The Last up-date

In a few blog posts I have talked about the development of my dissertation project work, as a way to making sense of what I’m doing through writing about it. I also thought it would be interesting to share with you how I go about creating my art. On Sunday 9th I finally finished taking all the photos I had planned, and after 4 months I can finally announce this project as officially done…well with just the editing left to do but let’s go along with the delusion that I’m completely done.

Being the first time that I have a created a whole body of work in just digital photography, it  has allowed me to learn quite a bit about how to use my camera efficiently, as well as learning more about my own identity as a photographer. Along with several realisations, I have also learned a few lessons, such as never have just one battery when going out for a long photoshoot,  how lighting is able to transform ambiance and don’t be such a control freak, it’s ok to let things flow once in a while.

To recap, in a previous blog I have discussed how I had to start from scratch after admitting to myself that the house I was using simply wasn’t harmonizing with the detached ambiance I wanted to create.  As it was a highly decorated house, it was creating a type of identity, hence a feeling of attachment to the place. Luckily for me, one of the other models offered his apartment, which happened to be more minimalistic with plain furnishing, that created nice sharp geometric shapes. This by itself helped me to better establish a cold disconnected mood which I was aiming for, making me feel more comfortable in the direction I had taken. I kept using the house along with direct light, the direct light aided to emphasise that I’m not documenting life but rather staging it, in a theatrical or rather cinematographic manner.

Progressing with the series, I kept three rules in my head; think in shapes, don’t over stage scenarios and use a light source. The first rule revolved around creating a composition in terms of shapes, I tried to integrate as many geometric elements to that to also unify the images all together. The second one… which maybe is the most important, was not to over direct the models, most of the time I got better Images when they started feeling comfortable in the scenes and adding their own character in them, while the third is for the reason mentioned above.  The last step is now to edit them, title them, print them, frame them, and then upload the series onto my Instagram for everyone to see. Until then, here is another sneak peak of what is to come, so stay tuned.

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Collage, The misunderstood medium

The medium of collage has gained an important role in the process of my 2D works, especially paintings. Some people draw their composition, I on the other hand collage it, for the process of collaging a composition is more relatable to a 3D process, as pieces of paper become components.

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In this blog I wanted to explain how I go about creating my collages, which will hopefully change your idea about the medium. The collage above was part of an exploratory body of work that would later be turned into paintings.  At first glance you might think that it’s one whole image, but it’s actually made up of individual images, namely; the three girls, the little boy, the skirt he’s wearing, the table, the floor, the wall and the picture frame. My first step is to source the images I need, from the Internet, starting with the environment, in order to have an image that acts as a special grounding for whatever I will be putting in it. In the case of this collage, the environment happened to be the blue wall and the wooden floor labelled as 1 and 2. Before I glue the images together I edit the image if need be and then scale it to the size I need. So far the best program I found is Picassa, as it allows you to quickly scale the image before printing it, to the last mm, with the use of a border, you also definitely need to have a printer at home. I have to admit that this process is not the most eco-friendly as I so end up wasting a lot of paper and ink, which I recycle.  After, I glued the two images together and cut them with a craft knife to the size I desired. Now that I have something I can scale against, I can start putting my subject matter within the environment. I started with the main subject matter, which are the four figures.  In order to have a believable relationship between them, I usually set one of the figures as the “main” figure so that everything is scaled against that figure. For example in this collage, the boy labelled number 5, is the main subject matter, so it made sense to set him as the main figure to scale against. The tricky part is to then scale the three girls, labelled number 3, 4 and 7, against him and this is why I use Picassa. Even if Picassa makes it easier to scale, don’t expect that you won’t waste paper and ink, as sometime it can take a few tries until you scale everything accordingly.  As a visual learner I thought it would be best to visually explain how I use Picassa to scale my images.  Basically the border in red can be increased or decreased as much as you want and in combination with the print layout you can achieve a large number of scale options. For the sake of explanation I used the colour red for the border but its colour can be changed to any colour, I recommend a light tint or a grey in order to not waste to much ink.

