Jude Hotchkiss (SOLD)

Con Abstract, 2021

66 × 60 cm
This painting was done wet in wet, on a scrap of polyester canvas that already had a failed portrait image. A palette of acrylic washes was prepared, and the brush went from one to the other so that the colours were mixed on the brush. One brush was used, attached to a long stick to give less control and more wobble in the lines and shapes. It was also painted upside down to disturb the clichés of face painting and bring a more random and irregular look.
While it is called a portrait it was in no way meant to be recognizable as anyone in particular, as I wanted to play with the properties of the face by extending and abstracting the features. It is meant to be a new person or humanoid even, an aberration of the human face which brings its own unique qualities, as faces are very interesting to us humans.
In painting over an existing image I was interested in how the paint would lie on this new medium of polyester, so was planning to throw the image away as it was just an experiment. The idea was to be fast, loose and totally uninhibited, so the red colour on the forehead for example was a mistake, it was meant to be pale pink, but strangely it seemed to fit well once done.
The face is derived from a digital sketch completed on a tablet last year. It has taken time to develop the painting techniques that suit replicating digital brush marks and colours, especially on a larger scale on canvas. This is the first successful paint sketch portrait completed, an image based on face studies of my partner Con, and one of a series of portraits done over the last two years, them being either representational or failed paintings.
I am interested in the extent to which the human face can be played with and distorted to express feeling and emotion. I need the image to have a human presence, but want to exaggerate that and am curious about what this results in and what the viewer can see and relate to but also bring to the image. While I have always done portraits of family over the years, they have been fairly rare, although always well received. Lockdown last year gave me the opportunity and impetus to try digital painting, and the series of family face studies that resulted were spontaneous and exciting. They showed a lot of potential for use as studies for larger paintings on canvas, but to my surprise this was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Mostly my work has been abstract over the last few years, which has given my mark making a freedom and spontaneity that is used to energise images. Cloudscapes and the threat of extreme weather on our environment and has been the inspiration for several years, and then recently landscapes and plenair tree studies have extended my interest in the fragility and resilience of our native forests. This has resulted in expanding the range of textures and lines in my work. So it is only now that I have felt able to use the digital sketches and a combination of weaker acrylic washes of paint, plus smooth polyester canvas has been the right medium for this.
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