Initially approaching this assignment I had been daunted by the very wide brief. As a starting point I chose to look back, particularly at my sketchbook work. Looking for a key.
I have enjoyed experimenting, more and more and from the experiments above I could see a fascination in the drip work and lines and quite often the feel of colour up against black and white. My intent therefore was to experiment more see what happens. I am very aware how risky this is , not having a subject, and it is quite a step into the dark for me.
Taking the group of experiments above as a kick off point I began some more sketchbook work.
The second image above is from my ipad, I have been layering images using the Sketchbook App to see the effects.
In my sketchbook working with Acrylic paint for speed. In the first image here, starting with a dryish sponge brush and dragging the paint. Then adding water, scratching and dripping. There were lots of layers but they need separating. In the second I used thicker paint and continually added shapes, sometimes obliterating other shapes, sometimes adding.
Looking at Gerhard Richards work at the beginning of this course had started me off using a card to apply the paint. His sweeping of colours across canvas achieves wonderful depth and it was my awakening to the fact that one doesn’t have to use a brush.
After two layers, using an old credit card and scratching into the paint I reached this point. I felt there now needed to be some more definition and strengthening of tone.
I chose a deep blue and added more paynes grey. At this point I quite like it but feel there could be yet more strengthening of tone, I am placing it to one side to think for a couple of days whilst working on other paintings.
Running alongside the first painting I had been playing with the thought of dripping the thin figure like characters that had come out of the first drip paintings and been brought to mind from my visit to the Giacometti exhibition. I am really not sure about this and so it has been relegated for now.
For the next painting I picked out a digital sketch that I had done from the recent abstract exercise. I had used Sketchbook App on my Ipad to layer a sketch of mine and a painting and adjusted the colour. I know I wont be able to do that but its one I had wanted to follow-up .
some leftover oil paint and a pallet knife in my sketch book, I then moved on to some large paper.
I have been using a palette knife and adding colours. At this point I am not enjoying the colours, I may put this to one side for a couple of days. This picture is not capturing the true colour I need to wait for the oil to dry before I photograph it again.
In the meantime I had popped my first painting into the App on my Ipad and played with adding further colour. This changed the whole feel of the picture and so I went back and added colour to the actual painting with the edge of a ruler.
I had also gone back to the picture that I wasn’t happy with and tried to adjust the feel by emphasising the figures
I’m still wondering whether to include this one, I know what’s in my mind but I just done seem to be able to translate it.
Starting another line of thought and back to my trip to the Giacometti exhibition I had come home and experimented with some air drying clay to see how it would feel to make a figure. It was a bit of a disaster, it bent in the middle due to my complete inexperience, however there was still something about him that I liked.
In my sketchbook I painted him with my glue spreader. The marks resembling the texture of the clay I took this on as my next painting.
Dripping a relaxed grid onto the paper in paynes grey.
Starting to build the figure with the glue spreader.
- I have my theme now……..none of my paintings are using brushes and are all experimental. Could call it “no brushes were harmed in the making of this assignment”.
The grid is having the effect of pushing the figure forward.
Whilst waiting for the drying on the sculpture picture, I popped the abstract into the sketchbook app and played a bit more. Back in the figure part of the module I looked at Li Song Song, who uses coloured blocks over news type images. I felt this approach mighted help this picture and lift it out of its wallpaper look.
The challenge was now to work out how to put the colour on top of that which is already there. The solution was some sponge craft brushes that I had seen and bought a few weeks before. Making up very thin solutions of colour I sponged on a glaze of Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Titanium White. Then with cloth I took out some of the colour again allowing the deeper colours to show above this.
Much happier, needs cropping now.
Back to my odd dystopian view of the future, for that’s what it feels like. I can’t quite let it go. I put it back on my easel.
I have emphasised the “figures” added more colour and drips. Decision is now how to crop this so that it works a bit better. In this photo I have covered one end, it feels more balanced.
