Practice of Painting – Assignment 2

28-30/07/15

Assignment 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things I could have done better:

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

Assignment 2 – final work before physical cropping

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

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

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

 

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

09-10/07/15

Still Life with Colour Used to Evoke Mood

Aims:

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

Still Life Colour Studies – Still Life Arrangement

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Assessment of how well my aims have been achieved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Effects created in:

1. Colour Accuracy study

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

2. Colour for Mood study

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

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

 

Still Life Colour Studies. Exercise: Colour Accuracy

01/07/15

Still Life Colour Studies

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

Colour Accuracy

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Assess colours against subject:

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

 

Exercise: Drawing in Paint

02/06/15

Look around your house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there…  Work initially in your sketchbook with a pencil or some other drawing medium…  notice linear aspects… look at hard lines and angles… 

Drawing in Paint Kitchen utensils hanging on a rack in the kitchen. One tonal and one linear sketch exploring composition. Pencil in A4 sketchbook.

Drawing in Paint
Kitchen utensils hanging on a rack in the kitchen.
One tonal and one linear sketch exploring composition.
Pencil in A4 sketchbook.

Drawing in Paint Kitchen utensils hanging on a rack in the kitchen. One tonal and one linear sketch exploring composition. Larger compositional work through sketch. Pencil in A4 sketchbook

Drawing in Paint
Kitchen utensils hanging on a rack in the kitchen.
One tonal and one linear sketch exploring composition.
Larger compositional work through sketch.
Pencil in A4 sketchbook.

NB More notes added within the sketchbook as requested by my tutor from last assignment’s feedback.  This is helping me refer back and forwards over my thoughts and experiments, rather than confining most thoughts to my learning log blog which isn’t always as accessible.

03 & 09/06/15

Decided to use stretched cartridge paper and taped to the ratio 7:10 scaled up to 28 x 40cm.  I stuck to my thoughts in my sketchbook by using a more dilute consistency of paint.  The background wooden unit that the objects were hanging on was painted white, all the utensils bar two were stainless steel, so I decided to play around with the colours a little.  The silicon masher and mini whisk were indeed an acid green, this played off against the steely blue (Daler Rowney System 3 Process Cyan mixed with titanium white), and instead of flat white for the unit, I used a dilute cadmium red (as a complimentary to the green) for the shadows with a hint of the blue to add dark tone.  As suggested I used a more linear way of working yet still added some tone to give form.  This is a completely different way of working for me as I generally use more neat paint, I am happy with the outcome as it gives a fresher image that isn’t overworked and looks more modern and less “traditional”.

Final painting. Acrylic on cartridge paper. 28x40cm

Drawing in Paint.
Final painting.
Acrylic on cartridge paper.
28x40cm

 

Research Point: Still Life Painters and Paintings

07/05 – 01/06/15

17th Century Dutch Still Life and Flower Painters

Look at the work of some of the 17th Century  Dutch still life and flower painters. Make notes on paintings that you particularly admire and find out more about the techniques that were employed at the time.

Gerrit Dou – Sleeping Dog
Floris van Dijck – Still Life
Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder – Flower Still Life
Willem Kalf – Still Life with Silver Jug/Ewer
Pieter Claesz – Still Life with a Skull
Willem Claeszoon Heda – Still Life Vanitas

Flower Still Life by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder

Flower Still Life by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder

We were asked to look at flower paintings as well as still life as a whole. I have to be honest I found the flower arrangements left me cold. Whereas I can appreciate that they were beautifully and skilfully painted, they appeared too perfect and posed.  I love plants and flowers, however, these made me feel they were artificial somehow. Flowers that would not have bloomed in the same season were put together, maybe due to the fact that horticulture had become highly fashionable and this may have increased the popularity of this genre.

Of course, the Netherlands became extremely prosperous in this age due to the successful trading by Dutch merchants.  Home interiors became more opulent and ostentatious in decoration. Art and commissions thereof, were more within the reach of the new middle merchant class.  Food was particularly used as a subject for still life paintings, tables piled high with seafood, cheeses, meats and exotic fruits newly discovered, sometimes to extent of gluttony.

Still Life by Floris van Dijck.

Still Life by Floris van Dijck.

