The Swing

August 5, 2016

swing

“The Swing”
Acrylic on canvas painting.
106.6×106.6cm or 42″x42″.
Unframed.

This painting is rather mysterious.

My girls were very young then and we used to spend a lot of time at the playground whenever the day turned out nice. I also used to photograph them a lot more than they let me do now.

On one such day I was taking pictures of my kids playing on the swings and climbing frames, when this girl came along, smiled at me and posed for a photo. She was about 2 – the age when they most like being photographed – and she wanted to star for my pictures. I couldn’t refuse and took some photos of the child.

Later on, looking through the shots, I came upon an image I really liked. Something about the eyes – focused beyond the world around, focused on the unseen…

I placed the girl in an imaginary setting of a Summer forest, swinging, with an intense and dreamy look on her face. And that’s how this painting came to be.

I don’t know the girl’s name or where she lives and she doesn’t know she inspired a painting, yet here she is – now forever a dreamy child, swinging.

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Me and My Girls

April 30, 2015

This February half-term we didn’t go anywhere, and while my girls were home and the light was good, I bribed them to sit for the portraits.

After all, last time I painted them was at least a couple of years ago, and I never painted them from life, always from photos. Now that they are old enough and well-trained by various educational institutions, no reason why they couldn’t sit still each for 10 or so hours…

Well, it took some modeling fees and also, during the sittings, they were watching films. Only sometimes in the last session each was required to look at me to paint their eyes. Still, they took the whole experience as yet another chore which their wicked mother imposed on them and that shows clearly in the portraits!

Portrait of Eva Roche age 13

Eva

Portrait of Eva Roche, age 13
Oil on canvas
70×50 cm

Marina Kim. Portraiture

Alina

Portrait of Alina Roche, age 11
Oil on canvas
70×50 cm

Me and my girls!

Marina Kim portrait artist

Me and My Girls

Mezzotint copper plate

The Matrix

A friend of mine, Lesley Samms, sent me a link at the end of December to apply for the “Show Me The Monet” BBC series on art which I did. And forgot about it.

Last week nice voice by the name of Nel phoned and we had a great chat – that was the second stage of selection. So, from 3000 it went down to 300, and after the telephone conversation another 150 of the applicants went in a puff of smoke. But I survived. And that’s why…

Tomorrow I am going to Shepherds Bush for an interview. After that only a quater of the remaining 150 artists will make it to the final exhibition. Wish me luck!

Mezzotint plate for the portrait of Eve Delf.

Me and The Matrix

I’ll have to produce a proof of my identity and a proof of my authorship for the artwork I submitted. I thought I’d do the latter in a blog form to save myself lagging stuff around London and also illuminate briefly on my way of working on a mezzotint portrait.

It started last Autumn. I was again thinking about a getting a new model on my quest for a remarkable face, and remembered Eve – a pretty girl of about 14-15. I contacted her mom Angela, asking if Eve would be interested to sit for me and if Angela herself wouldn’t mind. “Yes” was the answer and one day after that they came to the gallery.

Sketch drawing of Eve Delf

Sketch drawing of Eve Delf

Eve was 15, slim, nearly 6 foot tall and beautiful beyond words. I didn’t expect all this when I was asking and certainly got more than I bargained for. It turned out as well, that Eve has just been signed up by a modelling agency after an unexpected turn of events.

We had a couple of sessions in my studio with Eve. I was photographing and drawing. We talked about this and that. And so, at the end I had about 800 photos, a few video clips and several quick sketches.

The next stage is brooding. Brooding, brooding. Looking through the materials: photos and clips. (I am still to figure out how to make use of videos…)

Fibonacci spiral

Fibonacci spiral

During that time, I re-visited the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci spiral ideas and thought about composition.

A few photos emerged as possibilities. Then I photoshopped them into something I wanted the mezzotints look like. Trying them with bands of colour, cropping etc.

Eve

Eve

So, here is the photo of Eve which was the base for the print. What attracted me to this particular one out of the 800 others is the geometry of the lines formed by the hair on the forehead, outline of the face, hand and arm.

The face is peaceful, at the same time there is a subtle smile. It hints towards thoughts which cannot be seen, cannot be known, but they are the most important element. They create the dynamics of the whole picture. So, the picture is very static here, but there is motion created by the underlying geometry of the composition and by the subtle expression f the face.

Eve Delf - 2

Eve Delf - 2

Next stage – cropping. I decided to take the Golden Ratio proportions and Fibonacci spiral to base the composition on. Why? To tie together proven classical references and rules (one way or another they run a lot of human programming in terms of how we perceive art) in order  to create an iconic image.

