Thursday, 29 March 2012

Warwick Goble

Funny how you make new discoveries and unexpectedly dip into a treasure trove.
Alphonse Mucha have since I was 14 been a huge idol of mine. I loved the way he drew hands - so fluid and elegant. He is one of the reason I kept drawing - even though I have never figured out how to pronounce that name...
Later came complete adoration for Edmund Dulac and Kay Nielsen. Arthur Rackham I had t be older to appreciate. I remember his style struck me as messy and dark when I first saw it. Now I love it.
I even had a brief fling with Klimt, although his overexposure means I can only tolerate so much at a time.

A few months ago I was looking for illustrators in this Art Nouveau Style to put on my Domino Jewellery and I came across a name I hadn't noticed before.

Warwick Goble 1862-1943
He has a beautiful fluid style. Much influenced by Japan and lovely for it. His works are just fantastic and I can't believe I didn't see before. I guess he was just never as famous and Dulac and Rackham, but he seems to have produced a fair number of books, before, as Wikipedia says, he gave up illustrating for sculling and cycling :oD Oh the shame.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

January Ambitions

What with the new year I always feel invigorated and want to start lots of new things.
I am trying to start a jewellery business, but also have two freelancing projects on the game design side, which is what actually pays the bills at the moment.
It means, I am sad to say that I hardly get any drawing done, let alone painting. I think it might just have to wait until spring before I really get going again.
Fortunately I do draw in my work, so it won't be completely on hold. But the drawings are stuff like the sketch above and these:

The purpose is to convey a mood or an idea to the team, so that everyone knows what I am talking about. I find that when I take the trouble to draw the layout or puzzle, it is not only understood better by others, but also by me. Problems are highlighted and new ideas spawned just by seeing things on paper.
After an idea is accepted the 'proper' concepts are drawn. The ones that will be shown to the client and potential customers. There are people on the team who do nothing but draw. I am sometimes jealous, but then, I like spawning the ideas and gameplay too.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Too Far

Free hand gone overboard. Too many shapes, too may contrasting colours. I will knock this one back with a glaze and continue work on top of it.
It all works in the name of inspiration. Random shapes are great for starting new ideas.

I found with interest a technique used by David Revoy for starting new images like this. He uses a free software program called Alchemy to start of a new idea. You can see the process here:

And get Alchemy here:

Here is my first attempt:

The idea is to just keep playing till the shapes speak to you. And it's good fun.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Growing Background Layers

The idea with these are to play and experiment a bit. Build up a layer as a foundation that is anything but a scary blank canvas. Let the random shapes lead to more specific ones. This is like brainstorming with a brush and quite fun to do. It is important though not to splash just any colour on there, but control it in a specific colour scheme. Otherwise is might end up too ugly and discourage instead of inspire.
 I'll let them sit a few days and see what I think the next step is later.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Time to Continue

Happy new year everyone. December was a slow month for me, drawing wise, but I was glad of the break.
I always find it hard to get up in gear again in January, but a new project at work will help me get going again. I love starting something new.

I fancy playing with imaginary painting for a while. Abstract shapes, doodles and odd looking creatures. Let's see where it goes.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Jungle Games

Finally got around to making this jungle scene a bit more interesting. It always looked like a background to me but now it is complete. I am quite happy with it. It makes me smile when I look at it.

Oblivious to the spy in the trees, Annica and Bonyo laughed and played,
exhilarated to be high up in the light at last.
Oil on canvas 80x60 cm, 31½ x 23½".

Sunday, 13 November 2011

The Burden of Ancestors

Another one for the portrait series:
"This girl was born into a strange family. Luckily she didn't inherit the sun allergy from her mum, and the scales from her grandmother don't seem to be spreading too fast, but to receive so many properties from her etherial dad can only be a disadvantage when growing up in a vampire castle."

This one is coaxed out of layers upon layers. I was trying to get a nice depth in there both to give the colours richness, but also to support the story of so ancestry. Her skin received the most attention. It is a bit nicer-looking in real life and comes out rather flat in the photo. I think it might have been easier to do in oil than acrylics.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tutor Report on Assignment 5

My (new) tutor writes:

Feedback on assignment

Section 9 Expressionism

3 Colour studies

You have interpreted the toy very inventively in study 1; The paint use is expressive giving the toy a particular presence. Whilst it is recognisable as a toy it does have a perceivable threat to it, and undercurrent of menace if you like which does become the subject matter of the painting. The colour choices are effective as is the characterization of the subject. Painting directly helps to carry this study and gives it a certain potency.

Study 2 on the dark ground has quite a different feel to it. Due to its scale the toy becomes vulnerable set in a much wider scenario. You have used the dark ground intelligently to set the atmosphere of the painting; the animation of the toy with its slightly hunched feel is effective also.

