Tag Archives: creating mood and atmosphere

Expressive Landscape 2 – Creating Mood and Atmosphere

For this exercise I wanted to create a completely new painting from one of the photos I took while up in Chiang Rai rather than re-work one of my existing paintings. I had made several sketches while in the northern province but there was a couple of photos that I thought would be good for this exercise taking into consideration the different artists I had looked at in the research point for this project.

1 Dark Landscape

1 Dark Landscape

The first drawing in water-soluble oil pastels in my sketchbook was a sketch looking onto to the mountain range where my girlfriend’s village is located. What I tried to do here was to try and draw something using similar colours to van Gogh’s darkest paintings such as ‘the Sower’ but from memory rather than look at his works. What messed it up was trying to draw the clouds using the dark tones, the original photograph was taken in the afternoon with a blue sky and white clouds.

2 Surrealist Landscape

2 Surrealist Landscape

This second sketch was drawn from the same photograph but this time I attempted to create a more surrealistic feel by lightening the sky and creating a more early evening feel to the drawing. The long shadows in the early evening reflecting the work of two of the artists I covered in the research point, Dali and de Chrico.

 

2 Inspired by Paul Nash

2 Inspired by Paul Nash

This third sketch was drawn not from the photograph but from the sketch above. There are slight differences but these were made deliberately  for the colours that I were using softer colours softer edges. The colours that I used here were supposed to be a nod to the ‘Wire 1918’ by Paul Nash. Again this turned out to be a surrealist style landscape and both would look great developed into a painting. However, I don’t know what type of mood or atmosphere I would be trying to create here.

One other thing about these last two drawings that I took into consideration was the effect made by the dimples in the paper, which can’t really be seen here in these photographs but it would be time consuming to try and recreate that with a pointillism technique.

4 Bamboo in Sketchbook

4 Bamboo in Sketchbook

I went on to look at developing a different scene, a close section landscape. This landscape with bamboo trees on either side reminded me of several paintings in Vincent’s Trees, such as Avenue of Poplars at Sunset pg. 49 and Couple Walking Between Rows of Poplars pg. 24.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Expressive Bamboo with Sunlight

5 Expressive Bamboo with Sunlight in Large Sketchbok

The photo was taken early evening and this first drawing in my large sketchbook captures that time of the day with the sun shining through the trees on that sunny day when I took the photo. It’s a nice bright drawing but i wanted it darker, my idea was to use similar colours to what van Gogh used in several of his paintings Prussian Blue and Lemon, juxtaposing them side by side.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Bamboo at Dusk

6 Bamboo at Dusk

So in this next drawing I went darker, I didn’t have prussian blue in the oil pastels but I did have navy and purple which gave me an idea of how they would look. I changed the sky to yellow and orange which changed the feeling of the painting and also the time of day as this change of colours made it feel later.

These last two drawings made my mind up for me to which of these scenes I would be painting but I still wasn’t sure which colours or what kind of mood I wanted to depict.

Showing these two drawings to my students in class I asked them which of the two they preferred, all apart from one student said the second one. When I asked that one student why he preferred the first one, he pointed to the second drawing and said I wouldn’t walk down there. to which I said ‘The second one it is then’.

The Final Painting

In the sketches above I had basically experimented with colours rather than techniques, scribbling the leaves of the trees in, dragging the pastels up and down the paper. I had no idea how I would depict this in the final painting. I had no ideas what would work or if I could make my painting anything like the sketches above or if I wanted to keep it the same.

Influence from other artists

6 Preparing the Background

7 Preparing the Background

I had some ideas of what techniques I were going to use in the painting, for the leaves of the leaves of the trees etc. I wasn’t even sure if the colours would work in the developed painting. What I decided to do was to throw my hat to the wind and let the painting take on a mind of it’s own, letting any influence from other artists take over in the different parts of the painting.

I started of with a van Gogh sun, lemon yellow on a darker yellow background moving out from the sun in circles.

 

 

7 Painting the Leaves

8 Painting the Leaves

The next choice I had was whether to paint the leaves first or the bamboo first, I settled on working on the leaves or at least making a start on them as it would be more difficult to paint them afterwards. At this stage I also started to lighten up the sky so that the leaves would stand out more. I made a start on the bamboo, to see what it would look like over the top of the leaves.

