Learning by Challenge
The last project of the year was a challenging pair of portraits with Linda Nugent. The challenge was set in a number of ways, first, by limiting the picture construction to a square and filling the frame with the full figure.
Second, by working with limited local colour, white walls, white/cream sheets, white skin tones and one colour wraps. Lastly, using time pressure with 40 inch square canvases, the morning on one and the afternoon on the other. Inherently, considering the difference between having the light behind and the light in front, ie. contra jour.
For me there were several key points, many of which I would like to focus on more in my coming work. Perhaps the most interesting to me is the idea that resolution and strength in a work largely comes through struggle, deep involvement and commitment to continuously improving, looking for the weaknesses etc. When things are going ‘easily’ it all too often means that there is not enough content, at least in my work. Although I start out working on the main lights and darks and the main points of colour, I have tended to work on it a point at a time, rather than thinking of it as tone/light and colour planning. This has become much more noticeable in this exercise where local colour is quite limited and so colour consistency is an issue. I think that the focus should be the flow of light across the image and how that is used to make both the form as well as the abstract image. Similarly, the use of colour and temperature equivalents to make the form as well as the abstract image. The third issue that I want to work on is the shapes across the whole of the picture plane, in particular those that are not the object itself, ie the pattern of negative shapes.