I struggle a lot with failure, or what I perceive to be failure, in my own artworks. As such, I’m trying to talk here about the pieces that I personally view as successful in my classes, or at least the works that I am not inherently ashamed of. There are some art works that I’ve made this semester and the past fall semester that I’ve simply disliked because I realized that I didn’t meet the standards I set for myself. Sometimes, these standards were unrealistic, and looking back I can see how my work was average at best, but it was done so in a genuine effort. Other works, I know that I could have tried better, but I felt so burnt out that I couldn’t. I definitely want to discuss more of those in the future, but for now, I do feel excited to talk about this particular painting that I did.
This painting (which is untitled, as is everything I seem to create) was intended to be a self portrait. If you were to compare it to the actual picture I used, calling it a caricature would be putting it kindly. Make no mistake, I am still happy with how the painting turned out, and I can say with confidence that I did follow the instructions for the assignment, but I was definitely liberal in how I translated the reference.
I really enjoyed this project because it encouraged me to challenge myself with a predefined color pallet (or as it was stated in my class, the “borrowed colors” concept), and to paint loosely (that is, not as if it needed to look exactly like the photograph). I was able to experiment with color and the way I blended acrylics without feeling like I had to focus on how accurate it was in relation to the reference image. It made the overall experience of painting more enjoyable, and I never really allowed myself to experiment like that prior to this.
The criteria was to sample colors from a painting that had already been completed, and I chose The Swing by Fragonard; I just enjoy the painting overall, and the palette is very vibrant and bright, and yet when you sample the colors, they aren’t actually as bright as they look. I always love when paintings have this knowledge of color so that the color is in a way manipulated when the eye looks at it (or rather perceives it differently than it actually is). The Swing doesn’t have a drastic perception, but it was present enough (especially in the red cushion the figure is sitting on) that it was worth mentioning.
It was really cool to see how my painting formed before my eyes, and how the previous versions I did of other subjects helped prepare me for this work. My biggest regret was not taking progress pictures while creating this; that is definitely something I have to work on, but it can be difficult when I get so into ‘the zone’ so-to-speak. Even when class ends, I never consider the notion of tracking my progress (I would also feel weird taking pictures of my art in class- is it weird? Yes. Is it something I’m trying to overcome? Who knows). Either way, I do have the short-timed, black and white paintings that I did as a warm-up for the actual painting to share (and if you look closely at the bottom right, the numbers scrawled represent the minutes I spent on each one).