Regarding the subject of food, I’ve picked out this still life by Floris van Dijck depicting the more simple fare of bread, cheeses, fruit and nuts, and a plain glass of water. This does not induce the nausea and feeling of indigestion that others with whole lobsters, rich meats and overflowing wine etc do! This is also beautifully painted and has colour yet is not overwhelming.  It does however, still have a level of symbolism, the apple peel starting to brown and the plate of bread teetering on the edge of the table give sense of an upset waiting to happen, the favourite caveat of our not being immortal and that all good things come to an end.

Sleeping Dog by Gerrit Dou

Sleeping Dog by Gerrit Dou

I loved this painting of a sleeping dog by Gerrit Dou.  It looks so peaceful and somehow reassuring compared to the pretentious wealth often rendered in still life.  The dog sleeping next to the clay pot with an imperfect broken lid, a bundle of sticks ready for the evening fire and the master’s clogs awaiting his return.  However, I’m a little disquieted when I realise that animal still life is probably just that – is the dog really sleeping? Hope so!

Still Life with Silver Ewer by Willem Kalf

Still Life with Silver Ewer by Willem Kalf

 

As this is supposed to be about painting I especially admire, I had to include this one by Willem Kalf.  The brush work and colours are beautiful, sensitive and realistic. The silver jug has the different textures associated with burnished and hammered silver in its decoration, with the reflected light of the lemon adding to its luminosity. The lemons themselves could almost be plucked out of the porcelain bowl, particularly the semi peeled fruit. The oriental bowl has just enough highlight from a secondary or reflected light source to ensure its position in the shadow. It is a painting that I could look at for a long, long time.

 

As far as techniques are concerned, I couldn’t find any specifics in my research but from observation, many used chiaroscuro to help sculpt and mould the 3D image as in the example above (Willem Kalf).  This gave the illusion of placement and form of objects against a dark background, throwing focus on specific items.  Others gave a fairly equal light source so that everything may be seen clearly, this technique was particularly common with the vanitas paintings where a message was being conveyed to the viewer.  Sometimes these paintings were so full of symbolism and objects upon objects that it is almost a game to pick them out.

Research at least one painting that has iconographic significance. Which of the objects depicted carry particular meaning and what was that meaning?

In Vanitas Still Life by Pieter Claesz

In Vanitas Still Life by Pieter Claesz

Vanitas paintings were very popular and a recurring subject for still life. A common component was the depiction of a human skull and bones, not unsurprisingly, this signified the mortality of man, in fact most symbolic objects made reference to the passing of time and the inevitability of death. In the Vanitas Still Life by Pieter Claesz (left), the oil lamp has just been extinguished with trickle of smoke wafting away, the upturned glass emptied of its contents, speak of the end of life. Watches (as in this example), clocks and time generally tick away and will eventually stop.  Books, literature, music etc are earthly pursuits with no value after death – often in these paintings, a musical instrument with a broken string will give the same message. There are symbols of life and rebirth such as shells, ivy or laurel (anyone trying to eradicate these from their garden would get this one!!!). Flowers are also full of meaning, some have more than one depending on era and cultures. The Lily for example denotes purity and innocence, the rose has multiple meanings depending on its colour. In the above painting there is a key on a ribbon, researching the symbolism of keys, I discovered that spiritual leaders or monarchy are often shown holding keys as a symbol of power – the power of opening and closing – the power of opening the door between one world and the next, the mortal and the afterlife maybe.

Then explore the development of still life through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For example look at how traditional still life subjects were dealt with in some early Cubist paintings by Braque and Picasso. Investigate how some contemporary artists are interpreting this genre.

18th Century

Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin (1669-1777)

When trying to recall some of Chardin’s work, nothing came to mind initially, however, after looking him up I realised I had actually seen some of his work. The Ray, I had seen in the Louvre a while ago and I’m fairly certain I had also seen his self-portrait. On researching some of his still life paintings, I found a couple that caught my eye in particular, Still Life with Plums and The Copper Cistern.

