Categoría: Notes

Part 2 Intimacy

Project 3 – At home (Research Point)

Find contemporary artists who focus on domestic interiors and analyse their choice of content, medium, format, etc. Consider how their work reflects its context in terms of era, fashion, mood, current issues, and so on.

Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940)

This is an artist I wish to study more – I love his complex, tranquil, intimate interiors.

Edouard Vuillard drew and painted many interiors during the course of his career. Many of his drawings include a window – almost certainly for the effect created by strong sunlight entering the room as in the pastel drawing (above) – As well as a single or indeed multiple light source for the interior. I deeply admire his interior painting of people reading, taking breakfast (not a mobile phone or even a TV in sight!) – as in the oil painting below:

Artists mother taking breakfast

In each of the rooms we are allowed to share in all of the intimate details of his home and his mother looking out of the window, eating breakfast etc.

In the painting of his mother taking breakfast, the busy table is balanced by the very decorative wallpaper, the open door/dresser and the wallpaper are counterbalanced spaces. The artist has used a limited palette to mantain harmony which has resulted in a very tranquil, quiet space. The subject is looking down at the table aparrently unaware of the viewer. A wonderful painting.

John Bratby (1905-1992)

Bratby 1
An image of interior with fireplace and window at Greenwich
bratby 2
Interior with Monopoly board

These contemporary paintings by the British painter, John Bratby are busy and full of life – crowded spaces with recognisable items such as a woodburner, open fireplace, childs highchair and floral curtains. These rooms are on display with the viewer given a ‘circle’ seat from which to view the scene. The viewer is invited to see very nearly the whole room with all its clutter – the upper image displays living room, dining table, bed and what looks like a cooker in the background, whilst the lower painting shows us just the kitchen/diner with a person playing monopoly in the nude (was it a very hot day?)

Both paintings have used many triangles in the composition, along with strategically placed chairs.

Alberto Giacometti (1909-1966)

During the course of my studies so far, I have joined many other students wondering what defines a painting and what defines a drawing – Giacometti has very much blurred the answers to that question.

I will explore and investigate further Giacometti`s work in the next part of the course and in Part 4.

Studying the two images above it is interesting to note that in the LH drawing Giacometti uses darker lines in the foreground and lighter lines in the background to create depth, also the diagonal emphrasis of the table and other object to the front RHS draws the viewer into the picture, whilst in the RH painting darker tones are used to represent background areas with lighter areas in the foreground. Again there are diagonals in the placing of the stools and door frame/table legs.

Part 1 Form and gesture

Project 2 Research point – Odilon Redon

Odilon Redon (1840-1916) initially worked in black and white using a variety of charcoal, oiled charcoal, black and white chalk, and black pastel in which he was able to produce very atmostpheric, mystical, symbolist drawings on both white and prepared tinted papers. This selection of media enabled him to produce a full range of tones using the atmostpheric contrast of deep darks and very light areas to create tension and mood.

Two of his works that struck me most were both entitled The Apparition:

The Apparition (Charcoal on paper) – Bridgeman Image no. CH1768085. Small amount of line, mostly tone on prepared/coloured paper.

Apparition (Pencil on paper) Bridgeman Image no. CH825768. Beautifully drawn with large variety of crosshatching and line to produce the ghostly figure.

Another drawing that I liked very much was:

The Reader (Charcoal drawing on paper) – Bridgeman Image no. TAD1748114. Deep blacks brilliant whites, lines drawn, scratched, crosshatched – large range of tone to add atmostpheric mood to image.

I believe that he also used coloured papers to further enhance the atmostpherics /mood of his dark images – such as the image in the course notes:

Two Trees (Charcoal on paper) c. 1875

After completing Exercise 4 – Shadows and reflected light, I experimented with two rapidly drawn sketches using a prepared background of acrylic paint in my A2 sketchpad – one in Ultramarine dark, the other in yellow ocre (a similar colour to Redon’s Two Trees). I found that the yellow ocre was more effective in changing the mood to a more nostalgic/antique feel:

Morrocan teapot

The power of Redon`s images were not because of his strange and macabre subject matter because much was considered to be old fashioned and unoriginal, but they depended on his great range of visual effects of which he was a master. Even when limited to a monochrome palette, he exploited to the full the effects of line, texture, and tone to impart resonance, mystery and atmostpherics to his subjects. It was in this technical mastery that he was ahead of his time.


