Chiaroscuro to the max!

Chiaroscuro to the max!

Chiaroscuro literally means “light” and “dark” in Italian.

Painters such as Caravaggio in the Baroque era were amazed by the dynamic and dramatic quality that combining such intense light effects gave.

By placing the stage light 45 degrees away from my model’s head, I was able to produce a unique outline of her face.


Why is Art Important?

In this TEDed video, educator Amy E Herman explains the importance of visual communication.

I would like to posit another importance of art: empathy.

Up until WW1, a lot of art was about expressing a society’s ideals.  It can be very interesting and worthwhile to access what individuals in our society most desire. This knowledge can lead us to a better understanding of how of environment ticks, and how we can improve it.

What do you think? Why is art important to you?

Please let me know in the comments below!


How Colouring-In can give you a New Perspective on History

This photo taken in Louisville, Kentucky in 1937 is arguably one of the most potent of all historical photographs. Yet with new technologies that can colour this photograph, we ironically give it a fresh interpretation  by transporting ourselves back to the day it was taken.

It becomes increasingly clear why it was taken too, for not only does the billboard’s message juxtapose these peoples’ position, but the bold colours also appear to condescend them.


The addition of colour reminds us of the potential over-exaggeration and bias of propaganda; the technicoloured saturation of the poster is a colour scheme impossible to achieve by the everyday. The citizens, queuing for supplies following the Great Ohio River Flood, appear to be the unfortunate reality to this superficial ideal.  All of this, whilst made timeless, is lost in the greyscale print.

History is made almost tangible through ‘colouring in’, reminding us not only of key events in our time but also the advances of our technology which enable us to find parallels between the situation which inspired the photographer to shoot this photograph and the society which now admire it. Still, the notion of ideals is questioned and we sometimes become so fixed on them that we become indifferent to reality. A satirical shot like this can help to change this.

For more images like this, visit:

Sylvia Sleigh and the Rokesby Venus: Challenging the notion of the ‘Idealised Female’

On Tuesday 10th March 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson attacked Velasquez’s The Rokeby Venus, slashing at the canvas seven times.



When asked about her motives she argued that this idealised female insulted her, being admired by men who were blissfully indifferent to women’s suffering in the patriarchal 20th century. Richardson clearly saw art as mirroring a society’s desires, and this idealisation in particular moved her enough to pursue her own form of iconoclasm. Is Sylvia Sleigh’s Philip Golub Reclining taking Richardson’s argument and using it to attack Verlasquez and the male perception of femininity?


The central figure appears to directly parody Velasquez’ original, however there are some notable differences:

Painting style –  Sleigh uses harsher brushstrokes than her predecessor, perhaps to target the ideal female figure. But can this new style, used to portray a male figure rather than a female’s, could also be seen to critique the general perception of men as rough, edgy and hard?

Concept of distance – An interesting concept of distance exists within the painting. The proximity between the central subject and the surveying figure, which here is Sleigh’s self portrait, is more distanced  than The Rokeby Venus and cupid. The mirror, fixed to a wall, provides a more relaxed tone than the cupid who, by holding the mirror to Venus, encourages self indulgence. This is heavily reminiscent of John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, by exploring the hypocrisy of a painter who lustfully portrays the female form but conceals it by painting a mirror in the female’s hand to emphasise her vanity. Perhaps Sleigh, by including herself in the painting, is admitting to lust and vanity whilst remaining at a safe distance away from the central subject. The viewer senses this admiration from afar and is compelled to emulate it. Whereas The Rokeby Venus is heavily intimate, Sleigh is able to present a nude in an openly critical way. By presenting herself as clothed in the presence of a nude male, she is able to question social attitudes to dominance.

Gender ambiguity – The male central figure, who without being named in the painting’s title, would remain sexually ambivalent. On the surface, he appears to be an ambiguous personality; his pose is similar to the Venus, but his muscle structure suggests there is more to this ‘female’ than meets the eye. As we are facing the back of the figure, his long hair at first deceives the viewer into assuming a female. Unlike many contemporary artists, who see little importance in a title, Sleigh uses her title to give the male an identity. She calls the audience on many levels, to go deeper than what is on the surface.

Unfortunately for Richardson, her active protest only diminished men’s respect for women, causing a protest for women to respect art in galleries. By presenting the controversy in a new way, through something as familiar to the art world as a nude, Sleigh asks us to question the concept of idealisation. 

For more:

Get Sticking!

Get Sticking!

As part of my on going art project based on our nature of ‘reading’ images, I made this collage (of my brother, again) entirely from newspapers/ other ephemera in his room. (I asked first!)

We are using these clues of him to shape a whole new idea of his psyche, which is what I tried to portray here. Hope you like it!

Pssst! If you look really closely, you’ll find that the right hand side of his nose is made from Vietnam (that was from an old atlas image in the metro)