In a way, I am after something as iconic as Mona Lisa, and some references to that portrait are also incorporated into Eve’s mezzotint. All that laid on the powerful chiaro-scuro effect of the technique itself is bound to create a remarkable image.

Eve Delf - 1

Eve Delf - 1

The road is marked. Now, all that is left to do is to actually make it. Simple 🙂

I ordered two large plates to Martin Maywood. Not long before that we talked and he said he was able to rock much bigger plates now. That’s why I could plan a more ambitious project – size-wise as well as in other ways. 75-46cm plate is quite large for a mezzotint. Got the plates some time in February or March. The next 4-5 months were spent in burnishing. And that’s it.

Many hundreds of hours and several stage proofs later I had two beautiful portraits of Eve Delf. Well, also a series of hands with an apple and a trio of smaller plates picturing fragments of Eve’s beautiful face.

PS. I’ve never watched the program itself, as we haven’t got a television in the house. I might leave it that way to make it more exciting 🙂

Framed portrait of Eve Delf and the matrix plate

Matrix and the framed print

Browsing the Internet I re-visited the Portrait Party site. That reminded me of a portrait exchange we had with John Izod of Rye.

Commission a portrait by Marina Kim.

John Izod

John was one of the first people we got to know when moved to Rye. Since then we came to realise that he became in a way a feature of the town. Drawing from our conversation during sittings, I see him as a bit of a gypsy, artistic wonderer, an aged child…

The idea was to draw him and sell that on a charity auction for the Sea Cadets whom he supports. That charcoal drawing of him is now hanging in the “Ypres” pub in Rye after having raised £250 as far as I remember.

But there were more drawings coming from those couple of sittings.

 

Commission a portrait drawing by Marina Kim.

John Izod

One of them, an ink drawing of John, I turned into a drypoint print “The Devil You Know?”

I love drypoint because it is the most immediate of the printmaking techniques and closest to free hand drawing.

I am still to break through the intimidation of the metal and draw directly on the plate. At the moment I mostly copy my drawings to the plate and then re-trace the lines with the steel point… Freedom isn’t easy.

John IS easy though. On the second day of the sittings he came armed and said, he’d be drawing me. Here are a couple of drawings he did of me:

Me by John Izod. Portrait exchange. Me by John 1
Me by John Izod. Portrait exchange.

Me by John 2?

This idea came up:

On the website we put up an ad. Huge one! The Roche family is travelling the world. The idea is to pay for the accomodation and travelfare by portraits. Anyone who lives or has homes on the route and interested in commissioning a portrait, please contact us.

Now, let’s see what swapping goes around the net…

First site – very interesting swap the portraits blog here: http://theportraitparty.blogspot.com/
The idea – people meet and draw portraits of each other. Great! Talking about normal human art with genuine ineterest in people.

We were talking with Gi Yeon today. I formulated for myself, what art is all about. Here it is:

People’s lifes are their unique experiences. Due to our relatively short lives, each of us can experience only a little bit of the wide range of possibilities. But we want to expand our experiences. That’s why we have the inbuilt curiousity in each other. At the same time we all have the desire to influence other people, or in other words, to let others see the unique and valuable nature of our personal experience. The art is the media to make this possible. Hence, the informativeness of the art can be measured in terms of how much we can percieve from the piece of art about the life experience of someone. Hence, the abstract, or conceptual art cannot achieve the goal of being informative whithout all the added information about the life of the artist and the circumstances of the creation of his art. (I wonder, if it is possible to create a piece of art which wouldn’t need all the extra information in order to be informative? Actually, paintings by Paula Rego score high by this definition. And so do portraits in general, especially historical pictures.) Hence, the visual art from the early 20th century entered a pricipally new era. One can say, that visual art became a team work. The author/painter creates a piece of art, which doesn’t bear the whole of it’s informativeness, but the informative part of it is carried out by the media, which plays the court. Then, if I carry the analogy further on, the piece of art itself is the king, which is naked…

We all live our own unique experiences. But we want to experience more. So, we read books, watch films, follow soap operas, selebrity gossips, spy the neibours and look at the portraits. In order to satisfy this thirst for other experiences the art, in particular portrait, has to be as informative as it can.

Portrait sketches of baby Isobel. Example of a portrait commission resulting in a portfolio of quick drawings.

[flagallery gid=9 name=”drawings”]

This portrait commission requires a life sitting and takes between 1.5 to 2 hours. Although the term “sitting” is used here rather loosely.

I had several portrait commissions where I had to draw children. Of course, I couldn’t expect them to be sitting absolutely still! Here is a post about one such commission.


 

by Philip Scott Johnson

500 Years of Female Portraits in Western Art

Music: Bach’s Sarabande from Suite for Solo Cello No. 1 in G Major, BWV