Quite a lot of my recent work has been about faces, from simplified prints to a recent series of watercolours. So then I thought it was appropriate to review work I did several years ago, which was based on newspaper photos, chosen fairly randomly on the basis of visual interest. At that time, the paper I regularly read had a sort of design ‘tic’, where all the people mentioned in a feature would be shown in a block grid of close up portraits. I was interested both in the detail and texture of the faces, and in the degree of repetition, created by the presentation.This is an acrylic painting on board, approximately 3ft (Im) square. It sold quite soon after it was done, and I haven’t seen it since. It lives quite vividly in my memory. The subjects were all managers of football teams, at the time quite well known but relatively unremarkable people, faces you wouldn’t necessarily pick out in a crowd. It was the juxtaposition that intrigued me.
The watercolours I’m doing currently are derived from the family photos that have already been the subjects of other paintings. In this case the visualisation involves extracting each face from the photo as a detail, sometimes small and difficult to decipher. I’ve made several studies and the two shown here are to me the most successful, because I’m looking for an abstract quality to the interpretation – they are not portraits as such, although the people are or have been significant in my life. Both are on A4 size watercolour paper.
It’s a long time since the last post on this blog. That’s not because nothing was happening, but I had nothing for a while that I wanted to share. The painting here is number six of a sequence, at some point I may post the whole evolution of the image but for now I just want to show this one. The figures and faces originate from newspaper photos, by now much changed, the painting is watercolour, gouache and watercolour crayon. The paper size is 11 x 15 in (27 x 38 cm)
Meantime, I also made a short trip to Barcelona and was particularly impressed with the Tapies Foundation, as expected, and the Picasso museum, rather more unexpectedly. I particularly liked the pigeon paintings, which appear to have been a recreational moment during the intensity of the Las Meninas series.
I have a huge archive of found photos, collected for purely visual interest or for my interest in the content, and also for teaching purposes, so there is reference material on any subject students might choose. The majority are clippings and tear sheets from newspapers and magazines, but there are also photos taken by me, friends or family members, and a range of postcards – views, artwork and old pictures.
The brown paper drawings are what I call thinking out loud – that is, thinking on to paper. Initially I chose favourite images from my collection, with written comments and associations; gradually themes began to emerge. The drawings are charcoal, acrylic wash and chalk on brown paper, each approx. 22x28in (56x71cm).
The power of strange things
Not one day of peace
Brown paper drawing 1 Untitled