Allison Katz

Allison Katz was born in 1980 and is a Canadian Artist, currently living and working in London. Katz has been described as lacking in a particular style of painting or using on-going themes, it is quite the opposite of this actually that gives Katz her own characteristic style. Katz paints a whole range of different subject matter avoiding any narrative or continuity yet it is in this jumbled assortment that Katz finds her coherence. Some images do appear more often in Katz work and one of which is her use of silhouettes. Looking at Katz’ work more closely I landed on the below image to delve into a little deeper.

Cabbage (and Philip) No.1, 2012, oil on canvas, 43 x 35 cm

The above image on the surface is a close up of quite a vibrant looking cabbage, yet when we look closer and as the title dictates we notice Philip in the corner, wearing his spectacles and gazing seemingly at this big beautiful cabbage. Katz painted a series of paintings including the cabbage as the centre piece and the silhouette off to one side. I was encouraged to look at Katz’ work following my submission of Collection Painting in which I chose to paint a selection of fruit and vegetables, in quite a traditional sense. Katz has painted the cabbage realistically and traditionally yet Katz also introduces us to Philip, an unknown person seemingly gazing at the cabbage.

I decided to use this artist research as an opportunity to try and get to grips with oil painting and decided to work in layers building up the oils gradually. I began with quite a thinned oil to map out the shapes and contours, and then building up with more colour as I continued.

Comparing my painting to the works of Katz I can see where actually I haven’t built up enough oil paint through the use of layers or perhaps by over-thinning my oils with turpentine. The background looks rather streaky and grainy whereas Katz’ warm toned background is rather opaque, allowing the portrait of ‘Philip’ to stand out quite nicely against the cabbage. I have also not depicted the cabbage in Kat’s painting as accurately as I could have, as the base is rather skinny in my painting as opposed to Katz’ quite stocky bottom. I wonder if instead of looking at the original work I was actually painting from memories of seen cabbages and painted this instead. There is also a vibrancy to Katz’ painting which mine is lacking. I think this is due to the colour palette I had chosen as well as the use of turpentine which has been used to clean brushes previously, there is a murkiness to the painting caused by this.

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