Paint Box

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Alice in Wonderland - Tate Liverpool

A couple of weekends ago I went up to Liverpool to visit the Tate's Alice in Wonderland exhibition. These are some elements which I found interesting and may have an impact on my practice...

Very interesting to see the original drawings of Charles Dodgson and how contemporary artists like Kiki Smith have responded to them using a similar style of drawing. Smith has made her image appear rather more sinister as Alice is pursued by a flock of morose looking birds.
Liliana Porter's piece collage of rabbit hole ephemera indicates a jumbled and fractured story or pieces of a broken mirror. This brings a more textural element to collage and could link to image and object collections.

 I loved the ground floor room with the photographs byAnnalies Strba. They seemed very relevant to me as a sleeping figure had been transplanted into different constructed contexts. I really like the childlike dress, almost fancy dress like with a fairy quality to it. The background seems unreal with fractured shapes and light. In particular the top image shows the subject on what appears to be a mirror or very still water.

Peter Blake has again caught my attention, this time the Alice series which I have previously seen in other exhibitions. The saturated colour is very clean and appealing, however, the left hand image now appears static (I looked at this when I was working on the girl surrounded with flowers painting about 6 months ago). The right hand image although still static uses more of the body which is more the direction I want to explore with my work.

Francesca Woodman and  Duane Michels both use mirrors in their photographs to distort the body, face or environment. I particularly like Michels' right hand image which distorts scale and plays with the viewer's perception of the objects.
Yifat Bezalel's work in the exhibition was a series of drawings which seemed to have been part of a performance. I like the way the image is layered to portray movement, or multiple characters, or shadows and egos of the same girl. It reminds me of the some of the drawings I did in response to Claude Heath's work which were predominantly through touch.

I discovered Anna Gaskell's photos when I was researching for mapping the territory but I had anticipated the scale until I saw them at the exhibition. They were displayed in the same room as Francesca Woodman's work and seem to capture a similar playful but slightly uneasy mood. I love the way the body is distorted and cropped by the angle of the lens, the costume and implied reference to the story (work is untitled 'Wonder' series).

Even though Tim Walker's photos were not in the exhibition it seems relevant to re-reference them as the encompass the odd play with scale and story referencing of the other pieces. The play with scale and incorporation of creatures and fantasy characters imply a narrative without illustrating.


This was such a valuable exhibition for me to visit, not only because of my love for Alice but also to the see the way artists have responded so differently to the story and how the work was grouped by the curator to bring out themes. I think the figures in my paintings need a body as the way that the body fits inside the canvas can help to indicate a change of scale, flying, falling, sleeping or sinking. I will definitely be perusing using multiple subject or mirrors in images as this adds another worldly dimension to the image and also adds ambiguity as the audience becomes disorientated. I also intend to explore collage and drawing further as collections of linked objects could accompany larger paintings. This may also be explored in an altered book or sketchbook with cut pages and collage so that the viewer can go inside and travel through the pages like Alice falling down the rabbit hole or throught the looking glass. Linking to the collages I have already done, I may attempt to digitally collage images into different contexts like Annalies Strba, or combine collage and drawing which will allow me to work rapidly to explore compositional ideas.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Recipe Book

Natural (Lily Cole photo by Tim Walker)


Birds and creatures

Mulberry adverts - great play with scale and nature

Tea Party - Mad Hatters

Time is running away from us all

Deep in the forest

Snow queen and enchanted forest

Ice and water

Interior, wallpaper and chinz

Solitary interior

Double and multiple figure

Costume - reminds me of the playing cards and Queen of Hearts


Doubles and reflection

These are only extracts from my recipe book so far. I have tried to organise each section and page so that I am grouping type of objects, backgrounds or people in order to have a library of images I can use whenever I am creating a painting. This has been inspired by Tim Walkers 'recipe books' of collected images which are then used to create sets and composite photographs. Having already used some of these images to create collages, it seems to be a very practical way of organising and referencing images. I will continue to add to the current recipe book (200 pages!) and am considering also adding some annotation to link my ideas together.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Collage & Double Sided Images


Collage: I found the process of making collages very useful as it allowed me to play with composition and context without having to repeatedly make more paintings. Using a combination of backgrounds and objects from the recipe book with figures from my paintings allowed me to test how fitted into a particular space. I could also look at scale, shrinking or enlarging the figures which I think works really well. I was trying to emulate the working process of Tim Walker as he plans his fashion photographs in a similar way. Through placing figures in context, I have experimented with their context and tried to imply a narrative. It will be possible for me to work from these collages back into the paintings so there is a kind of dialogue between the collage and the painting. From the one painting, I could develop multiple paintings which map the figures in a range of environments.

Prints: I was trying to explore the idea of a double image or an image with a reflection through using materials which become double sided. This was inspired by 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' where the second story parallels the first; a black rather than a white kitten, a backwards world. The mono prints exist as the original drawing with the print as a reverse of the drawing. They have to be turned over to view the parallel image or could be displayed in a way which would show both sides. This could be suspended so that the viewer could walk around the work or perhaps suspended in front of a mirror so that the image on the 'back' could also be seen as a reflection. I quite like the way the printing ink can be blended into paint if it is fluid and the quality of line you see, slightly ephemeral. I have also experimented with mono printing on canvas which worked better on the unstretched as the texture was much smoother. Experimenting with stitch also explores two sided media - I'm thinking of developing this on a smaller scale in a sketchbook as part of the sketchbook project.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Studio Sunday

Twombly background on canvas with yellow monoprint

Oil paint added to canvas to accentuate contours of faces

Monoprint on canvas disaster before I bought other colours
Monoprint with watered down acrylic

Original monoprinted drawing
Detail to show print lines and loose paint

Mirror image progress

Current studio wall October 2011

I am quite enjoying playing with different materials and exploring the fluid and double sided properties of print. Mono print, in its unique nature needs to work with the paint. I don't really like how the mono print looks when its on top of the paint - partly because it looks like a childish graffiti. This of course may be because I used black ink (being impatient). The marks didn't add to the surface in the way that I had anticipated - in fact my eye was drawn to the black rather than the image as a whole. I plan to experiment further with mono printing into backgrounds and working on top with paint. I love the way the prints can be worked on on two sides, a sort of mirror image. It raises questions for me about the possibilities of display, rather than having the back of the paper to a wall perhaps suspending them so they can be viewed from both sides. This might make the piece become slightly more sculptural, or perhaps suitable for installation (I'm imagining multiple frames suspended). Working on top of an oil surface was quite strange because I am used to preserving the white of the canvas to show light. However, I do feel that this worked better than printing on top of a painting because I didn't find that I was guiding the lines of the running paint in any way so could then add the mono print freely. I am definitely going to play further with combining materials on paper as this seems to be a fruitful way of exploring my ideas.