Pt 3 Project 3 Ex 1 developing your studies.

I am back in the same area on top of the ridge for this piece


its autumn and we have a fantastic array of colours in the leaves, so my composition is on a clump of shrubs/small trees. The clouds are not the main part of this soft pastel, the blue of the sky I think is important as it helps the many colours under it to pop out more. I have included hills in the distance as a paler washed out patchwork and there are longer grasses and darker patches to the fore to help with perspective. Its a bit twee though. I think it works as a picture and maybe over the course of the year with different weather conditions it could be a good series as a way of developing it.

I chose pastels after the last research piece referenced Nicholas Herbert, however, on this lovely afternoon the wind didn’t blow through the leaves and they were such a georgeous colour I din’t want to mute them. so its a bit standard as pictures go.

Pt 3 Project 2 Ex 2-3 Sketchbook walk and 360 degree studies

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This was done up on the ridge path above the estate where my home is nestled. It was a beautiful afternoon, the children accompanied me and scooted about on bikes and climbed trees as I drew.

Starting at 2pm the above fast sketches give little info on shadows and light quality but allow for accurate representaion of form. Having taken on board the comments from my tutor in the last assignment, I have avoided the fineliner, however in doing these again I would probably succumb to at the least a brush pen. I hate the way its smudged.

The tree over the gate could become a picture in its own right really easily, the colours and light through the leaves was great and the fact that it lends itself perfectly to a square frame appeals.The 2 lower sketches lack focus in fact the spire as a distant object over-powers the bungalow rooves in one of them. Maybe that would be better portrait? The hill masks the cathedral from here, so if I was going to draw the estate, it would have to be the whole thing done large to give a sense of the curve in the landscape.

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I picked this spot for my 360 partially as its a safe place for the children to play as well as because of its interest as being inside the clump of trees with essentially 2 exiting paths north and south. Paths can be a handy focal point, I have used that here.

Bottom right successfully uses the old formula for a landscape with the curtain/forground inteeresting clump of shrubbery in the next layer and two further disappearing distances, using the blues and purples to denote distance. I’m quite chuffed with the classic proportions here, it could work as a larger piece, the view the other way has a less appealing endo point on the path, also the overhang on the left could do with pruning in further versions.

Feedback through forums on the top right came back as it being more of a design. I see it as a study of a fallen branch, but it doesn’t do too much for me.

The tree in the forst could be a picture all on its own, its silhouette is strong and its size gives it the years that weight it into the landscape. But I do prefer it off centre, thus proving the rule of thirds.

I probably wouldn’t pick the same spot for the 360 again, there are areas with more interest for me and you don’t get much sky.

Research point. Review artists who create landscape pictures in series.

I am struck by the contemporary works of both John Virtue and Nicholas Herbert. Both create what seem to be incomplete views of a scene that in themselves explain so much more about the place where they are set and perhaps the weather of the day or the overiding mood of the artist. These are fantastic! I am now itching to go and draw my city from a different perspective however I think I have to wait for harry potter to finish downstairs as I don’t think I’ll be able to drag the kids out as quick as I’d like.

John Virtues charcoal sketches taking up A1 sheets or pencil preparitories with so much more detail that I think he covers over when he gets to the canvas and paint, are archetectural views with firm arcs and a strength of line which shows Johns confidence in his use of the medium.

Where-as Nicholas has such a subtle palette that moves about the paper, I can almost feel the wind and see the clouds moving across his skies.

In the course material (cunningly pee’d on by the cat this morning in protest about the state of the litter tray. No-one tells you how cranky your cat is going to become in old age) There is a picture by Ray Pettibon and I like his near pop art use of line and colour, however I am having difficulty accepting that art need to be about such open social commentary. If we are creating pictures for people to put on walls, as owners of homes, are we going to put up antaganistic images in our own living spaces that constantly make us think, above accepting that the space is about being a safe haven where we can achieve downtime?

I understand that maybe its the kind of thought provoking piece that would work in a social space where you want to engender thought from the viewer, maybe I still haven’t found my message.

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These are part of my series on the poultry cross in the style of John Virtue, I am closer into the scene than his landscapes and they are not as dark, I’ve never had that feeling about my home city.

Pt 3 Project 2 Ex 1 Cloud formations and tone.

I admit I have yet to do the graphite rubbed paper version of this exercise, I’m sure it will look good when its done, mostly because its the perfect way to do clouds.

