Assignment 1

Tutor feedback to Part 1 and my thoughts on it

My tutor liked that I had been experimenting with mixed media and paint, and encouraged me to continue this which I will definitely do – so much to explore and learn!

He also suggests I continue to develop layering paint to build depth on the surface, and explore line, tone and texture in abstracted ways, as opposed to focussing on representation accuracy. This is great as I’ve really been focussing on trying to be more abstract in Part 2 – exploring using palette knives and wedges etc rather than just brushes to give more texture and different lines.

He suggests that I spend more time sketching and trialing ideas before starting. This should help with getting the tonal properties correct and the contrast between light and dark areas. Definitely something I’m becoming more aware of, especially when painting interiors. On receiving this feedback, I revisited the interior pieces I was working on and added more variation between tones – creates a clearer sense of depth and space within the room.

As far as research is concerned, he suggests that I choose 2 or 3 artworks each time and compare and contrast these in more detail. I’ll certainly give this a go in future though I’d completed all the research for Part 2 before receiving this advise.

He says how important it is to take as much inspiration as possible from other artists through visiting exhibition (as I’ve been doing, especially over the summer) and reading a range of books. He suggested I get a couple of books 1. Vitamin P – New Perspectives in Painting, by Barry Schwabsky (2002) – bought this and reading through. 2. A Brush with the Real: Figurative Painting Today (Elephant Books) (2014) – too expensive for me, maybe I’ll find it in a library…

In summary, Pointers for the next assignment:
● Continue to experiment and explore your visual thinking in different ways, both in terms of medium and subjects. Focus on your processes rather than final outcomes at this stage and build confidence with your application of paint. – loving experimenting, there’s so much to learn. I’ve explored applying Acrylics with tools and well as brushes which I find frees me up more, and am persevering with the troublesome Gouache as I love its vibrancy. Going to invest in Oil paints for the next part to see how they compare.
● Develop greater contrast in your work but spending more time observing the tonal properties of your subject. Exaggerating the relationship between light and dark may reveal a more realistic three-dimensional space. – something I’ll really need to focus on and learn to exaggerate as I can see how it’s the contrast that adds reality.
● The subject of the next assignment can be approached in a traditional way, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Push the creative boundaries of your practice and utilise what you learn from your contextual research.
● Search the OCA website for resources and guides on academic writing and critical reflection, including how to use Harvard referencing when citing your research sources. – I’ve done this and am now using PaperPile to help with referencing.

Assignment 1

Assignment 1

Choosing a composition proved far harder than it ought to be! As I’d just been researching Chiaroscuro, I thought at first perhaps a portrait with direct light source but it quickly became clear that I couldn’t make my studio dark enough for the light to have effect (nor did I actually feel capable of painting a portrait). I tried an assortment of arty things but that felt too predictable.

Eventually I settled on a Still Life of some household objects that are connected by their colours, have a good range of heights and a variety of materials/textures to test me:

Paint choices: acrylic paint. Decided to just go for it and adjust colours as I go along. I don’t currently have any mediums to add to the paint for gloss, matt, texture etc as there’s too many options to choose from! I’m meeting a couple of more experienced OCA Painting students next week for some technical know-how.

Started with a rough dark background and sketched on the outlines in charcoal to get proportions correct. Added blocks of colour and left to dry.

Layers of colour added to reduce transparency, especially of mug and lemon. Several layers of glaze (colour with water) to apples to try and make them glossy and colours blended. Darker tones to right side of objects where less light. Decided that the upturned flower pot was too similar to background colour so changed that. Also tried to add the spots of light on the apples using white – that didn’t look right at all and I thought I’d messed it up as the white is too opaque to cover but I found that despite being dry I could scratch it off. Tried adding the texture pattern to the ‘cows’.

I found this really challenging but focussed upon knowing I could always repaint parts that weren’t right and I’m fairly happy with the final painting.

I found selecting the correct brush more tricky than I’d realised it’d be – I guess that’s a matter of practice. Small details eg the ears, were particularly hard and these are pretty messy. My hands can shake a bit making the fine lines of the flower stem and apple sticks rather wobbly. I think I’ve managed to capture the idea of 3D with the darker tones and shadows – perhaps more variation between the vertical and horizontal planes of the background would have helped ie make the objects look like they are sitting on a flat surface. The left hand cow tends to blend into the background as they are similar colours – a lighter area behind him could have helped this.

More critique in sketchbook:

A lot to be thinking about now with this and many lessons learnt.

Having another try at still life:

After seeing the ‘Coffee Pot and Lemon’ still life of Colin Pethick at Open Studios, I wanted to have another go. Such amazing reflections caught in the metal and table surface but on close inspection his brush strokes are very rough and nothing is totally blended. Love this style but it is oils rather than acrylics…

No coffee pots so I’m going for a white tea pot with lemon. I found that placing it on its side gave far more tonal variation and a more interesting shape. Added a few flowers to complete composition:

Same colour pallet as before but decided to make the background more vibrant so started with Vermillion, Copper and Gold paint. Tried to use brush strokes to define the difference between horizontal table and the vertical. Used chalk to add outlines and painted basic shapes. White, of course, being opaque, covers the background nicely but I can see I may struggle with the orange flower (lemon will hopefully be OK as there’s nothing behind it and the background colours can be used to add tones).

Detail of lemon: some white mixed in with yellows to cover background then dappled a darker tone to give texture. Finished with glaze of yellow. Photo is a bit blurred I’m afraid but I can see progress from the lemon in my first piece.

Shadows ground the objects well. Happy with lemon and white flowers. Orange flower is still too transparent and I needed to add more white to paint. Flower stems were very tricky again as my hand stook too much for an even line. I think I have a good range of tones in the tea pot but found it very hard to blend then properly.

Sketchbook critique:

Far from perfect but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I’m learning from each try and can see improvement.