Abstract Painting Classes

January – May 2017

Abstract Classes

I had the chance to join in weekly abstract classes here on the island. There was a core group of three students who attended regularly, with others jumping in for various weeks depending on their stays in Lanzarote. This in itself is interesting as abstract painting is so subjective, it was fascinating to witness how different the students’ interpretations of similar themes were to one another. Two of the other students had been attending the classes for a couple of months before me and had come to grips with certain aspects, whereas I was a total novice. My only foray into this genre was a couple of projects in the Practice of Painting course, however, these were very basic.

Initially, we looked at various abstract artists’ work in books to see what sort of things appealed to us. I was drawn to colour, especially red, and more loosely worked paintings. Some of the many artists we looked at over the weeks were Frank Stella, Sonia Delaunay, David Hockney, Frank Marc and Vasily Kandinsky.

Action shots taken and kindly allowed to be reproduced her by photographer and tutor Betty Rawson.

Mindlessness

I was so out of my comfort zone it was almost frightening – I had to forget everything I relied on – observation, sketching, planning – and let my mind go. I found I didn’t trust my colour sense anymore and, to be honest, began to think I never had any! Our first lesson was drawing random shapes and adding colour. I really struggled, I didn’t know what I was doing – I didn’t have an end result in my mind to work towards… but there was no going back!

The next week promised to be more fun. Our initial class of five dropped to four, our two experienced students and another novice and myself. We had been warned that we would be outside in a field so to come prepared . This was January in Lanzarote, so although warm enough, it was windy and we had previously had some rain so trainers, jeans, fleeces and aprons/coveralls were the order of the day. We advanced, armed with rolls of paper, brushes, pots of water, water-soluble paints and canvases, everything had to be weighed down with stones and insects had to be discouraged from landed in the paint.

We began with a long roll of paper between two and just splashed, dribbled, splattered and daubed to our hearts content for the first hour. We then set up our canvases and with a little more thought, began to make our paintings.

Field work for abstract course - experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

Field work for abstract course – experimental mark making and beginning my first canvas

The painting on the canvas above was worked on over a few sessions…

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

Third session on the Squares and Circles canvas

A bit more work was done on this, along with some glazing with a dilute PVA substitute tinted with various colours.

Squares and Circles - maybe finished, maybe overworked - still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Squares and Circles – maybe finished, maybe overworked – still not sure which way up I prefer it. Interesting start though.

Time to move on – we had another experimental session with a small piece of work made with sticking coloured shapes. Some shapes were cut from paper we’d painted and some from patterned paper and magazines. Again, I floundered – my fellow student below was doing so well as her colour sense was developing beautifully – in the beginning, it always took me until 20 minutes before the end of the class for me to “get it”.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Cutting, colouring and sticking shapes onto small card to make small abstracts as reference for a painting.

Following our planning and experimental stage we took reference from this to begin our next painting…

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

I called this Wash Day in the end as it reminded me of clothes being blown about on washing line.

We always had a little critique at the end of a session and regarding the above, we all thought that the dark shape in the middle was trying to dominate. This, however, was not necessarily a bad thing as a little challenge in an image can work – we nicknamed this challenge the “Party Pooper” as it’s trying to suck the joy out of the rest of the painting.

The weather was lovely so another outside session for us today. We started with a warm up by using brushes on the end of sticks and made marks paint on paper. The sticks were heavy and it was more like sword fighting at times. In fact my brush broke and had to be taped back together at one point. It certainly loosened us up for our canvas though.

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Extended brush painting, outside. This was fun and bordered on dangerous at times but a good warm up exercise!

Using the garden around us as inspiration, not to mention the fabulous view of the mountain in the distance, we began our main event canvas. This was worked on for a few weeks worth of classes and has a little more to be done for improvement. Many methods of mark making were employed in it, from wiggling a paint laden brush in a semi-uncontrolled way across the entire canvas, to drips and runs being blown and guided by turning the canvas this way and that. It has been glazed with dilute PVA with an orange tint several times. The shape and size of the canvas gave the painting a little more scope for experimentation.

