Tag Archives: distance learning

From Inside Looking Out 2 – Hard or Soft Landscapes

Living in Bangkok it is very hard to find any rural landscape to draw or paint for this exercise but luckily enough it was a very busy month socially and within the space of a few weeks I had travelled to the seaside town of Pattaya and Koh Lan (Coral Island) to my girlfriend’s home town of Chiang Khong, just across the Meekong from Laos. This helped me get in quite a few studies of both rural and urban studies in a matter of days.

Urban Sketches

Chao Phraya River Bangkok

Wet on Wet Watersoluble Pencils

Wet on Wet Water Soluble Pencils

This is one of my favourite sketches of a hard landscape to date and it was a very different style for me. I made the sketch with wet water soluble pencils in a side to side motion on wet paper. The problem though was that I did not capture enough information to turn into a painting and another trip to the spot was needed before I could consider this for a painting.

 

 

Pattaya Pier

Watercolour Pattaya Pier

Watercolour Pattaya Pier

This watercolour sketch was drawn from a photo that I took arriving at pattaya from Koh lan on the ferry. Although it is quite a week sketch there are parts of it that really stand out, mainly the ripples on the water and the sky.

 

 

 

Cranes on the Chaophraya

Watercolour Cranes on the Chaophraya

Watercolour Cranes on the Chaophraya

There is some pretty interesting construction going on at my side of Bangkok at the moment that needs documenting. I passed these cranes on the way to work every day for about three months and eventually managed to get the day off so that I could draw them. This sketch had all the information needed to be developed into a painting but at this stage I’m not sure if I would be able to depict the water using acrylics

 

Emporium Park – Sukhumvit

Watercolour Sketch Sukumvit Park

Fig.1 – Watercolour Sketch Sukumvit Park

Watercolour Sketch - Sukhumvit Park

Fig. 2 – Watercolour Sketch – Sukhumvit Park

I wouldn’t have thought about going here as I live at the other side of the city but my girlfriend landed a private yoga class in the park and so it was a great opportunity to do a bit of sketching after I had helped her take photos of the Yoga class.

 

 

I did a lot of the sketching in the park and then finished them off at home and over did it with the water which looks too muddy.  The water in the park is very discoloured but should have more reflection on the surface in the sun.

 

 

 

 

Watercolour Sketch - Sukhumvit Park

Watercolour Sketch – Sukhumvit Park

 

The third sketch was a little better and I actually thought about using it for the coming linear perspective exercise. It was also great practie for mark making for the leaves of the trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Temple at Rama VII Bridge

Acryic Sketch of Temple and River

Acryic Sketch of Temple and River

This sketch was a very fast sketch in acrylic of a temple by Rama VII bridge that sits on the Chaophraya river, the UFO type building in the background is the Nonthaburi campus of some Technology university. I thought it was a good contrast of old and new buildings. I sketched the buildings very quickly over a wash of blue and red which gave me the colour of the sky and those colours reflected on the water.

 

The water however was the only thing that stopped me developing this further in acrylic as again i’m not sure if I would do a good job of it an acrylics I think I may have to look into techniques for painting water.

Silhouette of a Local Temple

Silhouette of a Local Temple

Silhouette of a Local Temple

 

On the way home from painting the last sketch I took a photo of this temple on my side of the river which come out as a silhouette. It was a bit too easy to paint but it did give me some practice painting the sunset which I painted in watercolour before drawing in the buildings with a Pentel Brush pen.

 

Chao Phraya River – Khrung Thon Bridge

Watercolour Study Chaophraya

Watercolour Study Chaophraya

 

I took another trip back to the place where I completed the first sketch in watersoluble pencils. This time I wanted to capture more detail that I could maybe use in a final painting. Unlike the other sketches in watercolour I wanted this one to have more fluidity to it and so this time I used a wet on wet technique. It was my first time using this technique but I think it worked quite well. The only thing that didn’t really work was the boat.

 

Rural Landscape

Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai

The laos Bank of the Meekong River

Fig 1. The laos Bank of the Meekong River

Charcoal Study of a lake

Charcoal Study of a lake

The next sketches were part of a series of sketches I drew in charcoal in Chiang Rai while visiting my girlfriend’s home.

Fig 1. is a sketch of the banks of the Meekong river which I really liked as there were many layers to it with the trees and mountains in the background and the river in the foreground.

