Portrait Approaches

Draft being updated

Research point: Select several types of portraits from different periods if you can and begin to make notes and collect pictures for your learning log. For each portrait you select, Try and understand it from several points of view.

  • point of view of the person in the portrait – did they ask for it to be painted? How have they been represented? What does the portrait tell us about the character of the sitter?
  • point of view of the artist – why has the artist chosen to portray the sitter in a particular manner? Has the artist used any tricks to represent the sitter? Is the artist referring to another style or artist in the painting and why?
  • point of view of the audience for the portrait – is it a private, personal
    painting to be seen by a few close friends and family members? How can you tell? What is the audience meant to see or read in the portrait? Who has made the decision to present the figure in this way and why?
  • composition:  full portraits, three-quarter views or just head and shoulders? Does composition make a difference to your understanding of the painting? Is the subject looking at the viewer or in profile? This might be particularly
    important in a self-portrait.

 

Portraits

Sometimes the character of the sitter is conveyed through distorting reality.

At other times the person is depicted with objects from their life which tells us something about their status, interests or aspirations.

Maggi Hambling’s portrait of Dorothy Mary Hodgkin (1985, National Portrait Gallery) uses the sitter’s active mind and busy scientific career as an opportunity to explore our emotions by giving the Doctor many hands, all working away in front of us.

Self portraits

Present an unreal image of the painter to the world as they represent a reverse mirror image (until the use of photographs made a correct-way-round
portrayal possible). However, working in a printed form the artist’s self-portrait will be reversed again and appear as normal, not in reverse as in a mirror.

Can an artist represent themselves in profile?

 

History

Prehistoric?

Ancient world

In Egypt portraits of rulers and gods were highly stylised, and most in profile, usually on stone, metal, clay, plaster, or crystal. Egyptian portraiture placed relatively little emphasis on likeness, at least until the period of Akhenaten in the 14th century BC.portrait bust of Queen Nefertiti sculpted in c.1360 bc

Roman-Egyptian funeral portrait of a woman
Portrait painting of notables in China probably goes back to over 1000 BC, though none survive from that age. Existing Chinese portraits go back to about 1000 AD

Ancient Greek and Roman portraiture was often highly accurate and subjects were depicted with relatively little flattery.  Sculpted heads of rulers and famous personalities like Socrates show why he had a reputation for being ugly.

Middle Ages

Most early medieval portraits were donor portraits, initially mostly of popes in Roman mosaics, and illuminated manuscripts, an example being a self-portrait by the writer, mystic, scientist, illuminator, and musician Hildegard of Bingen (1152).

Renaissance

Many innovations in the various forms of portraiture evolved. Use of finer brush strokes in oils.
Northern European: Durer, Jan van Eyck, Holbein

 

During the Renaissance, the Florentine and Milanese nobility, in particular, wanted more realistic representations of themselves. The challenge of creating convincing full and three-quarter views stimulated experimentation and innovation. Sandro Botticelli, Piero della Francesca, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi, and Leonardo da Vinci and other artists expanded their technique accordingly, adding portraiture to traditional religious and classical subjects. Leonardo and Pisanello were among the first Italian artists to add allegorical symbols to their secular portraits

 Baroque and Rococo
Caravaggio

19th century

Ingres
Watteau
Impressionists
Degas
Van Gogh 

20th century

Schiele
Warhol
Lucien Freud
Chuck Close

Andy WarholMarilyn Diptych, 1962, 2,054 cm × 1,448 cm., (809 in × 570 in), Tate Gallery, London. Andy Warhol (1928-1987), made several portraits of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrities during the 1960s and throughout his career

Contemporary

Jenny Saville

 

David Hockney

Tracey Emin

 

Jenny Saville

Maggi Hambling

Hiroshige and Hokusai: Japanese woodblock prints

The woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Hokusai were the source for my work in Project 2.1: Formal Abstracts: Japanese landscape.

Ukiyo-e

In-depth video on history and development of techniques of Japanese woodcut from monochrome through painted monochrome prints to multiblock printing. It looks at its influence on Western artists like Van Gogh and Monet following the exhibition of Japanese art for the first time at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. It also looks at the modern day revival of ukiyo-e prints as paintings on shops in Tokyo regeneration.

Japanese woodblock prints with Paul Binnie

Lecture on background and underlying ideas in Japanese printing techniques.

Japanese woodblock printing History Ukiyo-e Jose Ortega

History of Japanese printing and way it spread and related to earlier Chinese and Buddhist prints.

