Tag Archives: the practice of painting

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

 

 

 

Transparent and Opaque 3 – Opaque Colour Mixing

Some pigments have greater opacity than others without the addition of white and some can be laid on thickly to cover layers underneath, but white is essential for building body colour and is the vital ingredient for most opaque painting techniques. In this exercise, you’ll paint graded tones by mixing in white. Look carefully at your tonal mixes and put some white on your palette or saucer. Choose at least three of the washes you’ve painted (including the single colour ones) and attempt to recreate exactly the same colour, shade and tone of each of these in turn. This time, though, you’ll be mixing colours by adding in white, making the paints opaque.

Over-painting with acrylic works well because it dries so quickly. However, subtle, smooth colour blending is harder to achieve and that is the aim of this exercise. You’ll have to work fast at blending the graded tones of each colour by adding more white progressively or you could go from light to dark. Acrylic paints tend to dry darker than when they are applied so this exercise will help you to see how they behave. If you’re working with oil paints, you should be able to blend the colours with ease.

One way to blend colours is to lay out broad bands of colours to be mixed and gradually feather the tones across each other so that they blend smoothly and evenly. When you’ve completed this exercise, compare the effects of the transparent colour mixes (from previous exercises) and the opaque ones. Think about ways in which both methods could work together. Make notes in your learning log.

Due to the fact that I live in a one-bedroom apartment and will be doing most of this course using acrylics I decided to go with acrylics for now, but I am hoping I can get to use some oil paint in the same way later on in this course.

My first attempt was pretty good although my first band of blending went totally to pot as I grabbed a Titanium buff by accident in a hurry going home from work, I am not sure what a buff is for, I will look into later but I will make a wild guess at toning down bright colours…

In this first attempt which was on one of only two of the only 300 gsm sheets of watercolour paper I had left I attempted to was intending to recreate the tones of the first single colour blend, ultramarine.

I couldn’t really see much difference between the transparent wash in the Tonally Graded wash Exercise, except maybe the transparent washes were probably smoother. However, the colours in this exercise were probably more vibrant.

1stTry with Wrong White

1stTry with Wrong White

The next attempt was on a thinner sheet of watercolour paper on the back of one of the existing washes treated with Gesso but still the bands of colour blends were a success. This time even better than the first go. I have had previous experience at this on one of my own paintings from years ago where the ultramarine towards the top of the sky was very dark as though it was almost touching space, but the colour wasn’t blended as well as these. With the white space between the bands I can imagine the trail of  fighter jets against the blue sky.

2nd Attempt Getting Better - Warped Paper due to Gesso on Thin Paper

2nd Attempt Getting Better – Warped Paper due to Gesso on Thin Paper

I felt that I had got where I needed to be as far as blending the ultramarine so my next attempt was to try and recreate the Violet wash, again the colours were more intense than in the Tonally Graded Washes exercise but not as smooth. Next to the blue bands the Violet seems alot more opaque. I used the other side of the same brush so there is a hint of Ultramarine at the top of the colour bands, this actually looks quite good.

 

3rd Attempt with Ultramarine and Violet

3rd Attempt with Ultramarine and Violet

From there I worked length-ways across the paper to blend the two colours together althought the ends are quite messy the blend of colour which I achieved by feathering one colour over the other is not too bad, I can work at this but I feel that the Overlaying Washes were a lot smoother and easier to achieve as to blending these two opaque colours.

4th Attempt Blending Ultramarine into Violet

4th Attempt Blending Ultramarine into Violet

Thesecond attempt working down the paper in landscape was a lot better maybe because the paint at less time to try, it was 30+ degrees heat here and the acrylic was drying quickly.

From there I loaded my palette up with lots of ultramarine an attempted to recreate the spherical wash of the base of the Vase in the Painting Monochrome Vessel Assemblage by Brian Irving Shown in the Coursework.

5th Try with Spherical Blend

5th Try with Spherical Blend

After researching Mark Rothko I really wanted to try painting something in the style of but I realised that I would have to make two very dilute mixes of colour to cover the quite large sheets of acrylic paper that I had at hand and so keeping to opaque colour mixing I attempted to blend as many different colours together as possible, I then separated the colour bands with Payne’s Gray to see what emotions I could evoke with this against the bright colous.

