Part 4, project 3, exercise 1: Expressive landscape – creating mood and atmosphere

Updated on 22 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 November 2016. This exercise comes at exactly the right time. Feeling exhausted and wobbly due to the strain experienced over so many years, I feel the strong need to create a landscape entirely from my mind in order to find a way of transporting this feeling of wanting to get away from all that madness.

When driving along a road near Berchtesgaden, seeing a sign for the “Almbachklamm” river gorge (if you ever happen to be near this magical place, go there!) I suddenly knew that this was what I wanted for this exercise. Since on top of a river gorge you always come out into an open space, I want to use a gorge metaphorically to represent this claustrophobic time of my life. I love walking in those special places, which have a climate and vegetation of their own, ancient, exciting and full of energy. I love the wooden stairs, walkways and bridges that take you along the most spectacular sights without the danger of falling off a cliff and into one of the gorgeous waterfalls and pools. Which is exactly what I am craving for at the moment: a secure, reliable and enjoyable walkway away from forces I am unable to control.

So I went to look for artists painting river gorges. The results I got were not what I expected (enter “river gorge painting” into your search engine and see for yourself). Gorges appear not to be very popular among painters, except those creating romanticist landscapes, so I guess that I will have to follow my own intuition.

I knew however that I would need some very energetic mark-making in order to express the menace felt and desire to escape. Doing some research into this I first came across the attractive brushmarks made by Louise Balaam (UK) (Balaam, n.d.), which she uses to create what looks like deceptively simple landscapes. Her way of catching the mood of the atmosphere, so to speak, by transforming the space created by nothing but air into a “vessel” filled with motion and emotion looks stunning to me. However, there are no pictures catching a claustrophobic environment. Her choice of subjects are the free and lofty. Very strong blocks of colour I found in the paintings of Columbia River by  Elizabeth See (US) (See, 2012) and especially some like those seen in the bottom image (4/4, yellow), I might be able to use in my own work. Regarding waterfalls I found the marks made in  “Skyfall” by Linda Wilder (Wilder, n.d.) very lively and probably closest to what I want to do.

15 November 2016. Yesterday and today I made a first sketch depicting an imaginary river gorge. I am happy about the composition, so I will try and stay with it for the final painting (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Sketchbook – preliminary compositional pencil sketch

On top of this sketch I then painted, intuitively, some greyscale tonal variation, taking care to be aware of both linear and aerial perspective (Fig. 2):

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Figure 2. Sketchbook – watercolour sketch

I really liked the square format, because it allows to both expand in the foreground and have a strong vertical aspect. The tonal sketch helped me identify the areas I need to paint with great care, especially towards the far back, where I want the sky to be felt as open space. In this sketch I found that the painting of sky and hill colours followed by a semi-transparent layer of white helped convey this impression. I need to think also whether I want the walkway as means of escape to be painted in a highly contrasting colour, maybe a warm, dark orange, which would require an evening sky as a consequence. Since I do not want this exercise to degenerate into a kitsch horror, I might resist the temptation though :o).

Once I had prepared the background for the final painting, however, I did not prefer the square format any longer. There was so much claustrophobic energy waiting to be spent that I had no time to cut the paper and so I started painting straight away with my palette knife on a background made of three semi-transparent layers of white, blue and bluegreen, indicating very roughly where the gorge would be. Since I wanted my red rocks, the claustrophobic ones, to be in the painting first, I think I made a mistake by starting from the foreground. This made adding the rocky layers at the back somewhat more complex. Still this beginning looked three-dimensional and the wild mix of colours was close to what I had in mind (Fig. 3):

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Figure 3. Prepared background with first rock layer added using painting knife

After adding some more elements of the gorge the whole composition started looking a bit patchy and disconnected (layering …) (Fig. 4):

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Figure 4. Adding gorge layout

… which I managed to solve more or less (Fig. 5):

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Figure 5. Connecting the elements

This was when I got stuck. I really liked the blue negative space and did not want to spoil the effect, but then I would not be able to proceed as planned. So with introducing a first sketch of the walkway and something like water it got a bit more fiddly and I kept jumping erratically from one bit to the next, but I was pleased with how the rocks in the foreground came out (please ignore the gorge walls, walkway and water, they are only sketches at this stage) (Fig. 6):

