PART ONE / PROJECTS 1, 2, 3 & 4: EXPLORING THE FIELD
EXPERIMENTAL PIECES FROM PRE-MODERN AND MODERN ART STUDY
1. This piece, I did for fun, vaguely tree like forms, based on the interest I found looking at pre-historic cave painting. The medium is oil paint, oil and chalk pastel on canvas glued to a board.
2. Glaze experiment – glaze applied to red patch, (top left), 2.5 parts Grumbacher ZEC medium, 1 part aliz. crimson, 1 part turps, & blue patch, (bottom right), 2.parts Grumbacher ZEC medium, 1 part phthalo blue, 2 parts turps. Painted on cheap shop canvas, original – dull uninteresting surface. I like these glaze finishes but better still I like the combination of the two, using part glazed, & part matt finish.
3. Manipulated image detail from Poussin painting. Worked with gouache on paper.
Not so happy with this, needs more work and time exploiting further, using other media.
4. Portrait, oil on canvas. Subjective use of colour, loose, bold brush work, informed by study of Fauvists. Caught the model on an ‘off’ day!
5. Still life sketch working predominantly with just two complimentary colours on a red acrylic ground. I tried painting with lines and strokes to define forms which was an unfamiliar way of working for me. It took me out of my comfort zone. Informed by study of Fauvists.
6. One of a series of experimental sketches based originally from a Degas painting exploring simplicity of colour and shape – from Matisse, Avery research. Oil on canvas.
Collage and initial research on Giotto and Poussin images for experiments – Pre-Modern art.
One thing that was helpful with the experiments, stating the obvious, was to just to turn up and start. I initially had a block and didn’t know how to proceed, but starting to work rather than thinking too much about what to do led to further ideas. The textural research was like a well to draw from and noting how contemporary artists use and interpret traditional works and bring into a current context was also informative. Artists like Leon Kossoff who explored the work of Poussin and Ken Kewley who does likewise with Braque are interesting examples that I may draw on in my own practise.
With the pre-modern art based experiments the glaze exercises were not so successful, probably because of the time constraint to get the project finished and the time allowed for each glaze layer to fully dry before proceeding to work on subsequent layers. I realise now that I spent far too long thinking about composition and colour, not leaving myself enough time to explore different media. It could have been more beneficial to find ways of recreating the translucency of the paint, as in the Giotto image. An Artists Handbook by Margaret Krug is a very helpful resource considering materials and techniques.
With projects 3 & 4 there has been more of a flow between the two aspects of textural research and practical work. In keeping with the aim of experimenting more with colour and working in ways I am less familiar with, I think the the practical work has been relatively successful. I have other scraps, images and sketches that I haven’t had time to process that could possibly feed into other projects. I often use photoshop ,which I am familiar with, and it’s useful for exploiting images in different ways but it can also result in work which is too predictable.
I don’t think I’m going to end up as a wild colourist but this period of experimentation with colour, technique and style is helping me move on from more familiar and clichéd ways of working. Researching particular artists has led to discovering other artists whose work I find an affinity with. If I hadn’t been looking at Matisse’s late work I may not have noted what Avery was doing. From my visit to the Tel Aviv exhibition I became familiar with David Park, and looking up Park on Youtube led to discovering the work of Jacob Lawrence and Stuart Davis – jazz and cubist influenced – urban, pre pop art. All these artists are interesting colourists and they all pay homage to the influence that Matisse had on them during certain phases of their career.
There is an interesting series on Youtube called American Visions narrated by Robert Hughes He talks about, and interviews various artists about the social context and influences that shaped their work. I haven’t had time yet to view most of these videos but from what I’ve seen so far, quite thought provoking in thinking about my own work.