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Once you have all your items in proportion to each other it’s only a matter of cutting and gluing everything together. Do not forget about depth, the things you want to look as father back obviously get glued first, as can be seen from the table behind the children. If you think this is the medium for you I would invest in a good craft knife and a cutting pad.  As a craft knife I used Swann-Morton for four reasons, it is completely made of metal, the blades are interchangeable, they have a large range of blades from round ended to pointed and you can buy the blades in bulk. If you liked the featured collage don’t forget to visit my Instagram, attached to the blog, where I have many more.  Happy cutting and gluing.

Another up-date

In my 2nd titled “A good Decision” and 6th titled “An Up-date” Blog post, I blogged about my progress in relation to this project work in which I used digital photography as my main medium. These blogs serve more as a way for me to analyse and document my process which you can read if you are interested in the way I work. From that last blog I had some reflections to do so I was not convinced with what I was producing. My main problems where two, the aesthetic of the house I was using and the sense of “authenticity” I was not managing to achieve.

The problem I was having with that house, was about how the house was elaborately decorated which gave it a lot of character or rather, a sense of identity. Also the physical structure of the house, which was decorated with beautiful patterned tiles, columns, decorated doors etc, and certain features couldn’t be cropped out of the photograph resulting in a poor composition. To resolve this issue I had to find another house which had a cold aesthetic with minimum or very geometric décor, this would create a mutual mood with the scenes that would be happening within the house, as so far most of the scenes revolved around a sense of tension, quarrel and betrayal. Luckily enough, the third model I was working with suggested that I would go over to his house and see if his apartment would do the trick. On visiting the block of apartments, I could already tell that it could work, as that block was relatively new and had a minimalistic and clean outer aesthetic. The inside of the apartment was the same, with plain walls, doors and windows with minimum decoration. After a quick inspection I decided to work with only one of the model and see what happens.

Another problem was that I wasn’t managing to achieve a sense of “authenticity”, what I mean by that is, that as digital photography is very commonly used for commercial purposes it can easily make a Fine Art project look commercial as well.  As was previously suggested by my tutor, I though off maybe shifting to analogue photography, hoping this would help as it has a more authentic aesthetic, but due to the time constraints and not really believing that it solved my problem, I disregarded the option. As a plan B, I had done a course of how to develop your own film in the dark room, which was really interesting, so if I changed my mind and switched to analogue at least I would know how to develop my own photographs. The solution was less drastic, I decided to use a direct light source, which was suggested to me by a previous Lecturer, to create a more dramatic and theatrical effect and also increase contrasts in the photos. Also I’m now using Adobe Lightroom instead of Photoshop, which I personally found gives a larger range of options that can help you lift your image. For example, Lightroom gives you the option to control how white you want your white areas to be and how black you want your black areas to be. For me this was enough to increase further the contrast I wanted, which in turn added a more dramatic effect.

To give you, the readers, a more solid idea of how the project is evolving I added some photos, which if you like, you can compare with the ones in the other two blogs;

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My take on digital photography: Hints, advice and information

A DSLR digital camera can be confusing at times, but it’s not in any way difficult to learn its rules and functions. I started properly experimenting with photography around two years ago during a summer of extensive travels and in that time I have picked up a few basics of digital photography that I thought of sharing.

ISO, Aperture and shutter speed:

Or as I like to call it…the holy trinity of digital photography, but joking aside knowing the function of these three can make your life a whole lot easier. Below I have attached a very useful image which you can follow in order to understand better what I’m about to explain. It’s very easy to understand as it’s a literal visual translation of what each feature of the camera does.

