Here’s my final painting. I spent much too long, and had too leave it at a stage I’m far from satisfied with. However, I will go back into it at a later date; there is an exercise Creating Mood and Atmosphere which suggests reworking an earlier painting – I could use this, either to create a bright, cheerful atmosphere, or the mysterious moonlit scene I glimpsed while photographing this painting at an earlier stage (see below).
Partly the reason I’m dissatisfied is the bareness of the room – I made my kitchen look as if we’ve moved out! I want to add a cup and sauce, a vase of flowers to the cupboard worktop, blinds above the window, brighten the left hand corner through the archway. I would add a figure, but rather than have a tiny detail of a figure outside, lost in the background, now thinking of a figure sitting at the worktop looking out. Or an empty chair. It would be a more significant compositional element, and link inside to outside.
My other main objection is the dingy colour palette, which gives a gloomy atmosphere, not what I was trying to achieve. When I rework I mainly want to introduce brighter colour, and create a less depressing atmosphere.
Before starting however, I looked at paintings by the artists mentioned in the exercise brief, and made the following notes:-
Raoul Dufy – busy, vividly colourful, linear marks, lines, outlines), patterns, decorative. The view takes up the majority of the composition & is the main focus – often the only bit of the interior is curtains or shutters. The view generally cool & hot blues. The interior generally rich, dark reds.
Gwen John – there is often a figure in a simple interior; the window is empty, filtering light into simple interiors of pale ochres and umbers. Calm & restful.
Edward Hopper – there is nearly always a figure, and strong geometric patterns of light and shade, sharp detail, mute colours. The focus is on the interior, telling a story; the window blank or a simplified view. The window frame throws strong shadows on the interior, the light shining through the glass creates strong patches of light inside.
Reviewed my past sketchbook work with views from windows. In Drawing 1, I did some colour studies; in all of them the window or door framework was the external edge of the composition. All had too little aerial perspective – too little sense of distance.
This time I want to include some of the interior. Most comfortable place with potential for interesting composition is kitchen. Can sit to one side (using diagonal lines to create pictorial space) and include double door and window, together creating an interrupted panorama of the view (verandah, garden, mountain, sky). Kitchen furniture in foreground.
Did some quick exploratory sketches, using a viewfinder:
Evident my viewpoint was going to be v important – standing meant too great an expanse of worktop and terrace, and v high horizon. Sitting viewpoint yielded better composition, the view is now the focus rather than a blank floor.
Played with the idea of a seated figure outside – it adds interest and focus in the sketch – will decide at a later stage whether to include. Ditto re the idea of a cup and saucer or vase of flowers in the foreground – can be decided later.
The big foreground table seemed to bar the viewer’s way to the verandah, so I made it smaller, the viewer can now ‘walk through’ the scene, there’s more openness.
Added simple tonal values to my sketch. Raining, so dark inside (but with soft light bouncing off a couple of places, and strong reflections of light from worktops); light outside. Big value contrast between in and out. Next morning sunny – checked out the effect of sunlight streaming in at sunrise. Noted the light changed significantly within 15 minutes, so would need to paint between say 9 and 11am when lights slightly steadier but still creating interesting contrasts. Light glaring off open door. Top of railing, veranda floor, bright light. All upward & SE facing edges highlighted. Darkest dark underneath worktop & thru archway.
I discovered Carol Rabe’s interiors which have complex compositions, and are light and airy, with subtle pastel colourful greys, low key. Geometric shapes and the effect of light coming in. There are no figures but their presence is felt. Comfortable domestic mood and atmosphere.
Diebenkorn’s Views from windows and verandas painted as simplified geometric shapes of contrasting values, colour temperature etc. Colours vivid Mediterranean climate hues. High key, deep contrasts. Our light is softer, colours less saturated because of the extensive forests for miles around. He gives detailed attention to surface texture and reflected light. Eg white tabletop, book, saucer appear deep blue from reflection of sky. Figures are blocks of shape too, occupying around half the vertical axis of the support.
I now spotted that my sketch is a composition of two halves – I need to rethink this. My solution is to add width to the format – think about the golden proportion.
My Format 35×50 cm canvas (pre prepared, mid tone blue under painting) – see if I can paint small scale but still keep a spontaneous effect (as opposed to my kitchen interior for earlier exercise, which was wooden). Transferred drawing by grid, made tracing for reference (security blanket).
Decided to set myself an additional challenge – use acrylics with extender medium and no water – more like oils, should stay workable longer. Have looked at videos of the technique. Up till now have always used water as medium, often copiously like watercolour wash. Will use a range of flat brushes, and a cool pallete limited to lemon yellow, crimson, cobalt blue and zinc white – also a challenge – as will be painting in the kitchen. I want to get to know my pigments better. See colour mixing and tryouts with extender in worksheet below.
Zinc white is too transparent – I want vibrant solid blocks of colour with definite shifts of tone so switching to Titanium white.
By the end of two 2 hour painting sessions I was finding it a tricky technique to get to grips with, it’s a completely different way of handling acrylic for me. Seems to require a lot more paint, I’m not using enough and quickly running out of mixes. Finding it difficult to gauge tonal values of my mixes, they look quite a bit lighter on the palette than when dry on the canvas. Result at this stage is that my tonal values are all over the place! Outside should be bright light, inside relatively dark.
Blues are exaggerated as photo above taken indoors. I like this – it could be night, outside bathed in moonlight (note for future painting?) but it’s not the sunny morning light I’m after, so I’m going to persevere. Next stage lighten outside; correct the perspective lines of the foreground cupboard.
More like it! (but it’s taking too long, I’m getting way behind my schedule, and I’m running out of steam on this. Made some more minor changes (see final painting at top of blog article) and decided to leave it there and reappraise / rework at a later date.