Painting VAC

Artist Statement

The initial starting point for this VAC was a brief that focused on the work of two artists Lucian Freud and Nan Goldin and the theme ‘Tribe and Legacy’. Both artists differ in style but have similarities with their choice of the subject matter.

 

I found ­­­­­­­­the painter Freud interesting with his honest portrayal in his paintings having a psychological penetration on the viewer. Freud is well known for his intimate and honest portrayal of his paintings. I brought
my children to see his exhibition and they explored his paintings on a sensory level that they found discomforting especially with regard to his use of animals. 

 

In contrast to Freud but similar in many ways, the photographer Nan Goldin shares her intimate and
personal life of her surrogate family through photographs. The artist has stated, “I photograph directly from my life. These pictures come out of relationships, not observations”. I would compare her to the photographer Sally Man and how she captures confusing moments in children. Nan Goldin also reminds me of Cindy Sherman and her style of photography. Cindy Sherman questions the reality of photographs.

 

Man Ray also reminded me of Freud and Goldin were his photographs are unique and unrepeatable. While both Freud and Goldin use different media they both are depicting their tribe and legacy. 

 

I choose my family as the subject matter for my tribe and legacy exploring the theme ‘Roots and Wings’. My tribe and legacy is my family that is interlinked. When I say of roots, I mean providing a foundation of security and stability for my children. We recently moved house and planted a tree which represents our roots. I like the idea of wings because I want to give my children more than just survival skills—I want to give them a sense of soaring skills to help them to develop to their full potential. 

 

After deciding what my tribe and legacy represented, I experimented with many design principles starting with collage. As I’m a graphic designer by trade, I found the freedom of collage a difficult process. I used the style of artist David Hockney and his style of photomontage to start. But after a mono printing workshop, I discovered the idea of mixing collage and mono printing as a way of creating a mixed media piece to illustrate my theme. I researched collage artists and in particular Kurt Schwitters and his use of recycled material. 

 

The focal point of my piece is ­­­­­­­the tree using text as wings. It is supported by other elements which help to create unity but yet the intricacies of family life that is growing and transient by nature. My theme is supported by the use of text, newsprint, maps, house plans, texture and photography.

 

During the process of my collage I reverted back to my linear style of design as I felt it lacked the structure and the linear principle of graphic design. But after taking advice from my lecturers I used my first collage as the starting point for my painting.

 

After exploring Lucian Freud and Nan Goldin and what they are communicating, I felt inspired to combine photography and painting in creating what resulted in a mixed media piece. 

 

Upon reflection the process of learning through failure has taught me the task of making a notebook and the use of mixed media. It gave me an insight into collage, mono printing, painting and mixed media. I have demonstrated my ability to move away from my comfort zone and into more experimentation. It gave me the confidence to paint again after many years of working in digital media. A de-constructing, re-constructing and re-evaluating process, but my learning outcomes of adapting, determination and the importance of the process was justifiable. In my opinion it will benefit me to be a better teacher of visual art in the future.

Visual Notebook Process

Painting and mixed media process

Tribe & legacy

Inspiration & artist reference

© Deirdre Smith 2020

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