Sunday, 5 January 2014

It's been a long time. Here is some catching up.

2013 was a productive year ... mostly for activities other than painting, but some painting got done. There were a few nice commissions, and I finished one piece. It's not well lit here, but:

This was inspired by a family all wearing amazing long blond hair in different colours, and by the seventeenth-century Mughal miniatures found in the Emperor's Album, that the Singh twins also seem to have worked with. Those miniatures are always static, so I decided to see what happened if I put some fluid movement into this one – the leaves, hair and water. I also wanted to say something about nice Western tourists occasionally missing the point – they have spotted a tern, while the sailors in the background are (illegally) fishing up a sturgeon for caviar. The title was 'Caucasians at Gorgan Bay'; it's on the Black Sea (near the Caucasus) and I wanted to examine what we think 'Caucasian' means. Iranian? Georgian? Turkish? 'European'? White?

(Here's Wikipedia's Caucasus entry.)

I entered it for the Discerning Eye but lost my nerve on the title and gave it a bland name: Illustration for a Story that Hasn't Happened, or soemthing like that. It didn't get in -- partly perhaps because it really does look like an illustration, partly because it doesn't quite hang together in the details, partly perhaps because it lacked pointedness without the word Caucasian in there.

Bird-watching couple; couldn't get her face to settle into the stylised-natural expression I wanted, and repainted several times till the vellum got rough. Will have to unframe and repaint at some point. (Or just move on.)
Small boy collecting pebbles and shells; he turned out more or less how I wanted.
Small girl skipping, looking at tern.
Sailors (more traditional miniature faces) and sturgeon (with mock-story-illustration crown) and bribed government official – on reflection I was probably trying to do too much here.

In terms of scale, the vellum inside the mount is 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches, and (for example) the two faces of the bird-watching couple plus hair strands are just under 1 1/2 inches across. I used shell gold and left it unburnished after a comment from a couple of friends that it looked more interesting as a sandy matt texture.

In other news, I have doubled up on studio spaces. One at home, and one chez my lovely partner. There have been a few tense moments when the lapis lazuli paint got left in one place or the other but it's been good for getting a couple of small pieces done, and perhaps in 2014 I can expand my ambitions :-)

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