Assignment 2: Self-evaluation

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

26 June 2016. This time I did not forget to provide my tutor with large-size images of my blog photos on my Dropbox account and therefore, hopefully, she will be able to see better the details.
27 June 2016. I have just been informed that I will be assigned a new tutor, since my previous tutor has resigned from her job. I can only hope that my work so far meets with the expectations of my new tutor.

1. Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I think that I have made some progress in my approach to planning exercises and assignments. After a lot of guesswork from the start of Drawing 1 until about now I think that finally I have understood the principles of using a sketchbook for the work preceding a larger painting. Also, I can understand now why many fellow students will only reluctantly add a blog to their sketchbook logs. The latter are so much easier to keep, straightforward to use and will take any sort of awkward stuff and notes without producing any error messages. They are wonderful things to flick though and provide instantaneous reference. And since my handwriting is something only I can read a lot of the time I can put in all sorts of stupid ideas and side thoughts without having to feel embarrassed.

After a few disasters with using acrylic medium for dilution purposes I think that I am now using my acrylic paint with more confidence. I know now how important it is to keep paint not just moist but wet at all times and to take care to mix water and paint thoroughly before applying it to canvas. I am also, after an incredibly long time in the dark, getting more familiar with my brushes, so not all mark-making results are accidental any more.

At the same time I find that I become increasingly familiar with the requirements of a (more or less) successful setup. I find that my sketching and watercolour abilities are much better developed than my abilities in painting with acrylics, so my preliminary sketches appear much more interesting and probably better than my socalled finished work.

I am also becoming more familiar with the work of some artists, whose ideas and style have started to influence my own work. In this assignment, for example, I produced a background reminding me of Mark Rothko in order to exploit the mutual influence colours have so as to create the illusion of force or movement in an otherwise static setup.

2. Quality of outcome

I think that I prepared thoroughly for this task, having produced a large amount of research both on the meaning of colours and still life artists, as well as several preliminary studies during the exercises leading up to this assignment. Still I am not convinced that the quality of the outcome is what I would have liked to see. Problems occurring during the preparatory work showed me the importance of being absolutely clear about my intentions especially if my task extends beyond a purely representational painting. In planning the assignment piece I was quite convinced about the feasibility of my idea, but my grasp of colour relationships is not yet reliable enough to guide me safely through the development stage of a painting. In this assignment I think that my very small preparatory watercolour sketch has a higher quality than the finished piece. Despite all this I am happy to be able now to somehow communicate with a developing painting and overcome my fear of destroying something I may not be able to recreate in case the new idea was worse than the one from which it emerged.

3. Demonstration of creativity

As in most of my works I think it essential that they contain a message. The idea for painting poisonous cocktails occurred to me while describing another hair-raising point in the endless story about our son, us and the hospital. As a caricaturist I am used to playing with the meaning of words and one of my long-term goals is to be able one day to do a similar thing by painting alone. I think that my message coming with this assignment might be called creative, but not so the actual painting. I still have not arrived at a point where I think my acrylic painting skills are sufficiently developed to allow a more adventurous approach regarding the use of painting media and techniques. Still I was able to use insights taken from all exercises in Part 2 of the course to apply them in a useful and hopefully believable way (colour relationships, contrast, negative space etc.)

4. Context reflection

I have become increasingly aware of the immense value of researching the work of other artists in preparing my own. Since I am clearer now with my intentions it has become easier to take aboard the respective messages of the artists I have come across so far in the course of my studies. As with any field of knowledge I find that the more I know, the more readily and easily my mind will form bridges and associations, which will then increasingly allow me to find informed solutions for a given problem. Hopefully these will, one day, replace the guesswork I find myself struggling with at the moment, since only when my work stops being arbitrary it will start being truly creative.

