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??

 

Research Points: Optical Mixing and Effects

24/06/15

Pointillists

Georges Seurat ( 1859-1891)

Seated Boy with Straw Hat Georges Seurat

Seated Boy with Straw Hat
Georges Seurat

 

Seurat spent two years dedicated to developing his skill of black and white drawing around 1880-1882. He concentrated on tone and light in these drawings and often omitted lines to delineate areas, instead using marks built up to show dark against light.  This is particularly prevalent in “The Black Bow” or “The Black Knot” (1882), in conte crayon on paper, see link below:
http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/graphic-arts.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=109358

Maybe these were his embryonic thoughts to using such mark marking with colour and tone in his subsequent paintings? In Seurat’s first large-scale painting, “Bathers at Asnieres” (1884) – National Gallery, he did not use Pointillism but similar mark making techniques to the drawings are apparent.  Even here, Seurat has not used broad sweeps of colour but smaller marks.  This painting depicts a bright summer’s day, the colours used are light and fresh, the shadows although cooler, are not cold but convey a subtle shade.  the darkest colours, eg the boots, trousers and hat are a rich deep brown, they still show the bright light of the sun.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/georges-seurat-bathers-at-asnieres

Women by the Water 1885-6 Georges Seurat

Women by the Water 1885-6
Georges Seurat

In “Women by the Water” (1885-6) Oil on Wood 15.7x25cm shows Seurat using Pointillism with broken dots and dashes of colour but still following tonality and light. The colours are more intricate because of this,  compared to the “Bathers at Asnieres”, where colour appears simplified.  There are nuances of colour both in the light and dark tones, if not generally. This painting is best viewed at a short distance away,  the eye then “joins the dots” and gives, what looks disjointed close up, a recognisable image.

 

“A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jette” 1884 – there are many reproductions of this painting and many I have seen seem to be made of many coloured dots (ie Pointillism), in their entirety, however, looking at the Metropolitan Museum of Art website, I notice the multitude of short dash like marks over the majority of the painting. The grassy shadows have dashes of blue/green/orange//yellow which give the ground movement. There is similar treatment in the trees which really evokes the dappled sunlight and gently summer breeze.  It transpires that Seurat added the dots towards the completion of the painting, along with a dotted border. This border follows the tones of the painting where it touches, being darker over the trees, down along the grass shadows and lightens towards the water where the sun hits.  By laying complimentary colours alongside each other, he gives crisp colours a lively movement, for example the blues in the grassy shadow against the orange of the daisies.  He as also used colours close on the spectrum to give a variation in tone and mix colours, there is a lot of red and blue which interpreted as a violet/plum colour in many of the clothes.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/51.112.6

Paul Signac (1863-1935)

A contemporary of Georges Seurat, Signac was intrigued by Seurat’s working methods and went on to help in the development of Pointillism.  I have to admit that I am not overly familiar with Signac’s work – possibly because he was eclipsed by Seurat? Seurat’s life was cut very short and maybe the more celebrated because of that – I don’t know.

I have found some paintings of Signac’s that particularly appeal to me:

Capo Di Noli (1896)

http://www.wallraf.museum/en/collections/19th-century/masterpieces/paul-signac-capo-di-noli-1898/the-highlight/

A coastal view from a cliff path which sings with colour. Allegedly not the actual colours but the colours the scene evoked in the artist’s mind’s eye.  It’s again as with Seurat, tonally working yet has a clean-cut vibrancy that comes from not mixing colour on the palette but with the eye.  In the detail of the attached link, the complimentary colours are lifting each other above the bland and really give a sense of the hot Mediterranean sun.

Complat le Chateau, Le Pre (1886)

Complat le Chateau, Le Pre 1886 Paul Signac

Complat le Chateau, Le Pre 1886
Paul Signac

 

This meadow scene reduces my initial thoughts to dust! I was beginning to think that this method was best used to describe strong Mediterranean sunlight – however, although the sun is still strong here, it has a hazier, Northern European feel. the dominance of blues in varying shades and tones gives a unifying effect and although the  shadows are distinct, it still feels close to midday sun.  I almost need to shield my eyes from the glare.

