Saturday, 1 March 2014

Life painting

Yesterday was the penultimate day of life painting and the model, Duck, was a lovely young man who was very easy on the eye!

The challenge of this was how to get the whole composition to work when the figure was taking up a right angled shape leaving a large expanse of nothing. The cloth was hung so that the folds were vertical and so I decided to make marks that were more lively and horizontal to balance the figure.

I feel it is rather classical and not breaking any new ground but I am pleased that it seems to work as an exercise in colour and marks.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Latest figure painting

This was done last Friday, oil on prepared paper.
I covered the shiny side of card with green acrylic paint then wiped a glaze of burnt sienna lightly over it.
The pose was long, three hours and the challenge was not to get picky and start fiddling. My intention was for the figure to emerge from the background of chaos. There was cardboard, grey sheeting and boards.
Michael was sitting on some very white cushions and I took the decision to make them less white after reading Ruskin's article on reflection. He explained that, when looking at the reflection in a puddle, we cannot see under the water. But, if we look at the surface under the water, we cannot see the reflection. The eye cannot take in both at once.

When I looked at Michael I saw the overall colours and shapes but the white was not dominant unless I looked at it. To make it as white as it was in reality did not help the painting.
What was striking was his right hand and right boot. these I tried to bring out more and let other things recede into the shadows.
His face was extraordinarily sharp but if I had made a feature of it, the rest of the painting would have become less.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Life drawing into painting with Alan McGowan

This weekend was the most exciting time of life painting. Starting with 1 minute poses in charcoal, progressing to 5 minutes, ten minutes 20 minutes, leading up to two hours, was a great challenge.

The aim was to get the gesture of the movement and a few marks in 1 minute.

The painted ones on the right were hard because it seemed to take most of the time just to find the paint!  Using oil paint on sugar paper was interesting as it completely sunk into the paper. and there was no time to spare.

The lower painting was on prepared paper, covered with burnt sienna mixed with turps and linseed oil, then drawn with a rag.
I then added white paint mixed with paynes grey fo add contrast to the translucency.

 Drawing on the right was done in 20 minutes. The  drawing to the left was done on prepared paper,drawn with graphite, then covered with a thin glaze of linseed and zestit. Drawn again with graphite and painted with white oil paint.

Lower painting was done on a shiny card, prepared with dark green acrylic paint.
I then put a glaze of burnt sienna on. The palette was limited to
burnt sienna, raw umber, paynes grey and a mixture of flake white and titanium
white. The reason for mixing the whites was to get the translucency
and softness of flake white with the brightness of titanium white.
Also to use the paynes grey next to the raw umber made it appear more blue and the burnt sienna appeared more red.

The painting on the right was a longer pose and adding cerulean blue and alizarin crimson to the palette.  Again it was over a green acrylic ground, shiny card and a thin glaze of burnt sienna over it.

The last pose was two hours and in some ways was harder because of thinking there was plenty of time. The initial gesture and dynamics was lost for a time.
Because the spotlights were on the model, the other lights were dimmed and it was like painting in the dark. When the lights came on it was quite disturbing to see what colours i had actually used.

Figure painting

After a few weeks of despair and wondering what I am supposed to be doing, lost in the wilderness of too much choice and having to commit to something, I am beginning to see a glimmer at the end of a dark winter tunnel.
 Having a model on Friday for six weeks has been my breakthrough.The time goes quicker and I feel more focused.

The first couple of sketches were painted in 5 minutes, oil on prepared paper.
Hardly enough time to mix any paint, the job was just to get paint on the paper and makes very quick decisions about where to put it.

The mood and energy of the colours were the starting point and then trying to get the figure to emerge out of the colours.

The painting on the left was a two hour attempt and my challenge was to get the composition to work. The model was beautifully still and had a wonderful atmosphere of calm in a collection of yellow and purple colours.

This painting was done
in three hours and the background was a cacophony of reds, , pinks and touches of green. She wore grey and the light was strong and overhead.
Trying not to get the red to dominate was difficult and also the fact that after each break, the folds in her skirt were always different.
I enjoyed trying to get the colours to work together, getting the highlights to sparkle with the yellow light and trying to indicate the slight twist in her body.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Self portraits

I decided to try a self portraits using the same way of painting that I used to paint the jam jars. One layer of paint next to another, hardly any drawing but trying to get the relationship of colours to work better.

 The first one looks a little more like me. Rather solemn and a bit grim but that is perhaps what I appear to be when concentrating.
To me it is a better likeness but friends have said not.
The second is not finished yet but, Although the resemblance is not there, I feel it is going to be a better painting. A lot has to change, my face is not long enough, not enough shape and a few unresolved bit such as the scarf and my mouth.

I need to do several of these to experiment with composition and colour.

This has been tweaked more to get the definition of the face better in balance with the rest. At least it is not as grim as the first one.. Still more to do!

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Jam Jars of Leith

The latest project at Leith School of Art was to concentrate for three weeks on one painting and I chose to focus on the jam jars connected with clutter.

Previously I had done a small painting of the jars on the windowsill at the same time a large sketch of them done with charcoal, white paint and then drawn with a brush.

 Matt asked me to do both at once, going from painting, small scale and then to large scale, drawing.
I was concerned about the composition but told not to worry, just work on how to put the paint on.
The large drawing was a challenge as it was suggested that I "hurl everything at it" but got stuck when trying to use ink and a dodgy piece of bamboo. Images of Jiacometti where shown, the idea of drawing with a brush, using paint like a rubber to make the lines thin and so I just used whatever was on the palette and tried to draw the jars. I don't feel it is successful at all and the smaller painted sketch is very drab, and uninteresting.

The larger painting done over the last two weeks is not finished and has changed from the beginning. Partly because the same jam jars were not available and partly because I realised that the painting was split down the middle by the arrangement of jars. This meant working out how to divert the eye from the centre of the painting and so I emphasised the red paper on the jar to the  left.
I am not happy with the painting so far as it is has little life about it and the colours are very drab.

With another week to go in order to finish it, I am hoping to bring it to life, give it some sparkle and resolve the composition errors.

After much dithering I decided to crop a couple of pieces which I feel works a little better.

This is a small pastel sketch done at home. I used the pastels like paint, mixing, rubbing out and general trying to create a more lifelike view of my own jam jars.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Reflections in a garden

This week I was working on a painting from my window of my garden. The difficulty was that the opposite window was reflected in the view.
I discovered that when I looked at the reflection, I could not see the trees but when I looked at the trees, I could not see the reflection. This shows that painting from photographs does not give a true representation of what we see. We focus on one thing and the rest is a blur. a simple reflection distorts our perception of what we think is real.

This is my first attempt of this kind of painting. The window frame with the reflection of the house opposite was very dark at first but when I looked more carefully, it was lighter because the leaves were shining through it.The prayer flags at the bottom of my garden were glowing through the reflection and the reflected sky, which was bluer than the sky in front of me,  had ghostlike leaves through it.

What this has taught me is that the theme of reflections is very complicated and shows me how the way in which I see things might have to be reassessed.

As well as considering how much I am expressing myself, if what I have painted is a reflection, then it is also a reflection of myself. I see the view, it is only through my eyes, slightly distorted and a sum total of my thoughts, conditioning and experience, and therefore, it is an expression coming from me.

Another thought.. if everything is a memory, experience and filtered through my mind, then I must only be a channel for what comes out on the canvas. Who am I if not a succession of memories and images?