Oils (Turner & Thompson)

This is an essay on oil paint and it use by William Turner and Mimei Thompson.   I will be looking at how they use oils and how I find it appealing and effective.   How has it influenced me and how do I want to develop my use of oils?

Turner is seen as a romantic painter who paints a feeling rather than exactly what you see even though they look realistic.   Mimei paints places or everyday things with a dream like quality seemingly organic but not of this world (Thompson, 2014) so in a way an abstraction of what you see.   They both look at nature and its beauty.   Turner focusses on the grand landscapes (Tate, 1834) from a distance whereas Mimei looks closely at the everyday things and animals.  They both create a luminosity in their work which heightens the beauty and drama.   Turners work seems to be more complex, intense and serious than Mimei who is more playful and in moving the paint around with simple clean brush marks.

She also says she doesn’t have any identity having moved around and this gave her ability to view the everyday as an alien.   This is something I can relate to in my current landscape where everyday things are sometimes overwhelming, alien and perhaps otherworldly.  This influenced me to to try moving paint around and making mark making more visible.  The process reminds somewhat of the monotypes where paint is moved around on glass and the mark making play and important role.

A painter called Tom Keating has studied many masters and provides details of Turners technique using tempera paint which allows him to complete the painting quickly (Keating, 2015).  The canvas is first covered with a ground colour and then white highlights are applied with a knife .  The knife marks reflects the form of sky, land or sea and increase in relief the closer to the light source like the sun to make it brighter (National Gallery of art, s.d).  Colour is blocked in light to dark, then once dry washes are applied from dark to light.    Reflecting on my older paintings using acrylic I can see I took a similar approach except for the thick impasto paint for highlights early on.   I’m anticipating the use of white impasto paint early on will be a key step to achieve the luminosity.   Scrubbing and scraping techniques also seem to play a big part where I guess layers of paint can be easily removed to show the lighter paint below.

Interestingly Tuners skill with skies and seas enables him to adjust the design to better reflect the layout by for example changing the sky (Artists network, s.d).  In other words I need to look closely at the composition and use ‘artistic licence’ to provide balance rather than copying a photo.

To develop my use of oils I should look to find ways to apply highlights soon after applying the ground probably using impasto paint.  Understand what colours are transparent.  bring out the odd or alien characteristics of what I observe.  Look at printing like monotypes and preserving the marks.  How do I removed scrub paint away to reveal more white or underlying paint and broaden the mark making range.

References

Artists network (s.d) How to paint clouds like tuner by David Dunlop. At:https://www.artistsnetwork.com/store/painting-skies-workshop-part-2-turner-cloud-study Accessed on 5/2/18

National Gallery of art (s.d)  An eye for art JMW Turner. https://www.nga.gov/content/dam/ngaweb/Education/learning-resources/an-eye-for-art/AnEyeforArt-JosephMallordWilliamTurner.pdf Accessed on 5/2/18

Tate (1834) The burning of the houses of parliment by JMW Turner. At:http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/turner-the-burning-of-the-houses-of-parliament-d36235 Accessed on 5/2/18

Thompson, Mimei (2014) Bin bag closeup. At:http://www.mimeithompson.com/work/view/binbag-closeup/ Accessed on 5/2/18

 

Advertisements

Part 5 review

What is my personal voice and my motivation? 

I am certainly learning and developing and will continue to do so.  I am motivated by drama and the ephemeral moments in nature and man made.

3 words to describe my practice:

Developing, Drama, Ephemeral

What might I continue and develop? What ideas or images need further research and development?