 

 

 

 

8 Creating Perspective

9 Creating Perspective

At this stage I was just practising the long strokes of the brush and seeing which brushes were better for the job and to also see if the leaves looked anything like bamboo leaves. After a while I wasn’t too bothered about that.

 

I actually thought about making the leaves more dense or even painting them in van Gogh style with heavy swirls layered on top of each other.

I must admit that the bamboo did actually look like bamboo at this stage, that was to change.

 

 

 

9 Working on the Trees

10 Working on the Trees

From here I began to layer the colour on running my brush up and down the bamboo poles and also painting in the shadows. It’s a good job I hadn’t kept the lemon sun in the background as the shadows suggested the sunshine was coming in from a different direction.

The Prussian blue over the yellow turned to green so that was something I had to work on with more layers and that was probably the turning point. It now started to look more like a thick forest than a bamboo lined trail.

 

 

 

Photo taken on my tablet

11 Photo taken on my tablet

At the next stage painting in layers of Purple and Prussian blue with Lemon to add light it actually started to look like the style of van Gogh.

I had the crazy idea to add leaves to the bottom of the bamboo on the right, applying the paint with the end of a pencil, it seemed like a good idea at the time but I was hoping for too much thinking that it would give me perfect hexagon shapes and it didn’t. What it did do though was give the painting texture.

 

 

 

The leaves were too dark so I begun to lighten them up with yellow and red which gave me the same tones as the leaves of the trees above. As I did this I realised that I had created a really nice 3D texture rather like that of Max Ernst and the mood of the painting was changing rapidly. It was becoming more of an enchanted, cartoon-like forest rather than a scary, dark path between bamboo trees and I was willing to roll with that as I liked what it was turning into.

11 Finished Painting

11 Finished Painting

 

I begun to add more texture to it the path was too smooth, nothing like pebbles and so I painted over the whole thing with Prussian blue then going back over it with mixes of blue and purple and lemon and white for the light patches.

Then with a small detail brush I patiently began building up the layers of the hair like bushy grass with up strokes of blue, yellow and red, letting the colours blend together in the same way I did with the leaves above.

If I was describe the finished painting I would sum it up as unnatural, maybe even surreal. As the painting neared the end it was like I could see both the influence of Max Ernst and van Gogh coming together on the canvas and so I went with it.

Thoughts on the Finished Painting

  • The finished painting turned out to be nothing like the studies, in a way I wish it had but it doesn’t have to be the end of it, I still have them and I can use them again later.
  • The colours in the painting go together well but I did intend it to be darker.
  • I was hoping the painting would feel more natural but I like the overall feeling of it so I am not going to change anything. I did try painting leaves down the side of the trees but they didn’t look right.
  • There are definite signs of influence from 2 or more of the artists I looked at in the research point.
  • If I was to do it again I would paint it quicker with more random brushstrokes for a more natural feeling.
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Looking at Faces 5 – Creating Mood and Atmosphere

For this exercise I chose  to do a self portrait and with the heavy atmosphere that we have experienced in Bangkok over the last couple of years, especially with the recent bombings, I already had a mood for the painting in mind I just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there.

Guy Denning September Dossier

Guy Denning September Dossier

I recently became interested in the work of Guy Denning a British urban artist who creates very expressive portraits using thick brushstrokes as well as scratching the paint to convey emotion. He also employs a variety of other techniques such as stencils, painting over newspaper and dripping paint. Looking at his work did give me some ideas and I was hoping that it would have an influence in this exercise.

 

 

 

I wasn’t too worried about the light source at this point in the exercise, what I wanted to look at first was head position. I noticed that the head in certain positions played a big part in the mood of a painting, so I began by making a few sketches in my notebook with my head in positions that I could still see the mirror and the screen of the tablet which I was also using as a mirror via the camera.

1 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

1 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

My first study was in watercolour (right) followed by another with my head in the same position which I drew in oil pastels over the watercolour paint this gave it a detailed sketchy look reminiscent of urban art portraits. By blacking out the eyes I gave the sketches a rather dead look (bomb victim?..maybe) as well as making the sketch look like I wasn’t looking down at a mirror.

