Here I have to give thought to different context for the human figure.
Exercise A figure in an interior
Thinking about what the exercise asks of me, I understand how the figure being painted is part of a wider subject matter. I am still working with my ‘sleeping model’ and see this sleeping paintings as part of a narrative to use for for this exercise.
I tried a painting of myself – literally sat in our walk-in closet for this painting. I found the idea of sitting in a pose and trying to paint that extremely difficult – the fact that the reflections of the interior was in the mirror also made it a tricky, but interesting experience. The mirror is big and part of the wall of the room. I loved how the red of my tunic reflected on my face, but the light in the room was not very good.
I am reminded of the following words of Lucian Freud : ” Only through a complete understanding of his tastes can he free himself of any tendency to look at things with an eye to the way he can make them fit in with a ready-made conception. Unless this understanding is constantly alive, he will begin to see life simply as material for his particular line of art. He will look at something and ask himself, “Can I make a picture by me out of this?” And so his work degenerates through no longer being the vehicle of his sensation. One might say that he has come to crystallise his art instead of his tastes, thereby insulating it from the emotion that could make it alive for others.” https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/lucian-freud-self-portraits-thoughts-on-painting
My biggest learning of this exercise is the fact that I tend to try and correct mistakes too late. I find that I need to check my measurements and have stronger lines I commit to. On the first small painting, my head was to small- the focus was on the pose of the legs and the body and head did not fit.
I tried the bigger drawing too soon after this, and basically my face became to round. I decided to go on and see if I could add the interior.
I decided to add another figure into this exercise. I took many photos on the beach and the ones with shadows stayed with me whilst doing the work for this part of the course. I feel it has an interesting look at a figure in space.
It was an easy painting and very experimental. I had no idea when I started if I would be able to achieve the water and mirror effect of the shadow. I used Grey, that was already mixed on my palet, added some whites and French Ultra Marine, Colbalt blu… as well as my favourite Raw Umber. I am happy with the experimentation and learning of working free.
Exercise Telling a story
Observing human figures can also include observing their behaviour – sometimes it is just nice to watch people go by – the lovely word in Italian, L’arte di non fare niente, comes to mind – the art of doing nothing. Here in the UAE privacy laws are strict and one is not allowed to take photos of people. ( Article 378 of the UAE Penal Code (Federal Law No. 3 of 1987) states that taking a person’s photo without his/her consent is an invasion of privacy, and thus punishable by law) Still observing the human form is not impossible when being outside. I have been doing lovely walks along the Creek side in Dubai during these cooler months and a local newspaper’s photo of three Hollywood actresses being used to promote tourism, prompted my idea for this narrative. I made small sketch paintings of the newspaper clipping .
I do not think this was a good effort – I hoped to work on a model of the BBC show that recently started – I started with the drawings, but our internet was so slow, I could not view the program any longer. I am contemplating to work on the painting.