ISO is basically the Cameras sensitivity to light which I tend to ideally keep at 100 ISO and maximum 400 ISO as I like my images to be crisp. Increasing the ISO, because perhaps you are shooting in poor light conditions without a tripod,  will increase what is called “Noise” which makes your photographs hazy and gain a “Granulated” aesthetic as well as making your image darker. Aperture controls what you want in focus in relation to how much light you want to enter the camera and is measured in F-Stops, hence why the numbers have an F before them. Let’s assume that you would like to take a portrait with a blurry background, in that case you would need to lower you aperture from around F8 down to F1, as you can see from the image below. On the other hand as I said before aperture controls how much light enters your digital camera, so if you are shooting in good lighting conditions, but would like your image to look “darker” you can control this by playing with the aperture settings, just don’t forget that it also puts the background out of focus or in focus with the foreground. Last but not least is the shutter speed, while the aperture controls how much light enters the camera, the shutter speed controls for how long. If you are taking a photo of an object in motion then you will need to set it on a high shutter speed, example 1/500, like the two above, shutter speed will also change how dark or light your image is. Basically the higher the shutter speed, the more time is allowed for the light to enter the cameras, hence making your image light, while the lower the shutter speed the complete opposite occurs. As it is stated at the very end of the image, ISO, aperture and shutter speed can be used in a combination to achieve a wide range of effect. As I have mentioned before, I’m a visual learner so if this didn’t help to makes things a bit more clear, please check out the YouTube video titled, “Photography Tutorial: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed” that I have attached below the image.

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Yprum, 2015 (image Online). Effects of Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO On Images. [Digital Image].

Photography Tutorial: ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed:

Light meter:

The light meter, which in DSLR’s is in built, is going to be your best friend as it lets you know if your image is underexposed or overexposed. Below is an image of how the light meter usually looks, of course this can slightly change in appearance according to the make and model of you DSLR. What this meter indicates, is in simple terms how “dark” or “light” your image will look. If you decide to underexpose like I usually do, your photo will start to get darker, while if you over expose, your photo will become lighter. The exposure can be changed by playing around with the ISO, aperture and shutter speed.


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Kunal Malhotra, 2015 (image Online). Untitled. [Digital Image].

Photoshop and Lightroom:

Like most, I learned how to edit my photographs on Photoshop and still do, but for editing digital photographs there is an even more powerful software and that is Lightroom . You are still going to need Photoshop to fix certain mistakes as Lightroom only allows you to crop and realign. What makes Lightroom so great is the various options and tools you can use to edit you image aesthetically to the last detail. For example if you have a preference for black and white photography, Lightroom gives a huge list of various ready-made options to choose from, which allows you to further build upon by using the other tools, such as how white you want your white areas and how black you want your black areas. Give it a shot! You can also try it for free by downloading the free trial.


Tripod:

I seriously suggest buying a tripod, especially if, like me, you tend to have shaky hands, as using a tripod will drastically decrease the chance of getting blurry images and instead getting that crystal clear photo. In my opinion, unless you want to venture into street photography, owning a tripod is a must as it can give many more possibilities, such as shooting at a steady angle, shooting from various heights, shooting with timers, getting a sharp image in low light settings, achieving crisp images of objects in motion and many more.


Two Batteries, Two SD cards:

I learned this lesson recently; I basically had an important shoot which was around 6 hours long, and as I was not aware of how much shooting RAW (a type of format) quickly drains you battery, I had to terminate the shoot early. The minute I got home I order another battery, to save myself from embarrassment. The same goes for the SD card, you’ll be surprised how many times you’ll forget to put the SD card back in your camera after uploading your images to your computer only to realise it the moment you turn your camera on in the street.


Invest in a Camera bag:

A camera bag is essential, as it will allow you to carry extra lenses, batteries, SD cards and even you battery charger all together wherever you go….oh and don’t forget a cloth to clean you lens with ;).


Bibliography: 

A thing or two I know about oil Painting Part 2: Techniques

In the previous blog titled “A thing or two I know about Painting Part 1: Materials” I wanted to start off the two parts blog with materials. The reason why is simple, how can I explain how to use a material without explaining what that material is, so If you haven’t checked Part 1 yet, I would suggest you go give it a read so that this blog would make more sense. As stated in the Part 1, I will be explaining certain things in the way that work best for me and might not work for you so treat this blog as a basic foundation to start experimenting with oil paint.

Preparing your Canvas:

I’m going to start from the very basics which looks at the techniques you need to know in order to make your own canvas, unless you want to buy a readymade one. The first thing you need is unprimed fabric which can range from canvas, linen, cotton etc.. but for the time being let’s stick to canvas. Unprimed canvas is light brown in colour and can come in different weaves, as can be seen from the image below. This will affect the surface of your canvas, for example the canvas on the right would give you a more textured surface, while the fabric on the left will give you a smoother one once its primed.

