I have spent the last few weeks working on this idea of creating 50 small gouache paintings. After I had made the first 18, I identified some different categories that were happening, and afterwards kept to those subjects: people on benches, reading, cups of tea, fashion, make-up, cafes, signs, streets, still life, flowers, and food. I wanted to see how the images would look all together like a pattern of decorated tiles. And this is the result.
Many ideas come when I sit down with a piece of paper in front of me, pick up a felt-tip pen or a crayon, and make a first mark. For some reason, the first shape is almost always an oval for a face, and then the rest of the picture sort of spools itself across the page. As I go along, I listen and respond to impulses to use ink and a brush, colour, and various motifs.
Edwardian postcards is an ongoing theme with me. I have a box full of them and it is nice to use them for drawing projects. My problem is that the faces are just so poignant, so much of another age, that the responsibility of translating them into a drawing becomes a heavy task for me. So I am always trying to find the mid-point between adoring and respecting these long gone people, and allowing myself to plunge in and not be too tense about doing them justice. I so want to transmit their incredibly emotive eyes and understand the situation they were in - which none of us now has any experience of - sitting for a portrait, unused to their own images, or anyone else's. It was a vastly different time to ours, and perhaps that is why these postcards have a fascination.
I decided to go to a bookshop and buy a book about anthropology. So I found an Oxford publication: 'Social and Cultural Anthropology - A Very Short Introduction' (I really recommend it, easy to read and fascinating). There are a few photographs in the book and I had a thought that I would do some portraits of anthropologists, so here they are. They all look pretty serious and brainy, I think. I intend to pursue my reading in this field, so whenever I run across more anthropologists, I will add them to this portfolio. These are done using brown oil pastel, and various inks.
I made a promise, or a resolution or proposal, last year, that I would like to produce pictures in series, with some kind of theme. So, with this one, it's small gouache paintings that concentrate on the texture of the paint, and the brush strokes. As usual, something happens that you don't expect...at first I am anxious and bored by the process...but then I begin to experience paint in a new way. I like the way the small size of the pictures dictates a new approach. Areas are blocked in in creamy, thick layers of paint. Details are eliminated. The plan for this series is to stick with it until I have done 50.
I painted this on A4 Bristol Board with gouache paints. It took me about 3 hours. The drawing originally appeared in my "free drawing" or "you never know what's going to happen" sketchbook. The sketchbook is A5, and I was using grey and black felt-tip pens.
Tracking my art projects, week by week.