I found a large wooden seed pod outside our flat and decided to paint a collection on its bumpy surface. From earlier research, Lee Edwards painting on oak used the surface detail as part of the painting and so I was looking for a collection which could make use of the wooden surface. The stacked plates with the reflection on the floor and the collection of screws were two options I could try. I decided on the plates and used acrylic to paint on the bumpy side of the pod, using the raised parts as plates. The split from the cool plates to the warm reflection created a natural divide which fitted naturally to the inversion point on the pod. When dry the acrylic was dark and dull which is perhaps not appropriate for reflecting the shiny plates. Whilst it was fun to paint on the unusual surface the end result feels more decorative than anything meaningful which maybe because it’s not clear what it was.
What are the most appropriate ways to show the different tones in a painting?
One of the challenges was starting with a thin wash of paint because it feels like it’s setting one of the tones still relatively light because the paper is white. Furthermore I felt I needed to continue with thin washes of paint which shows all brushwork both good and bad.
I thought the plates high contrast tonal variation would be most striking to paint. I started with side on view with a light watercolour ground for a black ink painting and second an darker orange ink ground for a coloured acrylic painting. Both cases didn’t work well, maybe because I was including too many plates and loosing control of the paint. They feel messy, no real focus, the sharp contrasts seem to have been lost. Another issue was the paper curled and made the painting difficult because it hadn’t been stretched. Possible ways to improve, focus on the top 3 bowls showing interesting marks, make the plates tones sharper, apply more paint to the ground for darker areas.
Next painting is gouache on a dark orange ink ground on stretched paper. This time I had a bit more fun and used pva to outline the plates then drip blue ink in between the plates. The composition was chosen to spiral the eye in from the large plates. Overall this simpler composition and tonal choices provided structure and form.
For the clothes I decided to Paint the background a darker blue acrylic mixed with pva to make the brushwork more visible. The thin acrylic brush work on the pva ground worked well for the hat because the blue ground was visible through the stroke with enough contrast. The dress appears light which is good but the contrast with the ripples is a bit weak. I felt I needed to darken the background after painting the dress in order to make the dress seem brighter. The idea of painting another collection on top appealed here so I thought the collection of toy animals painted with a dry brush would continue a similar style. There’s a lot happening here and perhaps focussing on the top left hat is the most stricking.
Next I looked at utensils and some interesting shadows using ink and watercolour. I found ink less forgiving on the lighter tones than watercolour. The shadow was intended to be blurred using wet in wet but with less paint it was not as dark as I’d liked and applying another layer highlighted mistakes. This meant the not so dark shadow set the tonal range from the background. Despite the low tonal range the compositions helped where the shadows drew the eye into the utensil. The addition of the serving spoon gave its’ painting a surprise boost with a better tonal range and focus. The use of salt didn’t work out for creating featured highlights on the spoon surface.
What makes a good line drawing? And on the larger a1+ size?
I begun drawing quick continuous pen drawings of various collections in my a5 sketch pad. At this size I started to see that simple outlines of the objects in the collection were not enough. By following more of the structure of the objects, for example, by breaking the outline for areas in shadow. Perhaps the less an outline is explicitly visible the more the viewer needs to fill in and therefore create something more interesting. The lines could also bring out patterns of interest.
Through drawing the patterns in the clothes collection I thought about rhythm and how this may help show movement. It reminded me of the artist who painted each line in a breath in a form of meditation.
In exercise 2.1 I poured emulsion from a spoon to draw outlines and decided to do this again because I like way it forces you to keep moving and not be so precise. Also I’ve seen paintings by Lisa kranichfeld who painted nudes using a similar technique which had a sense of movement from the lines. It seems she managed to do lines with varying thickness probably from controlling the speed of movement or flow of paint.
I liked to way the patterns were starting come out on the last clothes drawing so decided to take this to a larger sheet. I first practiced on newspaper to get the rhythm then onto a sheet of watercolour paper.
Overall I was not happy with this and didn’t have time on the day to start another so I thought I’d reflect before doing another. The rhythm of the lines in the dress was not consistent, often broken and wavy. Also I think I got the balance wrong and should have made the lines heavier below the dress and lighter on the dress because there is too much along the top of the painting compared to the bottom. The zig zag patterns for the jumper worked to break up the dress well and give it shape without the need for an outline. The hint of movement in the dress was too subtle although not sure how I would have made it more obvious. Moving slowly on the right of the hat created thicker lines for the shadow but did mean I had less control in the faster part and also a broken rhythm, I think the hat could have looked so much better.