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Figure 6. Adding structural elements

The sketched-in walkways appeared very crude at that point. I have not found a technique and/or paintbrush yet, which would allow me to produce fine but not fussy lines in an otherwise rough painting. Also often my hand is not steady enough when working on an easel and so I had to work round the wide lines to narrow them down. At the same time I worked on the red of the rocks on the righthand side. These stood out far too much after having subdued the rocks to the left. By the way, the technique of starting with darker, bold brushstrokes, followed by letting the paint become completely dry and another set of semi-dry layers of lighter paint on top of that allows the creating of very life-like rock with lively surface textures (Fig. 7):

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Figure 7. Working on the rock texture

17 November 2016. Today I finished this exercise with further narrowing down the walkways, working on the rocks at the back and painting over the greenish hue the water had assumed over night by getting darker while drying. There are several weak points in my intuitive composition, but an inner warning voice told me to stop working here. So this is the result (Fig. 8):

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Figure 8. Finished painting

I am quite happy about the outcome, especially the potential of this rough technique. It was by far easier than expected to produce rock-like structures with just my palette knife and a small flat paintbrush. Regarding my initial plan of relieving a claustrophobic atmosphere by providing a pathway into the open I think that some of it can be felt, although by narrowing down the view more it should be possible to push the idea a lot further. This is a goal I would like to set myself for the assignment piece for this part of the course.

References:

Balaam, L. (n.d.) Paintings [image collection] [online]. Louise Balaam, Kent. Available at: http://www.louisebalaam.co.uk/louise_balaam_paintings.htm [Accessed 10 November 2016]

See, E. (2012) Plein Air Paintings Columbia River Gorge [blog] [online]. Elizabeth See, White Salmon. Available at: http://elizabethseepaints.blogspot.co.at/2012/03/plein-air-paintings-columbia-river.html [Accessed 10 November 2016]

Wilder, L. (n.d.) Skyfall [online]. Linda Wilder. Available at: http://lindawilderart.com/workszoom/1467608 [Accessed 10 November 2016]

Artist research: Picasso’s “Blue Period”

Updated on 22 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and some content).

4 October/16 November 2016. This is how much time I have at the moment. Nearly one and a half months before I get an opportunity to have a look at Picasso. His “Blue Period”  occurred when Picasso was no more than 20 years old, and was the initial spark to his great career. It lasted a mere four years, from 1900 to 1904. It is said to be a mirror of an unhappy, unsuccessful time in his life . The main influence exerted on him before the start of the period was one the one hand the suicide a close friend and on the other the Fauvist painters, especially Henri Matisse (Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography, n.d.(a)). The paintings sold with little success then, but are all the more popular now.
Some examples from this period, first “A Blue Room” ( Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Pablo Picasso: “A Blue Room”, 1901, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
Next “The Roofs of Barcelona” (Fig. 2):

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Figure 2. Pablo Picasso: “The Roofs of Barcelona”, 1903, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
And finally, “La Soupe” from 1902/03 (Fig. 3):

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Figure 3. Pablo Picasso: “La Soupe”, 1902/03, oil on canvas. Source: Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) [Fair use] via Wikiart
Although vastly researched and proved (Chalif, 2007), I find it difficult to interpret all of Picasso’s blue paintings as a direct consequence of depression – unless seen together with a depressing subject. So the “Roofs of Barcelona” suggest the early hours of a beautiful spring morning, just before sunrise, and nothing more. The same thought occurs to me when seeing the “The Blue Room”. Only “La Soupe” above, or other blue paintings such as “Mother and Child” (Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(b)) suggest a truly depressive mood. I suspect therefore that it is very likely that colour exerts highly differentiated effects on every single viewer depending on the physics of eyesight, the viewer’s experiences and mood, as well as the circumstances defining the surroundings when viewing a painting.

