Jackdaws At Dusk

Jackdaws At Dusk

Monday, 20 September 2010

Collage Artist

"The Letter" 1994 Mixed Media. Nissan Engel. From the Bridgeman Education Site.

I've just done a search for "collage" on the Bridgeman site and it's come back with 1042 results, including many from the Dadaists which I will be looking into more detail to come. However the images that caught my eye were all by the Israeli artist Nissan Engel and there were many by him. So for now I just wanted to include this image by him. I love the rich colour and the textures created by the ripped paper. I also love the inclusion of manuscript paper which personally I find exciting because I play piano so I'm always wondering what the pieces sound like, but also the patterns of the black dots and lines adds another level of interest to the textures. I'm planning on experimenting with manuscript paper myself, but I find it hard to contemplate ripping up real manuscript paper so will probably photocopy some sheets and then age them by painting over them or staining them with teabags.

Robert Tilling

http://www.davidsimongallery.com/Artists/Tilling.htm I've just been doing some looking around the Internet for information on Robert Tilling, whose one of the artists with work featured in the course book for the "Collage" project. This was one of the interesting sites I could find on him. It wasn't what I was looking for though, and I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't one mention of him using collage in his paintings. All of the images featured, whilst similar in subject matter to the "Distant Headland" which I first saw in the course book and I've included above from the Bridgeman Education site, are actually completely different in their colour scheme, because "Distant Headland" features very subtle gradations of tone in a monochromatic colour scheme whereas the paintings featured in the websites are very vibrantly coloured.

The website http://www.thisisjersey.co.uk/art/roberttilling/index.html says that he works "primarily in watercolour, acrylic, gouache and charcoal" and another website http://www.mallgalleries.org.uk/index.php?pid=113&subid=220 features an artists statement by him which says that "my work is based on observation and memory, where chance and accident play an important role. I often work very quickly paring down my ideas to abstraction." This site features some very interesting images that are more vertical in their orientation, as opposed to horizontal like the landscapes, and the vivid purples oranges and blues work really well here but area again very different to the painting featured in the course book.

I have to say I much prefer his monochrome "Distant Headland" and will be interested to have a go at mocking up this image in my own logbook just to see what I can learn from his technique. I really like the way he's used heavily textured watercolour paper, which he's painted on top of, then ripped the edges, creating a ragged white line against the mottled greys layered up underneath. These subtle horizontals and diagonals are all that are needed to suggest the bands of the horizon on the coastline.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Picasso and Las Meninas and "Art From Art"

I've managed to find a website featuring the work of Picasso in the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. http://www.museupicasso.bcn.es/eng/collection/cont_collec.htm#p13 It contains a lot of information that I haven't been able to come across before and is very interesting, especially the reference to the "laboratory" he set up in order to better study three great paintings by Velazquez, Manet and Delacroix.

The Wikipedia page on the original painting by Velazquez also goes into some detail into the tributes paid to it by Picasso. It says that he created 58 paintings based on the painting Las Meninas between August and December of 1957. The Picasso Museum site says that he sought to create "a group of canvases with a common theme" which surely he was already doing to a certain degree, though the fact that he created 58 paintings in total takes it into a different league. He took the original composition and added his own unique style to it, which is what the website says at the end of the article, in that "the big difference between Velazquez' painting and the Picasso's is in its aesthetics."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2009/feb/24/picasso-national-gallery This article in the Guardian is really interesting because it reviews an exhibition that went on in the National Gallery in February 2009 which featured many of Picasso's paintings that had been based on Old Master work. There's also a feature on the side of the web page called "More on this Story" which goes to another page featuring a gallery of Picasso images, including several that were base on Manet's "Luncheon on the Grass," one of which I used for my Logbook. The only criticism that I came across regarding the exhibition was the fact that the Old Master paintings weren't included in the same rooms as the Picasso's, whereas in Paris where the same exhibition was shown it included the original paintings right next to the Picasso's. This would have been fascinating to see which elements of the painting he decided to keep and which he decided to evolve in his own style.

It makes me look at the project we've been doing in a different way. We were asked to paint in the style of another artist, of which I chose John Piper because of the theme of a ruined building. However what the artists I've looking into for the logbook/contextual studies are artists who have taken an original painting by another artist and vastly changed its style, or aesthetics. The example that really sticks in my mind is the version created by Leon Kossof, which I copied into my logbook, where he took a painting by Rembrandt and painted it as only he could using tremendously thick paint and vivid outlines, in dramatic contrast to the refined, smooth depiction of flesh by Rembrandt.


