I recently started a series of paintings that originated from a video I found from the 60’s. I usually work from the live model but Covid has unfortunately put an end to that for now.
I have never really liked working from photographs, if they were not taken by me then I feel a disconnect from the process, and I find photographs generally too posed and stiff. So I started looking to video and drawing from moving figures instead.
I stumbled across a video posted a couple of years ago from someone who had found the 8mm film at a thrift store and was interested in finding out more about it but no one had come forward in the years since.
It was clearly from many decades ago but the part that interested me was the beginning 10 minutes or so which were of some sort of company awards/dance evening in a small hall (the film had no sound).
I was interested in the compositions and contrasts that came from the clothing (men wore suits and ties, women wore mostly light colours or patterns) and the fact that someone had set the camera up and just let it roll with people moving and dancing across the field of vision rather than a camera being moved around by the operator.
It was also a sharp contrast of course from our current socially distanced lives where people were dancing, drinking and laughing together, even smoking indoors. I also think the scarcity of the footage makes it more compelling than the over saturation we have of images today.
Everything about it felt familiar to me somehow, probably because this was my parents generation and I had memories myself of house parties where my parents’ friends dressed like this and danced in the living room. In fact further videos I found from the era showed that living room parties where everyone got dressed up were quite common. And I think I found them much more interesting than typical wedding videos of people dancing.
A side note; one of the commenters on the original 8mm video posted on youtube said that they were sure the film showed that it was from Devon England, which is where my father was from. Small world.
For now the series is on hold while I pack up and move my studio to a new location, but I hope to continue with these compositions, abstracting them further and painting them larger.