Friday, 5 April 2013

Two Abstracts in Oils

This painting and the one below are not yet completed. In fact they are part of an ongoing process in which I am attempting to create as much variation in my work as I can to prevent repeating myself. For instance, the intention in the image above was to expose the initial underpainting by going back to it once the surface had dried. Then painting over it using just one colour; namely, Cadmium yellow: with white added to it to vary this slightly in other areas of the canvas. So essentially, the shapes are formed by masking off areas of the underpainting to allow it to grin through rather than painting them in later over a yellow background. This sets up a conflict between background and foreground. At least, insofar as they have little in common with one another, apart from setting up a further conflict between what we understand as negative and positive spaces within the composition. There is also a conflict between these amorphous shapes; with no relevance to, or association with things you might recognise in the real world, and the underlying geometry: which is something you would recognise, or associate with. In the image below on the other hand, the object was to destroy the geometry.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Resolving the image on iPad

Since I bought my iPad nine months ago I have never been able to resolve the images to my satisfaction; sufficiently enough that is, until now. The painting above is one of those exceptions to the norm. Although I have managed to produce landscapes with some atmosphere in them they have usually been of a more cursory nature, such as the following two show.

It isn't that I prefer a more resolved image, but merely that I like to see how far I can push the medium without overworking it. In which respect, the next one shows how far I am prepared to enforce this rule. It is more than enough to suggest certain details rather than to paint in so many you begin to lose a feel for the overall composition.

To paint too much detail into a landscape without understanding why is like gilding the lily. I mean, even a simple sketch such as the one below has all of the necessary detail in it for the purpose it was intended for.

Having said all that, if there is one thing I love about my iPad it is that it provides me with the opportunity to discover other possibilities in the development of a particular image. The following two landscapes for instance, show how easy it is to paint over the same image with details that didn't exist in the previous one... Or two, or three, depending on how many alterations you want to make to the original. Note for example the significant change in atmosphere between the two, even though it is only the foreground that has altered.

In fact all it took to achieve this was to duplicate the original then add an extra layer, and using ArtRage you can alter the opacity of the colours above to prevent the layer beneath from grinning through. Then again, sometimes a translucent colour can add greater depth to the layer beneath, depending upon what you want to achieve. Here are two more examples of what I mean.

To be honest with you, none of the places I have painted on my iPad actually exist, except in my memory of those I have visited in and around Great Britain. Most are views I have seen when out walking in the Lake District, and North Wales, or viewed from my car, which is why I try to avoid putting in close ups of buildings and trees. The reason for this is very simple. The moment they begin to dominate the composition there is a natural tendency to question whether the details are correct, but more importantly; from an artistic point of view that is, their significance within the composition. As for adding human figures, or even a few sheep, or cows, I have no problem with this, but haven't thought of a good enough reason yet as to why I should. Here are a few more of my best landscapes so far since the end of last year.


Friday, 4 January 2013

Cezanne's Perspective

In the introduction to his book, 'Geometry in Pictorial Composition,' Brian Thomas began with the following words...

"In studying old paintings of many periods it is continually noticeable that features in a composition which strike the spectator as harmoniously related can be found to have also a geometrical relationship.

Many people, including a number of living painters, believe that any geometry that may be detected occurred unconsciously, as part of the artists' natural instinct for design. It must be admitted in support of this view that artists accustomed to observing effects of perspective and parallax in the course of their day-to-day study of nature might well have become saturated with a sense of mathematical coordination. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that highly analytical observers would have consistently achieved harmony by geometrical means without noticing the fact and regularizing its use, particularly as many painters were also architects experienced in applying stock proportions when designing.

At the other extreme, certain modern theorists have analysed old compositions and have propounded geometrical frameworks of fantastic complexity. It is inconceivable that such constructions could have been in general use as practical aids for busy craftsmen, many of whom were not intellectuals. Had such procedures been general, some reference to them must inevitably have appeared in contemporary literature. Theorizing about composition is unfortunately the kind of subject which attracts ingenious but complicated minds. It is noteworthy that when these analysis are themselves analysed a simpler more probable construction can invariably be produced."

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

An Artistic Conceit

"For him, as I understand his work, the ultimate synthesis of a design was never revealed in a flash; rather he approached it with infinite precautions, stalking it, as it were, now from one point of view, now from another, and always in fear lest a premature definition might deprive it of something of it's total complexity. For him the synthesis was an asymptote toward which he was forever approaching without ever quite reaching it; it was a reality incapable of complete realization."