  • I found mixing sight and touch helpful in creating greater depth and meaning and would like to develop this and also consider adding other senses (sound , smell , taste).
  • Is it mostly about finding the right contrast to bring out the drama and feeling with the right intensity or can I create the drama in other ways?
  • Continue and develop use of enamel and oil on aluminium
  • Look at how and when I can use monoprints in my work
  • Continue and develop use of directional impasto coloured paint
  • Continue to and develop use of luminosity and the various ways of achieving it
  • Sketch as much as possible

 

Urban Sketching

I joined an Urban Sketching meetup group today at the lunar new year fair in Victoria Park for the first time.   The group meetup at a location and sketch and share their work.  This turned out to be quiet a challenge because the fair was bursting with people.  I slowly walked through the flower market section and found interesting stalls to stop and sketch.  The problem then was being able to focus on the painted whilst lots of people watch you and stop to look and also bump into you.   I feel the people watching and I was on edge, I had to really focus and block the distractions out.   This also made me rush slightly and not wait for the water to come through the brush.

The place besides people is full of colourful flowers where each stall specialises in something like Narcissus flower or orchid.   I therefore felt watercolour would be most appropriate.

Adding pen outlines to the colour helped add interesting sharp details in the messy colour.

Seeing others work at the end showed how needed to spend more time on one sketch after a warm up sketch and focus on more detail.   I liked the idea of drawing people and leaving them with no colour whilst colouring in the background.   It gave it a graphic or comic quality.   Mine lacked depth in comparison and interestingly the people where the darkest part.   Some did much better job at the tarpaulin which I muddied.

Practice more sketches with pen or charcoal.   Slow down on second sketch and maybe spend an hour to get detail.   Look at what elements could be left white even though they may not be white, i.e. foreground or background.

Research Part Five

Artist Tanya Wood

Creates intricate pencil drawings which makes use of white space to enhance the viewing of the drawing.  For example the semi detached (Woods, 2013) feels like you are looking through a window with only what you see in the glass, drawn off centre,  the rest left white.   Theres clearly a reflection of the room super imposed on the view of the opposite house outside.   I often notice a reflection super imposed in our lounge window of two views because its a corner window.   However in Tanyas picture the reflection is of the inside against the outside made possible because theres strong sunlight shining on the inside room compared to the outside house in shadow.

Her detailed drawings of the platform edge show texture which breaks down from fully drawn with colour to just outlines.  This reminds me of a creepy crawly drawing described in a magazine (Whitton, 2017) where you capture whats interesting in detail and the rest fades away with less detail.   It also means the composition is a little organic as you add detail until you are happy.   Could I use this technique whilst drawing my environment and not worry about composition too much.

Tanya also created some interesting displays of her work where she included the perforated edge of paper next to the drawing of the perforated edge.  There were drawings of train passengers seen through the train windows displayed with custom white boxes on a table.   This seemed to reflect the experience of viewing the train as it passes by and you look through the windows.  I should note the experience which is important to see how the display can support.

At the same time I don’t like the detail in the way it seems to be a perfect copy.  Although I feel its well balanced by the white space.

I tried sketching the grass next to a paved area at sunset and could see the big shadows for the tufty blades of grass.   The grass is clumpy with gaps.

img_7419

Artist Archie Franks

I like the monster munch with moon painting (Franks, 2016) which makes a monster out of the crisp packet.  Its humorous.  The packet and crisps come alive with the sharp impasto paint.   There are sharp short marks on the crisps and  with longer marks used on the packet.  The background is thinner with very long marks.  It feels animated and alive.   The moon is broken, possibly reflecting off something and contrasted with the sharp crisp packet.  Theres an blog which gives insight into Archies’ studio (Hamlett Dobbins, s.d) which shows how thick the impasto paint is, and what medium he uses, and the amount of paint he mixes, how big the pictures are and things which influence him such as horror movies.  I’d like to try out some of these points to recreate how he would paint my environment.    In particular I’ve seen some palm roots which look like the trees guts coming out.  He obviously uses more imagination to bring the crisp packet to life and the horror movies influence his style.   I dont like the way they get very dark although it is hard to view online and see subtleties in the paint.

In the absence of oil impasto medium (on order) I tried painting some roots with acrylic mixed with gel with a brush and a cake bag to squeeze the paint out in strips.   I think there may not have been enough paint, it became to peaky and sharp and couldnt get a more rounded finish.

img_7418

Artist Tim Stoner

I like his charcoal sketches which use thick charcoal lines and two tones where he most likely uses chalk for light tone and charcoal for dark on paper.  They are very simple using simple shapes.

