Thinking back to my proposal and the original concept of wanting to explore portraiture and emotion and feeling through expression reminded me of this quote from Walt Whitman.
The starting process for my work, was to examine the current refuge crisis and take inspiration from the emotions shown through their eyes and especially those of the children. This gave me the freedom to explore portraiture. what I discovered through this process was that my mood started to become effected by the distress of the situation I was trying to portray. The pictures I was concentrating on where predominatly black and white which was appropriate for the context of the subject matter, yet was creating a darkness and gloom.
What I noticed start to happen was an involuntary use of colour in my work, I was being drawn to inspiration form artist’s who in the main use colour. What I discovered was that I naturally wanted to lift my mood by introducing colour.
This in turn led to an inter respective look at myself and the reasons why I produce art, this led naturally onto self portraiture. I found a need to reflect and deliberate as I had to examine my feelings around showing self portraits and the uncomfortableness I felt around displaying pictures of myself. The journey and maturity necessary to examine my internal emotions on the subject reflected the passage of my life that would be represented in the three different age’s.
Contemplation and consideration was given over to how I would construct the portraits and I felt that to keep the context of my previous work and mediums that I feel confident with, that I would construct the portraits with a type of stitch. I also decided to represent my life in three age periods.
This led to many experiments, I still like print and I explored mono, lino, hand painting with inks and screen printing. I discarded mono printing as the effect was too blurred and didn’t give a clear identifiable portrait. I found that with practice the linocut improved in clarity yet I would need a large piece of lino which would implement on the final costings greatly to produce the size of images I wanted, so I decided to settle on screen printing. I used photoshop to blur, distort or change the images to allow greater freedom for the final stitch. These altered images where then used for the final screen prints.
I spent time stitching fabric portraits of my face with scraps of fabric influenced by artist such as Sophie Standing and Hetty-Van-Zande but was unhappy with the final results they looked to untidy and unprofessional. I spent time with using inks to paint the portraits and then stitch fabric on top but yet again I was unhappy with the final process.
I started the screen printing process and wanted to introduce four colours orange, black, yellow and turquoise. I tried various combinations of screen printing and when reflecting back on my experiments the ones which where overlapped and gave a blurred look to my portrait where the ones I prefered. I chose to use muslin fabric in preference to thicker fabrics as I wanted to create a sense of transience which I felt represented the passage of time well. I also was encouraged by a fellow student in one of the critiques to place the portraits in front of each other to allow the viewer to see through each portrait to give a sense of context to the passing of time.
I also discovered that black, yellow and orange became my preferred colours as they gave a riot of colour that was I wanted because I wanted a joyous celebration of life that I felt was represented well with bright colours. I discard the turquoise.
I experimented with various different styles of stitch. I also wanted to allow the stitch to grow as I wanted to have an experimental feel to my final pieces. I was looking for freedom of expression in my stitch. The burring of images through screen printing also increased my confidence in producing self portraits as they gave an essence of my face yet still kept the clarity of the portrait and allowed for experimentation that would naturally happen through stitch.
I knew that I wanted to complete the three portraits with different types of stitch to challenge myself and show different skills.
Each piece required hours of work as they needed a build up of colour to give the effect that I wanted, I also discover that the more I worked each portrait the better it looked. The hand stitched portrait had many layers of built up colour to give a sense of pigmentation and shading in the features and contours. Also consideration had to be given to continuity and unity with in the project as each one was different. I used the same background fabric, thread colour and the backing hessian to complete this.
Many different considerations had to be given to the final display as to whether I would want the fabric free flowing or attached to the frame. I decided on attaching the portraits to a frame as the rigidity this gave would allow the viewer to see the portrait clearly. I spent time experimenting with coloured perspex attached to the back of each portrait and decided that the portraits would look better with coloured gels on a spotlight shining through. As I found that the reverse of the work added interest to my work I hung the pictures to allow the viewer to walk around each portrait to look at the front, back and through all three images.
Am I happy with the end result? yes, would I have done things different ?I would use different mediums to construct different portraits and experiment with different types of print, fabric and stitch but I am happy with the overall finished look. This project has also helped me to discover a little more about who I am as an artist and what is my preferred medium. I have been able to examine the thought and decision making process around work that is personal to me. Reflection has been with me at the start and the evoloution of the work . I have discovered not only the skills of different mediums but also about myself.