‘Portrait of Mother III’ 1985
Artist: David Hockney born 1937
Medium: Lithograph on paper
Dimensions: 512 x 435 mm
Collection: Tate Gallery
Presented by artist: 1993
David Hockney, a British artist known for his paintings and printmaking, is considered one of the more influential artist of the 20th century and the pop art movement of the 1960s. This earlier works were influences of expressionism, especially of Francis Bacon’s works. The more famous acrylic paintings of swimming pools came later when he moved to Los Angeles in 1964 where this style of work changed along with the new medium. What is interesting is that Hockney continues to explore portraits throughout his career, however, his portrait paintings re very different in style to many of his prints. While his paintings are incorporation of realistic color and pop colors, his prints consist of more expressive mark makings with no blocks of colors but more etching and contour lines.
The portrait depicted above is one of the many portraits of Laura Hockney, David Hockney’s mother. The portrait is printed using lithography, a method of printing using ball grained stone or a metal surface with oil and water. Lithography is drawn with oil onto an acid treated limestone plate where etching the surface of the limestone would attract the oil into the scratched surface of the stone which ultimately will absorb the oil based ink when applied for printing.
The ‘Portrait of Mother III’ is a limited color palette lithograph print on paper consisting of two colors: blue and red. The portrait has a simple central composition, and like his signature style, the work is dominated by his bold contour mark making with some light shadings. His lines are limited yet his strokes capture the flow and movement of the woman effectively; and like the curator of the Tate Gallery wrote, “the artist portrays her with great psychological insight (Tate. “‘Portrait of Mother III’, David Hockney, 1985.” Tate. Accessed February 20, 2018. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hockney-portrait-of-mother-iii-p20119.)”.
Like the project description, I decided to focus on the things that I find difficult and something that I love and gives me pleasure which I did not have enough time to do. As seen cohesively throughout my drawings and sometimes in other fields of work, I like making repetitive lines and patterns when drawing. At first, I did not know why I liked doing this, but now that I think about it, I feel like this may be because I like and believe in the idea of smaller things building up to form something far greater. This was interesting because the concept of small things building up to a larger form was something that I was very much interested and explored when I was in high school, and it was amusing for me to see how I am carrying on with building the same idea today.
The second idea I incorporated in this piece was portrait drawing. Ever since I was forced to do self portraits and portraits of other people in art classes, I disliked drawing portraits especially capturing people’s faces. I disliked the idea of capturing spending the time to examine my models’ faces and creating lines and shapes to fill in the details of their faces the way I see and interpret them. I did not like the fact that I had to determine how they looked to me, how I looked at them, felt about them, and ultimately tracing my views of my subjects on my work. I thought it would be an interesting blend of subject and idea to create a work that combined the style of art that I liked with the genre of art that I disliked. To show how I dislike drawing portraits, I covered the face I drew with the consecutive lines which made it seem like she was being engulfed by the repetitive lines. Due to time constraints and limitation in freedom and guidelines set for projects, I was unable to create work that included repetitive mark making, I was very exited when making this work and had a lot of fun working on it.
The book I chose to explore is a short story “The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas” by an American writer Ursula K. Le Guin. The story begins with an Utopian society celebrating their annual Summer Festival. Under this happiness however, is a child locked up in a cage and forced to live in filth. The child’s suffering is the result of the city’s lasting happiness and teach the people the cruel justice of Omelas as well as reminding the people how precious happiness is. People soon learn about the child’s existence and is taught about the meaning of suffering. Disgusted and shocked, people began walking away from Omelas and never return.
I chose this book because I liked the images that I could depict in my mind when reading this book. I also liked how the general rule of the society that there has to be a consequence to anything in life, is the foundation of the story. Like the book 1984, it is a book that is predicting the future of our society and I thought it would be nice to create a visual representation of the message Ursula K. Le Guin wanted to convey.
I used gold on black as the main color of this book because I wanted to show the contrast of the dark and the bright aspect of the city (our society). I also used hints of silver on the last image to express the idea of the “silver lining”, denoting the message that the future will be bright because of those who walked away from the wrong.
Like Life: Sculpture, Color and the Body exhibition in the Met Breuer Museum was the type of exhibition that I would never have visited if it weren’t for the drawing class. The type of work exhibited was very eerie and uncomfortable to see, especially because they were sculptures of people and mannequins constructed in an obscure way. I personally do not like art that contains people, like portraits of sculptures of people. Some may disagree with my preferences, however, I only like the idea of capturing the “fleeting moment” when it comes to nature, or sceneries that contain people like backgrounds, not as the main subject.
The drawings I decided to draw for this assignment were those that were less eerie and made me feel more neutral rather than uncomfortable. These sculptures include Edgar Degas’ The Little 14 year old Dancer, Bharti Kher’s Mother Plaster & Wood, a roman sculpture of a nude female with drapery, and a Spanish or Mexican sculpture the Child Jesus Triumphant.
At first, I drew these sculptures from pictures I took, as I was not familiar with drawing from life, and felt it was easier to draw from a flat 2D image than a real 3D shape. However, after inspecting the drawings with the real sculpture, I realized that the drawings looked flat. Therefore, I drew them again with the actual sculpture in front of me. Although the drawings felt less proportionally accurate, it felt more voluminous and exciting.
The flower drawing was from the Whitney Museum of an oil painting by Grant Wood. I specifically liked this piece because of the color palette he used as well as the style of painting which was significantly different from his later works that are more popular.
This charcoal drawing was interesting, as everything about this drawing was open to my own belief and interpretation of what would be the visual image beyond the photo placed at the center of the paper. As simple and plain as the drawing may be, the drawing was challenging in certain aspects, as the photo and the drawing had to work tonally and I found it difficult to decided on when to stop to prevent over working and losing the sense of reality.
It is inevitably true that this exercise allowed me to focus on capturing the tone and the style of the photograph to mimic the image and extend it beyond the frame as a visual fabrication.
Forging is a practice younger artists did in the past as a way of learning another artist’s techniques. I personally like forging, and the idea of trying out the style of another artist, as through this practice, you are able to absorb the style of another artist, and although not original, make it your own. I believe that it is important as art students to test out a large spectrum of styles and techniques of previous artists in order to find our own personal style and color. As if we are unaware of the various styles of the previous artists, and test out different styles, it will be hard for us to find our personal styles.
The first assignment was drawing my dream. Dream had been my inspiration for many of my previous works, and drawing my dream was not a hard thing. What I really liked about drawing my dream was that I could connect the dream to myself and my subconscious. It was also fun to see the virtual images I had drawn down on the paper, as it felt like a reinterpretation of my own idea.
Keeping a sketchbook has never been my cup of tea. So when I was first given an empty book which was to be filled out in two weeks, I was dumbfounded. The first week of filling the sketchbook was extremely hard for me, as not only was I not used to sketching, I never brought my sketchbook around with me. Therefore, lacked ideas and the creativity to fill out the empty pages. The second week was not much of an improvement either, as I still struggled to put something down on the book. The style of work I enjoyed producing weren’t delicate and meticulous enough to be wowed at, and not bold enough to be freely fill out the empty pages.
To me, the two week long project was a failure, however, I decided to write about this piece because I learnt so much from trying to fill these empty spaces. Also, this assignment made me understand what the professor had continuously told us during class: that “white paper isn’t nothing, and we had to use the paper accordingly”. I always knew what she meant, but never understood it and felt it. However, from filling these empty pages over days and nights, I now realize that a blank paper has more to it than being empty.