I had been looking at some elegant drawings by Egon Schiele, which I came across during my research on the interiors of other artists – see Schiele’s drawings below –
They are essentially line drawings, with little regard explicitly to shape or tone, but nevertheless extremely expressive and skilled. I used these as my starting point and made five (not so quick) line drawings, which are shown below. I spend most time at home in the living area so I made my sketches here. I’m not good at drawing this subject quickly, wanting to linger, to carefully examine perspective. For three of them I was sitting, as standing is uncomfortable for me for the sort of time I was taking.
Re-reading the exercise instructions I decided to time myself doing another set of sketches. This time I had looked at Bonnard‘s sketches for his paintings of interiors. Compared to Schiele’s they are untidy, sketchy, unfinished, more investigative of tone, shape and light. They’re packed with information for developing into larger paintings, and they may well have been executed quickly. This is much more the approach needed for this exercise.
Some of Bonnard’s sketches –
My next set was actually done following instructions! No detail; focus on important lines, shapes, contrasts; timed at 10-15 minutes each!
I looked closely at my drawings, keeping in mind the instructions for the painting I’m going to be doing for the next exercise, which are, in summary :-
- Focus on creating an illusion of space (perspective)
- Keep it simple
- Draw the defining lines and outlines of important shapes with a fine brush (structure)
- Pay attention to relative scales – accuracy and proportion
- Add light colour washes to define shapes (muted or limited palette)
- Kitchen – the most difficult but I simplified (could be further simplified), and it looks right – lots of interest. Has an illusion of space.
- Back of armchair – interesting shapes, tones. Simple. Has depth.
- Pool – ditto
- Fireplace – not much depth or interest
- Gallery – Complicated, picture of two halves. Vertical perspective overdone, difficult
- Table & bookshelves – Has depth, is simple but interesting shapes, tonal values potentially good but not worked out in sketch
- Table & window – Rather flat, the illusion of space is in the view outside not in the interior
- Dining area – Good shapes, tones, lines, depth. Messed up the table & chairs proportions, but can do more carefully.
So I’ve ruled out 4,5 and 7 which leaves the strongest 5 potential compositions to choose from.
References – web sites accessed 08/08/2015
I would have liked to have worked up all five of my selected sketches into paintings, but time was pressing. I chose just one, the first, of my kitchen, simply because I liked it the most.
Gridding it up to 30×42 I redrew the main lines in charcoal, on gessoed mixed media paper. Then I erased the grid and lightly erased the lines so they could just be seen.
In the morning, sitting in the same spot at my easel, with the rising sun shining through I redrew the lines with a brush and very dilute acrylic ink, applied masking fluid to some objects, then built up some light coloured washes (Paynes Gey, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre) in layers. The floor was spattered, the sunny outside greenery stippled with a stencil brush. The pattern on the folded blind drawn with a fine brush. I reinforced important lines with dark and light paint, and finally added a few highlights with white from the tube.
Reflecting on the finished painting –
- The door (the way it’s let into the wall between two ranges of cupboards) and the folded blind above the door, with objects partly overlapped by it, look particularly convincing. The contrast between the harsh light outside and the darker interior comes across. The objects on the lower shelves and the corner of the worktop in the foreground catch the light.
- I noticed too late that, relative to the height of the base cupboards, the wall cupboards on the left are too tall, and the shelves by the door are too narrow – somehow this has caused the wall cupboards to look as though they’re tilting inward. its quite a major mistake. I can’t have measured and compared these elements carefully enough; I checked back to my original sketch;
and it’s the same. It doesn’t seem to matter in the sketch, but the painting has been done in a more realistic manner, so the inaccuracy jars. Lesson – measure, compare and check more !