The Figure and the Self Portrait
Seated Figure with Pattern
This project turned out to be quite time consuming – my sitter didn’t have any patterned blouses so we did a round of the charity shops in my nearby town and managed to get one, but I wasn’t sure about it so we made a further visit and bought another.
The actual figure, I felt would not present a problem but I wan the background the break new ground either by use of material or collage, but I visited the Summer Exhibition at the RA this week and there was a small picture exhibited which used newspaper “gutters” to product a layered effect with windows, and I thought this looked interesting. I knew that a fellow student, Andrew Howe, did some great collages which I wanted to look at again then when I went on to his log he had similar “cut-outs” to those I had seen at the summer exhibition as his banner. So I may try something similar on the painting, possibly combined with collage, echoing the pattern in the blouse.
David Mach, who was exhibiting at the Summer Exhibition creates collages which represent real scenes with incongruous backgrounds and unfeasible underwater situations. His Depth Charge, reminded me of my own attempts at collage and his work makes me realise the possibilities in this medium.
I do not usually like to attempt sketches as I feel I loose the spontaneity of the painting and I usually have a pretty good idea in my mind as to how to approach a subject, but on this occasion I feel sketches will be an added benefit, in order to harmonize the effects I am looking for.
I researched various artists and paintings as follows:
Pablo Picasso – Large Nude in Red Armchair
Maurice de Vlaminck – Dancer at the “Rat Mort” and Woman and Dog
Alexander Samokhvalov - In the Sun
Baranov-Rossiné –Seated Nude
Henri Matisse – Woman with Pearl Necklace and Odalisque with Tambourine
All of these artists approached their model as a decorative subject, except perhaps Samokhvalov, rather than a realistic one, which usually means treating the subject as a ‘flat’ painting using colour in blocks with little tone. Vlaminck almost dissolves the image into the background in his Dancer at the “Rat Mort”.
The patterned blouse I chose had some interesting colours and stripes which I felt could be incorporated with some collage. The initial painting was fine but I felt the collage was too weak for the strength of the blouse. I had incorporated tissue paper in purple and its natural contrast yellow. I also wanted to make the model herself look like a cutout, so I incorporated more collage and outlined some of the figure with black, strengthening the arm and cushion to incorporate the figure into the background I like the effect of “contouring” and Picasso has used it in the example shown.
Check and Log
- What else could you have done to get more from the subject?
- How did you relate the figure to the background
- What problems or challenges do you need to discuss with your tutor?