Preparation for Assessment: A second attempt at a shadow entering a house dedicated to “learning the pattern”

27 Febuary 2017. In my Assignment 5 feedback my tutor stated, with respect to my inadequate processes of project development, that “I have the skills, but I need to learn the pattern”. In order to see whether I would be able to include in my assessment submission a learning sequence as expected by assessors, I produced this belated addition to the investigatory process relating to shadows entering houses, which I had done predominantly on a photo basis due to a long spell of extremely cold weather in January. My tutor had asked in her feedback, whether I could “afford” to try and work as faintly as Luc Tuymans in his 2004 painting “The Window” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017 and Fig. 1 below). To see what sort of development the intriguing word “afford” might trigger in someone like me, I was curious to to find out where it would take me:

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Figure 1. Sketchbook

While I am not sure whether Tuymans’s painting relates to shadows or reflections or possibly both, I understand that this kind of approach demands processes of deconstruction from both artist and viewer and helps to raise in the viewer an interest in engaging themselves with possible messages at a more than purely superficial level.
In order to start the process, I went back to my original photo of my shadow entering an old farmhouse, had one quick look at it, then started experimenting in my sketchbook. First I went to have another look at different artists and their very own methods. I found that on most occasions shadows were emphasized, not reduced, and made part of a vivid composition. The images below (Fig. 2) were taken from a review of an exhibition on show in 2008/09 in the Kunsthalle Wien, “Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art” (Kalafudra’s Stuff, 2009). Shadows were in all cases inseparable from their “producers”, the human shapes, so I would need to find a very different approach.

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Figure 2. Sketchbook: Some black and white Impressions from exhibition “Western Motel”

In order to set up a first compositional scaffolding I decided that I would start off with a charcoal sketch (Fig. 3) to identify dark and light areas as appearing in my memory. I quite like how the charcoal, with great ease, provides both mass and ethereal components. In my photo there had only been my own shadow, but I soon realized that I would want to include another, cast by a passer-by, as I had experienced on a number of occasions on my photo tour in January. At the same time, always with my goal of wanting to have a faint final result, I came up with the idea of including a living form on top of that faint painting. I therefore investigated how a dog, walking on a lead with the person passing by and at the same time in interaction with that person’s shadow, could add interest to my composition. I really like the idea but will have to avoid overloading the painting with messages:

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Figure 3. Charcoal sketch

In order to see how my provisional ideas could be arranged on the canvas I produced a sequence of rough acrylic sketches investigating possible viewpoints and painting methods (Fig. 4):

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Figure 4. Sketchbook: Acrylic sketches. Top row: Positive shadows, bottom row: negative shadows

In the top row of Fig. 4 I painted the shadows in black on a whitish background, in the bottom row I used the negative technique introduced much earlier in the course (Lacher-Bryk, 2016). While I did not like the painted results after the charcoal I immediately saw that I would want to continue with the negative technique, since it produced a much more energetic and at the same time believable result. I also had the idea of having the dog being interested in me rather than its owner, so a connection would become visible between my world and that outside. The bottom right setup appeared the most promising and versatile to continue working with, to I did another sketch, this time filling a sketchbook page and continuing further by experimenting with making the result faint (Fig. 5-7):

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Figure 5. Sketchbook: Page-filling skecth, stage 1

Making a very rough and faint ink pen sketch of my own shadow on a builing where wall and street met helped me setting my mind on the next step (Fig. 6):

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Figure 6. Sketchbook: Ink pen sketch

So I went over the first layer (Fig. 5) with a number of semi-transparent layers of white and added a dog (Fig. 7):

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Figure 7. White layers and dog added to sketch

While I think that the faint image is not bad for a first attempt, I am not happy with several aspects here. Again, regarding whether I could “afford” to paint faintly considering my subject, I would say yes and no. No, because I need to be ever so careful not to lose the viewer in a technical extreme without connection to my message, and yes, once I know for what particular reason I would want to paint faintly in the first place. For exercise purposes this is not a problem, but would require considerate planning for a finished painting. Also, I am not happy with the dog’s position here. There is no way how I could include it in the intended way without making the position of the lead look awkward. I liked the charcoal sketch better in that respect, but with that setup the connection between passer-by and myself would be cut. Will see whether I might have to let it go. Also, despite the interesting effects produced by the many brushstrokes, I do not think that they add to my message. On acrylic paper I find them hard to avoid, but on a smooth background produced using a roller on a grey carton I should be able to investigate the effect. I will have to cut out the result and stick into my sketchbook.

First, however, more research on Tuymans using faint painting techniques, to see how I could produce a quieter image avoiding brushstrokes. Very useful I found another painting by Tuymans, “Couple” from 1998 (Fig. 8, left). The gradual softening of edges does not occur “out of the blue”, but is an effect indeed connected with looking into the sky. Tuymans observed a natural phenomemon here and put it to good use by creating the appearance of the couple “having their heads in the clouds”. When examining the painting on the computer screen I can see may harder brushstrokes softened by a top layer of “fluffy” strokes. Maybe I will not have to work super smooth at all. We’ll see. I also liked the aureole effect around the figures in Tuymans’s “Saint-Georges” from 2015 (Fig.8, right), which enhanced the shadowlike effect without having to darken the figures. Here also the natural observation was thorough and included into the painting not just as an effect but for its actual presence in the real scene. This relationship with reality is something which lacks completely in my last sketch and I will have to think whether this is what I want. The white brushstrokes suggest light coming from a place completely different to where the sun is, which may make the scene awkward. Does it matter, though? I couldn’t say.

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Figure 8. left: Luc Tuymans “Couple”, 1998, oil on canvas, right: “Saint-Georges”, 2015, oil on canvas. Source: see text

To find out whether a difference would be visible, I prepared 3 small pieces of grey carton with 3 layers each of titanium white, Payne’s grey and cobalt turquoise using a roller. The background became very smooth. On the two smaller pieces of carton I tested the effect of a hard, worn-down brush and a soft brush (Fig. 9, top row): The soft brush was great for producing even layers with larger amounts of paint, where the brushstrokes were evident in the test using the hard brush. The former would not be not so ideally suited if little paint was to be evenly distributed, because the soft hair would not allow the exertion of any useful amount of pressure. My weathered hard brush worked well here, although I had to be extremely careful not to put too much paint on at the same time. The carton holds the paint in place as soon as it comes to lie there for more than a second or so. While writing this I remember hearing of a method involving sanding a prepared canvas, but I think that the carton is smooth enough for my purposes. Using both brushes I made another quick sketch of my layout using  the negative technique (Fig. 9, bottom). I noticed immediately that spreading the paint was much easier than on the prepared sketchbook paper. With care I might produce totally even layers of paint. For the purpose of this experiment, however, I switched between ways of applying paint and came up with some very nice-looking effects, especially in places where the dark background would shine through the white. I think that this is what I might need.

