These are a few reflections I’ve had while writing the Critical Appraisal and some jotted down since then. I will try to just transcribe as I think: ill-formed thoughts can often prompt new ideas when looked at again. These thoughts are likely to contradict each other…
I was reading an interview with Cecily Brown in which she says, in response to a question about how long people are seen to spend looking at her paintings, “I always wanted to make people look slowly, and to spend time” (Yee, p 99). I do not think my work is like that: it is mostly all on the surface. My aim is that people should come back to my works when they themselves have changed and find something new that reflects how they now see the world. This has been the case with me while writing this Critical Appraisal. I have revisited my work over and over during this process and thoughts about earlier works have changed how I saw the later ones.
But the reverse has also been true. In looking at the oil paintings, I have noticed a significant degree of anxiety in them – in the expressions of the figures, in the overt subject of the images and in the compositions and colour combinations. This has coloured how I regard the earlier works, particularly sketchbook work and the fashion magazine portraits. So I have been very grateful for the need to conduct the appraisal exercise.
I have been trying to work out which artists I should look at to learn about how I make work. Not to copy their techniques or subject matter but to understand better what it is that I’m doing.
I think that my approach to figuration is most like Ken Kiff which is no surprise to me: it was seeing Kiff’s work for the first time recently that made me think it was possible that I could make images that were ‘right’ for me. In terms of composition, the closest I’ve found is perhaps Neo Rauch. His work has an almost-real feel to it while also being wholly surreal and this is something I’m hoping to achieve in my paintings.
It is in the ‘feel’ of the paint that I’m struggling to find a ‘mentor’. I like the effect of flatness in the paint that I’ve achieved. Many artists have the paint applied flatly while still producing a range of tones in their colouring: I’ve not found figurative painters that use large swathes of monotonal colour, eliminating depth in both look and application.
In the meantime, look at Matisse, John Brack, …
Is it possible to make figurative sculpture that has the same ‘feel’ as my paintings?
My paintings seem to be stills from a film at a point after and/or before something critical has happened or will happen.
In the paintings of mine that work, there is a sense of dynamic opposition between two characters.