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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Practice of Painting – Assignment 4

04/12/15

Assignment 4 – Looking Out

Review all your landscape paintings and preparatory sketches and assess which have been the most engaging exercises. Which landscapes have the most appeal for you?

Both the “View from a Window or a Doorway” and “Hard or Soft Landscape” exercises involved the view from inside to outside. I found these very informative and a useful re-introduction to landscape painting as the windows formed a frame-work and provided reference points to place objects in the scene. “Painting a Landscape Outside” was an experience that was more enjoyable on the sunny, cold day (second session). Although I preferred the sketching to the actual painting, I think this was down to the weather as previous attempts at painting on location in the summer were more enjoyable and successful. It also helped being with other painters.

Working from a photograph was fun, as long as it was my own photo and of a place I knew well and liked. The adaptation and focussing in on a particular aspect of the photo was the best part. It made me re-live my being there.

The most appealing of my painted landscapes to me were:

  • Hard or Soft Landscape
  • Painting a Landscape Outside
  • Working from a Photograph

 

Consider why certain paintings are more successful than others and which approaches and styles have worked best for you.

The more successful paintings have:

  • a more dramatic composition
  • made use of shadows and light
  • elements and shapes that help move the eye around the painting
  • a cohesion of colour and tones
  • an emotional connection to me as the painter
  • a spontaneous rather than manufactured mood/atmosphere

The approaches that worked best for me are:

  • On the spot sketches with notes and/or self taken photos of favourite locations that I can sketch from
  • Preliminary sketches of shapes and then tones
  • Less greens!
  • Elements or objects that I can focus on e.g. a specific tree/building or light and shadow effects
  • Always using my sketchbook

Think about how you can consolidate your experiments by working on a large landscape painting (around 90cm x 60cm or larger) using a location and viewpoint of your choice.

Ideas and inspirations:

  • Georgia O’Keefe – simplified landscape/oversized flowers/leaves
  • Gustav Klimt – Expressive details with mark making
  • Emil Nolde – vibrant colours, mood, minimum detail
  • Graham Sutherland – colour/tone/abstraction
  • Paul Nash – his landscapes rather than the war paintings in this instance – similar points to G.S.

Looking back over my sketches, I wanted to explore some of the drawings I had already done and not used. I was also drawn back to the single tree and its shadows that I had painted in the “Painting a Landscape Outside” exercise – I had this taped to the wall and it was always catching my eye.

Two sketches one of the car park area and one of the tree lined ridge.

Two sketches one of the car park area and one of the tree-lined ridge.

 

I liked the distance and mystery of the gravel track disappearing off into the trees, along with the autumnal colours of a bright, cold day. Again the cast shadows of the tree grabbed me, this is a recurring theme whether it’s in a still life or landscape.

 

 

 

Assignment 4 - Large Landscape Combining two previous sketches, Working out composition and rough tones. 8x6" in A4 sketchbook

Assignment 4 – Large Landscape
Combining two previous sketches,
Working out composition and rough tones.
8×6″ in A4 sketchbook

 

 

Combining the two sketches, composition, focal point, scale and light direction needed to be considered. I had already decided to paint over a large canvas that I had used before, it had an underlying texture because of that. It was larger than suggested at 40×30″ (102x76cm). Scaled down, I used proportions of 8×6″ for the sketch and squared up the drawing to transfer to the large size.

 

 

 

Below are photographs of the progress of the large painting:

 

The colours in the photographs are varying quite a lot due to the different light conditions.  I could only really judge these in real life, even then it was hit and miss, even with a daylight bulb! At the point of the last photo of the above gallery, I took a break to get away from the painting for a few minutes. On my return I stood the painting down one end of the room and viewed it from a distance. This made me realise that it needed a lift. Trying to keep it loose and expressive, I swiped across some “sunlight” in the middle ground as there was light across the gravel track at that point but not on the grass This brought the painting together and I decided to leave it there.