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Figure 9. Top: applying paint – left: with worn hard brush, right: with soft brush. Bottom: Negative sketch using both brushes

 

 

 

 

 

In the above experiment I particularly like the mix of soft and hard transitions between dark and light areas. This subject appears interesting enough, both as (more or less) working composition and possible story that I would not want to add any more information to it, so getting rid of the dog at this stage. I also do not want to go over the painting to make it faint, but there I am and it will have to be. This time I will not be tempted to just cover it all, but will – hopefully – use the opportunity to carry out this task with sensitivity and regard to the effects every change might have.

28 February 2017. I went over the first stage today with my worn brush (Fig. 10). I am quite happy with the changes to the shadow of the passer-by, especially the different shades in the corner of the house. The changes to my own shadow are not satisfying yet. I will need to work on the transition from ground to wall, wall to windowsill and inside wall. Overall the reduced contrast is pleasing to look at, but needs very subtle adaptations to gradation in several places.

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Figure 10. The sketch from Fig. 9 after a first attempt at softening the contrast.

Here comes how far the little journey would take me (Fig. 11). In the end I found a solution for the dog, which to me looks both interesting and fitting. Since the shadow of my passer-by appears to be that of a taking-the-dog-for-a-walk posture anyway, it was straightforward now to have a lead added, which may have the dog in a position to make contact with me, so something for the imagination of a potential viewer. With this added, however, I feel that the original idea of my own shadow entering that room might now be too much for one painting. For a working painting it might be sufficient to have my own shadow travel up the outside wall, but since this exercise belongs to the retrospective preparation of my Andersen theme, I will leave it here.

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Figure 11. Finished sketch


References:

Kalafudra’s Stuff (2009) Western Motel: Edward Hopper and Contemporary Art [blog] [online]. Kalafudra’s Stuff. Available at: https://kalafudra.com/2009/01/28/western-motel-edward-hopper-and-contemporary-art/ [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Part 1, project 2, exercise 4: Monochrome studies [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog. Available at:
https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/part-1-project-2-exercise-4-monochrome-studies/ [Accessed 27 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Artist research: Luc Tuymans [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/02/21/artist-research-luc-tymans/ [Accessed 27 February 2017]

Tuymans, L. (1998) Couple [oil on canvas] [online]. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Available at: https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/99.74 [Accessed 27 February 2017]

Tuymans, L. (2015) Saint-Georges [oil on canvas] [online]. Musée des Arts Contemporains de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles. Available at: http://france.fr/fr/agenda/luc-tuymans-premonitions-lam-lille [Accessed 27 February]

Sketchbook: Collecting, collecting …

24 February 2017. Here come some of my everyday sketches (Fig. 1-11 below) collected over the final months of POP1. This is the last post in this category for this course. A new one will be opened for UPM.

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Figure 1. Building site
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Figure 2. Hazelnut tree and leaves
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Figure 3. Parked cars
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Figure 4. Wood near school
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Figure 5. Block of flats in the process of being demolished
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Figure 6. Digging up the street near school
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Figure 7. Watching twilight shadows
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Figure 8. Parked moped
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Figure 9. Quick studies of pedestrians
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Figure 10. Ivy on the side of a tree
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Fig. 11 Flattened can of coke at roadside

Artist research: William Kentridge, Kara Walker and Ólafur Eliasson

21 February 2017. In her Assignment 5 feedback my tutor suggested I had a look at the way William Kentridge, Kara Walker and Ólafur Eliasson approach the subject of shadows.

During my first OCA course, Drawing 1, William Kentridge (*1955, South Africa) became a great source of inspiration to me. I attempted to make two little animated charcoal/pastel films (Lacher-Bryk, 2015a; Lacher-Bryk, 2015b) after having seen his stunning work. Regarding shadows, I immediately stumbled again upon his “Shadow Procession” (Kentridge, 1999). To me, the walking silhouette figures, each carrying the burden of their personal and collective lives with them, together with the piercing song by Johannesburg street singer Alfred Makgalemele are deeply moving and disturbing. Both reinforce each other, simultaneous attention to both is possible at a maximum. Kara Walker’s (*1969, USA) silhouettes, on the other hand, while like Kentridge’s work focusing on the discrimination of coloured people, appear less subtle and quite aggressive. For that reason her sensitive drawings and paintings have a much greater appeal to me (ART21 “Exclusive”, 2014). Her very own choice of storytelling easily comprehensible, since Walker is of Afro-American descent, but the overt depiction of cruelty acts on me to avoid any more than a superficial contact with her work. In my own work I tried a similar approach in 2014. It took me some time to gather the courage to produce the caricature shown in Fig. 1 below, after the IS (so-called Islamic State) had started doing their horrible business of live executions. When I had finished the drawing, I felt physically sick for several days. The matter is whether an issue is important enough to accept the associated emotions and whether there is any alternative way to transport the message. In the meantime Kentridge has become a great hero and role model of mine in that respect.

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Figure 1. Andrea Lacher-Bryk (2014) “Head-up Display”, ink pen and watercolours on paper. Source: Andrea Lacher-Bryk (2014) [private] via Böse Karikaturen. A head-up display is an efficient communication tool initially developed for military aviation, which allows the projection of data into the pilot’s field of vision. This tool has been refined by the IS (Islamic State). After dispensing with the technical gimmicks the effects are no less than breathtaking.

22 February 2017. Ólafur Eliasson (*1967, Copenhagen) on the other hand, is an architect working globally, who approaches the subject of shadows from his own professional viewpoint. In both his “Multiple Shadow House” (Eliasson, 2010a)  and “Your Uncertain Shadow” (Eliasson, 2010b) he investigates viewer interaction with projected shadows. This very attractive interactive type of display is something I first saw in a children’s technical museum in Vienna twenty years ago. In fact I had coloured shadows on my list for Assignment 5, but discarded the idea for Andersen’s tale. However, in comparison with both Kentridge and Walker I really miss a deeply empotional component in Eliasson’s work on shadows. The presentation is clean and distant, designlike, and a message, if at all, is created on a very personal level by each visitor interacting with his exhibit. His approach raises an interest in me as a natural scientist, but does not yet leave a lasting impression for my work as a developing painter. Maybe later, when I have defined my own goals better.

So, what is there to learn from the above artists for my project? All of them use shadows in a way that enables the viewer to see them as separate entities worth being treated as subjects of their own. None of them combines the source of the shadow (i.e. the object) and the shadow. I doubt whether I would be able to do the same for the purpose of my Andersen story, because then exactly that peculiar connection between the scientist and his shadow would be gone. Since, however, I already completed a finished painting covering the whole story, I will take the opportunity and have a go at a shadow-only approach to serve as a fourth painting as a late addition to Assignment 5.

