Beginning the 5th and final part of my painting course is a good time to sit down and review what I’ve achieved so far, which projects I enjoyed the most and found most challenging, and what areas require more practice. I’m hoping this will help clear my mind for the experiments that follow in part 5, as well as help me home in on a theme for my series of paintings for the final assignment.
What I’ve achieved so far
Technically I’ve come a long way from where I started with acrylic paints, which was zero experience. I’ve learned to use opaque and transparent techniques; to apply paint in many ways with many different tools, working on a vertical support, holding the brush in different ways and at arms length; varying the rythm of the work (eg starting fast, and then slowing as the work develops and decisions are more critical); used varying types and scale of support as well as coloured grounds; practised painting tonally and with line; explored chiaroscuro; applied texture to my paintings.
I’ve learned to work on several paintings at once, making series for the assignments and one or two of the exercises. I started out thinking 50×70 cm quite an ambitious scale, and now have taken from A5 to A1 in my stride.
Colour has been a major part of the journey. I’ve studied the theory and ‘rules’ and then tried to apply them in my work, remembering that the rules are there to be broken. I’ve learned about the limited number of acrylic pigments I have, how to mix them physically and optically, which are more or less opaque, which are warm or cold hued, which are the most intense etc.
Drawing 1 introduced me to ideas and techniques for perspective and composition, how to create an image from working drawings, photos, scaling up, working outside etc., and this course has reinforced and extended my knowledge.
Taking all this further, I’ve begun to use the techniques in my paintings strategically to express effects, atmosphere, mood, character, and narrative. I’ve found in practise that not concentrating on detail (using big brushes, palette knives, rags etc to apply paint for instance) and allowing accident to have a role (runs, spatters, unexpected colours, very wet paint merging and dispersing on the support) has led to better outcomes.
I’ve been inventive in the way I’ve used shape, colour, pattern, perspective, composition, paint application and this has moved some of my work into a more imaginative realm.
In some of my paintings media and execution have worked together to affect the feel of the painting and add to its content. Feeling the subject through the execution and ‘getting involved with the stuff of painting to carry the idea’ (tutor).
Overall, I’ve challenged myself, been ambitious, taken risks and had fun!
Projects I enjoyed the most
(Ive highlighted some words and phrases under this heading – they may be pointers in my approach to part 5 assignment)
In Part 1 the first three exercises, which involved experimentation with media and tools were very enjoyable. The assignment was also good fun, I hit on a subject which gave plenty of scope for colour, pattern and inventive ways of applying the paint.
In Part 2 I enjoyed experimenting with techniques for the thistle still life painting. I also enjoyed doing the looser sketches I made for ‘drawing in paint’, and I still love looking at them – they seem open and unaffected.
In “still life using colour to evoke mood” – the mood chosen was ‘joy’, and I had a great time using bright, happy colours. Acrylic inks diluted with water on damp paper was a great medium / technique for the subject and summer temperature.
Using the paint thickly and expressively with imaginative colours to describe form and working on the the nine pepper paintings at once was an enjoyable experience.
Assignment 2 was a series of four still life’s and again a pleasure to do. I enjoyed the colours, and developing the theme, bringing it to an other-worldly point. It was a subject I have fond feelings for. I see re-reading my blog I said I wanted to develop the theme at a later date.
In Part 3 I enjoyed doing “telling a story” and my assignment series the most; they were based on a subject that had grabbed my interest and imagination. The first assignment painting was done in wet acrylic mode – lots of water, runs, washes blending – with vivid colours. Zoomed in and the subject understated rather than spelt out, it gave me opportunity for expressive imagination.
Part 4 research points were about expressive landscape painters and I enjoyed assimilating some of the ideas I saw into my own work, such as imaginative colour and new ways of seeing the landscape. I felt I was really starting to see that painting could describe ideas and feelings and not just represent a physical reality.
Tasks which were the most challenging
Portraits were challenging because of some inhibitions I felt about portraying the model (friends) in a non-flattering way, which stopped me expressing my own response to the person.
Landscape in general was a challenge; although it’s a subject I love, I feel I haven’t yet found my way of translating what I see in three dimensions on to the two dimensional support ; although I understand theories of perspective I still struggle with ‘seeing’ the composition in two dimensions. Addendum – my tutors feedback on my landscape work, received after writing this post, was very positive, the best I’ve had; so it seems I did after all win the struggle and came up with some strong landscape paintings.
Areas that require more practice
The first few exercises were to do with exploring the media – pastels and acrylic paint. Looking back, I love what I achieved with pastels, sandpaper and water, and feel sorry I didn’t follow this up later in the course…part 5 could perhaps give me a chance to do this.
Aerial perspective has improved but needs more refining.
Sketchbook work is limited to preparation for coursework – need to broaden my interests
My blog has improved since I started the course. It’s easier to follow and contains less biographical detail and more about the work of other artists and how it relates to my practise. I still need to do more of this…perhaps delving deeper into the links between my work and the artists who influenced it.
Also need to practise talking about my work objectively in my blog, eg qualitative discussion about the relative successes of my outcomes.