I thought I would share a few photos taken in collaboration with my sister Kate Dunston while we were away skiing with my family. She works for a company that specialises in designing, sourcing and selling branded merchandise for a range of high profile brands; her role is to manage all the online platforms/ stores, creating all sorts of creative content to showcase the merchandise. One of the brands she works with is Google and now I’ve become her part-time model/ photographer on a very irregular basis for Google merchandise photo shoots, and what better back drop than the Italian alps! Here are a few of the photos, I’m the one behind the camera on this occasion but on our previous ski trip to Ischgl I also made an appearance in several of the photos which you can see on her website. My sister and I in the android hoodies are my particular favourites!
So for a few months on and off now I’ve been working on my second ever oil painting: a self portrait derived from some old photographs that I took for my periodic table art project that never made the final cut. The main photo I based the portrait upon on was actually my tinder profile picture from which I only ever went on one date with a guy who is now my fiancé, so the photo holds quite a lot of significance for me and I liked the idea of immortalising the “moment” we met as well as changing the significance and purpose of the photo back to an artistic one from its short life as a ubiquitous proffy pic. Also I have always loved the diffused light in the photo and wanted to challenge myself to try and capture this. I knew it was going to be a tough ask but that hopefully I would learn a lot along the way.
I’ve uploaded some photos of the progress so far… it’s been difficult to say the least, particularly because I live in a tiny studio flat with very little space or natural light which has played havoc with my colour palette. So many evenings I would go to bed thinking “ye I’ve made good progress, finally getting there” only to get up the next morning and see that in natural day light it had more of a resemblance to some sort of dead mermaid with green hair and purple cheeks… so lesson learnt, try and paint in the day as much as possible or buy some natural daylight effect bulbs. I started with a very rough grisaille underpainting and added thin transparent layers of colour; I really wanted a delicate and refined finish similar to that of one of my favourite portrait artists, Mary Jane Ansell. I swing from hating it to loving it…. it just doesn’t feel finished yet and I can’t put my finger on it but I’m too scared too mess around with it too much… I think the hair just needs more work and perhaps more light contrast on the face, oh and the ear is annoying me too…. ah well I’m still learning, I can’t expect to be creating masterpieces just yet!
It’s been a while since my last blog post, Christmas interrupted my artistic endeavours however I’m back painting two new portraits and working at getting my Art foundation final exhibition piece online: my periodic table of identities but more on that another time….
Anyway, I discovered the artwork of Stephan Huber the other day and can’t believe I haven’t seen his work until now considering the similarity to some of my work. His works in wealth III of a wheelbarrow filled with a chandelier echoes my own chandelier artwork in terms of the symbolism of the chandelier, juxtaposition and the narrative conveyed; the huge divide between the wealthy and the poor that still exists in contemporary society as well as a metaphor for capitalism. While Huber creates his juxtaposition with the two contrasting objects, I created mine with the material in which I drew the chandelier and where it was placed, i.e. chewing gum and dirt on the streets of Manchester. With my work however, I was thinking more in terms of the contrast between something so simple and essential as eating between the affluent and the poor with the chandelier associated with fine dining.
It got me thinking about other artists who have used chandeliers in their artwork or perhaps have created their own and there are quite a few including most recently Ai Wei Wei who created the most incredible chandelier from bikes, Pipilotti Rist’s Massachusetts Chandelier, and Danh Vo’s work. I suppose the attraction of the chandelier to artists is not only due to their symbolism but also their beauty and shouldn’t all works of art have an element of beauty in them?
What an exhibition! I visited last week, it was mesmerising, and such a vast collection, makes me question my own work output…. his portraits are so expressive and dreamy, with such emphasis and attention to the character and psychology of his sitter. I left admiring his devotion to his work; you really sense his passion and determination to capture his sitter’s quirks and qualities. His portraits aren’t all technically perfect, with vanishing table legs and ill proportioned limbs, but these inconsistencies complement the attention to detail elsewhere in the painting, revealing so much more about the artist’s character and approach to painting. I was also so impressed with how he captures different textures in his work with sumptuous velvet and etherial lace cuffs painted so convincingly. I particularly loved the portraits of his close friends with the leaflet that accompanied the exhibition saying:
“With all those that he loved, it seems that painting their portrait was an essential seal of his affections, the portrait functioning as a special bond between artist and sitter.”
This really resonates with me as I feel almost compelled to create portraits for my own family and friends, like my recent portrait of Izzy. I guess it gives me a chance to really express how I see them as well as give them something that is unique and that they can pass on.
Anyway, if you’re in London you must go! Keep an eye out for the little business card type advertisements of himself incorporated into his paintings and also make sure you watch the film at the end, its a short summary of his life and work, adding more light to his character as well as concluding the exhibition perfectly.
Find out more here: http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/goya-exhibition-in-focus
Well my first proper oil painting, I experimented for a few days on my art foundation course and I started a self portrait this summer as a learning exercise but I haven’t decided if it is salvageable yet… Anyway, I have always wanted to paint with oils and finally had a summer free of revision and summer jobs to give it a real go! I love creating pieces of art for my friends and family and decided I would paint my friend Izzy for her birthday, although she didn’t get it till a few months later …need to work on my speed a little! I learnt so much though including: how eyebrows are a lot harder to paint than eyes and how easels are pretty handy if you don’t want to transfer black paint from the background on to the middle of the canvas…. I’ve posted a few photos during the development, the first photo is a little scary sorry Izzy! and also of Izzy finally getting to see it. I hope she liked it because she’s awesome and deserves the best birthday presents.
So I moved to London recently and am still very much exploring the city and finding new and exciting Art galleries and exhibitions. Last Sunday I was lucky enough to explore Brick lane for the first time and can’t wait to go back with my camera, particularly after visiting the International Print Exhibition 158 at the Old Truman Brewery just around the corner. The exhibition comes from the Royal photographic Society with the selection of 100 unique and powerful photographs across a range of genres and subject matter. My personal favourite was the Bronze award winner, “Comfort zone #1” from the series, “Comfort zone” by Tadao Cern. The photograph is not staged yet appears too perfect to not be staged but at the same time feels 100% authentic and real. I think the photograph really evokes a mixture of feelings with the sense that we are intruding but at the same time aware that this is a public space and we are then reassured that these women are content and relaxed. It serves to remind us of the very few public places that we do feel able to be ourselves, to be content, relaxed and oblivious to our surroundings.
All the photos were fantastic, beautiful and unique, some were absolutely unbelievable in terms of their timing! the exhibition has now moved to The Royal Albert Hall and is well worth a visit if you’re looking for some photography inspiration. Here are few more of my favourites below, enjoy!