Thursday, 30 May 2013

A look back at my Dressing Up series of portraits

Dressing Up series 2010


This series of portraits explores the ephemeral state of facade and emotional projection within a defined context - that of playing at "dressing up".
Make-believe and playing at dressing up are childhood mainstays. When isolated and examined they act as a means to highlight how we form identity and recognition status within a social group and at the same time they are unstable and transient.

My subjects / sitters are drawn from a wide pool of celebrities, art historical sources and family members. 
This work was an attempt at bring together ideas raised by the cardboard construction series - that of delineated dress as form of identity, facade and projection of grandeur onto otherwise humble and meaningless material, with a forever shifting status and value.

While making this series, how the viewer evaluates these portraits was key - and like the ever shifting  status of the cardboard constructions, these portraits value rose and fell - and I think they continue to fluctuate and shift.
"Jen", 2010 Graphite on paper

"Hugh", 2010 Charcoal on paper.

"Michael", 2010 Charcoal on paper

"Seymour (After Holbein)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas

"Wellington (After Goya)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas

"Girl with the Oven Glove Hat (After Holbein)", 2010 Oil Paint on Canvas - DESTROYED

"The Girl with the Oven Glove Hat (after Holbein)" painting was not an attempt to subvert Holbein's use of portrait. If it is a subversion of anything, then it's a subversion of my own contemporary sensibilities as an artist.

Through the portrait, it was my goal to explore the aspiration aspect, the facade of grandeur - but look closer and my version falls apart, its mawkish and contrived - the make-believe is shown for what it really is, when acted out by an adult... a delusion.

Shortly after painting it, I destroyed it - I saw the frailty of the painting as a weakness. I now wish I had not destroyed it - looking back on it, the power lies in the frailty of the painting - "the trying" and "the reaching" without success, opens out the portrait to reveal a truth infrequently seen in portraiture.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Day Four: Go! Rhino, Done!

Final finishing touches and varnish. Tomorrow, one very colourful rhino will be delivered to Southampton Central Library / Southampton City Art Gallery.

I hope the young artists who created the designs are happy with my interpretation.

Taking advantage of the bank holiday sun. Drying in the garden 1

Drying in the garden 2

The Secret Garden complete with varnish.

Water Lillies complete with varnish.
I am looking forward to seeing lots of rhinos popping up all over Southampton this summer. Go! Rhinos.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Go! Rhinos: Day three

The rhino is starting to take shape .

Water Lillies 1 - unfinished

Water Lillies 2 - unfinished
The Secret Garden - underpainting

Monday, 20 May 2013

Go! Rhinos: day two

Sunday was a sunny day, and while I imagine, the world and his wife were out enjoying the sunshine. I stayed in to tackle the rhino.

It still was a very pleasant day for me. I kept the patio doors open, the cool breeze helped speed up the drying time.

I have finished the underpainting and have just started to put in detail.

Underpainting started

Underpainting - three coats later... it actually had a final fourth coat just to make it look smooth and glossy.

Towards the end of the day I started to map out some of the detail on the waterlillies side.

Magenta for the waterlillies.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Go! Rhinos

In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Marwell Wildlife is bringing Go! Rhinos, a world class mass public art event, to the streets and parks of Southampton.

For 10 weeks throughout this summer (13th July – 22nd September), rhino sculptures will inhabit the streets of Southampton, showcasing the wealth of artistic talent in the area, while highlighting the significant conservation threat facing wild rhinos and how the Southampton business community can make a difference.

For more infomation and pictures visit the website Here

I have been given the task of translating the brilliant artwork of two talented young artists - Sarah-Jay Williams (aged 14) and Carys Newman (aged 8), both from Southampton. The girls' colourful designs jointly won the Go! Rhinos competition to design a rhino for the Southampton Art Gallery and Southampton Central Library.

Carys Newman's colourful design, inspired by the children's literary classic 'The Secret Garden'.
Sara-Jay Williams' bold design inspired by Monet's waterlillies.

I took delivery of the rhino today, it only just fitted into the back of my car.

Only just got the rhino in the back of my car

Before painting
Over the next few days , I will put up pictures of the progression of the rhino painting. Watch this space!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lonely Hearts Clubhouse

The Lonely Hearts Clubhouse (c) Alastair Eales

The Lonely Hearts Clubhouse detail 1

The Lonely Hearts Clubhouse detail 2

The Lonely Hearts Clubhouse detail 3

The Lonely Hearts Clubhouse detail 4

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Ink and watercolour: details of Eales House (revisited)

Photos taken with my iPhone - they are not very good quality, so some detail is lost. This is an A1 sized drawing on white cartridge paper, using Pilot Drawing pens (01, 02 and 05) and watercolour.
Ink and watercolour detail #1

Ink and watercolour detail #2
Ink and watercolour detail #3
Ink and watercolour detail #4
Ink and watercolour detail #5

Ink and watercolour detail #6
Eales House