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“The images I use are based on the fashion world’s portrayal of perfection - flawless images of women, completely unrealistic and synthetic, yet ultimately desirable.”

The Techniques

"The foundation of my work originates from the relationship between art and music."

From experimenting with colour Normansell began to create the illusion of movement, stimulating the eye into seeing things which may or may not be there - utilising our inclination to see patterns in randomness like looking for shapes in clouds. The more one studies the image the more one finds.

"My abstract paintings are based on colour studies exploring how it can stimulate feelings, emotions within a person, the different meanings each colour has, and its power to evoke a certain response from the viewer."

First producing abstract works from patterns of dots and cirlces, the natural progression of his style led him to incorporate images within them. As he experimented more with imagery, Paul moved from creating subtle shapes and hidden images within patterns to full portraits made up of fragments of colour, similar to in execution to large scale pointillist paintings.

In order to implement greater detail and tonal variation into his work, Paul's workload took a dramatic hit. The time required to execute a full painting increased from days to weeks, to the point where hundreds of hours were needed to paint a full image made up of individual dots.

"To paint each dot individually takes as long as it takes - they're all different in size, shape and colour, and all applied freehand using a fine brush. There's no shortcut for that unfortunately."

GLOSS

"I wanted to paint famous iconic figures known for their beauty. To achieve a more synthetic, polished feel to the media-friendly portraits, I moved away from the natural organic look of acrylic and canvas, to high gloss enamel paint on sheet aluminium. It gave me the flawless reflective quality the portraits needed, as if they were literally in a glossy magazine."

It was this move that brought the arresting visual impact that Paul's work now has.

The combination of paint and background heightened the dynamic visual aspect of his work through the optical effect and overwhelming impact. As one looks at an image directly, depending on how the light falls, the variety and definition of colour and tone is lost and the portrait almost becomes a silhouette. It is only when viewed off-centre that the image comes alive and the portrait appears.

GRAVITY

The great drawback with the technique, one which is a constant detriment to Paul's health, lies with simple physics - the paintings have to be produced horizontally. In order for the paint to stay still long enough to dry where it should, Paul's aluminium 'canvas' cannot be positioned upright on a traditional easel, as gravity causes the paint to sag and run.

"I have tried several devices over the years to allow me to paint horizontally - from laying on a plank supported on 2 chairs, to a hammock suspended above the floor. None of them have been perfect, and none have permanently removed my need for weekly sessions at the osteopath. My back is messed up, it hurts pretty much all of the time - I suppose it's 'suffering for my art' in true form."

FASHION

Normansell's imagery evolved from dot portraits into a new style as he became interested in a broader scope of fashion images. He began to focus on certain areas of the figure, and by exploring the optical aspect of the portrait, the focus was once again on colour.

"The images I use are based on the fashion world's portrayal of perfection - flawless images of women, completely unrealistic and synthetic, yet ultimately desirable."

With a distinct 'pop art' influence, Normansell's figurative style combines intense saturated colour and flat, graphic execution. By removing almost all suggestion of shade and tone, the images become less connected with the real world, and allude to the 'unrealistic' nature of fashion media imagery.

"Aiming for this look allows me to create an unusual parallel, and because of the plastic-like finish of gloss and the meticulous execution, the paintings are almost doll-like in appearance. Just as the media manufacture their airbrushed images, all flaws are discarded, the skin and hair are impossibly perfect."