 

Fig 2. is a sketch of a small resevoir at the back of the girlfriend’s house. This was drawn at sunrise which I couldn’t really get over in charcoal. Being the most appealing of these sketches to be developed as a painting I took a photo of the scene so I could use the information from that for the colours I needed to use for the final painting. I just hoped that I could manage to paint the water as easy as it was to draw it in charcoal. Could I use a similar technique in paint?

 

The Final Painting – Soft Landscape

Final Painting after 1 Sitting

Final Painting after 1 Sitting

Once back in Bangkok I began the final painting in the comfort of my air-conditioned apartment. Firstly I prepared the support the support with a wash of pink and blue that met in the middle this gave me a blue to work on for the sky and pink for the reflection of the illuminated clouds on the water. Then I begun to paint the clouds using a scumbling technique.

In fact I used the same technique but with different thicknesses of paint for most of the first part of the painting which I did in one sitting using only the the primary colours, red, yellow and blue plus white, mostly layering them on top of each other or mixing them on the canvas rather than mixing on the palette, applying the paint with a medium filbert.

Finished Painting 12 x 16 inch

Finished Painting 12 x 16 inch

When it came to the water I had no idea how to go about depicting the reflection on the ripples of water and tried several different techniques until I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at Monet’s Water Lily paintings. In one of his paintings, Water Lilies and Reed he seemed to use small horizontal strokes, this helped me a lot and I finally got it right, applying the paint in small strokes with a small detail brush.

Thoughts on Final painting

I really like the final painting for a number of reasons. Overall I’m quite proud with it as it was the first time I had painted using only the primary colours.

Composition

I originally chose the composition because even though this was a simple composition it was very soft with several focal points that would draw the viewer in such as the sky, the water and  the flow of water between the mountains. I wasn’t sure I could do a good job painting these areas but I am very happy with the results.

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From Inside Looking Out 1 – View from a Window or Doorway

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.

Edward Hopper - Office in a Small City

Edward Hopper – Office in a Small City

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 - 1953 Window at Nice

Raoul Duffy Window at Nice

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.

A Corner of the Artists Room in Paris - Gwen John

Gwenn John, A Corner of the Artist’s room in Paris

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.

2 Sketch 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.

3 Sketch of the View from Debsirin

A View from the Balcony at Debsirin School, Bangkok

A View from Wat Makut School

1 Sketch 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

A View through the Temple Gates

A View through the 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

Wat Debsirin Lake in Wc, Pastel and Pen

Wat Debsirin Lake in Wc, Pastel and Pen

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

Preliminary Sketch in Acrylic

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

Final Piece - A View from my Apartment

Final Piece – A View from my Apartment

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.

Regrets

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

 

 

 

Assignment 3 – Self Portrait – Painting

3 - Peaky Blinder

Study in Oil Pastels

First Attempt

As I said in previous post, Assignment 3 – Research, I would attempt to reproduce a similar style to that of Nikos Gyftakis, the study I produced actually reminded me of the works of Genn Brown. I wasn’t sure of the techniques, either artist used to create their paintings. I thought about a couple of techniques but I wasn’t certain if they would, one was adding the paint in different hues to get the swirling effect and to keep going at it until I was satisfied, the other was to add different hues to the same wide brush adding the different colours at the same time to create the swirling effect, I chose the first technique. I now regret not researching the techniques that they used.

I worked from both the study and a photo, (reversed) that I took of myself at the time, I first drew the outline in paint and then blocked in the base colours as a reference, I then began to work on the face. I had bought a heavy gel medium, that I mixed in with the paint to which I added, retarder and flow aid to the water the problem was though the paint was still drying to quick so I couldn’t really work it on the canvas as much as I wanted to.

After an hour the painting wasn’t going as well as I expected and I sat staring at it for a about another hour picking faults with not only the technique I had decided to use but with everything about it, the pose was weak and there was really no kind of feeling to it. I wasn’t happy with the way things were going and I remembered what my replacement tutor at the end of my drawing course said, ‘If you’re nat happy with the drawing, change it!’. And so I did.

2nd Attempt – A new pose a different technique

I searched for videos on YouTube looking for clips of Francoise Neilly at work. I couldn’t find anything only videos by an Artist called Voka. Both artists had very similar finished pieces but Voka used brushes rather than knives and so to see the way he worked was very helpful. The thing with both artists though was that their paintings weren’t lifelike enough for me and the eyes and lips on Francoise Neilly’s painting’s were just too perfect.