Bridgeman Education Library

The Great Artists. Their lives, works and inspiration.  Marshall Cavendish P.2593-2624







Picasso – Early development

Picasso – Early development

During my recent flight to Europe, I watched a very interesting TV documentary on the early development of Picasso.

The documentary was a Behind the Artist series made by Let’s Pix in association with Paris Premiere/CNC.

It was very interesting how he developed into an artist and how his character and works changed during this period to find his voice. There were some common factors that are emphasized in the OCA course and for instance books like ‘Experimental Drawing’ by Robert Kaupelis:

  • From the age of five he drew constantly – everything and everyone
  • He copied and carefully studied his father – a classical painter
  • He had the drive and determination to succeed and when all failed he took time out to recuperate and reinvent himself
  • He would study the world around him intensely and use this investigation to produce his voice eg. gypsies, bullfighting, african masks, medieval statues, death, infidelity – all were to be present in later works

Milestones in his early works included:

Blue period – leading to LaVie (1903) Oil on canvas – a very painful theme based on the death of his friend Carlos Cartegenas. This closed a dark chapter in his life and enabled him to move forward.

Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1906) Oil on Canvas – Picasso realised that to paint a portrait classically had finished as photography had taken over.  There was no longer a need to paint the moment or detail so he invented a new way to paint a portrait. The great Gertrude Stein hung this picture in her Salon alongside other great paintings of that time.

The young ladies of D’Avignon (1906) – Painted at the age of 25yrs old, a painting that changed art forever and was considered the starting point of modern art.

I drew a few sketches whilst watching the documentary:

Action:  I will return to these themes again and definitely think about what drives me to paint, what influences I have had in my life that I could use or champion in my artwork. I will fill my sketchbooks with the world around me to find my own voice.

Gallery visit to the Kunstsammlung Museum, Dusseldorf

Gallery visit to the Kunstsammlung Museum, Dusseldorf

This museum featured a special exhibition of the works of Otto Dix (1891-1969) who arrived from Dresden to Dusseldorf (1921) as a penniless artist and then in just 3-4 years moved to Berlin as successful, well known artist. During his highly productive period in Dusseldorf, he transformed himself from an expressive Dadist painter to a skillful portraitist of his time in the style of New Objectivity.

There was a wealth of material to enjoy – drawings, watercolours, mixed media and oils. I loved his watercolours and in particular his mix of watercolour, gouache and indian ink – a mix that I wish to try out in my drawings. (One example of this technique is Strich III – Red Light District III (1922) – another is In the Cafe (1922) – great informal head shots).

Inspiration for Part 2 of the drawing course (Interiors) could be found in Tavern in Hamburg (1922) – Watercolour, oil pastel, ink and graphite on paper. Also Suicide -Hanged Man (1922): a superb interior of which there are several versions.

His Mother and Child (1923) Oil on plywood intrigued me – Why did he paint a dark skinned woman (mother) and white child, and why were the mother’s hands painted so large and detailed? He also painted a red background and a very dominating red coat on the woman. Perhaps I need to study this painting further!

A series of etchings entitled Death and Resurrection (1922) would be useful to study for the anatomy and figure drawings in Part 4 of the drawing course. An interesting play on this theme was used in his portrait of Two circus performers – Defiers of death (1922) – this was wonderfully drawn using watercolour and pencil.

Death was also a major theme in his War Series (1924) – a series of 50 etchings which formed his ‘Record of Hell’ and experience of violence, death and decay on the battlefields and trenches of World War I.

The exhibition also featured some truly magnificent portraits of which my favorite was the very emotional and sad portrait of The poet Iwar von Lucken (1926) Oil and tempura on canvas – the image reminds me of The Pianist film which portrayed a Jewish family and their fate at the hands of the Nazis.

Also The art dealer Alfred Flechtheim (1926) Oil on wood – this was a powerful unflattering portrait which gave the subject an very long arms, huge hands and big nose/ears. Apparently this dealer never represented Dix! The texture on the dealers jacket was amazing and looks just like tweed – painted in dots and dashes – a real masterpiece!

I made some quick sketches of these two portraits.

Lastly, I wish to mention his Portrait of Frau Martha Dix (1926) – his wife lovingly painted – she is dressed in a delicately detailed dress with a pattern of very decorative flowers.

An extremely memorable and inspiring visit.