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.