Wednesday 31 May 2017

Ways into abstract painting week 4: Tate Modern Visit

I've spent most of the last week stitching and painting my entry for SAQA 'Made in Europe II'   but  with that completed ( a day before the deadline!) I can concentrate on looking through my notes and sketches  in preparation for tomorrow's final session of 'Ways into Abstract Painting' . It's gone so quickly!
Last week we had an 'off site' visit to Tate Modern to research the work of a variety of artists , looking at the ways they use colour, composition, paint application etc.   We  were working in small groups , finding   artists who used one of each of a range of painting techniques  eg impasto, directional brushmarks and then discussed what their starting point was ( observational, memory, random ) and how treatment of the work affected the atmosphere or feeling of the piece) . Then individually  we did sketches of composition looking at tone and colour study.
We started in ' In the Studio' and the group I was with looked at works by Duncan Grant and Matisse . I wouldn't necessarily have chosen this work myself but  I  like how it's obviously based on a room and easels etc but interesting composition and colour choices.  Then the security guard suggested I deposit my rucksack in the cloakroom/lockers and on my return  it was difficult to get back into discussions so contrary to instructions , I went and looked at work on my own.
It's probably just as well, I'm not very good at looking at artworks with others unless it's a tutor pointing out key features etc. When I go to exhibitions with friends or Ian , tend to go round separately

It was interesting to look at work with an initial focus on painting methods - picking up on the 'grissage' of Max Ernst and the outlines and subtle layers of Jean Miro. The intense blue initially looks flat but looking closer you can see directional brushmarks.

Nicolas de Stael  was an obvious example of impasto! The notes on the wall/ website suggest that the title perhaps indicates the comparison with creating a painting and the extended exertion of a race. 
However the composition to me looked like a head  or helmet like the ones worn at the battle of Marathon  ( Ian' s interests in military history obviously rubbing off on me....)

I was so wrapped up in analysing this artwork with its' combination of burlap, paint  and a colour palette similar to the coastal ones I'm using at the moment that I lost control of my crayons . One rooled behind the security wire so I had to ask a security guard to retrieve  it for me!

Nearby was this large work by Pierre Soulages,  with its calligraphic heavy directional brushmarks.

I paid homage to Gerhard Richter  and did a quick sketch of Winifred Nicholson's calm  piece in ' Art and Society'  I like her quote about abstraction:
"the nature of abstract colour is utter purity – but colours wish to fly, to merge, to change each other by their juxtapositions, to radiate, to shine, to withdraw deep within themselves."

By the time I'd looked once again at Shozo Shimamoto's ' Holes' I'd run out of steam so had a quick look around the Giacometti before meeting up with the class for coffee and to discuss our findings.
It was really interesting to see what others had discovered, some had concentrated on just one or 2 paintings,  others had  a different mix to my own selection. I'd missed the Kurt Schwitters and the Peter Doig  so had a look at those before returning to City Lit. With browsing in the bookshop and getting sidetracked by Magdalena Abakanowicz I only had  10 minutes to eat my lunch!

In the afternoon we started on a project working from a similar starting point to the artist we'd chosen.  Most people were looking at composition  but my starting point was the process used by Shizo Shimamoto of layering newspapers . I was interested to read more about the Gutai group  having coincidentally  looked at work by 2 members.

I  had a happy afternoon glueing  pages and torn up bits of text and pictures from that day's Metro onto cartridge paper and then applying white paint using different methods ( credit card scraping, brushwork etc )  ready to tear up and layer the following week. . Reading more about  his work  and the process involved  I realised that the  delicacy of the orginal piece come from multiple layers  of newspaper glued with flour and water  contrasted with the use of enamel paint - I don't think what I've prepared will work in the same way. 

I've also been thinking about  why I wanted to do this class ( to help with  abstract composition in my textile pieces) and how I could best use what I've learnt so far in a final project.   Further work on holes and tears requires  more attention to materials and process than can be achieved in a days' class so I'm putting that interesting topic to one side for the moment.   

