After doing my research on old masters like Leonardo da Vinci, Velazquez, Goya and Botticelli I started exploring femininity through an artist point of view with mono-printing. I used the Back drawing method that I learnt in part 4. How would my drawings translate in a mono-print? How could I capture my version of femininity?
The first print came out ok, the ripple effect of the paint marks are interesting and add a texturised feel to the print. The drawing in itself works. I tried to adopt Leonardo’s method of making my subject intriguing to allow the viewer to guess what could be in the ladies thoughts. In the image the lady is covering her modesty with her hands and looks like she has something that is preoccupying her thoughts. I used printing ink which can be very thick and heavy. I wondered if I could get a lighter and clearer sample so I reused the printing plate without wiping or reapplying the paint.
The ghost image became a better outcome. The outline is clearer. I just wish I had paid more attention to the hands as they don’t look at all feminine. I continued experimenting with back drawing to see what would come out. I found not having a model to draw from difficult as I was making these images up from nothing. I wondered if in future it would be good for me to go to to a life model figure drawing class. I mean… I did ask my friends and family to help me out and model naked for me but selfishly they have declined (awkward).
Through doing this part of the course I learnt that there are sites online where I can access artist model poses presented by several nude models who represent a wide type of body types (www.artmodeltips.com>poses). That was helpful information and a very useful tool so that I don’t have to ask my family and friends and in doing so offend them.
The image above turned out ok in terms of technique but I don’t think it’s a successful outcome as the face has no expression (that bothers me). This image is not telling me anything. I suppose it is a study of a naked female body with ‘uneven’ breast but for me it is not depicting femininity.
At this point I stoped making and I went back to researching. I wanted to research an artist that is more contemporary. If I researched a more current artist of today I could compare and it would give me another perspective on how to depict a female form.
I decided to research Jenny Saville’s work. I was already familiar with Jenny Saville’s work as I did some research back in ideas & processes (below).
It is almost a year ago when I wrote the above information. I find myself looking at Jenny Saville’s work again. This time a self portrait of hers called ‘branded’ it is an oil and mixed media on canvas measuring (209.5 x 179cm.) painted in 1992.the description on Christies site says: ‘looming over the viewer like a gargantuan fertility goddess, Jenny Saville’s Branded offers a startling confrontation with flesh. Painted in 1992, this notable early work is both seductive and disturbing in its depiction of female form Https://www.christies.com>lot>jennysaville .
Immediately what springs to mind is that this is the oposite depiction to a Goddess of love compared to Leonardo’s da Vinci’s. This is a more real depiction of femininity whether I like it or not. Of course the composition of this painting has a lot to do with whether the model figure looks flattering to the viewers eye but it is obvious that the artist didn’t intend to portray herself in a ‘flattering’ pose.
Below: I took some information from the artstory.org as they are professionals art critics and they write much better than I do.
So Knowing all the information above it helped me and might help you get an idea of where I am coming from. I started researching old masters like Leonardo da Vinci because that was the art I grew up with and that help me shape me in my practice. There was always questions that those representations of female form raised in me and no thought in other women. It is with no doubt that most of us women when we looked at that art felt that it is not always a correct representation, for not all women have the femininity qualities that the dictionary describes.
In ‘Branded’ Jenny Saville is telling us “loud and clear” that not all women are small, feminine, untouched, goddesses of love, innocent, maternal and so on and guess what? It’s ok. Women are still celebrated large or small maternal or not, touched or untouched. We have come along way from the days I studied the old masters in the 80s. For my practice and drawings, the old masters influence is still strong but I am also slowly adapting to more contemporary artist like Jenny Saville.
How will I adopt some of her methods in my work?
I started by making my own studies of skin adding a bit of my own style and ‘voice’.
Below: I did I figure drawing of a bottom that had been exposed to the sun a bit to much. In this drawing I was attempting to use a bit of my sense of humour whilst studying the flesh and it’s various hues and tones. I experimented adopting Jenny Saville’s techniques in using reds, yellows and purple. My interpretation is less Blotchy. Still small steps! I did this drawing on my iPad it would probably be more blotchy and texturised if I had used oils like Jenny. For me this drawing represents me moving forward and depicting a woman’s body “less perfect”. I enjoy the composition of this drawing. Using most of the bottom part of the page and leaving the background white and minimal in contrast to the colourful body. By doing this I have accentuated and given importance to the burnt bottom. I also added a curtain to the right side of the drawing almost as if the bottom was on a stage.
I know! I can almost see you smiling as you read this (childish but funny).
On a serious note some of my shading could be improved but for the purpose of this exercise this sample works.
I carried own experimenting and I did a study on myself. I usually look at myself in the mirror and like many women I don’t like what I see. This time I tried to be objective. I won’t go as far as Jenny and depict all the veins, dimples, and cellulite (rather forget about those) but I was interested in capturing the different tones and shadows on my body and also the small detail in my room. This image was drawn when I wasn’t feeling very good about myself so it also served as an exercise of ‘self love’. I wondered how Jenny Saville felt after doing her self portrait? For me it was very emotional. It is very brave to draw a self portrait and even harder to talk about it. On the whole I enjoy how I used the shadows and light to define and give shine to my skin. The wall paper details are a success. I think there is still a lot of room for improvement for example I always neglect the hands.
I used the image above to transform it into a mono-print. I called it ‘the art of the fail’ I felt at that particular time that I was failing in life so why not!
I used a red colour similar to some of the toile prints I had researched (below). I think the colour works well and fits in with the traditional colours they would have used for a toile surface print. I do think that when transforming my drawings to mono- prints they became more interesting, don’t you think?
I deliberately used the same size/scale in these prints as I new I was going to try and design a surface print.
Above: I carried out more investigations on female form using shadows and light. This time I wanted to depict a women broken and in despair. Going against the usual images of the old masters and showing that woman’s vulnerability’s can also be beautiful and strong in their own right. What Jenny Saville work has taught me is how many red, pinks, beige, purple, green and so many other colours the flesh has. Just studying flesh alone is another big world.
Above: more depictions of the female figure. Not the usual slim figure, a curvy one with sun tan marks. I still think that although I have adopted some of Jenny Saville’s methods I am still very influenced by the old masters. My images of women are still soft and somehow vulnerable and beautiful. I cant help it! I still think we should hold on tight to our femininity while also having a quiet strength. I still believe that it’s one of our virtues and power. These opinions invariably reflect in my art.
Above and below: I did some more mono-prints all in A2 size with the photographs that I had taken and collected on my phone on my holidays. The ones of the sculptures and beautiful tiles in the bars and streets of Madrid and Seville. I stuck to the colour red just so I could unify the images at a latter stage.
I think as a body of work these mono-prints work well together and reflect my research on the old masters and the new. I have taken from both opposite views and practices and applied it to my work using my own voice. I am proud of each and every one of these mono-prints as together they represent my growth.
I know! I know! I am not sitting here thinking I am perfect or my work is fantastic but what I am trying to say is that the small steps I took in adopting other artist views and practices have allowed me to take some risks in my own work, without loosing my identity. I will never be Leonardo da Vinci or Jenny Saville but in researching both of these artist and others, I have come to understand a bit of myself and why I do what I do.
…and now on to stage five.