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Chiaroscuro

Chiaroscuro is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for the use of contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modelling three-dimensional objects and figures.Wikipedia

I thought I’d begin this post with a quote from Wikipedia. My recent Tweedle paintings have taken a darker turn, and I thought I might elaborate on them today. IMG_0238   A few years ago I came up with the Tweedles without really knowing what to do with them. They were a creation without a purpose. I have given them rules, emotions, a mind, a soul…  each of them even has its own backstory, and the story of Tweedles as a species (which I am still writing. Maybe I should try making a graphic novel rather than writing a book…) exists entirely in my head at the moment, awaiting it’s manifestation onto canvas, text, video and music. But even so, I still had no idea where I was going with my Tweedles… They were my creations, but they had no purpose. No reason to exist in my artwork. And then I realised that they were my creations. They were what humans are to a god. They were artificial life of a sort, and I began to explore that.


In my fictional world, Tweedles are created with artifical brains, mixing organic matter with analog and digital technology in nano scale. Because of the way they are made, they think, but differently to us. They feel, but do not understand how to express their emotions (especially with a stitched on mouth that holds their head cloth in place). They can sense the world around them, but cannot truly touch it. Tweedles don’t instinctively have free-will, and need to learn how to be free. Their existence is a confusing one once they can actually develop enough to stop and think about it. Their creators are not omnipresent. They are not omnibenevolent. They create Tweedles for reasons more linked to power and greed, and they create the Tweedles for reasons that are not entirely good but in fact selfish in some ways. Tweedles are made to be servants and slaves. The eventual development of true emotion and free will is just a side-effect of their construction.


I thought about how that would relate to what it’s like to be human. To live and die without knowing why. What your purpose is, if you have one. A lot of people live lives dedicated to a god or supreme being, but without ever questioning whether their creator is really omnibenevolent at all. The amount of suffering in this world seems unjust. Perhaps there is an evil, possibly sadistic being that enjoys messing around with humanity for entertainment? I was thinking about these deep philosophical and theological concepts and questions, and then suddenly the Tweedles had purpose after all. They were a vehicle for this philosophical exploration into life, death, morality, the creators and the created… through painting my recent Tweedle pictures, I am confronting some of my strongest fears in regards my spirituality, humanity and existence. IMG_0236 I wouldn’t really call myself a spiritual person, but if there is a god, how do I know they are good? If he told me that he was, could I really trust them? IMG_0239 And in regards free will, I assume that it exists because I think I can make decisions. But do I really have free will? When we look closely, living cells are made up of lots of dead matter and elements that are having a chemical reaction with each other to make the next part have a reaction and so on. Theoretically our entire bodies are a prolonged chemical reaction, so does that mean that we are even alive, or is humanity (and by extension all life) a strange and complicated quirk of chemistry that never was ‘alive’ in the way we believe we are?

Tweedles are made up of a few bio-engineered and grown brain cells linked into mechanisms and machines which allow them to move their bodies, repair it, respond to stimuli and even potentially build more Tweedles… but by our current definitions of life they are not alive because they are not composed entirely of cells.  Are they alive or not?

Is this Tweedle really dead or can it be repaired and brought back? Was it ever actually alive, and were we as humans ever truly alive?

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By using heavy, dark backgrounds in the paintings (a greenish-black colour) I could help express the gravity of these questions and the weight the answers would have on us if we ever knew them. I wanted to highlight the Tweedles in bright colour to emphasize that they are surrounded by darkness. The specific Tweedle that is the subject through my recent series of paintings walks its entire life treading through the unknown. And then, without realizing how or why, it dies.

No-one will ever truly know exactly what when on in our mind; we can only guess. Sometimes you may meet someone so like minded that you think you know what they’re thinking, and they can seem to read your mind, but in the end we can only hazard estimates and guesses as to the thoughts of other human beings. Eventually all our thoughts, our personalities, our very selves will disappear, as they are only made up of memories, and will eventually fade into darkness…

…and whether there is a light after that darkness will forever be completely unknown to us until we actually experience it.

