C us sm l or a p e e

Painting 2: Finding Your Way

Written by Ian Simpson

Contents
Introduction: developing as an artist You and your course The painting course books Making progress The paints for the course Other items required Keeping sketchbooks Working from photographs Notebooks and logbooks Visiting museums and art galleries Annotating Theoretical studies Reading and books for the course Keeping your logbook Amateur and professional painting Aims and structure of the course Your and your tutor The aims of this course The projects Project and tutorial plan Notes for students tutored by post A working pattern Student profile Your tutor 1: Painting animals Introduction

Animals and sentimentality Painting moving animals An opportunity to combine oils and acrylics Painting from direct observation or drawings Theoretical studies What you will need Project 1: painting animals A painting to consider: Bacon’s ‘Study of a Dog’ What have you achieved? 2: Moving figures Introduction Deciding on a suitable subject Making a working drawing Theoretical studies Project 2: figures in an interior Deciding on a second subject Drawing moving figures Project 3: moving figures A painting to consider: Weight’s ‘The Day of Doom’ What have you achieved? 3: Movement Introduction Creating a sense of movement Theoretical studies Project 4: movement A painting to consider: Severini’s ‘Suburban Train Arriving in Paris’ What have you achieved? 4: Relating to other artists Introduction Theoretical studies Project 5: a personal statement

5: Introducing the extended project 6: Art from art Introduction Theoretical studies What you will need A note on the three projects Project 6: analysis of a painting Project 7: in the style of … Project 8: extending a reproduction What have you achieved? 7: Painting without paint Introduction Theoretical studies What you will need A Note on the projects Project 9: a collage Project 10: painting and collage What have you achieved? 8: Painting from objects Introduction Theoretical studies A Note on the Projects Project 11: a single object Project 12: a landscape Project 13: the urban scene 9: painting people Introduction Theoretical studies A note on the projects

Project 14: a portrait Project 15: a nude Project 16: a portrait group What have you achieved?

10: Abstraction and the abstract
Introduction Theoretical studies A note on the projects Project 17: a minimal seascape Project 18: a grid painting Project 19: constructionist painting Project 20: a painter’s mathematics What have you achieved? 11: Themes and ideas Introduction Project 21: themes and ideas What have you achieved? Looking ahead If you plan to submit your work for formal assessment Skills Knowledge Invention Judgement Theoretical studies and the logbook The logbook Written work The assessment portfolio Allocation of marks Specific requirements for each grade

Introduction: developing as an artist
In Painting 1: Starting to Paint I said that learning to paint was something like learning to ride a bicycle. I began Painting 2: Relating to Other Artists with a quotation from Sir Joshua Reynolds, the first President of the Royal Academy, saying that the popular concept of art-making was that it was 'a kind of inspiration ... a gift bestowed upon peculiar favourites at birth' but that in fact it is the 'result of long labour and application'. Eric Gill (1882-1940), a very versatile artist himself (a wood engraving and a marble relief by him are reproduced on page 76 of British Art), dismissed, in a different way, the notion of the artist as a specially gifted individual. 'I don't and never did like 'flairs', he wrote in his autobiography, 'How can you like something you can't get by trying?' But playing down 'flairs' and 'gifts' in the artist's make-up doesn't mean that individualism shouldn't be encouraged - far from it. From the very beginning of the Painting Course, in fact from the first paragraph in Painting 1: Starting to Paint, I have been encouraging you to paint 'what appeals to you'. Even earlier in the Introduction to the Painting 1: Starting to Paint course book I told you that 'While anyone can learn to paint, not everyone can be a great artist. Everyone however is a special kind of artist because each person is different'. In Painting 2: Finding Your Way I will be placing more emphasis on this 'difference' and on painting 'what appeals to you'. I will be asking you to start to think about how you relate to the many different kinds of painting there are and the different ways in which artists work. I want you to begin to examine your own beliefs and to consider how you see yourself as an artist. The Painting 2: Finding Your Way course assumes that you have successfully completed Painting 1: Starting to Paint and Painting 2: Relating to Other Artists and that you can devote at least 7 hours and more probably, on average, 10 - 12 hours a week to study on your own. The working pattern established in the first two courses, of practical projects which are completed