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Assignment 2: Poisonous cocktails

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

22 June 2016. Due to an immense amount of work and dates to be kept outside the OCA I needed to be very careful with the time I have to prepare for Assignment 2. Therefore I am glad that I have done lots of preliminary research and work in my exercises leading up to this assignment. Since my first attempt at a setup showing aggression by movement and choice of colour was not exactly successful I need to change both. So I had a look at Giorgio Morandi and his “communicating vessels” (The Art Story, 2017) and found that the spouts of jugs are incredibly useful in creating the illusion of a talkative atmosphere. I will therefore add at least one of these to my setup.
When looking for “aggressive setups” for still lifes I came once again across the cubists and Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973, Spain) “Mandolin and Guitar” painted in 1924. The aggression comes, besides the bold mark-making, from the positioning of the objects, which form a mask-like face. Picasso painted another still life, which seems to be more or less tumbling out of its frame “The Vase, Bowl and Lemon” (Picasso, 1907). This reminds me of my attempt at doing the same and neither his nor my painting convince me regarding the communicating vessel aspect. The red and yellow bowl does seem to both hide behind the green bottle and appear cheeky by “rolling the lemon out”. The green bottle appears to back off by seemingly hiding a “face” (the brown opening) behind the blue cloth on the left. The red colour of the bowl, although in the same picture plane as the green bottle, seems to push forward, out of the painting. This effect reminds me of Mark Rothko’s (1903-1970, USA) studies, where black automatically takes the position apparently furthest “inside” the picture on the lowest possible plane, whereas red comes out to appear to hang in mid-air above the actual plane (see e.g. Artsy, 2017). My original choice of colours was not completely wrong, but in order to be able to manage the multitude of interconnected effects I will have to reduce objects and colours considerably.
24 June 2016. So, changing my setup while remembering to still serve poisonous cocktails, then doing preliminary sketches in pencil and watercolour. Prepare the Rothko-like background, paint on that with a brush with different colours and let the picture develop.
The following photo sequence (Fig. 1-5) shows how far I have got today and irrespective of the possible final quality of the painting I am pleased that I can stick with my planning now, including using the sketchbook for collecting annotated cutouts and computer prints.

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Figure 1. Setup through viewfinder

The red OCA tissue paper behind the decanter gives an impression of a forward movement. When comparing this with my first pencil sketch to test the setup, the difference without the added colour is striking. It lack that particular illusion of movement:

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Figure 2. Pencil sketch with Rothko-type background tonal values

So, my choice of colours depended on the following idea: If I have a Rothko-type background, a red area should automatically push forward. If I put some of the glasses on that background and choose my colours so as to enhance this effect, I might be able to create the illusion of relative movement when e.g. comparing with a subdued vessel on a black background. In order to test my idea I made a quick watercolour sketch. The red area does indeed push forward and the orange watercolour pencil used to reinforce the decanter increases that impression. The same is true for the smaller bottle on the left. I am not convinced, however, of the strength of the black area, but this may be due to the bottle outlined in blue reaching over the top and bottom end of that area:

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Figure 3. Watercolour-watercolour pencil sketch to decide on colours

Next I prepared my background with acrylics on an A2 painting carton, landscape format. It was next to impossible to take a photo that would not show the reflective surface in some way, so the colours are not exact, especially the black looks blue and the red area does not look as strong as it really is:

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Figure 4. Rothko-type background on A2 painting carton

The first coloured sketch of my objects went relatively well, but since a lot of thinking is involved here I will have to give it a short break in order to let my idea develop further. I quite like how the red of the background seems to have somehow invaded the decanter and seems to push it towards the viewer. I will need to take care to balance the picture, however, especially the bottle in the black area, whose top needs to be far less strong. I am also not sure yet whether I want the violet-blue between decanter and conical glass changed. At the moment it does help to push the decanter, but it gives it a far to prominent position while holding the green glass back, and I have not found out yet why that may be. Also, I will need to think carefully how strong the glass in the bottom left corner can become without tipping over the balance:

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Figure 5. Brush sketch on background

27 June 2016. Today I was informed that I would be transferred to another tutor, since my former tutor had resigned from her post. Since I am not even halfway through Painting 1 yet I hope to be able to adapt quickly to a new tutoring style and that the respective expectations are not too divergent.