References:

ART21 “Exclusive” (2014) Kara Walker: Starting Out. [online]. Art21, New York. Availabe at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhByMffG9IA [Accessed 22 february 2017]

Eliasson, Ó. (2010a) Multiple Shadow House [online]. [n.k.]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TJGikVnLMGo [Accessed 22 Feburary 2017]

Eliasson, Ó. (2010b) Your Uncertain Shadow [online]. [n.k.]. Available at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XANP-XtOnh0 [Accessed 22 Feburary 2017]

Kentridge, W. (2001) Shadow Procession [online]. [n.k.]. Available from: https://vimeo.com/3140351 [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2014) Head-up Display [ink pen and watercolours on paper] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein. Available at: https://boesekarikaturen.jimdo.com/political-caricatures/ [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2015a) Ghost from the Past [video] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein. Available at: https://vimeo.com/150876177 (password: Ghost_from_Past) [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2015b) Hit and Run [video] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein. Available at: https://vimeo.com/150875189 (password: Hit_and_Run) [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Own artist research: Raymond Pettibon

21 February 2017. With things as they are now I can hardly get out to galleries. So I decided that I would look through local papers to see which exhibitions are on and do some distance research on the respective artists. I am well aware that this is no adequate replacement for the real thing, but still better than nothing.

My first goal was Raymond Pettibon (*1957, USA), who is on show at the moment at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg (Museum der Moderne, 2017). He is self-taught and difficult to assign to any school, but describes himself as deriving technique and ideas from his past drawing pop art album covers and comics, with artists like Edward Hopper or William Blake as sources of inspiration. Best known are Pettibon’s ink drawings, which he combines with text to create highly critical and fierce, satirical comments. His aim is the subversive reconstruction of a broken American myth (Artnet, 2017).

It is probably dangerous at the given moment to try and deduct influential aspects of his work into my own, as for study purposes I need to detach myself, for the time being, from my illustrative approach. So I will not go into more detail here, but will no doubt return on later courses and with reference to my  work as a caricaturist.

References:

Artnet (n.d.) Raymond Pettibon [online]. Artnet. Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/raymond-pettibon/ [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Museum der Moderne (2017) Raymond Pettibon. Homo Americanus [online]. Museum der Moderne, Salzburg. Available at: http://www.museumdermoderne.at/de/ausstellungen/aktuell/details/mdm/raymond-pettibon/ [Accessed 21 February 2017]

 

Artist research: Luc Tuymans

21 February 2017. Luc Tuymans (*1958, Belgium) is a highly influential contemporary artist, who helped to revive figurative painting at a time of its predicted demise. Tuymans is torn between the inadequacy of traditional painting in dealing with the complexity of the modern world and its attraction. After a bout of film-making he returned with a new view and techniques taken from his experiences (Tate, 2004). My tutor suggested to have a look at his work to add to my own research for my 3rd assignment piece, “The Shadow. An attempt at an illustration”. She gave me a copy of a very faint monochrome painting, “Window” (Tuymans, 2004) to interpret and see whether this approach might help me in developing my own work.
Tuymans is interested in a great number of vastly heterogeneous subjects (Tate, 2004). This makes my reaction to his work heterogeneous as well between being attracted e.g. by the composition and lighting in “Panel” (Tuymans, 2010) and being repelled, such as the indication of a bent or broken body inside the tight-fitting tricot in “Illegitimate III” (Tuymans, 1997). Many of his paintings are reduced either in colour or in content, some are mere hints such as his “Window”. In the film clip available on Tate (2004) he explains that this is his own way of depicting the inadequacy of memory. While I believe that my own memory is somewhat different from his (working with much more colour and often with an overwhelming amount of detail, which is part of the diffculty of my problem with “developing” projects), I do understand how such extreme reduction acts to push the viewer’s imagination and how this fits in with my tutor’s remark of having overworked my final piece(s). In an attempt to sort of outmanoeuvre my imagination I will try and have an additional go at my 3rd final piece with Tuyman’s approach in mind, with more sketchbook experimentation derived from memories of my associated photo of my shadow entering an old farmhouse via a window. I will, however, not dedicate this experimentation as part of a set of predefined steps towards a goal, but will force myself to have my idea hover at the back of my mind only.

References:

Tate (2004) Luc Tuymans [online] Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/luc-tuymans [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Tuymans, L. (1997) Illegitimate III [oil on canvas] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/tuymans-illegitimate-iii-t07408 [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Tuymans, L. (2004) Window [oil on canvas] [online]. Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels. Available at: https://www.fine-arts-museum.be/nl/de-collectie/luc-tuymans-window [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Tuymans, L. (2010) Panel [oil on canvas] [online]. [n.k.] Available at: http://www.art-agenda.com/reviews/luc-tuymanss-corporate-at-david-zwirner-new-york/ [Accessed 21 February 2017]

Preparation for assessment: overview over changes to be made after tutor feedback

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

17 February 2017. In order not to confuse myself and fellow students following my blog I will shortly summarize here the changes I will need to be making to my coursework and blog to fit assessment requirements.

Minor changes to the whole blog:

  • All my posts will be updated with referencing corrected to fit the Harvard system.
  • Study visits in the area of Salzburg are planned between now and assessment cut-off in May. Reports to be added.

Major reworking of Part 5 of the course:

  • The sequence of posts will be rearranged to fit the sequence of projects and exercises in the study guide. This means that I will take parts from my assignment posts covering exercise work, copy them into the separate exercise posts and supplement them with additional exercises, some of which already exist but I had not considered worth posting in the light of my (failed) approach to Part 5 and some of which I will work on in the weeks to come.
  • The additional exercise work I will hopefully be doing in a larger sketchbook better suited for using paint (given I can buy one), and only there, as my tutor pointed out that otherwise exercise work may be unsuitable for assessors to be inspected within the given timeframe. My annotations I will try and make consistent throughout and more legible.
  • Exercises will not be done with a goal in mind, but playfully without intentions other than observing, accompanied by ample written-down analysis for personal gain in developing my project on shadows.
  • Additional artist research will be published in separate posts and slightly different regarding the conclusions made, with a main focus on information for my personal development.
  • The above exercises and research completed I will go over my assignment posts again and update them accordingly with the new information.

This is the plan and I will be needing to put up reminder signs in my workshop in order not to fall back into old habits. The changes I hope to be able to complete while starting to work on my next course, Understanding Painting Media (Lacher-Bryk, 2017).