I applied this to sketch the corner of our flat where a reflection of the outside of the flat is reflected on the outside view.   Being able to emphasis the lines and angles and block in the light areas felt natural.    Theres something interesting about seeing the outside inside and also the view.

img_7436

His paintings are on the large scale almost life size views on the world which must make an impact when viewed in person.   I like how they continue the style of the sketches with charcoal and smaller paintings on panel and paper.  They look like they have been shaded in with pastels or chalk in many layers.   The outlines are often visible.  He seems to captured in late afternoon or early morning light causing silhouettes with little features visible and long shadows.

There are some interesting tree shapes in the gardens like the palm tree (Stoner, 2015)  where he simplifies to basic shapes like a cartoon.  Although its not recommended to sit below because the leaves are very heavy and do fall off.

I’m not sure I like the way he sometimes turns the painting into angular geometric shapes.

I’ve tried painting our plaza using oil on canvas.   I used oil thinned down with linseed oil and thinner to paint the scene very roughly.   I then used a knife to scrape away the highlights.  This gave a sharpness to the rough painting.    The silhouettes of people and parasols and sharp edges follow his approach which focusses on shape.   Perhaps the scraping of paint lends itself to more simple angular shapes.    I also understands he layers thin white washes for the highlights so I need to discover which is appropriate and how they combine or if they are not combined.

img_7402

Suggested reading

The Poetics of Space (Bachelard, 1994) provided a strange source for inspiration from the suggested reading.  It is a difficult book to read and absorb because it is highly philosophical and I doubt I really absorbed what he was trying to say.  However I’ve taken hints about contrasts of inside and outside and the experience of the small or miniature.   About childhood places where you can hide and daydream.   Its about how the space influences the experience of those living there and expressing it.    With my environment the inside is small but it is a refuge and holds your personal things from the hustle of the city.  The outside calm and relaxing sometimes too quiet.   Life during the day is mostly the people who look after the residential area and provide services.    Other interesting thoughts from the book is what a child would draw when asked to draw their home.    They would draw whats important to them often highlighting something on the outside and inside.   This is unlikely to be in proportion but is important detail.   This got me thinking about the meaning of painting detail and usually I associate detail with finer realistic details but now it could be adding something important which is visually unrealistic.

After reading James Putnam’s book (Putnam, 2001) I can see there are potentially lots to consider in the displaying of artwork.  I found it hard to see how I would apply this because it is mostly relating to the display of collections however this assignment would result in a collection of paintings.    The basic point being I can make use of the way museums display work or store work to give the appropriate viewer experience.   For example if I were to paint life size replicas of the things I see in my environment I might display them on the floor roped off with a viewing platform and labels.  This would make them look important and protected.   Whilst I don’t like the works of the naturalists such as John James Audubo and to some extent the detail of tanya woods I can see this reflects a detailed account of the artefacts.   There is an element of controlling the way the viewer sees the art.  Tanya  was able to do this in viewing people on the train through windows as they pass you on the platform (Wood, 2014).

References

 

Bachelard, G., Jolas, M. and Stilgoe, J. (1994). The poetics of space.

Franks, Archie (2016) Monster munch with moon At:http://archiefranks.com/portfolio/monster-munch-with-moon-2016/ Accessed on 11/1/18

Hamlett Dobbins. (s.d) archie franks. At:http://hamlettdobbins.com/studio-visits/archie-franks/ (Accessed on 11/1/18)

Putnam, J. (2001). Art and artifact. New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson.

Stoner, Tim (2015) Palm At:http://www.timstoner.co.uk/www.timstoner.co.uk/paintings.html Accessed on 11/1/18

Whitton, Judi (2017) Creepy-crawly drawing In: The Artist Dec 2017  p.49.