I also continued with my painting, trying to carefully think about the above ideas and how to give them weight in dealing with the developing work. So, first of all, I changed the shape of the red area to make it less prominent and by coincidence it started looking like a  brightly lit room behind a dimly lit bar. This change required changes to be made to the lighting of the objects in the foreground. None of that is real and I had to rely on my intuition in placing tonal values. Also, there is now a contradiction in the painting. While red pushes forward, its place here is at the far back. I think that it does work, because the decanter is also filled with it. The funny thing here is that it looks by far better in the photo than in the actual painting (Fig. 6):

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Figure 6. Front room added to the bar, requiring many subtle changes to the objects

Then I tried to reduce the reddish glow of the decanter, since it continued to be a far too dominant feature in the setting. Again it looks much better on the photo than on the painting) (Fig. 7):

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Figure 7. Decanter subdued, changes to the bottles on the left

Finally I remembered to fill the vessels with the remnants of my poisonous cocktails and this change allowed the balance among the objects to be shifted. By removing much of the glow inside the decanter the glassware appears much more delicate now. The glass on the right has started to look somewhat like the aggressive intruder I wanted it to be. This makes it believable that the blue glass on the bottom left appears to be leaving the scene by the forward action initiated by the intruder. The movement across the canvas is probably not totally convincing yet, but I am happy that I found a way of suggesting such an action at all (Fig. 8).

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Figure 8. Finished painting

Here are some details (Fig. 9-11):

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Figure 9. Detail 1: Bottle top and decanter spout
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Figure 10. Reflections on decanter and table-top
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Figure 11. Red light shining through glass onto table-top

Considering that most of the contents of this painting is purely from imagination I am quite happy with the outcome. There are several places, which do not look quite right yet, e.g. when looking closely the red wine left in the decanter needs its surface extended to the right. Also my style of painting is still not consistent over the whole surface, although I think I am making some progress in that respect.
The last day for submitting Assignment 2 to my previous tutor is the 30th of June. I decided to stick to that date during the “interregnum”, but I expect to be allocated a new/later date by my new tutor. In that case I might return to the painting once more and see whether I might improve it further.

Resources:

Artsy (2017) Mark Rothko [online]. Artsy, New York. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artist/mark-rothko [Accessed 04 Mar 2017]

Picasso, P. (1907) Vase, Bowl and Lemon [oil on panel] [online]. Private Collection. Available at: http://www.bridgemanimages.com/en-GB/asset/218851/picasso-pablo-1881-1973/pitcher-bowl-and-lemon-1907-oil-on-panel/ [Accessed 04 Mar 2017]

Picasso, P. (1924) Mandolin and Guitar [oil and sand on canvas] [online]. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/3441 %5BAccessed 04 Mar 2017]

The Art Story Contributors (2017) Giorgio Morandi Artist Overview and Analysis [online]. The Art Story, New York. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-morandi-giorgio-artworks.htm [Accessed 03 Mar 2017]

Part 2, project 4, exercise 2: Drawing and painting interiors – simple perspective in interior studies

Updated on 3 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

23 June 2016. As planned during the last exercise I chose the garage view on our barbecue and the cupboard behind it and produced an elongated drawing with a dark green mix of brown and blue-green acrylic modulated with white and black. Since there were nearly two weeks between the start and the end of this exercise, with lots of doctors’ and hospital appointments and one of my oldest friends, from Iceland, staying for nearly a week, I did not completely immerse into this task. Still I am not unhappy with it. The view is quite complex with lots of shelves and so I was glad to have chosen a quasi monochrome option. What I really like in the finished drawing is the way the barbecue both shines and stands out from the rest of the room despite having been drawn with nothing but bold strokes. I could have spent a lot more time on this exercise, but I think that the main layout, shapes and proportions are fine, and also I will need the next days to concentrate on Assignment 2 to avoid having to ask for an extension. Here is the sequence (Fig. 1-3:

I think that I managed to indicate clearly the direction of the light source (daylight coming in from an invisible door just to the right of the cupboard). What I noticed just now, when putting the photos in this blog, was that the shadow cast by the wheel of the barbecue at the back is not believable. It looks as if it did not touch the floor. Also two weak shadows cast by the garden hose on the floor are missing, but they would be important to define floor space. Maybe I will come back to this drawing/painting when preparing for assessment next year.

By the way, when having had a preparatory look at the blogs of fellow OCA students doing this exercise I admired the beautiful solution found by fellow student Stuart Brownlee (2014). Trying not to be envious :o).