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights...

This has had many interpretations in the class, what started out as a garden/Bougainvillea inspired piece of work has become darker with wicked forest, to horses galloping across it carrying knights…

I was going to give this another heading, however, it still does come under Mindlessness.  In this week’s class, we were to bring a piece of music that made us feel something. We had a pretty full class for this one, five of us at our work stations with ear phones listening to different music and just painting – making marks that we felt came from our music. Nobody knew what the other was listening to. We worked on our canvases for most of the class and at the end, we looked at each other’s work, listening to the music that inspired it. It was fascinating as we were in a larger class than usual, yet we were completely absorbed in our own world of music and paint.

I titled this after the music I was listening to - Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I titled this after the music I was listening to – Titanium. The track I chose was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia.

I felt that it was about overcoming outside negative influences, being independent and pushing yourself upwards and onwards – never giving up.

The range of music was vast, from my dance track, to a gentle classic piece, to an African uplifting beat and vocal, to an oriental and mystical composition. We could all see the influences from each in our paintings, although we would never have guessed what they were.

Themes and Where to Start

This week we were down to two of us – I think everyone else knew how tough this would be! Our challenge – whether we chose to accept it or not, was to make a self-portrait – not only abstract but in 3-D. Back to square one then! After looking at each other blankly for a few minutes, we started looking through magazines, patterned papers and other bits and pieces for images, textures, colours that appealed to us and that may be descriptive of us. Even this was really difficult for me. I started cutting and ripping things out and gathered a pile of samples of stuff! We made a base, which we could either paint or cover in other papers. We then began building our self-portrait. This was really tricky, the only things I could fixate on were colours I liked and chocolate! Anyway, this is what I came up with – not very impressive I know…

3-D Self Portrait - is what it's meant to be, but even though I made it and it's about me - I don't get it!

3-D Self Portrait – is what it’s meant to be, but even though I made it and it’s about me – I don’t get it!

This week, I was allowed some comfort back. We were allowed to draw a still life!!! My turn to be happy and for my lovely classmates to groan :0)

Betty had set up a still life of an orchid, with a starfish, a lantern and a few knickknacks. It was actually quite complicated as we had a few minutes to draw it from one angle, and then move around to capture others. Fairly straightforward, but the first few were to be without lifting the pencil, charcoal, pastel or whatever from the paper. (Even more groans from the back – my revenge was complete!)

The last drawing was to be done without looking at the paper – and just to make sure – we had to use white oil pastel! Once this was done, we took our white on white drawings to the table and, using watercolour paint, we were to put down whichever colours we liked, wherever we liked on the drawing. The point being that the paint would be repelled by the oil pastel wherever it met. Unfortunately, I got carried away and decided I wanted a wet in wet effect. The paper was dampened with water and paint added. It seemed that the extra water didn’t allow the oil pastel to resist the paint so well, so my first attempt was a fail…

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

Overly dampened paper with watercolour on oil pastel

 

So, much to the consternation of my fellow classmate, who had done the same, we had to redraw in white oil pastel and start again.

This time, I ensured that the pastel was thicker, although I couldn’t look at it, and did not pre-dampen the paper.

Watercolour was added randomly at first and the resist from the oil pastel was much more successful. I then swapped to a finer brush and traced some of the lines left from the resist. This was very therapeutic and satisfying, and illustrated how something representational could be used to create an abstract work.

 

 

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour

Still Life Orchid in white oil pastel to resist watercolour (with a surprise dolphin!)

More drawing this week! We had a plate of peppers plus some other edible items that I can not remember – and as they were abstracted, the drawings don’t help!!

Our method of beginning an abstract painting this time, was to draw the shapes we saw, no particular detail and no tone, just shapes. We made three large thumbnails on a piece of paper and working in shades of black, white and grey, roughly filled in shapes that we had drawn or added.

Monotone shapes drawn from still life - peppers etc

Monotone shapes drawn from still life – peppers etc

I felt that no one of my drawings was what I wanted, so amalgamated all three into something more pleasing to me as below:

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

Amalgamation of thumbnail sketches

The drawing was transferred onto some gesso coated hardboard 62 x 45 cm and then painted in acrylic, again with shades of black, white and grey. This is not yet finished but I’m looking forward to working on it again.

