Assignment 1: “A Black Tulip and its Shadow”

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

19 March 2016. While spending more time in hospital with our son I had ample opportunity to think about the mechanisation of human life and, as it were, people themselves. The idea of working with Leonardo’s (1452-1519, Italy) Vitruvian man (da Vinci, ca. 1492) (Fig. 1), trying to superimpose on the famous drawing a setup using tools like such as pincers, nuts, pliers, folding rules and such like. I gathered a large number of objects and started experimenting.

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Figure 1. Leonardo da Vinci (ca. 1492) Vitruvian Man. Ink and wash on paper. Source: Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

20 March 2016. Having sat on my workshop floor for several hours, pushing my tools around in a futile attempt to create something exciting, I realized that I did not want to continue here. Suddenly both the subject and setup seemed dull, flat and uninteresting. It may be that I am very close to tears nowadays and additional demands from outside our small fragile world sometimes seem unbearable. So what I am planning to do instead is to take the gorgeous tulips our son picked from his favourite flower shop (yes, even some wild boys like flowers!) and paint them in a soft light. Pushing on from the previous exercise, however, I decided that I would like to paint one of the flower heads in black and white, a statement which I think leaves a whole universe for personal interpretation. Since I never know whether there will be time while the tulips are still fresh, because our son’s condition can deteriorate suddenly and quickly, I took a large number of photos and decided I would work from the photo best suited to accomodate both coloured and black and white sections. To this end I would produce some sketches exploring tonal contrast. In preparation I had a look at several artists, who had produced still lives with tulips, but I had my painting firmly settled on my mind so I decided I did not want to be influenced too much by what other people did. And also, considering what I found on the internet, still lives with tulips can go awfully wrong. They appear deceptively easy to paint and are not. So I decided that I wanted to use the opportunity to gain experience by painting them without reference to the work of others.

First I produced a series of photos with two different bouquets, many different arrangements and lighting conditions. Among these the following view from slightly above under the strong daylight lamps in my workshop produced the pattern I had had in mind: I would paint the colourful bouquet against a dark background and the shadow of the arrangement on a bright surface (Fig. 2).

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Figure 2. Setup

This was followed by sketches in my sketchbook to make sure the dark/light arrangement would look OK (Fig. 3):

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Figure 3. Sketch to identify light and dark areas for compositional purposes

30 March 2016. Back from a strange Easter holiday with everybody in the family seriously ill for at least a week I nevertheless finished Assignment 1 today. I had prepared my background with the Payne’s grey I had produced for the previous exercise and adding white and a bit of sap green in order to produce the particular sheen of the shadow.

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Figure 4. New discovery: Having two separate trays for mixing greys and colours keeps mixtures perfectly clean.

After the background had become dry I roughly sketched in the outlines of flowers and shadows using black and white charcoal, then painted the shadows using the neutral grey with sap green I had prepared earlier. On top of this I put first layers of both flower heads and leaves, not yet paying particular attention to colour correctness (Fig. 5a-c).


Over the next few days I kept adding both opaque and transparent layers by carefully observing emerging patterns. This is the result (Fig. 6):

Finished_painting_30062016
Figure 6. “A Black Tulip and its Shadow”: acrylics on A2 painting carton

Considering my previous experience with acrylics I am very happy about the result, in particular having found out some immensely important aspects about the layering of colour, something I had never knewn how to pay proper attention to before. I am beginning to understand the basics ruling composition and the use of both achromatic and coloured pigments. Most of it is still somewhat intuitive, but I am learning. Looking back over the assignment, I am not sure whether I might have been expected to do a lot more preliminary investigation regarding arrangement, but what I got appears relatively convincing to me. I am also happy to have a message to come with my bouquet of flowers, a message I need to carry with me at all times – now more than ever.

References:

Da Vinci, L. (ca. 1492) Vitruvian Man [ink and wash on paper] [online]. Academia of Venice. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitruvian_Man#/media/File:Da_Vinci_Vitruve_Luc_Viatour.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

 

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Part 1, project 3, exercises 1 and 2: Tonal studies on white and coloured grounds

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

13 March, 2016. Having had a look into our cellar for suitable objects for the exercises to come I made a deceptively simple setup consisting of a glazed earthenware jug, some very old and incredibly heavy – and as I would soon find out, incredibly complex to paint – kitchen scales, and an egg in order to suggest that somebody might be starting to bake a cake or similar.
I moved the objects around and kept looking for interesting negative spaces. There was one position where I really liked the curvature of the space between jug and scales. It was similar looking both from the front and the back of the setup, but I wanted to keep the egg in front of the whole to serve as a believable third object and strong tonal contrast to the jug (Fig. 1a and 1b).


