Project 6: Single Colour Linocut

10 – 12/08/16

Choosing an Image

Look around you for inspiration. …contains strong light and dark contrasts as well as a variety of textures and shapes.

In my new location in Lanzarote, I don’t have to look far for inspiration. From my window I can see picturesque little villas that follow a similar blueprint but that have been modified by their owners to incorporate their individuality. From my front door, I have a view of a spectacular volcanic mountain and at the end of our road there is a dramatic rocky, volcanic coastline with the Atlantic Ocean crashing against it.

I made sketches of a neighbours villa and, during my morning dog walk, I sat on the rocks and drew a little view of the coast.  I had previously begun a painting of the mountain, Montana Roja, from a sketch so decided to use that also as an option.

 

To help me decide which image to use as my main single colour linocut, I made simplified drawings of each on black paper with white pencil to aid the visualisation of any subsequent print. This was extremely helpful, as the thinking in reverse or negative is quite tricky if not used to doing so.

 

As noted in my sketchbook – I was definitely leaning towards choosing the mountain as my image, but decided to wait until the next day and sleep on it.

Planning your Image

Using your developed sketch you are now going to transfer the design onto black or any other dark coloured paper. This will represent the way your cutting in the lino will appear when printed. It also helps you understand the way cutting areas away to represent the white in your design works.

Ah – and there was me thinking I was “cheating” yesterday. This was definitely worth doing and has endorsed my first choice of the mountain to make my main image.

Reverse your Design on the Lino

Now this will teach me for thinking I was clever earlier. With so much brain intervention, I did indeed trace the image to transfer it to the lino but inexplicably, forgot the “turning over” bit. I reproduced a simple outline of the image and transferred it the same way round on to the lino!

First Cuts

As advised, I cut the basic outlines to establish placement and then using the white on black drawing as a guide, cut textured marks to help describe the fissures, contours, shapes and tones of the mountain. I referred back to the mark making exercise linocut to help inform which tools to use and how. I was keen to ensure that the silhouetted rear peak was clear against a lighter sky, yet maintained the dark sky where the sun hit the main summit.

I took a few proof rubbings to test the effectiveness of my cuts, and found I needed to lighten the sky over the dark peak, sharpen the outline of the mountain and also integrate the light and dark areas of sky. (Some of this was clearer after the first one or two prints I must add.)

 

Even the proofs did not alert me to the fact that I hadn’t reversed the image – they, of course being rubbings, came out the correct way!

Printing your Lino

I decided to stick to black ink as it commands a sense of drama that is befitting a mountain! I prepared some A4 sheets of paper, using newsprint, some inexpensive cartridge paper and some specifically purchased medium weight printing paper. I had bought some equipment and paper prior to leaving the UK, however, as it was in a container goodness knows where for 3-4 weeks, I’ve completely forgotten what paper I’d ordered – so a surprise for me!

After printing a couple of runs on newsprint first, I decided to sharpen some cuts and extend the lighter sky as mentioned above. My initial euphoria at viewing the printed image was dampened by the frustration of the realisation that I had not reversed the image before cutting! How disappointing! I am still pleased with the marks and texture, it’s just back to front. Well, mistakes are for learning from!

Below are the three best prints out of the batch:

 

I think my favourite, being on bright white paper and probably the sharpest print is the cartridge paper.

Montana Roja A4 Bright White Cartridge Paper

Montana Roja
A4 Bright White Cartridge Paper

My Thoughts:

What went wrong?

  • A little more sharpness and clarity in the main outline would be better
  • The lighter sky area could have been stronger on the left edge
  • Yes it would have been a truer image if it was reversed

What went right?

  • The effect of the sun worked just as I’d hoped
  • Using hatching techniques for the distant tonal variations
  • The silhouette of the most distant peak
  • The contrast of black on white, and white on black contour lines
  • The fissures, peaks and troughs
  • Textural marks

All in all, if it wasn’t for the main error (probably don’t need to point it out again!), I am really pleased with this. It is something I have noticed previously, in human and animal portraits and some landscapes, that if I have an affinity with the subject, I feel I have a more successful outcome.

What do you have to take into account in order to create a strong single-colour design?

  • A definite focal point or subject
  • High tonal contrast
  • Simplicity of motif
  • Opportunity for textural mark making

Can you find suitable new drawing techniques which translate into a linocut that have not been included already?