Assignment 4 - Large Landscape Acrylic on canvas 40x30"

Assignment 4 – Large Landscape
Acrylic on canvas
40×30″

Make a detailed assessment of your finished painting in your learning log. Consider what elements had a special appeal to you in your chosen landscape subject. Have you found techniques that suited your subject matter and ideas?

  • Have tried to maintain a cohesive feeling with the painting style, ie not overly detailed and loose and expressive mark making, including the sky and foreground.
  • There is a feeling of a cold and bright autumn day due to the colours, tones and touches of sunlight. Initially the main tree’s highlights were a pale blue/green, however, this gave the impression more of moonlight than sunlight. Therefore, I touched in some yellow ochre/white mix and this warmed up the effect.
  • Aerial perspective was subtle as the dark under the trees were a major component of the composition, therefore, I relied on reducing the size of distant shadows and the distance between them became narrower to give the impression of distance.
  • I like the effect of the treetops against the sky, using an orangey sienna against the blue makes it striking because of the complementary colours.
  • I struggled to achieve a pleasing effect in the foreground grass – it kept coming up too flat. After an attempt at letting paint run, I found that by adding undiluted paint with a dry brush with random marks and brushing over it lightly kept it expressive with some texture.
  • I am not sure that the left hand slope in the middle ground is working – I decided to leave it as is – another tutor once suggested that a little “discomfort” in a painting can be a good thing as long as it’s not distracting.
  • The main appeal to attempting this composition was the cast shadows, both in the background and foreground, although I am pleased that they are not overbearing yet add some drama.
  • Techniques I used and discovered to achieve desire effects included:
    • paint splattering after masking with torn paper for the gravel track, very messy, random, effective and fun.
    • letting paint run, I’m getting more confident with this and although it is not overly obvious here, it gave a good base for the dry brush work. I also used it for the main tree shadows by turning the canvas on its side. It didn’t run as much as I thought but sometimes less is more.
    • dry brushing neat paint lightly for texture of short, scrubby grass.

Review your experiences and make careful notes of future plans. Consider the influence of landscape painters that you admire and explain how their work may have influenced your own.

I found this a very challenging section of the course. I was full of optimism and particularly looked forward to the expressive nature of the mood and atmosphere exercise.  As before in other sections where we were asked to decide on and express a mood, I hit a brick wall. This may be because, I see mood and atmosphere as a feeling and not a thought – as soon as I tried to plan or manufacture a mood, it’s artificial and not heart-felt. It all goes flat – I tried hard to evoke an atmosphere with colour and loose and expressive techniques, but the composition was almost non-existent. How can I get over this?

  • Consider playing appropriate music while working? (I’ve become interested in how different areas of the arts influence each other – poetry, music, sculpture, painting.)
  • Small expressive preliminary paintings where the paint is allowed to do its thing and let the feeling come in its own time?
  • Try not to let the technique become the painting – it needs a core message.

I found it interesting that with landscape more than anything else so far, the media is so key to a successful painting for me. Oils worked for me in the beginning with the “through the window” type subjects but it wasn’t until I started using pastels that exterior, expansive landscapes began to work. The tactile nature of the increased contact between hands, pastel and paper seemed more immediate, the paint brush was almost too far away and I disconnected. I also found the colour mixing more successful, laying down one colour, then working over it with another and making different marks for optical mixing was exciting and satisfying. Once I had that experience, the return to painting with acrylic for the assignment was more comfortable and experimental. For the future:

  • Keep switching between media to encourage experiments, free expression and cross-reference of techniques.
  • Try small paintings of the same subject in different media to understand how to get the best from each.

I have mentioned some of my favourite landscape painters through out this section and above. Interestingly, they are a diverse selection, which may have accounted for my over-enthusiasm for the expressive landscape challenge. I may have tried to incorporate disparate styles and confused myself. Whereas, I think I may have got more of a handle on it in the assignment work. Of the artists I listed above, I think my main influences in this work were:

  • Emil Nolde for the more vibrant use of colour – previously my paintings, particularly in oils, are quite muted. However, I think it has been controlled with a few “swipes” here and there.
  • Gustav Klimt – I mentioned his expressive detail through mark making – I have tried to give an illusion of detail with the splattered gravel and have explored the mark making with the tree bark. An influence but not slavishly copied.
  • Although not directly comparable, I have studied both Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland’s tones and colours and tried to make these work visually in my mind’s eye and not just copied – I would love to try to push the abstraction further in the future too.

