In this research point, we were asked to compare contemporary artists working with landscape with earlier artists.
The example given in the course text was interesting and linked up with my recent reading of Margaret Davison´s book on contemporary drawing.
I liked the idea of comparing the works of Tacita Dean with Seurat because it made clearer to me the idea of INTENTIONALITY. Seurat was the first artist to intentionally make a drawing based on the surface/mark relationship (see his drawing above).
Tacita Dean´s blackboard drawings are large and her choice of medium dictates this as chalk would be difficult to manipulate on a in the same way on a smaller scale. Her subject matter works well in black and white – with the smooth matt support in black. She is able to use a full range of tones – the feel of her work is cold and stark – equal to the subject of the glaciers depicted. Other works in the series include waves and heavy seas – also cold and bleak – life threatening even. As in life one has to step back to appreciate their awe.
In comparison the work of Seurat is more intimate, warm even and made on a smaller scale – one would have to inspect the drawing up close to appreciate it fully. Less detail, impressionistic but with full range of tones present. Surface of the paper used is rough and is used to assist in his impressionistic approach.
In moving forward with this part of the course, I will need to think more carefully about my approach to intentionality, use of surface, scale and selection of medium to support and enhance the subject matter.
After watching the videos and studying the work of Vija Celmins, I was intrigued by the way with certain of her works they were executed over a long period of time. The piece of work would evolve and grow over time, and the artist’s mind and thought process might also change over the same period. A process similar to oil painting which also evolves over a relatively long period of time – waiting for paint to dry etc. Whilst the paintings appear still they have a sense of depth and also one of infinity – time that does not stop. Stars appear and disappear, they grow brighter/duller, they move very fast but appear slow – there is so much to capture in just a simple (or seemingly so) subject matter. The universe is constantly moving like her waves another subject with a surface that defies capture, defies taming and suprises nature itself with its power that has a range from tranquillity to a force so destructive it can change our maps forever.
Clouds are constantly moving, forming, dissolving into space – they have a smell and form a damp humid atmostphere – for instance walking or driving on a mountain road in cloud you can experience the sense of capturing or living in the cloud.
This exercise was both frustrating and in a way thrilling – a chance to experiment and to really see if one understands the use of tone or line to represent a three dimensional object even as fleeting as a cloud!
Small sketchbook studies using line…
Cloud mark-making using a twig with indian ink/water…
Experimenting with mixed media/brush using tone…
These studies using a brush were quick but frustratingly unsuccessful.
Thinking about a bigger study and using John Virtue’s London paintings as a guide, I made a cloud study experimenting with a different support…gessoed brown wrapping paper which I had to stretch as it got wetter. This paper is extremely delicate when wet! I then made the cloud study using compressed charcoal:
In this drawing I have captured movement, perspective and form whilst achieving a full tonal range (although this was a little dampened by the application of fixative after taking this photo).
The support is fragile and brittle – and I am now frightened of removing it from the board – it cannot be rolled up and will have to be mounted on card.
Exercise 2 Sketchbook Walk
This for me was a actually a bike ride not a walk. I used a small sketchbook and a fineline biro.
This Polo Club is source of inspiration for me and I look forward to seeing/sketching the horses/riders in action soon. I sketched reasonably quickly trying to incorporate as much detail as possible but trying to create an atmosphere as well – the club house is a restaurant and is actually dwarfed by the mountains and polo fields – although this is not captured in my sketch.
The horse paddocks with mountains in the background has great potential with horses in the foreground, stable blocks and trees in the middleground with mountains and clouds in the background.
I was actually going to make a completely different sketch at this spot but liked the dead tree trunk to use as a frame for the fields, far off buildings and mountains.
I have ridden past this spot many times and was interested in the wooden fruit tree supports that have been left to rot in this abandoned field. The pattern of the supports is repeated in the very large imposing pylons that cross the field. Not sure what the yellow plant is that has invaded this field – perhaps rape seed – it will not be there for long as the hot summer sun will destroy it until next year. This has a potential to develop further and with an architectural feel to the pylons is an opportunity for me to explore the style and methods of Julie Mehretu? Perhaps on Mylar if I can get some.
In the meantime I took lots of photos of the field from many angles and made a watercolour sketch (on a very overcast cold day):
Exercise 3 360deg studies
It was difficult to find time to go out and draw in an expansive landscape but finally I found a location about 30 mins away looking towards the Andes mountains.
It was also difficult to find a safe location to park the car and set up my easel/gear to draw uninterrupted. The day was sunny, hot and cloudless but gave a clear view of the mountains and surrounding countryside.
My drawings were made in my new landscape size 6″ x 12″ 130lb sketchbook in pencil and ink markers:
Some of my direction notes on the drawings were actually incorrect.
