These paintings are also new versions following a drawing first shown on the blog in April. I’m repeating the photo to give context. The interesting thing to me here is the peculiar perspective, where the face seen in the car window seems out of proportion to the other figures. There is more distance between them than is apparent from what you can see of the cars, there’s a kind of telescoping effect.
The first revision is a simple drawing in charcoal pencil and watercolour wash.
The second is watercolour with some collage, the colour works quite well but my composition is off – too crowded, so the oddity of the space is lost.
The next piece is a deliberate effort to move away from how the photograph works. As with the station paintings, it maybe needs a definite change of scale to progress. The face in the car window is a photograph clipped from the newspaper (no one I know) with some gouache work added .
The family photo used as the basis for the images I’m posting here was first shown on the blog in April last year (Family photos: starting points). As with other recent work, I’m producing a lot of smallish pictures – usually A4, all on watercolour paper. Using the railway station photo, these are versions 1 and 3 of the latest images and, with the original gouache and pastel, I now have four versions. So it’s probably time to tackle something on a much larger scale to enable a greater shift in the reinterpretation of the image.
This painting has been a struggle, it still isn’t right but there are fewer bits that bother me now and more that I like. When doing interpretive work from photographs, it’s interesting to consider why I sometimes worry that something ‘isn’t right’. For example, the arm and hand on the right of this image are ‘wrong’, but I liked the way they turned out just with the simple watercolour washes, they are expressive of the gesture in the photo. The arm and hand on the left were ‘wrong’ – meaning located and shaped differently from in the photo – and for some reason I felt the urge to correct that and eventually resorted to drawing in charcoal pencil, then adding more paint. I’m not quite comfortable with the solution, but in a way I like the wrongness of my attempt to change it. There are various deliberate technical inconsistencies in this piece.
Of course, when you are using collage, there is always the option to stick something over the bit you don’t like and carry on from there. I didn’t want to overload this painting, as a lot of it consists of very simple early wash layers. It’s from a peculiar and complex original photo so most likely I’ll do another version rather than go on tinkering with this.
This is a really odd photo, giving rise to some equally odd paintings and collage. A friend looking at the recent work asked, ‘what is it you are trying to say about it?’ – ‘it’ being the fact that the people in my paintings are almost always dead – older relatives, ancestors, mummies. I’m giving this some thought, meantime questioning whether it is necessary that a visual art piece does have something to say?
Incidentally, there’s a non-dead person in there – on the right is my mum, currently still with us at 92. The others are my father and a friend (centre) and my uncle (left). I have three recent paintings based on this photo. I think I prefer the third, for its ambiguity.