Part 3 introductory research point: Monotype and loose paint in creating portraits

20/21/22 August 2017. In order to gain the most from my research, I decided to get a quick overview over the artists listed in the research point on p. 66 of the course guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015), then select those with the best connection to my own work and look at these in depth.

Annie Kevans (*1972, France/UK)

My impression is that Annie Kevans’ technique of portraiture with thinned oil paint (Kevans, n.d.) on canvas always follows the same principle. Human perception is selective and Kevans appears to highlight those parts of a face, which our perception is most attracted to and can gain the most immediate appreciation of gender and mood, that is eyes and mouth. Also, the portrayed persons mostly look directly into the eye of the viewer, which is fascinating in its own right, because it is possible to stare back without breaching a social convention. Apart from the more detailed parts of a face Kevans leaves the head as a loose and rough, though highly sensitive, sketch. The paint is used in various degrees of dilution and the light brown mix used to paint the initial sketch combines the colours used in the highlights. Both result in harmony and allows the viewer to focus on the message the faces send. It should be possible to draw on her technique in my first attempts at creating a monotype self-portrait.

Note:
Here the technique of creating a monotype portrait as described in the course guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015, pp. 67-74) comes to mind. When I place a photo under my glass plate, paint that photo and make a monotype print, the result will be a mirror image of the original. This means that the likeness of the printed portrait may suffer. In case I want to use a photo I should take care to print the photo as a mirror image first, then use that as basis.

Alli Sharma (*1967, UK)

When I first saw the work by Alli Sharma at the start of this course, I did not feel too much connection except for some of her black and white oil portraits (Sharma, n.d.). Their style is quite different from that of Annie Kevans. The persons invariably look away from the artist, an approach that has been, in my opinion, used excessively by too many artists in recent years. What makes them interesting are not so much the facial features but the distribution of light and dark and the coarse brushstrokes using dilute oil paint. With some experience the latter are probably a good basis for a beginner’s series of monotype experiments.

Note:
As we are required to produce a series of self-portraits using ink, I will have a variety of brush sizes ready, including a wide flat one.

Eleanor Moreton (*1956, UK)

Again I could not find monotype work, but only the skillful application of dilute paint, which can again be used as a basis for planning my own painting work in preparation for printing. Her work reminds me of Annie Kevans. This is especially evident in her “Absent Friends” series (Moreton, 2013-14). One particularly haunting painting is “Bet/h I, 3”, an oil on canvas portrait from 2008. The portrayed person comes in the colours of a clown, but since it is so blurred I am left with an assumption. I have never been able to enjoy what clowns are and do. Their bizarre behaviour and painted grin belying the true mood of the person in the clown’s costume are enough to leave an uneasy feeling. Apart from that the technique of applying paint here may be well worth trying in monoprints.

Note:
I might try and develop my own idea of using coloured shadows in my self-portraits in that direction.

Geraldine Swayne (*1965, UK)

As with all artists I researched so far in the list I could not find any work declared monotype. Swayne specializes in miniature paintings on enamel or metal surfaces, although on Saatchi online (n.d.) some of these paintings are listed in the printmaking category (although not monotype). Superficially her portraits may look somewhat traditional, but on second glance they leave an unsettling afterglow. Swayne’s use of paint is far more prolific than in all of the above artists and the intiguing effects created with enamel paint on metal are something to remember.

Note:
Although we are advised to use oil paints for making our monotypes, I need and want to stay with my acrylics and water as well as gloss medium to dilute. For Practice of Painting I made a still life (Lacher-Bryk, 2016), where a certain degree of dilution and application to a dry layer of acrylic paint caused the paint to behave in a way similar to that of the enamels used by Swayne.

David Bomberg (1890-1957, UK)

I found some fascinating, coarsely painted portraits and self-portraits, whose weird combination of colours to depict light and shade I want to remember. My favourite among the portraits I saw was “Talmudist” (Blomberg, 1954) (Fig. 1 below).

Bomberg, David, 1890-1957; Talmudist
David Bomberg (1953) “Talmudist”. Source: David Bomberg (1890-1957), photo: Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. Available under a CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Tracey Emin (*1963, UK)

As suggested on p. 66 of the study guide I had a look at the drawings available online from Emin’s monotype collection “One Thousand Drawings” (random images coming up in browser). To be honest, I am not too happy with what I see. The drawings look like careless scribbled notes capturing thoughts passing through the mind. It is very obvious that Emin would be far better at drawing than that, and she is not doing justice to herself here in that respect. Of course I am aware that many contemporary artists use deliberate neglect to raise attention, but I am not advanced enough at developing a reliable critical view to be able to see a further purpose behind her particular style.

Note:

This is not what I would want to test in my own monoprint series, but I may want to think about including text.

