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Charles Blackman Art Analysis

C H A R L E S B L A C K M A N

Blackman’s Schoolgirl in the Lane painting displays an ominous scene of a young schoolgirl wandering alone through a bleak ally way at night. The girl appears carefree as she is skipping along, portraying just how ignorant and vulnerable the innocent child is to this dark, threatening atmosphere. Dreary colours such as greys, browns and dull blues, contrasted with black build up the sinister mood of the piece. The girl is contrasted with a reddish-brown colour that does not appear anywhere else but on her that draws more attention to her without completely changing the tone of the image. Smooth, short yet bold brushstrokes flow in a style that harnesses the dark vibe that Blackman was trying to come across. The fact that Blackman displays the schoolgirl alone and does not show her face illustrates that the girl is aloof in her own world almost unaware of how dangerous the reality is.

The hiding school girl is an image of a girl who is sitting crouched by herself, once again, in a dark setting, isolating herself from everything else. There is a sense of solitude and loneliness drawn from this painting as the adolescent escapes curled up, secluded from world. The way her face is left unexposed by her hat and the dark shadow beneath it, adds mystery, as we do not know who she is or what she is thinking, with no idea of her expression, we are subjected to conclude that she does not want to be revealed but wants to hide and dwell in her own thoughts. With her head down she seems as though she is sad and doesn’t want to be bothered or approached. Like Blackman’s Schoolgirl in the lane painting, the scene is dark and cold, only this image has greater sinister feeling to it. The bolder feeling of threat is painted with bolder colours and brushstrokes, giving the piece greater sensation, and emotion. The creepy sentiment of the overall image is made up from Blackman’s reddish tones, accompanied by the dark background and the girl’s shadow. The tone is then balanced out with the use of green shading on the figure’s hat and her blue dress.

Dreaming in the street comes across, once again, with a dark, gloomy feeling to it. Although Blackman has created simple figures, he has managed to portray a great amount of emotion through them, underneath the shadows. The people seem to stroll along in the night, and as the name suggests, they are dreaming in the street. Even though each one is surrounded by others, it’s as if they are actually all alone. One of the things all these people have in common is that they are all blind to reality, each one is in their own world, and is only open to their own subconsciousness. The person on the right appears to be reaching out for something, perhaps a friend or something that they have lost. Others are holding onto things such as the lady and her flowers, this may symbolised a lost love or someone close who has past away. The figure on the left has half of her face revealed which exposes the sadness that could credibly dwell in this beings subconscious. The emphases of the brushstrokes are very painterly and quite bold which defines the characters giving the scene a two toned effect and making them simplistic but effective in bringing out the mysterious quality. The colours throughout this painting is mainly neutral greys and shadowing blacks that sculptures the figures with the use of eye-catching, contrasting crimson that is positioned across the canvas, mainly in three areas, on the left figure, the right figure and in the flowers of the centre figure. Moreover what is interesting with the colour that is used it spreads beyond the restrictions of the forms such as in the left hand corner the red is going across the figure on an angle, where as the rest of her is dark and shadowed.

Like Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, The mad Hatters Tea Party, is very inventive. The image contains Alice and the rabbit at the mad hatters tea party, sitting around a table muddled with bright tea cups and saucers. Blackman manages to make things disappear into the dark background just like in the story. The rabbits face is also not visible, what is interesting is that Blackman has put a piece of himself into this scene by using his own hand and cup right in front of the rabbits face. The composition is well balanced because the foreground of Alice, the rabbit and the colourful clutter of cups, focuses the eye whilst the background makes the foreground standout more. The brushstrokes used are loose and spontaneous creating 1956

The anteroom is a work combining different mediums including oil paints, pencil and canvas collage. This work is very different with other heavily sculptured figurative paintings as it is very light and linear. The painting shows a lightly sketched figure of a lady in white next to a table, centred with a abstract pot of flowers produced from brusque squiggles. One flower however is still showing so it looks like he scrubbed it out. The book on the table is half collage and half canvas also the chair back was collaged with strips of canvas. while the windows in the background were sketched with pencil. The only darkness in the painting is the woman’s hair concealing her eyes, and her pose is referenced form the renaissance art. The feel to the painting is quite peaceful and calm.

Red Lady (The Sleeping Girl) is a very dramatic image filled with emotion and expression. The title of the painting describes the lady as just a sleeping girl, but there appears to be more to it. The image looks as if it contains a depressed lady who is weeping alone, surrounded by nothingness. Thick strokes of crimson highlight the woman, giving shape to the basic figure, and also gives direction to the light, which shines on her right side only, allowing shadows to saturate her left. Notice she is facing away from the light, and hiding her face. It seems as though the lady doesn’t want to be seen in the sorrowful state she is in she just wants to stay in the dark to lament. Shadows are particularly dark under eyes, and are contrasted with a gleaming blue colour that appears to be tears, the same contrasting colour of her hair. The background is created from deep, dark yellows to reds painted to form a thick rough texture. This technique really accentuates the figure as the woman is painted with a smoother, flatter and even texture.




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