Roger Fry... 'Cezanne, A Study of His Development,' page 3

In his book, 'A Theory of Semiotics.' Umberto Eco wrote: "The interpretant can assume different forms." So I have used the term, 'asymptote,' to convey to you how I think Cezanne's painting developed. An asymptote is a mathematical term that can also be used in a metaphorical way such as Roger Fry has shown. However, I use it in the sense of a visual pun to form a bridge between the different contexts... Signified you could say, by the viaduct in Cezanne's painting. In essence therefore, it circumscribes cultural units in an asymptotic fashion... Linking them together like the arches of the viaduct. Then again, because I cannot be absolutely certain that this is how Cezanne perceived the development, the synthesis is an asymptote. In which respect, this theory of mine is pure conjecture: having no basis in fact. Here now is Umberto Eco...

"Because it is such a broad category, the interpretant may turn out to be of no use at all and, since it is able to define any semiotic act, may in the last analysis become purely tautological  Yet its vagueness is at the same time its force and the condition of its theoretical purity.

The very richness of this category makes it fertile since it shows us how signification (as well as communication), by means of continual shifting which refers a sign back to another sign or string of signs, circumscribes cultural units in an asymptotic fashion, without ever allowing one to touch them directly, though making them accessible through other units. Thus a cultural unit never obliges one to replace it by means of something which is not a semiotic entity, and never asks to be explained by some Platonic, psychic or objectal entity. Semiosis explains itself by itself, this continual circularity is the normal condition of signification and even allows communication to use signs in order to mention things. To call this condition a 'desperate,' one is to refuse the human way of signifying, a way that has proved fruitful insofar as only through it has cultural history developed."

Umberto Eco... 'A Theory of Semiotics,' page 71

You will note that I underlined the words, "Semiosis explains itself by itself," because Cezanne's painting is in itself, a semiotic entity. One that without any help from me; via this type of explanation or commentary, should be capable of doing the same.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Two More Thumbnail Sketches

After my previous post yesterday, I decided to tackle two more thumbnail sketches on my iPad using the same technique. The one above is drawn from memory and imagination, just as the second one is below. Although tomorrow looks like being a nice bright day, if not a little cold. If so, I shall take a drive out and have a go at painting some more thumbnails from observation. That's the real test. Working directly from nature can often be daunting. Finding a good subject can be even more so.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Two Thumbnail Sketches

What I particularly like about painting on my iPad is the speed with which I can work. For making visual notes such as this one, and the one below it is ideal. For these two thumbnail sketches, which I did from memory I used the pencil and the technical pen on ArtRage. Although I like to add a little texture with the roller, or block in the colours very quickly with the paint pot, the technical pen can be applied over the whole drawing in bright transparent colours without having to go around the drawing itself. On a separate layer above the original however, it would mask what is underneath. The opacity of the colour of course, determining how translucent, or opaque the colour is.

Friday, 23 November 2012

The Psychological Makeup of an Image

As with any painting, whether it be a figurative one such as this, or one that is purely abstract there is an intense psychology at work. After I painted the head and shoulders of this young teenage girl I was so taken by how I had managed to capture the look of complete vacancy on he face, and the rather despondent way her head hung forward and down, I had to see how I would tackle the rest of her. To enlarge the composition on iPad is quite easy. You post the original to your photos then post it back onto another sheet of paper in your app, which in this case is ArtRage. You can then manipulate the original drawing to whatever size you want, within the picture plane. Here for example, is the original.

Next, the same image positioned onto a new sheet of paper.

From here it is just a matter of continuing the drawing. Although if you add another layer you can erase whatever you add to the picture without erasing the original, which makes mopping up any mistakes so much easier. Now, I don't know if you would agree with me but once I had completed the image it seemed to me that the empty space on the left added to the sense of isolation the girl in the picture appeared to be feeling. If indeed, that is what she is feeling. Although there is a way of testing this, and that is by adding another figure to see if it helps or hinders. However, to do this I first had to save the image then copy it, without posting it again to my photos.

The next image; half drawn, shows a young man wearing sunglasses. I had drawn in his eyes originally, but couldn't quite get the look on his face that I wanted. He began to look incongruous... Baring no relationship whatsoever to the girl. So I gave him a pair of very dark sunglasses to hide his feelings towards her: which is a cop out I admit, but by then I was beginning to realise I should have gone with my initial thoughts on the matter. Adding another person somehow trivialises the image, and turns it into a joke. I can almost hear him say, "So what do you make of my new shades?"

 Then again, maybe he is just a badly drawn boy. Maybe if I had made the effort I could have added something more: to provide some sort of message. To make something of a statement about human relationships for instance. It is difficult to say for sure, and why I always go with my gut feelings when it comes down to the psychology of picture making. The more uncertain your feelings are towards the girl; from an artistic point of view at least, the better. Why spell everything out?