Location

I painted outside just now to prepare the page for the sculpture test drawing I’m going to put on top. This was the first painting in this style I have done in what seems like a while! This is not really true, but compared to last term I have been doing less painting outside.

The woods that I painted in I am really familiar with. I have visited other woods, but I keep returning to this one. One reason for this is convenience – it’s right outside my studio and so I don’t have to haul all my painting equipment a long way. But also, I was listening to a podcast yesterday, this one:

And they were talking about returning to the same objects or places again and again. It made me consider how I have returned to this same woodland for over a year now, and how that impacts how I paint and what I experience. I haven’t got any answers as of yet, but it’s an interesting thing to consider. Is my painting affected (for good or bad?) because I return to the same woods? Am I training myself to notice new things whilst painting in the same environment?

One thing I did notice about these woods from where I was painting was the depth of layers of trees and foliage. This photo contains the view that had this depth, you can see trees in the distance that are lighter, washier shades of green than the foreground. It was a lovely place thing to try and paint on part of the paper.

I painted this view as well as a clearing to the left of it, where I imagined the sculpture I had made to sit.

Painting process

Acrylic on paper. For speed and ease.

^ This is a screenshot of a zoomed in image of a painting I did last term (oil on paper). Looking back on it it strikes me how effective the paint application is – there is so much depth. I think there are two reasons for this:
– Thickness of paint: I remember using a lot of Liquin with the paint to bulk it up and make it very slidable on the canvas. The thickness means the paint layers hardly mix with one another, instead they look like they are floating near each other with space in between them.
– High contrast in tone: The dark background behind light blue behind varying tones of colour marks. Contrast creates greater separation between marks, making them seem more separated.

I have only considered the second reason now, after already painting this most recent experiment. I would like to test these two ideas in a series of future paintings. I wondered whether having not many marks on the canvas also added depth, but looking back at Howard Hodgkins work that doesn’t seem to be true…

Although I didn’t follow through with the idea of high contrast tones, I did make sure the paint was applied very thickly.

Finished painting before adding structure

What works

Thick pain: It does add depth, and it prevents the colours from mixing together.

C shapes marks are lovely! I realised I was reducing boughs of trees into these c shape marks. Describing blocks of leaves and branches with blocks of colour.

What doesn’t

I applied paint too thickly too fast, without considering my marks and colours enough. I ended up battling with the thick paint.

My palette was too small. When applying thick paint, I needed to mix a lot of paint in a variety of colours, so I needed lots of palette space to do so! Because I had a small palette, colours were easily getting mixed up, and I could never get the right shade, because it was mixing with other colours and going muddy. As a result the colours are dull and low contrast.

Lots of small marks added at the end. Disjointed, no sense of direction, so feeling of woods whatsoever. This is due to me battling with the thick paint as mentioned above, and adding lots of unnecessary marks on top to try in vain to get the colour and layering of colours that I could have put down earlier in the painting process.

Page too small. I am used to working with big canvases now! Which means lots of room to fit in all the layers and detail I wanted. I was trying to cram too much onto a tiny piece of paper.

Improvements for next time

Bigger palette

More contrast in tone.

Do underpainting of a block (dark?) colour – like I’ve been doing before! I don’t know why that went out of the window.

Keep the thickness of paint, just don’t start adding so eagerly and early. When working with really thick paint, colour mixing and placing of marks need to be carefully considered!

This has to be one of the worst paintings I’ve done in a while. OHWELL. I need to do some more, since I have learnt so much from doing this one.

Now to add the drawing on top.

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