Sunday, March 1, 2009

Project 2: Painting 4

In my Course Plan I proposed to complete four paintings and so, for this my final painting in the series, I start again with yet another sketch from Sketchbook 1(A6), re-drawing at a larger scale (A4) to get the feel for what this image is about:

Pencil on paper, A4.
Immediately I see that with the full extended limbs this painting will need to be wider than high, with a proportion of about 1:1.2, or more.
Now, in itself this has the potential to look grand and fantastic, but there is an awful lot of blank space. My previous three paintings have all been more successful (I think) when I cropped tighter into the figures. The question is: What does this painting require?
I therefore carry out this study to consider what the right proportions should be:

Rollerball and felt pens on paper, A4.
With no definite conclusion (I have been feeling very indecisive of late) other than each of them could make a decent painting, I decide that if I crop in tight to the figures I will be tending towards the abstract and that is not what this Project is about. So I'll leave those paintings for another day and stick with the full monty!

To reinforce this concept in my mind I do a whole series of pastel studies, of which this is one:

Neocolour on paper, A3.
I could do this sort of drawing all day long but there comes a time when I need to get painting:

Acrylics on cartridge paper, A2.
With some blue mixed with white and a soft watercolour brush I "draw" the figures with as much energy as I can muster, blocking-in with directional strokes.

Satisfied that this is going in the right direction the next working day I make a start on the final piece in oils:

Oils on board, 67x61cm.
I may have changed my starting method from first two paintings by drawing the figures with oil pastels first but at least this way I can be sure to get their hands and feet on the board! I can go over the drawing as often as I like till I am satisfied with it, and even wipe off and start again if not.
Painting starts with a pre-mixing session, and, with loaded brushes lay-in the figures first, then cut-in with the background colours.

I am pleased with the end result in many ways but also think it is a bit formal and stiff, even though my confidence in the manner of paintinig I have developed has grown by continuous repetition.

Now I know this doesn't help you the viewer but my photo of this painting is not what it should be for you to appreciate the depth and brightness of colour, and also the free brushstrokes. You will just have to take my word for it, and I will need to find a way to somehow correct this.

Summary of Achievement 4:

1. Completed another painting to my satisfaction.

2. Feeling more confident of the process and my ability to see it through to completion.

3. Even when difficulties arise I am able to remain calm and think through the problem to a satisfactory solution.

4. Every time I paint I grow in confidence and my painting becomes looser.

5. By drawing out my design with oil pastels first I exercise more control on the process and eventual outcome. Painting directly, while having some merit in a loose and freely expressed image, leaves too much to chance, particularly with this figurative subject matter if I want it to look like the way I designed it.

6. While this painting is not to me as successful as previous three paintings, for reasons of design, I am still pleased with it.


Brian McGurgan said...

I like the feeling of movement very much here, David, made more dynamic by your placement of both figures in the left half of the painting with only open space and the female dancer's leg as a counterbalance. There's a very nice expressiveness in this painting in the natural and graceful gestures of the dancers and in your color choices. Am I understanding correctly that you are doing your preliminary drawing on the board in oil pastel and then painting directly over the pastel? It seems to me that you've established a really nice "stride" with this work.

vivien said...

getting looser :>)

don't forget to involve your 'drawing' marks more - think how Toulouse Lautrec or Schiele did.

I think those marks are your strength and would really add to the final paintings.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Thanks for your comments and interest in this series, Brian!

Yes, I am finally working out that my "strength" lies in drawing, and establishing a good design using oil pastels on the board before I paint is a wise move for me.
By using oil pastels to define the figures first I can integrate those marks easily with the oil paint (or not) as the painting progresses. I can use them or ignore them when I lay on the paint.
I actually feel that I have "dipped" with these last two paintings, but don't have time to re-do them. It's a learning experience.
But I do think I have loosened up in the process and hopefully will be able to put this into effect as I go on.
Expressiveness is what I aim for.

Vivien: Thanks also for your comments, which I hope I have answered, to a degree, above.
It's interesting you mention Schiele. My 'Theoretical Study' for this Project attempts to compare the expressive work of Schiele, which I love so much, with the stilted, nearly-photo-realism, of Jack Vettriano. I don't know whether to publish this piece, or not, since it is quite contentious! Sufice to say I am not complementary towards oor Jack!
Toulouse-Lautrec happens to be one of my all-time favourites, in fact he is probably one of my first faves when I first took an interest in painting. Must have been all those wild dancers he got up close to!
More to follow this weekend.
I hope you will continue to tell me what you think.

vivien said...

me too with Toulouse Lautrec - I stayed with a French family in Albi as a teenager and went to the TL museum and was just blown away by his work.

I revisited a couple of years ago - and still was :>)

Jack V is an odd character - he produces a lot of porn images too apparently (TV documentary some time back - sado/masochism - they showed some of the 'milder' ones) - the earlies ones I ever saw of his had an odd edge of violence behind the apparently sexy film-still type images. I found them unsettling.

I will revisit :>) and I'm glad to hear that you are pushing those drawing elements.

That's something I find important in my own work - the swirling lines are crucial to me