Practice of Painting – Assignment 2

28-30/07/15

Assignment 2

Your painting for this assignment should demonstrate your understanding of colour, tone, composition and the development of your technique in your chosen medium.

Set up a still life in the corner of a room or table – somewhere that gives a surrounding context. Alternatively, you may want to develop further one of the sketches or exercises that you’ve done in this part of the course.

I decided I wanted to use the interior of the cottage with its character and homely feel.  I had to remember that the focus of the painting was the still life, and that the surroundings were the context and atmosphere I wanted to give the image, and not to make the interior itself overly strong.

Assignment 2 - Preliminary tonal  & compositional drawings. Pencil in A4 sketchbook.

Assignment 2 – Preliminary tonal & compositional drawings.
Pencil in A4 sketchbook.

I began by taking a few photographs using the “square” option on my iPad to find the view. I am drawn to the square format and made a tonal drawing in my sketchbook in that orientation. It seemed to work well, however, I also tried a more oblong/portrait format with the same focus and felt it did not give me any better a composition.

Using a mix of ultramarine, burnt sienna and a touch of white to increase opacity, I painted my stretched paper with a warm but neutral ground, leaning more to the sienna than the blue.  The paper used was portrait format as I was still a little uncertain about the cropping of the background. I made the decision to draw as much as would be contained in that format and then look at how I would crop the image to achieve the composition I wanted.  I used masking tape to mark out the edges and found I still returned to my original composition of just off-square.

Assignment 2 - Work in progress showing the masked cropping of the larger drawing

Assignment 2 – Work in progress showing the masked cropping of the larger drawing

The drawings and painting were done over two afternoons to try to maintain similar light conditions. The light sources were from two windows opposite to each other in the room, although the sun, (when it appeared at intervals), came from the south window ie offset and behind the chair.  The sun cast the main shadows from the south window and the opposite light gave some further highlights on the crockery and metal tray. I wanted to capture, however fleeting, the feel of a sunny afternoon tea and chat break as opposed to a cold, winter’s afternoon with a roaring fire.

I was also keen to replicate the various textures and surfaces in the scene: The matt leather armchair, the medium pile rug with its swirling pattern in the weave, the slightly different glazes between the teapot/mug set and the not quite matching cup and saucer and the reflections and shine of the metal tray.

On the whole I think I have achieved most of my goals:

  • the background is muted and plays a supporting role to the focal point still life
  • the perspective from a slightly elevated view point, although still seated
  • the textures of the rug, table runner with creases, and shine and reflections of the tray
  • the scale of the small teapot, and supporting crockery is accurate

Things I could have done better:

  • the teapot spout may be a little enlarged
  • the cushion on the chair may be a little too dominant
  • the hand painted patterns on the crockery was quite tricky surprisingly, I needed it to look hand painted yet it was still quite uniform in life, I think my efforts are a little too varied
  • is the sunlight cast on the carpet too strong and distracting?
  • ellipses!!!
Assignment 2 - final work before physical cropping

Assignment 2 – final work before physical cropping

The photograph (left) shows the extended drawing in the portrait format and the cropped painting within it.  This worked well to help me achieve perspective and pin point the composition, although I was 90% sure I wanted a near square format. This brings me to the subject of preliminary drawing and planning. Throughout the drawing and painting courses so far, I have evolved to plan extensively and experiment with different media, views and compositions ad infinitum it seems.  I have therefore, taken a long time to come to the second assignment and now feel that maybe I overdo this stage. With this painting, I made a tonal drawing (which I find invaluable), another sketch and many notes and also experimented a little with the final work. In retrospect, this is probably all that was needed. I must learn to be less regimented, I feel, and be more spontaneous. Prior to these courses, I rarely planned my work and it was a matter of luck as to whether I produced a successful piece. Fail to plan, then plan to fail! However, I am coming to the conclusion that this is a crucial step in creating a process that works for me, and, as I progress, my instincts are becoming more acute in that I don’t need to physically put everything down on paper. My critical process includes the tonal drawing, composition plan and maybe some colour mixes, and not the pages of repeat “try-outs” as in the Still Life with Flowers. This may have the effect of killing off any happy accidents that give the final work its life.

