Sunday, February 8, 2009

Project 2: Painting 1

As described previously (in "Project 2", below) this first painting project will not only reprise where I have got to with my painting for the benefit of the OCA who haven't seen any of this work, but try to push it forward into a more settled, definite style which is repeatable.
Over the past few years I have managed to create a wide range of paintings, often in various painting styles, but more specifically an expressive painting style of my own mostly using painting knife rather than brushes. This, however, has I feel been at the expense of developing real quality. Accepting the discipline of this Course is intended to not only establish a consistent way of painting but to raise the quality of my output.

With "consistency" as my watchword I decided that this would apply to everything I do, and so for this first painting project I will be creating a new series of paintings on the theme of 'Dance' and in particular, working from the sketches I made from Scottish Ballet's "Sleeping Beauty", of ballet dancers.

To start with I choose one sketch (male dancer lifting ballerina) and work this up to a larger scale making pencil studies of the two figures in an A4 sketchpad. Rather than making meticulous copies I try to be loose and expressive since if I don't get some energy into it here then as I proceed it will begin to tighten up.

From there I then move up in scale again with Neocolour studies, firstly in an A3 sketchpad, then onto A2 cartridge paper. This first photo shows three studies set up beside my easel for me to work from:

The uploading restrictions of Blogger prevent me from showing all the studies I made but suffice to say that none of the later studies were any better than this Neocolour in the A3 Sketchpad:

Moving on to my first attempt at painting I fall back to the same way I have been painting for a while, namely thick impasto with painting knife over a previous "failed" painting:

I have been very comfortable with this style of painting and got what I considered good results, however, it struck me after I had finished this that it depended too much on having old paintings of the correct dimensions to hand, and being able to identify the "happy accidents" where previous colours showed through. I felt this was unsustainable and so tried another approach:

This was painted in accordance with the manner described by Dan McCaw in his book "A Proven Strategy for Creating Great Art". I have had this book for many years and have utilised some of his process but never quite followed it through to completion. This time I do as he suggests and make a light pencil drawing of my design on a clean white-primed board before laying in flat colours, starting from darks/shadows through to lightest areas, then working over the whole painting with thick partially mixed paint with large brushes.
This, as you can see, works quite well - I am pleased with the colouring and although the male dancer is a bit stiff the ballerina "floats", but my problem with it is that it depends heavily on making a well proportioned drawing on the painting board, and it also feels a bit like "Painting By Numbers" where you are just filling in the shapes.

I decide that this is all a bit too laborious for me and I need something more direct. I know that my comfort zone is drawing and feel that what I need to develop is the same comfort with painting. So why not just paint directly onto the board? This is what I do here:

This for me is the best yet. It is strong, direct, and dynamic. I am very satisfied with this painting, and while it needs a lot more development I will attempt to repeat this way of painting next week.


my croft said...

This was my favorite of the ballet sketches. It's a happy thing to see it being developed. I also like the last painting a lot -- it has some of the dynamism that made your Guardians at the Gate painting so engaging (Nov 28 post). It seems you're well underway. Kudos for that.

For the neophyte (that would be me) -- can you articulate why "it depends heavily on making a well proportioned drawing on the painting board" felt like a problem?

On a personal note, and to your credit (and to the credit of another determinedly autodidactic ether buddy), I went out yesterday and got supplies a basic book of instruction for Japanese brush painting. After this weekend's home reno project (new flooring! quel chaos!), I plan to sit quietly in my room and practice brush strokes. After which there may be something worthwhile to share. Or not.

wv: emponst
a state of being, I think.

daviddrawsandpaints said..., yes...
99% of the time I am so comfortable with a drawing implement in my hand I can draw just about anything I put my mind to. However, there are times (1%) when I can hardly draw my own breath!
The process I like to work with is developing an idea from very small to full-size. It's that final transfer from early sketches to the final painting that can cause me difficulty. Many people use the "Squaring-up" technique, but I find this very laborious. I would rather just draw the damn thing and be done with it. Sometimes this is not possible - I may be out-of-sorts and the muse has deserted me (bizzum!). So anything that does away with that transfer is to be welcomed. [and that doesn't always work either as you will find out in installment 3!]

Going back to your first points, Melanie: It's a strange thing for me to be doing, I know - going back to a way of painting that I have already moved on from, but it fits with the concept of showing the OCA what I can do with figure compositions. The "Guardians" is really a more current (SEMI-abstract style) style that I am keeping up my sleeve for the time being! as well I have my Collins concise beside me at all times!)...ah, Japanese Brush Painting - I love the calligraphic effect of those brush-strokes! Have you seen Peter Greenaway's film "The Pillow Book" ( with Vivien Wu and that bare-bottomed Scot, Ewan McGregor? If not you must get a look (even if just to see oor Ewans butt!). The writing is good too :o)

Thank you for your comments, Melanie. I hope I have answered them satisfactorily?

daviddrawsandpaints said...


daviddrawsandpaints said...

Having problems with Blogger: I used to be able to copy and paste a shortcut and it would immediately turn into a hyperlink, but no more. And when I upload photos they now appear as extended html text instead of images, which I can work round but it's a pain you-know-where!
Any ideas?

my croft said...

That makes sense now -- the problem about the drawing. I was puzzled that someone who trained as an architect would have difficulty with tranferring/scaling but it's not the mechanical part of fitting an image into a space, but rather the way the mechanical process muffles the artistic component. I can understand that.

on the film front -- did Peter Greenaway also do The Draughtsman's Contract? I thought that film was rather disturbing.

Im a computer neanderthal -- so I'm no help on the hyperlink conversion front. Maybe check through the Blogger FAQs ans help file? I have actually foudn things in there and some of them were in almost in plain English and so I was able to sort-of track the meanign and use it as instructions.

wv: rovici

Brian McGurgan said...

I enjoyed watching the progression here, David, and think you've arrived at a good place with your final painting of this set. There's a lot to be said, I think, for working in a way that inspires you or keeps your interest high. Thorough, disciplined approaches are all well and fine but if they squash the energy you would otherwise bring to what you enjoy doing then it would seem to me best to do as you've done here - at least until and when the more rigorous approach interests you more.
The Pillow Book was fairly disturbing but something about Vivien Wu and brush painting kept me engaged - Kyoko was a bit weirded out by it all.

vivien said...

DEfinitely the last one is the best and is keeping some of the immediacy of the sketch

Don't forget - drawing IS your strength and I think including drawing-type marks - linear, free flowing - in the final works is the way your work should go, it's your 'signature'

I'd lost the link which is why I haven't visited yet!

daviddrawsandpaints said...

And I'm glad you found it again, Vivien, and able to leave your comment.

My graphic instincts seem to desert me when I get a paintbrush in my hand. I know there is a painting technique for me waiting to be found (and it includes linear marking)- I just haven't found it yet!

Thanks for commenting.