It’s never good to get too comfortable. I could I suspect knock out elagaic street scenes ’til the cows come home. Not that I’m tired of them, just that once I have the material then it is not very stretching to paint one. So I have jumped in to a subject I have very rarely painted… flowers. Not too scary, how hard can a couple of roses be… the answer it turns out is very hard indeed. Of the five I started only three survive and two of those may hit the bin yet. Still I shall persevere, if it’s hard and I’m failing then overcoming that will inevitably improve my skills. If I improve my skills then those street scenes will get better too. The other classic subject I never do is still lives. I quite like the pictures when others do them, but somehow I’m never inspired myself. I think it’s the arranging that puts me off. Shuffling a few choice objects around on a tabletop just doesn’t seem very exciting. Most still lives are too decorative for me in that saccharine kittens in a shoe sort of way. There’s no easy way of saying anything much about anything except how nice that vase of flowers looked on the windowsill.
In a way that only points out the more that I ought to dip into the subject as only by doing a couple will I find out what I don’t know. My first instinct with anything is research. I look at as much stuff as I can to sort of prime the pumps. A quick Google told me I was in trouble. Almost nothing that I saw in image search took my eye. There was plenty I didn’t like and others I liked well enough but don’t want to do. The main thing I hated were all these “Flemish” highly finished concoctions of 3 lobsters, a cut glass bowl overflowing with a cornucopia of fruit, assorted pewter tankards, a recently deceased game bird and a rug. There are still painters doing these by the 10097 layer flemish method or whatever. The results are to my eye dead as a doornail but each to their own I suppose. I very much admire botanical illustrations when done well but don’t have the desire or the eyesight to do any myself. The other thing that struck me about still lives is: where is all the stuff we use and gloat over owning today? Why is there no “Rose in a Coffee mug with iPod? or “Partridge with Blender.” “Morning light on Playstation and Smoothy.” Just typing those out made me snigger but why? They at least would have some relevance to our everyday lives, not some daft Dutch world of the stuff of days gone by. I’m going to have to put my money where my mouth is here and do a few! Watch this space they will be in a later post…
Only a very few images from the web got my juices running. First were the simple flowers that Manet painted as he was dying. Confined to bed this was all he could practically paint. I’ll put two below even though they will make all the paintings of my own that come later look complete rubbish!
Just two roses but gorgeous handling of the paint.
…and another, nothing at all fancy but perfect nonetheless. Lastly a Chardin.
Again simple, just the ordinary stuff he had around. Stunning soft tones and clever composition.
The attraction seems to me to be abstract values without the abstraction itself. We shall see. A mixed bag this post I’ll start with the streets. I was told by an American commenter that I should put a warning on my blog that naked people might be encountered… I considered replying, but just deleted it. There will be no warning, if anybody dies of exposure to drawings of naked people they are welcome to sue me.
Return to Trafalgar Square. I wasn’t altogether happy with my last attempt at this subject. So on my way to drop pictures into the Mall Gallery for the
Marine Exhibition I stopped and did this and took a rake of photos. (I got one into the RSMA by the way…hurrah!)
Here is the finished studio painting. I am much happier with this version compared to the last. 20 in by 10 in. I had great fun tweaking the composition.
Here is the compositional grid I used to place the elements. Horizon halfway, considered a no no but produces I feel a feeling of stillness and balance.
The rest is split into thirds each with a different dynamic. The diagonals indicate flow and I only use for general position, if you over do this sort of
structural planning then the painting can I think become rather formal and lifeless.
Another second attempt at a subject. This is the Cutty Sark at Greenwich. There are a few possible pictures here a subject you may see here again.
19in by 10in.
Another small plein air. They had stopped the traffic briefly to do craning stuff so I snatched a rare chance to stand and paint
in the middle of what is usually a busy road. I will do a bigger one of this I stayed and took snaps after I had finished so I have
the makings of a studio painting. 7in by 5in.
In the middle of the road again! This time a reassuring skip at my back. I have been eying up this scene for a while. Not sure this is the one but I feel
there is a super painting here somewhere. I just need the right figures to complete the feeling of place. 7in by 5in. I am trying to take my small sketchbook
and watercolours with me more often, a sketch like this is so useful when doing a studio picture from assorted photos. When ever I do this I find it is the
plein air sketch that sets the mood.
Here we are in unfamiliar territory. This was done in the rose garden of the Rangers House in Greenwich park. I like the background rose but the other is
rather overworked. If I frame this I shall crop through the larger bloom.
Another a studio pic this time. I have added more dark areas after scanning this but not a great deal. A little cut out and stuck on but it framed up very
well. 14in by 9in.
This one went wrong really, but interesting none the less. I prefer the softness, but the composition is lousy and the greens too.
Here we are with the naked ladies. Super model, I decided to do no initial drawing and just jump in with the paint.
I used a brush pen to do the black which is rather nice as it is not quite waterproof so it softens with the paint but doesn’t dissolve entirely.
As the poses were 45min I did two of each, as one is drying you can work on the other.
No one shocked to death? Excellent!