Assignment 2 - Final Work Acrylic on paper 37 x 41cm

Assignment 2 – Final Work
Acrylic on paper
37 x 41cm

 

Exercise: Simple Perspective in Interior Studies

16/07/15

Exercise: Simple Perspective in Interior Studies

Focus on creating an illusion of space. As this is an exercise in drawing with paint, keep your colours muted or within a very limited palette. When finished,  look at your painting critically and make notes in your learning log. Are any areas of your painting particularly convincing? Does any part of the painting look wrong? Why do you think this is?

Simple perspective in interior study - thumbnails

Simple perspective in interior study – thumbnails

Simple perspective in interior studies - painting in line Acrylic on A3 paper

Simple perspective in interior studies – painting in line
Acrylic on A3 paper

Are any areas of your painting particularly convincing?

The ceiling beams seem to work well, they give the impression of a low ceiling that recedes to the far wall. I am also happy with the general perspective, both of the units and the floor tiles. (In the photo above, the floor appears arched but that is the paper curling.)  I think the general scale is also fairly accurate.

Does any part of the painting look wrong?

I am not convinced on the doorway into the next room. I also feel the height of the dresser against the far wall is too tall.

Why do you think this is?

Looking at my thumbnail, the door appears to be the door in the opening but actually I now realise the door in the painting is another door to a room off the next room, so maybe it is correct! I do think there is something wrong in that this is not obvious.

As far as the height of the dresser is concerned, I did measure constantly, but a recurring problem when I measure is not returning to the exact same spot, so the measurements are off. I seem to be more successful by just relating lines and angles to each other as I go. They don’t move, I do.

Exercise: Quick Sketches Around the House

14/07/15

Exercise: Quick Sketches Around the House

Select an interior space around the house or shed/garage etc.  Draw 4 views from a standing position, turning 45 degrees each time, with pencil in an A4 sketchbook. No detail just important line, positive and negative shapes.

Observations and notes made in sketchbook.

Quick sketches around the house - standing 1

Quick sketches around the house – standing 1

Quick sketches around the house - standing 2

Quick sketches around the house – standing 2

Quick sketches around the house - standing 3

Quick sketches around the house – standing 3

Quick sketches around the house - standing 4

Quick sketches around the house – standing 4

Repeat the exercise by drawing a survey of the room from a seated position, turning round in your seat 4 times to create different views.

 

Quick sketches around the house - sitting 1

Quick sketches around the house – sitting 1

Quick sketches around the house - sitting 2

Quick sketches around the house – sitting 2

Quick sketches around the house - sitting 3

Quick sketches around the house – sitting 3

Quick sketches around the house - sitting 4

Quick sketches around the house – sitting 4

 

Research Point: Linear Perspective

17/07/15

Before you attempt the next exercise… research the basics of linear perspective.

Linear perspective helps attain the illusion of a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional surface.

Parallel lines appear to meet together in the distance at a vanishing point, this point may or may not be within the actual image but should the lines be extended they should meet at this point.

Perspective when recreated on a two-dimensional surface gives the illusion that objects close to the viewer are larger than those further away .

Objects that are pointing directly at the viewer are foreshortened to give this impression ie a finger-pointing straight forwards appears shorter than if pointing left or right.

To assist in creating linear perspective it is helpful to establish a horizon line or eye level. Lines below the eye level with angle up towards it and lines above will angle down towards it – this is the vanishing point on the horizon or eye level.

Most commonly used are one, two and three-point perspective. This relates to the number of vanishing points in the image.

One point – a simple or single view disappearing off into the distance eg road or railway track.

Two point – for two receding views, eg corner walls equals two vanishing points

Three point – views from above or below, where there are three vanishing points, those as in two point and those receding upwards or down.