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.” – Orson Welles

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Mini-Exhibition for End of Year Assessment

For my end of first year assessment, I set up my provided space as if it was an abandoned museum. It is very similar to what I did at CSN in some ways, but this time I had more space and could decorate the space with a layer of dirt and dust to give it that abandoned feeling. I also had a velvet and mahogany display case, again dusty, that really helped bring out the museum feel, and I typed and printed little information plaques to go with each piece. Like a lot of my work, the museum is set in the world in which the Tweedles live, and the plaques reflect this. I hope you enjoy browsing through my photos and thanks for reading!

Better photos of the Tweedle Paintings

I took some clearer more accurate photos of the Tweedle Paintings in good sunlight. Please click below for the full image. 🙂

Lightening

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Why is it that we find the dangerous interesting? Action movies, murder mysteries, killer robots, wars, dragons… and it’s not just in fiction. There are people who chase after tornadoes in plated cars. We can be mesmerized by the flickering flames of a fire. We as humans are drawn to the dangerous. The unknown. The fantastical.

Tweedles are equally curious in nature as humans are. The one in the picture above is learning about electricity, carrying it through its metal wires and redirecting it. Should we fear the unknown or should we try to understand it?

The Tweedle doesn’t even know where the electricity is coming from. It could be an angry god’s failed attempt at smiting it down with lightening? Yet it seems unafraid, even happy. Perhaps we as humans could learn a valuable lesson from this Tweedle…

A Tweedle’s Eternal Silence

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What happens when a Tweedle dies?

It can think and feel. Due to variations in grown brain cells, Tweedles even appear to have their own personalities, so does it have a soul?

What Tweedles do have is a partially organic brain. Their ‘brains’ consist of artificially grown living brain cells. These brain cells are shut inside a protective casing that keeps them in a sterile, stasis-like environment so they don’t decay naturally. These cells are linked up to a microscale CPU, both of which are kept functional by a battery that utilizes nuclear fusion on a very small scale. All of these combine to form the mind of a Tweedle.

Surely everything that makes up a Tweedle’s sense of self is part of its mind. So if it had a soul, maybe such a thing would exist in its mind?

Do we even have souls, or are we just a product of our own minds?

Assuming only living creatures have souls, could a Tweedle ever be alive in the first place?

In the fictional world they inhabit, Tweedles are considered as an artificial life form. They can move, respond to stimuli and repair parts of themselves. Although Tweedles don’t have the knowledge, they theoretically could build new Tweedles. They have quite a few of the scientific characteristics of being alive, but do they count as living things?

And are we ourselves actually alive, or just biological machines like the Tweedles?

Tweedle and Chain

Tweedle and Chain

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of pictures of Tweedles interacting with chains. Chains in my artwork are symbolic of the master/servant relationship Tweedles have with their creators.

Because Tweedles can act fairly autonomously, they are often seen hanging from the chain or holding onto it, but never actually bound to it. They could easily let go of the chains, but are afraid to do so because they are built with an emotional attachment to their master; an unintentional but useful glitch in their creation.

When a Tweedle fails as a servant and is unable to return to them, it loses this emotional attachment and essentially becomes free. Without a true sense of what it means to be free, most Tweedles that have reached this freedom don’t know how to cope. Some wander aimlessly, some try to find a new master, and some simply stop working.

In this painting it is not entirely clear whether or not the Tweedle is hanging from the chain or standing on the ground holding onto it. For me this represents the lack of control the creators actually have on their creations. This could be further interpreted as the lack of control a higher being or God might actually have on humanity.

As I have quite a few canvas boards at the moment, I’ll be making a series of these paintings, using the Tweedles to explore themes such as free will, servitude, identity, and the problems of mind, body, soul and death.

Forlorn Dreams of Immortality

This is a piece on the self preservation instinct and its eventual futility due to the inescapable nature of death.

A bird reaches towards a key to unlock a padlock on its leg. As the bird flies towards the key, the chain is pulled and the key moves further away.

There is a bit of slack in the part of the chain resting on the floor, giving hope that the key might be reachable after all.

Unfortunately, even if the bird could ever reach the key, it is stuck in a room with neither doors nor windows. Other than the chain, the lock and the key, the room is empty.

No matter what the creature attempts to achieve, it would eventually die of starvation or thirst.

The true message of the piece is intentionally unclear and left open to your interpretation. I’d love to hear what you think of it and thank you for reading!

