Colour Pop: Dale Vulpes Vulpes moves from monochrome
21 June 2018
First let us examine why my work was almost exclusively in monochrome to begin with. There’s a great beauty in black and white. Its simplicity, just one mark on another, can refine the eye to specific details that may be overlooked in a busier palette. It also caters for all people with vision, those who are colour blind do not lose any meaning that’s often intended through the use of colour. Monochrome also pays homage to the early medical drawings that were often in black and white, again, in an attempt to highlight scientific accuracy over superfluous features and had an eerie semi-surrealist feel to them as certain appendages or layers were cut away to aid understanding. But also, paradoxically monochrome highlights the large ‘grey’ areas of medicine, science, and art that do not hold a clearly defined black and white answer. It’s largely in this grey area that we find ourselves as humans, contemplating ethics and existence and the complexities of feelings.
On personal reflection I also choose to work predominantly with black biro to recognise my artist origins, acknowledging how far I’ve developed in my technical abilities and personal style. For as a child with little resource, my medium of choice was a biro. There’s usually one around, it draws on most things, and you can get a surprising amount of depth and detail out of one simple instrument. Now more mature with sufficient disposable income, I have the opportunity to branch out into more expensive and time-consuming mediums, however I feel very strongly that I want to demonstrate the great beauty that can be achieved by simple means, love, and determination. I also want to echo my earlier artistic material restrictions as these continue to affect me even to this day. As a young person in a five-bedroom shared house, I have very little room to create and store my artwork – allowing for many creative measures when creating larger pieces or finding spots for works to dry. I want my artwork not only to contemplate scientific and human themes, but also be a reflection of myself.
Recently, I’ve been dabbling in the world of colour. For the moment, exclusively experimenting with ink and pencil, in keeping with my earlier thoughts. In deliberate consideration I am only exploring within the boundaries of three specific colours, red, blue, and green. These are the primary colours of visible light (1) (in the science world, in the art world the primary colours are considered red, blue and yellow). This is to hone my understanding and use of each colour one at a time (baby steps everyone), and to give myself some structure to this new phase, using each colour as stimuli for works specifically constructed to elaborate on that particular colour theme. Pictured below is the very first work produced for my red phase. It was late at night, maybe 11pm, and the thought to examine colour seeped into my head as I was examining some recent purchases of vintage medical textbooks. One had beautiful illustrations of the different stages of bilirubin altering the colour of bruises, another had spectacular histopathological images of fluorescently tagged cells. The latter has been done to bits by hosts of artists, but nonetheless I felt the twinge of inspiration to further my artistic examination, propelling it to reflect the techniques of modern day science. Colour is undoubtedly useful and beautiful in its own right. It’s also fitting, as mentioned in my earlier posts, to include colour in my work as I draw a great deal of inspiration from the natural world, which of course is bursting with colours! Indeed, humans who distinctly unique in their ability to champion science, medicine, and art, are also fundamentally part of the natural world too. The piece featured above, ‘Blood clot with fibrin’, was the first small study I produced in the middle of that late night once the idea took hold in my mind, and instantly I knew I’d stumbled into my next phase of development.
The concept of colour movements is well known within many artists’ career progression. Perhaps the best-known example being Picasso’s ‘blue period’ (2) and ‘rose period’ (3), each epoch showing distinct growth and expression in his content and style of works. I’m not expecting revelations within my artwork on a Picasso scale, but I’m certainly excited to be sharing these new experiments with you as I move forwards!