 

 

Grand Canal, Venice (1905)

Grand Canal, Venice 1905 Paul Signac

Grand Canal, Venice 1905
Paul Signac

 

This is a beautiful painting that brings to mind the onset of dusk in Venice – something I have witnessed and is magical, the history, lapping of the water and soft glow as the city begins its night-time illumination of dark canals. This took me right back there. If this isn’t colour evoking mood, I don’t know what it. the last of the sun glancing off the Basilica makes it appear alight.

 

 

Both Seurat and Signac had a method, technique, process – call it what you will. They worked from sketches and colour studies and painstakingly experimented with the juxtaposition of colours to give the right look, feel and atmosphere to their paintings. However, this is a labour of love – it had to be, whether it’s the love of the process itself or the finished article, I’m not sure. It took at least one or two years for each final painting and all done in the studio – it is therefore, even more astounding that the finished works are so fresh, vibrant and compelling.

25/06/15

Ops Artists

Victor Vasarely 1906-1997

Op Art is a phrase coined by Time Magazine in 1964 in specific relation to Julian Stanczak’s exhibition

Zebra 1938 Victor Visarely

Zebra 1938
Victor Visarely

of abstract paintings that used optical illusions as their focus called Optical Paintings. Artists had previously been exploring this concept much before the phrase came about. One of these being Victor Vasarely. Vasarely’s famous Zebra 1938 is a motif he revisited in several guises over the years. Prior to the 1960s-70s, he seemed to work mostly in black and white and then created amazingly elaborate and precise abstract paintings using colour as well as shape for his creations.  Attached is a link to his website that has since been created, showing the timeline of Vasarely’s work and journey – he manages to convey a wildness together with a restraint and control.

http://www.vasarely.com/site/site.htm

For me, these are interesting shapes and colours and I found his planning and painting “maps” intriguing but devoid of any feeling, seemingly clinical. I enjoyed the spherical pattern and line bending of the Vega Period more than most as these were as organic as they got. I will park this and re-examine at some point when maybe my understanding of abstract/optical art improves – not in the diary yet thought.

Bridget Riley 1931-

London born Bridget Riley divides her time between Cornwall, London and Vaucluse in France. A name I know of yet not am not particularly familiar with her work.  Again, I hit against my abstract art brick wall. Having perused some of Riley’s works on-line, these are a few that I was taken with:

Cataract 3 1967

An interesting name! The colours and design seemed more unremarkable until I enlarged the image – it completely came alive and made me compare it to a flag waving in the wind – albeit in a uniform way. The colour-ways help with this –  moving from black/blue & white to red/blue/white and back again.

Shadow Play 1990

http://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/pharos/collection_pages/20th_pages/PD.56-1996/FRM_PIC_SE-PD.56-1996.html

Looking at this, I was a little lost, then I began to see it changing before me in planes and angles. I again enlarged it on my lap top and being a plasma-type screen, the imprints of circles from my fingers seemed to add even more to it.

Movement in Squares 1961

http://www.op-art.co.uk/op-art-gallery/bridget-riley/movement-in-squares

I have seen this before and is more obviously an optical illusion. I notice that it is made with Tempera on board, which seems an unusual choice – it would be good to understand these choices with such a concept.

Blaze Study 1962

http://www.op-art.co.uk/op-art-gallery/bridget-riley/bridget-riley-blaze-study-1962

As soon as I stray into realms of zigzags I feel uncomfortable, in fact this Optical Art is a bit of a struggle for me to really look at – particularly on a computer screen.  I think I should try to find examples to see in the flesh and see if they have the same effect.  The reason being, I am an occasional migraine sufferer and just by chance, have had a few attacks this week prior to this research.  This leads me to think that there is more than a visual effect from these works and more of a neurological impact – is this general or just me and fellow migraine-ees?? I’m all for emotional responses to works of art, I think this may just be a step too far for me.  I will seek out some exhibits just in case it is the combination of Op Art and computer screen.