Looking at the setup I realized that it might be an attractive idea to combine on one larger-sized canvas both studies required for this project. I would split it roughly in half, the left side (jug and egg) working on a dark ground, the right side (most of the scales) on a white ground. The exact position of the split I would negotiate while painting.
With the help of my viewfinder I decided that a landscape view would be a sensible choice in order to allow each technique enough space for comparison (Fig. 2a and 2b):


In my sketchbook I prepared some dark ground using willow charcoal and made a sketch using both white and black charcoal as appropriate.

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Figure 3. Charcoal sketch of setup

Referring to the study guide (OCA, 2011, p. 43) I had to look up the exact meaning of “low-key colours”. and found an introduction by Smith (2016). It then took me a while to settle on a suitable mix of colours with a light tone. It became a dark sort of orange mixed from primary magenta, gold ochre and sap green.
19 March, 2016. After having prepared the left half of my A2 painting carton with my own mix of Payne’s grey (ultramarine and black, the ultramarine requiring a staggering amount of black to make the mix look grey) and the right half with a layer of white, I loosely sketched in the objects with white and black charcoal. My intention was to use the hard transition between two methods of painting as a test to see whether I would succeed in making tonal values identical on both sides (Fig. 4).

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Figure 4. Jug, egg and kitchen scales on A2 painting carton, left on dark ground, right on white ground

The problems I encountered refer mostly – something I had not expected at all – to the painting on white ground. Although it took me a while to get accustomed to observing correctly and working out form with light tones on the dark ground, it was relatively easy to produce a believable setting. I was totally unsure, however, how to follow study guide instructions on the white ground. Although I have been painting using watercolous for nearly twenty years and I am well accustomed with using paper white for the highlights, I found it irritating to work on white ground (interpreting instructions as having to spare the white of the ground for the lightest parts of my objects) while also allowed to use white paint. In the end I had to follow my intuition and I am not unhappy with the result.
The most important lesson I learned in this exercise was the importance of making an informed decision which tone in a setting to elect mid tone. While in this respect the dark ground was comparatively easy to handle with only two colours to work with, there were many corrections required on the light ground until tonal values finally became believable.

At the moment I am hovering in mid air between making intuitive decisions based on the unproved experience gained in years of painting on my own and deducing principles from consciously observing effects required in a structured course like Painting 1. I can’t wait for the two to meet …

References:

Open College of the Arts (2011) Painting 1. The Practice of Painting. The Bridgeman Art Library, London, New York, Paris, p. 43.

Smith, K. (2016) High Key Low Key Colour. Sensational Colour [online]. Available at: http://www.sensationalcolor.com/understanding-color/theory/high-key-low-key-color#.WKmGvhDNzlN [Accessed 13 March 2016]

 

Research point: Chiaroscuro

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

13 March, 2016. The term “Chiaroscuro”, meaning “light-dark” in Italian, is a powerful means of contrasting and linking light and dark areas in a painting. Several drawing and painting techniques such as hatching, stippling and washes are suitable to use the chiaroscuro effect to suggest volume. This excludes a mere difference between a dark background and a bright foreground, but rather requires the depicted volume itself to show some gradation between light and dark areas (The National Gallery, 2017).
I had a look at several artists using chiaroscuro and found that I liked those paintings most, where the effect was not used only to produce dramatic lighting, but where it is a believable and intrinsic part of the scene. I may be wrong, but e.g. in the following painting (Fig. 1) (Baglione, 1602) the effect, while looking great, is there for drama only, but as far as I can see has no part in the story :

Baglione
Figure 1. Giovanni Baglione: Sacred Love and Profane Love, 1602, oil on canvas. Source: Giovanni Baglione (1566-1643) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

In the second example by Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797, England), the “Orrery” (Wright of Derby, ca. 1766) in Fig. 2 below, on the other hand, the chiaroscuro has a story to tell:

Wright_of_Derby,_The_Orrery
Figure 2. Joseph Wright of Derby: The Orrery, ca. 1766, oil on canvas. Source: Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-1797) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