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What does primed mean? Basically a primed canvas mean a canvas, made from any fabric which has been coated with “Gesso”. Gesso is a white medium that has the consistency of a thicker matte enamel paint, which Winsor and Newton sells in tubs or in buckets as shown in the image below. When priming you fabric with “Gesso” it acts as a protective and non-absorbent coat for you to paint on.d4208897040f06b4d4c75633110eba29You can prime your chosen fabric after or before stretching it,  (I’ll explain what that is further on), but there is a specific way of applying “Gesso” and how to get the best coverage. You start by preparing a container with a mixture of “Gesso” and a little water to make more fluid and a large smooth brush. You start by applying the first layer in one direction, let it dry, and then sand it with fine sand paper to completely get a nice and smooth surface. The next layer will be applied in the opposite direction, let dry and once again sand it with fine sand paper. Repeat this process for about 6 to 7 times, depending how smooth you want you surface to be. To get a better idea of what I’m talking about I have attached an image below showing the difference between a primed (left) and unprimed (right) fabric.

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Stretching your canvas, No I’m not talking about the stretching you do before you do some exercise….or whatever those people do…I wouldn’t know. Stretching your canvas means applying the fabric over a wooden frame, which can be done by a carpenter unless you’re handy with building stuff from wood. Instead of confusing you with a long paragraph, I decided to add a YouTube video that explains how to properly stretch your canvas, as a step like this is better explained visually.

Under-painting, Grisaille and Layers:

You can apply oil paints in several ways, but the traditional way is by applying several layers on top of each other following the rule of “fat over lean”, which basically means that with each layer, you apply the paint thicker than the previous one. This is an important rule, as if you apply a thin later over a fat one, you risk getting cracks in your paint…and trust me….you really don’t want that to happen. The steps I take when I paint in this manner, are very similar to the order shown below. I always start by drawing my composition beforehand, as I personally find it better to apply your composition by drawing, as it allows you to really put in certain fine details if you want. I usually use a 2B pencil, but be warned,  you’ll have to sharpen it constantly and it can leave a lot of dust on your surface, so after you drawn your image I would advise to give the canvas a good dusting with a large brush. The second step is called an “under painting”, it is the very first layer of paint you’ll apply which will act as the foundation for your tonal value,  and even if the under painting is the very first layer, it will add depth to you painting. Traditionally the under painting is done by using only burnt umber applied as a thin layer, do not add white but rather thin your paint with turpentine to create your tonal range. It’s not the first time I let the first layer dry and then continue painting it, I do this because it becomes easier for the paint to have something to “stick” to and becomes more easy to control. The third layer, which you can actually considered optional, is called the “Grisaille”, which is completely made out of tones and tints of grey, basically monochrome. I never actually included this purpose in my paintings as I find its purpose debatable, but it usually also adds more depth to your painting, as after all you are adding the first layer after the under-painting.

Colour matching:

As you now have a brief idea of how layers work when painting in oils, it’s time to start adding colour, but before you do I would suggest you do this process, called colour matching.  In simple terms this basically means mixing all of the colours you will need before you start painting. The way I work is this, I prepare two large pieces of glass, one to mix the colours on, and the other one as my actual palette to put the finished mix colour on. Now let’s say you are working from an image of a human figure, what you need to do is identify each individual colour. When I first did this I was advised by my tutor to contour each colour I saw so that I don’t get confused, so if you are a beginner I would suggest you do the same until your brain starts to do it automatically…….this takes a bit of practice. The second part of this process is to actually start mixing your paint to achieve this, as its quite a difficult process to explain in words, I have attached below a video that explains very well how to mix flesh tones and tints;

Remember I mentioned a layer called “Grisaille”? Ideally you also prepare your monochrome palette beforehand by creating what is called a value scale. This scale is composed of 9 or 10 tints/tones, starting from a pure white ending into a pure black, with a gradation of greys between them, to explain this better I have also attached a video which visually explains what I’m talking about.