References:

Brownlee, S. (2014) Part 2 – Exercise 15: simple perspective in interior studies [blog] [online]. Available at: https://stuartbrownleeoca.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/part-2-exercise-15-simple-perspective-in-interior-studies/ [Accessed 3 March 2017]

Sketchbook: some more 10 minute sketches

Updated on 3 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 June 2016. Time to make an update on my while-I-wait 10 minute sketches (Fig. 1-8):

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Figure 1. The “skyline” of Lehen, ink pen and watercolour (30 mins)
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Figure 2. Old elder bush at the playground (20 mins)

Sketching makes me quietly happy, it has become rare now for drawings to go completely wrong and I think that I am finally making some progress regarding my choice of subject and rudimentary composition. It has also increasingly turned into a precious refuge, where time stands still and there is no room for worries.

Research point: The basics of linear perspective

Updated on 3 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

9 June 2016. I have had to write about linear perspective on several occasions before and this time I decided will take the risk and not repeat the usual “receding lines – vanishing point – horizon” triad, but report my own very private discovery of the “secrets” of 3D drawing when I was a kid.

I come from a family of artists and when I was very little, kindergarten age at the most, I received my first practical drawing lessons by my dad, who is a sculptor. These included drawing fiercely into my own work (causing many tears) and merciless comments on the artistic abilities of our preschool teacher, who doubtlessly did mean well. Being so small, I decided I did not want any more judgmental lessons on perspective (and wet-in-wet technique, and the respective virtues of the master builders of the churches in Salzburg, and countless others), and obstinate as I used to be, I decided to teach myself my own way.

It did not take me long to discover that there is no secret behind perspective whatsoever. You just pretend that the three-dimensional space unrolling before your eyes is there already in two dimensions and then you do nothing but follow the outlines of objects, or whatever method you choose to catch them on paper, as you see them. You do not need any construction lines and vanishing points, because it all falls into place by itself, effortlessly and beautifully. The only thing you do have to think about is choosing an interesting view.

It is so incredibly simple that I cannot understand why so much technical fuss is made over the subject. I admit that changing one’s method so radically means some mental effort and, what is probably the most important aspect of them all, you MUST draw what you see. There is no “But I know that the roof of a house slopes in identical ways to the left and right, so both the roof gutters must be in the same position heightwise, on the paper”. This does not work. It is so much easier: do not switch on your analytical brain, but let your eyes guide your pencil along the outlines, or if you prefer that, tonally different shapes.

I hope that this does not get me into trouble with OCA, but I wanted to share my technique, so that maybe fellow students can try it out and see whether it works for them as well as it does for me. By the way, our older son, now 23, made the same discovery completely on his own, when he was about six years old. Maybe there is a natural inclination for seeing the world in particular ways.

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Part 2, project 4, exercise 1: Drawing and painting interiors – quick sketches around the house

Updated on 2 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

9 June 2016. Now the dreaded time has come again when I am asked to walk round our house on the look for interesting views. Last year, during Drawing 1, I struggled immensely with the pleasing, but awkward to draw or paint, layout of our house. There are practically no views which are not obstructed by parts of the house in a more than inconvenient way. The layout is open, but there are stairs everywhere, which means that it is just these stairs, interesting as the idea might be in general, which render a view awkward. At the moment, for example, I am sitting at my desk in the open office. I am able to look down a flight of stairs into the living room, but can only see half the width of the staircase, the rest is blocked by a piece of wall in the office. At the same time I can see, from underneath, the stairs leading to my workshop. The edge of the ceiling in our living room is where the bottom of these stairs rests and this edge cuts off about one third of the view through the patio door. In a drawing or painting this looks extremely weird, as if I had got my proportions wrong. This is the case practically everywhere in the house, so I had no other choice than have a look in the garage …

Asked to make very quick sketches in my A4 sketchbook using a pencil (rather than my beloved ink pen) I produced 4 sketches each from a standing, then a seated position, turning 45° between sketches. Since there is not a lot of room in the garage, I had to go for a relatively elongated format in order to create a rudimentary illusion of space.