6 - Blending Different Colours

6 – Blending Different Colours

Research Point 1 – Mark Rothko and the Seagram Murals

Look at the paintings of Mark Rothko, in particularly the huge Seagram Building Paintings, now in the Tate Modern, which form a solemn kind of tone poem all in shades of crimson.

Rothko was an American Abstract Impressionist painter, born in Russia and emigrated with his family to the U.S.A. in 1913. As a young buy Rothko was interested in literature, music and social studies and won a scholarship to Yale University where he studied liberal arts but left without graduating in his third year.

In 1925 Rothko moved to New York where he was he made irregular attendances at the Art Students League, one of the classes there was a painting class buy Max Weber, which remained his only formal art training. Mostly self taught, he educated himself by attending exhibitions and visits to artists’ studios such as that of Milton Avery, whose work influenced Rothko along with that of Matisse with their simple compositions and flat areas of colour.

Bathers or Beach Scene Untitled 1933-4 by Mark Rothko

Bathers or Beach Scene Untitled 1933-4 by Mark Rothko

Rothko’s earliest pictures comprised of Expressionist landscapes, genre scenes, still-lifes, and bathers and were somewhat muddy in tone while his watercolours of the same period, demonstrate an expert approach to thin washes of pigment. His paintings throughout the 1930s invoked a feeling of mystery and dread with tragic figures set in claustrophobic apartments, lonely city streets and subway platforms.

Mark Rothko - Entrance to Subway - Subway Scene - 1938

Mark Rothko – Entrance to Subway – Subway Scene – 1938

In the lates 30s Rothko and Gottlieb as well as other Jewish artists with similar interests formed ‘the Ten’ together they mounted exhibitions in New York and Paris Until 1940.

During the mid-1940s Rothko evolved a personal watercolour technique.  he applied watercolour, gouache, and tempera to heavyweight paper, then before the paint had time to dry, he used black ink to define forms. The ink would bleed when introduced to areas that were still wet and resulted in the black burst often found in his works from this period. These watercolour techniques seemed to have influenced the technique which he  developed for his oil paintings.

Mark Rothko - Untitled  oil on canvas 1945

Mark Rothko – Untitled oil on canvas 1945

Rothko felt that his new work was consistent with the subject matter of his earlier paintings, he stressed he had not removed the human figure but had replaced it’s form with symbols and later shapes. In his opinion paintings like No.13(White, Red and Yellow) below had developed out of his hopes to express human emotions.

Mark Rothko Number 13 -White Red on Yellow

Mark Rothko Number 13 -White Red on Yellow

‘The progression of a painter’s work…will be toward clarity…..I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions—tragedy, ecstasy, doom…and if you…are moved only by their color relationships, then you miss the point.’ Mark Rothko.

The Seagram Murals

Mark Rothko untitled Mural for End Wall

Mark Rothko untitled Mural for End Wall

Rothko was received one of the biggest commissions of his life in 1958, to paint a series of murals for the fashionable Four Seasons restaurant located in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue New York.

Mark Rothko untitled 1958

 

This set a new challenge for Rothko as it was the first time he had been asked to produce a coordinated series of paintings as well as producce an artwork space concept. To do this the artist constructed a scaffold in his studio, the same dimensions of the restaurant. Over the next three months he completed 40 paintings. A total of three series in maroon, dark red and black rather than the intense bright colours in his earlier paintings. He also altered his the usual horizontal format to vertical so that they would complement the restaurant’s vertical features: columns, walls, doors and windows.

Mark Rothko Untitled (section 3) 1959_0

Rothko was influenced by Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library in Florence, with its blind windows and deliberately oppressive atmosphere, he commented that Michelangelo ‘achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after – he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall.’ While on the SS Independence Rothko disclosed to Harper’s Magazine publisher John Fischer, that his true intention for the Seagram murals was to paint “something that will ruin the appetite of every son-of-a-bitch who ever eats in that room….”

Mark Rothko Untitled (section 2) 1959_0

Eventually he realised that the worldly setting of a restaurant was no ideal location for such a work, Rothko withdrew from the Seagram Mural commission. He kept the commissioned paintings in storage until 1968 before presenting the series to the Tate Gallery, expressing his deep affection for England and for British artists such as J.M.W. Turner.