References:

Chalif, D.J. (2007) “The Death of Casagemas: early Picasso, the Blue Period, mortality, and redemption.” [abstract] [online]. Neurosurgery, no. 61(2), pp. 404-417. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17762753 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(a)) Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period [online]. Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography. Available at: http://www.pablopicasso.org/blue-period.jsp [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography (n.d.(b)) Mother and Child, 1902 by Pablo Picasso [online]. Pablo Picasso Paintings, Quotes and Biography. Available at: http://www.pablopicasso.org/mother-and-child-1902.jsp [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1901) A Blue Room [oil on canvas] [online]. The Phillips Collection, Washington DC. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/a-blue-room-a-tub-1901 %5BAccessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1902-03) La Soupe [oil on canvas] [online]. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/the-soup-1903 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Picasso, P. (1903) The Roofs of Barcelona [oil on canvas] [online]. Museu Picasso of Barcelona. Available at: https://www.wikiart.org/en/pablo-picasso/the-roofs-of-barcelona-1903 [Accessed 16 November 2016]

Sketchbook: Autumn update

Updated on 20 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

7 November 2016. Time to update on my everyday inkpen sketches. I keep thinking that I find too little opportunity to use my sketchbook, but looking at this series maybe it is not as bad as it feels.

First some riverside impressions, trying very quickly (30 seconds per person at most) to express posture and mood of the people I happened to see there (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (1)

The following man, sitting on one of the benches, was incredibly difficult to catch. He was fidgety to a high degree, kept talking to a woman sitting next to him and looking around all the time, so despite my sunglasses I never had more than one tenth of a second before he spotted me looking at him. I held out, nevertheless (Fig. 2):

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Figure 2. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (2)

Next some ladies watching their respective kids play with the gravel (Fig. 3):

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Figure 3. Sketchbook – riverside impressions (3)

Then some more people “on the move” along the river, including a 20 minute sketch from my series recording “mass movement”, this time catching mostly cyclists (Fig. 4-5):

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Figure 4. Sketchbook – people on the move (1)
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Figure 5. Sketchbook – people on the move (2)

Next a series of very quick portrait sketches, which I made in preparation for an exciting evening in one of Salzburg’s art museums (“Rupertinum”), where I spent 6 hours speed portraying the visitors of the “Long Night of Museums” in October. The preparatory sketches were made while watching TV shows/discussions on the internet (Fig. 6-11):

  1. A boy stting for an artist who explained speed portraiture to an audience of future artists:
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Figure 6

2. One of the Austrian TV news presenters (Tarek Leitner):

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Figure 7

3. The mayor of Salzburg (Heinz Schaden):

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Figure 8

4. Another TV news presenter (Armin Wolf):

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Figure 9

5. The leader of the green party in Salzburg (Astrid Rössler):

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Figure 10

6. Austria’s federal chancellor (Christian Kern):

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Figure 11

Then something difficult, catching people visiting the “Rupertikirtag” fun fair in the city of Salzburg, amidst a great crowd, some of them definitely quite drunk and very suspicious of my actions (Fig. 12-13):

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Figure 12. Sketchbook – Rupertikirtag (1)
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Figure 13. Sketchbook – Rupertikirtag (2)

And finally, moving on to Part 4 of the course, some views on, through and out of objects and buildings (Fig. 14-18).
First, looking through the gap between the planks of a bench on the gravel, leaves, cigarette ends, bits of plastic and metal, which happen to accumulate under well-used public seats:

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Figure 14

Then a very quick impression of an old mill (“Rauchmühle”), which at the moment is in the process of being torn down to make way for affordable flats. The rubble in the foreground are the remains of a house, which used to stand attached to the tall building on the right. The view was quite exciting and I keep it at the back of my mind for Part 4.

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Figure 15

Next two views of the flats typical for the built-up area around my son’s school:

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Figure 16
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Figure 17

And last a quick evening twilight impression of our tiny front garden/vegetable plot as seen through the dining room window:

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Figure 18

I am extremely glad how my sketching abilities have become reliable over the years, most importantly those regarding portraiture. Only on rare occasions now I fail to catch a true likeness of a person and I notice how I have developed a keen sense of the most descriptive characteristics of a person’s face and posture. Hopefully this is here to stay :o).

 

Part 3, project 2, exercise 3 – Looking at faces – creating mood and atmosphere

Updated on 11 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

15 August 2016. In order to see how colours interact on a canvas to create mood and atmosphere, I carried out a simple experiment. I went to look for an interesting facial expression and used two different combinations of colours to see how mood and atmosphere change. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post (Lacher-Bryk, 2016), Alexej von Jawlensky and the resemblance to thermographic imaging sounded fascinating to me. So I used Jawlensky’s “Blue Head” as a reference, and had blue, red and yellow as well as Paynes grey and white to chose from.