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

Large painting from thumbnail sketch

In our final lesson of the term, our last method of starting an abstract painting was to use colour. We had to think of an occasion or event that had a big impact on our lives. With that in mind, we had to relate that to a colour. We then mixed some tones of that colour and made a swatch of those tones on a piece of paper. When we had done that, we needed a contrast colour with mixed tones to add to the paper as below:

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

My swatch of emotive colour tones with its contrasting colour tones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, I had not brought a canvas with me, so had to use a spare one of Betty’s which was only 20cm square. Although, I probably wouldn’t have finished anything bigger in one session. The event that had a dramatic impact on me was related to water. Specifically, my first experience of a water slide into a pool when I was about ten years old. Prior to this, I was a complete “water baby”, and couldn’t wait to have a go. Not really knowing what to expect, I got in line with everyone else and was soon skidding down towards the water. The complete, all-encompassing wave of water that engulfed me, took me completely by surprise and I barely managed to surface and recover. I still like swimming but have a fear of being out of my depth and overly choppy water, be it in a pool or sea.

Water Shock

Water Shock

That’s all for this term but I am looking forward to the next one.

What I’ve taken away from this is that, I need to let go of the controlled way of working sometimes and go with what I feel rather than what I see in front of me. Art is an emotive and subjective form of expression and if it’s not created with feeling then I can not expect it to be viewed with feeling.

 

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Life Classes – 14 December 2016 to 7 March 2017

Life Classes

14/12/16 17.00-19.00

The challenge this week was two models, one male and one female. This gave us an opportunity to explore the differences between muscular and angular and rounded and soft with various media and mark making. Our male model was tall and slim, not unlike Egon Schiele, so I tried to use definite line with felt tip pen in our short poses to achieve strong shapes and almost branch-like limbs.
On the other hand, our female model was voluptuous and curvy, so I changed to the softer medium of conte stick and used more sweeping marks to define her.
Drawing the two models together illustrated the differences even with using the same medium. In the final long pose of 20 minutes, I could use John’s back as the background for more of a portrait of our female model which worked well from the viewpoint I had.

 

20 minute pose - black conte stick on paper

20 minute pose – black conte stick on paper

 

10/01/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had a treat of longer poses to enable us to work into our drawings more. As we have our classes in the sculpture studio, there were several half-finished or rejected cast figures lying around. For the 25 minute pose, our model John was positioned with a child figure, which although incomplete, made quite a touching image. We had to decide whether to make the figure look real or as it was, made of plaster. Although, this was not my intention as such, the boy looks fairly real and had the same treatment as John.

The 40 minute pose was really interesting as, again, a cast figure was included. It was of a woman, about to dive into the sea, however, when laid down on its side looked as if it was reclining. John then draped himself over the figure and as the light was fading, a lamp was shone on them to offer more highlights. For this one, I decided to use brown paper as a mid tone and black conte and white chalk for the darks and lights.

 

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

40 minute pose black conte stick and white chalk on brown paper

17/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a female model this week, Sally was six months pregnant, so a lovely subject to draw. To avoid her having to pose in different positions, this week, the model stayed still and the students moved around her. We found our starting viewpoint and then sketched for 30 seconds and moved on to another view. This really got us warmed up and then we were able to make informed decisions where to stand for the longer poses. Moving up to the three-minute drawings we made more choices of view to decide our 10 minutes posed drawing, up to 15 minutes.

 

15 minute drawing - conte on paper

15 minute drawing – conte on paper

31/01/17 17.00-19.00

We had a new model this week, Reuben. He was able to achieve some quite dynamic shapes for a while, so we could explore more expressive poses. We had the traditional short warm ups and then a couple of longer ones at 15 and 20 minutes.

 

20 minute pose - charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

20 minute pose – charcoal, white chalk and putty rubber on charcoal tinted paper

 

07/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week we had Reuben again. Always using our studio location to our advantage, some large geometric shaped pieces of hard board that were lying around made interesting props for our model to use.