It is good to compare these 2 studies as they demonstrate how the same subject can have different content determined by paint use composition and atmosphere.

The third study is the most complete painting of the 3. It is very well executed with some inventive use of paint which activates the whole
canvas. The image has character again but this time revealed through some real understanding and use of the medium. There is scope for some further development combining open paint use with a distinct narrative.

Project 1 Associations Larger painting

This painting does not have the presence or intent that the 3 studies have. Your paint handling is very safe and indeed timid in comparison to the 3 smaller works.
By the way that you use the medium you set up the way that the viewer looks at the work; I look for conventional relationships between the objects and how they are interpreted and the painting lets me down in regards to these aspects as I explore the piece in depth.

You have not really exploited the very expressive use of paint coupled with idea that you showed with the 3 studies. You have tried to make a picture here to the detriment of expression and intent. The fact that you have signed this painting confirms this!


In contrast this painting is full of intent and very powerful associations. You have controlled the colour combinations well and utilized the odd composition to good effect. This being is believable even though it is made up of thought and imagination. The use of impasto in the ground colour is wonderful and really adds to the atmosphere of the painting as does the treatment of the figure. Have a look at Kirchner and how he uses the primitive in his figures. You have explored your subject well here and have exposed some of your inner thoughts which adds to the success. The painting has an odd composition in terms of the positioning of the figure but this adds to the content.

The drawing on the blog looks equally successful both in its effective use of the medium and in its expression.

Section 10 - Painting Outdoors

A garden or park/ a landscape/ townscape/ waterscape

You are a little dismissive of some of your efforts for this section on the blog, particularly when talking about the parkscape. Although this painting does not quite come together as a whole there are some nicely observed parts to it, particularly the building in blues to the right the steps and wall and the flower bed in the mid ground. This painting is not finished; you gave up on it as you honestly say in your log. One more session should do it; look to your greens in terms of tone, especially as they recede and look to the wall on the left and how this relates to the overall. This painting has a fresh open feel to it. Look at the work of Peter Doig.
The landscape is beautiful; fresh and open, well considered and well executed. The approach that you used here is ready for an increase in scale despite what you say on the blog. This painting recedes really successfully and it has a really believable ‘plein aire’ atmosphere to it.
The other works on the blog made on what looks like the same scale look successful also for the same reasons. Look at Ivon Hitchens work to see how he uses the landscape for expressive, abstracted paintings.

The waterscape by comparison is over fussy in places and generalized in others which does not make for a successful whole. This is not really a waterscape as you have made the water the most insignificant part of the painting. The treatment of the water is very tentative indeed, as though you have not understood how you can use paint more expressively as in the previous section. Have a look at how Manet paints water and Monet also to help you here.

You have painted a picture here again as opposed to exploring your subject through the paint. If you explore your subjects through inventive use of the medium the finished painting often looks after itself.

The townscape has a certain charm to it, if a little naïve in places. This said the treatment of the houses on the left and the cars is very inventively interpreted indeed. The foliage is a little generalized and too much ‘straight out of the tube’ in terms of the use of the greens; however it is an acceptable little version without the expression that some of your landscape work has.

Learning logs/critical essays

You learning log/blog looks fine, full of information and research. It is well presented and thorough. My only comment would be that you make too many excuses when things do not go right or to plan for example in how you talk about working outside in places. Negative decision making will always hold your work back.

Suggested reading/viewing

Look at all those artists that I have suggested and include in your log just to complete it.

Overall Comments

Overall this was a reasonable last assignment containing some good work but also some that does not reach the bench mark that you set yourself with your successes. You are a little inconsistent but that is fine for this stage.
Looking through the log in my opinion you have enough work to put in an effective submission for assessment if you choose to do so. Be selective, re reading your reports and picking out your more successful work to put forward.

Bearing this in mind I would advise going with the new criteria i.e. 12 to 15 paintings, ten studies/drawings, 3 to 6 sketch books and your learning log/blog. These criteria should accommodate your selection. 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Painting in Progress - Storytelling

Not quite sure where this is going just yet. I wanted to move a little bit on from the portraits, but still have it as an element. Maybe the storytelling is more important in this one. The girl needs serious work. I want her to look as innocent as possible.
Anyone have any good tricks?

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Portrait of a Sailor

That thumbnail of the skipper below, sparked something, so I turned it into a painting.

