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Part 2 Intimate

Part 2 Intimate

Project 2 Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour

During my research and practice work for this part I completed two sketches of fruit using first just pencil – this helped visualise the tones within the still life – and then using coloured pencils:

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Graphite pencil on A3 fine grain paper (detail)
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Coloured pencil on A3 fine grain paper

In these studies I concentrated on the form and use of colour – also cross hatching and building up layer upon layer of colour of various shades to achieve the final result.

I tried hard to produce tone without line/heavy outlines – I believe I achieved my objective and produced a satifactory range of tones from light to heavy dark tones in between the fruits.  The LH shadow from the bowl and fruit could have been darker – especially in the colour version – to balance the offset orange.

My final study for this exercise was completed in soft pastels on black A4 pastel paper (A4 because I did not have any other size black pastel paper!)

I spent some time setting up the still life and the lighting. I wanted the vases to dominate the picture and chose three very distinct coloured vases each with a different texture, colour and pattern. I also wanted to concentrate on representing the forms of the flowers in an accurate but loose manner.

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I was extremely pleased with the final result – the drawing took about 2-3 hours. Although I was totally immersed in the work, I did step back on several occasions and assess the progress (as called for in the exercise). The exercise was an exercise in tone so I concentrated on tone not line. I believe I achieved a good range of tone using colour and represented the flowers in the best way possible with the medium/format size.

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Soft pastel on A4 black textured pastel paper

I felt that this picture marked a big step in my learning process and has given me more confidence to experiment and push myself more. I effectively simplified the forms of the vases and flowers using several layers of pastel to achieve the final result without using line. Another issue was composition where I used the small yellow vase to draw the viewer back from the two busy but orderly/dominant vases placed further back.  There was also a sort of grounding with this vase as it was rendered in similar colours/tones to the background.

The coloured pencil study used line and colour to achieve form – also a step forward for me in producing a piece that was like a stepping stone to more technical processes in other mediums.

Reflection on the last two exercises:

What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with?

Flowers/leaves can be challenging and I had difficulties working loosely but accurately rendering their forms/patterns.  Fruit is less difficult to render loosely. I successfully experimented with many different styles during these two exercises demonstrating a versatility within my work that needs to be exploited further.

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings? What elements of the drawing and still life groupings helped to create that sense?

Only in the smaller studies of flowers did I achieve a sense of depth using line and perhaps to a certain extent in the watercolour drawing. The greatest sense of depth was achieved in the last still life above where I used the placement of the vases to help with this. The use of lighter tones at the forefront of the images – for instance in the fruit grouping and the vases – also increased the sense of depth. Also see my comments above regarding the small yellow vase and its effect on the composition.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?

Being restricted to just line or tone did not produce restrictions for me personally – on the contrary – it allowed me to look for other solutions and avenues to explore.

How did using colour affect your working method?

There is a lot more to think about when using colour – as it can alter the depth of the composition, change the focal point and even the mood of a drawing/painting. It has pushed me further … to think deeper during the execution of my work.

 

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Part 2 – Intimacy

Part 2 – Intimacy

Project 2 Still Life – Still life using line

Before starting this drawing I reflected on works that I have found and studied recently – some of these images are shown below:

Raoul Dufy:

 

David Hockney:

 

Cy Twomby:

 

All of the above drawings/prints use line, but with the addition of colour, except the RH monoprint by Cy Twomby – this I thought I could imitate using wax crayons/oil pastels with ink or watercolour.

David Hockney’s prints include some complicated patterns in their backgrounds, whilst Raoul Dufy’s exquisite paintings use predominantly line with colour to assist in recognising certain elements of the picture and enhance compositional elements.

In addition to the above I started by producing a drawing thinking about the feedback from Part 1 and Jenny Saville’s use of charcoal in her Mother and Child series – using an underdrawing or smudged charcoal background under bolder/expressive outlines:

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I was pleased with my mark-making and feel that I have captured the roses and lilies well – some of the the marks could be seen as too heavy, however this was also another experiment that I enjoyed – I do have a passion for flowers/plants!

My next experiment was using the idea of the B&W image by Cy Twomby:

DSC_0108 Here I used a white/pale yellow oil pastel first then painted black acrylic ink over the top – then in the LH image enhanced the image with white soft pastel and then scratched/scraped into the paper to make more interesting destructive marks. In the RH I added black and white pastel marks to the initial drawing.  The RH image worked better for me and I captured a couple of the roses better that in the previous one.  I need to practice/study individual flowers if I am to draw loosely but accurately!

I made some more quick sketches continuing to imitate the marks of Cy Twomby – this time in colour:

 

I tried to work loose but to maintain the detail and form of the individual roses. I was pleased with the result and with my range of mark-making usinmi g coloured pencils.

I have always greatly admired the work of David Hockney who never ceases to experiment and inspire.  I was taken by his images above and their complex simplicity. My version of his lilies – but with the same vase of roses as above worked well but lacked the impact of Hockney’s version:

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It was also an opportunity to include an example of negative and positive space – this I thought worked well. I was pleased with the crossed hatched background which was a little unusual.

