I received my tutor report for the final assignment work for part 5. I was really pleased with his comments, I won’t paste the full report into this log, as I believe that’s not acceptable. He was impressed with the first version of my Barrels and Window soft pastel painting …
… saying that there was a ‘real sense of tension and containment’ in it, as well as it demonstrating how to attain chiaroscuro effects. He felt that my ‘treatment of lights and darks and handling of paint in the lighter, grey wall is quite masterful. The apparent smokiness and fluidity of the grey wall is rather eerie and ambiguous.’ It reminded him of a digital painting or even a photograph. His further comments on this piece were very encouraging indeed. I was also very pleased with this version of the Barrel and Windows exercise. He suggeste in his comments, that I look into the use of subtle glazes of colour in the darker areas of a painting, which is something that I do with pastels and he commented that he could clearly see that I had done that with this painting.
The second Barrels and Window exercise wasn’t as successful in the depiction of depth of field, as he felt that I had made the angle of the wall on the right side too flat and that it should come in more.
I completely agree with his comments about this painting and in retrospect should not have included it in the finished ‘set’ of paintings for this part 5 work, it should have been presented as a preliminary or supporting/experimental work. I wasn’t totally sure about it myself and should have gone with my gut feeling! I think I got a bit hung up trying to create texture in the window area (with pencils) andd lost sight of the overall flatness of the compositional plane. I decided to rework this (see below)
I think my tutor was quite taken with the Arrow Loop Window work, which was heavily 3D in its use of texture.
He felt that it ‘quite often strays in and out of the world of abstraction. The simple composition and [my] varied, creative use of materials is compelling. The longer one looks at this painting the more it changes (this is a good thing btw). The window, in particular, changes from being a window to being a picture of a window or an architectural feature. In short, the window oscillates between being a window and being a picture of a window on a wall.’ He felt the concept in itself was an interesting notion and perhaps worthy exploring in the future. I wasn’t sure about the final effect of this painting, I felt it looked a bit cold but I have had it on my table for a few weeks now and I agree that it does change the more you look at it.
His comments around the Arched Window painting and the mockup were very positive …
… and he considered that my ‘use of colour, gesture and thinner washes of paint really effective.’ He felt that I should ‘consider leaving out the more pronounced areas of line in the window section. Some of the more suggestive drawn in lines work really well (the loose horizontal lines at the bottom of the window).’ I have also decided to have another go at this one (see below)
He discussed my sketchbook/exercise work done during the course – I won’t go into this comment on here as it is quite detailed and I am really grateful for the feedback as some of the sections were a challenge. He was particularly happy with the work I did for the ‘Preparing a textured ground’ exercise – the kelp, wave and landscape – heavy structured 3D pieces. I was pleased with those as well.
He has given me some artists to look at, including videos, which I’ll get into soon. Surprisingly for me, he suggested I look at the work of Anselm Kiefer, which is so interesting because I started looking into his work independently after reading Luc Tuymans’ comments in his ‘OnandBy’ book; also Anselm Kiefer’s work ‘Vier Plus Eins’ is included in the virtual Royal Academy summer 2020 exhibition, it was a piece that really stood out for me, I’d love to be able to look at it in person – maybe next year?
In light of the comments from my tutor around glazing and the perspective issue on the second soft pastel painting, I decided to rework these two.
I chose to use oil paint this time, to create washes with a very limited palette – using Cobra Paynes grey, Burnt sienna and a touch of black. I did not use any white but chose to let the paper shine through where it needed to be bright. I used Arches for oil paper and I tore it into small (about A4) pieces, which I taped down and then worked flat. This is the first time that I’ve tried to use washes with oil paint and had a degree of success. I was actually surprised at how the paint performs on this wonderful paper, it was like using water colour but the great thing is, it dries to the same colour it was when wet, which of course doesn’t happen with watercolour! Watercolour actually was my first consideration but I knew that I would need to do a lot of washes to get the darks up to the level that they need to be for these subjects, so my choice of using oil was a good one, I think. I also would not have used acrylics as they can be very harsh insofar as obtaining smooth transitions and I wanted to use a medium that would allow for a bit of surface work and not dry out really quickly, which happens with acrylics (unless you use a retarder and I don’t have any of that at the moment).
I waited for them to thoroughly dry before going over some of the darker areas again and defining the shadows.
I think I’ve found a technique that is working for me. I’ve never really enjoyed using too much impasto oil paint in a picture, working loosely with a very diluted ‘wash’ of paint is more manageable for me. Maybe I am being influenced to a degree by Patrick Procktor, as I do tend to refer a lot to the book I have about him, he was a master watercolourist but also used oils, I love the light touch of his work.
With regards these reworked pieces, I am pleased that I was able to create a similar level of depth of field with the liquid medium (oil paint) that I could create with soft pastels. I’m pleased I reworked these two pieces and will continue to practise the layering ‘glazing’ effects in my future work. Anyway, here are the final array of pieces that should be considered as my submission for assignment 5 (these images are all cropped by WordPress when put into ‘gallery’ mode):
Massey, I Patrick Procktor Art and Life Unicorn Press 2010 (pgs. 169 and 186)
RA Summer 2020 virtual exhibition on YouTube – Anselm Keifer’s work is at 15:57: