In June I received a letter inviting me, one again, to be involved in the Spring Exhibition at the Royal South Australian Society of the Arts and create a live portrait of a distinguished sitter (Sandy Verschoor). The demonstration are run bi-annually prize by the RSASA in their Gallery in the city of Adelaide.
This year, on Tuesday the 1st August, I went to the Gallery in Adelaide and prepared to meet Sandy Verschoor, Deputy Mayor of Adelaide City. Sandy is an incredibly kind and genuine person. She sat with myself and three other artists for 3 hours, whilst we sketched, painted and hurried away making the basis of a portrait that would be exhibited in the spring exhibition.
During the demonstration I proceeded to sketch Sandy using a range of Prismacolour pencils I had brought with me. Over the past few months I have been working in oil on wood; and already had a significant idea of what I wanted to do with the portrait. At home I had a large piece of wood that I intended to transfer my sketch to and work in oils later.
In the meantime I made the most of the time with Sandy and created the best portrait I could, ensuring I took into account her movements, the way the light hit her face and examine each of her individual traits in the break.
Although Sandy dressed herself professionally in black and white, throughout the day I realised that she had quite a fun personality. She often smiled and joked with myself and the other artists and took her time in the intervals to examine the works and compliment or critique the pieces. She was incredibly patient throughout the demonstration and whilst I was there I did take some photos. From these images and the original sketch I began to re-draw and resize the original sketch I completed to suit the board.
For the background I wanted to incorporate some bright colour expressing Sandy's personality.
The rich turquoise blue was and obvious choice for me once I had been working with the artwork for a while. The blue complimented Sandy's wonderful silver hair, and her complexion. I also associated the blue with calmness and genuine nature. I believed that the fluidity of the blue resembled the feeling that Sandy had when she came into a room. Her personality commands attention yet leaves you feeling comfortable and I wanted this to come through in the artwork. I overlaid the blue with copper line-work. The lines represented Sandy's busy life, and the collection of knowledge she has resourced throughout her diverse career in the arts.
The finished artwork was submitted for hanging at the RSASA gallery in late August. From this, the sitters would be invited back into the gallery to view each of the completed artworks. Once they had seen all the works, they have the opportunity to choose a work to take home.
I was incredibly lucky, amongst many other talented artists to have my work selected by Sandy (and her brains-trust!)
See the selection video click HERE
Today after an eighteen-month marathon I have completed my Masters in Visual Art and Creative Practice at Uni SA! And Im exhausted ... but my mind still thinks I have things to do. Over the last forty-eight hours I have collated and combined all of my research into my final thesis, installed my artworks into an exhibition space for assessment, had my face-to-face assessment in front of four well renowned artists and academics, and then disassembled my artworks and brought them home. 16 weeks of constant work for a 1 hour experience.
My final body of work featured three large 60x90cm wood panels, and six smaller 40x4cm wood panels selectively appropriating images I have found on social media The collection of works is a critique of the way women present themselves on social media. The three small mirrors are deliberately set at 'eye height' to encourage the viewer to envisage themselves in the frames.
Below is a explanatory section from my thesis:
My artworks examine ideas of modern feminine iconography that populate social media imagery; images that re-define and normalize social beauty standards and yet create significantly un-achievable social norms. My collection of artworks attempts to examine the pose and stereotypical structure of images relate
The twenty-first century femme fatale: Modernity and the power woman
In exactly one week I will be installing for my exhibiting assessment marking the completion of my Masters in Visual Art and Creative Practice. I have spent the last 22 weeks making, researching, planning, writing, critiquing, making, fixing, shaping and finishing my 9 artworks ready for installation as part of my final assessment.
This semester has been a whirlwind for me - thank goodness for the sanity of my friends, family and classmates. The final exhibition of my artworks will be installed for approximately 24 hours and only for the view of the assessors, unfortunately.
I have size smaller works (40x40cm) and three large panels ready for assessment alongside my Research Exegesis totalling just shy of 22 pages. This elaborate body of work justifies the statement that a picture is worth a thousand words. To give you some information about the research behind my artworks here is a section from my exegesis:
ABSTRACT : 'The Twenty-first Century Femme Fatale; Modernity and the Power Woman'
I can't wait to share the final product with you all once it has been fully installed. Please head on over to my Facebook page or Instagram for more regular updates! Wish me luck!
Honestly, I'm surprised Im still sane...
Officially hit the half-way mark for my Visual Arts Masters and Im finally starting to feel the heat a bit more. I still have a long way to go before I have completed all of my paintings ready for exhibition and assessment in early June. Im getting increasingly nervous about my preparedness for this...
I have handed up my Thesis A (Research Proposal) and I am well underway with my painting and exegesis creative and theoretical research.
My artworks are examining three key themes; feminine iconography (and its roots in Art Nouveau), Feminine Beauty Theory, and Beauty as currency for success.
Specifically, I am exploring how visual social media outlets such as Pinterest and Instagram provide a format for images to be posted without context and can be re-used by any individual (such as myself) for any purpose. Reference for all of my artworks this semester are sourced from either Instagram or Pinterest and I am taking particular care in selecting each image. I look not only at the image itself, but also its context from the original creator or person who posted the image, the text that accompanied the original image, its like and comments.
The overwhelming response that images can attract on social media, both positive and negative, can be somewhat astronomical. Even as a visual artist I employ Instagram as one of my main outlets to share my artworks and image with other artists and lovers of art. It creates a fantastic platform for a visual port-folio of my artworks and their progression and my practice as a whole.
However, as I begin to analyse images that are shared on social media I am overwhelmed by peoples attraction to aesthetic and what we consider to be 'beauty'. Many comments ignore the person in the image and focus on how 'beautiful', 'sexy', 'stunning', 'hot', or 'pretty' the subject of the photograph is. There is no context given to the photographed individual who is the subject of all of the attention. Nobody asks for a name, a profession, interests or dislikes - they are interested in one thing - beauty.
The progress of finding the reference images, and then aligning these with mediums and processes that have been used for hundreds of years within artistic painting, creates a final product that looks like it was made for its aesthetic pleasure, similar to the original image. However, my artworks are made with the intention that people will connect with them on a personal level. I want viewers to reflect on their use of social media and how they respond both internally and externally to images that they see on social media.
Cant wait to share more of my work with you as it progresses.
Abbey is a qualified secondary school teacher currently completing her Masters in Visual Arts and Creative Practice as a post-graduate degree. She completes interesting and colourful artworks, not afraid to experiment with new subjects and ideas.