References:

  1. Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Understanding Painting Media – my third year OCA course blog [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA painting 1 blog: Understanding Painting Media, 14 February. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1upm.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 17 February 2017]

Assignment 5: Tutor feedback reflection

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

15 February 2017. What luck that I still have lots of time to prepare for assessment! While part of Assignment 5 was quite successful (see end of this post), it did not turn out to be a great idea to deviate from the study guide despite having felt it to be a good way to tackle Part 5 of the course. I learned lots from this assignment – and I am extremely glad I took the risky route, because otherwise it might have taken me ages to find out about the following (and at this point I want to kindly ask OCA to provide beginner students with more precise information to avoid them getting lost somewhere on the way):

  1. Stick to the study guide at all times unless the deviation is so thoroughly signposted/cross-referenced that it can be used by tutors and assessors with great ease: So, since I am always struggling to find enough time for OCA study (needing to do at least 15, sometimes 20 hours per week to finish a course within a year’s time), for me any deviating, no matter how useful it might appear, is going to be no option in the foreseeable future.
  2. Do all exercises in the sketchbook in a meticulously structured way: For me, until now, the sketchbook had been something for personal use only, to accompany the “real” work. I think now that I might be slow to understand, but it took me until writing this post to grasp that it is supposed to contain the real work. I will need to buy a new, larger sketchbook, because I often tend to produce larger size stuff, up to A1, when experimenting.
  3. Experimenting itself will have to come with more immediately written down thought directly relating to the experience gained when actually applying the paint: This is something I seem to have misunderstood until now. I know that I tend to use techniques not like tools taken from a toolbox, but as a wisp of intuition. This will have to change radically, or in my tutor’s words “If you can, go back to the initial work and reflect on what happened and how you felt the exercise went before extending your own evaluative written content about this exercise”. Not sure where spontaneity comes in here, but maybe this aspect files with “misunderstood” as well: I guess that applied spontaneity in its real sense builds on knowledge and technical ability, not the other way round.
  4. My sketchbook is well-annotated, but difficult to read: I had not realized that this would be necessary as I had assumed the notes were for my personal use only.
  5. Always use the Harvard referencing system, even in blog posts: No tutor has pointed out to me until just now that this is expected even in learning logs, not only for set pieces of writing such as essays: I will go through my posts and correct them.
  6. Paint, paint, paint, even if it is only tiny side notes: Making drawings and using photos is inadequate to produce the kind of information tutors and assessors will look for: I will try and put together a “travel set” to have in the car to use when I encounter spare time. This is often not more than literally minutes and I have not found a solution yet for travelling with wet paint without destroying some of the results. Also, the paper in all the sketchbooks I have is not really made for painting. Watercolours tend to soak both the front and back of a page and cause the paper to undulate in a most unfortunate way, while acrylics make pages stick together. I will have to ask my art supplier for advice.
  7. I do not seem to put enough information on my artist research into both sketchbook and blog, while also not taking enough personal information from the research I do: This is another difficult point. There is so much going on in my head that it becomes quite overwhelming at times, so that the researched information gets pushed to the side. Will have to switch my brain on more often …
  8. Only tackle the final painting after exhaustive experimentation: I do not know how I will cope with that, because I am never finished with experimenting. So-called finished paintings always tend to surprise me with new turns, e.g. in my illustration of Andersen’s tale (Lacher-Bryk, 2017a). My tutor points out the effect visible in the vase as something worth working with in an experimental series before attempting the final piece. However, I did not know before working on the final piece that I would encounter this effect. I hope that I may find a way to correspond to requirements here.
  9. Be careful not to overwork (“overexplain”) the final paintings: My tutor indicated that preparing by making lots of small paintings will help with avoiding overworking, while allowing to increase the risk-taking. I just hope that this will the case with me, it will need a lot of mental resetting.
  10. Explain more, e.g. why I choose a particular subject beyond finding it “interesting”: To me the introductory section I wrote for my self-evaluation seemed sufficient at the point, but this is not so. I need to “explain why I chose this subject against the project exercises for clarity”. I have to admit that at this point I am not sure what is expected of me, but I guess that I will need to add some project exercises whose results will then sort of prompt me to embark on the subject of shadows.

To summarize, there is still too little researched background, both in a theoretical and practical way, to my finished work despite an extensive, well-written learning log. While I write this I notice that my scientist’s mind, with some gritty resistance, seems to be making another step forward in understanding what is expected. I have to accept, quickly, that it is the process of creating, and not with any preformed goal in mind, which I need to be looking for, documenting every emerging aspect, based on and constantly related to the work of artists in the field (as my tutor says about my research on Abstract Expressionism: “I would make your point of reference here much clearer. Explain in more detail why and how it has been interesting for you. Explain in more detail how this references your interests in shadows and how you may wish to make abstract works from this and so on.”. I am extremely glad that I chose Understanding Painting Media for my next course, where I expect to find ample opportunity to do just that. My tutor suggested that I read widely around my subject of shadows in preparation for the next course. This sounds like a great idea and will clearly help me with structuring my imagination.

In preparation for assessment I will now need to do the following:

  1. Assessors will be looking at my work in a way that is structured by the sequence of exercises as contained in the coursebook. In order to achieve this I will need to add to Part 5 posts cross-referencing and sub-heading information for easy access and use.
  2. Also I will need to add some more well-structured and documented preliminary experimentation, since there was too little of that in part of my assignment. It will have to fit in with a “development towards”.
  3. There will have to be an addition of more research and cross-referencing with contemporary artists, taking care to access a larger diversity of highest quality resources.
  4. Citations throughout my blog will need to be changed to fit the Harvard system.

15 February 2017. Having said all that I do not want to sound desperate. So, quoting from the many positive aspects in my tutor feedback:

“This is a great demonstration of creative activity and demonstrates clearly how an idea develops along the way.” (referring to the sequence of “A Shadow-only Painting” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017b).

“Your research is thorough, personally rigorous and the outcomes you have made demonstrated your creative and visual skills well. You have used paint loosely and haven’t been afraid to lose control, which is a big step in your development on this course […] The painting on acetate is bold and daring, so try to maintain this whenever you can.” (referring to “A Shadow On His Soul” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017c)).

“You have really developed a good personally driven research project here […] Overall you have done well and produced work that is personally driven, ambitious and wide ranging.”