 

1 Notes

1 Notes

With my head in this position it was also quite easy to paint and see the sketch book. They weren’t a brilliant likeness of me as I was working very fast as to achieve expressive studies.

 

 

 

2 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

2 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

The dead look got me thinking about the colours I would use, I always associated corpses with pale bluish skin and so I did two more drawings in similar poses but using to different colour schemes; one in warm colours and the other in blues to see how the colour would effect the mood of the painting.

The cold colours made a massive difference and if it wasn’t for the strong blue of the eyes the portrait would have probably looked

2 Notes

2 Notes

corpse like. If that was the effect I wanted to create in the final painting. One thing that I was concerned about was the stubble wich made me look Aryan/Iranian. A clean shave and maybe even a shaved head would probably be better.

 

 

3 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

3 Watercolour and Oil Pastel

I then made two sketches side by side, one with the head cocked back and one with the head tilted forward. The sketch with the head cocked back seemed to be more expressive. The left looked like a ‘Fauve’ painting with the green under the eyes juxtaposed against the reddish complexion, this did look great but it wasn’t a look that I had in mind.

I decided to go with the head cocked back but I still wasn’t sure about the colours, I did have something in mind but I would have to do more experimenting.

4 Watersoluble Oil Pastels on Acrylic

4 Watersoluble Oil Pastels on Acrylic

From here I did some more experimenting looking for how I could exploit the pose and experimenting with techniques and mediums. The first drawing here was water soluble oil pastels over acrylic paint. I bought the water soluble oil pastels as a solution for drawing over prepared backgrounds so I could erase the lines if i went wrong, rather than having to paint the background again. I also thought that I could experiment scribbling over acrylics to create an expressive piece later.

I drew in the eyes here but tried to keep the whites to a minimum, I think I did create some kind of mood here but Im not sure if it was ‘rebellious’ or a look of despair, the latter is what I was really trying to achieve here.

 

5 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

5 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

The next sketch was done in oil pastels in my black pad. With this one I kept drawing line over line until it made a shape and then built up the tone the photo here doesn’t do it justice, it looks nothing like me but it does look like it could have been edited from a photo, if that makes sense.

The idea came from Guy Denning’s sketches where he has built faces up from line, a technique I would love to develop although here it turned out to be nothing like I had intended.

 

 

 

Gerhard Richter

Ella by Gerhard Richter

Ella by Gerhard Richter

In my last tutor report my tutor suggested checking out the unconventional portraits of Gerhard Richter. Too be honest his work didn’t really create a good impression on me but there were a couple that caught my eye, particularly ‘Ella’ and ‘Basel 2’. These two paintings made use of horizontal line to create a blurred effect, an effect that I had previously thought about trying to create myself but had never had the opportunity until now, this exercise was perfect for ‘giving it a go’.

 

6 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

6 Oil Pastel on Black Pad

With this technique in mind I started work on what would become my final study, yet once I had built up the shape of the face using line other ideas started to flood in. The face started to look like it was facing upwards rather than just cocked back and with the lighter lines across the face it started to look like a transparent cloth over the surface of the skin.

I continued with this look by bringing the lines down off the side off the face until it began to resemble a veil or thin lace material draped across the face. With the eyes and mouth being blacked out it almost looks like a veil draped over a dead man’s face. Although others have said that it looks like a face coming up through the material.

This final study was probably the best and if I had to call it something I would probably call it ‘Veil of Death’. I took a photo of this and uploaded it to Facebook and Twitter and it has had the best reception out of all my drawings and even an inquiry, I am considering this for the assignment but could I recreate it in paint? I’m not sure, I think maybe my painting skills haven’t developed enough yet.

Although this was the best study yet I wasn’t sure I could recreate the look in acrylic and so I decided to go with an urban art style painting this way the painting would take on a life of it’s own.