Brush work:

Sadly this paragraph is going to be short and I’ll explain why. The way you paint is a very personal thing that develops with time, so this is something you have to figure out on your own and develop your way of painting, although I can give little tips that might help you. The technique I commonly use is the “dry brush” technique which basically means you apply your colours in shapes and then blend them together with a dry brush. It’s important to remember to keep the brush dry and wipe it on a dry cloth every time you finished blending an area. DO NOT DIP THIS BRUSH IN TURPENTINE and if you accidently switch to another dry brush, if the brush is wet it will not create a nice blend, but rather a smudged one.

Ground And “Alla Prima”:

Alla prima is a technique which I have just started to explore, I would not suggest this technique for beginners as its better to familiarise yourself with how the medium acts first. What does “alla prima” mean? It basically mean that you are working wet on wet, in the previous technique you usually allow the layers to dry, but with “alla prima” you have to work quite fast, finishing the painting before it dries…hence why I said I wouldn’t suggest it to beginners without familiarising yourself with oil paint. Before I start applying the paint, I cover the entire canvas with what is called a “Ground”, which is usually a mid-grey from a value scale. Applied in a thick manner, this acts as the foundation of your painting, similar to an “Underpainting” or the “Grisaille” layer. On the other hand it’s best to let the “Ground” dry, I usually add liquine to it so that I don’t have to wait that long for it to dry. I then draw my image using a 2B pencil and then progress to adding colour. I still mix my colours beforehand even if I’m working in the “alla prima” technique, as I’m still not that confident in mixing colours on canvas right before applying it onto the canvas. As I’m a visual learner I believe in the power of YouTube, so once again I’m adding a video below of a painter working “alla prima”, it can be seen that the artist also applied a ground to his canvas, but instead of using pencil to drawing his portrait, he draws his outlines with a paint brush. I attached this video as it shows how the artist applies the actual paint, which might give a clearer example of how to apply paint when working in this technique.

A thing or two I know about oil painting Part 1: Materials

During my years studying in an Art School, painting in oils was one of the mediums I explored the most, this allowed me to gain some experience and knowledge in regard to the medium. So I thought it would be nice to share some of that basic knowledge, especially for people who would like to start painting in oils but don’t know where to start. In saying that, I’m talking from a personal point of view of what works best for me and might not necessarily work so well for you, but to get a better Idea of how I use oils you can always check my Instagram *Wink Wink*. I’m also planning to divide this topic into two, in Part 1 I’ll be discussing Materials while in Part 2 I’ll be discussing  Methods and Techniques.

Oil paints:

Well…this one is pretty obvious, you can’t paint in oils…..If you don’t have oil paints. The first thing I want  to advise about oil paints is to try and avoid the cheap ones or brands that aren’t the well-known, for two reasons, cheap pigment (the colour) and cheap binder (the medium which holds the pigment together). This will result in your paintings starting to fade with time. I suggest the brand I use, which is Winsor & Newton for a number of reasons, the first reason is the fact they divide their paints into series 1 and series 2. Series 1 is known as the student range which is cheaper and of a lesser quality but still of a very good quality and best for beginners. Series 2 is the Artist range which means the paint has a larger percentage of pigment then binder. This also means that their permanence is also better which is also graded from AA, A and B, AA being the most permanent.

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Series 2
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Another good thing to know is if your paint is Transparent or Opaque, on the Winsor and Newton paints this is indicated by a little square, I have attached a table below to make it easier to understand what I’m actually talking about. What these boxes mean is pretty simple, the Transparent paints….well are more transparent, this allows for the colour underneath them to still show while opaque ones don’t…or don’t as much. You can also make an opaque transparent by adding more oil to it, but this will take longer to oxidate. This will make more sense when I discuss methods and techniques in Part 2, but for the time being, just keep this in mind.

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Turpentine:

To dilute oils paint you need turpentine and I find this the worse part of  painting in oils. Turpentine has a very strong smell and can easily cause bad headaches for people who aren’t used to the smell. Even if I have been working with oil for a while now, I still use and suggest odourless turpentine, You can also get scented ones……which I really don’t suggest. You can buy turpentine from an Ironmonger or from a household hardware store. Always make sure you work in a well-ventilated room when using turpentine, this stuff can leave your hair, clothes and skin reeking of it. If you’re like me and turpentine magically affects you more than others, I would also give wearing an air mask a try, but in all honesty its pretty uncomfortable trying to work with one….so just make your life easier and buy the odourless.

