Looking back at my subject work, I have really worked out of my comfort zone and steered away from the work I would typically create. When thinking about time as a brief, I instantly thought about things changing over time. After coming across Sam Taylor Wood’s “Still life” piece, I embarked on working on artistically portraying an investigation into food decay. I have used physical mould and decay as a medium to produce art and I have also tried to replicate the look of mould using mixed media techniques. I have enjoyed using materials that are not typically for use within art, like sugar and cotton wool and it has opened my eyes to the fact that it is how you use an d manipulate the material you are working with that creates successful art work, not the material itself.
I think the bread filled perspex box that I have produced is particularly successful because it gives me and the viewer an insight into how things decay. We would not usually leave bread to decay for that long in our households and so it allows others to see the colours that moulds produce and the hidden beauty of the natural things that we take for granted or find repulsive. I also feel that my photographs and video of my decaying art piece are particularly successful as they accurately capture change and decay over time. Also, visually beautiful photographs have been captured even though they are portraying something repulsive. I do wish that I could have left the piece to decay for longer but I simply did not have the facilities to do so safely. My experimentation with photo montage produced interesting outcomes and highly unusual subject matter to paint from. Working with Petri Dishes was a success in my eyes as they gave clarity and added a sense of realism to the fake mould that I had painted within them. It also encourages people to question what they think they see. I have never really worked with 3D or sculpture before and I think that my sculptural final piece for this project is a success. It is visually appealing and there is a strange juxtaposition going on between the perfectly formed fruit and the fake decay mouldy looking exterior.
Looking back, I do not feel that the coloured mould experiments I produced were particularly successful. I feel that they don’t really fit in with the rest of the work made within this project and that they almost look to appealing to the eye and no longer look mouldy or as if they are portraying decay. Filling perspex boxes with vegetables and fruits and photographing them was also unsuccessful as when the foods decayed they leaked liquids that the boxes simply couldn’t contain. They also attracted bugs and fruit flies and I had to get rid of them in fear of my health and the welfare of other students that were working near my desk.
In conclusion, I feel I have managed to create a substantial investigation into food decay inspired by a variety of artists and full of experimentation with materials and techniques. I think I have managed to capture a frozen moment in the decay process using artist materials a well as portraying how decay develops over time through 3D work and photography. I have analysed whether this body of work can be considered art and decided that setting is incredibly important in this. I have successfully created two final pieces that definitely demonstrate an investigation into food decay and worked with a subject that I feel has shown me and others that there are fascinating things out there that on a daily basis we take for granted.
I have started working with brighter colours and attempted to portray the hidden loneliness of the city within the vibrancy. At the start of my project, when I was investigating artists that were inspired by the city itself, I came across the work of Elena Romanova, who combines wax resist techniques with inks.
Above: Elena Romanova’s work
I decided to employ her influence and produce some brightly coloured wax resists using crayons and vibrant drawing inks. I have worked with city skylines and a lone figure to start with and then moved on to thinking about a lonesome figure among others surrounded by silhouettes just like I have in my darker works and photo manipulations so that I can analyse which colour palette is more effective in portraying my city theme.
REFLECTION: I think the white crayon is more successful than the coloured crayons in terms of wax resist, but I do not think that these are successful images at all. I don’t think they portray the hidden loneliness of city life, and the figures within them simply don’t look lonely surrounded by vibrant colours. I am already seeing that the colour palette of my work affects the success of the message and how lonely the people are massively. I was going to experiment further with brighter colours, but I do not see the point anymore. The use of bright colours to show the loneliness of city life is unsuccessful even when one figure is surrounded by others that may as well not exist and the imagery is showing that you are alone even around others in the city. I have experimented with this idea and found it not beneficial to my project and so I will continue working with a duller and darker colour palette.
Now that I have clarified this, I will work on a darker piece inspired by the artist I saw in the Urban spree gallery and user Shoe18’s piece on deviant art incorporating my successes within this hidden loneliness in cities exploration so far. I will portray the idea that you feel lonely even when surrounded by others and to them you may as well not exist because I feel it is the most successful portrayal I have explored. I will also include cut out silhouettes inspired by my photo manipulations and have one person singled out in colour influenced by the girl in the red coat in the movie Schindler’s List. I will employ techniques such as dry brushing inspired by my paint workshop and work on a dark ground as I felt this was highly successful when I was influenced to work with one by the grounds workshop I attended. I am hoping this will make for a highly successful outcome and am keen to start working on it.
On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has definitely aided my learning and expanded my knowledge as an artist. Below I have highlighted the successes and failures of working with six different grounds. I have also noted my thoughts and potential uses for the grounds that haven’t been successful for this project work.
Burnt Umber – Dark Brown
Dark Brown is definitely the one of the most successful grounds for this kind of painting. It was incredibly effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. It was easier to paint and focusing on the highlights allowed me to create a far more successful image than if I was simply working on white.
Mid Tone Ground
A mid-tone ground worked quite well, but it didn’t allow for a dark feeling painting. It is quite unsuccessful really and does not heighten the feeling of loneliness as much as a darker tone ground. Also, I found myself using the ground to guide the highlights in the image which I feel made the image look quite flat and I don’t feel there is enough contrast between the figures and the surrounding here. I am incredibly surprised by how much a ground beneath a painting actually affects the outcome in the end.
Red Textured Ground
This textured ground made it very difficult to paint the straight edges of the buildings and figures within the outcome. However, I feel quite an interesting effect has been created here. To me the red ground made the scene look almost apocalyptic which isn’t exactly the feeling I was trying to create, so in that respect it is unsuccessful, but using a textured ground was a valuable insight into effects that can be created with grounds and demonstrated to me what my tutor meant by making more work for yourself when painting on an uneven ground.
Cadmium Yellow Ground
The cadmium yellow ground did weird and wonderful things to my painting. I like the effect it created and the yellow highlights peaking through as if the sun is shining, but it does produce a positive feeling so is unsuccessful in aiding the portrayal of loneliness in the city. In the future, if I am thinking about light or painting sun light, I will consider using a cadmium yellow ground.
Dark Brown Textured Ground
Textured grounds could definitely be interesting to explore and would undoubtedly benefit an abstract piece of work, but in this painting, even though I like the effect created, it was difficult to paint any straight edges because of all the lumps and bumps. I kind of feel that the attention is detracted from the subject a little bit by the interesting textures and palette knife work highlighting the surface.
Black Emulsion Ground
The black emulsion ground is also incredibly successful. It is between this ground and the dark brown as to which one has worked best. Again, It was effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. I would say this is so successful because the highlights and white figures really stand out and the darkest areas are black so there is a lot of contrast within the work.
On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has undoubtedly been a valuable exercise. I have learnt first hand, how the colour or texture of a ground can affect that final outcome. I have also learnt the importance of choosing the correct ground to work with and how some grounds can make the painting you are producing easier to paint or vice versa. It is important to consider how the ground that you choose could affect the mood of the piece as here some of the grounds have helped heighten a dark mood and loneliness and others haven’t. The textures grounds definitely made it more difficult to paint figuratively but could be incredibly useful and valid for abstract works. Now that I have experimented with grounds, I will produce a large piece on a dark ground to add to its success and highlight my findings from these explorations.