Painting the Modern Garden – The Royal Academy

05/01/16

Painting the Modern Garden
Monet to Matisse – The Royal Academy

Painting the Modern Garden - Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy

Painting the Modern Garden – Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy

After a couple of hours in Tate Britain at the Frank Auerbach exhibition and stomping by foot all the way over to The Royal Academy, I have to admit my feet, legs and eyes were somewhat fried! However, when in London I have to make the most of it.

My heart fell when I walked through the doors – it was packed full and trying to get to the paintings was a bit of a scrum! I’m usually so behind with these things that the initial furore is normally over – as per the Frank Auerbach. The first display was mainly Monet and I made a tactical decision to plough on as I had seen many of his garden paintings at another exhibition (Monet’s Garden – Kunsthaus, Zurich). This turned out to be a smart move, most people seemed only interested in Monet.

I was quite surprised at the number and variety of artists included here – gardening and gardens are obviously a favourite of painters.  Especially the impressionists seemed to see it as another way of painting with plants but not exclusively.

There were paintings by many artists I have researched and discovered through the Practice of Painting Course, although they were more known for other subjects, such as:

  • Pierre Bonnard – researched as part of the still life section. Having said that there were still elements of still life in a few paintings, particularly the tea-table. He always seems to achieve a serene and narrative image.
  • Edvard Munch – Jealously in the Garden showing figures in a narrative, although the main character does have the haunting look reminiscent of The Scream, also shown was Apple Tree in the Garden which is a more mellow theme with some vibrant colour.
  • Paul Cezanne – The Pond at the Jas de Bouffan had a different feel to a lot of his paintings, it seemed more solid somehow.
  • Raoul Dufy – I had been aware of his seaside views through hotel windows and doors, here I particularly liked The Little Palm Tree which was a charming painting full of atmosphere and light. In contrast was his The Abandoned Garden which was quite dark in mood and colour with strong directional marks making up solid objects and the sky.
  • Emil Nolde – I was so excited to discover several of his paintings as I had only seen his work on-line when researching Abstract Expressionists. These were expressive, however, I wouldn’t call them abstract. The colours were as vibrant and striking as I’d previously seen. I don’t think there was one I didn’t like but, in particular I was drawn to Red Flowers, Flower Garden and Peonies and Irises.
  • Wassily Kandinsky – More abstract expressionism with Marnau Garden I & II. These were more as I expected although they were discernible as gardens.

John Singer Sargent featured well, one of my favourite representational artists. Two of my favourites were oil studies in the garden – Garden Study with Lucia and Kate Millet and Garden Study of the Vickers Children.

Some paintings that I really enjoyed were by artists I wasn’t familiar with prior to the exhibition:

  • Joaquin Sorolla – several paintings were by this artist although I particularly liked the serene mood and dappled light of Garden of the Sorolla House.
  • Henri Le Sidaner – the paintings by this artist were quite different in style and had a soft-focus effect that invoked an ethereal mood. The style worked beautifully in the soft light of a snowy garden with the gentle glow of lights from the cottage windows of the painting The Steps, Gerberoy. Interestingly, where this was rendered in pastel, a very similar effect was created in the oil painting The Table in the White Garden, Gerberoy.
  • Santiago Rusinol – this artist’s paintings warranted a room of their own with subdued lighting. Whereas these were very realistic and skilfully draughted images, they were stunning in their light effects. The handling of light and dark made the sunlight out of the shadows glow with warmth, using bright hot colours in contrast to the cooler, shadowy areas took my breath away. Glorieta VII, Aranjuez and Gardens of Montforte are two to note.

There were so many more painters represented here that I would be re-writing the catalogue to mention – I wholeheartedly recommend this exhibition as there really is something for everybody.

Obviously, Monet featured large in the exhibition and it was not my intention to dismiss his importance or brilliance in the beginning of this report. However, I have to say I am, nowadays, drawn to his later, more expressive works such as the Weeping Willow, Nympheas, Japanese Bridge 1918-26 and The Japanese Bridge 1923-25. These brilliant colours, atmosphere and brush marks radiate off of the canvas and captured my attention for some time, they evoked a strong emotional reaction that I am glad was covered by the low lighting! Of course, we had to end with one of the epic Water Lilly paintings taking up an entire wall – Monet deserved to have the last word!

