Artist’s work inspires

April 26, 2018

Goulburn Valley Grammar student Lucy Asquith's artwork.

Lucy Asquith


By Lucy Asquith

One of my earliest memories is passionately colouring the Mr Men characters that my nanna helped me to draw.

While I have moved beyond colouring cartoon characters, my love of art has not faded. It is this fascination that has encouraged me to pursue VCE studio art.

This semester in studio art unit one, I was faced with the challenge of producing a ‘‘portrait-remix’’. The topic was broad and designed to encourage creativity.

In my eyes, a ‘‘portrait-remix’’ involved capturing a person in a unique or unconventional way. Our class was instructed to use any medium from photography to mixed media to pencil, and to research other artists for inspiration.

I found myself deeply enthralled by works of other artists, but it was the work of Chuck Close that resonated with me.

Charles Thomas ‘Chuck’ Close is an American artist renowned for his reinvention of the portrait. In his early career, in the 1960s, he was known for his large-scale photo-realism.

Suffering from prosopagnosia, commonly referred to as face blindness or the inability to recognise faces, Close painted portraits to improve his ability to recognise and remember faces.

He has previously attributed his ‘‘urgency’’ to paint portraits to his disability.

In 1988, Close experienced the sudden rupture of a spinal artery and was left almost entirely paralysed.

After rounds of physical therapy, Close continued to paint with a brush taped to his wrist. Out of this horrific accident, however, emerged his most distinguished style.

Through perseverance, he paints large portraits with grid squares, which is a technique that allows him, with his limited movement, to continue to create. By building up layers of colours in each individual section, the artwork becomes whole when viewed from a distance.

After reading about Close’s extraordinary life story and feeling completely inspired, I created a portrait of a young Chuck Close adopting his modern technique. Using acrylic paint, and a 30in x 40in (76cm x 101cm) canvas, I produced an artwork with similar technique, but in a looser style.

After spending many hours completing this, I now have even more respect for the talent and determination of Chuck Close, who works on a much larger scale despite his limited movement. A very gifted man indeed.

Lucy Asquith is in Year 11 at Goulburn Valley Grammar School.

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