Essex lane Noon

I had the good fortune to be invited to go walking along the Great Essex Way by a friend. I did a sketch of the road outside the village of Fyfield. What attracted me to the scene was the postbox on the bend at the entrance to the village.

In Spring the greens in the countryside are at their most intense but I think the red of the postbox just manages to balance them. The painting is based on the golden section, and I think I have managed to capture the heat of the noon sun. The brush strokes are continuing to become things by themselves rather than the things overriding the brushstrokes, and the final painting has a wide tonal range. There was another development. it was such a pleasant day out and I think I have captured some of my feeling as I walked in the midday sun, it feels like a joyful painting, which were my sentiments at the time.

My pallete was cobalt blue, emerald green, sap green, hansa yellow, rose madder quinacidrone, cadmium red and titanium white. I did a colour beginning with yellow ochre and cadmium red that I wiped dry with the rag. followed  by an ebauche of rose madder and cobalt blue.

Figure 1 Colour beginning

Figure 2 ebauche

Figure 3 Digital tonal range

Figure 4 Essex Lane Noon 60 x 50 oil on board

 

Dancing at the easel

I think I learned a lot from doing the the recycling series, because I am beginning to understand  how colours float in a three dimensional space.

My current palette consists of; Cadmium red,Rose madder quinacridone, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Emerald green, Sap green,Hansa yellow, Raw sienna, Cadmium yellow deep, burnt sienna, titanium white and transparent white. With these I have a full spectrum of colours and several chromatic blacks. The Rose madder quinacridone and the Ultramarine blue provide a adequate range of violets from red violet to blue violet.

This painting was created using these eight colours and the two anachromatic whites, I could probably cut this palette by leaving out the Raw sienna and the Burnt sienna and transparent white the, but these tube colours save protracted mixing, so for the minute I will stick with the palette. it has sufficed for this landscape painting and the still life, Fruit and Flowers.

My process, which was at best haphazard is beginning to achieve a sense of order in that I now know what colours to squeeze out on the palette before I begin to paint. this feels great, because I no longer have to concentrate so much on the tone and colour of the painting and can direct my consciousness to my brush strokes and my dance moves at the easel.

I am no good at singing, that is the job of my brother and my paintings, but as a dancer at the easel I am world class and , I know my shoulder and hip moves have a very direct influence on my brushstrokes.

Before I show you the painting. here is a photograph of Cezanne dancing with a chair because all the easels were taken.

Figure 1 Cezanne dancing with a chair because there are no easels available.

This is a record of my latest dance at the easel, there are no footprint diagrams of the floor to show you how to do it, but suffice to say i can jump from  one set of Sainsbury’s footprints to the next with a double axle and twist.

Figure 2 Hertfordshire Farm Morning 600 x 500 oil on board

I was interested in the range of tones in this picture and so converted it into black and white in Photoshop. I was pleased with the range of tones., and the range of textures from the sky to the landscape, in this direct painting.

Figure 3 Hertfordshire Farm Morning  monotone

 

 

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The first painting of part 6

As a lock down challenge, my friend sent me as sketch of a still life of some fruit and flowers. Here is the sketch.

Figure 1 sketch

I set to work to make a painting from the sketch. My process is familiar from working from sketches but from sketches of things that I have actually seen. With this I had to buy tulips and roses to see how they reacted with the light, the fruit was not such a problem as they are part of my diet anyway and were readily available.

Normally I would not have a problem working from my own sketch because it would be of something I had seen and internalised so I proceeded as normal.

I now realise that in the abstinence of seeing the original still life I should have done a colour study and a tonal study before I started which would have shortened the painting period enormously.

The painting was on the easel for two or three weeks, but this gave the added advantage of additional texture to the painting as a result of the many changes.

I am pleased with the outcome which I think of as a sort of hybrid between Vincent’s colours and Cezanne’s sense of three dimensional structure and solidity.

Figure 2 Flowers and fruit 40 x 50 cm oil on board

Figure 3 Flowers and fruit detail

The last paintings of Part 5

The last paintings of part 5 are a mixed bunch but all of them seem to mean something to me, so here we go.

Figure  Study after Corbet oil on board 60 x 50 cm

One of the nice things about doing studies after the masters is that you have a goal to aim for, the difficult bit is to work how the master got there. While you are painting you begin to realise the knowledge and expertise and thinking that went into these canvases before they even saw a brush. Some but not all you can half guess but when you step back and look you realise the gaps in your knowledge, and what you would do different next time. Its like a game of chess and if you don’t move your knight or rook at the right moment the game has a whole different outcome.

