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Friday, 21 October 2011

How do I look?

Checking out Warhol week 4

Self portraits: Today we were looking at process without the end result being already decided.

Instructions this week
1 Make quick drawing of old fashioned portrait and note artist
I had a portrait of a young man by boticelli

Then go into the gallery and draw a portrait and compare with the first.
I chose warhol's self portrait from 1973.

This is an exercise in looking and processing what you see not what you think you see, it's reading the marks in front of you without letting your editing side take over and regulate.

Look at the difference...Warhol was more interested in the playful nature of materials and process rather than with giving a sense of character and personality. Although he chose the famous and often rich, he was doing it for his own process, not to the specification of a commission. The older portraits we copied were done for rich people and they would most likely have been in the fashion of the time and enhanced to please the sitter!

Does a portrait tell us more about painter or sitter?

Both ....But in my opinion it's more about the painter and how they see the sitter in the context of their life or the cultural and political time in which they live.

Picasso was an obsessive self portrait painter, it seems natural as an artist to start with yourself as the subject but these days it's often hard to know how you see yourself. We are bombarded with who we should be like and family life takes it's toll when time is generally spent on other people rather than on yourself. As a mum of three boys under 8 I am not only pressed for time but also outnumbered and outwitted by all the boys in the house!

I am in the frustratingly slow, life long process of trying to carve out time to develop my art practise, in prioritising my work and not feeling guilty, for example saying goodbye to a 3 yr old screaming 'mummy I want you' to come to the course this morning. I find it's hard to step from one world into another with ease or even grace! Inevitably I bring with me emotional baggage from home. Sometimes it's like a raging machine in my head that just cannot be switched off and what's needed is stillness and space before I can even think. My aim is to always work with what I have and so harness the energy in each situation. A day to day struggle but an artist has to have a struggle!

Put your photo under acetate and collage cellophane over, then with black ohp pen colour in photograph bit....emulating Warhol.

Then on the OHP go round with a marker on big paper, then copy so you have four drawings from the original drawn from the acetate.

Looking at the process, moving away from first image.

Marks take on new identities and give drawings a different attitude, feel, strength. Surface takes on new possibilities and the work becomes something to look at rather than a window or mirror to the subject. There is a sense of time, journey, discovery, often struggle, commitment and all this gives the work integrity.

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