in time for your attendance at tutorials or for sending to your tutor as part of an assignment, is similar in the third. The course is planned with ten tutorials (if you are tutored face-to-face) or five assignments (if tutored by post) just like the first two courses. Painting 2: Finding Your Way continues your studies from the previous course but it has its own identity which I have already mentioned. It encourages you to think more about your own particular view of the world and how you intend to recreate it in paint. In the previous two courses I have constantly asked you to try working in a particular way or to investigate a particular subject. In this course I will be encouraging you to become more self-reliant and independent. There will however be specific things I want you to attempt but more choice of projects and a wider use of painting mediums possible. One of the features of Painting 2: Relating to Other Artists was that you were required to spend a longer period of time developing an idea for painting than previously. There was also one project which extended throughout the course so that you had to keep it in mind constantly. In Painting 2: Finding Your Way you are expected to spend approximately the same amount of time on each project as last year - four weeks - and there is an extended project which will take you considerably longer than this. The first three sections of this course book, like many in Painting 2: Relating to Other Artists, have particular paintings by distinguished artists that you are asked to consider. There are also illustrations by OCA tutors and students which I am certain you will find stimulating and a source of inspiration. To obtain the most from this course you will need to follow-up the references to artists, past and present. In the next section, 'You and Your Course', I will be reminding you about ways in which you can find out more about artists, both those artists referred to in the text and others. The amount of time you will need to spend on painting and other study can only be described in vague terms because it is difficult to estimate, for

example, how long the study of other artists, mentioned above, will take. To an extent it will depend on your access to books, museums and galleries and it will also depend on your reasons for following this course. We recognise that, for some students, the primary reason for doing the course is the practical work. This work alone - and some may feel it is all they have time for - we estimate will take you about 7 hours per week. Although it is only through the practice of painting itself that you can improve your skill as a painter and try out your ideas, one of your important sources of inspiration should be your knowledge of other artists' work. This involves you in looking at reproductions or preferably actual pictures, learning about them and developing an attitude towards them. These theoretical studies are most important. They provide comparisons for your own work and working methods, help to develop your judgement and will raise the level of your achievement as a painter. The practical and theoretical work together we estimate will take you, on average, 10-12 hours a week but even if you only spare 6 to 7 hours a week we strongly recommend that an hour or so of that time should be given up to broader Theoretical Studies and the development of a logbook. If you intend to register for assessment, concentrating solely or almost entirely on the practical work will be insufficient. You will be required to submit for assessment a logbook which, together with your sketchbook(s) and notebook, will play an important part in enabling the assessors to form an opinion of your overall achievement as a student. These books make it possible for you to be given credit for good ideas - even when these haven't been developed into completely successful paintings. There is more information on the logbook in the next section. Many of us have a tendency to skim over the introductions to books - and course books are no exception. If you happen to have skimmed this far, please go back and read carefully through this Introduction. The next section 'You and Your Course' must also be read carefully. Don't start the practical projects without first having read it. It contains information which is indispensable if you wish to have your work assessed. For those not intending to register for

assessment it is also very important if you wish to gain the maximum benefit from this course.

Project 17: a minimal seascape

Merete Bates (OCA tutor): Three sea studies. Pastal on paper. Each approximately 18 cm x 25 cm Make several studies based on a seascape, with just the sky and a flat calm sea. You don’t need to visit the seaside - visualise the sea and sky and make the simplest statement you can. When you have made, say, six different studies, develop one into a large painting. At first this may seem a very limited project but it will show you, for example, how difficult it is to decide on the best division of the painting rectangle by the horizon line and compel you to explore how colour can best be used to create the illusion of the flat receding sea. Can it, for example, possibly be painted in a single colour? The colours you use need not be based on nature. Try different colour combinations for sky and sea. In The Story of Art the painting by Nicolas de Stael, ‘Agrigento’ shows how a few simple shapes and colours can be used to evoke a landscape with a strong feeling of light and space.