(Note to tutor and self – see private Pinterest boards – access given in previous email).

Exercise: Painting a Landscape Outside

20, 21 & 23/11/15

Exercise: Painting a Landscape Outside

When you’ve chosen your location, make a preliminary visit to work out the view you wish to paint and the level that you wish to work at… Make several rapid sketches from different angles… Make colour notes and take photographs… Make notes throughout the whole process – on your preliminary visit(s), during painting and after you’ve finished. Write a commentary (around 500 words) in your learning log reflecting on your experience of painting outdoors and what you’ve learned from it.

20/11/15

Initial notes on locations to paint and choices made

Initial notes on locations to paint and choices made

 

After considering options I decided on two locations to visit to make some sketches and work through views, colours and compositions.

 

 

 

 

 

Fordingbridge view from the park across the river.

Fordingbridge view from the park across the river.

The main challenge was the weather, it has been very wet and now has stopped raining but getting much colder, plus the wind is getting stronger. I made notes on colours, sketched flora and fauna around the river bank to assist foreground detail. I tried a simplified outline sketch as there are many roof-lines and buildings but my marker pen gave up.  I took many snaps of the general area for reference after sketching.

 

 

Attempt at simplified outline sketch on-site and drawing made indoors with help of photograph

Attempt at simplified outline sketch on-site and drawing made indoors with help of photograph

 

 

After about an hour, I returned home and reviewed my sketches – they were fairly inaccurate so decided to make a simplified drawing using both the photographs and my on-site sketch. The cold and low sun made the colours glow and the river sparkle and being there in person gave me a real sense of the place and atmosphere. Although this is a lovely view, I think it too complex to paint outside in winter.

 

 

 

 

21/11/15

Today the weather is so much better, very cold but bright and sunny although my main challenge is the extremely strong wind which is quite gusty at times.

Two sketches one of the car park area and one of the tree lined ridge.

Two sketches one of the car park area and one of the tree-lined ridge.

 

One thing I noticed, is that a broad scene can be made interesting if I focus on strong tones. The car park scene would not have attracted me if it were not for the strong sunlight intensifying the dark shadows beneath the trees.

 

 

 

 

Close-up of oak tree lined ridge with shadows and a scene across the heath with ponies.

Close-up of oak tree-lined ridge with shadows and a scene across the heath with ponies.

 

 

The line of trees in the second sketch above caught my eye, again because of the strong shadows, so I zoomed in on one oak in particular in the next one. Whilst out, I also sketched the ponies that are famous in the New Forest.

 

 

 

Sketches of New Forest ponies

Sketches of New Forest ponies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23/11/15

Planning before going out

Planning before going out

My experience of painting outdoors was in the main a very cold one! My pre-planning was my saviour, having the paints mixed ready to go and using a small board all ready with neutral ground ensured I could get straight on with it. Luckily, a Monday lunchtime was perfect as there was nobody else around and I could spread my stuff out on the ground. Although it was extremely cold (4 or 5 degrees), I was in a sheltered spot and the wind had dropped completely from the weekend. This all made things easier. I’d

Palette used - plenty of paint helped me work quicker.

Palette used – plenty of paint helped me work quicker.

used my sketch as a guide to block in the main dark shapes and place objects in the frame of the board. I tried painting in gloves for a while but strangely that made me try to be too detailed, once I’d taken them off, I speeded up and just tried to get colour and tone down in the right places. I had an extra brush with me (1/4″ flat) which helped cutting in around the branches. The rigger brush was handy, although I didn’t get the impression of the spindly end twigs I really wanted. Generally, I’m quite satisfied with the result, although, the colours may be a little bright – this may be due to the difference between my oil and acrylic paints and how I use them?

