Tag Archives: perspective

Expressive Landscape 1 – Research Point

I had recently made quite a few sketches and taken rather a lot of photos on my New Year’s trip to my girlfriend’s home town. I have already developed two of the sketches into paintings for the previous exercises and I wasn’t sure whether or not to work from those paintings on the upcoming Mood and Atmosphere exercise or to start a fresh. The best way to make this decision was to look at some artists and their expressive landscapes and to get some ideas of how I could go about the exercise and which of the sketches, paintings or even photographs would be best to develop into an expressive landscape.

I started with the surrealist painters two of which I was very familiar with, Dali and Ernst and one who’s paintings I had seen before but whose name was new to me, de Chirico.

Salvador Dali

Geological Destiny

Geological Destiny – Salvador Dali

I’ve always liked Dali and I’ve examined most of his paintings very thoroughly but the two paintings here are two that I have previously overlooked. The one here ‘Geological Destiny’ (page 37, Dali by Gilles Neret) shows a horse in the process of metamorphosing into a rock on a smooth almost glacier-like plane with mountains in the distance and a solitary figure who looks to be walking in the direction of a giant rock. The long shadows and the colour of the light, tells me it’s nearing the evening rather than morning and the whole painting makes me feel vulnerable, out in the open with no shelter.

Like most of Dali’s paintings, there are no apparent brush strokes at least not from the photograph.


Salvador Dali - Solitude

Salvador Dali – Paranoiac Critical Solitude

The reason this painting Paranoiac-Critical Solitude is included in this research point is that it seems to be a nod to Max Ernst, appearing t have some very similar textures incorporated into Dali’s own surrealist style.



Max Ernst

Max Ernst The Forest 1927-1928

Max Ernst The Forest 1927-1928

Like most of his paintings, in The Forest Max Ernst uses really strong almost wire like texture. This texture with the dark tones and height and close-togetherness of the trees he creates a stressful, claustrophobic atmosphere. I imagine that this is a painting where he has taken what he has learnt from frottage and used it here, unless he has been somehow able to transfer the information to the canvas before working on it.


Max Ernst Antipodes of Landscape

Max Ernst Antipodes of Landscape

I can imagine Antipodes of Landscape to be the view that I get when I’ve finally made it out or above the Forest, a moment of bliss before you realise you’re in another strange land with prominent pipe like ridges pronounced by yellow light. A Rottweiler keeps guard laid down head upright with pricked up ears, probably relating to his time interned in Nazi Germany.



Paul Nash

Paul Nash - Wire 1918

Paul Nash – Wire 1918

Of the paintings I looked at of Paul Nash ‘Wire 1918’ was the one that really stood out as it was one that I could get ideas from for the type of scenery I was painting in Chiang Rai. Could I kill a tropical scenery into a ‘Killing Field’? What I liked about this was the way he uses the different grey tones with other lighter colours like rose to depict a cold, wet, post battle scene.




Gustave Moreau

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine

Gustave Moreau and the Eternal Feminine

This painting, ‘the Eternal Feminine’ by Gustave Moreau reminded me of two different Dali paintings. The rock behind the ship, The Great Masturbator while the sail and the mast of the ship reminded me ‘Soft Construction with Boiled Beans.

Don’t ask me how I got there. They are very different from the mystical scene of Sirens calling a boat in to the alcove. The darker tones in the bottom right corner looks like the crew members maybe getting into some trouble.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde - Lake Lucerne, 1930

Emil Nolde – Lake Lucerne, 1930

I had never heard of Emil Nolde before but this painting has a lot similarities to my painting in the Hard or Soft Landscape exercise with the feathery texture of the landscape, the lake and the light coming through the clouds. Only he takes what we both had and turned it into something magical, less colour but more light manipulation.



Graham Sutherland

Graham Sutherland - Western Hills

Graham Sutherland – Western Hills

This painting by Graham Sutherland has again a style that could be used to paint the small but steep mountains of Chiang Rai. The patch work hills almost look like paddy fields with the subtle light from the low sun giving them an exotic feel. I really love the way he played with the light here with the warm tones of the sunspot.


Leon Bakst

A Romantic and idealized landscape design for Daphnis and Chloe

A Romantic and idealized landscape design for Daphnis and Chloe


A Romantic and idealized landscape design for Daphnis and Chloe by Leon Bankst was the only painting of his that really caught my eye. Not really my kind or paintings, although I like the way he depicts the aerial perspective in this painting and you could imagine it would be really great as back drop on stage.



Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt Garden Path with Chickens

Gustav Klimt Garden Path with Chickens

This painting looks better on page 79 of Klimt by Gilles Neret. There were often bright days in England where light bounced off too many objects for my eyes to take in. This painting reminds me of one of those days. The amount of detail that has gone into the individual flowers, each one with its own dark outline shows how long it took and how large the original painting must have been. Too be honest I looked at this painting a few times before and I never stopped to notice the dark objects were chickens even though they really stood out against the light coloured path. A brilliant use of colour and contrast.


Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo Roots

Frida Kahlo Roots

Thailand is in one of it’s worst droughts ever at the moment and this painting, Roots by Frida Kahlo depicts that perfectly. It is said that Frida Kahlo’s paintings weren’t surrealist paintings but paintings that depicted her agony and disability. I can’t sense her agony here but it does make me feel uncomfortable.


de Chirico

Piazza d Italia - de Chirico

Piazza d Italia – de Chirico

I’ve always liked the paintings of de Chrico with his white walled Mediterranean buildings, long shadows and burning sun that you never see that with the cloud on the horizon. He manages to create a great sense of distance in his paintings with very few obstacles.




van Gogh

van Gogh Wheat Field with Cypresses

van Gogh Wheat Field with Cypresses

It wouldn’t be right not to include at least one of van Gogh’s paintings. van Gogh was a master of expressing his inner emotions in his paintings and in Wheat Field with Cypresses there’s something there. You can’t quite put your finger on it but with the wild clouds and whipping leaves and branches of the trees and bushes you get a sense of frustration or anger or at least hyperactivity.

Perspective 1 – Linear Perspective

Canaletto - The Grand Canal with S Simeone Piccolo

Canaletto – The Grand Canal with S Simeone Piccolo

When I think of think of linear perspective in an urban landscape I think of Canaletto and his paintings of Venice and his wonderful interpretations of the canal systems and architecture.

They used to call Bangkok the Venice of Southeast Asia due to the network of canals  in and around the city, most of which have been closed off and made into open sewers. One of these canals is situated behind the Temple school where I teach and so to start this exercise I did  rather lengthy study of the canal and the buildings around it,


Canal Behind Debsirin School

1 Behind Debsirin School - Watercolour

1 Behind Debsirin School – Watercolour

This was the first and probably the best study in this exercise completed from life and in one sitting. I put it together in pieces like a jigsaw drawing the main lines and filling in the details one part at a time rather than drawing the lines of the whole thing first. The plants, bridge  and the outhouse at the end of the canal give the painting a lot of depth and it is very much a finished watercolour painting. It would have also been good to paint using really thin washes of acrylic using them as a watercolour medium something I haven’t tried yet.

Wat Makut Temple

2 Wat Makut Temple - Watercolour and Pen

2 Wat Makut Temple – Watercolour and Pen

Continuing with watercolour I went onto make this sketch over two pages in my Moleskine sketchbook of Wat Makut Temple at lunchtime.

This time I completed the expressive outline in Rotring drawing pen before ‘colouring in’ in watercolour. Usually on this style of urban sketching I would lock the sketch in first in pencil before going over in pen but this time I hgave up on the pencil after a couple of lines and completed the rest in pen making it a bit more expressive.

It wasn’t bad and is probably something I would like to develop in the future. However, it would have been better if I had used the book length ways capturing a cropped version scene of both sides of the temple as there are nice buildings on all sides here.




Koh Larn

3 Koh Lan Street in Pencil

3 Koh Lan Street in Pencil

I loooked all over Koh larn Island for a place where I could sit down undisturbed and spend time sketching without being bothered or being burnt to a crisp. It turned out that the best spot to sketch for this exercise was right near our hotel/guest house where there was a small passage way in between a resort and some traditional Thai island houses that lead down to the beach.


4 Koh Lan in Pen and Watercolour

4 Koh Lan in Pen and Watercolour

Here I managed to sit under the corner of a canopy and look down the passageway from the road. The first sketch I made was in charcoal pencil, the second in pen and watercolour. The reason for the two sketches was to see how similar the perspective of the two quick sketches would be, if there weren’t that much difference then I would look at developing these into a painting with the information I had.


The Final Painting

Torn between the Canal at the back of the temple and the scene on Koh Larn I decided to go for developing the scene on Koh Larn to capture the memory, with it being my last year living in Thailand.

5 Painting the Outline

5 Painting the Outline

I started by drawing in the outline by dipping the handle end of the paint brush in a slightly watered down mix of primary blue, hopefully this gave me the same kind of control as drawing with a stick, nice and stiff but not too precise.





6 Applying the Washes

6 Applying the Washes

From there I applied a thin watered down mix of watered down blue fading into the white of the support for the sky and then began to apply thin washes of blue for the buildings.






7 Trying a New Technique

7 Trying a New Technique

The brief for this exercise said that ‘the use of line by drawing with a brush or a drawing medium will be more important than your use of colour and tonal contrast’ but I wanted to use this opportunity to practice a new technique. I don’t know what it’s called or if there’s a name for it but I worked in the paint on the wall of the building in a criss-cross motion working the thin layers of red, blue and burnt Umber on top of each other.



8 Half Way Point

8 Half Way Point

After painting the grass and the sand I carried  on working on the lines of the side of the shop and the wooden panels of the Thai houses with a small flat brush before moving onto the resort side of the passageway and the most difficult part, the wooden fence above the wall.





9 Finished Painting

9 Finished Painting

The two sides of the passageway depict a contrast between the traditional lifestyle that the Thais lead and holiday island lifestyle of the visiting holidaymakers and travellers and I was hoping to show that clearly here.

The finished painting is not how I imagined it would turn out. The perspective is good but I imagined it looser and more fluid rather than tight and precise like it turned out. This was due to the left hand side of the painting being quite technical and I would have probably been better choosing a street or passageway with Thai houses on both sides as I like the way the wood on the Thai houses turned out.

The wall on the building on the right remind me of the early paintings of contemporary artist Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul who paints on rusty old aluminium panels, the difference being my finished painting is a bit too clean. Maybe this is because the wall on the right is too clean, would it be better to mark it up in someway?