In the images (Fig. 1a-d) below there is first the set from the standing position, top left with lawnmower and cable, hose and some garden tools, top right with barbecue and wet vacuum cleaner behind it, bottom left a failed view on the garden hose, bottom right a likewise failed straight-on view of half of our ping pong table and a bag of hydrophobic cement :o):

Next the seated versions, trying to keep the viewing angles identical (Fig. 2a-d):


Two of the above views I guess might be more or less suitable to use in a painting. Shapes and negative spaces looked most interesting in the view containing the barbecue. In addition, there was a quite nice distorted reflection of the garage door into the garden on the barbecue’s lid. If combining the standing up and seated version to produce a deliberately elongated format, this might be an interesting project. But again, trying to learn from failures in the not too distant past, I must remind myself to keep things simple …

Research point: Genre painting

Updated on 2 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

5 June 2016. Feeling that I rather want to paint my own interior I embarked on some research regarding the painting of (external) rooms through the times, staring with the Dutch realist genre painters. In order to connect with my own mood I chose examples, where I believe I could read a connection between outer and inner spaces from a painting.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, genre painting deals with the realistic analysis of everyday life and is devoid of imagination, idealisation or a narrative . The period lasted from roughly 1500 until 1960. Its beginnings coincided with the Reformation, the decline of the importance of religious art and concomitant rise of private art lovers and customers (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010; Collins, n.d.(a)).
A famous early genre painter was the Flemish artist Quentin Matsys (1466-1530, Belgium), with his intriguing work “The Money Lender and His Wife” (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Quentin Matsys: “The Money Lender and His Wife”, 1514, oil on panel. Source: Quentin Matsys (1466-1530) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Matsys was well known for his exuberant realism in his depiction of the physical appearance and mental state of the people he portrayed in their surroundings, which made him one of the early caricaturists and thus of great interest to me. The above painting is full of religious and moral symbolism (Bloom, 2007). For the purpose of this exercise, however, we are supposed not to analyse the ideas behind a painting, but the technical aspects employed to let the viewer connect with the experience made by the portrayed persons. Most obvious in this task is the enormous detail in all parts of the painting, making the viewer a keen observer by sitting at the table with the couple. At the same time, the painter includes every possible support to the viewer as to the possible meaning of the painting. It is obvious that the couple are in a way concerned with the buying or selling of valuable items, since the man on the left appears to not only to guess at the value of the item he is holding in his left hand, but at the same time to practically “feel” the balancing vlaue of the coin in his right hand. It is very likely that a contemporary viewer will have felt more at home with the furnishings of the time, in particular they would have been able to read from it much more of the social status of the depicted couple. From my own perspective, if I did not know the title of the painting, I might be tempted to suspect, from the quietly worried look on the lady’s face, that financial problems are forcing a wealthy couple to sell some of their belongings.

Particularly appealing to me from a technical aspect is also the work of Baroque painter Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten (1627-1678, Netherlands) (Fig. 2). Linear perspective is masterly applied by him, so that the viewer feels an impulse to enter the spaces prepared for him. In the painting below, the artist includes many items on the way, some of which only partly visible, which make it easy and interesting to follow the sequence of rooms through the various doorways. Although clearly a genre painting, there is still a narrative. A cage is hanging from the archway, from which a parrot is about to leave (pointing towards a wealthy household, since the owning of exotic animals would not have been a regular sight at the time). The dog seems to be unsure whether he should be welcoming the visitor (the viewer?), more so than the cat with its arched back and the people sitting in the next room, who do not seem to pay any attention whatsoever to the newcomer. It also seems obvious that the people are not expecting visitors, since a dust mop has not been cleared away and something or other has not been picked up from the stairs. Shadows, running into the scenery in the first room, block the visitor’s step in the next room, and thus force the eye to follow a designed path. The room right at the back seems somewhat unconnected, also by design. In my impression it appears to suggest, even with the door open and warm, welcoming colours employed, that it is out of bounds for the visitor.

