'Shoal' by Alison Watt

For my A levels i am using this as one of my artist studies that guide to me create my final piece. My school makes us write essays on each of the artist, heres mine.

It will help any of you using the artist to understand what the work is about and the ideas and effects of composition, colour and materials.

Comment back on the it! Thank you :)

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Alison Watt painted `Shoal' in 2011 and was presented in an exhibition alongside additional
new paintings of hers. The exhibition `Hiding in full view' was presented alongside a new
collection of poems by Don Paterson, both looking to the work of the American
photographer Francesca Woodman for their inspiration. During Alison Watts early years she
was interested in figurative art, therefore most of her initial work is concerned with
portraiture, with self-portraiture playing a large part. Gradually she become more fascinated
in conveying the quality of cloth and said that she was very much inspired by Ingres and
his painting of cloth and particularly his handling of folds as can be seen in his painting of
Madame Riviere. Over time she moved from figuration or final abstraction.
The painting has a structure but is created by the material as it drifts off the canvas.
Alison Watt painting has a very large scale, she fascinates in flesh as fabric and fabric as
flesh which is why she feels it has a life of its own. The result of out of frame allows the
abstract forms to eruption out from the canvas causing them to have a greater depth and
interest. The curved lines permit us to see the folds in the fabric as if we are physically
present observing the material painted as we can understand what Alison watt see's.
Alison uses a restricted natural palette with vast tonal differences to convey light and
shadows. The opaqueness of the material causes the white or cream fabric to become
entirely black in parts. The influence of light changes the appearance of the colour of an
object as without light everything would be black and it is the different strengths and
colours of light that decide the colour.
Oil paint was used to create `Shoal', I think it was used thin and evenly throughout. There
are no visible marks however Alison Watt has expressed herself in her own way, painting
the texture, light and movement of the material.
Edgar Degas's `After the bath' is a heavily worked pastel piece exploits the flexibility of
the pastel medium, creating luxurious textures and blurred forms which emphasise the
movement of the figure. Degas used a method called `shuttering'; this is shown where
the close parallel lines made by his pastels seem to be passing through the semi-transparent
body. Through shuttering Degas put an enormous amount of colour through these lines, it
also permits us to see where the light hits the figure and material. The folds in the towel
and curtain all flow towards the bottom of the painting, this allows the figure to stand out
as the figure is made from curved lines coming across diagonally across the centre of the
Both artists Degas and Watt use the impact of light to adjust the different strengths and
colours of light in their work. However Degas uses a more energetic approach called
shuttering which allows us to see where the light hits specific areas more dramatically than
others; whereas Watt uses a smooth, gradual and less dramatic approach to emphasis


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