The old painting was too straight and too small so this time I wanted my head to be bigger so I could use a wide flat brush as well as a palette knife. I sat in front of the mirror in the bathroom with my camera on a tripod in the sink taking photos while checking to see if I could actually keep my head in the angle of the best photos as painting from life was better for this technique in the earlier stages.

Too start with I needed to paint over the existing portrait so with thick mixes of black, blue and white mixed with a heavy gel I roughly painted in my hat, face and shoulders using both a knife as well as a number 22 flat brush loaded with paint. The knife was more difficult to use than I imagined so eventually I developed my own technique of picking the paint up on the underside of the knife and splatting the paint on the canvas.

7 - Reworking and a New Pose

Correcting the Pose

This stage took about 25 minutes and when I was satisfied that it was ‘something like’ I covered the rest of the previous portrait with yellow, just u til I could work out what kind of a background I would be doing for this portrait.

 

The following stages were basically a case of thickening the paint up as well as experimenting with the juxtaposing of colours, both primary and secondary as well as seeing how they looked along side skin tones.

At this stage I stopped working from life and flipped a photo of a very similar pose that I could relate to so I didn’t stray too far from the source. I wasn’t satisfied with the colours I wanted to go a lot darker. The colours in the photos above reminded me of early 90s Shell-suit bottoms. I needed to go a lot darker and I found a great painting to use for a colour reference.

Francoise neilly Untitled

Study in Oil Pastels

11 - Going Darker

70 % Complete

These two portraits are very different Neilly’s is very smooth while mine was very rough especially at this stage but what would help me is the colours she used under the peak of the hat.

 

 

 

 

Day two and I was still messing around with colours I purchased an opaque red and gold but I still had to layer them on with a palette knife so that the paint below didn’t show through. I added the gold to the hat and face and on the right hand side of the face I painted a thin layer of red over the gold, hoping that this would create the illusion that that side of my face and hat was catching the light from somewhere.

I painted the background in a dull medium grey which catches the light at certain angles so it does look like the light is shining in from the sides.

Conclusion

I am quite happy with the finished piece and have received some good feedback from workmates and friends. I am happy with the piece and that I was dared to try something different. The result was as I expected, a strong but unfinished piece and I’m sure that’s what the viewer would see.

Use of Colour

To me the colours do not take over the piece, the features are still strong and clear and the colours do their job accentuating the light, shade and features of the face.

Technique

I am quite happy with the technique that I used, the research helped and introduced me some really good techniques. I would really like to practice techniques that the other artists in my research used but I’m sure they will be time consuming and so I will have to set aside some time for that.

Conveying Character

There is character here and it’s pretty much the character I wanted to convey, a look of arrogance with the hat tilted to one side.

Mood and Atmosphere

I’m not sure what mood or atmosphere I have depicted here that will be left for the viewer to make up their own mind.

Choice of Background

I think I chose the background wisely with the colours that I used in the portrait, their may have been other options such as using the same technique with darker colours on the background and maybe depicting light coming in from the sides but I could have messed up the feel of the painting.

 

12 - Finished Piece

Finished Piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 3 – A Self Portrait – Research

For this assignment I chose to paint a self portrait, living alone that seemed to be the best bet. The painting was going to be in acrylics on a canvas panel, I wasn’t going to start using oils this far into the course especially on an assignment piece.

To begin with I began some self portrait studies in the medium I had started to like so much, water soluble oil pastels, these can be used wet or dry so I could do some experimenting with them here.

1 - A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

1 – A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

With the first study I wanted to continue playing around with line like I had in Assignment 2. I began by drawing in the outlines in pencil then drawing over strong outlines with a Pentel brush pen before adding detail and tone in water soluble oil pastels, wet for the face and dry for the clothes. I chose my background wisely with light shining in from a window (at school) and a bright orange picture board. I liked the way the light reflected off my head and used this in the study by leaving that part of my head oil pastel free with the line determining the outline of my head.

Up until now apart from the Conveying Character exercise I hadn’t really included any background in a portrait painting. Would I paint one in the final piece? I’m not sure where this would take me but hopefully the following research would help me to determine that. From here I went on to look at self portraits where the artists used line.