Wood, Tanya (2013) Semi-detached 4St. C At:http://www.tanyawood.co.uk/work/2013-2/ Accessed on 11/1/18

Wood, Tanya (2014) Neither here nor there boxed At:http://www.tanyawood.co.uk/work/2014-2/ Accessed on 11/1/18

Gallery Visits

Spent couple of hours visiting galleries in central to see some work in person.   All but 2 of the galleries focussed on a single artist and some where in the process of changing artists so it felt like I didnt see very much.    I was focussed mainly on how they were exhibiting their work.

Visual Candy and Natural History by Damien Hurst at Gagosian Gallery.

This is old work from the 1990’s but still interesting to see in person.   The gallery offers a standard white walled space.   The exhibit contrasts mostly colourless dead animals against fun bright paintings.  The animals included a bird,  a chicken, calves including a severed head with blood pooling on the floor and sharks encased in glass filled with formaldehyde.   These were both grotesque and interesting to see the detail.  They were positioned in the middle of the rooms so that you could walk around to see from all angles whilst viewing these bright fun paintings of what looked like sweets.   The paintings were very repetitive so once you’d seen a couple you’d seen them all which to me seemed to act as a background to the animals which were the focus of the exhibit.  There were no labels for the artwork on display, you had to ask to see this printed on a piece of paper.   This suggest the names are less important when viewing the work.  Although I thought the titles would help explain the work.    This exhibit could be useful if I see something I want to be the focus that contrasts with much of what I see in my environment.   For example contrasting a wheeled bag against the ornate plants seen all around my home.

https://www.gagosian.com/exhibitions/damien-hirst–november-23-2017/exhibition-images

Living in Compassion by Chu Hing-Wah at the Hanart TZ Gallery.

This was a more traditional display of paintings.   I found the ‘City of Gold’ interesting in the way it displayed a man on bicycle looking at the hills behind the towering city of gold.  It seemed to me to be showing that there is a strong connection with the natural landscape, a longing to escape the city which almost cuts out the natural landscape.  The work is painted in ink and looks flat with a more traditional chinese feel.  Whilst the gold city is bright and takes up most of the painting the man at the bottom still grabs your attention and there is connection with the clouds in the sky via a thin white section of the city.    There is a large element of repetitiveness in the buildings.  This is somewhat reflective of being in the central area of Hong Kong but where I live its more the opposite with the landscape dwarfing the dwellings.   Theres also a feeling of repetitiveness here with the landscape displaying the same ornate plants.

https://ocula.com/art-galleries/hanart-tz-gallery/artworks/chu-hing-wah/city-of-gold/

 

Reflection Assignment 4

The tondo got me looking for simple compositions with interesting contrasts of tones and objects reflecting the nature of working in circular frames.  In the exercise I painted the ac control in oil on a smooth  paper plate where removing paint was just as important as adding paint.    This lead me to focus on oil and smooth surfaces to enable me to sculpt.  Despite this being what attracted me to it I also wondered if there was a better medium to represent it.   My research into atmosphere created by artists such as Marlene Dumas led me to trying watercolour to produce some atmospheric 3D representations.   However when compared to the original it still didn’t have the impact.   I couldn’t see how I would combine watercolour with impasto paint, they just seemed too far apart.  This helped me focus more on oil and acrylic.

The glowing fuzzy feeling from the sofa painted with layers of acrylic was a nice quality  considered for the final tondo because it created a soft warm feeling you get when relaxing at home.   I found this initial experiment to be too dark which is why I didn’t progress it.

The eye is drawn to the control and moves freely around and down and slows around the base of the sofa and the mat.   The control sits prominently on top in a relaxed manor.   Form and structure is implied by the brush direction.     I was able to use a large brush to move the paint around and respond to the tactile feeling of the sofa and ac control as well as how it looks.   The sofa looks a little stretched and squashed perhaps more than intended.   Despite using bright colours the overall feeling is muted.

The tondo does reflect many of the intended qualities such as a AC control which is relaxing on the sofa and also draws your attention.   I did miss making the buttons explicit and more obvious like a child would play with it although I wasn’t sure it would help and it was not essential.   The mat below the sofa is soft and doesn’t distract from the main focus even though I used thick impasto paint.   The colours seem to tie it all together unlike the earlier attempt at trying complementary colours which didn’t enhance the contrast as intended.    There is a level of depth to the sofa where the back is less sharp through heavier strokes and the AC control and base of the sofa seem more in focus and closer through lighter thicker marks.

