Part 4

Project: From inside looking out

Exercise: View from a window or doorway

Raoul Dufy (1877-1953)

French fauvist artist, decorative and colourful paintings. Usually included part of the interior with his window painting. A touch of the Van Gogh interiors here in his use of outline and perspective. Also Matisse. Love this style, definitely one I’d like to have a go at.

The Window at Nice, 1923

Gwen John (1876-1939)

Welsh artist, sister of the artist Augustus John. Very dull and gloomy paintings, lifeless. Not for me.

A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris, 1909

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

American artist, realist paintings of modern American life. Lots of preliminary sketches for oil and watercolour painting.

Room in Brooklyn, 1932, oil on canvas
Morning Sun, 1952

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)

French, many versions of views from windows. Focus is on the play of light. Bright but realistic colour .

Henri Matisse

French, fauvist, limited but striking colour palettes


Dining Room on the Garden (1934) At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Dufy, R. (s.d.) Window Opening on Nice – DUFY, Raoul – Google Arts & Culture. At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Quiet intensity: the life and art of Gwen John | Art UK (s.d.) At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Raoul and Jean Dufy at the Musée Marmottan Monet (s.d.) At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Raoul Dufy – 161 artworks – (s.d.) At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Red Interior, Still Life on a Blue Table, 1947 by Henri Matisse (s.d.) At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Stanska, Z. et al. (2017) Edward Hopper’s Drawings That Will Blow Your Mind – – Art History Stories. At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Wikipedia contributors (2019) The Open Window (Matisse). At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

Wikipedia contributors (2020) Edward Hopper. At: (Accessed 27/01/2020).

I’m drawn to the painting above by Raoul Dufy – the use of bright primary colour in a loose and slightly abstracted way. He uses rough brush outlines fulled with colour, not a lot of tonal variations just blocks of colour. The same blue is used for the sky, sea and table. The same red for the roofs, carpet and mirror reflection. The composition is balanced with a central mirror and plant, on each side of which is a large french door onto the coastal view. Then yellow and blue stripey wallpaper and a chair completes the painting on both sides. There is no fuss over total accuracy; lines are not straight, the right hand chair doesn’t sit quite right with the base of the door, only the right hand door has any depth to it…

For this exercise, I’m going to give this style a go. A happy, sunny, carefree atmosphere created with colour and simple, unfussy layout. I’m going to take the main elements of the view but not stress over a realistic representation ie positions changed if necessary, colours adapted, detail left out, whole window opening onwards to show a clearer view of outside (it doesn’t really open that way). I will include the window frame and a small area of the internal room to help set the scene.

Tried out a few sketches of composition and settled on the second one above – including the chair and curtains gives it more context, the open window allows a better view of the outside, window viewed from an angle to give diagonal perspective (check the horizontal window line angles, they don’t look quite right – eye level is about top of lowest pane which should therefore be horizontal, bit of an angle for window sill then but more for top of window…)

Would like to give this a go in water colour or gouache but I also need the colours to be vibrant and bold. After trying out several pens to see which really can be overpainted without smudging, I settled on using drawing ink and nib pen. The infill colour will be Anilinky Paint (vibrant water colours) along with acrylic inks. I’ll keep the palette limited and just use blue and yellow along with their secondary mixes.

Initially I was quite pleased with this, feeling that I’d captured the view well, perspective is ok, composition works and it’s balanced. Colours sit well together and it’s vibrant. I’d managed to create a light, cheery atmosphere out of the gloomy winter scene that I was looking at. All good, however…

Now all I can see is a tight, illustrative painting, full of accuracy but no life or interest. It was supposed to be far more abstract! My initial ink line work is far too fine – I should have used a small brush so that I got irregular line thicknesses. Perhaps if I’d used bigger paper (this is 30x40cm watercolour paper) and a long handled brush held at the end rather than hunching over the page and working slowly and carefully. Plus, the left arm of that chair should point outwards more rather than being parallel to the right arm. Not happy with myself – one to do again, time allowing.

Reworked this: see Expressive Landscape

Exercise: Hard or soft landscape

During a recent trip to Tenerife, I made the following quick sketch while sitting in a cafe on the top of a mountain overlooking the very windy road we were travelling along. The low evening sun was behind the mountains to the right making sharp tonal contrasts between those areas still in sunlight and those that were not.

I had decided that I wanted to continue with the fauvist / bright coloured theme and remembered an artist I’d come across during Drawing 1 called Scott Naismith. I looked his work up again along with a couple of others artists and studied how they had used colour in their landscapes. See sketchbook.

Scott Naismith had painted a view of Applecross Pass in Scotland with its windy road snaking across the mountains so I decided to use this as inspiration and try my own version using the Tenerife Mountains.

I’ll use the sharp contrasts between light and shadow to add intrigue and interest. Lighter tones will be yellow, orange. Areas in deep shadow will be dark purple, blue and black. I need to remember to keep my mark making quite gestural and loose – I struggle with doing this. Try bigger brushes and holding them toward end…

To create a sense of depth within the landscape I’ll need to add more detail and colour in the foreground. The distant mountains need to be without detail and a lighter tone.

Canvas board, 762cm x 508cm (20x30inch) which allows for a wider landscape than you’d get from the usual A4 proportions. Acrylic paints as I love their vivid colours and quick drying which allows faster working.

Gradually building it up. Sky definitely needs reworking but I’m finding it hard to recreate the type of clouds seen in Scott Naismith paintings. Lots of colour, rounded fluffy shapes – I’m not sure what brush I should be using but trying a big mop head now, still getting too many ‘marks’… Also I need to make it clearer that the sun is setting to the right behind the mountains.


I think I’ve achieved a good sense of contrast between light/dark tones and the mountains appear 3 dimensional. Far distant hills are lighter toned which adds to the sense of distance.

Still not happy with the sky but it’s better. Obviously something I need to really look at and see how others achieve realistic clouds.

I’m not sure that the foreground has worked either. Tried to show a sense of low vegetation in a very loose, abstract way but I’m not convinced by my mark making. Have I tried to make it too bush like? Perhaps just ‘marks,’ as Scott Naismith uses, would be more effective?

Overall, I’m satisfied that as my first landscape in this style, I’ve made a good start onto which I can improve. I’ve achieved the essence of the landscape I hoped for – now for lots of experimenting and research to improve the technique.


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