Painting a Landscape Outside Acrylic on canvas board 30 x 40cm

Painting a Landscape Outside
Acrylic on canvas board
30 x 40cm

 

Exercise: Linear Perspective

6&7/11/15

Exercise: Linear Perspective

Now find a location in which there are hard landscape elements… Or you could find a location inside a large public space, such as a railway station or shopping mall, or work from a bench in the street… Note the outlines of buildings, roofing and guttering that can be represented as lines receding to achieve linear perspective… In this exercise, the use of line by drawing with a brush or a drawing medium will be more important than your use of colour and tonal contrast.

Linear perspective. Sketch onsite using liner pens. A5 drawing in A4 sketchbook.

Linear perspective.
Sketch on site using liner pens.
A5 drawing in A4 sketchbook.

Again the weather was against me, incessant rain and windy conditions prohibited me from sitting outside to draw. Instead I sat in the car after choosing a parking space on the side of road giving me a view down the street.  Other cars were coming and going all the time so I firstly concentrated on the roof line I could see. From the Drawing 1 course, I was aware that I should establish the eye level first in order to visualise the linear perspective lines. Unfortunately, I had to have three goes at this before I got it right. By coincidence, I had received my copy of Artists & Illustrators magazine, (November issue I believe), where there was an article on perspective. I remembered the advice given, that if you hold a piece of card level with your pupils and hold it flat so that all you see is a straight line, the corresponding point in your view is the eye level.  Once I used this technique, I was away. I had decided to use pen to avoid erasing lines of the actual drawing, although, I found it useful to draw perspective lines in pencil using a ruler as a guide. Once I was happy with the roof line and general direction of the street, I sketched in the cars parked along the road in front of me to further assist the perspective.

My initial intention was to make a preliminary sketch and then make a painting using Sharpie pen and watercolour on site.  However, my car battery had other ideas as it disliked my having the windscreen wipers on whilst the engine was off and slowly died a death, resulting in my having to wait for the breakdown guys to bring a new one! My enthusiasm for painting died with it! Before leaving, I took a quick reference photo for colour and placement comparisons to go with my drawing to enable me to make the painting at home.

Linear perspective. Painting using Sharpie marker pen and watercolour. A3 paper.

Linear perspective.
Painting using Sharpie marker pen and watercolour.
A3 paper.

Review your finished painting and make notes in your learning log. Have you been successful in creating a sense of receding space? Is there any part of your painting that doesn’t work as well as the rest? What could you do you put this right?

  • I think there is a sense of receding space due to the diminishing scale of the buildings and cars as they go away to the background.
  • Looking at the pavement on the right, it gives a sense of going uphill rather than flat and going round the corner. The drawing of the front car is not accurate enough compared to the sketch, I have tried to rectify this to some extent but not enough. The corner building in the distance with the triple aspect roof was particularly challenging especially as I hadn’t made my drawing quite clear enough to reproduce away from the view.
  • To put this right, I could have made more of the kerb of the pavement by indicating the kerb-stones (they being another set of parallel lines). The paving was cobbled not slabs so more tricky to show as they may have become overly detailed. Had the drawing of the car been more accurate (widening of the windscreen and making it less tall), the foreground would have been a better scale to show the illusion of items closer being bigger etc.
  • I’m convinced that, had I stayed in situ and made the painting, it would have been more successful.

Other than these things, the general feeling is of a street receding into the distance and my husband recognised immediately the place from where I had been drawing. I also enjoyed the looseness of the watercolour painting.

Location Day at Christchurch Harbour

10/06/15

The Old Mill, Christchurch Harbour Sketch and notes 11.45-12.15 Pencil in A4 sketchbook

The Old Mill, Christchurch Harbour
Sketch and notes
11.45-12.15
Pencil in A4 sketchbook

My local art society run various trips, demonstrations and the like. On this day a few intrepid painters and sketchers ventured down the Christchurch Harbour in Dorset.  It was a lovely sunny day with some fair weather cloud and very blustery! After meeting up and chatting over tea and coffee (for far too long!), we dispersed to find sheltered spots to set up.

I thought I’d do some sketching to warm up and chose, probably, the hardest subject, the Old Mill. The old spectre of perspective in old buildings came back to haunt me but I think I got down the gist of it, plus a quick snap to refer to, should I want to try a painting.

As an antidote, I did a little people/seagull/dog watching and sketching for 20 minutes or so before I was rallied for lunch.

Quick sketches 1 Drawing pen in A4 sketchbook

Quick sketches 1
Drawing pen in A4 sketchbook

 

 

Generally, a few people were milling around, sitting on park benches and watching the world go by and I was pretty much unnoticed.  A few early diners were congregating at the nearby cafe and generally chatting and warming up with hot drinks.

Quick sketches 2 Drawing pen in A4 sketchbook

Quick sketches 2
Drawing pen in A4 sketchbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a quick bite to eat and a warm up out of the wind, we returned to more or less the same spot (the only shelter with a good view) and I set up my oil paints.  I had brought along a couple of small prepared boards with a neutral acrylic ground and decided to work no more than an hour(ish) on each. One view was down river towards Tuckton and the other was out to the headland of Hengistbury and Mudeford. Here I was trying to work on tone and atmosphere and was almost there but I made the quay side much too dominant. It also, whilst being put it to one side, took off in a gust of wind and landed in the water! Luckily, it landed face down and being oil didn’t absorb much water and just floated – it eventually made its way closer to the wall and a colleague managed to hook it with his stick. That’s working en plein air for you! (A fellow painter working in watercolour wasn’t so lucky – his work sank without trace.)

Christchurch Harbour 1 hour oil sketch no 1 Oil on prepared mount-board 36x25cm

Christchurch Harbour 1 hour oil sketch no 1
Oil on prepared mount-board
36x25cm

The next sketch was towards the headland with several dinghies from the sailing club in the foreground.  Boats can be tricky, especially when being blown this way and that by gusts of wind – I had to choose a position and stick to it.

Christchurch Harbour 1 hour oil sketch no 2 Oil on prepared canvas board 30x25cm

Christchurch Harbour 1 hour oil sketch no 2
Oil on prepared canvas board
30x25cm

 

Assignment 5 – Option 3: Drawing Outdoors

27/11 – 08/12/14

Assignment 5 Option 3 – Drawing Outdoors

Process and Progress:

 

 

Fig 1 – Watercolour wet in wet washes

Fig 2 – Building watercolour layers and defining the middle ground trees

Fig 3 – Adding in acrylic inks and building tone and colour

Fig 4 – Adding definition, tone and colour to focal point iron work.  Washed out the indigo blue watercolour as seems too strong

Fig 5 – Middle ground woodland still too strong.  Added creased tissue paper with 50:50 PVA glue and water – fresh start but with some colour and marks showing through. Began adding texture, colour and tone to the concrete buttresses.  Adhered torn hand-made paper to the bottom left corner and added inks and watercolour for foliage

Fig 6 – Adding brighter ink to the woodland and watercolour washes into  the river

Fig 7 – Using water-soluble Derwent Graphik pens, sepia drawing and brush pens to draw into the under-painting, bringing in the details and building more texture with mark making.

Fig 8 – Addition of more washes, completing all features, building tone in shadow areas, adding colour, definition and texture with oil pastels and colour brush pens.

Fig 9 – Working in the texture in the wooden plank walkway, increasing tone in the middle ground taking down the brightness. Worked into the foreground foliage increasing darks with dark blue brush pen, working negative spaces to bring out natural shapes of leaves with highlight of Graphik pen.

Fig 10 – Water built up with ink pens, oil pastel and washes.

Final work

Final work

Self Assessment
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
material, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
I continued experimentation with different media and drawing tools and tried to push them and myself by letting them find their own way in a sense. As well as inks, pens and oil pastels etc.  I tried textural effects with different papers and salt.  Compositionally, careful planning and the trying out of different views made it easier to be free with how the work was made within a considered design.