Keeping this in mind I am off now to hopefully getting everything else right for assessment, following my tutor’s advice to “edit and pull out some pieces that leave the work teetering on the brink of your viewer’s interest”.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017a) Assignment 5, subject 3: Hans Christian Andersen “The Shadow”. An attempt at an illustration (including part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 2 February. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/assignment-5-subject-3-hans-christian-andersen-the-shadow-an-attempt-at-an-illustration-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017b) Assignment 5, subject 1: “A Shadows Only Painting” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 15 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/assignment-5-subject-1-a-shadows-only-painting-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017c) Assignment 5, subject 2: “A Shadow On His Soul” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 21 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/assignment-5-subject-2-a-shadow-on-his-soul-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

 

Book review: “Colour: Documents of Contemporary Art”, edited by David Batchelor

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

6 February 2017. This review is something I have been planning to write since last summer. My tutor recommended the book “Colour. Documents of Contemporary Art”, edited by David Batchelor. The book contains what the editor calls a broadly chronological collage of texts on colour written by famous artists and thinkers starting in the mid 19th century (Batchelor, 2008, p. 17).
This is no book for casual reading. Whichever text I chose, I noticed how deeply every author felt about colour: Each has their very own personal approach and experience with colour, so no text is like any other. What is shared among most of them, however, and which I did not feel too comfortable about, was most authors’ conviction of being in the possession of some ultimate truth. I was amazed that a seemingly gentle subject like this, colour (!) of all things, could raise such fierce argument, ruthless praising of one’s own position simultaneously with the cruel damnation of others. I suspect that the argument is not about colour at all, but about sailing under different colours, so to speak. The latter is a matter of territory. As in any field which has not yet revealed all its secrets and the contributors have not yet arrived at a common solution, there is a natural tendency for each to put forward and defend their own position, since appearing in the right of course  often comes along with an increase in social rank, influence and material wealth.

7 February 2017. It is futile to try to concoct a summary or essence from the texts contained in this book. They shed light on too many different aspects of colour and its position in art and human life in general. To me it serves as a great source of ad hoc inspiration. It has been lying on my bedside table for most of last year and I keep opening it at random. In order to illustrate the effect, I did just that three times for this review and tried to write short accounts reflecting spontaneously their respective influence on me:

p. 142 Claude Lévi-Strauss (Philosophers.co.uk, 2012): The Raw and The Cooked (1964)

The main argument put forward by the author of this essay, famous French structuralist philosopher and anthropologist, is a rejection of the common, but in his eyes inadequate equation of musical sound with colour in painting. Since musical notes have no equivalent in nature, while colour is all around us available for imitation, he rates the achievements of music higher than those of the visual arts.
8 February 2017. While I can follow his idea in principle, any such attempt at placing one field of art above the other for its degree of inventiveness appears to me as deficient in rigour. If just summarizing the most superficial of arguments, I find among them many upon which I could rest a reversal of “hierarchy” between colour and sound: Working with colour is greatly amenable to the resource of simultaneity, which for reasons I have no clear understanding of, has strict limitations in music: There is only a very limited number of sounds you can hear at the same time before you would classify them as noise, but there is no limit to the simultaneous perception of, say, the number of greens present in a landscape. There also, in my eyes, appears to be nothing in colour which would be an equivalent to the perceived effect of dissonance in sound. Graphical arts are also of course developed way beyond the mere copying of colour in nature. Even only for the above reasons I see no point in raising an argument between these two fields of art. They should best be made use of and enjoyed for their respective merits.

p. 194 Stephen Melville (The Ohio State University, n.d.): Colour Has Not Yet Been Named (1993)

Melville is an outstanding American art historian. I have to admit that I had to concentrate hard to be able to even make sense of his sentences and I suspect that he lost me on the way. If I understand correctly he addresses in this account a phenomenon how colour, despite having been extensively researched and quite fully described regarding its physical and psychological qualities, is an entity much larger than what we find within the boundaries (physical and mental frames, so to speak) set by the workings of the human mind. I hope that this is what he means when saying: “[… ] Colour is then no longer simply contained within the painting but is also that which, within the painting, assigns it its frame, even as it conceals itself as the source of that assignment. In so far as colour is and is not the historical bearer of a certain truth of painting that is and is not the truth of the frame in which it is contained, colour bids to pass beyond itself.”
I know why I will never be an art historian.

p. 62 Oswald Spengler (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010): The Decline of the West (1918)

German historian Spengler wrote at a time, when it apparently was still acceptable and convenient not to question, to split the world into the civilized part (the educated West, where he belonged) and the other, savage and sensuous, historical as well as contemporary rest. In his own world, blue and green are the good, the spiritual, non-sensuous colours, and they rightfully dominate oil-painting. Red and yellow on the other hand reflect the basic elements of the unreflected, raw “point-existence” life of the “crowds, children, women and savages” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010), in that order. Spengler even appears to have concluded, from the reintroduction of the colours of the savage, red and yellow, into painting (God forbid!), that “the West had already passed through the creative stage of “culture” into that of reflection and material comfort (“civilization” proper, in his terminology) and that the future could only be a period of irreversible decline.” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2010). Although I know that the above was by no means thought up by Spengler alone and I have come across several such accounts before, it still makes me feel very uncomfortable to read such preoccupied nonsense, to say the least.

The above three accounts are only tiny snippets from an immense field of research, which can serve both as a source of inspiration as well as desperation. For me, however, the reading of theoretical texts about colour, no matter how hot-blooded the argument and fluid the writing, feels like watching colour on a palette dry up. At the risk of being accused of leading a woman’s point-existence I would rather use the paint ;o).

References:

Batchelor, D. ed. (2008) Colour: Documents of Contemporary Art. London: Whitechapel Gallery and Cambrige: The MIT Press.

Philosophers.co.uk (2012) Claude Levi-Strauss [online]. Philosophers.co.uk, London. Available at: http://www.philosophers.co.uk/claude-levi-strauss.html [Accessed 6 February 2017]

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica (2010) Oswald Spengler [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica, London, 13 January. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Oswald-Spengler [Accessed 6 February 2017].

The Ohio State University (n.d.) Department of History of Art. Stephen Melville [online]. The Ohio State University, Columbus. Available at: https://history-of-art.osu.edu/people/melville.3 [Accessed 6 February 2017]

Assignment 5: Self-evaluation (p.134 study guide)

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

1 February 2017. My decision regarding the subject for Assignment 5 was made quite early in the course and having thought a lot about it, I noticed for the first time that shadows have been of interest to me for a very long time, not only during this course (e.g. in Assignment 1, Lacher-Bryk, 2016a), but also outside OCA as well as many years before starting the degree. I am drawn to their ever-changing physical properties and wonderfully pliable metaphorical qualities. The more I explore them, the more I realise the treasure they contain for artistic expression and development.

As always at the outset I was determined to produce the maximum, i.e. five, pieces of work for this assignment. I went through a great amount of scientific research in order to get acquainted with as many facets of my subject as possible. Following this I sat down to initially list around 10 general ideas, two of which survived throughout and a new one, which was added after discussing the subject externally. I found that all three choices would require a great amount of dedicated work, so I changed the original plan by reducing the finished subjects to three. However, for two of the subjects I produced two finished paintings each, so overall there were still five to submit.

