For this exercise, choose a view onto the world. Decide how much of the interior you wish to
include and where the main focus of the picture will be. Many artists have made their
viewpoint explicit so that we can locate the exact position of the artist in an interior looking
out at the world. This is no random representation of the external world; we are at the
interface between inside and outside which the artist is sharing with us by showing what
they see in a quite explicit way.
Decide on the purpose of the composition and the mood and atmosphere that you wish to
create. Choose whether or not to use the framework of the window as the external edge of
your picture support or whether to actually include the window or door frame as part of your
It may help you to look at some of the ways in which other artists have tackled this type of
composition. Go on the internet and briefly look at the work of Raoul Dufy, who painted
many views onto sunny Mediterranean scenes from interiors, suggesting a cool retreat from
the hot, dazzling world outside. By contrast, consider the work of Gwen John who exploited
the gloomy claustrophobia of what lies within, and the stark emptiness of what lies without.
Edward Hopper created links between exterior and interior worlds that render the spaces
inhabited by people almost as stage sets.
Very often it’s best to show a doorway or window at an angle using diagonal lines to achieve
pictorial space by employing simple linear perspective.
Make some preliminary drawings in your sketchbook, trying out a variety of arrangements
and viewpoints. You may find it helpful to make a simple tonal study so that you can assess
the pictorial value of the main tonal arrangements of the picture. Make sure that you can
work at your painting in sessions that are at the same, or similar, times in the day. Your light
source may change, but you’ll need to work while it’s constant for as long as possible.
The finished study:
I swithered between two sketches of ‘…inside looking out…’ compositions that I had made:
Back in Part 2, for exercise 15, I used the ‘Studio doorway – looking out’ study for my take on a simple perspective in interior studies, sketching from outside the studio looking in through the open doorway:
I was tempted to turn this exercise from an ‘…outside looking in…’ to an ‘…inside looking out…’ study to try and capture the different perspectives, colours and tones.
This time, though, the view from inside looking out (see above) was overly busy I think. The midge net curtains remained a challenge and my penchant for hanging flags, colourful spinners and windmills left me with a challenge I didn’t feel up to.
So, I decided upon the Sinclair’s Bay lighthouse view looking through the south east ‘window’ of the derelict WW2 beach observation post (see above).
I had made a sketch using water soluble oil pastels and then for the painting I chose a 40.6 x 50.8 cm canvas board in landscape format and wanted to try out some new techniques. I covered the canvas board with a wash of cadmium red acrylic paint and then using my sketch for reference prepared an underpainting of red-violet oil paint mix to try and capture the main forms and tonal qualities of the composition:
After a few days to let the oils dry out a bit and to think more about what I wanted to achieve from this study I eventually got back to the canvas.
As the brief requested, I did look at the works of Raoul Duffy, Gwen John and Edward Hopper and on reflection I observed the following traits that I found in my own style:
∞ Raoul Duffy – brush work and mark making that is distinctive (maybe naive)
∞ Gwen John – I couldn’t find anything here that inspired me
∞ Edward Hopper – use of angle and perspective to link interior and exterior worlds
I had made the initial landscape sketch in oil pastels in one sitting, but worked on the results back in my studio.
In the end I think my finished study has some resonance with Duffy’s work in the mark making, particularly in the foreground dark strokes; and also with Hopper’s interior/exterior links, but this time my ‘stage set’ is without people present, although hinting at where people have been and what they have done in the landscape.
For the finished study I used a limited palette of colours, again following the Michael Wilcox palette of reds, yellows and blues as well as Titanium White and Payne’s Grey; and mainly a size 12 flat brush over a size 3 palette knife to lay on the paint, with a size 0 flat for some of the smaller detail.
Here is the finished study:
Exercise 1 – view from a window or doorway ← click the link to download a .pdf version of this page
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
6th July, 2014