The combination of dynamic poses and the geometric shapes made some fantastic short sketches possible. I mostly used black conte on paper but switched to sepia ink on water-colour paper after the break. Although, fun to use, these were not so successful, however, I enjoy trying different media and pushing myself. My favourites of this week were the 1 minute poses.

15 minute pose - sepia ink on watercolour paper

15 minute pose – sepia ink on watercolour paper

21/02/17 17.00-19.00

This week, inspired by the BBC Big Painting Challenge program, we were presented with long bamboo sticks and easels. These were limited in number so we took it in turns to use them, some more cheerfully than others, I have to say. Sticking with charcoal on paper until my turn, then switching to some jumbo, really black charcoal just before to get the feel of it. Once this was taped to the end of the bamboo stick, which was around 2 feet long, it was quite unwieldy to apply it to the paper. However, once I got the measure of distance and pressure, it was good fun and very expressive to use. It also gave me the chance to see both the model, Caroline, and paper at the same time without moving my head. I think this helped with proportions as they were directly comparable. Because of this, I used the stick to map out my composition for the long pose even though I switched to soft pastel to add colour.

25 minute pose - soft pastel on green pastel paper

25 minute pose – soft pastel on green pastel paper

 

28/02/17 17.00-19.00

Our treat this week was one long pose in whatever media we wanted to use. I broke out the oil paints and canvas in anticipation. Of course, we weren’t going to get away with it that easily, another BBC Big Painting Challenge exercise awaiting us first. On scraps of paper with ink and a big brush, we were to follow the rule of looking for 90 seconds and painting for 30. We had a few runs at this and it loosened us up for the long pose, I have no pictures of these as they were left behind. I made a couple of sketches to work out my composition before painting having previously coloured my 24×30″ canvas with a mix of burnt sienna, ultra marine blue and white acrylic to have a neutral ground both in tone and temperature on which to work.

A few reworks at the beginning to get the lean of the pose and positioning and then I was away. However, due to not being to get too far back from the canvas I noted that the proportions were slightly askew when the session came to its end. At home, I made adjustments with charcoal when the bent leg was too long, the forward foot a little misshapen and the head too large,  The head, I realised, because of the carnival mask the model was wearing, had been elongated from the forehead to its top and can be fairly easily rectified. The photo below shows the charcoal reworking and once adjusted in paint will be photographed and posted.

 

07/03/17 17.00-19.00

Our model this week was John. Our main projects were to be a 20 minute portrait and a 40 minute standing pose where John would be hanging on to a wire cable from the ceiling. First of course, a warm up exercise! Using whetted paper, a large brush and diluted ink, we were to paint a series of poses on one sheet. These were quick 1 minute poses where the main lines and gestures should be recorded. It was interesting to see the ink disperse on the wet paper, along with the colours that appeared at the fuzzy edges of the marks, in my case a blue/purple and yellow.

For the portrait I used soft pastels and a buff tinted pastel paper and for the standing pose, soft pastels and a aqua/green tinted paper. Initially, for the portrait, we tried a quick ink sketch in the same method as the warm-up, which was really effective and denoting light and dark areas of the composition.

20 minute portrait - soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

20 minute portrait – soft pastel on buff tinted pastel paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling - soft pastel on aqua/green paper

40 minute pose hanging on to cable suspended from the ceiling – soft pastel on aqua/green paper

 

 

 

 

Life Class – 6th December 2016

06/12/16

Life Class  17.00 – 19.00

It was a bit of a rush getting to class today – I decided to bring different media to ring the changes. Am I setting the scene for a “not so successful” session – possibly!

Caroline returned to be our model today. Our loose theme was Eve, complete with her apple. Our quick sketches, 2-3 minutes, entailed “Eve” reaching up towards the apple on a ladder – to be fair, there are no apple trees in the studio!