The subjects, in order of production, were:

(1) “A Shadow-only Painting” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017a)

I investigated inhowfar it would be possible to determine the form of 3-dimensional objects solely by the shadows falling on them. The resulting shapes I then transformed into abstracted paintings, one close to the original setup and one playing with the found patterns (Fig. 1 and 2 below).

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Figure 1. A Shadow-only Painting (1)
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Figure 2. A Shadow-only Painting (2)

For the first time I was able to produce paintings as the result of painstaking preparatory work including extensive research, observing the chosen subject from many different viewpoints, experimenting with a large set of ways of applying paint and abstracting from the gained results. The painting on top I like for the choice of colours, setup and loose application of paint. I have been able also to include experience gained regarding paint behaviour in Part 4 of the course (Lacher-Bryk, 2016b). Regarding the bottom painting I am pleased that I was able to let myself be inspired by ideas passing through my head and include them in a coherent way into a working painting. I think however that due to my lack of experience the finished painting looks overworked in places and not totally convincing regarding composition.

(2) “A Shadow On His Soul” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017b)

This part was an investigation into means of transporting the innermost darkness of a well-known dictator to the surface of his portrait (Fig. 3-4).

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Figure 3. A Shadow On His Soul (1)
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Figure 4. A Shadow On His Soul (2)


I was happy to discover that despite the large differences in approach both paintings appear to succeed in transporting a shadow on a troubled soul. In the top painting I was glad to have combined several totally different means of applying paint – two “runny” underlying layers suggesting the troubled soul combined with an exaggerated sketchy portrait representing the attempt of this person to remain outwardly intact and quiet. The second attempt (bottom image) used totally different supports. The portrait on a piece of A1 transparent plastic is combined with a completely separate, smaller piece of plastic roughly covered in dark paint to allow a viewer to experiment directly with its effect on the appearance of the face. I expect that I may have to rework the small piece of plastic for final submission since the applied paint is not as stable as expected.

(3) “The Shadow”, an attempt at illustrating Andersen’s famous tale (Lacher-Bryk, 2017c)

Since in this story the dark part of a depicted personality becomes separate from its carrier in form of his shadow, I was able to apply the results gained in the first two subjects to this part of the submission. I was able to produce with greater ease a believable composition including cast shadows and the interaction of a man with the dark parts he knows are tainting his soul (Fig. 5).

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Figure 5. Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Shadow”

I did a great amount of research into this subject relating to its real-world background, contemporary art as well as technical aspects, followed by experimentation with materials and methods totally new to me before attempting the final piece. While I am very happy with the outcome regarding composition, use of colour and story told, I am well aware that illustration is not an explicit part of this course. I made this decision deliberately, however, and will take the risk of submitting this work for assessment since it is supported by a great amount of work based on direct observation.

Before starting Part 5 of the course I realised that in order to be able to immerse myself completely into the chosen subject, I would need to integrate the set exercises for this part into the development of my assignment pieces. Once I had decided on this technique of approaching this part for me the structure of the course (exercises, research, assignment piece(s)) suddenly became a coherent whole and finally I was able to really follow my tutor’s instructions regarding going through meaningful processes of concept development. For me this experience was eye-opening and liberating. I never enjoyed the course more than during Part 5 and this is where I think I made essential progress. There were several points throughout the course where other important steps happened. They were not so much part-related but occurred coincidentally and liberated creative resources within myself:

  1. when I found out about the incredible difference between bad and good quality acrylic paint halfway through the course
  2. when in my Assignment 3 feedback my tutor advised me not to worry about leaving things unfinished (Lacher-Bryk, 2016c)
  3. when in the same feedback my tutor advised me to make my sketchbook a painted one (Lacher-Bryk, 2016c) 

    and – something I would never have expected given my personality –

  4. when I realized that I would not be able to stick to my plan of submitting for March 2017 assessment

2 February 2017. Looking back on the course I think that it took me well into Part 4 to loosen up. I attribute some of that difficulty to both the way I tend to approach things – my parents once asked me why I always had to take the hardest roads to arrive at something – and life in general, which in my case tends to block the easy roads. Maybe I have now come to accept this fact, both as a hindrance but also as a powerful liberating force of creativity. This seems where I have made a large step, which very likely has not translated yet into major technical progress, but the journey through Part 5 proved a major personal gain for me. Where this will become visible I will have to see.

An overall look back on the course and progress evaluation will be posted in preparation for July 2017 assessment.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016a) Assignment 1: A Black Tulip and Its Shadow [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 30 March. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/assignment-1-a-black-tulip-and-its-shadow/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016b) Part 4, project 5, exercise 1: Working from drawings and photographs – painting from a working drawing [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 24 November. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/part-4-project-5-exercise-1-working-from-drawings-and-photographs-painting-from-a-working-drawing/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016c) Assignment 3: Feedback reflection [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 4 October. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/assignment-3-feedback-reflection/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017a) Assignment 5, subject 1: “A Shadows Only Painting” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 15 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/assignment-5-subject-1-a-shadows-only-painting-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017b) Assignment 5, subject 2: “A Shadow On His Soul” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 21 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/assignment-5-subject-2-a-shadow-on-his-soul-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017c) Assignment 5, subject 3: Hans Christian Andersen “The Shadow”. An attempt at an illustration (including part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 2 February. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/assignment-5-subject-3-hans-christian-andersen-the-shadow-an-attempt-at-an-illustration-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 1 February 2017]

Assignment 5, subject 3: Hans Christian Andersen “The Shadow”. An attempt at an illustration (including part 5 project exercises)

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and some content).

21 January 2017. A few days ago I mentioned the subject I had chosen for my last assignment of this course to my parents and they remembered Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Shadow” (Andersen, 1847a). I had not read it before, but when I did, I found it to be an incredibly well-conceived insight into human nature. As was to be expected, it started following me around like a faithful shadow, so I had to make it the third and last subject in my series. My aim for the final painting in the series of experiments would be to devise a cover illustration for a book containing this tale. I found surprisingly few existing illustrations (Andersen, 1847b; Andersen, 1847c, Andersen, 1847d) and not many  blogs investigating shadows in their metaphorical sense. One of these, “Schattenflug” (Küster, 2014-16), I returned to several times, however. It contained, among others, a reference to one of the most famous stories about shadows willed to become separate from their owners, “Peter Schlemihl” (Küster, 2014). The following illustration shows the devil taking Schlemihl’s shadow as agreed (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. George Cruikshank: “Peter Schlemihl”, etching, 1827. Source: George Cruikshank (1792-1878) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
As my previous two subjects included some very spontaneous painting, I wanted to make the final result of this part deliberately detailed, while easy and transparent.
To give me an idea of what other painters do to interpret similar ideas, I went for a closer look at what the Tate gallery has on offer when searching for “shadow”. In its absolutely most reduced form I found a very clear line drawing by Andy Warhol (1928-1987, USA) “The Shadow” (Warhol, 1981). Linking in with Andersen’s tale, but on a considerably less complex level of storytelling: two reworked photographs by Keith Arnatt (1930-2008, UK) “Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of His Former Self” (Arnatt, 1969-72) and “Invisible Hole Revealed by the Shadow of the Artist” (Arnatt, 1968). By Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005, UK) was one work, “Braque Curtain” (Caulfield, 2005), which helped me placing my idea in a first possible technical context. Vik Muniz was represented with a photograph “Pictures of Dust” (Muniz, 2000), which was one of the rare occasions, where a shadow broken from the horizontal to the vertical appeared as a search result at all. It appear to me that “broken shadows” do not seem to carry much aesthetic appeal to many artists. As, however, this is what I need to illustrate the story, I realised that I would have to be doing lots of own observation. In style Jeffery Edwards’s (*1945, USA) “Moonlight” (Edwards, 1974) connects with the above “Braque Curtain” and seems to indicate a way for me to approach my subject technically.