  • Making strong 3 dimensional shapes with blocked tone
  • Using contour lines to describe shape and form rather than outline

I know I will be tempted to try this again – the right way round – in the future. I have after all done all the planning – it’s just cutting and printing!

Project 2: Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

12/04/16

Positive and Negative Masked Monoprints

This project explores the use of paper masks to make monoprints. This technique involves creating a design which works well as both a positive and negative shape.

 

I explored some ideas for designs in my sketchbook. All of these would work as a positive shape, however, it became obvious that more thought must be applied for these designs to work in the negative. The paper, when the positive shape had been cut out, must work as a connected whole and not have internal shapes that would not be attached. This eliminated the dog and the figure design. After looking at the pros and cons of each, which are noted next to the sketches, I decided on the rearing horse shape. I also decided to work in an A3 related size and to print on A2 paper with a border, the paper being medium weight cartridge.

Chosen design - positive and negative masks

Chosen design – positive and negative masks

After squaring up my initial sketch onto A3 lightweight card, I cut out the design to produce a negative and positive shape of the horse to use as a template for my paper masks.

From this I drew around the positive shape onto several sheets of thinner paper and then used scissors to cut out the shape. This left me with several positive and negative masks ready to use.

 

 

We were asked to use the negative mask initially, ie the background with the positive shape removed. I inked the plate with black oil based ink, placed the mask down ready for printing. Using a medium weight cartridge paper in A2 I positioned the printing paper as centrally as I could and then applied pressure to help the ink adhere. Carefully peeling off the paper to reveal the print. This was repeated with the same mask and a clean sheet of printing paper to reveal a fainter print and then the mask was removed and a third print taken.

 

I was fairly pleased with the above results, however, I noticed that the mask was a little smaller than the inked area on the first print, which resulted in an unwanted line at the bottom. I placed a piece of paper on that area before taking the second print to avoid this. The other observation on the first print, was that not enough pressure had been applied to ear area of the horse so this was indistinct. I tried to address this in the next pull of the print.

We were asked to repeat the exercise with a contrasting colour so I used red oil based ink this time.

 

Observations this time were that the first pull was successful in that it was a distinct print with a clean background, the second was fairly good apart from an inconsistent pressure being applied to take the print and the third, without the mask, had a few blotchy patches of ink in the background, the outline of the horse was nice and clear.

The next exercise was to use the positive mask in the same way, contrasting colours, an initial print, a ghost print and a print with the mask removed in each colour.

 

This was interesting as the results were quite different, particularly considering that the positive mask was made from the same piece of paper as the previous negative one. Generally, in all three prints from the positive mask, the horse was much thicker set – think sturdy hunter as opposed to sleek stallion! I had also wiped too much ink away at the edges and made the printing area too tight to fit the mask comfortably giving the prints a cropped down appearance. I also thought I had not put enough pressure at the mask’s edges to give a distinct print and tried rectify this in the second pull. It did not make a lot of difference and I put it down to the thickness of the printing paper being too much to allow the moulding around the masked shape. Unfortunately, at this time I had no other suitable paper available to me, although I had some blank newsprint on order.

I made some further positive mask prints with a contrasting colour, also trying to address the issues I had identified previously.

 

 

Fourth pull on brown wrapping paper in blue oil based ink but with mask removed

Fourth pull on brown wrapping paper in blue oil based ink but with mask removed

Again, coming across the same challenges in the blue prints as with the red, I found out some brown wrapping paper. This paper being a little thinner and a different texture, I thought I’d give it a try. It didn’t really address the moulding around the positive mask as it had already been removed. I used the less shiny side of the paper to take a ghost print of the plate with the mask removed.

Not sure what this proved, other than it’s another option for printing paper. It did, however, test my patience as the paper had been previously rolled which made it a little unwieldy in execution! I think I will have to wait for my newsprint to arrive to fully test the paper weight theory.

 

 

 

How did you find this process?

I enjoyed this and found it mostly straight forward although I made observations and learnt lessons as detailed below.

Did your ink dry too quickly and not print evenly or was it easy to achieve a smooth print?

Using oil based inks for this project was a complete game changer. On previous projects I only had water-based inks available to me and whereas, in the main they worked fine, I always had trouble with the black ink not printing solidly and distinctly. The black oil-based ink produced a beautifully solid, clean print in comparison. I followed instructions in applying a couple of drops of linseed oil to mix in and loosen the consistency, although I did forget once (with the first use of red ink) and although it didn’t affect the few prints I took with it, I think it would have shortened the working time if I had continued with it.

