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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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
The woodblock prints of Hiroshige and Hokusai were the source for my work in Project 2.1: Formal Abstracts: Japanese landscape.
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:
Studies for Project 2.2 Random Abstract Prints
Issues for printmaking technique:
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.
Some of the most impactful for the mixing of pigments on the surface are her watercolours.
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.
Stain painting techniques
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.
Virtue was born in Accrington, Lancashire in 1947. 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.
Maintaining a studio in Exeter, he produced works around the Exe estuary, before being offered the post of Associate Artist at the National Gallery. 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”.
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).
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.He moved to Italy to work and returned in 2009 to live in North Norfolk. where he has continued to produce work, for example, ‘The Sea’ exhibitions[
‘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.’
He uses drypoint with monoprint and/or carborundum on a metal plate.
Links to websites of specific printmakers are given in the relevant post
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 St Ives: