films overnight and bring them back, rather than take down the TVs and turn around the brackets.

I couldn’t think of a professional looking way to frame the TVs, so I decided that the TVs own frame will do the job. However, in future I may also frame the TVs so it looks as much like a framed painting on the wall as possible.

I am very happy with the way the TVs work in the space as well. It will be quite a digitally focused room by the time the exhibition is finished, which I’m sure it already is. My films are looped on three TVs, one as you come in, and then two on a dominant wall, but on the main projecting wall there will be a film projected onto the blue wood panels that can be seen in the video below, as well as a film projected from the ceiling onto a table in the entrance way, and perhaps some performances in the middle of the space.

I think it will be an exciting room, and I wish that my family and I could see the finished product. It would also be good to add to the film seen here. I made the following film from clips on the deadline day. Most but not all of the work was completed by this point, and the activity adds to the atmosphere. The sped up portions of the film emphasises this.

Personal Project: Final Execution

I decided to further my self portrait and let go until the point where the painting didn’t look like a portrait any more. I decided to complete the painting while sober in this case, because I knew I had no inhibitions about making it a mess at this point, as that was my aim. Unfortunately I won’t be able to add an image of the exhibited work before this is read, but below I have an image of the finished painting which I will not be including in the exhibition.


Rather, I will be exhibiting the finished animation of this self portrait’s descent into madness, alongside the other two finished animations. Since the last crit I have also edited the other two paintings into looped animations, whereas before they were .GIFs. Their slow changes makes it more mesmerising to watch.

The finished videos, that can be seen in Autumn Assessment, appear on their sides, because they will be exhibited on a portrait orientation television.

Personal Project: Reflection and Progress

At our crit, people seemed to agree that I could push this painting even further in terms of letting go. I considered progressing by creating another painting about mental illness, but perhaps more open to interpretation, (the current piece is too prescriptive and illustrative of the specific study I am writing), of a portrait that kind of melts. However, I think that I will kill two birds with one stone, and keep working on the current painting, making it more and more abstract and painterly, perhaps ending up with a pool of flesh colours. I think that the painting at the moment has too many muted flesh colours, but if this contributes to the finished piece, I won’t mind this.

This idea was explored and extended to the idea of making it more of an endurance piece, filming the process of creating the painting, while drunk, and also becoming more and more exhausted, and also to the idea of painting just more and more crazy layers until the painting is physically thicker.

Kate also pointed out that it is very static, which would work if I was trying to convince people that it was just a normal painting like Bill Viola does, but is less interesting than if I wanted to make it more of an animation. I could make my puddle of flesh more dynamic by rotating it perhaps at the end, or at least by moving the focus of the film.

They also gave me lots more ideas in terms of artist influences I can look at, so I will be adding some influences in my Artist Influences section now.


Personal Project: Execution

Below is the finished painted animation commenting on the link between stress and depression. As stress levels increase, the depression levels increase and the clarity (and quality) of the painting, and of thought, decrease. This was achieved by me drinking slightly more at each stage. I don’t think that this is something I want to make common practice, although it did successfully lead to a much looser style towards the end.

After photographing each stage, and uploading the images into photoshop, then ordering and lining up each photograph, I made a slideshow. I wanted the transition of each frame to be very slow and hypnotising. My housemate said that “watching it is like being drunk”.

I made two versions of the slideshow; one almost eight minutes long, in the hopes that if it was hung on the wall, perhaps in a frame, viewers would find the change almost imperceptible. They wouldn’t be completely sure if the portrait was moving or not without watching for a long time, making the portrait quite magical. I will put this version below as well.