Danielle Orchard, Essential Pose, 2017, Graphite on Paper © Danielle Orchard, Courtesy of BEERS, London
Could you explain this work?
This piece is an oil on paper study for an invented portrait of a nonplussed woman. Most of the characters I paint are composited from various art historical and autobiographical sources, and they are ultimately stand-ins for myself. I think of this compositing technique as a way of investigating my personal identity through the women who have been so commonly portrayed, but so vehemently denied real agency throughout Western art history. Smaller studies allow me to work through colour ideas quickly before going into larger, more involved works on canvas.
What does this piece deal with?
I touched on content in my last answer, but to elaborate, I believe that looking for my body reflected in the bodies of women seen throughout the Western canon is an amazing tool for empathy. I've recently begun including domestic objects like plants, beer bottles, and cigarettes to situate these women in mildly fraught social situations. I think about Victorian parlor rooms and home kitchens, close domestic quarters where interactions between women have traditionally been steered or sequestered.
What medium and techniques did you use?
I start these drawings with graphite on gessoed paper, and then work with very thin, poured oil paint and oil stick. They're rarely planned, and they offer an opportunity to work quickly through intuitive colour ideas. They also help me to articulate previously vague ideas around colour and light.
What were the struggles of making it?
These preparatory works are by nature very fluid, and very low pressure. That lack of expectation is what makes them read as fresh and unencumbered.
What is the purpose behind this work?
To make a lasting and beautiful record of fleeting, improvised ideas.