Monday, 12 August 2013

PAINTING 2: Mixed Media

Part 1 – Physical and Visual Texture

Project: Physical Texture of Paint, Exercises (4)

I wanted to try to paint four different styles of painting under this heading and chose, realism, semi-abstraction and abstraction and expressionism.

The first of the four exercises was a realistic painting of sunlight, candle and spirit light, so I called it Light.  I wanted to explore colour with a muted palette as well as texture so this subject afforded that opportunity.  Each of the paintings is on A3 paper over which I have painted gesso with a large house brush to give as much texture as possible.

 I used acrylic paint and didn’t follow any particular artists style but just used palette knife to explore the different textures in the painting.  The wax candle was very smooth, the wooden wall textured with knots and grain, there is the small edge of a wicker basket a carpet and the clay pot in the background which had pattern marks on it.  I don’t know why but I couldn’t help thinking of Cailebotte’s Scrapers, probably because of the perspective, floor and wood.

I felt in my comfort zone with this style of painting it is what I have been wanting to achieve in my work, i.e. less attention to detail and I felt I really learned a new technique with this image.  I painted it in my summer house on a really hot day.  I realize that I should do more preparation sketches, which is quite unnatural to me,  I prefer to work straight off to retain the spontaneity.  However, I did produce a sketch in my notebook which was to hand. I had to decide on the shadows as they were gradually moving round and affecting the

My second piece was influenced by the artist Pia Fries, I love what she does with paint and the way she works it into shapes which work in their own right.


I couldn’t begin to find ways of achieving this technique and eventually got side tracked into doing my own thing.  I will make further attempts in the future, but the amount of paint required is a bit off-putting. Also I suspect I would need to use some different kinds of applicators other than a syringe to achieve the “bundles” of paint which I found captivating.  She also uses screen printing, much as Rauschenberg did, and I am very keen to try to do this myself but I have never done screen printing before.  Getting the image into the canvas is what I want to achieve. I was always impressed by a Degas portrait of a Young Woman, which actually comes out of the canvas, as though it resides inside the weave. It is a stunning portrait in my view.

I used paint straight from the tube and tape, string, sacking, syringed paint, smudged paint all on plain white A2 cartridge paper with limited collage.   


My third painting was influenced by Auberbach’s technique of applying thick paint and outlining with charcoal.  I am not quite sure how he achieved this because I found the charcoal built up a residue of paint and didn’t apply any charcoal.  I have used acrylic and he may have been using oil.  I am not sure that would have made much difference.  I waited until the paint was almost dry then cleaned up the charcoal and did it again and it seemed to work.
I have not used the depth of paint Auberbach uses in his work.

 The idea came from some pebbles in my garden which I photographed.  I used the photograph as reference to paint from and just popped out occasionally to have a closer look at the stones.  I have intensified the colours a bit, for more visual interest.  I like the idea of outlining or contouring as it is sometimes referred to, though in this case it was to accentuate the shadows.


The final picture in this series was going to be influenced by Gerhard Richter, but I went on to a video clip of his work at the Tate, which I had previously been to, to refresh my memory.  He had done a painting of 9/11 in which I was very disappointed.  In fact I had to look for it because it was small and insignificant.  In the video the narrator said Richter almost didn’t know what to say about the tragedy…what can you say?  I thought his style would have been ideal to depict one of the worst terrorist outrages of our time, but he chose to paint a relatively small painting, his choice of course.

The clip reminded me of one of the iconic image to come out of the tragedy which I had always felt was something I wanted to reproduce in paint, possibly in shades of grey, like Richter’s photograph paintings, but it turned out somewhat differently.

This was an acrylic base with oil on top.  I am a great fan of John Piper and I think it has elements of his work and possibly an Italian artist, whose name I can’t think of, as well as having echoes of Anselm Keifer's work.  Influences work at a sub-conscious level despite attempts to follow specific artists.  Our brains act like sponges and we carry images in our heads that influence our work without our knowing it sometimes.  In some ways I think this is a better way of proceeding along a path than merely copying ideas.  I was quite pleased with how this turned out although at the time it was difficult to bring it to a conclusion and I thought it was heading for the bin.

I have not used any extreme media in these paintings, like plaster and sand etc. because I felt the object of the exercise was to explore the paint texture rather than additives.  They will come later I feel sure.

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