Self Portrait with Line

van Gogh - Self Portrait 1989 - Detail

van Gogh – Self Portrait 1989 – Detail

My search for self-portraits with line took me in a different direction, while I was actually looking for famous self-portraits or portraits that had some kind of outline I came across artists who had created whole paintings using line, such as Vincent van Gogh.

In Self-Portrait 1989 (left) van Gogh uses thick brushstrokes to create a serious weathered look to his face and to depict hair and facial hair. The line he uses for the background is equally important, it turns a plain background into a significant part of this painting.

 

Nikos Gyftakis - Self-portrait 1 - oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis – Self-portrait 1 – oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis, a 33 year old Greek artist, produces some amazing portrait and self-portrait oil paintings where he uses swirls of line to depict depth and contortions in the faces. A number of his portraits include background which he has also used the thick swirls of paint to distort, leaving the viewer to make their own mind up to what is actually in the background.

Self Portrait 1 (right) includes no background whatsoever and the entire canvas is filled up with the face and hands. I love this piece but I have to question, is this technique feasible with acrylic in the short time I have for this assignment? and would it be easy enough to replicate on a smaller canvas?

 

3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

The next study was a result of this research. Using the same medium I drew myself this time using my hat as a prop using swirls of colour. I kmew I couldn’t replicate the technique perfectly with this medium but I could get some idea as to what the piece would look like in a painting medium such as acrylic or oils.

 

 

 

 

 

More Self-Portrait Studies

2 - Fauvism Inspired

3 – Fauvism Inspired

Moving away from the window I set myself down so that I had the brightly coloured picture board behind me. Inspired by the research into fauvism in the earlier portrait reserach  I used quite a limited palette of fairly bright colours and carrying on with more experimentation into using line in my portrait I used only vertical line to complete the picture apart from the check on the shirt.

I really liked the way this turned out, it reminded me of not just the fauve painters’ portraits but with the texture of the paper it kind of reminded me of the pointillist portraits as well.

 

 

Fauvist Portraits

André Derain - Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

André Derain – Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

Researching fauvism I came across the painters I had researched in the earlier research point such as Henri Matisse as well as some new ones. One fauvist portrait I really liked and in a style that would probably suit the study above was a  André Derain’s Portrait of Henri Matisse (1905). I later found out that Derain was the joint founder of Fauvism along side Matisse. His technique in this painting was very crude with what seemed to be a large flat brush and yet parts of the painting could have also been done with a knife. A keyword that I added into my search that took me to an artist that i had never heard of before, palette knife painter Francoise Neilly.

 

 

Untitled by Francoise Nielly

Untitled by Francoise Nielly

I love French palette knife painter Francoise Neilly’s  amazing use of colour and how she uses it not just to depict light and shade but all the features of the face. While searching for a video of her painting I came across another artist named Voka who paints similar portraits but mostly with brushes. The name he uses for his genre of art is spontaneous realism, I’m not sure whether Francoise Neilly would agree it seems like her paintings well thought out.

I looked on the web for amateur artists and students’ work painted in the style of Francoise Neilly and they hadn’t quite managed to pull it off, this made me want to take up the challenge. With the right pose, the right colours and props this style of painting would create a good atmosphere.

3 - Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

4 – Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

I had an idea for my next study but I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. My idea was to complete a self portrait with the dry medium (water soluble oil pastels) and then to work in verticle strips of the portrait with a watercolour brush to see what kind of an effect the water blended pastels had against the dry. A friend said that it looked like water running down a pain of glass but to me something about this painting reminded me of Gerhard Richter’s portraits with the strips of distortions across the face. Although I liked this effect I wasn’t sure how I was going to recreate it with acrylics and so I carried on with my search for portraits using different colour techniques.

 

 

 

Pointillist Portraits

There’s no doubt about it, pointillism is a very time consuming technique I have done a couple of paintings myself using a very crude technique and they took weeks to complete the simplest of paintings so attempting to use it here would slow me right down.

Georges Lemmen - Self-Portrait 1890

Georges Lemmen – Self-Portrait 1890

However, the oil pastel on the mixed media paper I was using left white spots and did remind me of pointillism and so there was no harm in taking a look at some of the self portraits and portraits by artists using this technique. One of the strongest of these Self Portraits, other than Vincent van Gogh’s 1887 Self-Portrait was this painting by Georges Lemmen where he seems to use layers and layers of dots that are close knit rather than spaced out like the works of Georges Seurat. This seemed to be a quicker, less time consuming method.

