Mimei Thompson was born 1972, in Japan to a Chilean mother and American father, Thompson later moved to the Sudan, and now lives and works in London. Thompson’s subject matter ranges from the everyday objects of vegetables, plants, animals and landscapes, however through her style of painting Thompson recreates these ordinary objects into a dream like state, using thin translucent layers of paint over a white ground. The images take on an almost hallucinatory experience coming alive in this world between realities.
The first image I chose was the very simple, yet I find to be both strikingly pretty and strong, ‘Asparagus (vertical)’. The asparagus feels as though it could leap off the canvas and start walking away. The choice of background colour – pale violet, which is also woven into the details of the asparagus and the final piece of Asparagus to the right, bring the whole image together.
I attempted to recreate the painting but instead of using oil and some type of thinner like turpentine to create more of.a translucent material I decided to stick with using gouache on paper. I had only recently started working with gouache and I wondered if I could use colour and tone to still achieve a similar image. As you can see though, my recreation is incredibly flat, which in itself makes me appreciate the translucency and work that Thompson has mastered to create these dreamy compositions.
Another painting of choice entitled ‘A Blooming’, which to me appears to be a joyous pile of petals and flowers. There’s such vibrancy and life within the bloom, with striking reds, purples, yellow and green, sitting atop a semi-partial flat forest green, the petals again feel as though they are really sitting atop the canvas.
Again as you can appreciate the gouache material as I used in the response to ‘Asparagus’ does not have the ability to create the same kind of depth that can be gained form using oil in combination with a thinner on a white ground. I’m not very pleased with the outcomes of my responses but as a learning tool it has provided me with an appreciation of the limits and merits of different painting materials and I’m eager to try to incorporate oil paints into my subsequent works.
Following on from the above exercise I experimented with oil paints whilst looking at a later modules studying with The Open College of Arts on ‘Depicting your Environment’. I decided to revisit Mimei Thompson and look at her paintings on plants and weeds.
Instead of working from a photo or real life I tried to take inspiration from Thompson’s work alone and focused on recreating a lucid dream-like painting, using thick oils and turpentine to thin the paint. I painted the grey ground quite thickly and understood as I painted over with greens and reds I would push the oil underneath which would give this brighter space through the middle of the brush and then a thicker build up of paint on the edges. It was really fun to play around and it felt like quite a decisive and strong way to paint with swooping and committed movements.
Looking at both images I think it would have been good to add in a little more detail to my own painting by using a different sized paint brush. Perhaps because I didn’t paint from real life, and used an imagine image I think my painting also looks more alien-like than plant like, but I think it does achieve similar eerie qualities.