The focus of Sprint 3 was to get back into drawing the figure as one of the key visual characteristics of Folk Horror is the figure in the landscape. I found that returning to figure work was challenging and raised once the issue of the relationship between the observed and the imagination, the representational with the expressive. I am not seeking to resolve these dichotomies but instead draw on the ambiguities and tensions. As part of this Sprint I got back to the life room, worked up some portrait studies, and will attend a short course that takes an altelier approach to the figure – the aim of which is to consolidate and embed some of the skills learning undertaken with the sprint. (I’ll report back here on that next week!)
After getting frustrated with the portrait and getting caught up in likeness and halftone management, and having had a conversation in a seminar group about current challenges, I found myself just drawing from stuff in my studio in a very free and unplanned way. What came out was more chairs – along with a vertical composition. So I’ll carry on from that and continue to work on the body of work around the empty chairs. Raggedy, energetic, hopefully getting around the dichotomy of ‘objectness’ that observational drawing can lead to (and perhaps where I was getting stuck at with the portrait). So it’s all about the process of balancing expression and the rendering of a believable sense of form. Folk Horror still seems to provide the lens to focus an exploration of mark-making, animism, control and letting go, keeping alive a creative flame and avoiding the formula.
A concern is that the painting has been falling between two modes and this seems to be creating a lack of visual and conceptual clarity. On the one hand using iterative glazing methods and on the other a more direct approach. I worry that this mashup leads to paintings that don’t feel contemporary and which are somewhat stylistically indistinct. The scratchy style of the drawing below is however more powreful and impactful and needs more exploration.