 

Exercise: Still Life with Man Made Objects

18/06/15

Still Life with Man Made Objects

Select some man-made objects… Find objects that are linked by common use… spend time working out the format and composition… Make a careful evaluation of tonal variation… Think in advance about how you would exploit visual drama…

Still Life with Man Made Objects Preparatory sketches exploring composition and tonal variations. 10x10cm in A4 sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Preparatory sketches exploring composition and tonal variations.
10x10cm in A4 sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice
A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice 2 A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Colour Mixing and Tonal Variation Practice 2
A4 Sketchbook

Still Life with Man Made Objects Acrylic painting WIP - main shapes blocked in, following my tonal sketch as a map 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Acrylic painting WIP 1 – main shapes blocked in, following my tonal sketch as a map
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

19 & 20/06/15

Still Life with Man Made Objects Acrylic painting WIP 2 - solidifying shapes and reaffirming tones, following my tonal sketch as a map 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Acrylic painting WIP 2 – solidifying shapes and reaffirming tones, following my tonal sketch as a map
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects Completed painting - Colours brightened and patterns added, final highlights and tonal adjustments 30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

Still Life with Man Made Objects
Completed painting – Colours brightened and patterns added, final highlights and tonal adjustments
30x30cm square acrylic on canvas

When you’ve completed your still life, look at it carefully and make notes in your learning log. Comment on the following:

  • your planning and working methods – after making two previous still life paintings in quick succession, I was more confident about the composition, scale and format I wanted to use. The preliminary sketch confirmed my thoughts but was still very useful, had the sketch not worked, I would have had the opportunity to rethink.  The most valuable sketch because of this, was the tonal “map” of the arrangement.
  • your choice of format and scale – as above. The objects were not large, however, the image benefited from enlarging them, giving them more importance and as they were predominantly spherical in shape, a square format focused in on them well.
  • the composition – following on from the previous comment, I also wanted to put the objects into an interior’s context but liked the way I could actually see the outside through the open door.  This cast some interesting shadows and gave more tonal interest to whole image, along with some contrasting angles and straight lines against the curves and ellipses of the objects. This was something I liked when researching 19th and 20th Century still life painters and paintings ie Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard.
  • colour interest – I think that this is the first time ever, I have consciously looked at the colours, mixes and their tonal variations.  I have never before worked out these mixes and tonal gradations beforehand – it’s always been a case of pick and mix on the fly.  Whereas that “method” worked at times, at others, I could see a lack of uniformity across the painting and no thought to warm or cool colours or using local colour as shadow. This painting, I feel, gels well in colour because they were premixed.
  • your use of tonal contrast – as this painting was done over two days with varying weather conditions from bright sunlight to dull and overcast, plus light sources from the open door and the window to right, not to mention overhead lighting when it was particularly dark, my preliminary tonal sketch was invaluable.  It truly served as a map of tones across the painting – I was able to follow this directly from the sketch and did not use the fluctuating light sources over the course of the time.  The objects themselves gave me the shapes, angles, proportions and colour but the sketch gave me the tones. As the teapot and teacup are predominantly white, I decided to use a neutral ground colour. I used ultramarine, burnt sienna and white giving a warm neutral.  This worked brilliantly and helped me gauge the tones within the white crockery and door frames.
  • your use of paint handling – from the previous two still life paintings, where I used much more dilute paint and inks, I found I was less heavy-handed here.  I have learnt (as mentioned in my sketchbook) from portrait class that darker tones appear to work much better when thinner in consistency and lights benefit from being thicker. I have tried to sculpt with the paint using flat, reasonably large brushes.  From using the tonal sketch, I also think I applied paint with more confidence than usual and this stopped me overworking it.

Finally, look carefully at all three still life paintings that you’ve completed for this project… decide which is the most successful.

I think as a painting, taking into consideration all the above comments, the final Still Life with Man Made Objects is the most successful painting, however, as an image, I still like the Drawing in Paint still life because of its colours and more loose approach, its flaws have an appeal to me.

What elements have particularly contributed to the success of this painting?

The tonal work, because of the preliminary sketch, is consistent and the use of colour on a predominantly white object to show tone, works well I think.  Also, the fact that the entire painting is made with just three colours, plus white, gives it a cohesive appearance across the whole picture.