Finally, I had been waiting patiently for an opportunity to use watercolour and ink and the inspirational work of Raoul Dufy was a chance too good to miss.  Using his flower paintings/drawings as my guide, I made the following line drawing by first painting layers of colour to highlight individual flower/leaf colours and use this as the background for my loose/expressive mark-making. As before I need to practice drawing individual flowers more often – perhaps by contour/blind contour drawings – over and over again.

Final drawing – inspired by the works of Raoul Dufy:

 

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Watercolour and chinese ink on 250g mixed media paper

 

Part 2 Intimacy

Research – Still life genre

In my research into the still life genre – I wanted to focus mostly on flower/fruit still life painting and use this as the basis for my work during Part 2 Intimacy – Still life.

Early in the 16th Century Joris Hoefnagel (1542-1601) played an important role in the still life genre and in particular flowers – which he painted with insects eg. Flower still life with insects (1594) – mostly as illustrations. Jacob de Ghyen II (1565-1629), a Dutch painter and engraver, painted some of the earliest flower still lifes eg. Vase of flowers with a curtain (1615).

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Vase of flowers with a curtain 1615. Jacob de Ghyen II. Oil on Panel. Kimbell Art Museum

Flower painting became was very popular in Holland at this time and another artist that specialized in Flower painting was Ambrosius Bosschaert (1573-1621) – he also incorporated religious and symbolic meanings into the paintings and included detailed bouquets typically with roses and tulips. In Christian symbolism the rose represented the Virgin Mary, the wounds of Christ and true love, whilst the tulip -wealth, prosperity and commercial trade (important to the dutch at the time). 

Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1621) – nicknamed Flower Brueghel, created a genre of Garland Paintings which were  a collaboration between still life painter and portrait painter in which a portrait (or adoration) would be surrounded with a garland of flowers eg. Madonna in floral wreath which was painted with Rubens as the portrait painter.

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Madonna in floral wreath 1620. Jan Brueghel the Elder/Peter Paul Rubens. Alte Pinakothek

The flowers were painted with scientific precision and very often he painted them in the wild – commanding a higher price for this method.

Carravagio (1571-1610) was notable for his early still lifes painted for Guiseppe Cesari in his workshop/factory eg. Basket of fruit (1595/6).

In the 18th century, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) painted exquisite still lifes of fruit and general household items.  Another still life artist at this time was Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818)  who due to social limitations as a woman painted still lifes of fruit and flowers eg. Vase of flowers with a bust of Flora (1774).

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Vase of flowers with a bust of Flora 1774. Anne Vallayer-Coster.

Goya, Courbet and Delacroix incorporated still life paintings into their body of work in the 19th Century.  Monet and Renoir broke with the dark backgounds of the past eg. Still life with bouquet and fan (1871)

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Still life with bouquet and fan 1871. Pierre-August Renoir. Houston Fine Art Museum

At the end of the 19th Century Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted a series of Sunflowers eg. Vase with fifteen sunflowers (1888).

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Vase with fifteen sunflowers 1888. Vincent Van Gogh. Oil on canvas. The National Gallery.

He also painted a memorable self portrait in the form of a still life:

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Still life with drawing board 1889. Vincent Van Gogh, Oil on canvas.

Entering the 20th Century Paul Cezanne (1839-1906), one of my all time favourite artists, unsatisfied with the impressionist movement experimented with still life colour, form and line. Eg. Still life with curtain (1895) and Still life with green melon (1895).

His work led the way for cubist still lifes with Picasso, Braque and Juan Gris (1887-1927) Eg. Nature morte (1913) Drawing on paper and Still life with flowers 1912 Oil on canvas.

Up until the 1920s Piet Mondrian painted hundreds of flower paintings – some were flower studies, particularly chrysanthemums, but others were still lifes. “I enjoyed painting flowers, not bouquets, but a single flower at a time, in order that I might better express its plastic structure.” Eg. Chrysanthemum (1908) Charcoal on paper and Amaryllis (1910) Watercolour on paper

In 1972 Roy Lichenstein (1923-1997) created his own style of still life with examples such as Still life with goldfish (1972) and Still life (1974)– a combination of styles between Matisse and Andy Warhol.

In the 21st Century, David Hockney (1937-) has produced his own modern digital flower still lifes using an ipad:

Finally looking at other artists of today, the Guardian in 2013 listed their selection of the best 10 contemporary still lifes and included the following:

Cindy Wright, Nature Morte 2 (2010) – a bloody, gutted fish coiled in a goldfish bowl with its eye staring out at the viewer.

Rebecca Scott, The Perfect Hostess (2006) – part of her The Perfect Life series in which she questions the notion of a perfect life publicised in the pages of women’s magazines and catalogues.

Peter Jones. Oliie Monkey (2007) – a worn out, neglected vintage stuffed monkey on the verge of falling apart.

To view the images use the following link:

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/gallery/2013/oct/19/10-best-contemporary-still-lifes

References: Wikipedia.org, The art story.org, Guggenheim.org, The Guardian.com