Technique (from Wikipedia)

The technique for printing texts and images was generally similar. The obvious differences were the volume produced when working with texts (many pages for a single work), and the complexity of multiple colours in some images. Images in books were almost always in monochrome (black ink only), and for a time art prints were likewise monochrome or done in only two or three colours.

The text or image was first drawn onto washi (Japanese paper), then glued face-down onto a plank of wood, usually cherry. Wood was then cut away, based on the drawing outlines. A small wooden hard object called a baren was used to press or burnish the paper against the inked woodblock to apply the ink to the paper. Although this may have been done purely by hand at first, complex wooden mechanisms were soon invented and adopted to help hold the woodblock perfectly still and apply proper pressure in the printing process. This was especially helpful with the introduction of multiple colours that had to be applied with precision over previous ink layers.

While, again, text was nearly always monochrome, as were images in books, the growth of the popularity of ukiyo-e brought with it demand for ever increasing numbers of colors and complexity of techniques. The stages of this development follow:

  • Sumizuri-e (墨摺り絵?, “ink printed pictures”)—monochrome printing using only black ink
  • Benizuri-e (紅摺り絵?, “crimson printed pictures”)—red ink details or highlights added by hand after the printing process;green was sometimes used as well
  • Tan-e (丹絵?)—orange highlights using a red pigment called tan
  • Aizuri-e (藍摺り絵?, “indigo printed pictures”), Murasaki-e (紫絵?, “purple pictures”), and other styles in which a single color was used in addition to, or instead of, black ink
  • Urushi-e (漆絵?)—a method that thickened the ink with glue, emboldening the image. Printers often used gold, mica, and other substances to enhance the image further. Urushi-e can also refer to paintings using lacquer instead of paint. Lacquer was rarely, if ever, used on prints.
  • Nishiki-e (錦絵?, “brocade pictures”)—a method of using multiple blocks for separate portions of the image, using a number of colors to achieve complex and detailed images. A separate block was carved to apply only the part of the image designated for a single color. Registration marks called kentō (見当) were used to ensure correspondence between the application of each block.

Contemporary Japanese woodblock

Katsutoshi Yuasa

Keizaburo Matsuzaki

Helen Frankenthaler experiments

Abstract from Frankenthaler

Studies for Project 2.2 Random Abstract Prints

Issues for printmaking technique:

  • Use water-based Schminke inks because they can be very dilute and mix beautifully on the paper.
  • Do a painting on the plate using different thicknesses of pigment and leave to dry fully.
  • Then selectively spray with water, and use gravity to move the pigment around, to produce the final painting.
  • Hand print on damp paper.
  • Many print variations can be made on the same inking plate through adding pigment and respraying.

About Helen Frankenthaler

Website of Helen Frankenthaler Foundation

Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011) was eminent among the second generation of postwar American abstract painters and is widely credited for playing a pivotal role in the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Color Field painting.

Through her invention of the soak-stain technique, she expanded the possibilities of abstract painting, while at times referencing figuration and landscape in unique ways. Her 1952 Mountains and Sea, was a seminal, breakthrough painting of American abstraction. Pioneering the “stain” painting technique, she poured thinned paint directly onto raw, unprimed canvas laid on the studio floor, working from all sides to create floating fields of translucent color. Mountains and Sea was immediately influential for the artists who formed the Color Field school of painting, notable among them Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland.

Helen Frankenthaler painting: HFF website

Some of the most impactful for the mixing of pigments on the surface are her watercolours.

Helen Frankenthaler watercolours: Google images

In addition to unique paintings on canvas and paper, she worked in a wide range of media, including ceramics, sculpture, tapestry, and especially printmaking. As a significant voice in the mid-century “print renaissance” among American abstract painters, she is particularly renowned for her woodcuts.

Helen Frankenthaler print: HFF website

Stain painting techniques

John Virtue

Paintings on Google

WeAreOCA profile of John Virtue

John Virtue is an English artist who specialises in monochrome landscapes. He is honorary Professor of Fine Art at the University of Plymouth, and from 2003–2005 was the sixth Associate Artist at London’s National Gallery.[1]

Virtue was born in Accrington, Lancashire in 1947.[2] He trained at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1965 to 1969. In 1971 he moved to Green Haworth, near Oswaldtwistle, painting landscapes for two years before abandoning painting in favour of pen and ink drawings comprising dense networks of lines akin to the work of Samuel Palmer.[3]

From 1978 he worked as a postman, giving this up in 1985 to work as a full-time artist. He lived in Devon from 1988–2004.[4]

Maintaining a studio in Exeter, he produced works around the Exe estuary, before being offered the post of Associate Artist at the National Gallery.[5] This scheme engages contemporary artists to produce work that “connects to the National Gallery Collection” and demonstrates “the continuing inspiration of the Old Master tradition”.[1]

Work[edit]

Virtue uses only black and white on his work as he sees colour as “unnecessary distraction”.[6] He uses shellac black ink and white paint.

