Project Five: Townscapes

Research Point: John Virtue

Please click here for my findings from this research.

Exercise One: Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings

Sketchbook page of 10cm x 10cm close-up squares

For the first part of this exercise, I created three squares which held close-up quick line sketches of points which interested me and then another three squares which held close-ups of tonal sketches.

Having learned what I have learned so far, it is very apparent to me that my perspective skills when used without assistance still need a lot of work. However, I have found I am looking for ‘clues’ now which I wasn’t before. Bearing this in mind, I am happy with the outcome of these as quick sketches, as I think they do show some improvement.

For the next part of the exercise, I created two quick sketches in biro of two interesting points of view.

Sketches of townscape

As with the previous part of this exercise, I have found again that my perception is not completely accurate. I was aware there were errors during the creation of these sketches, however, I tried to work through these errors and correct them during the process. I really tried to imagine the vanishing points again when creating this, but do think this is going to take some time and practice to be able to see naturally, however, I am happy with the results and how I am progressing in this way. It will take some time to perfect, but I think I am getting there slowly!

Exercise Two: Study of a Townscape using Line

Preparatory Sketch

Preparatory drawing in sketchbook

For this exercise, I began by creating a sketch in my sketchbook over two pages, as instructed to do, of a townscape scene I thought appealing. After the previous exercise, I decided to continue the study of my own house in an attempt to ‘work in series’, showing my continued development of my understanding and appreciation of the details of the exterior of my home. I have actually found this rather enjoyable as, not only is it very sentimental to me and I enjoy working with sentimental things, I feel I have looked more closely at things I have merely taken for granted and walked by obliviously when coming and going from my home, day in, day out.

Composition for Final Piece

I then decided to use a piece of tracing paper as a view finder as the view finder I had made for myself was only roughly A4 in size. I placed the tracing paper at different angles on my preliminary sketch (as can be seen in the pics below – if you squint hard enough!) before choosing my favourite.

In all honesty, I actually really liked Viewpoint 3 and thought it rather abstract and interesting, but decided to play it a little safe and go with Viewpoint 4 as it held a lot of visual information and different parts of the preliminary sketch.

Final Piece

I decided I was rather intrigued as to what the piece would look like if completed on the tracing paper and – although a bit of a cheat on my behalf – traced my preliminary sketch with my finer drawing pen before adding in the extra bits of detail with thicker pens, using the thickest to show the darkest (and actually black) areas of the composition as well as the shadows and darker parts of the clouds.

Final piece

Whilst I think I have been rather successful with this piece in respect of the depth and perspective, I did struggle somewhat with my really straight lines as my tremor was rather strong when I created the piece, so i was a little disappointed with that. I actually wanted to keep the slightly wobbly lines more for the brick walls, but my arm had other ideas! Also, I think I have definitely overdone it with the clouds as it was a beautiful sunny day and I think the markings used would represent a more dense and rain-filled cloud as opposed to the light and wispy clouds which were actually visible. Again, this is a little disappointing, but definitely something I can consider for future pieces. I also think they try to jostle for the foreground focus too much too – another reason to keep them thin and dainty. I don’t think I have been all that successful in separating the grounds in this piece, but I do think it rather difficult when working with line. This is something I will have to try and work on.

Exercise Three: A Limited Palette Study

For this exercise, I chose again to continue studying my home and to recreate the same piece again, but this time using as close to the traditional colouring as possible. Again, due to my increased tremor and a little weakness in my hand, I chose to work with wax crayons. I made this decision as I thought the finer grip / motor skills needed would cause much more cramp in my hand, so I chose to avoid these. I then considered soft pastels, but did not have a good enough match to the colours (I had black, but no brown, only yellow and orange). Then I considered oil pastels but decided they were too loose and expressive for the piece as I did want to keep it delicate, bearing in mind the weather of the day (I waited -a little too long! – for the sunshine to come back and for the conditions to be roughly the same as the day I had created my preliminary sketch in my earlier exercise.

Limited palette final piece

Whilst I think there are still a few issues with my work which I need to address (the bricks I drew in quickly do not fully sit at the right angle, so this spoils the effect somewhat, the door is too narrow and the garage roof was difficult to recreate due to its strange angles, to name just a few), I used this exercise to practice my lighter touches in the clouds and in the shadow on the white sections of the piece. Again, I think my angles still need a lot of practice and I did struggle to see things clearly, but I think I have definitely improved dramatically since beginning the course and, hopefully, this will continue.

Exercise Four: Statues

When I first thought of this exercise, there was only one statue which came to mind that I wanted to study due to its place in my memory; having grown up driving past this statue on numerous occasions, I had always been fascinated by the ‘magic’ it held as it seemed to reach up to the sky at an angle, as though anchoring the giants’ world from the ancient fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, to ours!