 

Liquin:

I’m not going to even try and talk about adding oils to your paints as I never really bothered with them, on the other hand, I do use Liquin. Liquin is not a must have, nor is it commonly used, but what it does is speeds drying time, adds fluidity and gives you paint a slight semi-gloss. As you might know, or not, oils take a bit of time to dry depending on the climate of where you live. This is due to the fact that oils don’t dry by evaporation but by oxidation, which is a fancy word that means a chemical reaction caused by oxygen that makes the paint solidify and dry. A fun fact to know is that a painting in oils can take up to a year to completely dry, I’m not referring to touch dry here, but the layers of paint underneath the top one….again this will make more sense once I post Part 2. Going back to Liquin, I do find this medium great as it does actually help with the drying time as well as allowing for a smoother surface, which I must admit I love. 
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Brushes:  

Brushes come in different sizes and shapes, but the most common ones are the round and the flat brushes. Below I attached an image to show the various styles of brushes so that you can get a better idea.

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In my set of brushes, you’ll  find a lot of pointed round brushes which I find great for detail, flat and bright brushes which allow you to cover a larger area but still having an amount of control by using the brush at an angle.  For some reason, the most suggested paintbrushes to go with oil paints are always hog brushes……but I hate them. In fairness, they are pretty great if you want a brush that holds a good amount of paint as well as applying the paint in a thick manner, but as I said before I like my surface to stay smooth so I never really used them.

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To be completely honest with you, I never stay buying recommended brushes, so much so that my favorite brush for when I’m painting in oils, are actually watercolour brushes. The best advice I can give is this, brushes are like mediums, you need to try them out and find what you like best, no blog or someone else’s experience can find that out for you. On the other hand, the brushes which I constantly buy, and work best for me, are synthetic brushes that look like the ones below

The reason why I use these brushes is this, they can hold a good amount of paint, they are great to blend with as they aren’t to hard or too soft, they are cheaper but still do what I need them to do and if you know how to take good care of them they can actually last for a long time, contrary to popular belief (I’ll explain how later).

 

Brush Washer with Screen and Holder:

Trust me, you need one of these but not to use it to wash your brushes but rather as the container that you will pour you turpentine into. The reason why I use this instead of a glass jar is because the screen that comes with it, allows me to properly remove the paint from my brush and completely avoid contaminating my colours on my palette and on my painting. Before I bought one of these, I only used an old piece of cloth but this usually meant that I would waste a lot of time making sure that I cleaned my brush properly before applying a different colour, which used to effect my flow. Constantly rubbing the brush against the screen can also damage your brush, to avoid this I usually make sure to rub the brush against the screen in one direction. By doing this it reduces the chance of opening up the bristles and ruining the shape of your brush.

 

Taking care of your brushes:
I discovered the soap above while I was working in Austraila and it has made clean up a lot easier. This soap can remove oil paint from any surface, as a matter of fact, I use it to wash the paint off my hands and also from my bushes and it makes them look brand new. To wash my brushes I don’t use the screen but the palm of my hand  with a bit of the above-mentioned soap, like its shown in the image below, and repeat the processes until no colour comes out of the brush. The next step is just as important, I then take a normal soap bar and rub some of the soap into the brush, then using my finger, I try to compact the hairs together and remove the extra soap . Once the soap dries, the bush hairs become stuck together and frozen in place, and tada, good as when bought. Instead of soap one can also use gum arabic diluted in some water, the only thing to remember in both cases is to wash the brush before using it.

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Palette and palette knives:

When using oil paints, finding the right palette can be difficult but the best material I found out which works best is …..a piece of glass, yep a piece of glass. I own two pieces of glass, one around the size of an A3 piece of paper, while the other around the size of A2  which I alternate depending on the number of colours I’m using. The reason I use glass is because it is easy to clean after each use as well as providing a smooth surface on which to mix the paint. Palette knives, you need them! And don’t bother with the plastic ones which I used to constantly break. I understand they might be a little expensive but a good pair of metal palette knives are an investment. As they are made of metal, and they give you enough flexibility to properly mix the paint, especially when colour matching (which I will explain what that is in the next blog). Also, the pointed end allows you to add paint to the mixture in small quantities, which you’ll probably need to do for every colour you mixing.

