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Charles Blalckman Analysis - Alice in a boat

by MichaelaBobbin


Charles Blackman’s 1956 piece ‘Alice in a boat’ made with oil, tempera and enamel paint on wood show cases what at first appears to be a calm and relaxing piece. A woman with yellow hair and a tired expression laying in a crisp white boat that looks like a table cloth, surrounded by the soft rich blue of the ocean. The woman’s eyes are empty and her face a deathly pale her features drawn, also in the boat is a luminescent white rabbit with transparent shading, its back to viewers. Next to the woman Is a cup perched on an angle at the edge of the boat, an old brown bottle that looks to be holding a potion, a colourful vase of flowers that that has been painted in vigorous brush strokes that jump out the vase at every angle in resemblance to fireworks and a shaded black kettle that is self-poring. Blackman uses horizontal brush strokes that matches the grainy surface of the wood, his brushstrokes are fast and efficient causing a stormy background that blends into the clam deep waters giving the effect that somethings coming while the waters appears still and unmoving – the calm before the storm – only reflecting the woman and the paper thing boat that has no engine in a blur that once turned upside down gives the illusion that the woman is pregnant, her swollen belly protruding from the boat while laying down.

This piece is from series of Alice in wonderland paintings Blackman created dedicated to his wife who was visually impaired, Blackman had the talking book of Alice in wonderland he obtained from the library for the blind on record that his wife loved to listen too, in not seeing any illustrations he found inspiration in his own imagination. Blackman represents Alice as his blind wife Barbra with a blank expression that matched her deaerating blindness, the brown bottle is interpreted as the potion that shrank Alice to help her down the rabbit hole with the rabbit, teapot and the crisp white of the boat that looks to be a table cloth all from a specific tea scene in the novel. The flowers symbolise fertility which when you turn the picture upside down shows a pregnant belly protruding from Alice as she lays down in the engineless boat showing her lack of control over her own Destiney and giving a double meaning to Alice’s deathly sick features; In the top half of the boat she is simply suspended in time and blind to the world while in her reflection we see her with no control over the direction she sails to with her pregnancy. The boat that resembles a table cloth wraps around her keeping her blind and held in place in wonderland while in the real world she has direction and a future that is still unknown. The rich waters are still as Alice is frozen in time but the stormy horrid brushstrokes of the sky Is plagued with indecision and confusion and she is kept watch by and trapped in the boat – and Wonderland – by the white rabbit while her future blends together in the soft deep waters. The top half can also be interpreted as his wife and how she is trapped by her blindness has no control over her Destiny much like Alice.

Blackmans use of symbolism is superb, bringing many layers to piece that at first seems calm and relaxing but on closure inspection contains multiple layers in depth and meaning with Alice, his wife and his own interpretations of the two and how they are both similarly trapped and confined. Blackmans use of blending brings a calmness and beauty to the waters that doesn’t clash with the chaos of the storm that can be seen as the future. His use of proportion is bigger on the case of Alice’s head compared to the vase, cup and bottle that he makes work while his placing of shadows are accurate and make for a 3D jump-out. I enjoy the way the painting can be flipped, it’s a nice surprise that viewers don’t see coming. I like how there is no right or wrong interpretation and at every glance a new story can be found and that once can never tyre of studying the picture. The tone of the picture is excellently kept throughout the picture with the blue, white and yellows evenly placed. I love the attention to detail and grainy shading that has a real authentic effect. I really enjoyed this piece and find it inspiring.

MICHAELA BOBBIN


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Mon Jun 06, 2016 12:37 am
Aley wrote a review...



Hello!

Overall I feel like the review of the artwork is based in the right place. There are a couple things that are missing, however, to really make it sparkle.

First off, most reviews now for art and literature have shorter paragraphs which are broken up to just a single idea. This allows you as a writer to delve into things more deeply because as you go into your next idea, you have a new paragraph with all that extra space. Right now you have the essay set up so that it's jumping through too many hoops at once and we don't really get to explore the painting with you as you write the essay.