Pocket-sized Paintings

You might have seen photocopies of these paintings from my last post, stuck into my sketchbook. In these paintings, I’ve tried to further develop my painting skills on a small scale. The canvases used for these paintings are approximately 10 x 10 cm, with a depth of 2.5 cm. Below is my very first self portrait using acrylics, loosely inspired by Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray’. Following that painting is a small scene that takes inspiration from a German legend about a man called Faust who sold his soul.

I may be good at landscapes and abstract paintings on such a size, but I haven’t had much practice with portraiture and figurative drawing until now. I’d love to know what you think of my recent paintings. Any comments or advice would be greatly appreciated, and thanks for reading!

The 100th Post

I’ve just finished moving into Cork now and have now got wifi access so I can finally post this post!

I thought that, since I’m beginning a new art course, I’d look at the evolution of my artwork on this blog from the beginning of its creation up until now.

 


 

My very first post was about a stencil I made of the local church, which I sponged watercolour paints onto. The finishing touches were painted by hand without the stencil.

I continued to use watercolours, using scraps of card to make bookmarks that I used to practice and improve my skills…

 


 

Below are a few of these bookmarks I created with watercolours:


 

When I was more confident in my skills, I started painting with acrylics on small canvas:

 


 

During the Leaving Cert. Exam years, when I had a break from studying I started to doodle. These doodles quickly turned into drawings, and they resulted in a series of A4 pencil drawings.


From one of those pencil drawings came the idea for a mechanical creature that has stuck with me up to the present day – Tweedles. I focuses mainly on them and, virtually obsessed with them, made a lot of artwork that featured Tweedles.

They were the main subject for my PLC course artwork as I converted them from pencil to print, from print to painting and even began to make physical life-sized Tweedle sculptures:

 


 

Although I do intend to keep making Tweedle-orientated artwork, I think during my 4 year Fine Art course at Crawford I will experiment with new ideas and techniques, moving away from Tweedles a bit to explore new themes.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s viewed, commented, followed or liked anything on this blog as we celebrate 100 posts.

Keeping this blog has allowed me to keep track of my artwork and its progress, and all the support I’ve had from you guys has been very beneficial in my creative process, and has helped me understand my own artwork from new perspectives.

Thank you very much for reading!

PLC Portfolio Paintings

For the next few posts, I’ll will be showing you some of my portfolio work from my PLC course. I thought I’d start with my paintings. The first two are currently on display at the ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ exhibition at Colaiste Stiofan Naofa (Tramore Road, Cork City, Co. Cork) and the other two were my other finished paintings that I made during the year.

I think I must be obsessed with my Tweedles now as they seem to be a common theme in my PLC artwork! They’ve become a lot more defined and real since the one I first dream up in my drawing over a year ago.

Please click on the images below to get a better view and I hope you like them!

 

Hidden in Plain Sight – Exhibition

0IMG_6395I’ve finally finished hanging my artwork and fixing my sculptures down for the Hidden in Plain Sight exhibition.

The exhibition starts at 6:30pm, Thursday, May 22nd, and it runs until September 30th, 2014. It’s located at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa, Tramore Road, Cork City, Co. Cork.

Feel free to take a look if you’re in the area. I’ve taken a few photos of my displayed works, so here’s a sneak preview of what I’ll be showing:

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My photography skills are better than they used to be, but aren’t that good yet! After the exhibition I’ll probably post better photographs of the works, but for now, these will give you an idea of what’s on display.

I hope you enjoy my artwork and I would love to hear your feedback!

Blended Picture

With only a few weeks to go until my portfolio interview, I don’t and won’t have much time to post. Since I can’t post pictures of my actual portfolio work until the interview is done, I’ve decided to create a experimental, 15 minute piece of art for today.

Below is a digitally made composite of two of my previous pictures, created on a photoshop program. Enjoy!

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* * * * * * * UPDATE * * * * * * *

To keep focused on mounting and working on my portfolio, I am not going to post on my blog for the next few weeks.  I might stop by on other blogs when I have the time, but I will resume posting sometime around the 13th of April.

I apologize in advanced for any inconvenience caused by my absence on this blog. I simply feel that I must prioritize other things over my blog-keeping.

Thank you for understanding.

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