For the final assignment I wanted to try to use what I had discovered during this module on Figures and Faces. It would be easy to list what has been learnt in terms of skills etc …but the most significant step forward has been the discovery that it is all about the process and not the outcome!
This isn’t a concept which I have ever given any thought to before. You believe you set about to produce some sort of image and you use the skills you have or don’t have, to achieve that end. But I don’t think that is it at all!
The exercise about ‘childhood’ when I was struggling to express something more than an image, showed me that there is a place you need to get to where the creative response happens from within and it has nothing to do with skills, observation or materials. What developed out of the subsequent life drawing experience has changed my approach completely. I find now that I actually don’t know what the outcome is going to be when I begin a painting but the process of doing it is the expression of the idea! I am not sure if I am actually making a lot of sense here because it is not easy to find the words to explain this.
Preparation for this assignment consisted of a number of studies of me in my studio. I don’t have a model and I don’t enjoy working from photographs so had to settle for another self portrait. Exploring different backgrounds and compositions was interesting but nothing beckoned me. So I went back to the studies I had done during the life drawing class to remind myself again of the discoveries made at that session. Before doing the final assignment, I wanted to explore using paint in figure work in the same free expressive as we had used the charcoal in the class.
Taking one of the studies, I did a very free drawing using a large piece of charcoal and then rubbed it back so that only the outline was left.
Then the fun started!!! No brushes! Just my hands! Using the paint straight from the tube onto my fingers I began to sculpt the figure onto the page. I could feel the shapes and tones in my hands and worked very quickly without pausing to think about it all….quite a departure for me who likes to analyse and control everything! It is quite amazing how much detail you can get with your fingers. But the process was producing the image! This sense of freedom I was experiencing was very significant for me and I am sure, will prove to be ‘the turning of a corner’ for me as an artist.
For the final assignment I went through the same procedure. It was all done with my hands except the last small details of finishing off.
As I look at all the images now at the end of this module, I can see that a subtle change has happened. I am not saying that the images are particularly good in terms of paintings but the latter ones have something about them that the others don’t. I’m not sure what that is but it’s there! I look at the last painting and, yes, it isn’t a great composition (top of head cut off, too much blue jacket and the rest!) but for me it has a quality! There is a subtlety about the construction of the face – the expression is very like me when I am just sitting for long periods of time looking at my work and just thinking! I love the energy of the marks particularly in the jacket… I spent no time peering at my face to get all the details right in order to produce a likeness and yet the likeness is there! How did that happen??? …………and all of this has been done with my hands!! Wow!!!!