However whilst looking around for other examples by artists of working in this way I also came across painting that had been copied almost exactly as they appeared in their original form. There were a couple featured in the book "Paint; A Manual of Pictorial Thought and Practical Advice" byJeffery Camp, the most striking being the painting "after Cezanne, The Black Clock" by Leonard McComb from 1988 on page 43 which has been painted wonderfully, with a vibrant splash of thick colour depicting the curve of the enormous conch shell which is featured next to the black clock from the title. But when seen next to the original by Cezanne, from 1870, it's almost an exact copy, there's slightly more colour and texture in the McComb version but there's still very little difference. The Cezanne painting itself is notable for it's early placing in Cezanne's career, coming before his mature phase of the 1890's, and looks quite flat and with a very heavy inclusion of black paint. McComb also copied part of Bonnard's "Paysage du Cannet" which was also featured in the book "Paint" on page 69, and this too differs very little from the original.

The quote from the course book "art comes from art, not from nature" has stuck with me throughout doing the "art from art" project and I've found that my opinion has changed slightly, aiming now towards agreeing with the quote to a certain degree. The other quote which comes back to me in relation to this is by John Piper, who was in turn inspired by William Blake who wanted art to occupy it's own sphere, just like poetry and music. It makes me think that music, in the way that people create it, is itself removed from nature, it obeys certain rules of harmony and vibration which are dictated by nature and physics, but is free to distort and branch off in many directions. This also is now true of art and painting, and it has indeed started to occupy it's own sphere.

This brings me back to the differences between what was asked of us in the project, to copy another style, and the different forms of copying that I've seen in other artists, and the most successful ones being those who can rake another image and make it their own. After all what I've been doing in my own logbook is to copy directly the work of other artists, and whilst this is interesting to find out more information about composition and colour mixing I would in no way consider this to be art.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Ellen Golla

http://zebracrossing.org/ I thought I'd do a link here to Ellen Golla's website. I've written about her in my sketchbook for two different projects, "Animals" and "Collage" and I just love her images and little constructions. The tiny books in little medicine capsules are amazing, how on earth would you make them? The quote by her on the first page is very inspiring, "I love the scent of paper, the textures of paper, and the endless possibilities of paper. My paper mosaic collages are intricately composed of hundreds of little bits of cut paper," and in an image like "Tea Time with Gordy" which I've included above from the Bridgeman Education site, it perfectly shows off each one of these tiny slices of paper, stuck together to suggest the movement of water, rushing the collection of tea set pieces, including a swan in a tea cup, over the edge of the table, like a waterfall, where they will surely crash. There's usually a slightly Surrealist element to her images, such as the swan in a tea cup, or maybe it's just there to show her sense of humour.

I've experimented with her way of working for the project "Collage" and found it to be very labour intensive, and I didn't even cut the pieces as small as she does. In the end I found that combining paper and paint, such as Mike Bernard's method was much more to my liking, but I'm glad that I experimented with a few different ways to find out. From studying this image above I imagine that she used the collage mosaic method for the background but used whole images for the tea set, as they look too perfect and smooth to have been constructed from many small pieces of paper. Her website says that she often uses her own images so I guess that's what she did here and took photo's especially for this composition.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Detail of the Final Image

I wanted to take close up photo's of the final painting to show in better detail the textures in the use of paint and paper. I found that they also created interesting images and compositions in their own right, so I've included a few examples here.

The Final Image

I have to say I'm really happy with the success of this image and am pleased with how far it's taken me out of my comfort zone as I'm more accustomed with painting in detail.

This final stage saw me adding splashes of colour to the darker areas in the top right and bottom left hand corner, similar to the splashes of green in the watercolour sketch. This has helped to lift the darker areas whilst also emphasising their tonal differences. When compared to the previous photo the contrast is quite large.

The use of collage as a technique is one that I will definitely use again, as the possibilities are vast especially when used in combination with paint. In my sketchbook I've experimented with more abstract images plus landscape compositions and in a way this final image here is like a cross between the two, there are elements of abstract and natural representation within it.

The one area of weakness that I can see in the final piece is that maybe the composition is slightly too straight forward. The flowers are laid out in two horizontal rows, and maybe there could have been more movement here. I think this fault has come about by not planning enough at the beginning stages, and laying the coloured paper areas out without considering their relation to each other in the composition. Once it got to the stage that I could see there was a slight problem I didn't feel confident enough to be moving the areas around without affecting how it already looked. There is a fine line between chaos and order and maybe the beginning stage was a bit too random, so I will know to plan more in the future. However the dynamism of the paint and collage effects more than makes up for the slightly tame composition, in my opinion.