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Figure 2. Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten: “View of a Corridor”, 1662, oil on canvas. Source: Samuel Dirksz van Hoogstraten (1627-1678) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675, Netherlands), on the other hand, draws the viewer into the painting below, “Officer and Laughing Girl” (Fig. 3), among other techniques, by his masterly transportation of a feeling of intimacy (Liedke, 2003; Collins, n.d.(b)). To me, the position of the soldier in the shade and his body posture suggest that he would not appreciate additional people at the table (technically, the placing of an object in the left or right foreground to create depth is known as “repoussoir” (Sloofman (2009)). The girl, on the other hand, appears to connect with the soldier only at a first glance. When examining her face more closely, her eyes look past the soldier and her smile does not appear totally honest. In my opinion, she feels uncomfortable in the soldier’s presence, which makes her hold onto the glass in her hand, and the (negative) space left between the two makes a viewer like me want to step into the encounter to save the girl some embarassment. I may be totally wrong, however.

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Figure 3. Johannes Vermeer: “Officer and Laughing Girl”, 1657-58, oil painting. Source: Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

18th century Rococo painter Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779, France) followed the tradition, but chose mundane, seemingly simple subjects. In the painting below (Fig. 4), the scenery seems a bit depressing. It appears that the lady’s everyday occupation includes an exhausting amount of peeling turnips. The viewer is drawn into the scene not least by a feeling of sympathy for the lady’s fate. Since she is very obviously not concentrating on her work, the artist provides the viewer with an opportunity to speculate about the reason. The meat cleaver on the chopping block (very cleverly highlighted by a tiny sport of white) is a very rough object to inlcude in a domestic scene. I suspect that it may be an allusion to war and thus it may not be difficult to guess at the thoughts of the woman. Technically, the painter made it very easy for the viewer to enter the scene via an open stretch of floor without real or symbolic obstructions.

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Figure 4. Jean Siméon Chardin: “Woman Peeling Turnips”, c.1738, oil on canvas. Source: Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
For reasons of personal interest in caricature, I again include William Hogarth (1667-1764, England) (8), who became famous for his satirical view on the world (Benenson, 2010). Below a detail from his painting “The Gate of Calais” (Fig. 5). While part of a much larger scene, this detail carries all attributes of a genre painting. To me there appear to be several routes into this part of the painting, the strongest probably the giant lump of meat next to the horrible friar’s face, together with his greedy hands – the shape of which is probably replicated in the pointed ends of the portcullis, though which the head of a procession is visible.

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Figure 5. William Hogarth: “O, The Roast Beef of Old England”, 1748, oil on canvas (detail). Source: William Hogarth (1667-1764) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Moving into the 19th century, I became aware of Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) (Galitz, 2009), the leading realist painter in France at that time, and his painting “The Grain Sifters” (1854, Fig. 5). To me, the scene appears to be overly dramatic for the subject, while providing no way into the space for the viewer. To me, the girl in the red dress seems to carry a message on her back, reading: “We are not interested, leave us alone. We hate the work we do and we do not want you to see us doing it.” Which may be in line with Courbet’s interest in the working conditions of the poor.

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Figure 5. Gustave Courbet: “The Grain Sifters”, 1854, oil on canvas. Source: Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Funnily enough, the style and subjects of genre painters seemed to be relatively resistant to major change and radical influence far into the 20th century. Max Liebermann (1847-1935) (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2011), for example, had no different view on domestic scenes than his colleagues in past centuries. August Macke (1887-1914) (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2005), during his incredibly short career to be ended by war, adapted his style somewhat to a mix of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Fauvism, but in my opinion a funny out-of-place feeling of the subject remains (Fig. 6).

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Figure 6. August Macke: “Two Girls”, 1913, oil on canvas. Source: August Macke (1887-1914) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Maybe the defined limitedness of the subject does not allow a step to be made away from the traditional. Today, interestingly, any realistic portrayal of domestic life appears somewhat heroic, see e.g. the work of US artist Norman Rockwell (1894-1978, USA) (Collins, n.d.(c)), one of the last representatives of genre painting, known as social realism (The Art Story, n.d.) during the early 20th century, before it finally died away.