 

 

 

Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Chuck Close

My research into pointillist self portraits took me to a self portrait by an American Artist called Chuck Close, who actyally suffers from face blindness. When I enlarged the image I realised that it wasn’t a pointillist painting at all but what seemed to be a distorted photo-realist painting.

I was lucky to find a photo of Chuck Close at work, In the photo he was working from a photo of himself on a very large canvas and what he seemed to be doing was adding flesh tones into squares that were already painted with an array of colour and swirls to get this distorted effect that looks like he his behind a pane of patterned glass.

Conclusion

From the research above I concluded that I wouldn’t be painting a background in this self-portrait for assignment 3 but I would be relying on a strong technique to give the painting strength.

I really liked the paintings by Francoise Neilly and I wanted to have a go at something similar myself I just wasn’t sure if:

  • Using this technique or at least something similar would demonstrate the skills and knowledge that I have acquired through this part of the course.
  • Using a knife with acrylics would create the same affects as a knife with oil paint. Maybe I could use both a knife and a wide brush.

 

3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

I also loved the technique used by Nikos Gyftakis and the way my self-portrait inspired by his paintings turned out. Out of all the new artists I have found so far he was my favourite. The problem as with Francoise Neilly’s technique how possible would it be to create something similar with acrylics.

What I decided to do was to go into this assignment attempting to create a self portrait inspired by Gyftakis paintings butI would have a back up plan just in case it wasn’t working out. Neilly would be my back up plan.

 

 

 

People in Context 2 – A Figure in an Interior

This was the first exercise of this project, however it was completed after the ‘Telling a Story’ exercise. The reason for me doing this was that the brief for this exercise gave me some interesting ideas and one was to put myself into multiple roles on the same canvas and so I was waiting for a tripod that I ordered.

Then things took a turn while I was doing a photo shoot with the girlfriend for part of the painting I was working on and stumbled upon this almost perfect pose with perfect surroundings and lighting that would help me demonstrate my painting skills and reflect on the previous research point.

At first I fancied painting something with subtle tones along the lines of Gwen John but with this change of circumstances I couldn’t get Hopper out of my brain.

It was late at night and I didn’t want to lose the pose so decided to take a photo and to work from the photo rather from life. The problem was I didn’t want to get back into the habit of producing paintings that were too realistic worrying whether that the painting was as precise as the photograph.

1 First Step - Underpainting

1 First Step – Underpainting

I looked at different techniques that would  help me to overcome this and stumbles across the phrase ‘Underpainting’ the technique itself was one that wasn’t new to me and was already one I had thought about using myself but I just didn’t have a name for it, I do now.

I had completed all previous exercises up to now on either Acrylic/Oil specialist paper or backing board prepared with Gesso. The latter warped a lot and to overcome this I painted the back of the board with a thin layer of paint so it would straighten out, the problem I had then was that paintings stick together when storing them away.  For this painting I decided to push the boat out and buy a canvas panel which are thin enough and light enough to send off for formal assessment.

2 First Step Completed

2 First Step Completed

I prep’d the canvas panel with Gezzo and then a coat of Burnt Umber a colour which I have begun to use more and more of. From there I begun the underpainting process in mizes of Burnt Umber, Mouse Grey and White.

I loved the completed underpainting so much that I actually thought about leaving it in those tones and cleaning it up to give it more sharper detail as a nod to Gillian Carnegie’s paintings but I decided to push on to add colour and detail.

 

 

 

3 Second Step - Adding Colour

3 Second Step – Adding Colour

With the next step I was too thorough and lost one thing that I really liked about the painting in the first step. Although the floor is made up of square ceramic tiles in the first picture you can see that it looks like floor boarding an effect that I would have liked to have kept but in the third photo it looks like a dull carpet, I would have to come back to this and try and recreate that effect.

The skin tones were quite hard to reproduce here and took several pigments mixed together to depict such as yellow, yellow ochre, orange and rose, at times you can see the individual colours that I layered over the top.

 

 

4 Third Step Adding Detail

4 Third Step Adding Detail

 

I added most of the detail, such as the light on the curtain (impasto), the face and shadows which were too dark and so the next step was to tone down which i would do by painting over them with thin layers of colour namely pink and yellow mixed with white.

