(2017) Final Major Project. Oil paint and varnish on wood. 5ftx5ft

Monday 22nd May 2017

The human figure and face was the starting point for my FMP. I have always been interested in figurative and portraiture work therefore wanted to expand my practice in this area. I originally set out to challenge the question, "What is beautiful?" My aim was to create a large painting focusing on portraiture and narrative, exploring hyper-beauty.

My large-scale painted piece reflects my original aim on which I have remained focused but the narrative and question I am proposing to my audience has altered slightly and in my view developed for the better. Through extensive research of the question "What is beautiful?" my mind was opened to many different leads, interprestations and opinions as to what was beautiful. Whilst I wanted the interpretation to be my own I also wanted to find a way to reach out to my audience and therefore came up with a further question which I wanted my piece to exhume, "Can beauty go too far?"

During this research, I looked at beauty standards throughout history and became fascinated with Renaissance paintings. I was particularly taken aback by Bronzino's 'An Allegory of Venus and Cupid'. This painting mainly gave me the inspiration for the idea of all the characters placed into one image. I was also attracted to the Cherub's in this painting and how they protect from evil and was inspired to include them in my piece; I love the concept that they protecting my focal point character from the implications of beauty going too far. Nightclubs and disco scenes also inspired me with their deep rich colours, bright lights and sparkle, which can be seen throughout my painting.

Changing this major aspect of my focus fitted in fabulously with my original aim of bringing in a 'kitsch' element full of glitz and glamour and fairy-tale like aspects. By vamping up the 'kitsch' element I presented the question, ' Has this overload of beauty gone too far?',inspiring the name of my piece, a pun on a well-known appearance conscious phrase, "Is this too much?" This also allowed me to delve into a more vibrant, bold way of approaching my work which is something I hadn't done to the degree before.

I very much stayed true to my original aim of wanting to experiement with different materials and textures. I predominately used oil paint in my piece but added liquin to the paint to allow it to dry faster, resulting in a more tetured feel. I also added glitter and nipple tassels to create a 3D element and emphasise 'kitsch'. Varnish completed my piece, illuminated the colours and created greater vibrancy.

I was very ambitious with my large scale, heavily detailed piece and as a result faced a time-management challenege. My longing for perfectionism however meant I put in long hours to resolve the issue, spending much more time in the studio working on my piece than on practicing and planning. This was a very positive experience as it meant I practiced using my initiative and trusting my 'artistic eye', deciding what worked and what didn't as I went along. By the end of my studio practice I felt much more flexible and self-trusting when it came to my art, I believe it allowed me to learn to work more freely.

I believe my piece has been a success and peer reactions suggest  have conveyed the message I wanted to. I am extremely proud of myself for achieving such a bold, large, detailed piece in a short period of time and believe this experience will teach me to have more faith in myself and practice working on large scale in future.

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