Project 19: constructionist painting
Some abstract painters develop a ‘system’ for their paintings. Frances Spalding, in British Art since 1900 (pages 176 - 184) describes the work of some such ‘Constructionists’. She points to the underlying logic, often of a mathematical kind, which these artists gave their work in the hope that this measure and order would infiltrate the environment to good effect. You might consider making a relief (which many of the Constructionists made instead of paintings) using card or thin pieces of wood or metal. You could however try to develop a system for painting. This could, for example, be based on proportional divisions of your painting, restricting certain colours to particular areas. You do not have to limit yourself to a grid of horizontals and verticals. Circles, curves and zigzag shapes, for example, can be developed into a personal ‘measure and order’. Make at least four studies and develop one into a relief or painting.

Project 20: a painter’s mathematics

Priscilla Fursdon: Studies for the project – A Painter’s Mathematics The Spanish painter Juan Gris (1887 - 1927) gave a lecture at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1923 called ‘On the Possibilities of Painting’. It appears in the appendices to Juan Gris - His Life and Work by Kahnweiler (Lund Humphries, 1947). The whole lecture is a tortuous read, but the following are the main points. • true architecture cannot be broken up into parts which combine, like oxygen and hydrogen do to become water. A motor car is not architecture. It is merely a ‘construction’. • • • • painting is flat coloured architecture and not construction. it is based on the relationship between colours and the forms which contain them. how do forms correspond to colours? flat forms have two properties: size and quality.

• • • •

examples of qualities of form are: circle, equilateral triangle. quality does not change, but size can. colours also have two properties, quality (hue) and intensity. hue does not change but intensity can.

Gris, using his terms defined above, went on to make a number of statements. 1. The size of a form is not of great importance; colour intensity can substitute for size. Hence, if there are two forms of similar quality but different size (such as two squares, one larger than the other) and these forms are of the same hue (e.g. red) the smaller one will seem as large as the other if its intensity is greater. [This, of course, only applies to slight differences in size!] 2. Some colours are luminous and expansive, others darker and more concentrated. Some forms are expansive (e.g. curvilinear ones) as opposed to concentrated (rectilinear) ones. 3. Some colours are warm (tending towards red) others cold (tending towards blue). Forms are colder the more geometrical they are. Freely shaped forms are warm. 4. Some colours (earth colours) are heavy and dense. Some forms have an accentuated sense of gravity - symmetrical forms are heavier than asymmetrical ones. 5. Opposition of colours equals contrasts of forms.

Gris called these statements a form of ‘painter’s mathematics’ which can establish the composition (in his terms the ‘architecture’) of a painting. He proposed that a painter could assemble a variety of elements in his paintings and balance them by applying the analogies in the statements above. It is interesting to read that he went on to say that abstract forms arranged in the above way could then be turned into representations of objects. ‘The

power of suggestion in every painting is considerable. Every spectator tends to ascribe his own subject to it. One must force, anticipate and satisfy this suggestion.’ Once you have grasped what Gris is proposing, try out what he states in 1 to 5 above and test in several studies how you can achieve balance. Develop one study into a larger painting making ‘pictorial architecture’ along the lines of Gris’s ‘painter’s mathematics’. You could turn this painting into a representational painting.

Allocation of time
The time allocated is four weeks. Depending on the size of the finished paintings and the amount of research undertaken, complete one or two of the above projects in this time.

What have you achieved?
Don’t forget to keep asking questions of yourself, and to record this selfappraisal in your logbook.

This is a sample from Painting 2: Finding Your Way. The full course contains 5 tutorassessed Assignments.

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