Research Point: Examples of How Artists Applied Paint

Research Point: Examples of How Artists Applied Paint

11-13/01/16

Look at a range of painting with particular attention to the way the paint has been applied.  For example, look at the paintings of Monet, Pissarro, Cezanne, van Gogh and the Expressionist painters. Look at some twentieth century pastel paintings and make notes about the range of effects you find.

The link to my Pinterest board regarding this research:

Monet

I have seen the actual paintings on display in the Musee d'Orsay. There is a thick application of paint on these works, which is only really noticeable when standing in front of them. Strangely, the closer you look the less solid these paintings appear which goes to prove how adept Monet was at painting the effects of light. The fact that these effects change the nature of a solid, stone structure is difficult to comprehend let alone paint. The video linked to this pin is interesting to watc...

I have seen the actual paintings on display in the Musee d’Orsay. There is a thick application of paint on these works, which is only really noticeable when standing in front of them. Strangely, the closer you look the less solid these paintings appear which goes to prove how adept Monet was at painting the effects of light. The fact that these effects change the nature of a solid, stone structure is difficult to comprehend let alone paint. The video linked to this pin is interesting to watch.

Claude Monet - Water Lilies I have seen some of the large water lilly paintings by Claude Monet in the Kunsthaus, Zurich a few years ago in the exhibition, Monet's Garden. These vast canvases are mesmerising - I remember feeling I could dive into the ponds of painted water. From memory, they seemed to be layers and layers of paint to give an infinite depth to the water, not thickly applied but many layers/

Claude Monet – Water Lilies I have seen some of the large water-lilly paintings by Claude Monet in the Kunsthaus, Zürich a few years ago in the exhibition, Monet’s Garden. These vast canvases are mesmerising – I remember feeling I could dive into the ponds of painted water. From memory, they seemed to be layers and layers of paint to give an infinite depth to the water, not thickly applied but many layers.

Pissarro

Poplars, Sunset at Eragny (1894) - Camille Pissaro. Again I wish I could see this in person. The flecks of paint depicting the way light affects the colours, tones and shapes allows the image to become visible. I am unable to see whether the glimmers of white in the trees and undergrowth are additions of paint or canvas showing through, either way it makes the painting glisten in the sunset.

Poplars, Sunset at Eragny (1894) – Camille Pissarro. Again I wish I could see this in person. The flecks of paint depicting the way light affects the colours, tones and shapes allows the image to become visible. I am unable to see whether the glimmers of white in the trees and undergrowth are additions of paint or canvas showing through, either way it makes the painting glisten in the sunset.

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, c. 1897 by Camille Pissarro It's a shame I can't see this in the flesh - the application of paint is solid yet sketchy with daubs and dabs giving the illusion of detail. The atmosphere achieved with the colours, tone and perspective is of a night time street bathed in lamp light and of a possible recent rain shower gleaming on the cobbles. Simple and complex at the same time.

The Boulevard Montmartre at Night, c. 1897 by Camille Pissarro. It’s a shame I can’t see this in the flesh – the application of paint is solid yet sketchy with daubs and dabs giving the illusion of detail. The atmosphere achieved with the colours, tone and perspective is of a night-time street bathed in lamp light and of a possible recent rain shower gleaming on the cobbles. Simple and complex at the same time.

Cezanne

Bibemus Quarry, 1898-1900. Paul Cezanne. More examples of broad brush strokes, building the shapes, colours and tones. Cezanne has also introduced some minimal dark outlining to help distinguish one object from another, a technique he often used.

Bibemus Quarry, 1898-1900. Paul Cezanne. More examples of broad brush strokes, building the shapes, colours and tones. Cezanne has also introduced some minimal dark outlining to help distinguish one object from another, a technique he often used.

Les grands arbres (1902-1904)-Paul Cézanne This painting is beautiful - it's restful, colourful and atmospheric. As I'm looking at paint application in particular, it is this aspect that has hooked me. The broad brush strokes of colour, which appear almost random, although most certainly are not, gives the impression of dappled light. The colours are not mixed but carefully placed next to each other to achieve the desired result. Wish I could do this!