There is also zero point perspective where no parallel lines exist and therefore no vanishing point. This is where scale comes into play as in the third point above. Aerial perspective also assists by less contrast in colour and tone to depict distance.

Research Points: Interiors

17/07/15

Research the work of the Dutch Realist genre painters and choose two or three paintings that particularly appeal to you. Look at the devices employed to draw the viewer into the experience of the occupants of the room.

Johannes Vemeer (1632-1675)

A fairly obvious choice for looking at interiors, Vermeer was famous for his scenes of 17th Century domestic life.

The Music Lesson by Johaness Vemeer. The Royal Collection at St James' Palace

The Music Lesson by Johannes Vemeer.
The Royal Collection at St James’ Palace

 

Vemeer has used perspective to show depth and space in the room. His subjects appear to be unaware of his gaze and the interior itself is almost as important. The light from the window illuminates the figures and elevates them as the focal point, as does the tiled floor guiding the eye towards them. Adding in the table with its detailed cloth and jug, chair and cello gives a narrative to what could have been a static pose.

 

 

 

 

Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684)

A contemporary of Vemeer, de Hooch is not so familiar to me.  However, he also was known for painting interiors, with the specific device of looking through an open door.

Card Players in a Sunlit Room by Pieter de Hooch The Royal Collection, Windsor

Card Players in a Sunlit Room by Pieter de Hooch
The Royal Collection, Windsor

 

This painting is a realistic looking scene of a group of card players.  The light is expertly and convincingly painted from the outside to in, the sheen on the door and the cast sunlight coming in through the door on to the floor points to the room’s occupants. Again the chequered tiles draw the eye to them and also on out to the courtyard, introducing the advancing figure to the story. The offset placement of the key figures give it a realistic composition, with one figure standing adding to the scale of the room and its contents. The more I look at this the more I like it. Its colours are fairly neutral but for the few flashes of red to lift its impact.

 

 

Look at interiors that have been painted by various artists from different periods. Look especially at how illusions of space have been created, how doorways and windows form a part of the composition and how furniture and objects are depicted either as a central focus for the painting or as secondary to any human drama.

Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy (1970-71) by David Hockney (b 1937)

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hockney-mr-and-mrs-clark-and-percy-t01269

This painting is a portrait of the artist’s friends, however, it says so much more. It is well documented that the sitters were not getting along too well at the time and the placement of the figures in their setting does give the impression of division. The open door not only creates a barrier but seems to be offering a means of escape – if only for Percy the cat! Placing the figures against the light of the open door does not throw them into the spotlight but seems to make them become part of the interior being contre jour.

 

 

Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife (1885) by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

http://www.jssgallery.org/Paintings/Robert_Louis_Stevenson_and_His_Wife.htm

Sargent has given a sense of space through open doors in this painting and then taken it away again by adding the gloom of the hallway and the seemingly unobtainable exit by the front door. The direction of the floor boards lead away into the dark, foreboding, hallway.  I always forget that this image includes Stevenson’s wife as she blends into the interior so well I think she’s part of the furniture – she almost appears to be hiding! The rug on the floor is horizontal and Stevenson is pacing (I imagine) back and forth deep in thought and has been caught mid ponder.

Still Life Colour Studies. Exercise: Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood

09-10/07/15

Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood

Aims:

  • Attempt to give a smoky, “club room” feel, dusty, oppressive, dark yet comforting and enveloping.
  • Dark, rich colours – exaggerated darks
  • Ground Colour; Rich, nicotine/whiskey/claret – evoke cigars, pipes and musty books – clandestine.
Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life Arrangement

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life Arrangement

 

We were to use the same arrangement for both exercises. On the right is the group of objects set up.  As you can see it was a fairly bright day with multiple light sources from the open doors to the left and window to the right.  Using the same tonal sketch as for the previous exercise helped me focus in on the objects to remove superfluous surroundings and try to create the atmosphere described above.

