Here are the two paintings I made. The second was certainly more ambitious technically but I think the first is a more successful both on process and outcome
“Methods and ways of working can make the painting if approached with intent” (Tutor, Assignment 1feedback) – this exercise was a very good example of that, and brought the point home. These two paintings would have had quite different outcomes of I hadn’t set out to draw with paint, concentrating in the linear qualities of the subject.
Fruit painting – I let the activity of painting lead me and I avoided concentrating on detail. The result is a painting that’s freer and more expressive. I painted vertically, mainly with my fingers and at arms length, and I relaxed and allowed ‘accidents’ to happen. The finger painting, influenced by watching a video of Gillian Ayres applying paint with her hands, and by looking at some of Clyde Hopkins work from the 80s was an enjoyable experience.
Tabletop painting- the sketch for this was great, the painting became too detailed, cautious, constricted. I forgot to work vertically and at arms length, peering down closely at the work in my efforts to get the perspective elements plausible. The background didn’t work in the end, because I didn’t give enough thought to the context of the table in the composition. A frustrating experience, but I still think the tabletop composition has great potential.
To identify a subject I scouted around the house for suitable existing arrangements of objects, and made a short list before sketching them, adding the bathroom still life to the list during a moment of contemplation in that room. I sketched a few thumbnails, making notes in my sketchbook, and initially chose the first (bathroom) still life to go ahead with.
All this is a bit boring though, my sketches uninspiring. I watched a video in OCA Weekender showing the sketchbook of another student, and was impressed by how uninhibited and – sketchy – the sketches were on each page. Decided to change tack keeping in mind the presenter’s advice to
‘just crack on and let your relationship with materials have it’s head’
My new aim now was to to free up my approach to my sketchbook drawing, and enjoy my materials and colours, by doing a series of sketches simplifying, selecting, zooming in. I also changed the subject to one I enjoyed more, trying to have fun!!
A quick pen and ink line drawing – lots of interesting lines – fabric folds, pattern & fringes, carved table edge, curved legs, shapes of China cat and fruit. Bit of a complicated arrangement.
Pastel and charcoal – Like the negative space between the curtain and the table.
Acrylic ink, pen – I like the curves carved into the table edge, echoed by the frilly edge of the blue bowl.
I adjourned to my studio as I began to feel inhibited by the need to be tidy and clean in the house.
Charcoal & pastel pencils, willow charcoal, white conte, acrylic ink & paint – I’m looking down on the square table top, had several goes at drawing its lines and angles before I was satisfied. Think I’m having fun now.
Similar approach, zooming in a bit more. Like the overall background tone.
One nectarine in a nest of fabric – with Derwent Artbar, charcoal, white conte and calligraphy pen – and acrylic ink background. Starting to realise the form of the fruit more speedily – must remember to reserve larger clean areas for highlights.
Reviewing the brief – ‘don’t choose objects that are too complex in appearance’; ‘create a simple still life arrangement’.
Hard lines and angles – table, windows and wall
Flowing lines – draped fabric
Outlines and negative spaces
Lines that define tonal areas
Wood grain, patterned cloth
1) my first painting is based on the fruit sketches – I like the idea of a scatter of fruit casually rolled onto a cloth, which then forms a sort of cocoon around it. I didn’t really have a planned approach or a planned outcome in mind, except I liked my sketch of a scatter of fruit on a cloth, seen from above, so chose that as my subject
Recalling the exercise using different coloured grounds, I thought a dark ground would give impact to the bright coloured fruit. I laid down a dark acrylic undercoat paynes grey & indigo plus tad of white on A3 rough aquarelle arches then drew main lines in light colour pastel pencils.
Started to paint in coloured gouache just using fingers because my brushes on the rough paper were too soft to spread and blend the paint . Don’t know why I didn’t think of using stiff brushes, but anyway I enjoyed the physical process of finger-painting! I relished the bright colours of the fruit, accentuating them.
Continuing, using fingers, fine brush and a silicone paint mover
Finishing for the day, adding tone and lines to model the cloth and hinting at embroidery. The tonal contrasts on the right hand fruit seem a tad exaggerated by the photo. Enjoyed the day’s work and like the drama of the high contrasts, dynamic lines and a bold approach. There seems to me to be lots of interest in this painting to engage the viewer – I really feel I could squeeze those lemons, especially that big green one!
2) my second painting started with mid tone acrylic undercoat Cobalt Violet, process yellow, white (makes a good beige). I drew the main lines of my tabletop sketch, which appealed to me because of the variety of objects hinting at a meal being prepared. The perspective, looking down and close-to, was tricky and looks like becoming a major part of the painting – then started to add colour, reinforcing the lines as I progressed so as not to lose them
More colour added
And finally the background – picked out the blue is used in the jug and knife – first attempts produced very patchy result as tried to pint each tile separately. So used glazing medium, various strengths, ultramarine, white and black to help unify the background.
On reflection I like the table but the backgrounds adds nothing – the painting isn’t complete yet. I took time out to look at Matisse still life’s and was struck by how full of interest his backgrounds are, and yet they don’t detract from the focus on the still life (although he took it to an extreme with Still Life with Blue Tablecloth, where the cloth is the entire focal point and the still life objects accessories). In Still Life With a Checked Tablecloth, both the cloth and the wider context (mantelpiece, picture frame, wallpaper) are colourful and bold. There are many, many more I looked at, and the background is always depicted, giving context and depth to the still life, but also being of almost equal importance to it in terms of colour, shape and pattern.
I looked again at the backdrop to my still life, which I’d dismissed as just containing ugly old bits of uninteresting furniture, but now considering how I could incorporate them, or an interpretation of them, into my still life. I drew the main lines with a brush, carefully in perspective, and my painting immediately took on a different character, the table suddenly occupying a space of its ow.
Added colour to the background and called it a day, needing to move on to the next exercise