Which areas need further development and practice?

All of the elements I have explored, actually using the tonal sketch, thinking about colour with tone beforehand, are new to me and require more practice.  What I would really like to do is to combine the freshness of the “Drawing in Paint” still life, with the techniques of the “Still Life with Man Made Objects”.

If you did a still life painting for Assignment One, revisit this now and make notes on what you could do differently to improve it.

Still life - Assignment 1 Oil on canvas board A3 Session 3

Still life – Assignment 1
Oil on canvas board A3
Session 3

Where do I start??? My main positive is the drawing, and I think that’s it.  From what I have learnt so far over the course of Part 2 I would consider:

  • Being more selective regarding the objects in the arrangement – they have no relationship.
  • Although tonal drawings were done, they do not appear to have been utilised to their full effect. Even though a light box was used, the lighting does not seem fully consistent.
  • The paint handling was a little heavy-handed yet appears tentative in places. The darks, particularly in the bottle and back ground have no subtly and the glass is dull and opaque rather than rich and transparent.
  • This is an example of my pick and mix approach to colour where it has not worked.  By putting more thought into the colours, their tones and transparency versus opacity, I think I would have achieved more freshness.  Rather than thinking on my feet and making the wrong decisions, the hard work would have been done regarding the colour and tone and this would have given me more confidence in placing the paint and making the painting less overworked, dull and heavy.

I have to say that the photograph is also improving the painting by seemingly lifting the colour – in real life, my comments most definitely apply.

 

Exercise: Still Life with Flowers

11/06/15

Still Life with Flowers

Set up  a still life with flowers that can remain in place for a day or two… Notice the outlines around and between things – the negative shapes… working in your sketchbook on simple drawings that help you decide format, composition, tonal values, colours, scale.

With my colour mixing experiments fresh in my mind I selected a few flowers for my arrangement, violet/purple aliums (not so simple on closer inspection!), vibrant orange lilies and smaller delicate daisy type flowers.  They were put directly into a vase, still in their brown paper wrapping while I organised myself. I thought the wrapping gave a nice, neutral back drop to the bright colours and thought I’d include it in a couple of my preparatory sketches.

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 1, pencil and Sharpie pens

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 1, pencil and Sharpie pens

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 2, pencil and Sharpie pens

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 2, pencil and Sharpie pens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 3, pencil, pastel and coloured pencils

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 3, pencil, pastel and coloured pencils

12/06/15

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 4, pencil and acrylic paint

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 4, pencil and acrylic paint

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 5, pencil, coloured pencils and Sharpie pen

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 5, pencil, coloured pencils and Sharpie pen

13/06/15

Still life with flowers: Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods. Drawing 6, acrylic inks and some later pigment liners (water soluble)

Still life with flowers:
Preparatory drawing with notes on decisions and working methods.
Drawing 6, acrylic inks and some later pigment liners (water-soluble)

I began my painting by stretching some heavy weight hot pressed watercolour paper and using wet in wet acrylic inks laid in the basic shapes, colours and positions of the main flowers. I was happily working away and was pleased with the balance of control and letting the inks do their own thing. The below photograph shows the work in progress up where I finished for the day. I was unable to work on it for a couple of days but kept popping back up to look at it for ideas. See notes in sketchbook in next photograph.

Still life with flowers: Final painting WIP

Still life with flowers:
Final painting WIP

16/06/15

Still life with flowers: Final painting WIP, Sketchbook reflection on work in progress and final experiments and decisions.

Still life with flowers:
Final painting WIP, Sketchbook reflection on work in progress and final experiments and decisions.

17/06/15

Although, I may not have gone as far as I was envisaging from my sketchbook reflection, I did feel I made the final painting more dynamic than where it was originally heading. Unfortunately, the photographs do not show the brightness of the pinks as they are in real life.

Still life with flowers: Final painting Acrylic ink and paint on watercolour paper. 36x32cm

Still life with flowers: Final painting Acrylic ink and paint on watercolour paper. 36x32cm