Figure 2 So Long and Thanks for the Fish oil on canvas 600 x 600

Everybody loves a dolphin and this is a redo of a painting i did about six years ago that won a prize and was sold. I was curious to see if I had improved over this time with all my new found knowledge of glazing ebauches and colour plans. Technically it is a better painting, if a little over glazed, but thankfully that is not something that the dolphin loving public seem concerned with.

I would have liked a better transition between the green and the blue sea but the perspective looks fine and I think the green sea to the right of the foreground dolphin provides a bridge between the foreground and background,

Figure 3 Soup, Sandwich and a Cigarette oil on board 60 x 50 cm

It was the sky that caught my eye the disused airbase in Norfolk is only a makeweight for the sky. I like painting the sky because it doesn’t have to look like much and you can be freer with your brush marks.

Figure 4 Flowers 7 Oil on board 60 x 50 cm

Flowers are an excuse to use the bright colours on your palette and let them glow. Slowly, far too slowly, my flowers are getting less representational but then perhaps it it only by truly understanding real flower forms you can then make them up as you go along.

Figure 5 Of Gods and Men oil on board 50 x 60 cm

I am not really a political animal but as a European I feel some how distanced from Europe by what the politicians are doing. it is not as if I like all of Europe but this little town in Italy id definitely one of my favorite bits. I have written before of the northern European fascination with hot clay roof tiles, maybe it is a personal fascination but it does make a wonderful complement to the warm blue sky.

Figure 6 Flowers for Apollo oil on board 50 x 60 cm

This one glares at me from the end of the room. I have yer to decide on the final background colour but will soon.

When it gets to this part of the assignment I look back on the paintings I have created that felt good while I was painting them and realise that now they are dry, I could have done them better.

Today, however I played with Ink and water and was as happy as a child, the results are unchangeable and no amount of wishing or technique can make them better than your first shot.

Figure 6 Roots 1 Ink on board 60 x 50 cm

Figure 7 Roots 2 Ink on cartridge 60 x 50 cm

Figure 8 Apollo Belvedere Uh Hu Ink on cartridge 50 x 60 cm

Figure 8 For Julie 1 Ink on cartridge 50 x 60 cm.

Briggs and White

In the pieces I have been directed to, both Jonny Brigg’s and David Ben White’s processes seem to be influenced by Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space. Whilst Bachelard’s philosophies are not new, they remain open to deeply personal consideration.

Briggs speaks of the feminine space of his early childhood that was peopled by his mother and four sisters from which he felt excluded by his maleness. He also goes at great length to describe the home of his grandmother and how the nicotine smell and staining of the house was somehow linked to the creeping insidiousness of his grandmother’s cancer.

It is linked with a sense of otherness in that you can observe a thing but you cannot become part of it and is probably best illustrated by Bigg’s work Dummy, where cancer cells are grown in laboratory conditions on a miniature version of a house (presumably modelled on his grandmothers house) That this takes place in a vitrine only serves to emphasise the sense of oneness and otherness, so that although you are invited to observe and understand the artwork, the vitrine maintains the sense of otherness. The miniature house has, in essence, become one of Granny’s treasures, stored in a glass cabinet, that you can see but not touch a sensation that was familiar to most of us as children.

David Ben White’s process seems very architecturally based, indeed his exhibition of 2015 was entitled Inside Outside. Occupying a space makes it a part of you an extension of yourself, an outer of the inner self painted in the colours of the mind.

Both artists processes have moved on since this time and I have been lucky enough to follow both on Instagram so that I can keep up with developments

Bibliography

Bachelard, G. The Poetrics of Space. 1964; London: Penguin

Das J. 2014 Paper Journal, Interview: Jonny Biggs. At; https://paper-journal.com/interview-jonny-briggs/

Accessed 6 April 2020

Letrangere. At http://letrangere.net/exhibited-artist/david-ben-white/#gallery/cd23efa154c18ab4d675a9ff49be3618/260

Accessed 6 April 2020

 

Artists Statement

Artists Statement

I have a need to express myself artistically, I am not yet sure how that need will eventually be fully expressed. I have drawn and painted since I was a small child, art is a natural business for my hand and my eye, and I am driven to do this to help me to understand and relate to what is happening to me and the things around me.

I paint or draw on a daily basis. It is both a release and a challenge. A release because when I am being creative, I am at peace with myself, a challenge because I am forever in a competition with myself to surpass my previous efforts. I think the challenge is the greater part, man against canvas, it is a performance, more often than not behind closed doors to an audience of one, but always a performance requiring high levels of concentration and freedom of movement as I dance at the easel.