Does your image work well in both its positive and negative forms?

Yes I think it does, this was a major factor in choosing which design to use as per my notes in my sketchbook and above. It seems easier if thinking only of the positive shapes, it takes more thought for a successful outcome in the negative as all aspects have to be connected as a whole.

Lessons Learnt:

  • Keep designs simple and consider both negative and positive shapes
  • Consider the size of the print – I may have been too ambitious at A3 for my limited skill
  • Do not take design too close to the border’s edge or the negative mask becomes unstable and can distort when applying to the printing plate
  • I found the negative mask easier to handle if kept whole and cut out with a blade rather than cutting in from the edge with scissors
  • Check the printing area does not extend further than the mask as this will print – mask with additional paper strips to keep border clean of ink
  • Before placing printing paper onto plate, ensure there are no dots, blobs or smudges of ink on the mask itself or this will print – depending on the size of the contamination I found a scrap of paper or masking tape placed on top would keep the print clean or remove and use a fresh mask
  • Ensure you have enough masks to address the previous point or for the number of prints required
  • Keep templates for future use
  • Ensure inked area is sufficient for the mask (particularly positive ones)
  • Consider the thickness of the printing paper to ensure distinct edges for positive masks
  • Consider the pressure used for making the print, if a solid print is required, the pressure should be consistent
  • Keep hands and work area clean
Negative mask print in red oil based ink

Negative mask print in red oil based ink

Assignment 5: A Series of Paintings on a Theme

Assignment 5: A Series of Paintings on a Theme

08/01/16

My initial thoughts over the last few days have been to create a series of paintings of a similar subject, becoming progressively more abstract. I am unsure what the subject should be, although I am leaning to a more organic theme. That may be a natural still life, a figure or figures, or a landscape.

I am being influenced by other areas of art such as music and dance, and am gaining an understanding of evolving styles from the traditional and classical inspiring experimental interpretations to create something original.

26/01/16

Have been struggling to decide on a subject still:

Have now discounted still life and although was seriously tempted to use a figure, maybe a life model – it was not to be overly practical as my life classes are every 2 or 3 weeks and on a Saturday. I do have many life drawings for reference though and I have sifted through them, considering how I could elaborate on them. However, finally, I think I will use a landscape. I think this will give me more freedom to experiment. My thoughts regarding the series of paintings are still focused on progressively working from realism to abstract, how to do this is another choice to make. We are asked to make a series of 3-5 paintings so I could go from realism to impressionism to expressionism to abstract giving me 4 paintings. There are various ways I could attempt this, the mark making, the paint treatment, colour variation, distortion, changing balance in the image and many more I am sure.

Whilst I was away over Christmas and New Year I visited another attraction designed by the Canarian artist, Cesar Manrique. This was the Cactus Garden on Lanzarote. The garden itself is extraordinary, I felt I was moving between Africa, the Wild West, the tropics and deserts in relatively small area. The shapes of the cacti along with the natural volcanic made elaborate shapes with dramatic shadows in the early afternoon. There were also a few paintings by the artist on display which was timely, as they show how he used splatters and splashes to recreate the “spikeyness” of the plants.

Although the paintings are behind glass and it was difficult to avoid reflections, the techniques used can still be seen. Something to bear in mind.

Now I’m almost certain to use landscape and natural forms, I need to decide which scene to use, I think it is important to use the same scene throughout the series to fully appreciate the intended evolution of each style. Do I use sketches I already have or something completely new?

19-28/02/16

What a journey my musings over this assignment have travelled between the beginning of this post and now. It seemed that not a moment past when I wasn’t running through options and ideas, from waking up in the night to doing the ironing!  I have gone through this section’s exercises and experimented extensively which has informed my decisions on how to proceed. I have:

  • chosen my subject – a series of paintings of my local market town Fordingbridge
  • chosen my supports – canvas board 24×20″ – 3 of
  • given myself an option to add 2 smaller paintings if time allows
  • decided to explore a) the decline of the small market town, b) the picturesque façade or “first impression” c) the regeneration of the town in modern times

I had previously made some sketches of my intended picturesque scene in the Landscape section of this course. These were not used for a final painting at that stage, however, I had noted that I would like to revisit it at a later date – this seemed the perfect opportunity to do so.