He is well known for his “London Paintings” which were displayed in The National Gallery and focused on the London skyline, using easily distinguishable landmarks from the capital such as the Gherkin, the NatWest Tower and St. Paul’s Cathedral, to familiarise his audience with the otherwise hazy, smoggy and ambiguous drawings.

Virtue’s awards include: first prize in the Sunday Mirror painting competition (1964), Walter Neurath prize for painting awarded by Thames & Hudson Publishers (1966), Arts Council Major Award (1981), Joint First prize-winner in the 4th Tolly Cobbold Exhibition (1983), and Best Visual Artist in the South Bank Awards (2006).[7]

His work during his National Gallery tenure was exhibited in 2005 at the National Gallery and Courtauld Institute, and his final, large-scale, London works were exhibited at the University of Plymouth in 2007.[4]He moved to Italy to work and returned in 2009 to live in North Norfolk.[8] where he has continued to produce work, for example, ‘The Sea’ exhibitions[

Ross Loveday

website: http://www.rossloveday.com/prints.html

‘The fine line which separates figuration and abstraction interests me; time, place , weather and light alongside gesture, glimpse and memory.

The subjects are only the starting points- sometimes small insignificant details or texture triggers a complete piece.’

Drpoint and Carborundum
Lifelines. Monoprint and Drypoint
North Bank Monoprint and drypoint

Working process

He uses drypoint with monoprint and/or carborundum on a metal plate.

 

Iona Howard

http://www.ionahoward.com/

She has a studio in Cottenham in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

My prints explore the notion of time and landscape through a contemplative exploration of surface. The sources of my prints can come from working in the open air or expressing landscape filtered through memory…I am captivated by the ancient semi-natural landscapes typical of my native west Cornwall where a blurred line exists between nature and human activity. Recent works of the Fens focus on the meeting point of land, horizon and sky, their flatness altering the perception of distance. ‘

From interview with Iona in Cambridge 4th Feb 2017:

Her landscapes have a strong geometric structure of contrasting colours and textures. She mainly uses a combination of carborundum, drypoint and monoprint techniques. A mix of a binder (polyurethane varnish) and carborundum grit is applied onto the surface of a plate and sealed with the same varnish. The binder has to withstand a lot of working but should not be so thick as to hide the grit texture of the carborundum. To contrast the carborundum, drypoint is added to produce an incised line. The plate is then inked up using etching ink and copperplate oil with a brush or roller.

Originally she worked in black and white. Now she also works in colour from memory and notes. Colour is built up by layering carborundum plates or more often overlaid though monoprint. Dry ink can be added as a third pass. Ink can be laid on thickly for more embossing. She can use the same base plate but with different seasons. Editions of 40. Or 10-15. She gets commissions where people ask for specific colours.

The technique allows working directly in the landscape to paint on the carborundum and the drypoint plates, and large images can be produced. She prints  on thick Somerset paper, printing to the edge of the paper to “leave the composition as unconstrained as the landscapes from which I seek inspiration”. She mounts with  nonreflective glass.

 

Websites

Links to websites of specific printmakers are given in the relevant post

PRINTMAKER UK
VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM PRINTS
 ROYAL SOCIETY OF PAINTER-PRINTMAKERS
BRIDGEMAN EDUCATION ART LIBRARY
OXFORD ART ONLINE
ARTCYCLOPEDIA
PRINTMAKERS COUNCIL
CELLOPRESS
WORLD-WIDE PRINTMAKERS SOCIAL NETWORK HTTP://PRINTUNIVERSE.NING.COM/
WORLD-WIDE EXHIBITION LISTINGS

 Etsy etc

Exhibitions and galleries

Tate Modern: Ibrahim El Salahi

Tate Modern: Marlene Dumas

Tate Modern: Matisse cut-outs

National Gallery: Impressionism

National Gallery: Peder Balke

National Gallery: Maggie Hambling

Royal Academy: Anselme Kiefer

Snape Gallery, Suffolk

British Museum: Picasso

British Museum: Baselitz

British Museum: African Art

Victoria and Albert Museum

Estorick Gallery: De Chirico

Estorick Gallery: Futurist, Mussolini

Tate Britain

Tate St Ives: