Assignment Five- A series of painting on a theme

Looking back at past assignments from this course, I have looked at the paintings which I felt were most successful and that I enjoyed painting. I have always enjoyed drawing the human figure and new this was an area where I wanted to improve and challenge myself more, especially portraits.

There is one painting in particular which I enjoyed painting and that was in part 3, project- looking at faces, exercise: creating mood and atmosphere. For this piece I painted a Rastafarian guitarist with quite an impasto feel. I really liked the atmosphere of the dark background

There were areas of this painting which I found difficult to resolve, for example the hands.

I enjoy a challenge, because when things go right it’s much more rewarding.

I think the music theme has worked well here, so felt that it made sense to continue with it, especially  as I have access to new up and coming musicians. I also had in mind that I could include this painting in with my assignment pieces at a later date.

I started by looking on Google, for images with the same genre that had been painted by different artists. Below are some of the images I found.

I tried to find some very different examples of how artists have portrayed the music theme, from very bright impasto impressions to the sharper images set in a moody background.

I love bright colours but I also think the darker backgrounds help to set an atmosphere.

I like the way the background in the image above fades from darker blue to lighter blue.

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I particularly like the way the violinist above is painted, the hair and skin colours jump out against the dark background.

This selection of paintings above have a more dreamy feel to them. It’s almost like your eyes blur in and out of focus when you study the different areas.

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This image above is one of my favourites. I like the blurred background and the sharpness of areas which are most important to the viewer. I also like the areas of reflective light on the forehead, hand and horn of the instrument. I would like to be able to capture some of these qualities in my own paintings.

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Whilst looking at images of musicians playing, I found a few musicians resting/ waiting. I really like the concept of the musician waiting to go on and play and I think this would make a good theme for my own paintings. What I really like is the gaze on their faces. I find it intriguing, wondering what they are thinking about.

My theme–  I have decided to look at musicians resting/ waiting backstage or on the side of t stage. I want to try and capture the intriguing gaze that they have whilst watching others play. I would also like to try and capture the reflective light from the stagelighting and the dark moody backgrounds.

Common factors– I want to show the musicians with their instruments. I want them to have a distant glaze. I want the backgrounds to be dark/ atmospheric.

 

I made a start with sketches of the musicians which I met and observed on nights out. Having backstage passes to many of these music events have helped when producing these paintings. I made sketches of musicians waiting to go on stage. I tried to capture their gazes.

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I really liked this drawing, I think it shows good contrast between the dark background and the window which is being reflected behind the waiting musician. The light from the window is reflecting on the man making interesting highlights.

I did consider the drawing above for one of my final pieces but as you don’t really see the instrument he plays, only the bag he carries it in, I wasn’t sure it would fully fit in with my theme.

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I also considered this image above for one of my final paintings. I decided against it as it shows much more of the body.

Painting one-

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My first close up sketch of a saxophone player, is looking at his facial features and the gaze on his face, which portrays that he is deep in thought.

Here is my step by step painting process. For this painting I used oil paint because it gave me a longer working time and I was able to make changes in areas before the paint dried.

I have used the rule of thirds to place the figure on the canvas, placing the main interest in the middle third.

I did have some difficulties with the facial features especially the mouth and had to rework this area a few times. I find it difficult to paint teeth showing and they often make a painting look cartoon like, but I think I have managed to resolve this by only having a small amount showing. I used a brush to paint this and found that I unintentionally painted a smooth finish to my painting. I will try to add more texture to my next painting.

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Painting two-

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This is a drawing using white pencil on black paper. I like working this way as you can pick out the highlights rather than the shadows which is somtimes easier to do.image

This very quick study using pen and fine liner hasn’t really worked very well as proportions are wrong, but it does show the colours.

Here is my step by step painting process. I have tried to add more texture to this painting, blocking out areas of colour and then working over the top with a palette knife and thicker impasto brushstrokes. In the background I added some blue to the black mix to make it glow slightly in areas to show some of the subtle light reflection from the stage lighting. I had to make some changes to the face.

I think this painting has worked well. I like the colours and I think that the shadows on the neck and the back of the arm has reall given the figure form. I think I have managed to capture her distant gaze, almost dream like stare. What I did notice was that seeing her on a dark background made the edges around her features appear crisp and defined. I tried to show the reflection from the violin under her chin and on her neck and I think it has worked well.

I can definitely see improvements in my portrait painting.

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Painting three-

i started this painting by making some sketches in pencil and charcoal. The angle of the face and the added problem of glasses made this portrait quite challenging.

I think it is important to set yourself challenges, to give yourself the opportunity to improve. This is why I have chosen portraits / hands for my final pieces.