 

 

 

 

Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood Acrylic on cartridge paper 29x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood
Acrylic on cartridge paper
29x41cm

Assessment of how well my aims have been achieved:

  • Used  dark plummy brown as the ground colour so that I had to “draw out” the objects from the dark.
  • Started by using fairly realistic colours and gradually introduced more earthy, rich colours for different tones.
  • Painted in the cloth in muted greys and washed over with tones of burnt sienna to give a nicotine stained effect.

I lost my way a little with pre-mixed colours so just went with the flow and used the atmosphere I wanted to create dictate the colours.

  • Made a nice dusty grey with burnt sienna, ultramarine and Naples yellow which was useful to give a dust-like bloom on objects.
  • Mid-painting I switched from using a white to lighten colour to Naples yellow which made the colours more muted.

At the end of day one, I was very disappointed and had decided to start again the next day. However, coming back to it and introducing the dusty greys and Naples yellow made me more satisfied with the end result.

Set out your completed colour still life studies side by side and make notes in your learning log about the different effects you’ve been able to create using the same group of objects.

Still Life Colour Studies - Colour Accuracy Acrylic on Cartridge Paper 28x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Colour Accuracy
Acrylic on Cartridge Paper
28x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies - Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood Acrylic on cartridge paper 29x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood
Acrylic on cartridge paper
29x41cm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effects created in:

1. Colour Accuracy study

  • Sparkle in the glass
  • Cleaner, sharper colours as were pre-mixed
  • Light – more like daylight even though over head spots were on too
  • Transparency of the glass
  • Crispness of the cloth
  • Bottle and glass are clearly empty

2. Colour for Mood study

  • Dimly lit
  • Enclosed, curtained and private
  • Aged
  • Increased opacity of the glass
  • Dusty
  • A sense of waiting
  • Bottle and glass appear to more related to each other as colours are more reflective of each other

Overall, looking at the points I’ve made for each study, 1) has more factual and specific effects and 2) has more inference, suggestibility and interpretation.  Whatever, the merit of the paintings themselves, I feel that these exercises were successful in achieving their objectives: Observation contrasting with mood.

 

Still Life Colour Studies. Exercise: Colour Accuracy

01/07/15

Still Life Colour Studies

From one still life arrangement we were to complete two out of the three exercise options. I decided to choose 1) Colour Accuracy and 3) Still Life with Colour used to Evoke Mood. The option I discarded was Still Life with Complimentary Colours, the reason being that I had used this type of colour selection in some previous exercises and wanted to try something different. Having said that, my main objects were green and red in colour.

Colour Accuracy

As noted in the course materials, colour accuracy is somewhat of a misnomer as individuals perceive colour quite differently sometimes, however, we were encouraged to be as objective as we could.

Still Life Colour Studies - Tonal Sketch and Notes 6b pencil in A4 sketchbook

Still Life Colour Studies – Tonal Sketch and Notes
6b pencil in A4 sketchbook

 

Although not overly detailed, this sketch helped me with placement of the objects and tonal contrasts. I used the same sketch for both exercises. Notes made refer to both exercises.

 

 

 

 

Still Life Colour Studies - Colour Accuracy Acrylic on Cartridge Paper 28x41cm

Still Life Colour Studies – Colour Accuracy
Acrylic on Cartridge Paper
28x41cm

Assess colours against subject:

  • Does it stand out? Choosing an empty green wine bottle and an empty red wine glass against a creamy/white cloth, I feel the subject and painting are of equal prominence in colour and tone.
  • Are certain colours too vivid or not bright enough? I am pleased with the glass objects in that I feel I recreated their colours faithfully.  My main area of concern is the cloth.  It had some reflective colours from the glass objects but they were very subtle.  This subtlety was difficult to capture and I found it hard to match the shadow colours. I think I may have overused my interpretation of the colour rather than actually recreating it.
  • Is the painting lighter in tone or darker than the prevailing tones of the still life arrangement itself? The tones of the main objects are very similar to that of the painted ones. This being, I think, because of the tonal drawing I made initially. However, the dark tones I’ve put into the cloth are again a little too strong. I think I have become used to over-emphasising darks for 3D effect – is this wrong??