To really get into the painting, I feel like we need just a rough summary at the beginning rather than a thorough examination of every piece of the painting. Your next several paragraphs can be about the individual objects and how they relate to the whole. You can actually spend an entire paragraph on each object considering there are so few in this painting. That way, when we get to the idea that these things are creating, through reflection, the image of a pregnant woman, we actually are already aware of things such as the bottle for getting bigger, and the table cloth and what they're from.

Also, whenever you use names of books or paintings, you need to indicate that it is a name of a book or painting by "Using Title Markers" Such As These. If it's a large major body of work of some sort, such as a magazine (which has collected articles and poems and such inside it), or a book (collections of chapters inside it), or a piece of art, it gets Italics which you can use the buttons on YWS to create. If it's a smaller piece such as a poem or an article they get "Quotations" that way we can tell that it's a name or title. You should also source things such as Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland by saying who wrote it. Those are just things for writing essays though. It's to help people find what you're talking about quicker, and understand that you don't mean Disney's movie Alice in Wonderland rather than the book. That makes a difference when you want to know what sort of story we're talking about because the book and movie are different.

That being said, your essay itself makes some good points. I was disappointed to see you didn't have a counterargument in your essay/review, as I always thinks that makes things stronger, but it was well done. I do think you should have gone into more detail about the topics you brought up and really form a stable relationship between your assessment and the piece itself by talking about placement of objects and described the painting when it mattered to the argument rather than a summary at the top, but overall it was a good job.

To improve next time, I'd suggest you focus on what you want to say about the piece as you write it. Is your review going to be a support that this is good art? An argument that artwork is involved in personal life? Or are you going to be giving us a brief biography of an artist? This was written like an argumentative piece but it was really just descriptive, so you could've used a different format to really find a thesis and develop the image better. That's just my thoughts though.






Thanks for your thoughts.
I wrote this using the template my teacher gave us, we only got limited time to write our reviews which is what you've picked up on. It was part of a two piece that goes into the artists background.
Oh, well, it was just for fun to post it, I got an A for it so I'm happy.



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Sun May 01, 2016 3:59 am
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FatCowsSis wrote a review...



Hello there!
I'll be quite honest, that was rather enlightening. Thank you so much. I'm not quite sure how to review a piece like this, so I believe all I can do is correct your grammar in a few places, as well as ask you a couple of questions pertaining to the piece, and your response. Let's dive into it, shall we?

Alright, so for the majority of this piece, you have relatively decent grammar. However, whilst I was reading, a few things caught my eye. I have emboldened the phrases that stood out.

Next to the woman Is a cup perched on an angle at the edge of the boat, an old brown bottle that looks to be holding a potion, a colourful vase of flowers that that has been painted in vigorous brush strokes that jump out the vase at every angle in resemblance to fireworks and a shaded black kettle that is self-poring.

You don't need a capital 'i' in the word 'is'. I hadn't realized how long this sentence was until now. You have great descriptions, but perhaps if you broke up this sentence a bit, you could go on ahead and explain the significance of each item as you introduce it.
This piece is from series of Alice in wonderland paintings Blackman created dedicated to his wife who was visually impaired, Blackman had the talking book of Alice in wonderland he obtained from the library for the blind on record that his wife loved to listen too, in not seeing any illustrations he found inspiration in his own imagination.

"Alice in Wonderland" needs to have a capital 'w'. Also, the same thing as before applies here. You can easily place a period, rather than a comma after "visually impaired". I believe it might help this to flow more smoothly.
Blackmans use of blending brings a calmness and beauty to the waters that doesn’t clash with the chaos of the storm that can be seen as the future.

Make sure you have an apostrophe when you add the 's' on. You are saying it is "Blackman's use of..." so you need to show possession.

Don't take my critique the wrong way. I really enjoyed reading the painting from your perspective. It was enlightening of many different levels. I thank you for taking the time to write this.
Keep writing, my friend.
-Sis






Thank you so much! x
That is the best review I have ever received.



FatCowsSis says...


You're very much welcome :D I hope I wasn't too critical?





Not at all, it was very helpful. :)




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