When I started exploring the works of Caravaggio (1571-1610) I found that I was unable to look at the many cruel scenes, but found one work in particular very appealing regarding its intriguing lighting conditions, “The Calling of Saint Matthew” (Caravaggio, ca. 1599-1600) (Fig. 3 below). While on the righthand side the light comes into the room from above, the persons in the shade immediately below are exposed to an extreme chiaroscuro effect, while it is much subdued in the direct light between the people sitting at the table. This makes the composition very lively and also helps the viewer’s eye to be guided through the painting. The direction of the light coming in from the right follows that of the outstretched hand of Jesus immmediately below and thereafter illuminates Saint Matthew’s own hand and face. There is no mistaking the story:

The_Calling_of_Saint_Matthew-Caravaggo_(1599-1600)
Figure 3. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio: The Calling of Saint Matthew, ca. 1599-1600, oil on canvas. Source: Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Looking at Tintoretto’s (1518-1594, Italy) work it is immediately obvious that he, born more than 50 years before Caravaggio, was still very much a Renaissance artist, while Caravaggio already helped prepare the way into the Baroque. For me it is fascinating to get reminded of the rapid and often fierce development of art going own during that short period of time. Chiaoscuro was probably not as prominent in Tintoretto’s work and, in my opinion, did not seem to be celebrated by him as a tool serving to increase drama: In his “Last Supper” (Tintoretto, 1592-94) below, for example, the many glorioles and bodyless heavenly creatures populating the dark background reduce the effect:

Jacopo_Tintoretto_-_The_Last_Supper_-_WGA22649
Figure 4. Jacopo Tintoretto: Last Supper, 1592-94, oil on canvas, 365 x 568 cm (!). Source: Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) born only a few years after Caravaggio, but living for many decades longer than the latter, developed to become a truly Baroque painter. In his self-portrait, whose expression admittedly I do not like, the weighting of the chiaroscuro across the canvas is visible as in Caravaggio’s painting above (Rubens, 1623) (Fig. 5):

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Figure 5. Peter Paul Rubens: Portrait of the Artist, 1623, oil on panel. Source: Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Since I also wanted to see how chiaroscuro still has a prominent place in modern art I tried to get an overview over the many different techniques and styles. It is most obvious in portrait photography, and in black-and white films, most famously e.g. in “The Third Man”, but also in countless painted examples. One lecture on chiaroscuro by J.B. Treadwell (n.d.) I found highly instructive at the time of writing this post, but sadly has disappeared from the web (Treadwell, 2016), but it is worth having a look at the collection of posts on Pinterest (Pinerest, 2017).

It is very likely, since the effect is so stunning, that not many artists, except for those working in completely abstract ways, will deliberately forgo the use of chiaroscuro in their work. Indeed, after having spent two very rewarding hours looking at extremes of light and darkness, my own surroundings look curiously flat. Will have to do something about that ;o).

References:

Baglione, G. (1602) Sacred Love and Profane Love [oil on canvas] [online]. Gallerie Nationale d’Arte Antica, Rome. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9d/Baglione.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

da Caravaggio, M. M. (ca. 1599-1600) The Calling of Saint Matthew [oil on canvas] [online]. Contarelli Chapel, Church of San Luigi dei Francesi. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/The_Calling_of_Saint_Matthew-Caravaggo_%281599-1600%29.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Pinterest (2017) Chiaroscuro examples [online]. Pinterest. Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/coronaart627/chiaroscuro-examples/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Rubens, P. P. (1623) Portrait of the Artist [oil on canvas] [online]. Royal Collection. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Sir_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Portrait_of_the_Artist_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

The National Gallery (2017) Glossary: Chiaroscuro [online]. The National Gallery, London. Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/glossary/chiaroscuro [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Tintoretto, J. (1592-94) The Last Supper [oil on canvas] [online]. San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Jacopo_Tintoretto_-_The_Last_Supper_-_WGA22649.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Treadwell, B.T. (n.d.) (lecture on chiaroscuro) [online]. Available at: http://www.jaimetreadwell.com/chiaroscuro-lecture.htm [13 March 2016]

Wright of Derby, J. (ca. 1766) The Orrery [oil on canvas] [online]. Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Philosopher_Lecturing_on_the_Orrery#/media/File:Wright_of_Derby,_The_Orrery.jpg [Accessed 19 February 2017]

 

First impression – Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 March, 2016. For me it was a difficult decision which book to get from the set book list for OCA Painting 1. Since there is no library in Salzburg specializing in English language art books, I have to buy every book and I need to consider carefully the advantages of each. Following some attempts at comparing books on the Internet and comments found by art students I went for “Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting” (Schwabsky, 2002).
After having had a look through the impressive number of artists included in the bulky volume my first impression was that it may not always be advantageous to sort artists by name. While it is fun to flick through the pages and see something new and wildly different on each and every of them, it is difficult to make sense of the contained messages in the way that is probably needed by art students. Well, never mind, in time we will become friends, this book and I.

