Monthly Archives: April 2017

Hard or soft landscape? P4.2

For this exercise choose a hard landscape such as rock formations , urban landscape or a soft landscape with soft edges such as trees. Describe the view from a window or doorway and think about the size and format such as portrait or landscape. Look at how things appear to get smaller within a distance. Exploit the contrasts of colours and light on leaves , buildings and street furnature to create mood and atmosphere. If working on a soft landscape: is there any features that will draw the viewer into the picture?, are there strongly contrasted tonal areas or bright colours that make the composition interesting / intriguing ? and if you linked the colours and shapes ,that might help.

  • I live in a seaside town and I could have gone to the sea and painted a soft landscape but I’m more interested in the funny little houses that back onto mine and the hills that surround us help to add interest as the houses are like steps upto the sea.
  • With painting back gardens I have ended up with a hard and soft landscape but mostly hard.
  • I first of all drew the landscape over a couple of days to help with observation and encourage myself to see beyond what I normally see from the stair landing. I have lived here for four years and the view from this window was considered intrusive at first and  oppressive as the houses are close to our fence line but over time I find this view intringing and could look for hours as I think Iam waiting for people to appear from the boxes but hardly anyone does.
  • I then painted in water colour and found my colour pallet is far to intensive and need to buy some more faded colours for landscape.
  • The final drawings were started from the top and worked down wards which is a different process for me. I did this because the trees are in the foreground and I needed to draw them in over the top of the structures behind. This helped when I came to paint the canvass as the first layer of oil was to get the structure of the composition down and then the tonal colours so I left out the trees and shrubs till another couple of days while waiting for the first layer to. Dry.
  • The painting at first was painted on an A4 canvas and the colours I used were very woody and I left the white background AS A SIGHT LINE ALONG THE ROOF TOPS.
  • I later changed this lack of variation ,  dominated by Browns and reds and added in blue greys and more white grey. The evening sun was what I was trying to represent but the tonal variations are to stark and the distant buildings are bland, but I like this pink colour as this is an evening colour.
  • I think I need to work the leaves on the tree where the sun hits them on one side only and I haven’t yet given that much attention.  My tutor said to review the details but also not to over work my paintings, this is much more diffulcult to do in pratice as the fine details are sometimes just the smallest of line or mark is needed and to many gives the affect of   An amateur painting.

Reflection on Part 3 and tutors report.

The beginning of this part of ‘Portrait and Figure’ was working with a model such as a life drawing class but I had already finished my classes of life drawing late last year . I did a couple of recent exercisers of  painting a figure for the project; ‘observing the human figure’, tonally and linear. The next project was ‘looking at faces’ so was able to start a large A2 painting of my daughter and many self portraits were created. I enjoyed the exercise of ‘conveying character’ and looking at celebrities in magazines because it was more impersonal and a needed rest and a different direction from concentrating on my own self portrait. The final project on ‘people in context’ was the most difficult as the composition was a struggle when more than one person/ subject becomes the focus and attention of the viewer. The relationship between the two are problematic and the tonal area of their context was subdued so not easy to depict compared to the exercise of  using candlelight in a self portrait. To help with this challenge I researched other artist and read Hockneys suggestions on dealing with a light source from a central window. The Assignment piece is a working progress and will work on this again after thinking about my tutors comments. I really enjoyed working with paint on carpet and feel the energy I gained from the ‘Entangled’ exhibition I visited was a result of the experimental process seen in assignment 3.


  • The work sent shows signs of progress, demonstration of technical skill is competent. Proportional difficulties and quality of outcome is hampered due to over working images. Competent creativity with a willingness to experiment and explore.
  • Head and Shoulders-Quite well worked as the variety of skin tone shows improvement of colour and tone. The pose is difficult and shows issues with foreshortening.
  • Creating mood and atmosphere- Competent and candlelight contrast has worked quite well, but exaggerated on left side of face so the coloured sys, noise and mouth look strange against the white of eye, cheek and chin. Think about definition of the neck to jumper as photos can decrease the amount of tonal range as seen by the eye.
  • The Assignment painting and studies are experimental and interesting but the heavy use of line and lack of tonal contrast is a lack of subtly so looks over worked.
  • Sketchbook and blog; still some of your best work is in your sketchbook. The pastel self portraits are the most successful studies as they are not over worked and show more searching and intimate. Your blog is relevant, range of research is thorough and shows better self evaluation and discernment.
  • Suggestions; Look at artists that draw with the brush are gestural and loose such as Boomberg. Also look at Kossoff, Auerbach, Michael Andrews and Maggie Hambling.


View from a window or doorway. P4.1

Choose a view into the world, think about- • How much interior to include.

 • What will be the main focus.

 • The view will be from the position you sit at, your sight line. 

 • Think about the time of day and natural light casting on the subject.

 • Think about the mood and atmosphere of the purpose and composition.

 • Either use the window/door frame within the composition or as a frame for the composition.

 • Look to other artist for help…..

 • Rahul Dufy (sunny colourful Mediterranean scenes), Gwen John (contrasts of within and emptiness) and Edward Hopper (the way he calms the natural with the man made allowing them to connect and depict atmospheric isolation) are suggestions from the course work. 

 • Using a window / door frame at an angle helps to achieve pictorial space.
After reading my last tutors report I considered to work freely, loose and not concern myself to much with the brief as I feel this may be why I am ‘over working’ my paintings. So I decided to sit down at my easel and just look up out the window and start painting what I saw. This was more about concentrating on observation because I have seen this view so many times, I realised I was painting what I though was there but not really looking and trying to get the angles, tonal variation and scale correct. I didn’t want to paint every leaf so went for a wash of colour so used a very diluted oil with a large brush and cloth after I had drawn the composition in oil sticks. This was a good exercise at encouraging me to be less delicate and more courageous. I got 3 A2 size sheets ready to work, I intended to log different approaches to the same subject so creating a number of studies. This was good at getting me to move onto the next sheet and not get to focused on one painting. I’m really concerned about the comment that my work becomes ‘over worked’. Knowing when to stop is a problem for me as I feel what makes a really good painting (like what the masters created) are not done in an afternoon but over many months and sometimes a year. That is not ‘over working’ like what my tutor suggested but could mean the same thing. 

The second painting was given a Naples Yellow ground which is what I learned from some contextual research of Alfred Sisley 1839-1899. The use of the yellow allows other colours to gain a luminous effect like snow. There is a lack of tonal variation within this painting but I also feel it captures my small corner view of the deck chair and umbrella with the afternoon sun.

After this I wanted to experiment with other colour grounds so put down a light wash of Indigo mixed with titanium white. Here I was working from dark to light grounds so I used the Humbrol Enamel paint which I only have 4 colours (yellow, orange, blue and green gloss) which sit on top of the paper like a metal paint and they take along time to dry, they don’t wash well (on the paper or via a tap) but they radiate a gloss and depth of colour. This time I added the wall behind the fence which gives a feel of imprisonment to the mood of the painting. A lack of light in this painting gives the feeling of late winter but it’s early spring. All compositions capture the view from my window as I look UP into the garden which I think is different than looking out onto a view. The viewpoint looks up the skirt of the umbrella and the chair is given prime location, throwing the trees behind and the fence then the wall so I think a pictorial space has been directed without the use of an angled window or door frame.