Acrylic and mixed media on canvas board, 594x420mm

This is mostly acrylics, but I played with some collage, stamping, stencilling and tar gel to get a layered feel. And of course I added real jewellery, just because I really like the effect and it's a challenge to make it fall right so that it fits into the 2D surface.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Getting Ideas

Once a painting is finished, it's not always easy to know what to start with next.
I've noticed it's harder when I've done a painting I'm quite pleased with. If you're only as good as your last painting, maybe you need to stop with one you're happy with :oD
One helpful tool is to start a series of paintings. They don't have to be tightly related, just as long as you have some read thread to lead you to the next canvas.
I like doing thumbnails in my sketchbooks. The smaller frames are so unassuming that it is dead easy to fill them in.
On the above page I've tried to tie a picture to a short sentence. Sometimes the words came first, sometimes the picture.
I decided to try the sailor top left for my next painting. My oh-so-loose theme at the moment are portraits of mythical, fictional characters, so it fits right in. The first painting in this series was the Mermaid.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

P.S. Krøyer



The Daughters Benzon – P.S.Krøyer 1987

I want to write a post for one of the Danish painters who was a master at outdoor painting.

P.S. Krøyer was a contemporary of Monet and Degas and I think the influence can be seen in his works.

He is most famous for the body of work he did in Skagen; a tiny fishing village at the very tip of Denmark, where two oceans meet and the light as a result is extraordinary, not unlike St. Ives. Painters as a result flocked there and there was a lively community there with Krøyer, Anna and Michael Ancher among others.

The light, I think, was that fascinated him the most, and it shows beautifully in his work. I had a look at the histogram for some of his paintings, and they clearly show how bright his paintings were. Dark colours seems only to be used for the sake of emphasizing the light. Even in the evening scenes.


Summer Evening on the Skagen Southern Beach with Anna Ancher and Marie Krøyer, P.S. Krøyer, 1893


Summer afternoon at Skagen, P.S. Krøyer, 1899

He is a very popular painter, like Monet for the utterly romantic settings, and I think he has contributed a great deal to the idea of Scandinavian living; light, airy, bright and peaceful if a bit cold.

I like his paintings in the same way that I like Mozart. It seems to me that both artists remove themselves from their work an achieve a serenity and ethereal atmosphere, but lose something of the personal connection you can get from other artists who let their personality show.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Waterscape–Final Painting


Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I chose this scene from the Yorkshire Sculpture park. A fantastically warm morning in autumn, where the light because of the low angle of the sun looked like sunset in summer. The lake, probably because of undercurrents and wind, reflected large patches of sky, but other places showed the murky colour of the water.

I tried working in a looser fashion with this, relying as much on memory as the sketches and photograph.

To keep the main focus on the water I made it the brightest area in the painting, and to give the painting more depth I hazed down the background with blue, paler colours, while giving the foreground sharper edges.

Up close this painting is a bit of a mess and I again incorporated too much of what I saw. The patches of brown water doesn’t look like water at all, probably because the shape isn’t squashed flat and horizontal enough. I went back and added some more white reflections to fix it somewhat.

Overall though, I like the warm, sunny feel of it, and standing back it really Is quite a peaceful scene.


What have I achieved?

Well I don’t think I am ready to work outdoors just yet. I most certainly feel the need to go back and build up more experience with each subject as the text suggested.

Aspects I especially need to look at are: perspective, composition, simplifying. Trying to bring everything together in these last four paintings has been a great experience, but also sobering. There is so much to learn.

Landscape and scenery painting is not my favourite subject. I find faces, people, animals and still lifes much more appealing. More intimate. But I’d still like to be better at it :oD

Waterscapes - preparation

Reflections in the harbour. Soft pencil

I know one thing. Water is hard to draw. It is easy to think that you’ve sussed the pattern and stop looking. Then start to fill in automatically only to find that it now looks nothing like water.

Colour study. Soluble pencils

It can at times look mirror still and character less, other times like a faceted jewel, reflecting colours you never knew was there.

The pattern is just mesmerizing. Where do you even start?

I can understand Monet's and Constable's fascination with water. Where else can you meticulously observe something and draw it and get a result that looks completely abstract? It challenges your observation skills.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Urban Scape

So I scoped out the busy street near where I live. I liked the way the sun flowed through the leaves in a golden autumn way.
This one was supported mainly by photos and a quick sketch.

Apart from the obvious mistake with the side sigh to the right, I got the perspective right. Can believe I didn't spot that sooner. Ah well.
The colours also seem nice and warm which I am happy with. It is hard in a picture like this not to get lost in all the details and some of them like the row of bay windows down the street I did not resolve in a satisfying manner.
It was a challenge to simplify what I saw and something I need to practice more.
Still I am pretty happy with the overall attempt. It took me a very long time and I don't think I could have achieved anything like it, had I stood on that busy pavement for hours.