My initial plans and a tracing of the map of Fordingbridge, as noted in my sketchbook, showed my first idea was to have a textured large-scale map as the ground for each painting. As the first one took all afternoon to create I decided that this would be impractical. In addition, as I had planned to use painting knives to make at least one of the series, the map would have been obliterated. Therefore, I decided to adapt my plan to use the map as a painting in its own right. This worked out well as I was struggling to create a coherent image for the regeneration painting. My sketchbook scribblings confirmed that this would be a forced image and would not say what I intended so I cut this from the series.

Sketchbook plan for the Fordingbridge series with revisions.

Sketchbook plan for the Fordingbridge series with revisions.

Map Painting

I made a larger, freehand drawing of the traced map from my sketchbook onto the first canvas board – this was to loosen up and not be a slave to the original ordinance survey map. I used string to denote the main A338 road in double width and other B roads with a single strand. For the Avon river that runs around and through the town, I used impasto gel in a textured fashion to represent flowing water. I also had some large gauge embroidery “canvas” which I cut into shapes to represent rows of buildings, which was added to the town. Once the PVA glue and gel was dry, I painted over with gesso to create a matt, uniform effect. I left this over night to dry and contemplate how I was going to move this forward. As I initially intended to use this as a ground for another painting, I had to let my ideas simmer and come to the boil. Whilst this was evolving in my head, I began plotting my plans for the next painting…

Returning to the map, with some half-baked notion of using thin acrylic washes, I added a watercolour ground over the gesso to enable some wet in wet washes. This again had to dry overnight. Again I returned to the other painting…

Maps should give an idea of the terrain of the land, so in order to achieve this, I added a wash of acrylic and laid cling film over the wet paint. Moving the film around created creases, this was left overnight again to dry. In the morning, I removed the cling film and a pale landscape of fields, tracks, streams etc was revealed.  I repeated the process to deepen the colour, and then added more washes of green, burnt sienna and ultramarine to build up the geographical features. I also added blue/sienna/green to the river to bring it forward. This was a long process and I continued to work on the other two large paintings in tandem. I also had to take my time to assess where I was going with this. Finally, I grazed over some oil pastels in places to bring out the relief of the raised features – this is where I left it as complete.

This was definitely an organically evolving painting – it wasn’t originally supposed to be one of the series but claimed its place. I think it works although, it does look tentative which is probably because that’s how I felt making it. It does give the series some introduction and it is subtle in the way that an introduction is not supposed to be the main event.

Final Painting Oil pastel in greys, blues, greens and browns to bring out the relief of the texture

Final Painting 24×20″ Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas Board
Oil pastel in greys, blues, greens and browns to bring out the relief of the texture

Decline of a Market Town

This is actually an idea I’ve had bubbling around my brain for some time, however, I wasn’t entirely sure how to execute it.  I had spent a very cold but sunny afternoon wandering around Fordingbridge taking photographs of anything that caught my eye. It was a sad reflection of how many closed shop fronts were evident, those that had been re-used were for charity shops, estate agents (ironically) and new clinics for various ailments! Fordingbridge is not a complete ghost town, it does have top quality family run shops such as bakers, butchers, seven hairdressers/barbers (!), a little exclusive boutique and a few shabby chic home-ware shops plus your obligatory mini-supermarkets and post office, a couple of banks – recently reduced by three. It did strike me that two of the most well-kept frontages were funeral directors – it seemed I should include at least one of these in my painting to make a point. Instead of creating a high street of boarded up windows, I decided to create collage of shop fronts albeit painted. I experimented in my sketchbook and added crumpled tissue over the painting with succeeded in giving the image a run down, abandoned effect which I liked and decided to use. I set out to paint pretty much straight onto the board and concentrate on perspective and tone rather that a perfect rendition of the subject – this also helped with the neglected effect I was after.

This was a departure from my usual carefully planned composition, in fact, again the composition evolved. I was really pleased with the experiment in the sketchbook but am not sure if the final work has that same sense of abandonment – should I have done less shop fronts? One thing I am unsure about is whether I should have put washes over the tissue – looking back at the sketchbook, I think I did there.

