I have been doing much reading and visiting art but in between times I have been painting.
The first painting I did was this one
Figure 01 Essex morning oil on 60 x 50 on board
I think I am beginning to understand things at last, the cool of the sky coordinates with the cool of the mid ground field and contrasts with the warmth of the foreground field and the trees. The orange of the foreground is complimentary to the blue of the sky even though the compliment is softened by the separation of the two by the green of the trees and the fact that there is a difference between the respective hues of the orange and blue.
There is a very hard line between the background hedges which was there in real life because of the height of the wheat (?) but in a painting this needs to be softened as it grabs the eye too much so I will go back to it and soften it and post an update later.
This is the second painting was requested by my sister who wants a painting of Venice for her home. I worked from aphotograph I took on my last visit there.
Figure 02 Grand Canal oil 60 x 50 on board
I was pleased at managing to retain some subdued pink and ochre in the sky as this is one thing about Venice that I will never forget. I am also pleased with the sense of recession and light in the painting.
There are probably a few nods to the golden section because this is how I see things now, but these seem less important than the paint itself. The ebauche across the buildings has served to unify the piece and I like the aged effect of the buildings from letting the ebauche show through the overlying colours
Looking at it again perhaps a few highlights flicked into the water would give added interest and the shirt of the gondolier is crying out for a highlight.
I then had another go using the ebauche with a still life.
Figure 03 Still life with coffee and alstroemeria oil on 60 x 50 board
With the rubbing and the lighter tones produced the ebauche is beginning to splinter, perhaps it is time to purposefully splinter the ebauche maybe using different colours within the ebauche. The brush marks are, I think, becoming more painterly and there is more texture appearing in the work. Apart from that the work itself is becoming less of a struggle and for that is becoming more enjoyable to paint. I think this may be a result of a lot more thinking going on before starting to paint so that the actual painting process becomes quicker and more enjoyable,
Maybe if the cup had been offset a little further from the centreline of the vase the composition would have been a little more pleasing.
And the last of the four;
Figure 04 “a retreating cream coat disappearing into the green”(Smith p129) oil on 60 x 50 board
This one involved an awful lot of research. It was a challenge from my tutor to produce a narrative painting from the book Summer in February by Jonathon Smith. The artist Sir Alfred Munnings is a central figure to the plot which revolves around his painting The morning ride.
The research involved reading the book and a trip to Constable Country to see the Munnings Museum in his former home in Denham. The exhibition of his First World War paintings that was in the army museum is on show there so it was a double delight to see it again. I had my line from the book so I did several sketches for the figure but I realised there was a gap in my knowledge of Edwardian fashions.
Figure 05 figure sketch 01
Figure 06 sketch 02
I watched the film of the book in the hope that the films dresser would have done her research, she had of course, and curiously enough the film’s director had chosen the same coquettish pose for the skirt as I, mine was based around the Etruscan wall painting of The Judgement of Paris where Aphrodite the eventual winner lifts her skirt.
Figure 07 The Judgement of Paris
The wardrobe issue being resolved, the sketch was finalised.
Figure 08 Sketch 03.
With all the research, which I had great fun doing, the painting of the picture went like a dream The process that is evolving from these paintings is that the more research and planning that goes into a painting, the easier and more fulfilling the painting of it is.
As for the painting itself, I kept the sky plain so as not to conflict with the tree shapes, the notan is a light reversed question mark against the dark of the foliage and I learned the lesson of the wheat field against the background wall. The only tight brushwork is in the hat, the red band of which is placed on the golden section as a complimentary to the mass of green.
Smith J. (1996) Summer in February: London Abacus