Assignment 5

The brief:

For this final assignment you’ll submit a series of three to five paintings on a theme of your choice. The subject matter, approach and techniques are entirely up to you.

Reflect on the studies and paintings you’ve worked on during the course and select an area of special interest to you that you’d like to develop further. This is a good opportunity both to work out some new ideas and to consolidate what you’ve learned already.

Your series of paintings could be linked by subject, technique or by a common theme. They could also be linked by a theme of progression. An example of this would be a progression through the seasons, or paintings of the same subject that become progressively more abstract.

Before you start your first painting, think about the size and the kind of supports that you’ll work on. This has logistical implications for you as you paint. You may decide that you want to work on several paintings at once or that you want to work at each in turn and see how your project evolves as you progress.

As you finish each painting, make very brief notes on any problems and possibilities for improvement in your notebook and try to address these in the next painting. Your work will probably change as you go along.

You may find it interesting and helpful to spend some time arranging and rearranging your paintings. There is probably no reason why the first picture you painted should be the first picture of the finished series. Indicate the order in which you’d like the paintings to be seen by numbering them; if appropriate, give them titles and write these on the back. If you gave your series a title, what does your title reveal about the theme or themes in your work?

Write an evaluation of your series of paintings and of the progress that you feel you have made as a painter. Draw attention to the parts of the course that have furnished you with the most creative resources and explain why that is.

Make sure all your work is clearly identified with your name, student number and assignment number. Then send to your tutor: • Your series of paintings indicating the order (if any) in which they should be viewed. • Your notes and evaluation together with preparatory studies, drawings, colour notes and your learning log.

The process:

I don’t know if it was the lull after the storm of the abstraction exercises, but it was pretty difficult to focus and get started on this series of paintings. I played around with a few ideas in my head before really committing to paper and canvas.

I was conscious of some of the pointers my tutor has given me over the course assignments and I particularly wanted to try and achieve at least some of the following:

 softer edges  bigger brushes  thicker painting  bolder mark making  less detail

But what to paint?

In an attempt to warm up for the ‘series’ I chose to try out a painting of a sketch I had sent my tutor as part of the assessment for Part 4 (Exercise 1 – ‘View from a window or doorway’ looking out). I had chosen a fairly dark window framework to view my chosen landscape and didn’t quite manage to capture the right balance between the framework and the view in terms of a fusion of colours – what I ended up with was quite a stark representation.

My tutor did comment: “However, you have applied this ‘viewing position’ to frame some very different views, with townscape, coastscape and skyscape. Of particular note here though is a fairly modest sketch, created in oil pastel, of the interior of your shed; a topic you have covered before. A small A5 study, this contains some enjoyable mark making description, made loosely of the view, led very much by the medium and the textured paper; this little sketch has the seeds of something more to pursue, with the soft, diffuse edges, this is taking you away from a sharp clarity of form towards a looser approach.” Here is the sketch in question:

Studio doorway, looking out - sketch with water soluble oil pastels (click image to enlarge)

Studio doorway, looking out – sketch with water soluble oil pastels (click image to enlarge)

I thought that the sketch was overly busy and so didn’t proceed with it as the final painting, commenting: ‘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.’

To see what I chose to paint instead see: https://stuartbrownleeoca.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part4/from-insidelooking- out/page/5/

I had a go at turning the studio doorway sketch into a painting on a 50x68cm stretched canvas using coloured poster ink marker pens:

Assignment 5 - warm up

Assignment 5 – warm up

Well it’s certainly not as subtle as the sketch and I did kind overdo the black midge-net curtain (heavy handed ‘funereal’ expressiveness) and while I know the black framework is still overly present, at least there is some underlying hints of other colours – red and blue. But, basically this didn’t really work out as I had planned as more of the lightly washed out colours from the ‘outside’ were supposed to permeate through the curtains. Anyway, it doesn’t do it for me and so I abandoned further experimentation to concentrate on the assignment series of paintings.

Assignment series of paintings

After much thought I chose to deconstruct one of my earlier landscape studies from Part 4 (Exercise 4 – ‘Aerial perspective’):

Part 4 - exercise 4 "Aerial perspective" - finished study (click image to enlarge)

Part 4 – exercise 4 “Aerial perspective” – finished study (click image to enlarge)

At the time I noted: “The road could maybe be a little bit darker/greyer (less blue) in tone. I wanted to make a motif of the iron gate on the left and used a fairly striking red to pick out the form. The road signs and road ‘white lines’ are striking. This is a single-track road with ‘passing places’. I could do more with this study, maybe using oil thinners and brushes on top of the oil pastels to wash out and smooth the transitions more between the landscape land masses – seeking for better controlled loss of focus, more subtle fading, and balanced colour temperature, but time is against me here.”