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Below I was experimenting with some pens, roughly blocking out the colours and tones on his face. I chose a dark purple colour to pick out some of the shadows and I think it has worked quite well.

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Here is my step by step painting process. I have used my palette knife more in this painting especially on the face. This has given the painting an impasto feel in areas. I have kept the background    quite smooth and given it a gradual faded effect as I saw in one of my research pictures. It still has an area of darkness which still linked into my theme. The facial features were very challenging for me and I had to rework it a number of times. Adding the glasses does improve them I have noticed. I also found the hands and the way they were positioned a challenge to. It was difficult to stop them from looking like sausages.

Overall I think the painting has worked really well, and I have noticed my subtle improvements in portrait painting.

 

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I have titled this group of paintings, “Waiting Gaze”

This is the order in which I would want the paintings viewed/ displayed.

I have chosen to display these paintings in this order, not to show the improvement of techniques, but based on the overall view of all three together. I didn’t want them placed so that they seemed to be looking at each other, because this would have taken it away from my theme of capturing the “waiting gaze”.  In this order they are all staring out in different directions. If you look at the backgrounds you also get a feel of fading in and out of the darkness. Each musician is holding their instrument as though it was an extension of their own body.

Evaluation- I have chosen to produce a series of paintings based on a music theme. I enjoy painting and drawing the human figure and so felt that this would be the best option for my choice of painting theme.  I was inspired to use a music theme after the painting which I produced in part three of the course, portrait and figure, exercise- creating mood and atmosphere. In this section I painted a guitarist on a dark background which was intended to give the impression and atmosphere of being on stage. This is one of my favourite painting of the whole course and so it made sense to continue with this theme.

For this set of paintings I tried to portray the atmosphere backstage whilst musicians awaited their turn to perform.  I wanted to capture the gaze on the faces of the musicians whilst waiting their turn, wether it be nerves or the replaying of their part in their heads or wether they are just engrossed in the music.

There are common factors between the paintings such as, the musicians cradling their instruments, a head and shoulder composition, atmospheric backgrounds and the gaze on the musicians faces. I have also tried to catch the light reflection on the musicians from the stage lighting.

I did enjoy these paintings and felt that if I had more time I could have pushed this subject further, with different musicians and instruments. I could also have varied the paint application techniques, possibly exploring the possibility of abstraction or painting with a more impasto feel.

I do think that each portrait improved as I went on. I made subtle changes to the way I applied the paint, using a palette knife to give a little more texture to the painting.

Overall I am very pleased with my paintings and I think I have achieved what I set out to do, which was to capture the “waiting gaze” on the faces of young musicians.

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Exercise : Abstract painting from man-made form

For this exercise I searched for small man-made objects that I could make interesting compositions from.  I found some small keys which I piled on top of each other. I used the wholes and patterns on the keys to add some interest.

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There was also a reflection of pink on the top keys which helped to add interest.

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Project : Towards abstraction, Exercise : Abstraction from study of natural forms

Exercise : Abstraction from study of natural forms

I started this exercise by looking at fruit with interesting insides or seeds. To start I looked at a Kiwi fruit. I used oil pastels to produce this image. I then took a digital image of the drawing and zoomed in on an area to see if I could find an interesting composition.

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I didn’t feel that this image gave me enough abstraction or intrigue and so I tried the process again but with the inside of a pomegranate.

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I felt this worked much better. I was able to get some texture in the oil pastel drawing by overlaying the colours and then using the Sgraffito technique, scratched into the pastel with a point of a clay tool.

I decided to use a palette knife to paint the main part of this piece.

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I have zoomed into the piece digitally to give a more abstract feel. This process also allows the texture and detail to shine shine through. I am very pleased with this piece and I like the close up view.

I experimented with this image again making a more impasto version. I used the edge of a palette knife to pick out the highlights and to add texture. I have used a deep purple colour to show the different tones in the pomegranate.

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I think the texture in this piece has worked very well along with the layering of colours.

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Exercise : Mixing materials into paint

For this exercise I have experimented with adding different materials to a basic mid toned yellow  ochre paint to see what sort of textures could be made for painting.

I added things like an assortment of seeds, salt, eggshells and flaked almonds to the paint.

I found that the flaked almonds could work very well as a stone path or natural stone wall. I also liked the effect of the poppy seeds

What I did find was that some of the larger pieces, such as the hemp seed and the chopped hazelnut, had trouble sticking to the paper with the used of just paint. I think I would need to mix the paint with some PVA glue to make it stronger.

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I then experimented with adding some highlights and some dark tones over the different textures to see what a difference it made to the textures. By doing this I was able to pick out some of the detail in areas which I think worked quite well.

I decided to do an experimental abstract adding some different materials to it, like a loosely woven hemp material and ……

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I have stuck to the method of action painting to apply the paint, not really thinking about what I’m painting just adding paint to the paper.

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Project: Adding other material 

Adding other materials.

I collected leaves and grasses from the garden. I made a first attempt of a very crude version of vegetation blowing in the wind. Not the best piece.

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Using the different vegetations inspired me to experiment with root systems on my paintings. I felt that the intricate systems would make good trees on a landscape. I also mixed the dirt into the paint to give a feel of what was happening below ground. I added a loose mix of paint to the earth area and aloud it to run down the page. I picked out the root system below ground with a pale colour to highlight the detail. The images above and below all have a feel of a slice of the land being taken and reproduced giving an impression of what is going on above and below ground.

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In the painting above I have taken the view used for my assignment 4 final piece and added the image of the buildings as a focus and then painted the rest of the scene on.

I think this painting is very successful and I have managed to integrate the two media’s well.

Exercise : Preparing a textured ground

In the exercise I was asked to experiment with preparing a textured ground.

In the painting below I started by drawing out my vegetables in pencil and then used a structure gel to pick out the main lines.

I used the bright vibrant colours of the acrylic inks on the veg, dripping in the colours so they mixed on the paper giving a natural feel to the peppers. Even though the colours are very bright I think it has worked well.

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For the next experiment I used gesso to make my initial design. I then painted over the top. I found that the gesso lightened the paint in the smooth areas but darkened it in the areas where the paint was caught in the dips.

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In the image below I have used a mixture of gesso and stuck on almond flakes to make a textured base to the painting of the woodland scene. I have added the colours on top. One problem I have found is that the greens are too vibrant but I think the textured base has worked really well, especially the pathway. This is a technique I would consider using again in other pieces.

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Below I have experimented with a sea scape scene using gesso as a textures base before adding the paint on top. This has given the painting a relief feel in areas. I have used a previous holiday picture because it has the froth of the sea splashing against a textured rock. I have left some areas smooth to represent the smooth flat areas of the wet sand and the sky.

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If I was to do this painting again I think I would add more texture  to start with and probably set the base on a board rather than paper so that the textured areas have more support for the weight of the gesso.

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For this painting I have used torn piece of paper in areas of the image to give a relief feel to parts, for example the arms and hands, parts of the face and on the horn of the trumpet. I have tried to keep the painting quite loose as a trial for my final assignment 5 pieces.

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I did make some alterations to the arms in the image, as when I looked at the finished piece one arm looked distorted and they were also quite fat in proportion to the rest of the body. I have also noticed that the trumpet doesn’t look quite right. I can see that I have had to squash it onto the paper a bit but I also think that the angle at which it is painted has also distorted it slightly.

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Exercise: Dripping, dribbling and spattering

To start this piece I sprayed areas of the paper with water. I used acrylic inks with droppers to drip the colours into the wet areas and watch them spread. I also used a straw to blow some of the inks which made some very interesting areas. These blown areas remenided me of different animals and a figure with a crown on.

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In the left image I could see a wild boar and in the right I could see a figure with a crown on looking at a bird. I decided to put this image on my social media site to see what other people could see, here are the results.

A queen
A bull
A bird
A crocodile
A mans face
A stick insect
A jelly fish
Stars
A tunnel
An upside down octopus
A flying pig with thigh length boots on
A marionette
A cool pair of sun glasses
Rutting dears
A fox on top of yellow trees
Enchanted forest
Dancers
A Martian flying of its bicycle
A bike
Two figures kissing
Ant scrabbling over fruit
Twigs
Microscopic life
Flowers and insects
Stained glass window
Lots of trees
Cartoon reindeer
Vulture with designs on a rabbit
A native lady with a big stick

 

In this experiment I let the paint drip from a height and run down the page. I also tried some more wet in wet blending which led to a feathering effect around the edges.

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In this painting I put the blobs of paint straight onto the paper and then used a flat edged palette knife to spread and mix the paint together on the paper. The results in areas gave an effect of a rainbow.

 

 

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This is a very interesting piece. I have dripped and flicked paint into wet areas making puddles of colour on the page, I have then used a straw and blown down from directly above which spread the paint out.

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In this experiment I have roughly spread lines of bright colours.

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I have then lightly sprayed areas of the paper and dripped the raw colours into it and watched them mix. This gave me a really good effect.

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This piece was inspired by Jackson Pollock. I have spattered the paint across the paper and where the paint has crossed it has mixed and blended together.

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This effect above was achieved  by making bubbles with washing up liquid, then transferring the bubbles to the paper and carefully dripping paint on to them. As the bubbles burst it left an effect like looking through a microscope.

