Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week Five

Five painters left! The stakes are getting higher. This week’s two tasks were stinkers and called for a completely different mindset from previous weeks and from the look on the artists faces some were beaten before they even started. Catching movement is a simple enough exercise in photography where you can slow down the shutter speed but in on-the-spot painting it’s a whole different kettle of piranhas – you’re depending on blurring the freeze-frame of the image you referenced in your head. 

Worried artists : Jennifer, David and Alan
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The artists first challenge was to paint a solo ballerina dancing a series of four movements that she would repeat over the two hour duration (minus a few rest breaks). They could work in whatever medium they wanted to capture her graceful movements and make sure she was anatomically and proportionally fit! The bottom line for the painters was they could not afford to draw a still-life image. Yet so many did!
First Challenge: Top Left Suman : Top Right Alan
Bottom Left Jennifer : Middle David : Bottom Right Jimmy
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Suman had an immediate setback. She had chosen to work in charcoal but the paper was different from her usual brand and didn’t respond as she expected. That would have been a good time to have had an artistic tantrum, but she carried on in her usual happy-go-lucky manner. Unfortunately her drawing/painting was static, a snapshot of what she had seen. Alan did give his dancers a vague sense of motion with one disappearing off the canvas but it was all too dark and cumbersome for me. Jennifer did rightly with her wispy, squiggly marks. She showed good observation but she too didn’t achieve the required movement! David I thought did an OK job with the ballerina but went mad on his rave techno background. What is it with him and purple. He didn’t have much movement but then who did! Wait, Jimmy did!!!! He used watercolour to express movement and did a decent job. But there’s a big gigantic and enormous BUT! Jimmy must have been in another room painting a rumba dancer strutting her stuff as Jimmy had the poor girl twist pirouetting (it’s a new ballet move) to the Dance of the Overweight Sugar Plum Fairy. His dancer would never have been able to stand demi-pointe on tippy-toes… Blimey, Jimmy has never heard of Kim Kardashian. Where has he been living?

This was a good exercise in movement. Human learned from it – David not so much!
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If the first task caused the artists’ brain farts the Showstopper would multiply the difficulty level several times over. But they were better prepared this time as the mentors tips on tackling movement paid dividends to those who had ears to hear and the nerve to put them into practice. Suman might have laughed initially but did find value in Pascal’s exercise of trying to capture a crowd of 100 people with just one vertical stroke of the brush. In the other camp Jennifer benefited hugely from Diana’s idea of moving paint around with a card and would incorporate it into her second piece.

Jennifer's new trick: moving paint around with a piece of card
So what’s the craic then? Just paint four dancers arabesquing, attitude-ing, croisé-ing, grand jeté-ing, plié-ing and pirouetting (thanks google) to the beautiful sound of Swan Lake. Jimmy, take note! Swan Lake! The dancers flitted on and off the stage leaving the artists floundering on how best to represent what they had been visibly moved by. They needed to think about the choreography of the dance and portray it in such a way as to allow their audience to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. I was speaking to a learned artist friend about this last week and he said a painting should be a question, and not an answer, a journey and not a destination. Always leave something unsaid for people to interact with.

Showstopper work: Top left David : Top Right Jennifer : Middle Suman
Bottom left Jimmy : Bottom right Alan
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Suman got movement almost spot on with her flow of dancers in her painting, except for one tiny dancer at the front (as Lachlan pointed out). Her randomness in the direction of figures gave her painting a wildness and energetic vitality. Her differing size of brush strokes, colour and tonal values showed she had taken on board Pascal’s advice. My only question would be Swan Lake and ballet is anything but random, the dancers have to be disciplined to be in the right place at the right time and perform the right moves on cue! David’s piece hinted at that and its uniformity and ‘oneness’ depicted a set pattern with their touching tutus. I’m not sure whether that was intentional. On the down side he didn’t get anywhere near the same movement as Suman. The judges liked Jennifer’s work and I am pleased for her. She has knuckled down, taken advice and learnt new techniques and this piece showed how far she has come in these five weeks. For me she showed the nimbleness of ballet more than the others with her delicate use of colour. Poor Alan and Jimmy failed on many levels. No movement, poor composition and a lack of imagination for starters. Alan’s curtains got a slating while Jimmy’s dancers were badly observed. They’re both in danger of leaving. 

Human goes through to the final while Alan has to mosey home to Glasgow
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Not surprisingly Suman got the immunity card and must be considered favourite to take the crown next week. I hoped Jennifer would run her close though now that I have seen that the next task involves architectural observation I think that might be a step too far for her.  Health and safety will be a huge issue for her next week as Jennifer does not do straight lines! 

Alan stayed and Jimmy had to trek back to Glasgow and find out who Kim Kasdashian is. Hope he recovers soon...  

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