The brief of this exercise was to:
‘Choose a view onto the world outside. Decide how much of the interior you wish to include and where the main focus of the picture will be.
Decide on the purpose of the composition and the mood and atmosphere that you wish to create. Choose whether or not to use the framework of the window as the external edge of your picture support or whether to actually include the window or door frame as part of your composition.’
To begin with I looked online to see how other artists had tackled this type of composition.
I was already very familiar with Edward Hopper’s paintings and I’ve always liked the way (as the brief stated) he creates links between interior and exterior worlds. Although there is generally a good balance between both in Hopper’s paintings the cityscapes, landscapes and even seascapes seen through the windows in his paintings are made up of very basic shapes and fundamental forms.
Raoul Duffy’s paintings remind me a lot of the works by many Urban Sketchers. However, as these would usually lock in the outlines first and then sketch, Duffy seems to have sketched the buildings etc first and then defined with dark outlines. The interiors in his paintings are very obvious and therefore the exteriors could be as sketch as he wanted. This sketchiness also helps to create depth to his paintings.
In comparison to the first two artists, in ‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room’ by Gwenn John the artist has exploited the light shining through the lace curtain with a faint blur shape depicting the buildings outside.
My attempt at this exercise – A View from my Apartment
To start with I walked around my apartment with a camera looking through the lens trying to find a view that would make a good composition in which hopefully I could include part of the walls and window frame. Unfortunately the views from my windows are very complex pretty difficult to simplify which I tried to do in the cityscape exercises in Drawing 1. The best I could do from my apartment was the view from my side window.
The watercolour sketch above wasn’t brilliant but it showed potential. I really liked the ‘Industrial Landscape, Leeds’ painting by Joash Woodrow, in the course material and this view would allow me to do something in a similar style. Although the buildings seem cramped through the window the many different colours of the buildings would make the painting pretty cheerful. The only problems I could see was that 1. The window frame and walls were so boring there was no point including them in the painting and 2. The shadows changed very rapidly throughout the day.
A View from Debsirin School
As a teacher in a Thai school, where teachers rotate classrooms rather than the students. At Debsirin School, like my apartment, the views are quite complex as most of the balconies and windows look out on to the metropolis of Bangkok. Though I did find one view, with a good perspective that was quite nice to draw, looking out towards the city over the tops of the red Eurasian style roofs of the school buildings. With this one I could include part of the wall of the balcony at an angle but not looking at it full on.
A View from Wat Makut School
The view from the window of Wat Makut School turned out to be one of my favourite sketches so far. I’ve been looking at this small street for 7 years and I did draw it before for my Drawing course but it was drawn in pen.
Debsirin Temple Gates
This was one of three watercolour sketches that I thought would work out really well, one looking into the temple and two looking out but I just couldn’t get the sketches right. Instead of giving up I should have changed mediums as these would have been ideal for charcoal or even ink sketches.
Wat Debsirin Lake
On a walk behind the temple for the first time one lunchtime I discovered these buildings that seemed to be built on rafts or piers on a small lake. From my viewing point it looked like I was viewing them through a window with the scene perfectly framed by the shade of the trees, fence and plants.
Preliminary Sketch in Acrylic
I decided to do another sketch of the view outside my window in my mixed media sketch book in acrylics so I had some insight into how the painting would look and what mark making techniques and of course brushes I would use in the final piece. Using the filbert for the arched windows of the condominium facing the road helped me to make up my mind.
The Final Painting
A friend of mine always said, you could tell that westerners aren’t allowed to be architects in Thailand because all the buildings look like cereal boxes. I’m not sure whether the first part of that statement is true but it is true that most of the buildings here are very boxlike, especially the older ones and I intended to take advantage of that here.
I regret that I didn’t take photos of the different stages of the painting but I managed to get most of the painting done in one day.
I started with the sky daubing on large brushstrokes of blue and white paint mixing the colours on the canvas to depict the white clouds in a blue sky, the orange tint on the clouds was added afterwards.
From there I painted in the two skyscrapers under construction in the background mixing in layers of burnt umber, Payne’s grey, orange and white.
Continuing to work down I then painted in the shapes of the buildings in mixes of orange, yellow, white and pink to give me the different pastel tones with the red and white sign of the pawn shop giving the viewer an alternative focal point from the tops of the skyscrapers.
The arched windows at of the building in the right of the foreground gave me a great opportunity to do some mark making with the filbert brush and I also had a small flat brush that was perfect for the windows of the two apartment blocks.
As I started the painting there were no shadows on the building but by about 5 o’clock the shadow of my old 28 floor apartment block began to fall on the buildings which I think really gave the composition depth.
On the whole the painting did turn out as I imagined albeit a bit too neat. I wanted to be rougher with less defined forms depicting the clutter and mismatch of buildings here in Bangkok where every available space has been built on and buildings have been designed to fit in the smallest of gaps. Moving from the 26th floor of the building next door to this low-rise with the skyscrapers under construction opposite makes me feel really penned in and it will be good to remind myself of that when I move back to England this year.
I regret not painting the view from the school window as that had a window frame that I could work with unlike the interior wall and the window frame of my apartment here. However I have paced the painting against light coloured boards which enhances the feel of the composition and does make it look like you are viewing the buildings through a window frame so I think I have achieved what I set out to do