Monthly Archives: June 2010

Jane Bond – Medieval Princess

The energy challenge in portraits

Jane Bond’s thing is beautiful portraits.  As a project this one was refreshing, in that it was the first time for a while that we were essentially unrestricted, ie in type of painting, composition or palette.  Jane’s own pictures are complex, detailed, pretty and extremely well executed.  I recommend looking them up.  I found her charcoal drawings of particular note and strength.  Perhaps that is just a reflection of the fact that I am personally less drawn to prettiness in pictures.  She bought in complex gowns for the models and created an interesting set up.

The challenge I set myself was twofold.  First to zero in on the palette that I think I want to use, not having used it before and second, to paint with the same energy and freshness that we achieved with the Linda Nugent quick poses.  There is a tension between the immediacy of the mark making in quick poses and the consideration and care that can be taken in longer poses.  One challenge I face at the moment is to marry these together, but I have a sense that I can get there with that.  As part of that process I also did a larger scale head painting in the same pose as well as a semi abstracted but very ‘painterly’ abstracted pose.

For the moment I have decided to paint with an essentially earth palette, yellow ochre, venician and indian reds, ultramarine, supplemented with a phylo blue, for strong intense blues, blacks and off whites, as well as viridian green and alizarin crimson, for grey’s and pinks.  I am supplementing this with bright lakes colours for when I want to give the colour a lift.  Why this choice?  I do not want to use cadmiums (too poisonous) and want to focus on opaque paints (otherwise no solidity in feel). which ultimately leads to this palette.  The viridian and alizarin are very useful for flesh tints in their own right as well as making great greys.

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Linda Nugent 3

Linda Nugent 3

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Linda Nugent 2

Linda Nugent 2

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Linda Nugent – fast pics

Quick impact portraits

I got more interesting portraits from this project with Linda Nugent than any other, as well as a renewal of my own energy and enthusiasm.  The project was about free and direct statements.  Linda Nugent gave us 3 weeks that had a big impact on the group.

The main parts of the project were to do quick paintings, 10-39 minutes rather like quick poses from the life class.  In addition we did exercises on mixing greys.  The objective was to find intuitive ways to get to visual equivalents of what is seen as well as to explore lots of different compositions.  There was no time to think about what we were doing, over mix the colours, or to over paint.  The results were interesting, evocative, creative, high energy and high impact paintings.

Overall, I did about 30 paintings during the project, all on button polish covered paper.  There are a few of those paintings on this page, and also on the next page.  It made me realise that doing pictures like this as a regular part of my painting would be a good idea, a way to stay fresh and strong, while also getting to intuitive perspectives on particular opportunities.  I also realised the power of combining painting and drawing on the same image.  Greys are important.

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Chris Moock Self Portrait

Portrait over a mirror

The first project of the summer term was a self portrait with Chris Moock .  In a fit of enthusiasm at the beginning of the term I was interested to see what I could do that was not the standard ‘looking into a mirror’ image.  I had also taken a large 40 X 40 inch canvas to add to the challenge.  Chris had us work with a very traditional limited palette of Indian Red, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue and Raw Umber.  He also required us to work primarily with only two colours in any mix and had a strict embargo on unnecessary use of white.  In broad his approach is to use almost no white, working with a low key palette and using white in colour mixes just for the highlights, ie as a colour in its own right rather than a lightener.  Interestingly some people got some bright colours and strong contrasts, even though the base paints were relatively dull.  Those typical white mixed pastel looking colours all but disappeared.  Finally its worth noting that Indian Red and Prussian Blue mix an attractive and strong black

I came to the class having pre worked out a composition that I thought would be interesting, placing a mirror on the floor and looking up my body while sitting on a stool and painting.  With only 4 days to do this project  I was really pushed by the size of the canvas I had brought and the difficult nature of the position that I had to hold.  I still really like the composition and quite like the resulting picture.  But I am going to do this picture again to see what more I can make of it.  I want to 1)  bring more colours and colour complements into each of the major areas, 2) increase the strength and tonal range of the arms, in particular the resting arm so that it has more presence in the composition and work and the background.  3) Loosen up the brush work and do more ‘drawing with paint’.

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Life with Atul Vohora

Marks to make form

I’ve been trying to push on my life drawing in a number of areas.

  • Making the form with marks inside the form rather than describing the edges, as a lot of drawing are.
  • Finding rhythm in the lines and shapes that engage.
  • Taking the drawing to the edges, describing the space in which the ‘subject’ is, to that end using simplified approaches to the ‘background’ that are clear as well as defining the space, a landscape approach.
  • Making marks that help describe the form, rather than simply marking the edges of either tones or the points at which the form turns.
  • Using areas of hatching to define the form, rather than simply mark the changes in tone as seen.
  • Filling out the whole area of the drawing to create a whole image.  I was touched by the recent exhibition of Picasso’s later work in this respect.  It is much more evident seeing the paintings live rather than in books.
  • Starting with lighter, more searching marks, then lifting the definiteness as the image coalesces, using rubbing out in this way as well.
  • Measuring using a fixed unit that will not move, while the subjects do move around, as well as using many comparative measures to check.

There were some interesting drawings by Jenny Saville of mother and child, moving around, at the Gagosian gallery, well worth seeing if you have a chance.

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