26 January 2017. In order to comply with course requirements I went through a series of experiments again relating to the application of paint and abstraction from previous direct observation. Since it has been quite extraordinarily cold for the last couple of weeks and there is no sign of any change, I used the opportunity to place paper with very dilute paint outside and see the effect of ice crystals forming. The result was not great. I used one very smooth and one linen structure paper. On both the formation of ice was hardly noticeable (even if helped by covering the paint with snow) and on bringing the paper back inside, the ice just melted, leaving stains I could have produced without freezing temperatures. My impression was that water and paint pigment did their separate things. I will not give up on the matter, however, but will not pursue it further for the purpose of this project (Fig. 1a-c):

Figure 1

28 January 2017. For the same temperature reasons ( minus 15°C during the day) it was practically impossible to stand or sit outside for any reasonable amount of time except for quick sketches.  Apart from one 5 minute attempt with ink pen and paintbrush I caught all the following impressions with my camera – which was not a bad idea, because I found that shadows from a low sun tend to change incredibly quickly and an interesting effect discovered would be gone the next second.
Here is sketch of the shadow of a roof and chimney falling on a wall from a neighbouring house near my son’s school. Despite the strong radiation coming from the midday sun the shadow’s outline was quite blurred, with a darker centre and “fluffy” border. What I am after, however, is the following effect: Where the shadow falls across the window, the stone frame seems to make the shadow “enter” the window opening, because physics requires its outline to follow structural elements (Fig. 2).

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Figure 2. Sketchbook – Ink pen and water-soluble ink

With the above effect kept in mind I went to look for some images my older son and I had taken a few years ago from my workshop window with the main light on. They must have given the lady living in that house the fright of her life, but it was irresistible ;o) (Fig. 3):

Figure 3. Shadow experiments on a neighbour’s house

Again the edges of the shadows are blurred and, as is better visible on the lefthand photo, the outline appears to be drawn into the window openings. If my composition requires it I will try and emphasize that effect. It both connects with my first assignment subject (as the shadows of my bottles travelled both on the table and up the back wall) and with one of the crucial scenes described in the fairy tale: The chief character, a scientist, sits to make his shadow fall on a house opposite to the balcony he is on and wills it to enter the house.
In order to get an idea of the associated patterns I took a walk round the area near my son’s school to catch shadows falling on walls and into houses, some of persons, including myself near windows in particular. Please ignore the unavoidable “photographing position” (Fig. 4-12):

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Figure 4
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Figure 5
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Figure 6

The following effect I really liked, it appears as if the shadows of the trees were intentionally placed there to be part of the building (Fig. 7):

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Figure 7

Here follows a small series of photos taken near an old farmhouse. By coincidence the sun’s position allowed my shadow to “enter the house” by a window (Fig. 8-12):

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Figure 8
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Figure 9
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Figure 10
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Figure 11
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Figure 12

Expedition resumé:
I found that with the sun so low the part of the shadow travelling on the ground is less dark than that on the wall. Also, I may need to take into account that the shadow’s colour will change with that of the background. If I paint it as a transparent wash, this will take care of itself, but not if I choose to use opaque mixes.

One idea was to have the full facade of the building available for the cast shadow, as e.g. in one of the famous scenes in “The Third Man” (Garrett, 2015).

Since Andersen’s tale is located in a southern country, I went to look for a corresponding photo of a street with balconies of the sort described by the author. There were some I had taken during holidays, but the problem with those was the inevitable position of looking up at the balconies from a low point. So I resorted to images available on the web to collect ideas for the composition of a suitable facade. Thus equipped I started my experiments.

In order to set the scene properly and to get a first rough idea of where light and shade will need to be for a working composition, I produced a preliminary watercolour sketch in my sketchbook (Fig. 13):

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Figure 13. Sketchbook – compositional watercolour sketch

I was quite happy with this attempt and could see how thorough preparation for a subject allows some mental tuning. Roughly, the composition is working including an interesting overall distribution of light and shade apart from using them to tell a story. It was a coincidence that I let the man rest his right arm on the railing, which made his shadow reach out beyond the visible part of the room in the house opposite. The latter opens up a side story, because it is impossible to tell whether the intentions of the shadow – if taken as an already detached entity – are necessarily innocent.
This first sketch has some major weak points regarding the physical properties of the shadow. It will have to be smaller in order to allow the room appear larger. Also the outline will need to be blurred. The room and light to the back of the real man also are not quite present yet.

29 January 2017. In preparation for the background of my A2 painting carton I tested the addition of sand and charcoal to acrylic binder as well as white paint and experimented with the effects created when adding water-soluble writing ink and water-proof antique ink. I have to apologize for the poor quality of the below images. The sketchbook is not spiral-bound, so near the end of the book scanning the pages becomes awkward (Figure 14-15):

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Figure 14. Sketchbook – experimenting with materials mixed into acrylic binder
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Figure 15. Sketchbook – experimenting producing structural effects, mixed media

The effects produced with binder mixes were not good (top image), but the mix of white paint and crushed willow charcoal turned out to be very interesting. I used a painting knife to spread the mix, which caused some of the larger pieces of charcoal to disintegrate and follow the movement of the knife (bottom image, 2 images second row). Another very interesting result was white paint spread with a coarse paintbrush, covered in water-soluble ink when dry and added to by water-proof antique ink. The antique ink mixed with the already dry water-soluble black to then dry into a combined water-proof layer. On top of both tests I tried small areas of a transparent wash of white ink.
The use of inks on top of dried acrylic paint I had tried before in a wild experiment with partly crushed dry leaves dropped by my workshop plants covered in white acrylic. I had tried to see whether dripping ink on that mix would create “shadows” in front of the leaves. As the effect did not appear, I decided to paint over the structures with my mix of inks to see whether I would be able to enhance them. When placing the finished piece in direct sunlight to take the photo, I noticed the most beautiful metallic sheen. My black ink appears to “disintegrate” into its component colours every time the underground is water repellent, producing  this effect (Fig. 16-17):