I went to visit the statue and noticed things I had never noticed about it before, having always been solely focused on the ‘magic’. The shadows were fantastic for working on my tutor’s comments regarding patches of tone and the contrast between the two. Also, the fact it disappeared into the distance and everything became smaller as it became further away was also really good the help me practice my foreshortening skills. I tried to move around the statue for different viewpoints, but also zoomed in on key points of interest to try recreating.

Sketches from varied viewpoints

I think I was a little tame with my first two sketches (top left and top right) as I stood in a position where there was not much shadow (I was here for some time, so the light changed position too). I think I have made the mistake again though on the top two of giving them too defined an outline. I just cannot seem to get away from this!

The bottom two are much more interesting I feel and are less outlined than the previous two; I think the lack of tone in the top two compared to the bottom two really seems to affect me. It is as though I just cannot get my mind around the fact the very solid outline does not have to be there for it to look realistic. I think I should have blended it a little better so it was not so solid a line. I am, however, very pleased with the links in the bottom right piece. I used the lifting method with a rubber to lift to the lightest value and I think it has genuinely paid off! I tried to draw the links roughly in place so I knew where I was going, but then just followed the tonal changes and worked my way downwards. I think this has really helped make the sketch look convincing.

Final piece

After doing the four quick sketches, I decided to draw the whole statue on a page in my sketchbook, trying to take note of what I had gathered in the quick sketches I had made. As a whole, there was not masses of shadow and tonal contrast from the view I had now chosen (and with the sun’s placement changing etc), so I decided to work quite lightly in tone and use very deep tonal areas for the shadows, as well as lifting areas (such as the scratching to the lower half of the hook) and the reflected light on the links.

I was actually quite impressed with the finished result and, again, think it has helped my understanding of foreshortening massively, which I think will help me no end in the next Part of the course.

Tutor Artist Recommendations from Part Two

In the feedback from my tutor from Part Two, I decided to look into the artists she suggested and my findings are as follows:

Juan Gris (1887 to 1927)

Juan Gris’s actual full name is José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pére. He was a Spanish painter who specialised in Cubism.

Combining Drawing and Subtle Mixed Media

Whilst Gris was influenced by such artists as Picasso and Braque, he distinguished himself by providing his pieces with crisp and precise details, where as the others were much more expressive within their work, not so much relying on a ‘realistic’ appearance.

My tutor advised me to look into Gris’s combining of drawing and mixed media and I can see why from the pieces chosen. Whilst I do struggle somewhat to understand the concept of Cubism correctly (something which I hope to work on in the future), I can appreciate its beauty and do think Gris’s work my favourite by far of the three Cubists mentioned. I really like his crisp lines, shadows, muted colours – even the orange of Fig. 3. is rather soothing as it is balanced out by the checkered squares and the general lightness of the lightness to the bottom of the piece.

I can see that compared to Picasso and Braque, Gris’s work has a much more delicate and controlled touch. I like how his work also appears rather cartoon-like with its black outlines as this is quite contradictory to normal as they still look rather realistic. I think this is perhaps because detail contained within the lines is very delicate and controlled, combining realistic with cartoon-like. This is definitely something I think I need to consider when creating my own pieces. I think I will experiment with a few pieces of mixed media to create a similar piece as a reference point for the future.

Georgio Morandi (1890 to 1964)

Whilst I have already done some research into the artist, Georgio Morandi and focussing on his still life work, I decided to look at his landscape pieces when considering my tutor’s suggestions.

Economical use of Space and Subdued Colours

Looking at the pieces shown below, I can really see what my tutor has tried to express to me regarding how few colours the artist uses in these pieces. All are kept practically to three or four colours at most, with only minimal and subtle changes to the shades to create depth and texture within the objects in the pieces.

The clouds are not pure white, merely a lighter shade of the blue which is used. The leaves only two or three different shades once again. In Fig. 6., there is purely just green which has been used in differing layers (again, as suggested I attempt by my tutor and reminding me somewhat of my potatoes in a bowl piece where I applied the same technique).

Whilst the pieces seem almost childish on first appearance to me, when I look at them closely, I can see the very delicate detail within – almost minute and indistinguishable. It is really impressive! I really like the detail in the tree in Fig. 4. and think I will bear this piece in mind when progressing within my course.

Avigdor Arikha (1929 to 2010)

Arikha was a Jewish painter, printmaker, art historian and draughtsman, who was born in Romania. Having endured and survived the horrors which occurred in a war-time concentration camp during his youth, he became quite the master of several different styles and in using different media.

Arikha moves through different methods during his lifetime, including abstract work, representation, figurative black and white drawings and included a wide range of subject matter.

