Engaging with Charley Harper research
Recently I have been directed back to the work of Charley Harper. It is fitting really that this connection has resurfaced as my work also references natural subjects in quite a graphical, stylized method. I try to concentrate on breaking down the subject into key shapes and not focus too much on the fussy details, as long as you can tell that my prawn for example is indeed a prawn, then for me (and Charley too it seems) no further information is necessary. My technique then is a matter of distilling the subject and simplifying it to its most recognizable form. Unlike Harper though who then goes on to contextualize his simple subjects in complex surroundings, I try to keep the context simple too. Currently, I am experimenting with my marks to see which media will best fit with my simple collages. I think that fine line pencil drawings are aesthetically pleasing against the collages as they do not introduce too much detail as to take the eye away from the main subject yet they still give some structure and hint at a
context for the subject. Next on my list of experiments will be ink marks made with natural tools such as twigs or leaves. I’m not sure yet whether these will be intricate enough an outcome as the black marks could look dominant and aggressive with the dense colour against such timid magazine cuttings.
Looking at Harper’s backgrounds, he also utilises intricate line. Where he uses a colourful background however, I tend to keep mine white as I work with white space well and will probably keep this feature in my final major project work. This lack of colour again emphasises the main subject which is a colour collage and subdues the structure. Harper uses symmetry in the majority of his works too and I have noticed that in my own work the stronger of my subjects hold symmetrical qualities. Keeping everything symmetrical however can become a little bit predictable and so introducing some asymmetry keeps things varied and aesthetically pleasing when turning the pages too.
Engaging with Lucienne Day
Although Lucienne Day is a textile designer there is much knowledge and insight to be gained from her work. Again I have been directed to Lucienne by my tutor who suggested that her work would aid my research, looking at her use of organic shapes and bright patterns she certainly appeals to my tastes. Again, similar to Harper, she uses fine intricate lines to suggest her natural subjects, lines which I am aiming to produce for my structures to hold my collaged subjects. Indeed, at the moment my lines probably aren’t as articulated as they could be, but experimentation is the only resolve to this problem, which I will be pursuing over the Easter break. It is good to have some bench mark to aim for by referencing artists such as Harper and Day.
Colour wise, Day tends to stick with more natural hues to imitate the subjects she is representing, by running these parallels everything is interconnected and visually the audience understands this. Again, my backgrounds will be stark white which contrasts with Day’s natural colours of green and brown, however I don’t want any additional unnecessary distractions which could potentially diminish the main subject. As I am not a textile designer myself, and with my knowledge of Day’s area being limiting I don’t really have much more to add to her technique other than it clearly works as her prints are still widely recognised in a contemporary arena.