Saturday, 20 August 2011

Experiment 3.

Last night I was desperate for a reference to work from to continue my weekly experiments and I couldn't find anything inspiring from my recent photographs. I always keep my camera with me wherever I go and lately I have been taking really weak photographs, so I searched my Picasa files for a reference and found a Henri Fantin-Latour flower painting. Nobody can paint flowers like Fantin-Latour and I don't know what came over me but I thought I would try and copy this work. I feel most of the time this genre can go no further and no additional flower paintings are necessary, but I became totally absorbed with the technical challenges and forgot about any latent snobbery I have towards realism. Obviously I couldn't pick up many of the nuances in his work because I was working in gouache, but I adored the murky effects of the stems and foliage in the glass vase and I think this work of mine has turned out quite well. One thing I have noticed is that I haven't quite captured the elegant spaces between the flowers in the original work as mine are a bit too squashed together. It has been a revelation to observe how he captured flowers, a subject I have never had any ambition to paint, but even doing this small "Experiment" has taught me something important about placement of objects in space. I could add a few more brushstrokes here and there to lift it up a little, but I am leaving it in case I go too far and end up with mud.

"Sketch - Homage to Henri Fantin-Latour"
Gouache on Watercolour Paper - 8" x 7.5"

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Experiment 2.

I really don't know how I dare post this, but I am not in the mood to edit my work right now. I feel like showing what's coming off my shaky little production line as it goes along. I might delete all my mediocre work at the end of the year as a gift to myself but posting on my blog helps me in very strange ways. Long ago I promised myself I would do a sketch or small watercolour each night to keep the old elbow greased with the obvious goal of learning a little faster than I would if I only painted on the weekends when time, good lighting and 'studio' set-up was more conducive to supporting good work. Last night I started this homage to my favourite self portrait of Rembrandt. I had previously done it in charcoal and liked it apart from the fact that some of the proportions of his features were slightly wrong. In this much smaller work, the same problems arose in capturing his features accurately. I did a tracing and found that tracing marks do not take on watercolour paper very well and even though the face is much closer to the original portrait than my charcoal work, it is frustrating to discover that only a millimetre out of exactitude can totally destroy a work. I retraced over it tonight which improved it slightly and tried to hide some of the mistakes with pen and ink and pastel. It's a start, even though a little rough and tumble.

"Sketch - Homage to a Rembrandt Self Portrait"
Watercolour, Pen and Ink, Pastel on Watercolour Paper 6" x 7"

Saturday, 6 August 2011

History of Art Challenge Blog - July

Well, being a week late for my submission to The History of Art Challenge Blog is not too bad considering I chose a very difficult visual to paint. Why I do this I don't know. Well I do - it's because I fall in love with a photograph, or object or scene, and just want to render it myself or maybe pay some sort of homage to it. I love Byzantine Art and the one thing that shouts out for me from this period, is the use of gold and icons. However, gold is very difficult to portray and I struggled here with the massive gold doors, but managed, in the end, to replicate some of the mystery of the colour. The photograph was sent to me by a friend who found it on the internet, and I cannot find it anywhere so I cannot give it proper attribution even though I would love to. This is an interior of an Eastern Orthodox church, and judging from the interior, it would be very late Byzantine indeed, but the remnants of that long era are still present with the abundance of icons and gold. Very mysterious these churches, but totally enigmatic eye candy for this artist.

"Byzantine Church Interior"
Gouache on Watercolour Paper - 13" x 13"