Where my interest towards ambiguity in art started

The theme of ambiguity wasn’t something that I was immediately drawn to when I started studying for my B.A in Fine Arts, but I was rather completely infatuated by anything that had to do with gender, especially anything male related……..and as you can see from my previous blogs…that obsession hasn’t left yet. Around the Second year, we had a specific unit that was completely dedicated to finding a sense of artistic identity. As a starting point we had to choose one theme from the themes of Contemporary Art, namely; Identity, The body, Time, Memory, Place, Language, Science ,Spirituality. As paranoia, doubt and an obsessive need for control weren’t an option, I chose Memory.

The unit also composed of another task which comprised of researching artists that we identify with. It was during this research that I came across the artist that really changed my views about what art I want to produce, he was the American figurative Artist Eric Fischl. When you search Fischl online the probability is that you’ll come across his famous Bad boy series, but it was actually another series titled the “Krefeld Project” that really caught my attention.

In the “Krefeld Project” Fischl used a method where he hired two actors, asking them to act out problems which were given to them by the Artist himself, in a house which he had refurnished. He kept going with this method for around 4 days constantly capturing moments from the acted scenes that mostly interested him. He then started to digitally cut, paste and manipulate these photographs to recreate new scenes from them. As an example, the first picture below is the actual digital manipulation that Fischl created which he then reproduced as a painting, titled “Krefeld Project: Living Room, Scene #4” (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 2012).

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Eric Fischl, 2002 (image Online). Krefeld Project: Living Room, Scene #4. [Oil on Linen].

While creating each painting of the “Krefeld Project” series, Fischl kept coming up with questions regarding his characters, such as; Whose house is this?, Is it her house or his house?, Are they married? Are they having an affair?, trying to understand who they are and what type of relationship, hoping that his questions will be answered in the next painting (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 2012). Through the Artist’s Project, I had discovered the element of Ambiguity, and how it can be used in relation to characters to generate it further. The ambiguity in this series is mostly created through how the two characters interact with one another, their body language and how they fit in their surroundings, which in turn gives rise to more questions and hardly any answers.

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Eric Fischl, 2002 (image Online) Krefeld Project: Bedroom, Scene 1. [Oil on Linen].

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Eric Fischl, 2003 (image Online) Krefeld Project: Bathroom, Scene 2. [Oil on Linen].

You might be asking how does the Theme of Memory fit into all this? Basically, after having chosen a theme and doing the research about Artists I mostly related with, I started my brain storming to then progress to my body of work. I did this by putting down all the memories I could remember, in a form of automatic writing, ranging from childhood to more recent ones, including memories that are still very personal. Due to this, I wasn’t confident enough with completely putting these memories on display…..soooo, I said to myself…….why not use the element of ambiguity just as Eric Fischl has done. This would have allowed me to visualise these memories, but at the same time, only hinting suggestions without any actual answers. With that established idea as a foundation, I could then advance to actually creating these memories from paragraphs into actual images. Influenced by Fischl, I did this through the medium of collage, with the only difference being  that I made mine the old fashion way with a craft knife and a glue stick, while Fischl did his digitally, as shown above. Out of various compositions, of varying memories, three collages of three different memories, that have gained significant meaning throughout the years, ended being chosen and  turned into a triptych of paintings;

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The triptych’s title “Via Del Anamnesi, 165, Gzira, Reggio Calabria, 1709” is actually a hybrid address made up from mixture of an Italian and Maltese address, which in a way aided to create more ambiguity . This decision was simply taken as two of the memories have been created in Malta, while the other one in Italy. The primary method in which I created a sense of ambiguity within the paintings was by placing these “characters” within a domestic environment, which represents the “familiar”, while their actions create the contrasting effect of the “peculiar”.  By doing so, this allowed the viewers to create their own assumptions and stories, as I only gave suggestions of what each individual painting, or the three altogether, could possibly narrate. As viewers are not told what the memories are, it allows them to perhaps relate to the works more easily, as any possible narration by them, is as equally valid as another one from a different person, which in a way makes it more personal.

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