By the now I had also repainted the floor which took almost three hours to get it to how I wanted it too look complete with the reflections from the light on the curtains.

 

 

 

5 Fifth Step - Adding Detail and Props

5 Fifth Step – Adding Detail and Props

I could have left it like this but the table was empty and didn’t look natural at all so from here I would add some of the items that were on the unkept table, a bottle of beer, a half empty glass, glue and some screwed up paper.

The bottle and glass were a challenge, I had never painted detail so small, the earlier Chiaroscuro exercises helped with this, particularly modelling the light around the glass.

6 Table Close Up

6 Table Close Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Painting

My thoughts on the final painting are that overall I thought I had done a pretty good job and it was enhanced by the texture of the canvas panel.

Shadows particularly on the figure are a bit hard, they were any way but they do look a bit harder in the painting, I’m not sure whether I should try and soften the lines up a bit or leave them as they are.

The feet are a bit deformed making them seem smaller, hopefully this wont be a focal point for anyone, I will not continue to mess these up and will leave them as they are,

7 Finished Piece

7 Finished Piece

 

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

 

 

 

 

Looking at Faces 3 – Head and Shoulders Portrait

I begun this exercise looking at faces of my colleagues. This would help me to decide:

  • How much shoulder to include in the painting.
  • Which Angle to paint the face at.
  • The best way to paint the hair.
  • Whether to paint with eyes open or close

My tutor recommended three artists to my in my last tutor report and one that I thought about for this exercise was an artist called Gwen John. The artist was recommended for her subtle use of tone but it wasn’t this that came to mind when I started working on this exercise.

Gewn John - The Convalescent 1924

Gewn John – The Convalescent 1924

Among the works of Gwen John were a couple of paintings that I thought would really help me cope with a head and shoulders portrait, these were ‘The Convalescent’ and ‘The Precious Book’.

In these two paintings the artist painted her subjects with eyes facing down, reading. With Thai girls it is hard to keep them posed for long lengths of time without them wanting to browse at their Facebook profile or Line Messenges. So what better way to get them seated still than actually give them their smartphone.

With eyes facing down I don’t have to spend too much time painting the details in their eyes and the South East Asian eye lids are also quite beautiful.

The subtle tones Gwen John employs in her paintings are also quite interesting and very different from my work so far that has been quite bold,I’ve noticed other students have created some really soft tones in their paintings but so far I just haven’t been able to. Hopefully my brush skills will improve and soft tones will be something I will be able to achieve.

Drawings of Colleagues

2nd Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

2nd Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

Thai’s have big lips and if you draw them at an angle that is only slightly out they can look too big although the size of the lips to the rest of the face is correct. You can see this in the first portrait drawing in charcoal of Lee, one of the beautiful Thai desk staff at our language centre.

Thai hair can be either dark brown or jet black but they do like to have highlights put in their hair which really helps when drawing them and helped me to create a sense of body to her hair.

Hair can also be used to frame the face, here I have used it to define her cheek bones on a usually rounded face.

1st Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

1st Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

For this second sketch of the other girl on the desk, Nah, I was asked to ‘make her beautiful’ which can be translated to ‘make me white’Thais are over concerned about skin colour. Nah has a darker complexion than Lee but here I have managed to capture all her features without using too much shading on the face. Again the hair played a big part of shaping the face and defining the cheek bones.

Thais have unusually shaped heads  and quite often the back of the head is flat so this drawing as with the previous sketch of Lee I stuck to drawing the front of the face and by doing this was only able to add a little bit of shoulder due to the size of the face on the paper.

There was a lot of blinking going on while working on her eyes so I didn’t manage to depict much life in them so at this stage I was thinking that eyes down or even closed was a better option.

3rd Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

3rd Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

For the third drawing I chose the only teacher in the staff-room that was willing to let me draw her face but she wishes she hadn’t. Allah is Russian and what I have noticed with a lot of Russian’s is that they have what I would call prominent eyelids which when open can make the eyes look slightly googly.

There is a lot more detail on Caucasian faces than South East Asian and so for this portrait I used a softer less compressed charcoal so I wouldn’t make her look too old while drawing these details such as dimples on cheek, creases on forehead and creases under the eyes.

