Looking back at my work in part 4, successes and failures, each painting was a valuable addition to my skills; each contributed to accumulating techniques and knowledge and learning to interpret imaginatively.
All the paintings were supported by sketches, studies, photos, notes, objects found at the scene, and the research I was doing at the same time; reference materials and contextual research that changed the way I approached each piece.
My landscape painting started with my ‘view from a kitchen window’.
Those cold winter, dark, early morning sessions sitting in a cramped space didn’t help. I was trying to get a grasp of using acrylic paint with no water, just a medium, like oils, as well as limiting my palette to three primaries plus white. What with the tricky linear perspective as well, it was a challenge too far to produce a very successful painting, but a good step in my learning experience to take forward to the next exercise.
‘Archway’ (hard and soft landscape) was much more successful, one of my best in part 4.
I was standing, painting in the courtyard outside the house, from direct observation of a bright, sunny, cold and blustery scene, and the whole thing has a spontaneous, fresh feel. I really enjoyed the aspect of using the palette knife with generous quantities of paint, too.
The next exercise, focused on linear perspective, used sketches and photos as reference to paint ‘Street’.
I got rather tied in knots with my paint handling and colour, and strayed into battling with tone instead of concentrating on line. Trying to achieve Turner’s watercolour effects with diluted acrylic ink washes was fun, and a technique worth pursuing, but will take more trial and error to succeed. This was my first attempt at adding texture, the black larva gel medium adding to the dingy overall outcome.
Next was aerial perspective of ‘Valley’.
It has a good sense of distance and was successful as a process where I improved my skill in carefully grading tone, colour, detail and focus to create the illusion of depth. I was pleased with the way I handled the paint in the foreground, thickly, layering wet on wet, using two or more colours unmixed on the brush. I felt the plastic quality of the paint, and recalled the brushwork of Sisley as I worked. It ended looking overworked though, and the foreground tree is clumsy, so not completely successful as an end product I feel.
For Creating mood and atmosphere I reworked the ‘night view from a kitchen window’.
Not entirely convincing as a representation of a night time scene, the room is too bright for that. But I liked the shadows, reflections, sky and moon, window and door – a lot of work went into it but it doesn’t quite gel to create the atmosphere I imagined.
Painting Outside, I took my kit to the bottom of the garden, having made preliminary visits, sketches and plans, and made ‘Orchard’.
Using acrylics in even a slight breeze and warmth is to accept an additional challenge; it dries fast on the palette, on the brush and on the support, and forces you to find ways of adapting, and especially to work fast. I enjoyed it and want to do more plein air painting and overcome my inhibitions about working in public places. It looks sketchy, a little bit incoherent in places, but I was pleased with the outcome, especially of how I used colour imaginatively, and the sky, an optical blend of the colours in the landscape.
From now on I got into a new stride, and my work became more imaginative and confident. Doing the three paintings for the next project I was more relaxed as I wasn’t having to learn new techniques, and could just enjoy the physical aspects of using the paint, and the opportunity to put into practice some of the expressive ideas of other artists.
‘Fireplace’ is a painting from working drawings.
Doing the smaller colour study in acrylic was a good help. In later exercises I made colour studies in other media, but found they didn’t translate so well to the acrylic painting.
‘Rooftops’, is large (squared up to A1) and colourful, strongly influenced by the landscapes of Kandinsky and Münter.
It has a strong composition, use of perspective, contrast in tone and colour, brushwork. Borders on illustrative though…
From a photo, ‘Meadow’ was about creating texture, and for the first time I used pva, modelling paste, and incorporated flowers, grasses, seed heads.
All three above, together with ‘Archway’ are more successful paintings than the others, and mainly I think because I felt the use of paint and colour as physical stuff in its own right, not just as a means of representing something else. In the case of the final three, my research into expressive painters liberated me and the enjoyment of using paint imaginatively comes through.
The others are less successful, and the common factor is that I felt a bit cramped doing them…either by the challenge of over-concentrating on technique (perspective, plein air, etc) or because I was physically uncomfortable.
This being the case, I want to consolidate my experiments in assignment 4, by making painting(s) I enjoy doing; that are imaginative in their use of colour; use the physical qualities of the paint to convey my ideas (surface texture, application of paint with variety of tools, expressive brushwork, drawing with the brush, water washes etc); strong compositionally; demonstrate linear and aerial perspective.