Since 2013, I have become more serious about it, taking courses, doing an online degree in painting with the OCA and at the suggestion of my tutor doing a diploma in painting at the Norfolk School of Painting. I am almost at the end of the second year of the degree and have completed the first trimester of the diploma. I am also study drawing with a professional artist as a mentor, I find this highly inspirational as it teaches me less about techniques and more about attitude towards art and my own work.

What I have learned about my attitude towards my artwork is that although the craft and technique is a very serious part of the process, no amount of either in a work can compensate for having fun and a sense of enjoyment in the process of creating the work.

I am currently working on a series of paintings that consider the scientific use of colour using limited palettes, the series is called Recycling and there are twenty-four paintings in the series. The series considers the harmonic and the complementary colours. It is also an investigation of space and flatness in particular the space and air between the forms.

In my painting Recycling#9 (Happiness) the space and air between the four objects is achieved by the various temperatures of the red hues in the monochrome study , in comparison Recycling #15 uses the complimentary of red against the various temperature greens to achieve far greater space between the objects.

I look for inspiration in the everyday, I understand that my paintings have a life of their own and I cannot predict, nor do I want to, what the viewer will connect with. For this reason, I name my paintings with descriptive titles, so as not to sway the viewer emotionally in any direction.

I have been making work from the natural forms in the woods and the way that light falls on them through the various seasons of the year also forms of Architecture and the built environment and, perhaps most of all, people; the human condition is endlessly inspiring, sometimes I feel like an alien sent to investigate mankind.

I draw more than I paint because it is more convenient, and I mostly draw in a pocket sketchbook using a rollerball pen. I draw the things that I notice in my everyday life, it could be a still life, a landscape or a cityscape and genre or portrait of a stranger I see.

About one in twenty of these drawings I would develop further into a larger charcoal drawing and maybe one in a hundred would form the basis of an oil painting. Once a week I go out fully equipped to draw or paint and my favourite place to do this is in a stretch of ancient woodland on the edge of London.

As with my small sketchbook, on my painting expeditions, I paint the things that I notice and want to draw other’s attention to I am born storyteller illustrating my stories in tones colours and shapes rather than words, that represent biographical or local detail that help in understanding this very special place.

As a student artist I am experimenting with different approaches and genres. Although I do quite a bit of still life work, in my heart that is more a sort of practicing the scales type of thing when I can’t get out there or there is no model. I do have a preference, however for landscape painting, wandering wild and free with my pochard, which is of course central to the British landscape tradition. This is when I feel most at home and hopefully, I will eventually find a place within that tradition, perhaps with a narrative element. I enjoy the colour and light of the English landscape which is probably at its most moody and brooding during the winter months.

I have been painting the changing seasons and I am starting to paint the time of day but I will need to keep my ambitions high and introduce into my paintings more drama and extreme weather conditions as Turner and Constable did. As I am beginning to struggle less with my techniques I can concentrate more on my feelings and emotions. Ever so slowly I am inventing more and more of my landscapes as the elements of the landscape embed themselves in my head, there are some fields beside the M25 that I pass daily on my way to work at seventy miles am hour that inspire me. I have done several sketches from memory and it is starting to become ready to paint mostly though my inspiration comes from walking in the landscape. Gainsborough’s agent once declined a commission to paint a country estate claiming that Gainsborough had better landscapes in his head. Bertram Priestman and Edward Seago both had such a light touch as to create a paintings out of almost nothing, I have done studies from both, and with each study I have improved and can further appreciate their genius. I have also done several studies from Joan Eardley her brushstrokes have such a tactile quality it is almost like touching the landscape as you look.

My extreme interest is in the 5 mm above the area of the canvas or board of my current painting. I start a painting with a great deal of planning regarding the size and composition, tonality and colour of the painting. This part of the process is fairly time consuming would take up probably three quarters of the total time involved in the creation of the painting. The rest of the time involved in the creation of the work, the actual painting part is hardly ever continuous as it is dependent on the number of layers and drying time of the paint. All the above are carried out with copious amounts of either coffee or wine and of course music, for it is only with music that you can dance at the easel.

Art is of course, something I find magical in all its forms, I am seriously interested in beauty and the aesthetics of a harmonious composition. Although I use most media to create, my favourite mediums are charcoal and oil paint. I just love the way that the tones the charcoal and colours of the oils become objects and take on a life of their own.