Seated pose - head back. 5-6 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose – head back. 5-6 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

 

We then had “Eve” sat down having obtained the apple, leaning back, contemplating eating the forbidden fruit – possibly. This I found particularly tricky today, the proportions of my drawing were way off, with the head and upper body being too small – I think this is due to me being seated and my board being at an angle. No excuses, this has happened before, however, I failed to take this into consideration and made the same old mistakes!

 

 

 

Two seated poses side by side in different media. Left sepia acrylic ink, right black conte stick. 8-10 minutes each.

Two seated poses side by side in different media. Left sepia acrylic ink, right black conte stick. 8-10 minutes each.

A challenge of using different media for two seated poses on one sheet of paper was next. I had brought some ink and a stick of bamboo to draw with, so I used this for the first drawing. With the ink being water-soluble until it’s completely dry, I also used a brush and water to give some tone by moving the ink about. The bamboo is quite tricky to use (in the same way as a dip pen), but the effects are pleasing. With the second drawing, I felt more in control using the conte stick, however, it looks quite boring and safe in comparison. Proportions were a little better, but no feet!!!

 

After a short break, I returned to the easel to stand for the next pose. Initially, this was to be a pose to last until the end of the session. As I’d returned to my ink, bamboo stick and brush, I was quite happy with this – however, everyone else had finished after around twenty minutes, so we squeezed in another. As I was a slow coach on this one, I cheated a little and added more ink and sprayed with water to indicate the surface that the model was lying on.

Lying pose of 20 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper, using bamboo stick, water with brush and spray.

Lying pose of 20 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper, using bamboo stick, water with brush and spray.

Seated pose of 15 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper using bamboo stick, brush and water spray.

Seated pose of 15 minutes. Sepia acrylic ink on watercolour paper using bamboo stick, brush and water spray.

The last pose was seated, I was standing – no excuse for the dodgy proportions this time! Again using the ink, bamboo, brush and water spray bottle, I sketched out the shapes but the scale was morphing in and out dramatically. With a call of 5 minutes to go, I scrubbed the ink all over the paper with a tissue, scratched out some form, added water and using the brush, tried to redraw, adding stronger lines with the stick. This was an improvement and maybe it could have been saved with a little more time. I have to apologise to our good-looking model for making her appear ancient and masculine. Next week is another opportunity – however, lessons have been learnt this week!

 

 

 

 

Life Class – 29th November 2016

29/11/16

Life Class 17.00 – 19.00

The first class of our next batch of three sessions. The nights are drawing in now and a little chillier so all doors closed, but we can still hear the wind howling around, increasing the atmosphere in the room.

Our model tonight is Jerry – a first time volunteer, and he wasn’t let off lightly! Our first quick poses, around 2-3 minutes, were of Jerry dancing around and when someone shouted STOP, we had to draw the position at that moment.

Classic reclining pose with grapes. Approx 10 minutes Charcoal on paper.

Classic reclining pose with grapes.
Approx 10 minutes
Charcoal on paper.

 

 

 

Producing a bunch of grapes, our tutor asked for a classic reclining pose on a not so classic, rickety table. Our model duly obliged very successfully.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, we had two seated poses, both very different. One from a lower view-point, sitting on the floor and one from standing,

Simple seated pose from a lower viewpoint. Around 10 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Simple seated pose from a lower viewpoint. Around 10 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose where chair must be included to make sense. 10-12 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Seated pose where chair must be included to make sense. 10-12 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our model was then asked to stand on the table, and I sat back on the floor to fully explore the lower viewpoint. This altered proportions significantly, not as much as a camera lens would, yet the perspective was noticeable with the head appearing smaller than life compared to the feet and limbs. It was definitely worth trying.

Standing pose on a table, with myself seated on the floor. 10-15 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

Standing pose on a table, with myself seated on the floor. 10-15 minutes. Charcoal on paper.

 

Head study with model lying on the table with viewpoint from sitting on the floor. Charcoal on paper.

Head study with model lying on the table with viewpoint from sitting on the floor. Charcoal on paper.