The model I selected was not a sitter, but the photo of a winner of a gold medal at the London Olympic games in 2012. I had a look at several and selected a few, where facial expression was not just joy, but mixed with something else. I found one like that for 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen (Yang, 2012), whose victory was so stunning that it became a doping issue so fierce that it now appears to ruin her career although the suspicions apparently were never confirmed. Hence probably the diffuse emotions on her face (Yang, 2012). The same I found in the Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, but this time due to having to fight depression (Watson, 2012).

Then I had a look at some thermographic portraits to get accustomed to the colour schemes used there (Taylor (2016), Sébire (2016), Sarfels (2013)). These were not too helpful, because the range of colours is of course entirely up to the designer, but they all roughly follow the red/hot-yellow/warm-blue/cold sequence. This I used to set up my own colour scheme, asking myself how the winner of the gold medal would probably react at the ceremony in order to identify the hot and cold areas on their face. Here I proceeded purely intuitively, since my goal was not to end up with a faithful thermographic image, but to see whether I could produce, by using very strong colours, an impression of resonance with an excited crowd (top image) or momentary introversion without emotional contact with the surroundings (bottom image). This is what I came up with, on two adjacent pages in my sketchbook (Fig. 1-2):

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Figure 1. Sketchbook: Range of facial colours “in contact with the environment”

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Figure 2. Sketchbook: Range of facial colours “separate from the environment”

I quite like both portraits and their wild colours, although I am not so sure whether the changes in colour added atmospheric quality to the paintings in the intended way. At the start I had hoped that the anxious look on the medal winner’s face, which in my opinion would be totally inappropriate to the occasion in case she had nothing on her mind to dampen her joy, might be altered by the warm and cool choice of colours as well as the similarity or disparity with the heated up surroundings. At the moment I would not be able to tell whether the experiment was successful, but I will show both paintings to some people without giving them any information about my intentions and see if they can spot the difference.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Research point: Mood and atmosphere in portraits [blog] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/08/14/research-point-mood-and-atmosphere-in-portraits/ [Accessed 11 March 2017]

Sarfels, J. (2013) Sichtbares Mitgefühl. Soziologische Forschung mit Wärmebildkameras [online]. Inspect, Weinheim. Available at: http://www.inspect-online.com/topstories/control/sichtbares-mitgefuehl [Accessed 15 August 2016]

Sébire, A. (2016) In the Heat of the Moment [exhibition announcement] [online]. Adam Sébire, Sydney. Available at: https://www.adamsebire.info/the-works/in-the-heat-of-the-moment [Accessed 15 August 2016]

Taylor, L.A. (2016) Breast Thermography Now Available in the Greater Buffalo Area
[online]. Linda Ann Taylor, Williamsville. Available at: http://www.lindaanntaylor.com/thermography.html [Accessed 15 August 2016]

Watson, L. (2012) Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe reveals he considered suicide and planned places to end his life during career crippled by depression [online]. Mail Online, 14 October 2012. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2217623/Five-time-Olympic-champion-Ian-Thorpe-considered-suicide-planned-places-end-life-career-crippled-depression.html [Accessed 15 August 2016]

Yang, Y. (2012) China gives Western media a gold medal for bias [online]. Latitude News, Cambridge, USA. Available at: http://www.latitudenews.com/story/china-gives-western-media-a-gold-medal-for-bias/ [Accessed 15 August 2016]

 

Research point: Mood and atmosphere in portraits

Updated on 11 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and changes to content).

14 August 2016. This subject is unchartered territory for me and I think that, had I been asked the same question at the start of the course, I would not have understood the question in the intended way. It is not just about reproducing what I see, but about what I would call a resonance among the colours in a painting. The painting reproduced on p. 87 of the study guide (Open College of the Arts, 2011), “Head in Blue” (1912) by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941, Russian-German expressionist painter and co-founder of the “Blauer Reiter” movement, (Arts Experts, n.d.)) pointed me to the fact. For me it was the first time ever to see the colours before the subject, a weird and unexpected experience and I will be trying to test this in my next exercise.

