The painter Jeff McMilan has developed an interesting painting practice that brings together the traditions of figurative paintings with that 20th century art behemoth, the monochrome. As part of this practice McMillan dips found paintings of primarily portraits into vats of oil paint to create hybrid paintings, where a vast array of colours are shunted straight up against snouts of horses or foreheads and ears of different classes of people. The Fake issue of the excellent art journal Garageland features an example of his work. Here a girl with a yellow bow in her hair has been severed just below the eyes by a drooping, swath-like mass of pure blue oil paint. Within the journal the artist talks about different aspects of his work with fellow artist Alli Sharma. Near the end of interview he turns to saying how some of the paintings he uses are reproductions of more famous paintings, that have in the end been painted by others in order to learn their craft. “Yes, there was a time when students would go and sit in a museum with an easel and copy the paintings, you still see it in European museums sometimes. I have two paintings on board of the same Frans Hals cavalier, one is dated 1965 and is twice the size of the other…”
With this McMillan brings up an important point in relation to UnMasterclass. Like the Hals copies McMillan discusses, UnMasterclass reproduces the 52 paintings we have committed to painting this year at a completely different size to the original in the museums. In contrast to the ones discussed in the interview this is not due to practical reasons attached to painting directly within the gallery. Instead the size we have chosen is more representative of the scaled down size of the reproductions that we paint from. This is a size more familiar to jpegs on the laptop screen, the postcards of the museum gift shop or those found in the hardback artist monograph. We believe this is the size that most students of painting now encounter the paintings that influence and inspire them. This is an image far away from the intricacies of the brushstroke and range of canvas sizes ones sees in the original paintings up close and personal.
To see this weeks UnMasterclass at a suitably removed internet distance please follow this link http://vimeo.com/29444231