Finally, a pose on the table but with the model lying on his back, curled with legs bent and pulled into his chest. Daylight had completely gone by this time and we had directional lighting onto the model. Still sat on the floor, I was very close to the table at eye level with our model’s head. The light cast interesting shadows and with model having a shaven head, it was interesting to see the structure of the skull and all its lumps and bumps. Unfortunately, I took too long to fully explore this and ran out of time.

 

 

 

 

Life Class – 8th November 2016

08/11/16

Life Class – 17.00-19.00

Our middle class of the series of three. Today exploring tone with our lovely female model, who was unbelievably still during all the poses. We were again in Jason’s studio overlooking the Marina Rubicon in Playa Blanca – not sure how much work I would get done if I was there permanently!

3-4 minute reclining pose Black chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute reclining pose
Black chalk on brown paper

We had been encouraged to bring black and white water-based paint with supports of large cardboard off-cuts to facilitate quick drying. We began with a few 3-4 minute sketches to get going.

 

 

 

 

 

3-4 minute reclining pose Black chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute reclining pose
Black chalk on brown paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3-4 minute seated pose Black & white chalk on brown paper

3-4 minute seated pose
Black & white chalk on brown paper

We had a quick break outside at this point to look at some new work of Jason’s – an adult man on a full-sized child’s swing mid momentum, with his jacket tails flying out behind him – fantastic! Along with that, a sunset over the sea that was beautiful beyond words! Back to it!

 

 

 

 

5 minute seated pose Black & white chalk on brown paper

 

Out with the black and white paint and a quick shuffle around to different view points together with the appearance of a few props. Working on large pieces of cardboard from cut-up boxes was interesting, it was extremely absorbent and the paint did seem to sink in a lot, but that encouraged a more liberal application of paint.

 

 

 

10 minute seated pose Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute seated pose, holding a cast head, that just happened to be lying around
Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute standing pose, holding a tree branch Black and white paint on cardboard

10 minute standing pose, holding a tree branch
Black and white paint on cardboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 minute reclining pose, in semi darkness with directed light on the model Black and white paint on cardboard

30 minute reclining pose, in semi darkness with directed light on the model
Black and white paint on cardboard

Next week we have elected to do one long pose – probably after a few warm-ups – and I think I’ll try to join some brown paper together and work on that. I enjoyed the black and white theme, so may get most of the subject blocked in with paint and then work into it with charcoal and white pastel after the break???

Here’s a link to this session‘s Facebook post by Betty our tutor.

 

Life Class – 1st November 2016

1/11/16

Life Class – 17.00 – 19.00

My first life class in Lanzarote! The wonders of the Facebook network has brought me together with a new teacher, class mates and venue!

Firstly, the venue! How lucky are we to be able to use a professional sculptor’s studio here in Playa Blanca, Lanzarote? Not only that he, Jason deCaires Taylor, has the commission for creating an underwater sculpture museum of people from Lanzarote. Many have already been submerged and many more are being cast and constructed at the studio.

underwatermuseumlanzarote.com/en/info-museo-atlantico/

We are surrounded by various body parts, moulds and, full sculptures outside ready to be installed in the sea. After submersion, the sea life claims the work as its home and the figures take on a whole new dimension forming a man-made reef of colour and texture – breathtaking.

Back to the class: This is the first of a series of three sessions, with this one looking at line. We could work in any media so I began with pencil, moving on to black conte stick and white conte pencil. This week we had John as our model, who was very tall and slim. Our tutor was keen to reference the “dog women” paintings by Paula Rego, which also merged with the Halloween theme of werewolves and scary poses. So our model had his work cut out!

Two minute "scary" poses LIne in Pencil

Two minute “scary” poses
Line in Pencil

 

 

As is usual, we began with a few 2 minute poses to warm up. Here I concentrated on gesture and stance rather than detail.

 

 

 

 

 

Five minute poses, one being timed and scared, the other being a "dog" pose after Paula Rego. Line in pencil.

Five minute poses, one being timid and scared, the other being a “dog” pose after Paula Rego.
Line in pencil.

