Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Seasonal Painting - Summer

Exploring Concepts

Part 6 – Parallel Projects

Project: Summer




My ideas for this series remain the same concerning subject matter though have become slightly refined in the Summer painting.  They need to be viewed as a series as they cover not only the Season in terms of climate but in terms of life. 

The series uses the square format 60 x 60 cm.  Painted in acrylic using the colours of Summer which I researched for Matisse, Derain, Picasso and Vlaminck.  The colours which appeared in Summer paintings by these artists often included: Cobalt, Cerulian, Yellow, Viridian, Pinks and lilacs and a strong red. My painting is a ‘flat’ painting incorporating these colours and includes touches of Cubism.

The sunny,  summer of life when people are knowledgeable and have experienced things, some good some bad.  There is irony in the painting with the bowl of cherries for the picnic.  Life is not always a bowl of cherries, even in the warmth of Summer. Will they have children and be fruitful? The male has lost a leg, perhaps in the Afghan conflict and wears an amulet on his thumb for “Help for Heroes”.

The woman is strong, whereas the man is weakened by his experience but is nonetheless determined.  The index finger of the large hand doubles for the man’s arm.  The leaves are almost like objects which have rained down on this couple, Will they make it through their traumas?

The flat checked table cloth was inspired by Bonnard who used it a lot in his paintings, and is reminiscent too of a gaming board.

The composition has a basic pyramidal construction and has repetitions throughout, and there are lots of triangles. There is the suggestion of a rift down the middle of the painting which is where  ambivalence occurs.

 This ambivalence between the couple is suggested by the arm movements: does she have her arm around him supporting him, or is it on her hip suggesting tired resignation?  Does she reach for her drink or the crutch to help him? Does she support his leg as he reaches for the beer?  Despite these ideas, the painting has a simple quality, almost primitive, which conceals the meaning until the viewer starts to interpret some of the language. The bright summer colours are also a contradiction for this couple and is indicative of the oft repeated phrase: "Life goes on"

The Summer painting picks up on some of the elements of the Spring painting: for example the tree (only a seedling in Spring) now a tree hinted at behind the two people picnicking, the trunk doubling as the woman’s hair; the traffic lights, this time showing amber and indicating past present and future by their aspect; and the hand, this time reaching for the beer, one of the few pleasures left to the man. 

Check and Log

  • What are the differences between painting directly from life and outdoors, as you may have done in your summer project, and painting from photographs or abstracting images, as you have done in your other projects?
I believe the first difference is the vastness of the panorama and making a decision regarding the area to be selected for the painting. Then there is the light, and therefore the shadows which are constantly changing so it is important to fix on a point and time of day. There is also the question of reflected light from the canvas, which is why I chose to use a red background to avoid the dazzle. Obviously when painting from a real scene as opposed to a photograph the issues of perspective have to be worked out, whereas a photograph does that for you, similarly you have to make judgements about colour and tone.


  • Which method that you have used in your seasons work seems most flowing and natural to you?
I suppose because one is in a natural environment the outdoor work is the most natural and because one is using direct observation more than cerebral processes it is possibly more flowing. Abstract and Surrealist work requires more thought and creativity, whereas outdoor work is based on perspective and looking. You are literally painting what you see. If the style is re-interpreted from pure representational work to a different technique, i.e. cubist, impressionist, palette knife then another element interposes itself on painting en plein air, which in turn might affect flow, and indeed make it feel less natural; so style is therefore influential.

  • Which season presented the most challenge in terms of pictorial representation? Do you know why this is?
Winter has been the most challenging because I have tried to incorporate two different styles in one painting.  I am not sure if it worked.  I could have used the hard edged style of painting through but the symbolism would not have been conveyed.  The alternative would have been to use a figurative style throughout which would not  have had the impact I was trying to achieve. Determining the composition was also more complex than a conventional composition.



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