References:

Schwabsky, B. (2002) Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting. Phaidon Press.

Study visit: Gallery tour in Salzburg

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 March, 2016. Last week we cycled into town to see the exhibitions presented in some of Salzburg’s galleries. One I had wanted to see in particular, the 20 year anniversary exhibition on Bernhard Vogel (*1964, Austria) on show at the Galerie Weihergut. Getting there we found the show room closed, since the gallery staff had gone to present their collection at a large art fair in Vienna. So we changed our plans and first had a look at the Lumas gallery, a dealer in high quality photo art reproductions. I particularly liked the work by Matthew Cusick (*1970, USA), who specialises in collage-like delicate “paintings” made of carefully chosen clippings taken from different maps of the world, e.g. “Mylan’s Wave” (Cusick, 2012).
Most impressive at the same place was a 1.5 x 2 m photo, “Urban Landscape V” (Bakonyi, 2013/14) by Bence Bakonyi (*1991, Hungary) showing a number of floors on two of Hong Kong’s giant skyscrapers. The, by the standards of Austria and probably most parts of the world, incredible density of urban space, left me bewildered at the number of individual fates and stories told and the weird attraction created by the almost, but not quite, repetitive pattern. The owner of the shop reported an occasion, where a lady had spent some time looking at that particular photo. When asked for her opinion about it, she told him “I just spotted my flat.” Years earlier, she had actually been living in one of the diminutive dwellings. What a coincidence.
The overwhelming number of phantastic photos resembling paintings reminded me that any former boundaries between the two forms of art are no longer existent. They are mutually fertilizing, allowing artists coming from each side to make use of all the available achievements and new developments. And also, the quality standards are breathtaking – reminding me harshly that there is a long road ahead of me.
Having spent a lot more time at the Lumas gallery than initially planned there was only one more place to have a quick look at before they all closed for the weekend. One of Salzburg’s most internationally renowned galleries presented works by Herbert Stejskal and Eva Möseneder. Stejskal’s (1940-2012, Austria) abstract paintings, watercolour and acrylics, reminded me of the intuitive “energy” paintings, which are at the moment extremely popular in Austria. I was fascinated by one peculiarity: Stejskal breaks up the canvas into many “sub-canvases”, each with its own style (sometimes photographic, sometimes reminding of different printing techniques), but at the same time never leaving a doubt that each is part of a whole. Energy appears to flow between the parts by the way they are arranged in shape and colour. See e.g. the aptly named LAVA (Stejskal, 2003) or CROLLO (Stejskal, 1987).
Eva Möseneder’s (*1957, Austria) series of small paintings showing vividly coloured potted and other imaginary plants appeared to me like clippings from larger works by phantastic realists including Arik Brauer (*1929, Austria), see e.g. “The Flower of Chernobyl” (Brauer, 1996/97) or Wolfgang Hutter (1928-2014, Austria), e.g. “Die braunen Blätterpflanzen mit den blauen Kugeln” (Hutter, 2004). While Möseneder’s choice of colours is most attractive and the plants appear to glow from the inside, at least to me they are strangely lacking in aliveness. This may of course be a deliberate effect, but it makes me wonder what it is exactly that makes Stejskal’s abstract paintings burst with energy, while the living things depicted by Möseneder do not. I had another close look at them and they seem to refuse to communicate, content to live their own strange plant life, whose emotions we will never be able to understand. It also makes me wonder whether the refusal of a work of art to interact with the viewer may well be another way of attracting attention.