After a quick break, we returned for a couple of longer drawings of around 10 and 40 minutes. The light was fading quickly and we had minimal lighting particularly on the final pose. The model had some subtle highlights but I could barely see my drawing – it was interesting to see where I felt I should enhance the darkness because of this.

Ten minute pose in a position common to sleeping dogs. Line in pencil.

Ten minute pose in a position common to sleeping dogs.
Line in pencil.

Sleeper by Paula Rego

Sleeper by Paula Rego

 

 

 

Referring back to Paula Rego, our model was posed in a position often adopted by dogs when sleeping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A similar pose painted by Paula Rego as the inspiration.

 

 

 

 

Final forty minute pose in very subdued light with some subtle highlights visible. Black and white conte.

Final forty minute pose in very subdued light with some subtle highlights visible.
Black and white conte.

 

Formal Assessment Reflection for Painting 1- July 2016

17/05/16

Formal Assessment Reflection for Painting 1 – July 2016

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills

Looking over my assignment works, I think I have come a long way. In retrospect, my first assignment painting was really dull with a lack of subtlety and freshness. I struggled for some time with colour although hadn’t prior to the course. I think this is interesting as previously, I went with instinct and as I learnt more about colour theory, it was foremost in my mind and I probably tried too hard. As I progressed I let go of the “rules” although kept an awareness and became more instinctive with colour and consciously limited my palette which avoided muddying mixes. I think my most successful assignments were two and three, the still life of assignment two is much cleaner in colour and tone than one, the self-portrait of assignment three, is as my tutor mentioned, a serious work which I am quite pleased with. I attend portrait classes on a Thursday morning, which although short (around 2 hours actual painting time), have been fantastic at developing observation not only of features and proportions, but also character and personality. Having the chance to work on one portrait for a few sessions was a luxury that I hope I made the best of. I have tried to use a variety of media and apply the most appropriate to the subject or mood I was trying to convey.

  • Quality of outcome

There were mixed results for this criteria. The middle three assignments were the most successful in my mind. I enjoyed the freedom of the large landscape in assignment four and it allowed me to be more inventive with mark making, using runs and splashes of paint to achieve a pleasing image. My tutor mentioned that this was an atmospheric painting which was a revelation to me, because when tasked with creating mood and atmosphere specifically, I come up short – big time. I have come to the conclusion that if I try for these adjectives in my painting, it falls flat and looks contrived. I have to feel it, rather than think it, and then hopefully it will happen. All my studies and planning for that particular exercise for mood and atmosphere, in Part Four, made for an empty painting that although loaded with symbolism in my head, said absolutely nothing as an image. Conceptualisation and communication of ideas are my biggest challenges for improvement. I made a concerted effort with assignment five, the series of paintings, to put across a message that is important in rural communities – the death of the traditional high street. Although, the series was not about this in its entirety, I wanted to communicate about life in the small market town near where I live, however, death is part of life.  I feel I only got 75% of the way there, although, was on the right track. I think it comes under the “Good effort, must try harder” banner.

  • Demonstration of creativity

I am addicted to my sketchbooks and often enjoy the process before creating the final painting more than the end result. I am beginning to loosen up and experiment more with mark making, media and collage – again with varying results – but that’s what experimenting is all about. I took some chances with assignment five and locked myself out of my comfort zone for 4 out of the 5 paintings. I really enjoyed the map painting, layering inks with cling film to give geographical type features, using string to denote roads and tracks etc. The decline of the high street painting probably worked better in my sketchbook planning than in the end result, yet I feel it was getting there. Going back to the exercises, I also enjoyed the abstract section, which I haven’t really tried before. These were well planned and I would like to try more expressive abstracts in the future and this seems to be coming out in the printing course I am now taking.

  • Context

I actually now enjoy the reflection, thinking about what I’m planning to do and also what actually happens in the end product. I think this will help me with my challenge of conceptualisation the more I do it. I am very self-critical, especially during a project – this is why I like to put work away for a while and then look at it anew. The criticism is still there but the angst and frustration is not – this helps me judge what needs to be changed and reworked if anything. The research skill, for now I know it is a skill, is developing and I am more attuned to deciphering what other artists’ work means and says to me as an individual. The styles, techniques etc are fascinating and their biographies are interesting but it is what the work makes me feel that I try to focus on.