Still Life with Plums by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin

Still Life with Plums by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin

The Still Life with Plums resonated because the bottle used within the composition was similar to that I had used in my Assignment One still life. In fact, digging out my tutor’s report I found he had picked up (however fleeting) a similarity between Chardin’s style and this effort of mine. However, looking at both the Chardin reproduced on-screen and my original work, I can see so many aspects I must work on. Whereas although Chardin’s painting is dark in tone, there is still a lightness of touch, his darks are not “muddy” as mine are. The glass of the bottle has a transparency that mine should have had but I achieved only a dull opacity. This has illustrated clearly that a darkness of tone does not have to mean dull.  As Chardin’s life crossed over the 17th and 18th Centuries, there is an inevitable foundation in the Golden Age styles, although it is said his work was a big influence on the cubist painter Georges Braque, which is why I initially chose to research him.

 19th Century

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)

Courbet is another artist mentioned by my tutor in the Assignment One feedback report, particularly referring to the apple I had attempted. From this I thought it prudent to look at Courbet’s fruit still life of which he painted many.

Still Life with Apples by Gustave Courbet

Still Life with Apples by Gustave Courbet

 

Still Life by Gustave Courbet

Still Life by Gustave Courbet

 

 

 

 

These two examples of Courbet’s still life with fruit still have their origins in the Dutch Golden Age of the genre for their composition in my humble opinion. However, the main difference I see is that Courbet paints what he sees, not to show opulence and wealth but reality.  He painted the fruit with all its imperfections, seeing the interest and individuality, he painted not just an apple but that actual apple.  His brush work is looser, whereas the Dutch still life have an almost photographic feel (from my modern-day perspective).  Courbet has a more “painterly” expressive style that seems to be a stepping stone to the Impressionists (and after reading some more – the Cubists – this I will have to research for myself!).

20th Century

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard

Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard

Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard (Detail)

Table in Front of the Window by Pierre Bonnard (Detail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The still life paintings by Pierre Bonnard are more colourful and vibrant than previous examples shown.  They also provide a sense of place for the subject, which I particularly like.  Bonnard had a way of playing with perspective and giving a flatter, more pattern-like image.  His mark making and placement of composition were more creative and imaginative although the subject is still representative.  There is more “life” in his still life!

Still Life with Table Cloth by Pierre Bonnard

Still Life with Table Cloth by Pierre Bonnard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georges Braque (1882-1963)

I had always heard the name of Georges Braque linked with Picasso and had seen a documentary about his life some time ago, however, I hadn’t really looked at his work in any detail before. Concentrating on his still life paintings, I am surprised at how his style evolved.  I found some very stylised cubist paintings that are earlier than his more representational work, examples below.  Did he feel that cubism had run its course and return to a more “traditional” (for want of a better work) style? I note that one of his many influences was Cezanne, which seems to become more apparent in his later work.

 

Musical Instruments 1908 by Georges Braque

Musical Instruments 1908 by Georges Braque

Bottle and Fishes 1910 by Georges Braque

Bottle and Fishes 1910 by Georges Braque

 

 

 

 

 

Musical Instruments and Bottle and Fishes are separated by 2 years and the transition of style is subtle and readable.  The palette is similar and the instruments are becoming more geometric in shape than realistic.  The Bottle and Fishes take the angular and flat planes further, yet the subject is still discernible with study and has depth and three-dimensional illusion.

 

Still Life with Blue Plums and a Glass of Water 1925 by Georges Braque

Still Life with Blue Plums and a Glass of Water 1925 by Georges Braque

Still Life: TheTable 1928 by Georges Braque

Still Life: The Table 1928 by Georges Braque

 

 

 

 

Moving on around 20 years give or take, and the style has further evolved.  Curves have reappeared and composition is more considered.  Colour is more evident than tone, particularly in The Table, shapes are still pattern and favourite motifs are revisited.  Darks are treated as another object almost, shadow is solid and part of the pattern, something also exploited by Patrick Caufield as researched in Drawing One.

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Still Life - The Dessert 1901 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life – The Dessert 1901 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life 1919 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life 1919 by Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

 

 

Picasso also had an interesting evolution regarding still life, the above span 18 years between them and show little inclination towards to the cubist style.

Still Life with Bull's Skull 1939 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life with Bull’s Skull 1939 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life with Cheese 1944 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life with Cheese 1944 by Pablo Picasso

 

 

 

 

 

Still Life 1947 by Pablo Picasso

Still Life 1947 by Pablo Picasso

These three examples show clearly the path followed of simplification and importance of line in the shapes of the image. Still Life with Bull’s Skull has the beginnings of using geometric pattern and line although the angles and flat planes seem confined to the surface and background rather than the objects themselves.  Still Life with Cheese follows through the line of the surface into the objects making pattern with geometric shapes and the final Still Life has completely simplified the image. I chose these three examples as I’m fairly sure the same jug or coffee pot was used in each arrangement and further illustrates the way Picasso has chosen to represent it.

