Experiment finally finished

This painting took me weeks to finish. This is due to the lack of reference images (- no photographs and quite vague sketches) so I had to make choices based on instinct and habit and intention, instead of following what was there in real life. 

I took lots of time between painting sessions to give myself time to find what needed changing. I’ve learnt a lot from this process so although I’m not happy with the finish product, the lessons I learnt whilst painting is what makes this piece a valuable part of this project. 

In the last post I did on this piece I said I wanted to simplify the shapes and colours, and keep this style of applying thin layers of paint. I tried that and this was the result: 

So the orange was removed and I added a little more texture to the fabric. In retrospect this wad the best this painting looked. But at the time, I had started a painting with lots of ruffles and detail in the fabric so I thought I would try adding more definition to the duvet: 

And this is the finished painting. It has a lot more ttexture, after adding the creases of the duvet. This texture was created with the application of thicker paint and with the contrasting folds in the fabric. Since I was making up the folds of the fabric I don’t think this works well, and it would have been better to keep the plain dark red shadow. 

What works 

The variation in thickness of paint. There are parts where I have not thinned it at all, and parts where Liquin mixed with the paint to create a semitransparent wash. This contrast exaggerates the differences in paint application and makes for a painting that celebrates painterly texture, keeping in the viewer’s mind the process that was involved in making the piece. 

The texture of the canvas and the creases in the canvas surprisingly suit the focus on fabric in the painting. This was something multiple people said to me whilst looking around my studio, and it’s something I wouldn’t have considered myself. That the material painted on could reflect the textures in the painting is an idea I hadn’t considered before, but it would have some potential? – seems like that path would lead to crossing the line into more installation and sculptural work..

I always thought the blue background was the light of a TV since that was what was in the room with the figure I sketched from. But looking at the finished painting, the way I have layered the blue makes it look like a cloudy sky, with the sun revealing itself just off the left hand corner. This may be subjective and the potential of making a painting that can be interpreted to that unrealistic extreme is interesting! 

What doesn’t work and what I struggled with 

I think the main thing I struggled with in making this painting, and the cause of what doesn’t work in the painting, is my painting style. I was heavily influenced by the artist Felicia Forte when painting this, hence the bold colours and the thin washes of paint. I think the more I worked on this piece the less I was influenced by her. I hadn’t found a visual language to convey these bedroom scenes (and still haven’t) when painting this, so this is piece is one big trial and error, and you can tell my hesitation in the finished painting.

Moving forward 

I have been doing a lot of work alongside the completion of this painting so I there isn’t really a black and white conclusion to experiments like this one.

Finding my own visual language that successfully paints these bedroom scenes is what this painting shows I need to do. 

Using a very bright colour palette, with highlights in cool and shadows in warm, is interesting and could have potential that I can follow later. 

Maybe paint on canvas again? Or try painting on board: see what the possibilities are of different surfaces. 

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