Omitting Detail and Giving Attention to Tone and Objects

I really do like the first two pieces (Fig. 7. and Fig. 8.) as they are purely black and white. The first piece (Fig. 7.) is extremely expressive and I absolutely love it! I can feel the intensity felt by the artist at the time of creation and his eagerness to complete the piece.

The second piece (Fig. 8.) is much more controlled, however, there are still many parts which hold expressive mark-making. I really like how he has created a sense of foreground (the tree’s trunk and foliage), background (the whiteness representing the sky) and middle-ground (the lighter tones and spacing of detail to create more foliage) within just this black and white piece!

Whilst I am not overly fond of Fig. 9., I really like Arikha’s use of strong angles and minimal colouring. Again, Arikha has been able to create a sense of the three grounds. The background holds a blue sky which, with no clouds and against the almost desert-coloured foreground, really shows the heat the artist must have been surrounded with and adds a sense of atmosphere to the piece. Again, similar to Morandi’s piece (Fig. 4.), the piece does look somewhat childish in how minimal its detail is upon first appearance, but then when you look closer, there are a multitude of colours, hues and shades to be found, ranging from grey, pink, blue, brown and so on. All of these colours are very, very subtle and do not try to dominate the piece. Again, I think this is something I need to try and master. Sometimes less really is more!

Charlotte Verity (1954 to Present)

Charlotte Verity is a German observational painter whose passion is recreating the beauty found within her garden at her home in London. Her works are created as soon as she finds her muse, either in situ or in her studio. Whilst she works ‘from the moment’, she takes time and delicacy over her pieces and the details within.

Sensitive and Subtle use of Media and Limited Palette

From the pieces below, I can see how delicately Verity’s work is. She has a very gentle hand and uses the layers of colour very delicately. There is a strong use of positive and negative space to assist in creating depth, for instance, in Fig. 10., the bend in the wall behind the plant is very apparent and the inverting of the colours of the leaves assists with this depth creation.

I really enjoy how, considering she uses a limited palette, Verity’s pieces hold so many different shades of the same colour and also seem to hold different hues in parts, but extremely subtly.

I think going forward I will bear these pieces in mind and try to recreate them when delicacy is needed, as opposed to always using a heavy hand. I think I have felt for a while that the deeper and more intense the colour, the better result, whereas these pieces completely contradict this theory. This is definitely something I want to bear in mind when completing my assignment piece.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Gris, J (1913) Glasses. Newspaper and Bottle of Wine [Mixed media] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=7787# (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 2. Gris, J (1914) Glasses and Newspaper [Collage] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=7791# (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 3. Gris, J Fruit Dish with Bottle (c.1914) [Mixed Media] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=7793 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 4. Morandi, G (1927) Paesaggio [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 5. Morandi, G (1943) Landscape [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 6. Morandi, G (1957) Landscape [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 7. Arikha, A (Unknown) Landscape [Charcoal] At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/avigdor-arikha/landscape-k5Eun2aZP4s-Ej8Y-KHFVA2 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 8. Arikha, A (1975) [Lithograph] At: https://il.bidspirit.com/ui/lotPage/source/catalog/auction/2871/lot/68623/Avigdor-Arikha-1929-2010-Tree-in?lang=en (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 9. Arikha, A (1976) Jerusalem Landscape [Watercolour on paper] At: https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-us/auction-catalogues/tiroche-auction-house/catalogue-id-srtir10004/lot-2a5f38c3-df88-440c-ab3a-a4b100eb464c (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 10. Verity, C (2015) Birch Leaves [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Fig. 11. Verity, C (c. 2016 – 2017) Rosehips [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Fig. 12. Verity, C (2017) Vine and Window [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Bibliography

Art Practical. (2006) ‘Giorgio Morandi’ [Online] At: https://www.artpractical.com/review/giorgio_morandi/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Blain Southern. (Unknown) ‘Avigdor Arikha’ [Online] At: https://www.blainsouthern.com/artists/avigdor-arikha (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Charlotte Verity. (Unknown) ‘Biography’ [Online] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/biography (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Galleries Now. (2019) ‘Charlotte Verity: The Seasons Ebb’ [Online] At: https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/charlotte-verity-the-seasons-ebb/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Guggenheim. (Unknown) ‘Juan Gris’ [Online] At: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/juan-gris (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

The Art Story Foundation. (Unknown) ‘Juan Gris: Spanish Painter, Illustrator and Sculptor'[Online] At: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-gris-juan.htm (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

The Wall Street Journal. (2015) ”Giorgio Morandi’ Review: Still Lifes that Find the Sublime’ [Online] At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/giorgio-morandi-review-still-lifes-that-find-the-sublime-1447107116 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Avigdor Arikha’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avigdor_Arikha (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Giorgio Morandi’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Morandi (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Juan Gris’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Gris (Accessed on 5 July 2019)