Parallel project – magical realism, first sketches

3rd June 2021. After considering a number of other possibilities, including ‘modernising’ some of the classics as I have with Degas’ Petit Rat and Woman Sitting on a Balcony, and Matisse’s painting of his wife Amelie (the green stripe painting), I think magical realism is where I can put my best foot forward for this module. It will give me the opportunity to vary media, supports, and styles in service of the content, although I’m also keen to continue developing my own voice which I think is beginning to emerge.

I have many prompts, pieces of text that I can use as inspiration, or incorporate into the image, or rewrite to probe or interrogate it.

I began today with a sketch in watercolour pencils to provide a rough foundation for a painting in which the ordinariness of life is subject to an extraordinary upheaval as gravity reverses. The story explores what would happen to everyday items, then buildings, and finally people. What has happened here is that I noticed the direction of travel (down the page) of the runs of pigment and immediately turned the support upside down so that these ran into the sky. Somehow in the leaks and mergings more trees have emerged, but not in the land, in the sky. The white shape is a fridge. This feels like a good start.

This sketch in charcoal refers to text that describes an alternative way in which reality is constructed, the original idea coming from a surrealist (possibly) notion that, whenever we find ourselves mystified by something we believe we didn’t see right there in that place yesterday, or that seems to be missing, it’s nothing to do with faulty memory or a hangover, it’s because the scenery shifters forgot to put it back or put it in the wrong place. I need an architectural image for this, I think, to show a subtle ghost of a solid thing that should be present in its entirety.

This image, in soft pastels and watercolour pencil, describes an ocean that delivers whatever a population needs, including white goods and babies. I’ve perverted in in this sketch by having it deliver weapons, largely because these are so much less likely to appear on a tide. And yes, I realise how daft that sounds. Fridge freezers are not exactly normal flotsam. I’ll need a lot of reference photos for this, if I stick with the idea.

The text I have available is quite extensive, so there is more imagery to be had even in the broad themes. Drilling down to particular sentences, or rewritten sentences, may produce quite different ideas.

The last sketch for today is from a story about a train journey involving time shifts, small boxes, and a code. I’m not that keen on the image, but that’s telling in itself; and there are some ideas there about moving paint, and the use of text – numbers in this case, some of which I wrote with my non-dominant hand to give them a naivety. It’s not very magical although the story is.

This could be redundant with the advent of the ‘we are the people’ idea. Still, backup thoughts.

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