Decline of a Market Town Final painting

Decline of a Market Town 24×20″ Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas Board
Final painting

Picturesque Fordingbridge

My rough idea for this assignment was to produce this image in several differing techniques and styles. I decided not to do this as this is a complex subject and to be honest, I probably would have become bored with doing the same view several times in one week. As alluded to earlier, I had wanted to revisit this from the Landscape section previously. This time, however, I determined to produce a looser, more expressive painting instead of becoming embroiled in details. To achieve this and keep me true to my intent, I opted to use painting knives for the entire painting. The only brushes used were to lay down the bright red ground and a rigger brush to branches on the trees and some grasses and reeds in the foreground. I used a red ground to have some show through and give uniformity to the painting, however, most of it was obliterated with the amount and free use of paint.

This was great fun to do and real antidote to the other two large paintings. I literally scrubbed, scratched and smeared paint all over the place. I did adhere to one main rule though and that was ensuring the tones were working in all aspects of the painting. I think it works as when viewed from distance it looks right. This one helped inform my process on the small Down River painting by pushing me to avoid detail.

Picturesque Fordingbridge Final Painting

Picturesque Fordingbridge 24×20″ Acrylic on Canvas Board
Final Painting

Plan for small paintings and overall layout

Plan for small paintings and overall layout

 

After completing the three large paintings in the series, I was more determined to include the smaller two – I felt that their inclusion would give a fuller impression of the theme as a whole. I also wanted to give these a different treatment, yet still keeping them unified with the others by using the same palette of colours.

 

 

 

Town Hall Clock Tower

Whilst taking photographs of the Town Hall, I framed a composition of the various pitched roofs around the clock tower. Although it was only a quick snap, it was strong in my memory too and an idea was already forming. In fact, the memory was so acute, I didn’t recognise the photograph straight away as my basic composition was already set in my mind. I wanted to produce an abstracted version that was still recognisable, yet, could fool the eye.

I actually quite like this technique for abstracting a subject and I think this works in its own right, however, my doubt is whether I have done enough to integrate it into the series of work. I used the same palette although the colours are flat, maybe, just because it’s a series it doesn’t have to fit? I suppose that’s down to my objective. Although I have to admit my objective was to have the series work together and for each painting to work by itself.

Town Hall Clock Tower Final painting with revised colourway

Town Hall Clock Tower A4 Acrylic on Paper
Final painting with revised colour-way

 

Down River

The second small painting was pure indulgence, I stood for some time on the little bridge watching the offshoot stream from the river. It was sunny and cold, which made the light bounce of the trees and bushes beautifully. I was, as seems to be usual, drawn to the long shadows across the water and I chose to paint this just because I liked it! I made explicit notes to treat this simply when painting and although I started well, I began to fiddle with detail – so having a strong word with myself, I painted over the fiddles with flat brush marks and just about pulled it back.

 

I am pleased with the tonal treatment of this painting, and am getting better at keeping detail to a minimum. I never thought I was a detail person – yet I think I like to “tidy” up a little too much so I made myself stop before it looked too neat.

Down River Final painting

Down River A4 Acrylic on Paper
Final painting

Arrangement of the Series

I had a few ideas on arranging the paintings and although I didn’t commit to producing 5 paintings at the beginning until I knew I had enough time, most of the plans involved 5.

I considered putting the paintings together as if they were one large painting in a group, (see first sketchbook plan). After completing them all, I preferred them in a line and played around with the order. I was certain that the map should be in the centre so that the others radiating out from it. I also decided that I wanted to break up the urban/abstract with the landscape focussed paintings, so the final layout would be:

Self Evaluation

This last section of the PoP1 course has been very enlightening for me. Previously, I felt I lacked creativity, I was comfortable drawing or painting what I saw in front of me, yet I felt totally unoriginal. In fact I was starting to despair – any exercise that said to evoke mood and atmosphere, left me cold. I couldn’t get in the zone and any attempt looked forced. The different techniques here, although I was aware of them, made me lose my logical head and allowed me to just do. I enjoyed all the dribbling, splashing and pouring, absolutely loved using painting knives instead of brushes and the abstract exercises were a revelation. I felt I was being creative and artistic not just copying and reproducing. I absolutely understand that I need to learn all the usual drawing, tone, colour mixing, perspective etc but it’s been great to have that underpin such freedom. One small step…

 

Exercise: Hard or Soft Landscape

03-04/11/15

Exercise: Hard or Soft Landscape

For this painting exercise, choose a view of either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ landscape; this could be interpreted as urban or pastoral… You may find it useful to work using the view from a window or doorway. A window could help you to isolate a single area for your painting…

As the weather is being less than kind at the moment, (thick pea soup fog or pouring rain), using views through windows is making sense. As I have in my mind to use a soft landscape for a future exercise, I decided to try a more urban view – well as urban as a small village can be. From an upstairs window I can see over neighbours’ rooftops and gardens with sheds and outhouses and the odd tree and shrub.