Quality of Outcome content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
Initially, I was excited to try all sorts of ideas and techniques and if I hadn’t gone through the lengthy process of experimenting and trialling effects in my sketchbook and elsewhere, I think there would have been a definite lack of coherence.  By following the process, I achieved a loose and fluid under-painting which I feel has been successfully pulled together by drawing and mark making with detail and accuracy where necessary yet the image remains lively.

Demonstration of Creativity imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
I used my imagination to create a version of the scene that I hope has enhanced an autumnal feel by my use of colour and texture.  All of the planned elements are there, yet I was determined to avoid a photographic representation, the feelings that the location evokes in me are demonstrated by the treatment given.  Textures, smells and sounds inspired the work and helped develop a representation of a favourite walk.  I didn’t want to rely on laborious, detailed and intricate drawing of branches, mosses and foliage but make the best of what the media and techniques gave me and work with whatever effects occurred.

Context reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log).
I have continued to use my blog to record my reflection of progress and exercises.  I have learnt lessons and recorded them clearly, together with the research undertaken this has informed my decision-making and direction in the making process.

Reflection of Final Work

I have left the assignment drawing for a couple of days and returned to it to re-evaluate and decide whether I am entirely happy with the result.  My thoughts:

  • From a distance the trees immediately to the left of the iron girder appear too vertical and are not distinct from the girder itself.
  • The whole image may need more “pulling together”.
  • The texture and tone in the foliage in the foreground is too flat and indistinct.

Rework to Address the Above

Assignment 5 Option 3 - Drawing Outdoors Final and Complete Piece of Work

Assignment 5
Option 3 – Drawing Outdoors
Final and Complete Piece of Work

Points Above Addressed by:

  • Lightened the end of the iron girder to bring it forward
  • Added more tone and texture to the offending group of trees, plus made them less vertical by adding tonal branches.
  • Brought colours across the drawing to unify and using oil pastels on their side to bring out the relief of the tissue creases to indicate branches.
  • Added lights and darks to the foreground foliage with oil pastels and worked into the negative shapes with dark brush pens to bring the leaves forward.

Detail Photographs

As this particular assignment is being assessed purely on-line due to time restrictions, I have included close-up detail photographs to further illustrate the textures and details.

Detail 1

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail 3

Detail 3

 

Detail 4

Detail 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail 5

Detail 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 5 Drawing Outdoors – Media Experimentation and Selection

17 & 18/11/14

Assignment 5 Drawing Outdoors – Media Experimentation and Selection

In my mind I wanted to use water based media to produce washes particularly with wet in wet effects. The following experiments were mainly focussed on the woodland in the middle ground of my composition and which colours to use for what.  I was also keen to try out salt effects both with sea salt and table salt to disperse the ink and watercolour to produce texture. I’ve taken some work in progress photos to show how the layers were built up.

Colour media experiments with notes

Colour media experiments with notes

A mixture of watercolour, acrylic ink and oil pastels.

Sketchbook page showing the colours I intended to use following the colour studies. Also, the adding texture with screwed up tissue and hand-made paper,
A mixture of watercolour, acrylic ink and oil pastels.

 

From the above studies and playing around with colours and media, I made a rough plan in my sketch book of the colours of ink and watercolour I wanted to use.  I had seen some mixed media work using tissue paper as a textured base so thought I’d try this, plus I had some hand-made paper that was very absorbent and frayed freely at a torn edge. Texture is a key part of this drawing so I also wanted to try using salt  sprinkled onto wet media and see how it reacted, I used large grain sea salt and fine grain table salt.  I imagined that the larger grain would be useful to describe the moss on the

Further experimentation with textures using: Oil pastel as a resist Salt to diffuse pigment Hand-made paper to use wet in wet pigment.

Further experimentation with textures using:
Oil pastel as a resist
Salt to diffuse pigment
Hand-made paper to use wet in wet pigment.

concrete and the finer grain would give a diffused effect to show rough texture.  I could, of course,

have used rough watercolour paper to show this, However, I made a conscious decision to use smooth hot pressed paper as I can add roughness but not take it away and be more selective in where this was done.