I still had difficulty deciding on the final tondo because the qualities of the painting were not all that clear and did not form a clear story or idea.   I was under the belief oil would be the right medium to use but for various reasons I keep returning to the familiar acrylic.   I do need to try finding an additive for oil which supports impasto work in a similar fashion to acrylic gel.

With the intention to use impasto paint and add and remove paint I felt that applying the blind drawing I’d learnt in the previous assignment would help with depth and relevant qualities.    Given it is such a simple object it did help to add more features which is not easily seen when looking.

Experimenting with watercolour was helpful to compare against the work in oil and acrylic.   I can see its possible to paint blurred out of focus areas and sharper in focus areas to add depth and draw the focus.   I haven’t yet worked out how to control the atmosphere and will be an ongoing area to research.

Oil on enamel provides a mat against gloss contrast where the oil stands out over the gloss and felt like it was working despite the colour problem.   Adding a layer of resin on top can create interesting depth where in this case shadows were cast by the layer of white oil onto the layer below.   I also considered creating a layer of resin to make it feel like it was covered in plastic like that on the peppa pig tondo.   I didn’t include in the final because I thought it would obscure the brushwork on the sofa.

Iain Andrews use of impasto paint influenced how I painted the sofa and AC control and the background.    Whilst my final tondo seems balanced the bright paint in the sofa is not as bright as I’d hoped.  Returning to Iain Andrews technique I realise that maybe the dark parts of the sofa should have been formed from a dark thin wash rather than thick paint.   I therefore need to return to this technique look at how I can make the paint appear brighter.  Also he responded more to the way the paint dried which leads to more unpredictable results and could help my process.

I should continue looking more into atmosphere and emotion and how both Marlene Dumas and Turner carry this out given how it seems to play a part throughout my work so far.

 

 

 

Part 4 review

Tondos both circular and oval encourage the viewer to focus on something as opposed to view and experience something.   The single edge continually brings the eye into the middle.

Looking back I find the AC on sofa the most interesting composition, contrast and subject.   The AC control is important to life indoors, it sits in a prominent place on the sofa for easy frequent access and its often played with by the kids.   Alternatively the idea of things which have been played with and left can tell a story about what had happened.   There are interesting shapes and patterns in the jumbled collection of shoes which could be improved with finding a better composition and contrast between shoes.

The success of the original AC on sofa is largely down to the surface which was a paper plate with a smooth surface.  The surface had little absorbency enabling me to remove and move paint around in a sculptural way.  Oil on canvas primed with gesso gets absorbed and harder to remove or move.  Varnish and glue can help reduce the absorbency of canvas however it changes the finish which seems softer and slightly blurred.

The use of impasto paint along side thinner paint can be an effective way to draw attention to the focus of the tondo.   For example, the toy on shelf painting’s bright thick painted mark came forward above the background and it had movement.  I don’t feel watercolour or ink alone is enough to create the impact I’d like for painting the interior.  However it could be used together with other media to bring something out like the toy lego above the blurred box side.   Oil seems to be less effective than acrylic for impasto paint partly because I’m expecting greater volume of paint and I don’t have a suitable medium to add to the oil paint.  I’ve successfully managed to create a soft subtle texture/finish with thick oil paint without much thinner to paint the mat below the sofa.   When mixed with liquin original I’ve found it goes thin and transparent although it does keep a hint of the brush marks.  Generally speaking the oil paint is stronger, brighter snd sharper when compared to acrylics (this maybe down to the quality of the acrylics).   I think its the ability to manipulate oil paint in a sculptural fashion on the surface which elevates it over other mediums.   However I need to remember to keep the brushes clean because the colours became muddy whilst painting the toothbrushes.

Other things to remember to look at are use of drawing mediums such as pastels in combination with the paints.