References:

Bakonyi, B. (2013-2014) Urban Landscape V [photograph] [online]. Lumas Gallery, Salzburg. Available at: https://at.lumas.com/pictures/bence_bakonyi/urban_landscape_v/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Brauer, A. (1996-97) The Flower of Chernobyl [n.a] [online]. Leopold Museum, Vienna. Available at: http://www.leopoldmuseum.org/en/exhibitions/59/arik-brauer [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Cusick, M. (2012) Mylan’s Wave [collage] [online]. Lumas Gallery, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.lumas.com/pictures/matthew_cusick/mylans_wave/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Hutter, W. (2004) Die braunen Blätterpflanzen mit den blauen Kugeln [n.a.] [online]. [n.a.]. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92398751@N00/11445286/ [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Stejskal, H. (1987) LAVA [watercolours and transferred media on paper] [online]. Galerie Welz, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.galerie-welz.at/de/ausstellungen/ausstellungen_archiv_detail.php?id=77 [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Stejskal, H. (2003) CROLLO [acrylics on canvas] [online]. Galerie Welz, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.galerie-welz.at/de/ausstellungen/ausstellungen_archiv_detail.php?id=77 [Accessed 19 February 2017]

Part 1, project 2, exercise 4: Monochrome studies

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

6 March, 2016. I am not sure why, but I found it very hard to make sense of the instructions to this exercise. Looking at the respective work of some of my student colleagues did not help either: In both paintings the ground can be a wash and in both I paint over that with a predominantly opaque layer. In both sheets, opaque and transparent paint need to work together. The only difference I can see is that in one case it is the background, which remains transparent if I choose this approach, in the other it is the tree. In particular I am unsure what to make of the sentences “Mix up a light grey and apply this to the shapes formed by branches … Modulate this grey as you move away … “. I guess that this instruction is meant to apply to both paintings, but if I paint over either the positive or negative representation of the tree, it will mean to cover up the only real difference between the two. Since I understood the goal of this exercise to compare opaque and transparent approaches to painting a tree, I decided to – for the moment – ignore the above instruction and wait for tutor feedback. I got ready choosing two sheets of acrylic paper and mixing a dark wintery colour by combining primary magenta, gold ochre and bluegreen, with white or water to be added where required.

7 March, 2016. Finished the two paintings today, having decided to paint the apricot tree in our garden, which is getting ready to grow its buds.
Here are the results. On top is the “positive” tree, which I decided to paint with relative coarse brush strokes on top of the light grey opaque ground in order to make visible the bark characteristic of this species (Fig. 1).

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Figure 1. “Positive” tree: solid mix on top of opaque light grey ground

The dark wash prepared for the second part of the exercise I had to produce in two layers, otherwise it would not have been dark enough to compare to the solid colour in the first painting. I quite liked the brush strokes and decided to set them diagonally in order to emphasize the relative direction of growth of the tree (Fig. 2). Despite the help of charcoal it was not easy to reproduce the negative spaces correctly and I had to literally talk myself through the exercise. In a few places I painted over a twig, but most of it seems more or less correct.

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Figure 2. “Negative” tree: negative spaces painted with solid mix of light grey on dark semitransparent wash

I am unhappy with both paintings for the coarse approach to the subject, but again it may have been me misinterpreting the instructions.
Asked to assess the strengths and limitations of each technique I would – cautiously – assume that painting a positive object on a prepared ground will produce a more realistic feeling of space (object in front of background). The greater transparency of a background wash will most likely produce a more credible feeling of air, while a completely opaque background will suggest a dull day, probably in stifling weather. Also, I found that an object as complex as a tree is by far easier to paint positively. However, I like the effect produced by painting the negative spaces better. Probably due to my lack of practice in doing so the tree is more alive and seems to physically make contact with the air surrounding it. Since both paintings are silhouettes only, I am so far not able to compare the respective strengths of the two approaches regarding credible representations of trees.

What I also learned in this exercise was to be wary using acrylic paper. The “professional” paper I had bought rolls up in the most unfashionable way and is almost impossible to reshape. I had therefore to place a glass plate over the sheets in order to take the required photos and unfortunately could not get rid of all the reflections. Also, the colour is not quite correct and the brush strokes are hard to see. I will retake the photos if I am instructed to have another go at this exercise.

Part 1, project 2, exercise 3: Transparent and opaque – opaque colour mixing

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

3 March, 2016. The title of this exercise reminds me of a tough point we are, at the moment, trying to digest: the local legal authorities, which we have now contacted in the hope of a resolution we had hitherto been naive enough to believe to be accomplishable by talking to the hospital people and an out-of-court settlement, appear to, seemingly arbitrarily but no doubt with a goal in mind, select from and distort the crystal clear evidence we presented in the case of our son. It is like a painted story told in bright and transparent colours, which now becomes opaque and difficult to read by mixing in inappropriate paint. So I decided to use the skills learned in this exercise and the previous ones in this project to make an abstract painting telling the above story.