Michael Craig Martin

The most important message to take from Martin’s 1995 essay “Drawing the Line: Reappraising Drawing Past and Present” is probably the one found in an extract shown by Occasional Press on their homepage as part of advertising the book “Drawing Texts”: Martin emphasizes the observation, which is not at all surprising, that drawing as a distinct art form can only be appreciated as such in our time, when finished artworks are supposed to exhibit all that drawings have always contained, i.e. “These characteristics include spontaneity, creative speculation, experimentation, directness, simplicity, abbreviation, expressiveness, immediacy, personal vision, technical diversity, modesty of means, rawness, fragmentation, discontinuity, unfinishedness, and open endedness” (Occasional Press, n.d.).

Note:

I will try and get hold of the whole article. It will probably contain an explanation for the praise Tracey Emin receives for her drawings.

Albrecht Rissler (*1944, Germany)

He was a lecturer in one of the courses I attended at the Bad Reichenhall art academy some years ago. Rissler is a fantastic draughtsman (Rissler, n.d.) and introduced our group to a very simple monotype technique. Although it was based on drawing I still remember the great effect of having a more or less uniform dark grey background (printing ink as far as I can remember) into which Rissler drew with some added pressure on the back of the paper, while it was still on the glass plate, a little valley reminding of an ancient hollow-way.

Note:

Although I am aware that we are expected to use monotype in a much more painterly way, I might try and include drawn marks into the prints once I have acquired a certain minimum knowledge in preparing a suitable bakground.

Kim Baker (?)

I am not sure whether I found the correct Kim Baker, since there are several of them. The only one I think comes anywhere near the subject of Part 3 creates series of colourful flower “portraits” with bold brushstrokes, owls and other birds (Baker, n.d.). A few other Kim Bakers are painters in the USA, but none of them makes portraits or monotypes either. Will leave her for the moment.

Overall this research helped me to define a first idea of how to approach my monotype experiments. Again I will remain with my reduced colour palette and carry over my subject of shadows. In this respect the approach by Alli Sharma would be quite suitable for me, but I would probably try and carefully include colour in places in a way similar to Annie Kevans, but at the same time testing the unnatural, e.g. coloured shadows, and their effect on the character of the portrait (thinking of the Marilyn Monroe print series by Andy Warhol, but less gaudy and with a psychological message to the colours, if possible). I think that this way a strange series of self-portraits might emerge. On Pinterest I found a number of wonderful monotype portraits and techniques, including some brilliant ones by Edgar Degas. These I will not discuss here, because they will appear as printouts in my sketchbook and I will have a closer look at them while I work on my monotype series. Some of the above connect in a way to my Assignment 2 umbrella project (Lacher-Bryk, 2017) and might help me in planning my approach.

 

General references

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Part 4, project 5, exercise 1: Working from drawings and photographs – painting from a working drawing [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 24 November. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/part-4-project-5-exercise-1-working-from-drawings-and-photographs-painting-from-a-working-drawing/ [Accessed 20 August 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Assignment 2: “An Umbrella Project” [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 17 August. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1upm.wordpress.com/2017/08/17/assignment-2-an-umbrella-project/ [Accessed 20 August 2017]

Open College of the Arts (2015) Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media. Open College of the Arts, Barnsley.

Annie Kevans

Kevans, A. (n.d.) Art

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[online]. Annie Kevans, [n.k.] Available from: http://www.anniekevans.com/art [Accessed 21 August 2017]

Alli Sharma

Sharma, A. (n.d.) Paintings [online]. Alli Sharma, [n.d.]. Available from: http://www.allisharma.com/allisharma/Paintings.html [Accessed 21 August 2017]

Eleanor Moreton

Moreton, E. (2008) Bet/h I, 3 [oil on canvas] [online]. [n.k], [n.k.]. Available from: http://www.eleanormoreton.co.uk/beth-i-3 [Accessed 21 August 2017]

Moreton, E. (2013-2014) Absent Friends [online]. Moreton, [n.k.]. Available from: http://www.eleanormoreton.co.uk/absent-friends-1/ [Accessed 21 August 2017]

Geraldine Swayne

Saatchi Art (n.d.) Geraldine Swayne [online]. [n.k.], [n.k.]. Available from: https://www.saatchiart.com/geraldineswayne [Accessed 21 August 2017]

David Bomberg

David Bomberg (1953) “Talmudist”. Source: David Bomberg (1890-1957),Available from: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/talmudist-70525/search/actor:bomberg-david-18901957/page/2 [Accessed 21 August 2017]

Michael Craig Martin

Occasional Press (n.d.) Drawing Texts Extracts: from Drawing The Line by Michael Craig-Martin. Occasional Press, [n.k.]. Available from: http://www.occasionalpress.net/drawingtext/dtextract3.htm [Accessed 22 August 2017]

Albrecht Rissler

Rissler, A. (n.d.) Albrecht Rissler [online]. Albrecht Rissler, [n.k.]. Available from: http://www.risslerart.de/ [Accessed 22 August 2017]

Kim Baker

Baker, K. (n.d.) Paintings [online]. Kim Baker, [n.d.]. Available from: http://www.kimbaker.co.uk/portfolio.php [Accessed 21 August 2017]

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