Before you go any further in Part Five, give some thought to the piece of written work that you’ll submit as part of Assignment Five. This will be a research project into the historical and contemporary use of a specific painting medium. You should write around 500 words and illustrate your essay appropriately. For this written project, choose a painting medium that you enjoy and have used during this course and look at one historical and one contemporary artist who uses the same medium.
For example, if you were to choose watercolour, you might look at J.M.W. Turner and Emma Talbot and investigate the different ways they use watercolour and why you find these appealing and effective. Reflect on the influences these artists have had on your work and ways in which you might continue to use the medium in your work.
Make a study of packaging or rubbish from something you’ve bought or rubbish that you’ve found near your house. … Make three oil or acrylic studies of some packaging or rubbish. It would be tonally interesting to choose something of fairly neutral colour like Alex Hanna’s pill packets and bubble wrap or Giorgio Morandi’s bottles and ceramics. Place the packaging or rubbish onto a piece of white paper in strong light. An anglepoise-type lamp is good for this but you could use strong natural light too.
Before you start, make three quick tonal studies with a soft pencil: 2B, 3B or softer would be good. Remember to squint when you look at the tones to work out which is lightest and darkest. Try to identify at least ten different tones. Next, using a fairly limited palette, make three paintings of at least A5 size. Consider your surface. You’ll need something quite sturdy for this like board, canvas, card or metal. You could prime the surface first with emulsion, gesso or primer. Alternatively, you could paint the surface with a coloured background that you then paint out. Paint this coloured background with acrylic paint if you’re painting on top with acrylic paint or with oil paint if you’re painting on top with oil paint. Remember, you may need to wait a while for oil paint to dry. The under-painting can give the finished painting a glow, especially if the under-painting is in a warm colour. Try not to draw the image out on the surface first, but start painting straight away. This will give the painting a fresher, more fluid look and, because acrylics and oil paints can be impasto, you can paint any mistakes out.
During a day in my studio I drink a lot of bottled water, so I didn’t have far to go to find subject material for this exercise.
I lightened the ground before drawing in paint with a size 8 filbert brush. Capturing the crumpled-ness of the packaging and with the bottle showing through was quite a challenge. However, I believe I have managed to capture the essence of what I saw before me.
An even more difficult challenge this time with the packaging really crumpled up and beginning to spring apart again.
I scraped off some of the ground oil covering to let bits of lettering and design of the placemat peek through – “Hot Diggity Dog!” – and I again lightened the foreground before using a size 8 brush to capture the squashed up empty bottle. I am pleased with the result and the image sits well below the HDD heading.
Make a study of a corner of your room. Choose a corner where the light changes a lot throughout the day. Using watercolour on A5 watercolour paper, make a study from life in the morning, at midday and during the evening.
Having awakened, and refreshed with a cup of tea, being a lazy kind of fellow I lay down on my bed in the early morning and looked out over the covers to the window/wardrobe corner of the room, returning at midday and again in the evening before turning in for the night.
Outside morning light through the green window blind cast a greenish tinge across the room.
Window blind up to fully let the light shine in, brightening the room considerably, although still with some upward greenish tints.
Evening drawing to a close and the light is dimming outside, bringing some unexpected brownish colouring to the room.
Make a study of something you see on a walk within five minutes of your house. • Make five sketches in black and diluted black ink on grey/beige postcard-size paper. • Make five sketches in watercolour on HP watercolour paper, postcard sized.
“Each one of us, then, should speak of his roads, his crossroads, his roadside benches; each one of us should make a surveyor’s map of his lost fields and meadows. … Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived. These drawings need not be exact. They need only to be tonalized on the mode of our inner space.’ Bachelard, G. (2014) The poetics of space. [e-book] New York: Penquin Books,pp.75-76
My main inspiration for this exercise came from my readings of de Maistre, Sinclair, Coverley, MacFarlane, Davidson, Sebald, and Bachelard (see Bibliography).
In particular, in Sinclair’s London Orbital: a walk around the M25, I began to see a possible replication of the circular route, but this time around my own immediate environment – garden, fields, roadside, forest and landmarks. I’ll let the pictures tell this story, starting from the dilemma of which way to turn when leaving my studio and ending with reflection on the night sky over Balnain at the end of the day.
I brought the individual sketches into three curated collections (see below) – two photographic arrangements and one travelogue-style booklet with accompanying map of the route taken.
Please click on each individual image to enlarge it.
Part 5: Exercise 5.2 – walking study 1 “which way?” [watercolour on HP watercolour paper, A6 postcard size]