I would have quite liked to have painted her for this exercise but she wasn’t impressed by the drawing and said that it didn’t look like her, even though others shouted her name and pointed at her as soon as they saw the drawing.

4th Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

4th Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

The next drawing was of my girlfriend at home, I have always found her very difficult to draw for some reason. Probably because I know she is my second worse critic, next to myself.

This time was no different, there is a likeness but not much. Her hair however is lovely and I think I managed to capture some of this in the drawing.

This drawing helped me decide on amount of shoulder to paint in the finished piece, deciding that more was better and I thought at the right angle I can make the shape of the head look okay.

5th Sketch - Looking at Faces and Best Angle

5th Sketch – Looking at Faces and Best Angle

With my subject chosen and to be honest it was always going to be my girlfriend as the Thais get a bit suspicious with other women coming into your apartment I went on to look at different head positions. This next one wasn’t brilliant, it might have been me getting bored of the charcoal so I went onto draw this pose again in oil pastel.

6th Sketch Oil Pastel - Experimenting

6th Sketch Oil Pastel – Experimenting

Working in oil pastel for the next drawing of the same pose I thought it was rather bland so chose to do a bit of experimenting running my finger down the the completed drawing which had a rain down a window effect.

7th Sketch Oil Pastel - Looking at Colour

7th Sketch Oil Pastel – Looking at Colour

This was a quick drawing in oil pastel, The likeness wasn’t great, in fact there was nothing much about this drawing that resembled my girlfriend but I liked the way the colours I used made it look like her face was reflecting the colour of her yellow top. This reminded me of Monet’s ‘Women with a Parasol’ where the bottom of her sleeve reflected the yellow flowers. This gave e an idea, to try and depict her in an outdoor scene or at least paint her on a blue background so it would help the viewer come to this conclusion.

The Final painting

8 - Drawing with Paint

8 – Drawing with Paint

1.  I laid down uneven mixes of primary blue and white on the card with random brushstrokes. I was hoping that this would give a nice background to the painting but then when I came to sketch the shape of her head and face I used a paint that was just too dark which may have been okay but then I realised the face was just too large and I had to correct it.

9 - Correcting the Shape of the Face

9 – Correcting the Shape of the Face

2. In order to correct the shape of the face I had to paint in some of her features. This was a valuable lesson. When drawing in paint on to a prepared background it was better to start off smaller and work bigger if needed.

3. The shape of the hair was a major part of this painting so I left off the face to paint in the hair with various colours such as pale blue, yellow ocre, burnt umber and black, this gave the hair some body. As I noticed earlier the hair framed the face and so it was a good idea to to paint the hair at this early stage.

10 - Painting overLines

10 – Painting overLines

4. Painting the hair really helped. From this I managed to get the shape of the forehead, profile and jaw line just right.

I then moved on to the shoulders painting in the basic shape followed by her hair over her right shoulder.

My next action would change the feeling of the whole painting. First I painted over the dark erroneous lines with a pale blue then a pale yellow to see how the portrait looked with each colour as a background. Both colours made it look that it had been painted outside but I still wasn’t sure which I would choose for the background.

The pale yellow on the blue looked like the sun was shining behind her but the light on the face told a different story.

11 - New Background

11 – New Background

5. Once I had painted the hair over her shoulder I decided that I would finish the painting without the model. This was so that i wouldn’t be influenced when it came to adding shadow and other details.

6. I began to play with the background, uneven mixes of blue and white in a swirling motion around the figure. It was the swirl of yellow that was there previously that gave me this idea.

12 - Adding More Shadow and Complimentary Colour

12 – Adding More Shadow and Complimentary Colour

7. After studying the painting for two or three weeks thinking about what was wrong with it and wondering why she looked like, what I would describe as a Spanish senorita. I realised that it was the background that made the painting look flat.

Studying the yellow tones on the face and the models top I went over the background with very thin layers of rose paint following the brushstrokes. The pink mixed with the blue gave me light purplish tones, purple being the complimentary colour of yellow, really helped the portrait in the foreground to pop out.

This was a really hard painting to take a photo of due to the colours used and that’s why the colours look different in every photo which don’t really do the painting justice.

My thoughts on the final drawing

I am quite happy with the the finished painting although the background would may have looked even better with clouds depicted in the background. I did think about this but I painted on a small format and there wasn’t much space around the background to add this detail.