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In this painting I have used leaves from the garden as stencils and stamps. I have overlapped the leaves and colours and I have painted the backs of the leaves and used them as stamps to get the texture onto the page. It has worked well in areas. The overall effect that I wanted to achieve was of piles of Autumn leaves on the ground and I think this does give you that impression.

 

Research point- Tachism or action painting.

Action painting is a spontaneous way of applying paint to the canvas. There are many different ways of doing this for example, splashing, dribbling, flicking, smearing etc, to name a few. Action painting is the physical act of applying the paint to the canvas, influenced by the surrealists emphases on automatism  in the post World War ll era, mainly in New York. This was a time when people’s views of the physical and psychological world around them were changing and where quantum machines and psychoanalysis were starting to flourish.

Jackson Pollock– born in the USA in 1912, his short career was ended in 1956 when he was killed in a car crash. Pollock was an alcoholic and also suffered with depression. Pollocks pioneering technique earned him the nickname, “Jack the Dripper”.  He was one of the first artists to move away from the traditional brush and easel method, preferring to lay the canvas on the floor and work from above giving him the freedom to move around the canvas and work from different angles.  Using his whole body and the method of action painting he layered the colours of household paint by dripping, spraying, pouring and throwing it at the canvas. He completely covered the whole canvas with splashes, drips and spontaneous marks resulting in some very busy paintings.

 

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Hans Hartung– (1904-1989) Hartung was a German/ French artist who’s style of painting got him recognised as being one of the first painters of gestural abstraction. His style was spontaneous, free but also neat and controlled. Some of his brushstrokes resembled Chinese colligraphy . He had a strong sense of composition and colour. Not all of his larger paintings were completely spontaneous , he would sometimes enlarge the small free sketches which he made replicating the gestures and accidental marks that he made. Hartung’s aim was to express his innermost being and recreate this onto the canvas.

T1937-33 1937 by Hans Hartung 1904-1989

T1937-33 1937 Hans Hartung 1904-1989 Lent by the Fondation Hans Hartung et Anna-Eva Bergman 1996 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/L01886

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Franz Kline– born in the USA in 1910 became a leading abstract expressionist. Like Hans Hartung, Klines black and white abstract paintings produced in the 50’s and 60’s also resembled enlarged Chinese calligraphy. His paintings looked to be spontaneous and gestural but in reality Kline was not spontaneous. He worked out the composition and placing of his brushstrokes very carefully. This made his paintings well balanced and tranquil.

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Below I have tried my own versions of action painting.

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I have tried some of my own action painting, mixing the paint on the paper, (top image). I felt this needed more interest and so I added some magenta and white and used a toothed clay tool to drag it across the page.

This action painting was made with the leftovers of paint, it puts me in mind of flowers.

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In these paintings I have also used the leftover paint to create abstract landscapes. In the painting above I have created lots if texture by overlapping the paint. I have used different techniques to apply the paint, for example, smearing and dragging the paint across the paper and then using the edge of a piece of card to add interesting lines. I think this has worked well.

The paintings below put me in mind of landscapes, there are clear horizon lines in these, (unintentionally), and reflections in what seems to be water. I used the edge of a straight card and white paint to pick out details of interest.

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Exersice : Impasto

Impasto- this technique involves applying paint thickly on the paper with either a brush or palette knife to give texture. You could also use other implements to give your paint texture, for example modelling tools.

For this exercise I was asked not to mix the colours before hand and so I chose some vibrant colours that were close to my vegetables.

Using a brush- using a brush to add thick layers of paint, I find, doesn’t always work the way I intend it to. I find that at times the colours mix together too much and turn a little muddy. I found that I seemed to be cleaning my brush a lot. I also found that if I painted over an acrylic colour which was almost dry, the brush took the paint off, I therefore needed to work quite quickly. I think this happens more with acrylics as I have used the same technique with oils and I found that it didn’t happen as much.

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Using a painting knife- I enjoy using a palette knife to paint with. I find the palette knife stops me from focusing on the detail and helps to loosen up my paintings. I like the way you can regulate the pressure you apply to the knife to add different layers.

 

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Scratching- for this painting I applied thick layers of unmixed colour, as suggested, onto the paper and then used the blunt end of a clay tool to scratch the impression of the veg out of it revealing the white of the paper underneath.

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Sgraffito – comes from the Italian word sgraffire which means “to scratch”.

This technique in which the surface layer is scratched away to reveal the colour underneath is also used by plasterers on buildings and probably more commonly used in ceramic work. This technique was popular in the 16th century in Italy and the Italian Renaissance period. The technique was also used by artists during the Art Nouveau period of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

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majolica schotel met fruitman

schotel (majolica) met fruitmand (sgraffito rand), Harlingen, 2de helft 17de eeuw; diam.35½ cm

 

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