So for tomorrow I'm looking at the brushmarks/ impasto of De Stael and Soulages  and have printed and laminated photos so I can do some colour mixing , (particularly of greys)   in preparation for the next in my ' Birchington Breakwater ' series.  

Monday 22 May 2017

Ways into Abstract Painting Week 3: Random Systems and memory/text

Week 3 on 'ways into abstract painting' and we  were looking at random systems. Jackson Pollock was the obvious example   but also other abstract expressionists . Also favourites like the 'Cage paintings by Gerhard Richter ( which I look forward to revisiting this Thursday when we  have a visit to Tate Modern

What I hadn't realised was that John Cage himself  made  a series of prints and drawings inspired by the Ryoanji garden in Kyoto, Japan's most celebrated Zen garden, composed of 15 stones arranged in five mossy islands against a ground of raked gravel. Cage's prints and drawings, begun in 1983, required him to draw (first with a metal drypoint tool, later in pencil) around the perimeters of 15 stones whose positions on the etching plate or paper were determined by chance.

  Our 'random systems' were rather more prosaic: throwing a dice for  type  of mark / paint application method ( eg drip, squeegee, dry brush , finger etc); drawing a card for position on paper ( eg bottom right, allover)  and spinning a bottle for colour!
 Some very interesting effects ,some due to paint not fully dry  such as black squeegeed paint over yellow drips in the  first painting at the top.
In my second go, I used  some techniques and colours I hadn't used before so semi-random, but found it more difficult  and less successful making decisions  for myself!

 We'd been asked  the previous week to bring text/poem or thought about a memory
 We looked at some artworks  where text had been employed as marks or the inspiration for artworks. Jasper Johns is the obvious one ( reminds me I still have to post about' the American Dream '.... )
Julie Mehretu

Jessica Rankin

Maliheh Afnan
Mira Schendal
 Kurt Schwitters  (incorporating text in collage)

 The example used for painting a memory was the 'portraits' of Howard Hodgkin like the one above of David Hockney.

I'd brought   the poem 'Breaths ' by sweet honey in the rocks  which I'd used for my Cynefin piece  'Voice of the Waters'  and memories of a particular place' Thorn's Gill'  

I had a fine time mixing colours and using the written words themselves as marks , very different to my usual painting style  but that's the point, to try something new. I should have stopped   at the stage above ( I particularly like the right hand side with 'moaning rocks' in grey and ' crying grass' in yellowy -green)  but as usual went too far ! I'm getting better at slowing down, spending more time looking than painting  and making more considered marks but I'm not there yet.

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Drawing Tuesday at the Petrie Museum

 Happiness is lunch   with a view in the British  Museum Members Room after a 2nd viewing of ' The American Dream' Print exhibition followed by an afternoon's drawing pots in the Petrie Museum

In the very busy rooms at the BM devoted to Egyptology, a  new acquisition- a 'Nefertiti' sewing machine!  A very different layout in the Petrie of cabinets so crammed with meticulously labelled artifacts large and small that it's difficult to know where to start. Grab a stool and sketch whatever is in front of you!  

These caught my eye , maybe next time if I don't get beguiled by something else

Sunday 14 May 2017

Painting in the Garden Studio

When the  easel in the kitchen studio isn't big enough, move out to the garden studio!!
I was  first inspired to paint outside on a larger scale after seeing Katherine Holmes  and Susan  Gray  demonstrate it on FSC painting courses; watching a video of Kurt Jackson in action; and   had a go myself  on 'Painting Promentary in Weymouth

Rather than wrapping  my section of gessoed antique quilt around  1 drawing board  which is my usual practice , I spread it over 2 boards supported by the 'garden easels', leaning against the fence

 The light was great  with no direct sun on the painting  and with not having to worry about splashes on the floor  I had a fine time dribbling and flicking paint around  to create the first layer

 Ian even shot a video.... ( posted on Facebook, I need to work out how to put it on YouTube.
 Tomorrow ,once it's dried I'll be  adding fabric layers and stitch  with more controlled  and impasto  painting  at a later stage.