Artist: David Hockney

The history of pictures begins in the caves and ends, at the moment, with an iPad.


I saw a retrospective of Hockney at the Tate Britain a few years ago and the landscapes in it really stuck with me, especially the colour palette used. His work has been a subconscious influence ever since so I want to read more about the work and examine his paintings in more detail.
I am going to focus on Hockney’s landscapes that he began to make at the start of the century. I am interested in the colours and marks made, and how he paints en plein air.

David Hockney from book Hockney, D. et al., 2017. David Hockney, London: Tate Publishing

Hockney studied the use of optical devices in art history and determined that ‘the camera homogenises the world and discourages active looking’. P.172
His thesis on that topic: ‘Secret Knowledge’ (2006).

Hockney paints the landscape from memory and observation.

‘Artists thought the optical projection of nature was verisimilitude*, which is what they were aiming for,’ [Hockney] said: ‘But in the 21st century, I know that is not verisimilitude. Once you know that, when you go out to paint, you’ve got something else to do. I do not think the world looks like photographs. I think it looks a lot more glorious than that.’

*Verisimilitude means the appearance of being true or real.

^ I completely agree with this statement, painting from life is superior to painting from photograph for my work.

Paintings on Pp.176, 177, 180.
Looking at the paintings it appears Hockney has a very decided use of colour. He seems to work in blocks of colour with varying shades of the same hue. This can be seen with this painting (p.176):

Image result for david hockney a closer winter tunnel
David Hockney A closer winter tunnel, February-March 2006 oil on canvas, 6 panels 190.5 x 381 cm overall Art Gallery of New South Wales Purchased with funds provided by Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth, the Florence and William Crosby Bequest and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2007 © David Hockney Photo: AGNSW

Colour edit of painting highlighting four different colour palettes taking up space.

Simplifying shid further you get:

Colour palette of four different sections.

These block colours work well together! Which makes the painting harmonious.

There also appears to be very clear shapes in the painting that lead the eye towards the horizon and are pleasing even with basic block colour shapes.
I could think about this in my work – placing ‘blocks’ of colour that work well compositionally (I think I started doing a bit of this when working on this body of work last year).

Essay: Ways of Looking, and being in the bigger picture by Andrew Wilson

Hockney thinks that naturalism is not real enough, naturalism as being ‘artifice rather than truth’. (p.214)

Masaccio is named as a painter that paints scenes ‘that the viewer somehow feels an amplified connection to a pictorial world that they take to be ‘real’… artifice temporarily falls away and we believe what we see. Moreover, we fail to distinguish it as effectively an artificial construction.’

If this is actually the case, one result of perspective would be to remove any separation between the viewer of the painting and the painting itself


This is interesting because I have been using perspective in my work to to trick the viewer into seeing height and depth.


Try more colour blocking in my paintings.
Blocks of colour for different areas and sections of the scene in front of me.

Another way of thinking about perspective: multiple-point perspective is a way of removing the separation between the scene in the painting and the viewer.

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