Monday, October 15, 2012

New stuff to paint - The Great Unposed

So yesterday I was at the Limerick races in a roadie capacity and would have liked to have been to sketch some glamorous Ladies as it was Ladies' Day, but just got some photos of them instead. The plan is to look at the photos and see if there are any paintings in there somewhere. Maybe just one big one with all those fabulous hats and colours. There were some very stylish outfits there, and some seriously eye-catching hats. I hadn't been to any race meetings for years, I know my father brought us once, but I honestly can't even remember where that was. 

I'm after The Great Unposed. I personally HATE being in photos, I so rarely come out looking good, but I find that with posing for photos, you end up with something that looks a bit artificial, and ultimately repetitive. It doesn't really work for making paintings. I so much prefer getting people being themselves, just talking, fixing their hair, drinking or eating, on the phone ... even picking their noses, as an artist lady I met there yesterday pointed out. Not that I would ever use such a visual reference in my paintings, but photography and can does catch such unguarded moments, and can be singularly unflattering. Which I suppose is why so many people automatically try to pose and present their best/classiest/most elegant side - they are attempting to be seen in a particular way, attempting to control the visual recording. As part of The Great Unposed, I take that control away from then. 

I suppose I'm in a grey area. It's uncomfortable for people, sometimes. And then of course there are certain lines you cannot cross, in particular with regard to photographing children and their personal safety, which I totally understand and respect. But I LIKE getting the person glaring back at me, it doesn't happen all that often. I'm fast, and have the shutter speed on high ... so I'm not 'intruding' for more than half a second, often the people I photograph don't even realise. And then when I do go and use the visual information I get and work it into a painting, the person is usually not recognisable - though there are some exceptions in my work. 

I think the difficulty for many is that I sit on the fence between voyeurism and simple, unbiased observation. I'm not actually intruding, merely recording something and at the same time taking away the subject's control over how they look in the photo. I can't help wondering if this has to do with the fact that cameras are now so widely available to everyone, and everyone who is on Facebook and other social media posts up photographs of themselves ... often doctored with PhotoShop. And their memories of the event or situation in question. I suppose that overlaps onto the field of epistemology .... Hmmm. 

In any case, I feel that after the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martin Parr and other great 'candid' photographers, I think there is a precedent. 

And an image, let's see ... THREE images!!!! None were actively posing.


Sleeping somewhere, drawing in purple ink


Gossiping in Estrella Park, Lisbon, from 2010, pencil and watercolour paint


Woman standing, Piazza Della Signoria, Florence, from 2008, pencil and watercolour paint

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