I enjoy the process of creating, but like Dorothea Tanning I see a clear distinction between the painting and the dries, drawing and painting are verbs not nouns. Once a work is finished, I do not hold it in much regard, because I know, somehow, that the next one will be better. It is flattering if someone chooses to buy it or selects it for an exhibition or even likes it on Instagram, an account my daughter maintains. I lose my primary connection with the completed work, I no longer have to feed it with paint and oil and no longer caress it gently to see how dry it is and perhaps more specifically worry about what it will do while I am not looking at it. The completed works are the steppingstones in a lifetime practical research, sometimes changing direction but forever striving onward.

Looking back on my work, the thing that ties everything together is sculptural form and that in most of my work the compositions are underlain by the Golden Section. This is a system invented in ancient times that predicts the points of interest on the picture plane that the eye will focus on, allowing the artist to direct the viewers eye around the picture plane. I think it helps the viewer to understand what I think is important about the painting. I can see the thread of an investigation running through the completed works because to me that is what they are, even though they have long since answered their particular part of the quest.

Research and study also provide inspiration for my practice and I am an avid reader of art books and a frequent gallery visitor.

The history of art is important to me and while I am well versed in the biographies of the artists, I am far more interested in the techniques that they used to achieve their works. As part of my diploma studies I am required to make studies after the masters in the age old artistic training tradition of going to the gallery to see and understand how the original painting was created and then attempting to employ similar effects in your study of the work.

Some of my favourite study resources are the National Gallery Technical Bulletins and books written by artists from as long ago as the1400’s and of course I spend much time in art galleries looking for clues to the techniques used in the paintings. I do a small amount of my research on the internet but prefer to do it from books, as much of the information in books, particularly the older ones, is not available on the internet. I have consequently built an extensive art library.

Art is, of course, primarily about vision and so I am an avid reader of scientific advances that investigating the workings of our vision. I could be wrong, but it does appear to me that the distance between science and art in these investigations is narrowing.

As I have already said I am attempting to create an apprenticeship model for myself using research, short courses and a mentor as well as my degree studies and I am enjoying the technical fluency and the technical skills that I am beginning to master feeding into my work.

I am currently engaged in learning techniques, skills, methods and experimenting with materials in my cocoon in the hope that I will settle on my own process, that although derived from historical greatness, will be truly my own and I can emerge fully winged to fly and paint my very own definitive work.

Most people know about Vincent’s Sunflowers, but few people know that Vincent’s early works were based on techniques that were 500 or more years old. The breath-taking change in technique from the antique to Post Impressionism occurred over the course of Vincent’s short seven year artistic career. Hopefully with more practice, reading and research I may discover some of the whys of Vincent’s change and progression and may embody some of this advancement into my own practice.

My long-term goal is to keep on striving at the search that is currently my process in the hope that eventually I will find what it is that I am looking for. Most of all I understand that I am Mickos and I am fully aware that no one can paint a Mickos’ better than I.

Trees

Another winter has gone by, trees are difficult to paint in winter, they are so sticky and edgy, but for better or worse here are this winter’s tree paintings.

Figure 1 Winter tree oil on board 50 x 60 cm

In this one I observed that the tree was cooler against the ground and warmer against the sky toning the upper branches down to match the warmth of the sky helped to lose a lot of the edginess of the painting and puts more focus on the bottom of the tree where you should be looking to avoid walking into it. I used a harmonic pallete of yellow, green blue and violet. As the bottom of the tree is the focal point, that is where I put the small branches so the image registers as a tree even though there are no small branches higher up.

Figure 2 Winter trees 2 oil on board 60 x 50 cm

This is the third version of this scene, again I have omitted the high up branches and softened the contrast between the background and the  distant trees which helps them to recede while still registering as trees despite the lack of small branches. I have used the golden section in positioning the foreground tree and the large tree on the other bank and I think this gives a more pleasing composition. I am paying more attention to my brush marks and the brush marks are turning into the forms rather than painting the forms. I remember doing this quite successfully with the boats in the Norfolk painting in the last assignment and slowly it is becoming part of my process.

Figure 3 Winter trees 1 oil on board 60 x 50 cm

This is the second version of this scene, the first was done as long ago as Assignment two, again I can  feel the brush marks becoming the land but the detail and contrast of the background trees has the effect of flattening them and makes for a very “sticky” painting

Figure 4 Winter evergreens Norfolk oil on board 25 x 20 cm

This was done on my pochard in the early part of February the greens are the dark evergreens of winter. The red post box harks back to the red square of part 4 and holds your eye in the painting. With regard to the composition it would have perhaps been better to curve the road to the left rather than the right but the tree and the distant building seem to redirect the eye back to the postbox.

