The Successful Realist is a reprise of a project I made in 2011 when my daughter, Caitlin, was five years old. For that series she painted my face to represent various aspects of her world; a movie she had watched, a social event, or a vivid dream. Together, we then photographed the results of her artistry.
That project was called The Failed Realist, which is what psychologists call the stage of child development between four and six years, when their verbal and visual skills are beyond their mark making abilities. This means that a child’s desire to represent their world through drawing or painting is hampered by motor, graphic and cognitive obstacles that are subsequently overcome with age.
Caitlin is now eleven and her fine motor skills have hugely improved. Almost a teenager, with growing independence, she has a totally different frame of reference to her five-year-old self. As before, I gave her completely free reign. Where previously it had been an endurance test; her clumsy brush skills poking and scratching my skin for up to an hour, this time she was an artist with a canvas, a successful realist. Some of the results from the second iteration of this process were obscure and witty (The Cyclops Twins), and others ghoulish (Clown Face). Some were influenced by her time online (Miranda Sings, Emoji(Love Eyes)), others express her generation's obsession with the world they are being left to fix (Life and Death)