Resources:

Benenson, S. E. (2010) William Hogarth [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/William-Hogarth [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Bloom, J. An Inventory of Polarities: Quentin Metsys’s The Money Lender and His Wife [blog] [online]. John Bloom, San Francisco. Available at: http://transformingmoney.blogspot.co.at/2007/02/inventory-of-polarities-quentin-metsyss.html [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Chardin, J. B. (1738) Woman Peeling Turnips [oil on canvas] [online]. Alte Pinakothek, Munich. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Baptiste-Sim%C3%A9on_Chardin [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Courbet, C. (1855) The Grain Sifters [oil on canvas] [online]. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustave_Courbet_014.jpg [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Collins, N. (n.d.(a)) Genre Painting [online]. Visual Arts Encyclopedia, Cork. Available at: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/genres/genre-painting.htm [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Collins, N. (n.d.(b)) Soldier and a Laughing Girl [online]. Visual Arts Encyclopedia, Cork. Available at: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-paintings/soldier-and-laughing-girl.htm [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Collins, N. (n.d.(c)) Norman Rockwell [online]. Visual Arts Encyclopedia, Cork. Available at: http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/famous-artists/norman-rockwell.htm [Accessed 2 March 2017]

Galitz, K. C. (2009) Gustave Courbet [online]. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/gust/hd_gust.htm [Accessed 2 March 2017]

Hogarth, W. (1748) O, the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’) [oil on canvas] [online]. Tate Britain. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gate_of_Calais#/media/File:William_Hogarth_-_O_the_Roast_Beef_of_Old_England_%28%27The_Gate_of_Calais%27%29_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Macke, A. (1913) Two Girls [oil on canvas] [online]. Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Available at:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1913_Macke_Zwei_M%C3%A4dchen_anagoria.JPG [Accessed 2 March 2017]

Matsys, Q. (1514) The Money Lender and His Wife [oil on panel] [online]. Louvre, Paris. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Money_Changer_and_His_Wife#/media/File:Quentin_Massys_001.jpg [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Sloofman, H. (2009) Art Technique of the Week [blog] [online]. The Smithsonian Studio Arts Blog. Available at: http://startstudioarts.si.edu/2009/09/art-technique-of-the-week-repoussoir.html [Accessed 2 March 2017]

The Art Story (n.d.) Social Realism [online]. The Art Story, New York. Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-social-realism.htm [Accessed 5 June 2016]

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2005) August Macke [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/August-Macke [Accessed 2 March 2017]

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2010) Genre Painting [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/art/genre-painting [Accessed 5 June 2016]

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2011) Max Liebermann [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available at:  https://www.britannica.com/biography/Max-Liebermann [Accessed 2 March 2017]

van Hoogstraten, S.D. (1662) View of a Corridor [oil on canvas] [online]. National Trust, Dyrham Park. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:View_of_a_Corridor_1662_Samuel_van_Hoogstraten.jpg [Accessed 5 June 2016]Vermeer, J. (c. 1657) Officer and Laughing Girl [oil on canvas] [online]. The Frick Collection, New York. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2e/Johannes_Vermeer_-_De_Soldaat_en_het_Lachende_Meisje_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg [Accessed 5 June 2016]

Part 2, project 3, exercise 5: Colour relationships – Still life with colour used to evoke mood

Updated on 2 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

28 May 2016. Working towards my plan for Assignment 2 I want to use this exercise to explore the relative aggressiveness of colours. Using the same setup as in the previous exercise I would like to convey an aggressive mood by making both slight adaptations to my setup, e.g. the relative positions of my cocktail glasses and accessories, using strong brushstrokes, and, most important, a set of appropriate colours.

Referring to my own blog post on colour symbolism (Lacher-Bryk, 2016) and preliminary ideas regarding Assignment 2 I will do the following: Combine purple black and grey in a background consisting of a very dimly lit detail of a chessboard to achieve a gloomy atmosphere, on which the aggressiveness or gentleness of the other colours is also highly visible.