Finished and cropped all four paintings.
Write an evaluation of your series of paintings and of the progress that you have made as a painter. Draw attention to the parts of the course that have furnished you with the most creative resources and explain why that is.
1. The final series of paintings are linked by experimentation, the fact that I used no brushes at all and , looking at them together, there is an underlying loose grid in every one. Three paintings have a colour against monochrome palette and one is quite different and an antidote to what became quite a dystopian theme.
The last exhibition that I visited just before starting this assignment was the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate Modern. It has obviously stayed in my mind, and the strange sad thin figures that he made are a clear influence on the drip painting and the painting of the model that I made after the exhibition.
I have found
- Working on several paintings at once an advantage. It is useful from an oil paint drying time point of view and as I naturally have a butterfly mind that hops around, I was able to go back and forth between paintings.
- Using experimental techniques that I had tried earlier in the course has encouraged me to be more experimental in this assignment. I used credit card spreading of paint, glue spreader, scratching and knives, in the earlier parts of the course.This time I have added dripping, texture and sponges for glazing.
- I don’t feel that the paintings have quite lived up to the sketches, this may be a case of inexperience in translating my thoughts from pencil to paint..
- Using blocks of light glazes, came originally from looking at Li Song Song. Using craft sponges to make the effect, is an idea I wish to take further in the future.
- During the course I have dabbled more and more with my ipad, in particular an app called Sketchbook. This time it became a tool to try out thoughts before committing to the paintings.
2. Progress over the whole course.
I have realised the importance of preparatory work and the sketchbook and used it more and more as the course progressed. This is important for me as working and studying part time makes for unwelcome breaks in the flow of thoughts and ideas. I am methodical in keeping my blog up to date and write as I work, preferring not to leave it all to the end of an exercise.
My curiosity has developed in two ways. During research my interest in artists’ works and how they produced their ideas grew, particularly when visiting exhibitions and seeing work ‘for real’. Nothing beats seeing work in real life, computer research is fine but standing in front of a painting, so close that you can see the brush work and feel the size of the work has helped give me confidence to go away and try different techniques. This has fuelled my curiosity and enjoyment of trying new techniques myself and experimenting with what paint can do. This has also brought about the realisation that I have only scratched the surface (pun intended) of what possibilities are out there.
In the first part of the course when we are encouraged to find out “what paint can do” I began to let go of my preconceived ideas of what painting should be. As the course progressed I became freer and not so literal. Discovering the work of Pierre Bonnard, pointed me toward, coloured grounds and using more than one colour on an object as colour reflects from nearby objects. Using colour for the joy of it also. Mixing colour on the surface and seeing how many ways there are to do this. Gerhard Richter, whose work I saw at Tate Modern, led me to experiment with application of paint with card, dragging it across the surface and seeing accidental mixtures emerge.
One of the biggest influences the course has had is to unlock my willingness to experiment. Taking some time looking at the work of Sigmar Polke fuelled my desire to investigate and experience the joy of experimentation without necessarily coming to a conclusion. Ideas and techniques discovered in playing can be used at a later date. Recording these in your blog or sketchbook, frees your mind to try new things as you know you wont lose your current ideas they’ll be safely recorded.
My enjoyment of trying new techniques has fed into creativity and I have looked at different ways of composing an image. Sometimes through the sketchbook and looking at more traditional artists, such as Gwen John, whose influence in composition for the self portrait I followed, and more recently with the help of play in a sketchbook app on my ipad, which helped me solve questions in part 5 of colour and invention. Cross fertilisation between technology and traditional art is an interesting area which I would like to explore going forward.
I think my understanding of artists’ work, through research has improved. I have more confidence in writing about artists’ works, and am gaining trust in my own opinions. Writing is still not my strongest point, but the more I look at other art and artists, the more I gain from it. This translates into a belief in my own ideas and I can see the influences developing through my investigations.