This is a painting of a reclining female figure reading a book, which was developed from a study produced during a recent life drawing class.
It’s part of a continuing series in which I’m investigating how far it’s possible to push the use of flat colour and interlocking shapes to represent the planes of the human figure in space without mutating into completely unrecognisable abstraction.
In this particular painting I tried to simplify the planes as much as possible and to reduce the representation of shadows to the absolute bare minimum required to make a coherent picture. I’ve also tried to reduce the geometric aspect of the shapes to try and create a ‘softer’, more organic, feel.
As well as my ongoing meditation on (/arm wrestle with!) Josef Albers’ book, ‘Interaction of Colour’, and a current interest in the work of Milton Avery, I was also inspired by a brief section in the Chambers Arts Library book, ‘Movements in Painting’ which discussed a French group called OuPeinPo (Ouvroir de Peinture Potentielle). Apparently, OuPeinPo “did not present itself as an artistic movement but as an inventor of constraints, structures, systems and methods”. As an example of their work, the book displayed a work called ‘Sleeping Kangeroos’ by Aline Gagnaire, in which coloured paper shapes were cut out and weighed, to ensure the exact same quantities of colour were used, which sounds like a fascinating idea.
This work is painted in pastel acrylic colours on canvas board.
In case it’s of interest, I’ve included a picture of the original study I produced below, but please bear in mind that it’s a (large A2) sketch completed in under two hours, so is rather loose and unpolished!