Monday, 30 August 2010

Extending and cropping

This one could be cropped slightly to tighten it up, but really it was pretty close to the best frame, I think.

This one I both cropped and extended, and it's much better for it. Now one of my favourites.

This one is extended and works much better now. I think I would choose this one to work one further, but then I must sort out the apple, which is floating weirdly against the cloth. I also think the chair's perspective needs looking at, and I need some indication of what's behind the chair.

Charcoal 1.2 take two

Like this one.
The direct sunlight made the tones nice and clear.
The jug, though slightly badly shaped seems to gain some personality.

This one it at this stage my favourite and I can see it as a painting. Van Gogh style.

The objects work nicely together here, but the chair messes up the composition. Feels unbalanced.

Like this one, but would be better extended to include the tins fully.

Different, rougher paper made the charcoal easier to handle.
Tried standing for this one which meant working quicker. Should have worked longer on it, but got interrupted by the door bell.

While the perspective on the tins is nice, the rest isn't very interesting from this angle.

John Ruskin Gallery

I had a look at the John Ruskin Gallery next to the Winter Gardens in Sheffield yesterday. Not sure I can quite pin him down, but amongst other things he was an art critic, a naturalist, a writer, a painter and had lots of ideas about how society should work. Very good ones too.
" order that a man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be capable of his work, but a good judge of his work."

His little gallery in Sheffield is one he would be proud of, I think. Lots of different objects to please the eyes and hands. Rocks, fossils, and casts (please do touch), butterflies and watercolours. One artist represented stood out to me - John Whartlon Bunney.

John Whartlon Bunney
©The Bridgeman Art Library - London, New York, Paris

Beautiful rich watercolours full of atmosphere. He had a soft spot for Italy as do I, having lived in Florence for a year. I love the way his use of colour makes his studies look almost like old Da Vinci or Michelangelo drawings.
I love that, and it challenges the prejudice I have about watercolours being a bit bland and dainty.

One last quote from Ruskin, something I have been trying to teach game designers for years:
"Say all you have to say in the fewest possible words, or your reader will be sure to skip them; and in the plainest possible words or he will certainly misunderstand them."

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Tonal Charcoal, first attempt

I can see why we need to use charcoal.
Forces me to think about tones instead of detail. I'm not a great fan of charcoal. I guess because the lines go on the paper with brute finality. They are sooo black. I usually prefer to start with a soft, soft line almost invisible and feel the shape by moving the pencil back and forth.
Can't do that with charcoal, so this is a good exercise for me.
Wasn't at all happy with the first tries. I feel I should be able to do better, especially with the perspective, but considering I don't usually use charcoal, it turned out ok. I really liked drawing the same thing several times, something I get lazy about normally. I got more comfortable and familiar with the shapes and had time to contemplate the composition. One consequence was that I found I wasn't keen on the collection I had chosen. So I'll start again and set up slightly different objects. I want to take my time with these exercises and get it right.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Kitchen Sink

In painting a breakfast table, John Bratby captures a mood and tells a story. The table has just been left, possibly by a busy family. All the utensils are white and simplified. They strike me as stiff and colourless, maybe hinting at stressful nine to five days. The object that dominates the picture surprisingly is the table. A wonderful piece of organic wood, sprawling and colourful, and in it the only hint at the people who was just here having breakfast. A smiling face scratched in the surface. Maybe a clue to stop taking life so seriously and enjoy nature and the moment?

John Bratby - Table Top
©The Bridgeman Art Library - London, New York, Paris.


Little drawing done on my DS console.

Walking around art galleries you sometimes get to hear a classic line from an onlooker: “Is that art? I could have done that.” It usually emanates from a person who has been dragged to an art gallery against her will. The only aspect of “art” this person can enjoy is the display of skill the artist shows in mastering the craft of his medium. But that’s not where the imagination lies.

A large part of being an artist is deciding what to paint and how to paint it. Imagination is employed not only in drawing a unicorn, but when setting up a still life, arranging what objects work well together, setting up the composition, deciding what to leave out. By just having a go I can appreciate the imagination that goes into all the stages of creating a painting.

The only response to the line above is: “Well, you didn’t.”

Shapes and Tones

Georges Seurat
©The Bridgeman Art Library - London, New York, Paris.

Just looking at some of the examples of artists mentioned in the theoretical part of this assignment. Georges Seurat's tone drawings are absolutely beautiful. The text implies that this form of tonal drawing is more true to nature than a line drawing. I'm not sure I agree; it is a simplification of reality just as a line drawing is, especially when using this few tones.
But what it does do that a line drawing can't is to give a wonderful sense of form. I can see the softness of the arm and feel the shoulder's roundness.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Setting out into the woods.

So here goes. The aim of this blog is to help me reflect on the process of learning to paint and to help some of the more valuable lessons to better stick in my head in years to come.

I can draw reasonably, but I don't know much about painting. Yet. Hoping to learn lots in the coming years. I have signed up for "Starting to Paint" at OCA. Distance studying at my own pace suits me as I already have a full time job to keep me occupied.