Les Grands Arbres (1902-1904) Paul Cézanne This painting is beautiful – it’s restful, colourful and atmospheric. As I’m looking at paint application in particular, it is this aspect that has hooked me. The broad brush strokes of colour, which appear almost random, although most certainly are not, gives the impression of dappled light. The colours are not mixed but carefully placed next to each other to achieve the desired result. Wish I could do this!

van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh - The Starry Night, 1889 The master of mark making in my humble opinion. He could create hundreds of tiny dots, strokes, dabs and marks to build an image with life and texture with ink and bamboo pen or paint and brush. Van Gogh used directional marks to give movement to his subjects.

Vincent van Gogh – The Starry Night, 1889 The master of mark making in my humble opinion. He could create hundreds of tiny dots, strokes, dabs and marks to build an image with life and texture with ink and bamboo pen or paint and brush. Van Gogh used directional marks to give movement to his subjects.

Vincent van Gogh - Le Soleil The application of paint in this work is very thick. Again his use of mark making is very evident with thickness of the paint giving texture and depth to a simple image.

Vincent van Gogh – Le Soleil The application of paint in this work is very thick. Again his use of mark making is very evident with thickness of the paint giving texture and depth to a simple image.

Expressionist Painters

Wassily Kandinsky, Waterfall II, 1902 A strong and bold impasto painting that literally goes with the flow of the waterfall

Wassily Kandinsky, Waterfall II, 1902 A strong and bold impasto painting that literally goes with the flow of the waterfall.

wassily kandinsky Arab Cemetry Most famous for his abstract paintings - this one is more representational but his application of paint appears vibrant and stark, however on closer inspection there is a multitude of subtlety in the colours that stops the image becoming flat and much more lively.

Wassily Kandinsky Arab Cemetery Most famous for his abstract paintings – this one is more representational but his application of paint appears vibrant and stark, however on closer inspection there is a multitude of subtlety in the colours that stops the image becoming flat and much more lively.

Oskar Kokoschka (1 March 1886 – 22 February 1980) was an Austrian artist, poet and playwright best known for his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. Oskar Kokoschka - Melt

Oskar Kokoschka (1 March 1886 – 22 February 1980) was an Austrian artist, poet and playwright best known for his intense expressionistic portraits and landscapes. Oskar Kokoschka – Melt

Oskar Kokoschka, New York, Manhattan with Empire State Building. 1966

Oskar Kokoschka, New York, Manhattan with Empire State Building. 1966

Twentieth-Century Pastel Paintings

I found a selection of pastel paintings that range from the expressive and atmospheric landscape to highly accomplished realistic portraits. Pastel is such a versatile medium that may often be overlooked.  The mark making can be soft and blurred, layered hatching to colour mix, hard lines, sweeps of expressive colour etc. I have also seen it scratched into to increase texture, I have also used brushes with clean water to extend and strengthen colour and marks. Picasso has used pastel in conjunction with gouache to great effect.

Blatant 2012 Pastel wolf kahn pastel paintings - Google Search

Blatant 2012 Pastel by Wolf Kahn. I found this to be a really unusual pastel painting and was very refreshing – the colours are vibrant and the marks are strong and direct – blatant!

pastel painting kb kitaj - Google Search
Pastel painting KB Kitaj. There is interesting texture, smudges and strong lines in this.
Dying Life Model 1978 Pastel on paper rb kitaj pastel paintings - Google Search

Dying Life Model 1978 Pastel on paper RB Kitaj pastel paintings
I particularly like this with it’s “unfinished” appearance adding to its appeal. A combination of soft and hard edges.

Boy with Dog (1905) Pastel and Gouache on cardboard picasso pastel paintings - Google Search

Boy with Dog (1905) Pastel and Gouache on cardboard. This is a lovely, sensitive image and the opaque gouache works so well with the pastel. Again texture, subtlety and harder lines work beautifully together.

Orchard Path Pastel wolf kahn pastel paintings - Google Search

Orchard Path Pastel by Wolf Kahn. Directional marks with layered colour gives an ethereal and autumnal atmosphere to this painting.

Auction Participant Pastel Daniel Green AuctionParticipant-Dan-Greene-pastel

Auction Participant Pastel by Daniel Green. Fabulous, intense study of this man, realistic in style with a subtle nuance of colour in the flesh.

danel green pastel paintings - Google Search

Daniel Green pastel paintings