Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Project 7.3 - Using Photographs

I have been interesting in photography for a long time, especially as a means of supporting my drawing and painting. I took a course at the Open University to learn some of the basics.


As a result I have tons of photographs to choose from. I am more comfortable painting from my own photographs because I don't feel like I then 'steal' someone else's composition. That said though, so much will be changed in the process of turning the photo into a painting, that it will be my version even if I used a postcard as reference.
This photo was actually taken with this particular assignment in mind when I was down in Cornwall for Easter. I like the composition even though they say to never put the horizon in the middle. I think with the trees and distant hilltops it doesn't feel like it's in the middle anyway and all the dynamic lines going inwards and all the green help to make it coherent and not cut in halves.
Anyway. I thought I'd start off with a value study.


I think it worked out well. I want to add some more darkness among the trees, but I like that the fence, sky and path are all so bright. Gives it a sunny feel.

Next up I played with the composition a bit.
I like the last one which is elongated a bit. Actually it made me want to do the painting in Tolkien style, which I don't think fits the brief, so I might make two versions. :o)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Gwen John

Gwendolen Mary John (22 June 1876 – 18 September 1939). Welsh artist, mostly doing Still lifes and portraits of women. I am interested in her use of colours and her interiors. Whenever I try to restrict my use of colour and deliberately try to downplay the vibrancy to get a calmer expression I tend to end up with something rather dull and lifeless.
Not so with Gwen.






There is a stillness in all these works, and yet the vibrancy is there. Great atmosphere. I especially like the top one with the blue light of the day spilling in over the dark aubergine floor. The same composition at the bottom in what I think is evening light feels so different.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Project 7.2 - Developing a shorthand

This assignment required me to create a painting based on a single line drawing with notes supporting it regarding value and colour.

After some deliberation about what on earth qualified as a Incidental, I decided on my unmade bed, which I definitely wouldn't leave sneakily as it was for later reference. This is my initial drawing:

With some concern I made colour notes to help me later. The values were categorized into four levels and numbered on the drawing.

The painting I finished in two sittings.

While the line drawing was a great help, the colour notes I made were useless as I suspected they would be. I will have do develop a much better system for classifying colour, as blue-green or mahogany-amber is simply not enough information. The book and the bars in the bed got messed up terribly. even using a mahl stick I do NOT have a very steady hand. Still getting used to drawing and painting on a vertical surface.

What have I achieved? While numbers work well for values, especially if you simplify down to a handful, but as colour goes I found written notes to just not be adequate enough. For me there is two options; either I would need to create a colour study on the spot too as a guide as in the last assignment, or I could instead simply decide to not be faithful to the 'real' colours at all but just go with what I felt like while painting.
I think I'd prefer the last, but then also extend the line drawing to a value study if possible. 

I do like the way relying only on references sets you free in a way. You can't see all the details, and so you don't get lost in them. It is easier to change things to suit the painting that way.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Project 7.1 Finished painting


So what have I achieved?
It was good fun to try and paint only from the sketches. I desperately wanted to check my colours on the real set-up along the way. My colour study was far to loosely done to give me real guidance once it is the only source of colour information. I usually use the colour studies just to see if there are any major areas I need to tweak colour-wise, so that's something to remember. There was not enough detail in the drawings either to get a lot of detail in, but that can actually be a good thing, freeing me up from studying to closely and just focusing on making the painting work. I like my slightly odd composition but the two glasses disappear too much against the background. I think I might fix that once the first layer of paint is dry.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Project 7 - Painting from Photographs and Studies

So here goes. Start of Assignment 4. First a painting supported by a line drawing, a tonal study, a colour study and finally composition thumbnails.

The line drawing has all the little shape details. And it showed me that putting the whole little cupboard in the composition is not going to work. A shame, cause I really like the little thing. I'll have to include it in a larger scene sometime.

Tonal Study. Very happy with this one, although the round box could have done with more detail. I like the composition too. I took inspiration from degas and created some odd angles and cut offs.


Colour study. Trying to leave out quite a bit of detail here and just go for the overall feel. I exaggerated the vibrancy quite a bit. I think I can get away with it as the range of colours is quite tight.

Finally a few thumbs to play with the composition. I still like the version from the tonal study, so that's the one I will continue with.

Assignment 3 - Tutor Feedback

Overall Comments
Your charcoal drawings are fluid, lively and fresh and your subjects and compositions are well thought out. You have an individual approach to painting and a bold and confident technique, but I would really like to see you explore the richness of the oil paint more fully.  Experiment with different brush strokes and techniques. 

Feedback on assignment
Still life extending the view – this reminds me of Cézanne   painting where you see the objects in his still lives from slightly different view points throughout the painting.  Your drawings are very competent showing a lovely fluidity and very good depth.  The perspective problems I know you are aware of.
I like the objects you have selected for this still life and your choice of colour but the composition feels too heavy on the left hand side which I know you state in your blog.  I really like the painterly technique used on the part cube and your use of varying colours, this works better for me than the other objects where I feel you could explore the subtlety of the colours more.
The first study although it feels more balanced compositionally is a bit too equal.

I love the character you have put into the painting of the green jug; this may be an idea that you can develop experimenting with different objects.  The picture works really well compositionally as does your use of colour.    What I would like to see you do is get into the painterly quality of the paint more. Try applying the paint a bit more thickly to give richness and more substance to the objects. Be more experimental; try scummbling, s’graffito and maybe working with a painting knife, Artists to look at for ideas on this are Lucien Freud and even more painterly Frank Auerback with his expressive impasted brushwork.

Studies for two viewpoints- I like both these drawings, the stairway is very fresh and has good depth. You use the charcoal very expressively.

View through the window - This is an interesting and well constructed composition.  I like the way the houses are arranged within the window space, and you show good use of colour.  I particularly like the way you have handled the roofs and chimneys, your painting technique works well here.  Subduing the background would help to give more depth to the picture as you suggested.  I also like your drawing of the view looking down into the street.

Looking from one room to another- Interesting composition, I like the way you are directed through to the chair. I think darkening the walls nearest to you in the painting a little more would give it more depth. The chair, bedspread and bottles are well painted and I like the light reflected on the floor.

Your charcoal drawings are all very strong. My favorite is the first study with the easel. I like the intimacy in this picture and there is a quietness and stillness about the scene. Although the composition is made up of many rectangular shapes the leg of the easel flows through to the lamp wire breaking up these shapes, as does the curve in the steps and basket handle.

The charcoal drawing of the kitchen scene with the clock and the empty chair, gives me the feeling that I am waiting for someone to arrive.  The objects are well seen and the side door is very well drawn.  The curve of the chair breaks up the horizontals and verticals but it does block the viewer’s way into the picture.


Learning logs/blogs/critical essays
Cotan was a cartusian monk whose work was about mathematical form and geometric order.  His paintings are also about discipline and ritual.  His paintings are all made on a similar template, lit at a 45 degree angle, same scale, similar colours and same frame size.  The objects were in a larder and hung to preserve them.  If you do change your mind and go in for assessment you may want to add more to your b log on gallery visits and your own studies of artists work.

Suggested reading/viewing
Look at the work of Pierre Bonnard, Gwen John, Vermeer and Vilhelm Hammershoi interiors

Other       In your sketch book play around with different mediums and experiment with combining them.  Congratulations on your book, this is very exciting.  This is a good assignment and I look forward to the next one. The OCA does a course in illustration which you may be interested in – but again you may feel too restricted by it.