Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Preparatory sketches

Once I've chosen an image to work from it's important to me to familiarise myself with it before starting on a final piece. I usually make multiple preparatory sketches to get myself comfortable. If the piece is to include another element, such as collage or text, I often experiment with this in the initial drawings too.
This is the first sketch I've made to prepare for this piece. I chose the photograph because it shows the face clearly, and I think it is a beautiful picture of my friend. This was a simple sketch done with a pen, but I'd like to try something that also incorporates embroidery before launching into the final piece. I haven't used embroidery within my work for quite a long time, so I'd like to experiment with that.
My style of painting uses much bolder lines than in this drawing, so I might also do a preparatory drawing or painting with bolder, thicker lines. I often begin a painting by creating a simple collage as a background, and I have recently got into laying down blocks of colour. Starting the portrait is less intimidating when there is already something on the canvas. I may also experiment with layering the image with colour blocks before moving onto the final work.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Cut-ups are a form of writing which takes a simple paragraph of prose, cuts it up, and rearranges it. William Burroughs popularised the method by using it to write poetry and other texts.
There are many ways to divide up the prose, such as separating every word, or simply cutting the whole page into quarters and rearranging the four pieces. I choose to cut out the lines, and sentences within the lines. I have written the first poem I want to use, which is shown below. I have not included the original text as it was quite boring. Cutting it up improved it. This poem was my second attempt. The first seemed too nonsensical and the sentiment wasn't clear at all. In the second attempt I wrote more about Emmi's personality and characteristics, which seemed to improve the result.

Our personalities clicked instantly.
She makes me laugh time in Finland would have been best friends.
We talk for we can talk about life without her.
Now I consider her one of my anything.
Planning to move to England.
Can trust her and rely on her.
A friend I have such a good connection with.
Kauppahalli, and went for coffee.
She is a loyal, supportive I know I much harder.
I cannot imagine my constantly.
She wanted an English friend.
I met Emmi because she was of time together.
Never lets me down.
Without her, my we first met outside Turun we spent a lot
Is a very caring person, and she she helped me
So much; I'm very grateful.
I feel very lucky to have made

The gist of it

Readers of Frozen in Finland will already know that I am primarily a portrait artist, and I have recently returned to England in order to finish my education (BA Fine Art and Critical Theory). When this is completed next summer I intend to move back to Finland permanently, and paint and write for the rest of my life.

The year I spent in Finland had a profound effect upon my life, and changed it in many ways. I met some wonderful people who are now very important to me. My work has always involved people who I personally know, and who have a significance to me - painting generic figures has always felt cold to me. I have decided to begin making work about the friends I met in Finland.

Whilst I lived in Finland I read work by William Burroughs, and became inspired by his cut-up poetry. This involves cutting up a paragraph of text and randomly rearranging the words and phrases to create surreal poetry. Poetry and writing has always been of interest to me, and I will write a cut-up poem to be shown alongside each portrait. I will begin with a simple text about each subject and our relationship and rearrange it. Through the vague poetry, I hope to reinforce the feelings of distance, communication difficulties, and fading memories.

Recently I have also renewed my interest in embroidery. My work is often in mixed media, and embroidery was once used heavily within my work. Over time my interest waned, but I am now keen to use it again as a method of adding highlights and texture to each painting. I also want to include it in the presentation of the poetry as a way to connect the portrait and the poem. I am considering using embroidery and thread to physically connect the two parts, but currently my ideas on this are not completely solid.

My intention with this work is to demonstrate the value of these people and this experience, and to show my affection for the people I paint. I hope that the poetry will help viewers to understand the fragility of these connections, caused by being in different countries.

I have started by writing the poem to accompany the portrait of my first subject/victim - my friend Emmi, who became my best friend in Finland. My process, research, and work will be documented here as it goes on.