This commentary for Project 5 was written in January this year for my final meeting with the OCA tutor. I had completed eight of the paintings but still had three to finish, and therefore, as far as OCA was concerned, I had effectively completed the course.
1.00 Introduction: The concept for this project arose while listening to a performance of “The Planets” by Gustav Holst. I knew immediately that this was the ideal vehicle for me to combine my interest in Space and Music with personifications of each planet in my own manner of semi-abstract painting.
2.00 Research : Holst scored seven movements to his Suite in 1914 expressing his own musical vision of all the known planets at that time. To increase the list to make a fuller project I added Pluto (which was discovered in 1930), The Sun, The Moon, and, of course, The Earth. First I researched both the astronomical facts regarding each planet - particularly their real colour and how many moons they had, and also their mythology as believed by the Greeks and the Romans.
I then made study of artists already known to me whose semi-abstract and figurative work I like, namely: William Scott, Roger Hilton, Keith Vaughan, and Nicholas de Staël.
3.00 Life Drawing: Recognising that figure drawing was fundamental to a painting project built on knowledge of the figure I resumed Life Drawing practice and was able to incorporate elements of those studies in my paintings.
4.00 Sketch and Painting Studies: If there’s one thing this Course has taught me it is that a process of exploration and discovery has to be followed especially where the subject is largely unknown. That was the way of it in previous projects and that was what was required in this one. So, allowing myself time to carry out what often appeared fruitless and frustrating explorations of form and technique through many and varied studies in sketchbooks, sketchpads, and paintings, often discounting unsatisfactory attempts, until the actual solution presented itself.
5.00 Final Paintings: The first two paintings, completed in mixed media/acrylics, were ‘Neptune’ and ‘Mercury’. However, having worked around, and around the subject of ‘Mars’ for many weeks without a satisfactory conclusion the breakthrough I was searching for presented itself eventually when I abandoned trying to paint in acrylics and returned to oils. Each of the following final paintings flowed naturally and easily from each other starting with my personification of ‘Venus‘, ‘The Moon’ (Artemis), ‘Saturn’, ‘Jupiter’, ‘The Sun’ (Apollo), and ‘The Earth’ (Gaia).
6.00 Still to Do: I have conceptual designs for both ‘Uranus’ and ‘Pluto’ which require to be completed, and, of course, I still have to return to ’Mars’ to complete this painting satisfactorily.
7.00 Programme: A total loss of focus and interest at the very beginning of this Project 5 due to family bereavement resulted in my falling behind by at least two months. With three paintings still to be completed, and also given that most are in oils which are still not yet dry, I will not be able to submit for this January’s Assessment hand-in. It is my intention now to delay this application until June 2010.