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Figure 16. 56 x 42 cm acrylic paper – experimenting with acrylic paint, crushed dry leaves and different makes of ink

The antique ink helps to highlight the structures, another beautiful effect:

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Figure 17. Closeup of effect produced using antique ink

Both the above tests appeared appealing as well as suitable for my purpose, so that I decided to first of all prepare the background for the final painting with a paint-charcoal mix to serve as basic layer for the walls of the houses (Fig. 18-19):

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Figure 18. Preparing the A1 background using white acrylic and crushed willow charcoal, working with palette knife
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Figure 19. Detail

30 January 2017. Today I found a graphical interpretation of the situation in Andersen’s tale (Andersen, 1847e), which resembles mine to some extent, but leaves the shadow on the facade and seems far too distant (literally and metaphorically) and casual for the actual monstrosity of the scientist’s intention – the shadow is far too large for my imagination to allow it to enter the house at all. In addition, I cannot imagine that a single candle would be strong enough to light up the complete facade of the house opposite – of course this is always open to an artist’s interpretation, but seems inappropriate in this context – after all, it is a scientist carrying out this “experiment” (Fig. 20)

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Figure 20. “The Shadow”. Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, C. & G. Merriam Co. 1913. Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary [Public domain] via Encyclopedian Dictionary
31 January 2017.  I did some experiments in my sketchbook on combining my background with the above metallic effect, noticing instantly that they would not be combarable. The paper in the sketchbook allows a totally smooth distribution of paint, so the background layer was too slippery for my paint-charcoal mix to spread in a similar way to the painting carton (Fig. 21).

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Figure 21. Sketchbook – experimenting with ink and acrylics on acrylic/crushed charcoal background

I did not rely on the results, but realised that I would not want to continue with acrylic paint at all here. The first layer of my background was delicate in a strange way, so I tried to respond to that by going over it with a roller using my black (diluted) and red (straight) inks. The result made me very happy (wonderful metallic lustre structured by the charcoal), but was extremely hard to take a meaningful photo of (Fig. 22):

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Figure 22. Background on A1 canvas cardboard, inks on carylics/crushed charcoal

Taking the lighter and darker areas into account I first made a very rough drawing with white charcoal, then continued to apply black, red and white ink by intuition. Here are the steps (Fig. 23-27):

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Figure 23. Compositional sketch
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Figure 24. First layers using different types of ink

Here a detail of the above (Fig. 25):

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Figure 25. Detail

I was very happy at this point with having decided not to add any more acrylic paint. The semi-transparent layers of ink allowed me to produce a very beautiful indirect light, as e.g. in the man’s face and since they were part of the background, they are in complete harmony with it. The details of the painting will have to be approached with great care in order not to overload it, probably by leaving parts as drawing (Fig. 26).

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Figure 26

2 February 2017. Here came the difficult part, not wanting to overdo it while knowing that the painting was not quite finished. I went through two more cycles, adding a few things in order to create some counterbalance to the main storyline while staying with the subject, then decided to leave it as it is to wait for tutor feedback. This is the finished painting:

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Figure 27. Finished painting

And here my favourite details (Fig. 28-30):

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Figure 28
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Figure 29
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Figure 30

Working on this painting has been one of the most interesting experiences gained throughout this course. The combination of materials is something I will be coming back to, because I think that it holds immense power for development.

This is the last post for my series of paintings for Assignment 5 of this course. Self-evaluation will follow in a separate post.

References:

Andersen, H.C. (1847a) The Shadow [online]. Classic Reader, Blackdog Media. Available at: http://www.classicreader.com/book/109/14/ [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Andersen, H.C. (1847b) Der Schatten [online]. Märchenatlas, Dr. Karen Lippert, Leipzig. Available at: http://www.maerchenatlas.de/kunstmarchen/der-schatten/ [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Andersen, H.C. (1847c) Der Schatten [online]. Lesekorb, Labbé Verlag, Bergheim. Available at: http://www.labbe.de/lesekorb/index.asp?themaid=107&titelid=987 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Andersen, H.C. (1847d) Der Schatten. Hans Christian Andersens Märchen – gesehen von Günter Grass. Steidl Verlag, Göttingen.

Andersen, H.C. (1847e) The Shadow [online]. Encyclopedian Dictionary, [n.k.]. Available at: http://hans-christian-andersens.blogspot.co.at/2012/05/shadow.html [Accessed 30 January 2017]

Arnatt, K. (1969-72) Portrait of the Artist as a Shadow of his Former Self [photograph, colour, Cibachrome print, on paper] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-portrait-of-the-artist-as-a-shadow-of-his-former-self-t07647 %5BAccessed 21 January 2017]

Arnatt, K. (1968) Invisible Hole Revealed by the Shadow of the Artist [Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/arnatt-invisible-hole-revealed-by-the-shadow-of-the-artist-p13145 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Caulfield, P. (2005) Braque Curtain [acrylic on canvas] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/caulfield-braque-curtain-t13038 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Cruikshank, G. (1827) Peter Schlemihl [etching] [online]. [n.k.]. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Schlemihl#/media/File:Peter_Schlemihl.jpg [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Edwards, J. (1974) Moonlight [screenprint on paper] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/edwards-moonlight-p03115 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Garrett, A. (2015) Film Noir of the Week: The Third Man [blog] [online]. Old Hollywood Films, Amanda Garrett, 25 June. Available at: http://www.oldhollywoodfilms.com/2015/06/film-noir-of-week-third-man.html [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Küster, S. (2014) Vom Verkauf des Schattens an den Teufel I [blog] [online]. Sabine Küster, Berlin. Available at: https://schattenflug.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/vom-verkauf-des-schattens-an-den-teufel-i/ [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Küster, S. (2014-16) Schattenflug. Schatten in Kunst und Kultur [blog] [online]. Sabine Küster, Berlin. Available at: https://schattenflug.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Muniz, V. (2000) After Richard Serra, Prop, 1968 [Photograph, colour, Cibachrome print, on paper mounted onto plastic] [online].Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/muniz-pictures-of-dust-107865 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Warhol, A. (1981) The Shadow [graphite on paper] [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-the-shadow-ar00594 [Accessed 21 January 2017]

Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) The Shadow [pencil drawing on paper?] [online]. C. & G. Merriam Co. 1913, Encyclopedian Dictionary. Available at: http://hans-christian-andersens.blogspot.co.at/2012/05/shadow.html [Accessed 30January 2017]