Submissions for Assessment 

 

From my tutor feedback, a few of the finished pieces needed a rework which I did as per below:

Assignment 2 - original painting

Assignment 2 – original painting

Assignment 2 - Still Life Acrylic on Paper

Assignment 2 – Still Life – reworked
Acrylic on Paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Typically, the photographs are slightly different due to the light conditions when taken, however, my tutor advised that the two reds, the rug and the table runner, were too similar in colour. I could see how the rug was distracting from the main subject of the painting, so knocked it back with a few washes of burnt sienna. This retained the shadow and sunlit area on the rug but made it recede, bringing the still life forward.

Assignment 3 - Self Portrait Original painting

Assignment 3 – Self Portrait
Original painting

Assignment 3 - Self-Portrait Oil on Canvas Board

Assignment 3 – Self-Portrait reworked
Oil on Canvas Board

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tutor feedback on assignment three mentioned that through my work in progress photos, I seemed to have brought in the shoulder, which made the head appear too big. Looking again I can see that this was the case – therefore, I brought the shoulder back out and regained the balance of proportion. He also mentioned that the eyes appeared to be at slightly differing levels. This I had noticed before sending it off. I had, however, thought I’d rectified this prior to submitting to my tutor but obviously not quite enough. I have reworked the eyes, defining the lids more as one is more pronounced than the other due to a lower brow – I’m still not quite sure it’s just right but was fiddling too much and was too close to really judge. Whilst I was working on the painting, I enhanced some of the highlights on the nose, chin and lip as the paint seemed to have sunk a little. I also reworked the nose shape which was a little too pointed and added some deeper darks in the hair. All in all, much better for the tweaks!

Assignment 5 - Fordingbridge original work

Assignment 5 – Fordingbridge
original work

 

 

 

 

 

Again the light conditions have made the photographs a little different in contrast. My tutor feedback was regarding the fact that I had painted the original submission entirely with a knife, which, although worked fine for the more organic features of the image, it wasn’t so appropriate for the bridge.

Assignment 5 - A Series of Paintings on a Theme Fordingbridge Acrylic on Canvas Board

Assignment 5 – A Series of Paintings on a Theme
Fordingbridge reworked
Acrylic on Canvas Board

I had to agree, as I struggled with the arches of the bridge and the pub to the left of it. He suggested I return to the brush for these to rectify the drawing of the structure. Hopefully this is now improved in the reworked painting, it does seem so more in the physical painting than is obvious in the photograph above.

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 5 - Decline of the High Street Original work

Assignment 5 – Decline of the High Street
Original work

This mixed media painting was going well in my sketchbook and I couldn’t quite understand what wasn’t working in the original painting. These empty shop fronts etc were painted in acrylic with torn tissue paper added to give a creased, cracked and dilapidated appearance. It wasn’t until all my work was packed up and sent off to my tutor that I realised that I hadn’t added any washes of paint over the tissue. This is where the difference between sketchbook and painting lay. I was working on three paintings at once for this assignment and my concentration must have lapsed with the relief of finishing them all – or so I thought! It was looking at the photo in my blog that made me realise. My tutor feedback mentioned the busy nature of the painting

Assignment 5 - A Series of Paintings on a Theme Decline of the High Street Mixed media

Assignment 5 – A Series of Paintings on a Theme
Decline of the High Street
Mixed media

and he suggested holding over a window mount to establish a better composition. However, I thought I’d try the method that I had originally intended by adding washes over the tissue. This helped enormously, I managed to bring forward some aspects and make others recede which gave a more ordered image for the viewer to understand better. I didn’t really want to crop the picture as I had always thought of the five paintings as a whole, even though they are stand alone too.

 

 

 

Supporting Work Submitted

Going through all of the exercises I have selected some as supporting work to the assignments. I tried to choose those pieces of work that had a successful result, showed different methods and skills, a variety of media and creativity.