First however, I had to do the experiments mixing opaque colours. In order to try out the mixing technique described in the study guide (Open College of the Arts, 2011, p. 37) I nicked a flower tray from my husband’s collection and used a palette knife and medium sized brush to achieve an even mix of paint (Fig. 1). While this worked relatively well I was not happy about the amount of paint required to make mixing possible in the first place. I therefore compared with my old “palette” and mixing by intuition: the first attempt (Fig. 2 below) using ultramarine I did with the new method, the bluegreen one (Fig. 3 below) with the old method. Since I think that the intuitive method works better for me, I will not, at least for the moment, use the tray.

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Figure 1. New mixing tray on the left
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Figure 2. Ultramarine opaque mixing using pre-mixed paint
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Figure 3. Bluegreen opaque mixing using intuitive method

The only immediately obvious differences to the transparent washes made during the first exercise were, on the one hand, a more even result, since I guess that paint is less readily absorbed by the paper than water, so there was more time to correct the transitions, and on the other hand, a more homogenous surface produced by the thicker layers of paint.

Next I prepared a bluegreen opaque layer and after that had become completely dry painted over that an ochre opaque layer. Here the difference was, as was to be expected, striking: The transparent wash allowed both colours to really stand out (Fig. 4, left), while the large proportion of white paint in the opaque mix subdued the colours (Fig. 4, right). The result has more body, however. It may therefore be possible to paint a form using opaque mixes and then go over the result with glazes of the same colours. This, if done correctly, should allow the creation of quite stunning representational paintings.

4_Bluegreen_ochre_comparison
Figure 4. Bluegreen-ochre mixes: left: transparent washes, right: opaque layers

In order to see whether it would make a difference to the result, if I did not let the first layer to become dry first, I prepared another sheet using ultramarine and pure yellow. Although the first layer was definitely wet at the time of painting over it, the addition of white to the yellow layer nearly blocked out the ultramarine (Fig. 5). A wet-in-wet technique using this set of media and supports may therefore not be achievable.

5_ultramarine_pureyellow_wet
Figure 5. Wet-in-wet opaque mixing of ultramarine and pure yellow

In order to see whether leaving out the white from an opaque mixing would cure the above effect, I had another go at vermillion and sap green (Fig. 6):

6_sapgreen_vermillion_wet
Figure 6. Vermillion and sap green mixes: left: transparent wash, right: opaque mixing without white

It was immediately obvious that for some reason the vermillion in the opaque mix somehow “lost the battle” against the sap green. Only at the far end of the sheet, where I used vermillion only it started to radiate. As long as there was any green in the mix, no matter how little, it would become olive green. The transparent wash, on the other hand, retained the brilliance of the individual colours except for a central band, where the mix would appear grey. I am not sure whether in this case the opaque and transparent mixes would go well together. It seems as if there were excluded combinations and I will try and find out why.

Finally, returning to my initial thoughs for this exercise, I produced my legal authorities painting using bluegreen and gold ochre. I used, for the first time in my life, acrylic paper, put on some parallel strips of masking tape, painted over that with a transparent wash of bluegreen (as in exercise 1). After this had become dry, I removed the tape (damaging the paper in the process as some of the surface came off with the tape, but made it more interesting that way) and put on some more tapes at a 90° angle. Over this I painted another transparent layer, this time using ochre. This I left to dry, then started experimenting with opaque layers. When these had become dry again, I put on transparent washes to see how the different mixes would behave (Fig. 7):


There were many different interesting effects, but the best in my opinion was the blue ball (Fig. 8). The final glazing with a very dilute wash of ochre produced a beautiful, vivid sheen, which had not been there while it had just been an opaque mix of bluegreen and white. Interestingly, the opposite, the ochre and white opaque ball glazed with bluegreen was not nearly as successful. I will have to remember this effect and do more testing of appropriate colours throughout the course.

13_Justice7
Figure 8. Bluegreen and white opaque ball glazed with transparent wash of gold ochre

References:

Open College of the Arts (2011) Painting 1. The Practice of Painting. The Bridgeman Art Library, London, New York, Paris, p. 37.