Examples of Contemporary Artists Interpretation of the Genre

Coming to this section, I was keen to explore a photographer I had seen recreating 17th Century Dutch still life paintings with photography.  I had seen a BBC documentary exploring the genre of Still Life painting and had intended to refer to it for this research, however, it is no longer available on iPlayer and I can not remember the name of the photographer highlighted in the program.  Searching the web I came across this photographer making this very subject matter.  Here is a link to his website:

http://levinrodriguez.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/reproducing-dutch-golden-age-still-life.html

It is intriguing as to how complex it is to set up the arrangement and particularly, the lighting to recreate these paintings. It does, in fact, make me admire the skill in the masters of the genre even more.

With the digital age, Still Life can take on many different media, not only the traditional painting, printing and collage but photography (as touched on above).  Ori Gersht is an Israeli artist who has explored this with his Blow Up series of photographs.  He sets up his subjects and using cameras that are so fast ie 1/6,000 of a second, he can capture the exact instant the object (e.g. a vase of flowers) shatters – producing a still life of an explosive split second as if it hangs in suspension for his image and is truly still.

Another contemporary artist that I have seen a documentary about is Marc Quinn.  He has made a series of cast head sculptures of himself, arguably, it could be said that this is not a still life as such, however, the twist is that the moulds are filled with his own blood that his collects over time. These casts are kept frozen in a temperature controlled cabinet. Quinn creates a sculpture every 5 years to record the passage of time on his own features, and, if I remember correctly, contains the same amount of blood in volume as circulates through the body. Therefore, these works are truly still life. One of these sculptures is on display in the National Portrait Gallery and I can’t resist visiting it each time I’m there.

Practice of Painting – Assignment 1

27/02 – 11/03/15

Assignment 1

For this assignment, produce a finished painting at least A3 in size in your chosen medium… Your painting should be representational – showing what you see – rather than abstract.

As we were instructed not to be too ambitious, I cast around for items that are interesting in shape, colour and tone.  I had already decided to use a cardboard box as a light box to help control the lighting – the weather is so unpredictable at the moment so the light changes very quickly.  I had in mind the chiaroscuro research and wanted to attempt the modelling of light.  I finally selected an empty champagne bottle (a Christmas present – full not empty), a hand-painted espresso cup and saucer and an orange.  The idea was to work in the blue of the cup with the orange for complimentary colours. I experimented with the lighting, not changing the actual arrangement of the object very much at all. Both lighting options were drawn in line and then in tone to help decide which to use.

Still life arrangement 1

Still life arrangement 1

Still life arrangement 1 - Preliminary line drawing in pencil - A5 in A4 sketchbook

Still life arrangement 1 – Preliminary line drawing in pencil – A5 in A4 sketchbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still life arrangement 1 - Preliminary tonal drawing in charcoal - A5 in A4 sketchbook

Still life arrangement 1 – Preliminary tonal drawing in charcoal – A5 in A4 sketchbook

Still life arrangement 2 - no directional light

Still life arrangement 2 – no directional light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still life arrangement 2 - with directional light

Still life arrangement 2 – with directional light

Still life arrangement 2 - Preliminary  line drawing in pencil - A5 in A4 sketchbook

Still life arrangement 2 – Preliminary line drawing in pencil – A5 in A4 sketchbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still life arrangement 2 - Preliminary tonal painting in sepia watercolour, white pastel - A5 in A4 sketchbook

Still life arrangement 2 – Preliminary tonal painting in sepia watercolour, white pastel – A5 in A4 sketchbook

 

A slight cheat here, photographed the drawing and then used the same drawing for the watercolour tonal study.

The first lighting arrangement was interesting as the light was not angled at the objects but down and away, in the second one, the light was directed across the front of the objects and only really caught the top front of the orange.  I decided the light was more interesting in the first study as it made more of the background and was generally less muted.

The weather conditions were overcast but not dark, therefore the secondary light was quite neutral.