The first two sketches captured large chunks of the landscape and the last two homed in on smaller areas. It was as anticipated difficult to capture everything and editing/simplifying was essential, especially in 15 min sketches.
Upon researching historic and contemporary artists who work in series with the landscape, I was deeply impressed with the work of John Virtue who I wish to go back to in the next section on Townscapes/Cityscapes. The scale of his works and the way he works up quick small sketches into large scale works is an inspiration. My recent work in indian ink is showing more confidence and I feel ready to go bolder – ever darker with a greater range of tonal contrast. Nicholas Herbert’s work on the Chiltern Hills is too poetic for me although I appreciated his influences from Turners work. Hockney is a favorite and I may use his influence to build an image of my road in the townscape section of this part of the course. In particular his road pictures where he makes a picture about his journeys: Mullholland Drive: The road to the studio, 1980 and The road to Malibu, 1988.
I have been researching the work of Julie Mehetru – an artist that, whilst she is not a landscape artist, she has used architectural drawings and urban spaces in her works on both modest and gigantic scales! Whilst I cannot move to her scale at present, I want to explore working on Mylar and creating similar spaces to her works such as the Untitled. 2000 works found in Drawing Now. Eight Propositions by Laura Hoptmann, 2002 – where she uses coloured pencil, ink and cut paper on Mylar. This will be a challenge for me also because it may mean more controlled use of line and a methodic form of working – well outside of my comfort zone and I could go to A2 maybe. In particular I want to explore her use of what she calls the 3rd space – a space outside of the picture plane swirling, deconstructing and exploding – a space that is also truly three dimensional.
Research Point – Artists who use landscape as their main subject
Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) was not on my list of artists that I recognise as a landscape painter- so as one of the earliest to use landscapes in his work I researched a little into his studies in watercolour and ink: His ‘View of Trento, Watercolour and gouache on paper (1494) was a lovely study where he has simplified the trees and mountains – which maybe useful for me drawing the Andes mountains near where I live. He has a very clear Foreground, middleground and background.
The other work I picked out was his ‘View of Innsbruck’ Watercolour on paper (1495)
I liked this watercolour because of its simplified clouds, and reflections in the water – very cleverly and delicately painted!
My HERO of landscape painting has always been John Constable ((1776-1837) evr since I saw his ‘The Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery at the age of 14. I loved the immense detail of his paintings, the small details such as shepherds and people going about their rural business. Small touches of red in perhaps a coat or a cart, birds flying in the sky, wonderful cloud detail, wind rain and storm also starred in his awesome landscapes. John Virtue in his tour of the National Gallery was also impressed by Constable’s bold courageous brushstrokes.
SC20320 Summer Morning: Dedham from Langham by Constable, John (1776-1837) Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK English, out of copyright
Constable made several studies of this view of ‘Dedham from Langham’. In both versions above there are very clear Foreground, Middleground and Background elements. I believe that he was a master of simplification of the landscapein what were landscapes ahead of their time…such as ‘Summer, Afternoon after a shower’ Oil on Canvas (1828) and ‘A rain storm over the sea’ Oil on canvas (1834).
Jean Camille Baptiste Corot (1796-1875) is another landscape artist that I deeply admire. Some of his delicate drawings of trees are a joy and I love the details of people and animals strategically placed within his landscapes. Examples are ‘Lanscape with three figures’ Oil on canvas (1850-60) and ‘Pastures in the Marais’ Oil on canvas (1865-70.
I made a couple of small copies in pencil of these paintings:
About 7-8 years ago I was lucky to be able to visit the Lowry Centre in Manchester. From this visit I obtained a book which I subsequently read on the life and works of Lowry by Shelley Rhohde. LS Lowry (1887-1976) like George Shaw painted and sketched the life and scenes around him – but unlike Shaw, Lowry formed his own style of painting (not realistic) – at the time not recognised as a serious painter he did not achieve success from his work until the latter part of his life. He painted the monotonous life of the worker going to and from the factories – ‘Our town’ Oil on Canvas (1943) and the daily life of for instance ‘An arrest’ Oil on canvas (1927):
Among his more emotional paintings, I really admired his ‘The Lake’ Oil on Canvas (1937) part of his black series – painted after the death of his father. The image below does not do justice to the real painting:
A painting about death…human death in the graveyard (foreground detail), the dark and polluted lake (middleground) and the death creating factories in the backgound belching out black smoke. This image is very similar to that on P62 of the course – Drawing by James Lloyd.
In my sketchbook studies to follow, I want to have in mind the studies of Corot and Constable and look for little details in the landscape that could bring life and realism to my drawings.