More Colour

Here I added more colour for the flowers, using both acrylic paint applied with card and small strips of coloured paper. I like the way it's given more definition to the flowers without making them look too cut out and neat. I've also darkened the background, using mostly paint, to add more tonal contrast, something that is very striking in Bernards images. Even though the original watercolour image didn't have this much dark paint it still benefited from the lighter area surround the painting, which this painting doesn't have, so I think that the darker blues and purples in the corners is helping to bring the flowers into greater focus.

I'm also worried that the dark paint is slightly too dark so am contemplating adding lighter areas on top, maybe in the form of dragged paint using the card, as I've done in other areas, but am thinking of splatting paint on top, using white and yellow. The original watercolour featured splattered green paint which crossed over into the pale paper and I think added more interest to the image, so I will see how it looks here.

Detail from collage

This close up image shows the dribbles of paint blending into each other and the contrast between the printed areas of paper and the plain paper used for the collaged sections which I think adds a lot of interest. Taking photo's of the individual areas of flower shows that they are just as dynamic as the full sized image in my opinion.

For the background colours I used gouache paint watered down well because I didn't have acrylic ink as Mike Bernard uses, so I wanted something that would have the luminosity of ink but with more body to it to show up as a slightly more solid colour. I'll be using acrylic paint on top of this layer, plus integrating more coloured paper, and will be applying the paint using pieces of card, as opposed to paint brushes, which is a technique that Bernard uses in his paintings.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Colour and Collage

For this stage I layered tissue paper onto the base layer of paper, this was because I wanted more texture for the top layers of paint, so I purposefully crumpled the tissue before blotting it down into the glue. I also planned on applying the paint using Bernard's technique of scraping it on with a strip of card, this would mean that the paint stuck to the top ruffles of tissue but that the bottom layers would stay the original colour. He also uses a lino roller for his paintings which creates the really interesting stipple effect as the paint is dragged across, it would be worth investing in this piece of equipment for future use.

Another technique Bernard uses at this stage is to spray the whole painting with a water sprayer, then dribble acrylic inks into the water so they create random patterns in the paper, sometimes angling the board at a different angle to how it will be seen in it's finished state. I don't have a water sprayer so instead I painted a layer of water over the whole image, then added areas of coloured ink, and finally dabbed large splodges of water at the top of the board so that it would take some of the ink with it as it ran down the paper.

At this stage I also added sections of green paper and card, these are the areas with the sections of print visible, and this visible text is a common feature of Bernards work and helps bring a lot of sparkle into the image. The tissue paper has also been used to integrate into the daffodil flower section, then I painted yellow ink into these areas and I like the way that the green ink has run into it and bled.

Project "Combine Painting and Collage"

My main source of information on technique and ideas for creating collage images is the book by Mike Barnard called "Collage, Colour and Texture in Painting." I'd seen it listed in Cardiff Library when I did a search for "Collage" so I put a reserve on it and was pleased when my tutor also recommended to me.

One of the most interesting things about the book is Barnard's advocation for starting a painting by laying down a random pattern of paper and textures, this is to fuel his creative thinking and to break down any feelings of preciousness about the image, so that he can be as free as possible. He then layers washes of acrylic ink, letting then blend, bleed and dribble down the image. Once this is dried on top of this is laid more washes of acrylic paint, some thicker and mostly applied with sections of card or a lino roller, then more coloured paper is added for greater definition.

Using his working method as my starting point I decided to follow this example to create my own collaged mixed media image. I used a watercolour sketch of some daffodils from my sketchbook form the last course I did as the image to base my painting on. I liked the sketch because it was colourful and textural and also there was a simplified use of foreground and background, all useful features for creating the collage. I applied random strips and chunks of paper, tissue and card to the thick backing paper, using torn pieces of yellow paper, in two different tones, to suggest the forms of the flowers. I left the background a neutral colour because I wanted to add the blues and greens with the acrylic paints, plus maybe the addition of further coloured paper. I purposefully left it quite open at this stage and didn't do any further sketches in my sketchbook because I wanted it to evolve in a very natural way.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Quote by Cezanne

When writing about Peter Prendergast there was a quote by Cezanne which I'd read previously that kept hovering at the edge of my mind, but as I couldn't remember the full quote I didn't want to put it down. I've now found it again, and of course it was in the most obvious place, in my course book which I also copied into my logbook. It struck a chord when writing about Prendergast's reaction to painting outdoors and how if he could "pull the earth back you could find where the world came from" which reminded me of these words by Cezanne; "Nature does not lie on the surface, but hides in the depth, through colours whose depth are revealed on the surface, they rise up from the roots of the world." They were both great landscape artists in their own way, and it's interesting to see their different expressive reactions to the earth and it's forms, even though their thought processes came from the same place.