I had intended to make both a landscape and portrait orientation sketch. However, as I progressed with the landscape version, it actually worked as the window frame helped to form landmarks to position elements of the view.

Preliminary sketch Pen & watercolour A5 in sketchbook

Preliminary sketch
Pen & watercolour
A5 in sketchbook

 

 

As this method worked well for the previous exercise, I decided to use watercolour again. The result is a little messy yet does give me a lot of information. Outside was quite cloudy and overcast so I had to have the bedroom light on to see what I was doing.

 

 

 

Preliminary sketch Pen A5 in sketchbook

Preliminary sketch
Pen
A5 in sketchbook

 

As the colour sketch gives me a lot of detail, I decided to make a line sketch to simplify the shapes. This clarified a complex view in my mind and I then felt confident that I could recreate the view in my painting. I don’t allow myself to use oil paint in a bedroom – I know how easy I find it to make a mess, it would take just one brush to fly out of my hand and land on the cream carpet and I’d be in serious trouble!

 

 

Work in Progress for Final Painting

The light faded very quickly today, so mid afternoon I employed a daylight bulb so I could see my board properly.  This made me realise that I had started to introduce brighter colour in the buildings and gardens, whereas I had intended to keep the outside tones muted as the weather was dull. I used the “tonking” trick again with newspaper and this worked a treat. It brought some texture into the outside and played down the colours and intensity. Pleased so far, I needed to pull everything together with the interior of the window and the foreground neighbour’s garden. I had used the negative shapes between buildings and the dark and light shapes to bring out the structures, trying hard to ignore too high a level of detail.

Final Painting

Final painting Oil on A3 board

Final painting
Oil on A3 board

This photograph (and the others to be honest), is a little grainy due to the low light levels, however, it still gives a good representation of the finished painting. I am pleased with the muted, simplified outside view, although I think the window may be a little inaccurate. Having said that, I like the mood and atmosphere I see in it, the interior is brighter due to artificial light, which makes it cosy and the outside looks a little dismal. Definitely a day to be indoors and looking out!

Life Class – 6th June 2015

06/06/15

Life Class – Andrea 09.30-12.30

As is usual, we started with some quick poses to warm up – Andrea navigating ascending and descending steps, we were to explore body weight, tension and gesture.

Andrea - Life class 3-7 minute quick poses (ascending & descending) Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
3-7 minute quick poses (ascending & descending)
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Next some slightly longer poses, seated – incorporating the surface.

Andrea - Life class 10-12 minute poses Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
10-12 minute poses
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea - Life class Closed seated 10 minute pose Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
Closed seated 10 minute pose
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

 

After the open pose above, it is always difficult to visualise where to start when limbs are held close to the body.  I usually begin by sweeping the charcoal on its side to make the larger, entire shape and then “chisel” out or “sculpt” the lights with a putty rubber. The darkest darks are then reinstated – this way the limbs appear to draw themselves.

 

 

Andrea - Life class Relaxed seated 10 minute pose Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
Relaxed seated 10 minute pose
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

 

Again switching back to the open, relaxed seated pose – going between the two can confuse the eye to hand instructions! In this case, I resorted to good old negative shapes to help me construct the entire pose including the structure on which the model sits.

 

 

 

 

Below, are the final two longer poses – two 20 minutes rather than one long pose this time.  In the first, by employing the charcoal stick on its side making large sweep marks, the pose of the model was quickly established. To ensure that this was not overworked, I concentrated on the environment surrounding the model, boldly adding darkest darks, using negative shapes and tones. Although 20 minutes was given, this was finished with a few to spare.

Andrea - Life class Relaxed seated 20 minute pose Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
Relaxed seated 20 minute pose
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

A similar technique to the previous long pose was used below, although, as this was a more complex arrangement due to foreshortening, it took the full 20 minutes.

Andrea - Life class Lying 20 minute pose Charcoal on grey sugar paper

Andrea – Life class
Lying 20 minute pose
Charcoal on grey sugar paper

 

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