In 2013 I have been invited to exhibit for 6 weeks at the Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Petersfield. I will be showing a range of work which will include some portraits executed in a variety of media – oil, watercolour and collage – one of which is shown here.
Portrait of a Woman was inspired by Rembrandt’s beautiful painting of an old woman and traditional theories on composition. This image is created using fabric collage (silk fabric, silk strands, embroidery, chiffon) combined with graphite and watercolour.
Using fabric with watercolour presents a variety of problems which need to be overcome in order to create a harmonious whole. Next year I will be offering a workshop dedicated to creating a similar image using fabric, graphite and watercolour. If you are interested in attending drop me an email for further details.
When I began the drawing I wasn’t expecting to include collage. For me, the use of various collage materials is always dependent on whether or not the addition can be justified. It shouldn’t compromise the integrity of the work. In other words it needs to contribute in a specific field, either colour, texture or the narrative concept. Concept is perhaps the most usual reason for me to include other materials into an image.
When I saw the original image I was struck by Rembrandt’s use of a vibrant red fabric and shimmering light which envelopes the old woman’s face. I began to associate this light and colour with the richness of life’s experience and this led to considering the portrait as representative of the ‘Crone’ aspect of woman.
Fabrics, stitches, cotton and embroidery are all traditionally associated with women and their role within the family. Stitches are often symbolic of the way in which women were the links which held a family together. They were also associated with confining women within the home. In many cultures it was common for women to gather together to sew in circles exchanging news, recipes, information etc.
The underlying structure of the composition was utilised to reinforce the developing theme of representing the life of an old woman from the point of conception. This structure is based on sacred geometry and in the past was used by the Master painters as a guide to an harmonious composition.
Of course, no amount of ‘concept’ should replace or substitute for the finished work functioning as a completed image in its own right without the need for explanation and this must always guide the composition and use of material/ground.
Crone - fabric/watercolour/graphite on paper – image size 12 x 8in approx unframed
If you are interested in purchasing this original work of art please contact me via email and I will be happy to send you a price. In this particular instance, the painting is only available ready framed because of it’s three dimensional quality which requires a specific style of mounting and the risk of the fabrics being soiled if not kept behind glass.