When looking for any artists exposing themselves to the subject of aggression in their paintings, regardless of the quality of their works of art, they have in common the use of red and black, the use of strong and wild brush strokes and a predilection for exposed teeth in their subjects. This is not the kind of aggression I am looking for. I would like to be able to raise an aggressive atmosphere with something as harmless as a set of cocktail glasses. So looking for other methods:
It is vitally important to create movement towards the attacked object, see e.g. the painting “Abstract Aggression” (2014) by Pratik Chavan (*?, India) or “Three Roots that Obscure” (2015) by Hildy Maze (*?, USA) or even in an untitled work (2011) by Martin Bromirski (*?, USA). In the latter the aggression becomnes visible only at second glance. The shapes and pointed cutouts appear to move in a particular way that evokes a feeling of uneasiness, althought the main colours, blue and yellow, would suggest otherwise. The use of aggressive colours like red to me feels more effective if used sparingly rather than by covering the whole canvas. Apart from the above I did not find too many works of art giving me a lot of new aspects to think about. Being human, we instinctively know all about aggression (I just had another look at Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973, Spain) “Guernica” (1937)) and we can read its signposts very well. For me, the task is to find my own way of transporting it to canvas. Since my previous steps of working towards a finished piece seemed to work quite well, I am going to repeat and possibly correct and refine them.
First of all I will add to the setup some of the ingredients I am planning to use in the assignment piece, i.e. a Belladonna cherry and ivy leaves and use my sketchbook to play with the relative positions of my cocktail glasses with respect to each other and the imaginary chessboard background. In particular, I would like the whole arrangement to appear to to move in a panic towards the viewer by creating an impression of overbalancing “out of the canvas”.

4 June 2016. What a week and no painting. Today, finally, I managed to finish this exercise with a less than satisfying result. In notice that every time something very demanding happens on the hospital front it takes me ages to return to an already started painting. This time it was worse than I ever experienced before, we even thought about quitting our fight altogether, but then, looking at our son, we just must not give up.
Last week we got some ivy and having played around with my arrangement I noticed that it would have to be either chessboard or ivy to avoid crowding and loss of message. And since it is the ivy that is poisonous it was easy to let go of the chessboard. So this is the sequence, on A2 acrylic paper as in the previous exercise (Fig. 1-6):

1_setup
Figure 1. Setup through my viewfinder
2_first_layer
Figure 2. Intuitive first layer of colours
3_second_layer
Figure 3. Strengthening the colours, taking back the 3D impression
4_finished_painting
Figure 4. Finished painting
5_finished_painting_detail1
Figure 5. Finished painting, detail with complementary and similar colours
6_finished_painting_detail2
Figure 6. Finished painting, creating space without using perspective

In summary I very much enjoy this new way of painting, but my brushstrokes are so inconfident and change with every object I paint, and even when I paint over an old layer, that the result is less than convincing. I do feel, however, that I start recognizing the weakest bits and after having dealt with them I find the next weakest bits. This means that I could go round and round in circles and never finish this exercise. Hopefully learning takes place here, too.

Comparing the result of this exercise with the previous one: It was definitely easier to paint with two complementary colours and white only. In this exercise I spent a long time thinking about the juxtaposition of colours in connection with the message I had in my mind. I did not refer to the setup again after having produced a pencil sketch and drawn the outlines on my paper, because I wanted to see whether intuition would be capable of taking over the final choice of colours and the position of additional – and imaginary – accessories in creating an aggressive atmosphere. This was probably the mistake, because I feel that I am not ready yet for such a complex task, but I will go ahead with my plan for Assignment 2 nevertheless. I owe it to my son.

Resources:

Bromirski, M. (2011) Untitled [n.k.] [online painting]. Martin Bromirski, New York. Available at: http://www.painters-table.com/link/structure-and-imagery/martin-bromirski-rachel-labine-elizabeth-riley [Accessed 2 March 2017]

Chavan, P. (2014) Abstract Aggression [n.k.] [online painting]. Pratik Chavan, Mumbai. Available at: http://www.touchtalent.com/painting/art/abstract-aggression-231846 [Accessed 2 March 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Part 2, project 3, exercise 4: Colour Relationships – Still Life With Complementary Colours [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/part-2-project-3-exercise-4-colour-relationships-still-life-with-complementary-colours/ [Accessed 1 March 2017]

Maze, H. (2015) Three Roots That Obscure – Aggression, Passion, Ignorance [oil on paper] [online]. [n.k.]. Available at: http://hildymaze.com/artwork/3780677-three-roots-that-obscure-passion-aggression-ignorance.html [Accessed 28 May 2016]

Picasso, P. (1937) Guernica [oil on canvas] [online]. Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid. Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/PicassoGuernica.jpg [Accessed 28 May 2016]