The Final Piece

Choice of Background

7 Creating a Collage on Card

7 Creating a Collage on Card

I wanted to start with an expressive background and I did look at different artists and even thought about trying to recreate a similar background to Elizabeth Magill’s paintings that I covered in my Tutor Recommendations 1 Post. In the end I settled for something that I had wanted to do for a long time and inspired by Guy Denning’s drawings over newspaper I began to put together a collage background from the Bangkok post. It has been eventful 2 years with a Military Coupe and bomb blasts signalling the end of democracy and a military clamp down here in Thailand and we have all felt it from Farang (westerners) to Thai people and if anything was going to create a trigger for my release of emotion while working on this painting, then local newspapers would be it.

 

8 Covering the White Spaces

8 Covering the White Spaces

Once I had glued all the newspaper clips that wound me up to the backing board and wrote a few comments on it to how Thais perceived race and skin colour over the top pf the newspaper clippings to try and get my emotions stirring even more , I painted out the white space of the board below.

 

 

 

 

9 Dripping Technique

9 Dripping Technique

Before i started painting I wanted to ‘mess’ it up even more but in a way that it would add feeling to the painting so it had to be in a semi orderly fashion so I decided to create a dripping effect over the top of the collage.

To do this I added thick dollops of acrylic paint at the top of the support and then began to spray them with a spray gun then when they had run right down to the bottom I turned the board on the other end and let it run back as it was too runny.

Once the drips were dry I did the same with blue but this time I used a thicker mixture so I only had to run it one way.

10 Testing Colour

10 Testing Colour

Once that was done I drew in the shape of my head working from studies with water soluble oil pastels so I could paint over the top or erase the lines easy enough if I was way out.

As I hadn’t really decided whether to use skin tones or cooler blue tones here I painted in the shape of my face neck and traps with a skin colour and then sprayed it to let it run down below to see how it would work with the background and other colours.

 

 

 

11 Building up Tone

11 Building up Tone

After realizing that the lighter skin tones wouldn’t work with the background and other colours I decided on blue. I began by building up the tone with Prussian blue and white but I was left with the dilemma of the lighter colour drips below the neck and so began to ponder on how to correct this.

 

 

 

 

 

13 Painting Shoulders

13 Painting Shoulders

My solution was to paint the shoulders but in an expressive way that made it look as if the arms were lifting up. Because I hadn’t made any studies of my shoulders and it wass quite spontaneous I lifted one side up and then the other in the mirror doing my best to try to make them look as anatomically correct as possible. The light source was overhead coming from a ceiling light directly above but the shadows in my studies fell to the left in the painting so I had to try build up the shadows on the shoulders on that side.

 

 

 

14 Adding More Feeling

14 Adding More Feeling

I could have left it there but I thought that if I added hands to the painting I could probably create more emotion but to add the hands I had to lift the shoulders up even more in their natural positions and so instead of looking in the mirror this time I worked with my gained knowledge of anatomy to paint the shoulders, lifting them up and giving them more shape and feeling.

 

 

 

 

15 Painting Hands

15 Painting Hands

With the hands I cheated and took photos and then painted directly on to the background without any drawing studies, I figured this would give me the same results as working from life ass I couldn’t correct them after. With the hands I painted in the the dark solid shapes and then used an almost impasto technique for the whiter tones.

 

 

 

 

16 Adding Light

16 Adding Light

At this point it looked like I was drowning and the blue lumpy drips were like bubbles floating upwards while I sank to the murky . I showed a friend at this stage who said that the hands made me look like I was trapped inside myself trying to get out, at least I had created some kind of mood and emotion.

 

 

 

 

 

17 Finished Painting

17 Finished Painting

I wasn’t happy withe clash of colours, not that I didn’t want a clash of colour but because the red and clashing blues made it look like some kind of superhero cartoon and so reflecting on what I had learnt from Picasso’s Blue Period paintings in the previous research point I went over the background with a thin (but maybe not as thin as I’d liked) wash of blue which did look better although the newspaper clips aren’t as visible.

From there I continued to let myself be influenced by Picasso and started to add rose to the face and thin layers of red to the lips as well as painting in the teeth and a very small amount of the whites of the eyes. This really brought the painting to life and I felt that I had succeeded not just in creating mood and atmosphere to the painting but in recreating a similar technique used by Picasso in his blue period paintings.

17 Finished Painting

17 Finished Painting