I’ve had a week of flat grey skies, this hasn’t really helped with this exercise. However, I have achieved these sketchbook works

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Clouds in the evening are far from chiaroscuro, the colours are intense, amazing life afirming things, leaving them out every time is nearly heart-breaking.



Now I admit this is as far from Vija Celmins as you can get, it is not a precise copy of a black and white photo, the colours are contrasting against the background colour of the paper, picked partially for this effect and partially just to see what would happen. I normally end up forgetting what colour the paper is I rub so much pastel in, but I wanted a looser, more expressive effect.

I get that Vija (this is also the name of my mother, my grandad is Latvian which is the origins of the name and I’ve never had to write it down in connection to anyone else) is using her art to create neural pathways to remember objects and scenes by, but a part of me is always going to view hyper realism as an OCD point too far when we have cameras that can achieve it also. Getting sucked into recreating accurately like  Zaria Forman makes for awe-inspiring pictures, with an instant Wow factor, but I have to ask what the point of referencing this style in a research point is when most of the exercises are about pushing us to create looser expressive marks that stand as the recognisable style of the artist, I feel I have more to learn looking at Turners amazing later colourscapes and as much as the potential mistakes I am sure I will make getting to grips with oils (something I haven’t tried to do since I was about 10) I am looking forward to the future course that will justify my trying to replicate these marks.

I can do accurate pastels IMG_5311

IMG_0010_2 Although given my favourite rubbing tool for skies and clouds is my finger, I tend to work better larger, the two above are A1ish.  I’m also happy with the effects I can get with watercolours, DSC_0321

the above piece I think has more importance in the framing dark rock then the bluest blues in the centre than any more detail in the water.

Sometimes the picture is all about the clouds and sometimes its not. How would I do this differently next time? I’m not sure I would, the clouds would be different, but the pictures defined as just draw some clouds would have the same blank meaning if the point in time the clouds are drawn doesn’t have some bearing or the bit under the clouds has not been drawn to have some relevence.

Research point; Landskips

I’ve finished reading a book called Landscape into art by Kenneth Clark. This is a 1986 reprint by Butler & Tanner from the original 1949 version. Its a series of Kenneths lectures written down and simplifies content and purpose of landscapes from Pompei through to the 1940’s. It was an easy read and fascinating for the mathematical structure that went into a painting within an era as well as the difficulties of viewing a picture of an area that the artist had embellished to be better than it was, I like the Ruskin quotes where he obviously takes issue with Turner (whom he admired greatly) painting a view that Ruskin then visits and barely recognises. You can almost hear ‘does not compute’ before he manages to justify it to himself because essentially Turner is a genius. this is a simplification due to not being able to find the page and quote it fully (I generally mark bits I particularly like, this one slipped through the net).

My current reading matter is Landscape and Western Art, by Malcolm Andrews, from Oxford University Press, 1999. The subject is the same, but the viewpoint is totally different.

I’ve already been propositioned with the idea that we like landscapes because it harks back to our fight or flight instinct and we are searching for safe places to hide in the picture. I kid you not, there is more than one person that thinks this, its not isolated!

I particularly like the thought that we have become hooked on the capability Brown era of land design, to the point that it is having an adverse effect on our relationship with our land now, our ability to restructure it for our age ie motorways, building etc. I’d have to agree with that along with the fact that I too am hooked on the sweeping hillsides with groups of majestic trees leading down to a body of water. I love the land I live in, possibley to both its and my detriment. This could be an interesting angle to pursue artistically, the juxtapostion of old and new buildings can be seen in my city, Salisbury is historicly significant, unlike Southampton, it didn’t have the shit blown out of it during WWII, it has retained quaint streets, wooden beamed listed and listing buildings and a cathedral with a tall spire. This alone has impacted the building development so nothing is built above a certain height (the same as Paris has so the Eiffel tower isn’t obstructed)

I’ve put off getting stuck into this next batch of exercises until I’ve finished these two books and this research point. The reason we paint landscapes has changed over the centuries, the religious connotations that were a major requirement are no longer there, a picture can be recognised as a great picture without a further human element as its story, so who the picture is for has also changed. I think my major delay is working out how I wish to depict this land. Do I add the energy of its inhabitants, do I avoid putting them in? I’m going to be stumped as we move into winter with time and light, so I’ve been gathering ingrediants to complete pictures themed at the end of the day. Who am I painting for? Me? or a mythical spectator and what am I trying to help them feel?

I’ve still got half a book to go…

Book complete. A fascinating look at landscape pictures, their energy, motivation and responses too them. including installations. Highly recommend both books…