My tutor noted: “This is an effective piece of work, with some rich and evocative colours and tones selected for this view; the far hill range has some mesmeric, vibrant blues and light greens (perhaps I am drawn to these because of their ‘sea’ colouring) in contrast to the near earthy, rich terracotta colours of the land. This works spatially, although I would question the pure red gate and the fiddly fencing in the foreground; I know you enjoy the red, but in its pure state (I mean straight from the tube), it leaps out, when it might be taking on some slight hint of those surrounding earthy colours, or the tone from the overhead clouds? The effect of atmospheric light pervading everything in a view, in a landscape, can unify or permeate all the elements, so a hint of warm blue on the red would just soften it into the land a bit. The sky is complex in this view, and I can see that within the scale of this painting, you are attempting to depict something of vastness; this is tricky. To a degree this works, although not with ease; further practice of this form or composition of landscape, where the sky and all its structure of cloud formation and changing sky colour are an integral part, will build on this work here. Nonetheless, this is a commendable start and feels very much your own scene.”

So, what did I learn from this?

 I can make good use of colour and tone
 I have a tendency to use colour straight from the tube and need to think more about merging object colour with surrounding colours (either on palette or canvas)
 I enjoy complex landscape compositions, but don’t yet have the painterly skills to fully capture what it is I see.

Deconstructing the landscape

My choice was to select three specific views of the ‘Golden road’ landscape to attempt to create a series of paintings on a theme (the ‘Golden road’ landscape) and trying out different materials and techniques to express how I feel about this wonderfully inspiring part of the country.

Decision made, I made three sketches to try and capture my thinking visually: 

Assignment 5 - sketches

Assignment 5 – sketches

Finished studies:

Idea # 1 was to take the distant hills as a distinct element of the overall view and to try and deal with these in a much softer, blended, less detailed way – highlighting the basic shapes and tonal arrangements of colours. Painting 1 is a 60x20cm stretched canvas depiction of the distant hills, using soft pastels / fixative / and more soft pastels:

Assignment 5 - Painting 1

Assignment 5 – Painting 1 “Shapes & colours” (click image to enlarge)

Idea # 2 involved an interpretation of the left-hand side of the original painting as an abstraction. I was influenced in this by how Painting 1 turned out, as I can visualise in this the flow of the mountain shapes as a form of abstraction. So, Painting 2 is painted in mixed media – acrylics, crayons and marker pens – on a 50x60cm stretched canvas. There is no real detail in this painting – no red gate, no fence – purely shape and colour of the contours and a hint of what else the rugged landscape might represent to the viewer:

Assignment 5 - Painting 2

Assignment 5 – Painting 2 “Deconstruction” (click image to enlarge)

Idea # 3 took me into different realms of mark making with palette knife and acrylics on a 50x68cm stretched canvas. As with the first two paintings I concentrated on rhythm, colour and mark making (hard lines or softer edges). Painting 3 represents one memory of the ‘Golden road’ on the Isle of Harris – windy, brooding, colourful:

Assignment 5 - Painting 3

Assignment 5 – Painting 3 “The Golden Road, Isle of Harris” (click image to enlarge)

I am not particularly happy with the sky and clouds here – gosh clouds are hard to capture! I have managed some colour into the sky though and a few dynamic slashes. I am much happier with the lochan in the hills, depicting the blustery day on the water with effects of light and dark and capturing some of the colouring and shadows from the surrounding hills and also the sky. No doubt the edges between landscape forms could be much subtler than I have achieved here and this is something I will continue to work on. However, overall I am reasonably happy with the way the foreground scene holds together. Although, I do see how this could almost be seen as two separate paintings.

Assignment series – “The Golden Road”

The order in which the series of paintings should be viewed is the same as their numbering here:

Painting 1 “Shapes and colours” is a ‘snapshot’ in time of a distant horizon as I saw it at the time, but now depicted in a much softer and subtler manner in an attempt to capture the essence of the magical landscape of east Harris.

Painting 2 “Deconstruction” is my abstracted vision of how this rugged landscape might/could look in an alternative universe. I was strongly influenced by the overall theme of Part 5 and the power of abstraction to express emotions and a much different way of looking at the world around us. If anything I feel that I began to spiral a bit here with the ‘jazzy’ treatment, but oh how I did enjoy the fun of it!

Painting 3 “The Golden Road, Isle of Harris” is a more ‘traditional’ approach to the subject, but I think the composition and the treatment of colour, shape and tone represents what I love about painting – building (creating) a pleasing image that evokes memory, feeling and connection, this time to a place.

My assessment of my progress as a painter

With my level of painting skills as they are now, I believe that this series of paintings does represent what I have learnt from the exercises and assignments of Painting 1’The Practice of Painting’:

Skills acquired

• A better understanding of the colour wheel and use of colour (Part 2)
• A better understanding of the use of materials – grounds and ways of applying paints (Parts 1 and 5)
• Drawing with paint (Part 3)
• Composition, framing a scene, perspective and expressive painterly application (Part 4)
• Experimentation with textures, ideas and working outside my comfort zone (Part 5)
• Undertaking research (all Parts)
• Keeping an up-to-date online learning log (all Parts)

More work needed

• Sketching out ideas and sketchbook/note-taking discipline
• Gallery visits
• Self-analysis of own work (what worked, what didn’t work and needs improved)

Assignment 5 ← click the link to download a .pdf version of this page 

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
9th December, 2014

One comment on “Assignment 5

  1. Pingback: Assignment 5 warm-up – reprise | Stuart Brownlee

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