My assignment piece is covering a location near our home. First I strolled around to find an appealing scene. Actually I found two and did some sketches on both. I came to the decision on one scene due to its more mystic appeal and with a more variety of different textures and patterns. The other I could envision for a future painting.
‘Circle of time’:
- Energy and atmosphere of the location
– Serenity (relaxing), mystic (graveyard, old building), eternity (graveyard), aged (tree), refreshing (green leaves and light)
- Conceptual thoughts:
– Building on strong contrasts (old vs new, light vs shadow)
– Bold and more detail
– Time passing by / circle of time
– Freshness vs aged
- Contextual reference:
I took some input from George Shaw (ink/watercolor drawings), Kate Downie (ink and paint combination), and Peter Doig (expressive leave marks).
My working progress:
– Cold press watercolor paper (300 g/sqm) for better texture and grip
– Wet medium ink (brown and black) for building patterns and bold shadows (shining through the trees at 7pm with sun low)
– Charcoal as dry medium along with a primed surface for texture creation of the tree trunk. Also for placing the outlines of the composition.
– Wet medium gouache for fresh and more expressive marks (leaves, tree), to add color and as contrasting marks.
My working method:
– I worked on the floor as this allowed me to better work with ink and brushes (vertical would mean that ink flows down over the paper). Also I felt working on the floor gives me more freedom to act than working on a table.
After applying water (to avoid curling after applying wet medium) and taping it to my board, I put the composition in charcoal on the paper. I out white gouache on the tree trunk to work after drying in charcoal on the texture.
Working intensively and in multiple layers in ink and with different sized of brushes. I added the major shadow shapes on the ground.
.. continuation and working on surrounding space
.. working more on negative space, some finer lines on receding buildings with dip pen, and starting in gouache for the expressive marks (leaves)
I worked deeper on the tree and fine tuned the other areas for clarifying the picture and checking with my intention (e.g. highlighting some tree branches to bring them forward).
Overall I am pleased with the composition and the visual effect – a combination of delicacy and boldness. The shadow light pattern on the ground and wall/trunk gives the image a more mystic, expressive appeal.
- My intense preliminary studies as well as some notes on location and concept helped me to find the right composition and materials
- My contextual researches helped me to get a better understanding of visual effects.
- Initially I thought to go for gouache and charcoal as in my larger piece in project 3. After elaborating ink and brush technique I found a better visual effect fitting quite well to the location.
- After my earlier struggles with ink and tonal gradations, I am happy and confident that with this work I achieved a much better understanding especially considering the multi layer approach.
– I reworked the main tree, perhaps overworked. Not so sure.
– Rethinking sky color: the more brown color in the preliminary study made the picture more monochrome – a different overall visual perception (more aged, less ‘fresh’). In the final picture I opted for blue to emphasize ‘freshness’ and contrast. Anyway, to think more about in the future.
My preliminary studies:
- Finding a scene: I strolled around the scene, checking various viewpoints, and with more distant and closer views. Even I went at different day time and weather conditions back to the location to better understand shadow patterns and to feel more about the energy of the place.
- Finding a composition: From my initial sketches I looked closer at the major shapes in the composition, about what might be more unexpected. I reduced it down to three options:
– ‘Looking through’ – the entry of the tower with rather parallel perspective,
– ‘Tower and trees’ – with more focus on pattern contrast tree trunk and bricks, and
– ‘Sight line’ – with more linear and possible atmospheric perspective.
Further elaboration with my conceptual thoughts (passing of time, fresh -> aged -> eternity) and a pleasing composition that would let the eye the viewer move around the key elements (tree -> fresh leaves -> entry of building -> towards tombstone / eternity). Also I checked whether a vertical or horizontal format would be best, finally I decided for a square format as I could play with this format more with the ‘circle of time’
I checked regularly perspective lines and did a larger study clarifying eve level, the three vanishing points, and to get an understanding about the atmosphercial perspective towards the right side.
- Material and support testing: I was looking for a medium or combination that would allow me to convey the atmosphere of the location as well as my conceptual thoughts:
– At the end I decided to go for ink (brown for building and black for shadows), texturized surface with gouache for the tree trunk, gouache for the leaves to convey ‘freshness’
– I checked paper surface (rough or smooth) but definitely rejected smooth as it did not give me my intended visual effects