 

 

Sketchbook Notes at this Stage

Selection of composition: The brief was to keep it simple – I am happy with the composition, bearing in mind the following:

  1. Direction of light
  2. Arrangement of objects
  3. Selection of Objects
  4. Using a light box
  5. Adopting a chiaroscuro technique

1. After making two tonal studies and initially favouring the second – I have changed my mind.  Study 1 has a clear focus on the coffee cup and saucer, yet the play of light and dark is still high in contrast. I have lost edges of the right side of the bottle as it is in deep shadow.  However, study 2, where I tried to exaggerate the shadow and the majority of the objects are in shadow and part of the orange is in focus, makes for a rather dull image.  Too much dark, which admittedly can be dramatic, would in this instance just be gloomy.  This is not a narrative piece of work but a showcase for my learning of modelling light, therefore there should be some!

2. Arrangement of objects  is very similar in both, however, the placement of the fruit in the second arrangement gives more subtlety in the shadows on the right.

3. I am happy with the selection of objects bar the fruit – orange or apple? I intend to make two colour studies to make my final selection, as the shapes are similar but the colours are the question mark.

4 &5  Happy with the use of the improvised light box – this assists with maximising light and dark, rather than allowing too many superfluous light sources to dilute the chiaroscuro effect. (Whilst researching Chiaroscuro artists, I found that Tintoretto would use a box with an aperture cut out through which he would place a candle to light his subjects.  This, I hoped, would give a similar effect.)

 

Still life arrangement 3 - colour study, acrylic A4

Still life arrangement 3 – colour study, acrylic A4

Still life arrangement 4 - colour study, acrylic A4

Still life arrangement 4 – colour study, acrylic A4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With both colour studies I went straight in with paint, with acrylic it was easy to over draw and correct mistakes. The first study was really feeling my way – the colours used were far too warm overall so that needed addressing.  I also forgot to colour the ground and used the white of the paper, although in retrospect, this was good for comparing and avoided my making assumptions. The drawing still left a lot to be desired, specifically with the bottle – this was quite an unusual shape which thwarted me a little.  The second study was painted onto a coloured ground of Paynes Grey.  This assisted with the shadow areas and again, as noted in the coloured ground exercises, made it easier to create the lightest lights.  The drawing had improved from the previous study and the use of the red apple made a much more balanced image colour wise, plus as the bottle was a strong object it contrasted with its complimentary colour of green nicely.

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

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

Here is my set up and progress after my first session.  This was a particularly dark, overcast and miserable day, which worked well for isolating the light box, but made it difficult to judge tones on the canvas. I also found a much redder specimen of apple in the fruit bowl, so replaced the earlier one.  I then decided to use oil paints rather than acrylic, so that I could keep working into the paint over a few sessions. Another change, was to stand rather than sit, this encouraged me to move back and view my progress regularly and gave a slightly “looking down” view-point. I kept my colour study in view at all times for comparisons – in retrospect, it would have been a good idea to refer to the tonal study too!

Still life - Assignment 1 Oil on canvas board A3 Session 2

Still life – Assignment 1
Oil on canvas board A3
Session 2

 

Returning after lunch, I worked on the tones all over the painting and tried to give each part the same attention.  The many ellipses were a challenge and the stripes on the saucer were a nightmare – what on earth was I thinking?? To be honest, I loved working at it and I think it ended up more right than wrong – even with the shadows thrown into the mix.

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

Next morning – fresh eyes, adjusted the bottle shape and worked more on the cup and saucer drawing.  Added the lightest highlights, plus some lower highlights. Adjusted the tones in the background. Finished? Decided to leave a while and review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still life - Assignment 2 Oil on canvas board A3 Session 4

Still life – Assignment 2
Oil on canvas board A3
Session 4

 

Hadn’t intended to do any more today, yet had to go back to the studio for something else and stood back and had another look.  The adjustment to the bottle I’d done that morning (the right hand side) was completely wrong! I had widened it far too much, so, the beauty of oils, I smudged it right back to where it had been and merged the shadow – much better.  Happier, I left it till the next day.

 

 

Here we are today 11/03, final review.  Still happy with the drawing and have noticed a couple more highlights on the torn foil around the neck of the bottle – added these, stood back and am satisfied to call it finished.

Still life - Assignment 1 Oil on canvas board A4 Final work

Still life – Assignment 1
Oil on canvas board A4
Final work