Mark Rothko Red on Maroon mural, section 5

Mark Rothko Red on Maroon mural, section 5

The Seagram Murals arrived in London for display at the Tate Gallery on the very day of his suicide, February 25, 1970. His assistant Oliver Steindecker, found him lying dead on the floor in front of the sink. Rothko was covered in blood with slices down his arms inflicted by a razor that was found lying at his side. The autopsy revealed that he had also overdosed on anti-depressants. ‘Mark Rothko was always incredibly depressed’ – Matthew Collings, This is Modern Art.

Mark Rothko Black on Maroon 1958

Mark Rothko Black on Maroon 1958

I used to have a reoccurring nightmare when I was a kid which was more of an intense feeling of anxiety than anything else. There were no figures in the dream just vertical blocks of dark greys and blacks pushing together and as they did the pressure that I felt would force me awake. This could have been from temporary damage due to lack of oxygen to the brain from pneumonia or asthma and I haven’t really thought about it for years but looking at the images above brings it all back and that’s just on the computer.

I’m not keen on the paintings, although I do understand the concept and respect the artist and I would like to get right up close and personal with Rothko’s paintings to feel just what the artist intended you to feel “tragedy, ecstasy, doom”

Although there is some emotion there for me looking at the murals above on a computer do not them justice at all, I have seen how two colours bleed into each other when wet  and can only really guess how the darker colours of the black shape on ‘Black and Maroon’ for example have bled into the lighter maroon. To see that on a grand scale would be something else.

If according to the Greek historian Plutarch ‘Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.’ Then yes the poetry that these paintings offer us is very solemn indeed.

http://www.the-art-minute.com/

http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/display/mark-rothko

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Rothko

http://www.oxfordartonline.com/

Transparent and Opaque 1 – Tonally Graded Wash

Set up length-ways and look through your colours for either a strong red (such as cadmium red) or Ultramarine. Then put a small amount of pigment on your palete and work inwater or turps until you have a strong fluid mix of the colour. Load a medium wide brush and work from the top to the bottom of the sheet with increasingly dilute mixes of the colour until, at the bottom of the sheet you have a very pale wash, almost faded out to white.

It was eveming and I had neither a string red or so I tried mixing two blues together to start and the only paper I had was a thin 150 gsm watercolour paper. I learnt my lesson, the two acrylic blues werent mixing together as well as i thought they would and the dilute wash was very streaky and between that and the thin paper the results were horrifying.

I decided to start again the next day after I purchased some Ultramarine paint and some nice Canson 300 gsm watercolour paper as well as a good quality medium brush. With the new quality tools i started to produce quality washes.

i found it wasn’t as straight forward as working my way tk the bottom with increasingly dilute mixes, occasionally I had to load up the brusb with a thicker mix and work my way back up to get the graded wash.

intitally started out by bulldog clipping the sheets to the drawing board but as i got better at the tonally graded washes i let the bulldog clip alone.

 

1st Successful Wash Ultramarine

1st Successful Wash Ultramarine

2nd Successful Wash

2nd Successful Wash

3rd Successful Wash

3rd Successful Wash

4th Wash Tonally Graded Wash More Improvement

4th Wash Tonally Graded Wash More Improvement

5th Wash Couldn't ask for better

As the brief instructed I practised this several times until I had a satisfactory progression from deep tones to the very palest tones. All the time controlling the load on the brush and the flow of paint on the paper to avoid the paint running, then I put the ones with the most steadily graded wash aside to dry to be used in the next exercise,  overlaying washes. I then did more washes in a dilute mix of violet as it is close to the original colour on the spectrum (as instructed) and set those aside for the next exercise as well.

6th Wash in Violet

6th Wash in Violet

7th Wash in Violet

7th Wash in Violet

Then i worked wet-in-wet and painted a graded wash of the second colour (violet) on to one of the sheets with the second colour (ultramarine) and vice versa allowing the colours to merge in the centre, what i found was that the violet and ultramarine formed layers of purple as they blended into each other which reminded me of an horizon seen from over the wing of an aeroplane.

8th Wash Wet and Wet

8th Wash Wet and Wet

9th Wash Wet and Wet

9th Wash Wet and Wet