But first, to set the scene, what is mood and what is atmosphere? To me, mood seems to be a characteristic that is tied to objects, not just human beings, nor even animals or other living organisms, but anything present in the visible world. Mood, of course is a human concept and the interpretation of what we see or feel is invariably connected with being human and our individual experiences. Atmosphere, on the other hand, appears to be the sum of radiated moods and by reciprocal action may influence the mood of someone or something within its reach. Therefore I think, but I may be totally wrong here, that as a painter I should be unable to capture a mood without capturing an atmosphere. In order to provide a portrait with both I need to feel carefully this radiation and should eventually be able to trace it back to the mood of the portrayed person.

How does colour come in here? It will most certainly not be enough to call on colour symbolism and paint a green face to portray envy or a red face to convey anger, or whatever. A person is never only the stage for one feeling, but “mood” seems to be the sum of feelings felt at a moment in time, as a result of intrinsic sources and in resonance with the atmosphere. I think that it is only possible to capture mood and atmosphere by letting oneself to be guided by the messages picked up by intuition.

So, how do other artists use colour here? Because of the strong impression left by the first encounter, I decided to stay with Jawlensky and see whether I could find out some principles by comparing some of his works.

First, his “Head in Blue” (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Alexej von Jawlensky: “Head in Blue”, 1912, oil on cardboard. Source: Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Comons
My impressions in short:

  1. Outline of head and surroundings are both more or less the same colour, so the person seems to be in resonance with the surroundings
  2. The strong lines, bold blocks of colour and shape of the facial features suggest a strong character, who shows it at the moment of painting: she is alert, but in a “cool” manner
  3. The chosen colours remind me of the image produced by a thermal camera, although the result would in reality be somewhat different. Interestingly, this observation ties in with my concept of mood and atmosphere influencing each other by means of “radiation”. The red – warm – areas I interpret as those active in radiation and re-radiation: The person is active in taking in her surroundings by vision and smell, less so by hearing, little by touch, but not at that moment by verbal communication

When comparing the above with other portraits by Jawlensky, e.g. “Frauenkopf” (1911), the difference in colour between surroundings and head act to leave the impression of an introvert character. The somewhat erratic brush strokes defining the outline seem to indicate a conflict with the environment and the eyes, although open, do not seem to make contact with anything in particular. When looking with my thermal camera I detect the hottest, i.e. most active, areas on the forehead, cheeks and the back of the neck, as if he were struggling to keep up some appearance. Most senses and verbal communication seem not to be too active.

To me, one of the most impressive of Jawlensky’s paintings was the portrait of the dancer and actor Alexander Sakharoff :

Jawlensky_Sakharoff
Figure 2. Alexej von Jawlensky: “Portrait of Alexander Sakharoff”, 1909, oil on cardboard. Source: Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Body posture, outline, choice of colours and surrounding brushstrokes make the whole canvas a vibrating whole. To me, the dancer’s true mood might be hidden behind an air of overt professional provocation directed at the painter, enhanced by the stage dress: Here, the most important connections seem to be the eyes and their colour repeated by the environment and the red of mouth, rose and dress. While the latter send an “invitation” (red standing out from the picture plane, hot area for the thermal camera), the former seem to say “Let me see you dare” (turquoise standing back,  cool area for the camera). What a clever composition.

References:

Arts Experts (n.d.) Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) [online]. Arts Experts, New York. Available at: https://www.artexpertswebsite.com/pages/artists/jawlensky.php [Accessed 14 August 2016]

Open College of the Arts (2011) Painting 1. The Practice of Painting. The Bridgeman Art Library, London, New York, Paris, p. 87.

von Jawlensky, A. (1909) Portrait of Alexander Sakharoff [oil on canvas] [online]. Lenbachhaus, Munich. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jawlensky_Sakharoff.jpg [Accessed 14 August 2016]

von Jawlensky, A. (19119) Head of a Woman [oil on millboard laid on plywood] [online]. Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alexej_von_Jawlensky_-_Frauenkopf_(Head_of_a_Woman)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg [Accessed 14 August 2016]

von Jawlensky, A. (1912) Head in Blue [oil on cardboard] [online]. Buchheim Museum der Phantasie, Bernried. Available at: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Alexej_von_Jawlensky_-_Kopf_in_Blau.jpg [Accessed 14 August 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
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Figure 3. Strengthening the colours, taking back the 3D impression
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Figure 4. Finished painting
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Figure 5. Finished painting, detail with complementary and similar colours
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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]