About two weeks ago with the bloom of spring I painted this it just seemed like a nice pretty thing given what we are all going through at the minute. I was going to call it Covid Spring but then I realised that Nature is oblivious to the Covid.

Figure 5 Spring of hope 2020 oil on board 40 x 30 cm

It was painted with a harmonic range of cadmium yellow light, emerald green, cobalt blue and rose madder and small brush mark’s to give an impressionist feel the violet shadows were a mix of cobalt and rose and the rose desaturated with white supplied the contrasting pink of the blossom. The end result feels like a hopeful and happy painting in these sad times.

I think the improvements in my technique is allowing my paintings to become  more expressive and emotional and less about things and more about brushwork.

The Recycling Series

I am currently working on a series of paintings that consider the scientific use of colour using limited palettes, considering the harmonic and the complimentary colours, working my way around the colour wheel. It is also an investigation of space and flatness in particular the space and air between the forms. the bridging has eliminated the consideration of edges allowing me to concentrate fully on the colours. I began the series after looking at the work of Keith Vaughan

I started by constructing a still life that was pleasing to my eye and from this I drew my motif.

Figure 1 Motif sharpie on cartridge 20 x 25

I transferred this to my painting boards using tracing paper and started to paint the series.

Figure 2 Recycling #01,Yellow monochrome study oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 3 Recycling #02 Yellow green harmony oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 4 Recycling #03 oil on board Yellow orange harmony 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 5 Recycling #04 Yellow orange green harmony oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 6 Recycling #05 Yellow orange green harmony   oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 7 Recycling #06 Yellow violet complementary monotone oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 8 Recycling #07 Yellow violet complementary oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 9 Recycling #08 Yellow green blue violet picking up the YV complementary harmony  oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 10 Recycling #09 (Happiness) Red monochrome oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 11 Recycling #10 Red orange yellow harmony  oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 12 Recycling #11 Red green complementary monotone oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 13 Recycling #12 Red Green complementary oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 14 Recycling #13 Red violet Harmony oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 15 Recycling #14 Red orange yellow harmony oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 16 Recycling #15 Red violet blue green harmony accentuating the RG split complementary oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 17 Recycling #16 oil on board monochrome blue 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 18 Recycling #17 oil on board Blue green harmony 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 19 Recycling #18 Blue violet harmony oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

Figure 20 Recycling #19 Blue orange complementary oil on board 21.5 x 29 cm

While I was putting this together for posting on the internet I decided that these paintings should be displayed together in a single large frame 121 x 116 cm high that means another nine are required. I have finished the yellows and the reds and still have the blues to do, so that feels about right.

When I saw the little images in the computer file they reminded me of stamps, when the social distancing thing ends I will get together with Mario and ask him to do a few mock ups in Photoshop to see how they look.

I have just spotted something else from my musings, I have just invented a little factory consisting of the artist, the computer technician the printer and the picture framer, maybe this is how Warhol started and he was of course inspired by Monet’s series how strange the threads that weave through the history of art.

Study after Caravaggio

Practical Research

These are the progression steps of my study of Boy bitten by a lizard by Caravaggio

Figure 1 underdrawing

Figure 2 development of Bruneille stage 1

Figure 3 development of Bruneille stage 2

Figure 4 Development of Bruneille stage 3

Figure 5 First glaze

Figure 6 second glaze

Figure 7 Third glaze

Figure 8 Fourth glaze

Figure 9 Tonal check

Figure 10 Study after Caravaggio, oil on board 49.5cm x 66cm

I will probably put a couple more glazes on the still life part but essentially I am happy with it.

Looking back is not something I like to do, but looking back to the Mona Lisa of Assignment 1 I can see now how far My technique has improved over the time of this course. I would have ended up with a Mona Lisa but I would still have been working on it now and it would have been heavy with repaints. I painted this several years ago before I ever started this course, it won prizes and although I can appreciate the heaviness compared to the Caravaggio study I am still proud of it.

Figure 11 Boy 22.5 x 30 oil on board

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/upload/pdf/keith1998b.pdf

http://en.disegnoepittura.it/how-to-paint-the-caravaggio-basket-of-fruit/

https://www.ambrosiana.it/en/opere/basket-of-fruit/

http://web.tiscali.it/njross/canestro.htm