With the same degree of close scrutiny and analysis, study a man-made object (anything from a piece of kitchen equipment to an engine part). Focus close in on one part of it and try out different viewpoints. Isolate areas or particular details and and work on several studies in your sketchbook until you have an abstract composition that you can develop and enlarge into a painting.
My initial ideas for this exercise came from a visit to the coastal village of Cromarty in Easter-Ross. The Cromarty Firth is a hive of activity at the moment with large cruise liners berthing at the port of Invergordon and the fabrication yard at Nigg seeing a resurgence, in part due to the renewables energy industry. I made some initial sketches of the opposite shore and of the Nigg yard in particular on site in the village looking across the firth:
Back home I sought to incorporate the images from Cromarty with an older block and tackle from a croft barn in Caithness:
Painted with poster ink markers on sketchbook paper, I kept this idea aside to try out some other thoughts I had for the exercise.
The next idea I wanted to follow was a series of sketches, again made with poster ink marker pens as I am finding these really good for quick capture mark making, form/shape filling and blending.
My subject of interest was an old burnt-out garden waste ‘burner’ from a well known DIY store that lasted barely a season – (since then replaced with a proper-job empty oil drum!).
The lid, rusted and of no use what so ever:
Scrap of lid, handle (still attached) and rusted chimney:
The rusted chimney in all its glory:
I kept this idea on the ‘back-burner’ until I had explored my final thinking about a suitable subject matter for this exercise. I had recently removed and replaced the front brake units of my car and in looking about the garage I spotted the front two brake discs, callipers, rubber bushes and bolts – no sign of the brake pads!
I made several compositions and sketches:
After a fair bit of swithering about what might make a pleasing final piece I decided to combine the four sketches into a single composition:
In the end I chose to focus on the bits of car brakes as the idea for my painting. Why? While I liked the idea of the bits of burnt-out bin, I didn’t really gel with the industrial image of the Nigg yard.
What I did feel a link with was the fact that I had personally removed the brake bits from my car, and kept them, maybe unconsciously, with a view to sketching, drawing/painting.
For the final piece I cut out some sections of the canvas and built up some 3-D elements (callipers on top of discs, bits of debris around the edges), used poster ink marker pens, acrylic ‘pearlescent’ colours to pick out highlights and added a few rubber bushes, grommets, sprinklings of rusted metal and a bolt to hold it all together:
So, what is this all about? For me, it is personal commitment to reduction and rebuilding – stripping stuff down and putting it back together in a different way.
There is another dimension to this though. In the previous exercise I had toyed with the idea of a celtic take on the fern bulb for an abstraction from study of natural form:
This was not the composition I eventually went with for that exercise, but I am pleased that Exercise 6 produced what, to me, has a celtic dimension. In some way, the final exercise painting expresses how I best see abstraction of this particular chosen subject material:
This painting could be of a targe (a round shield), brake discs and callipers, or if I let my imagination run free – cosmos, stars, revolving discs (space craft?), space debris with a metal bolt holding it all together.
Stuart Brownlee – 512319
30th November, 2014