PAINTING 1, PART1, Research Point Chiaroscuro

 

I had to explore the work of some artists whose art is a typical example of Chiaroscuro an Italian word meaning light and dark used in art to visually describe a third dimensional scene, or object. Used in its most extreme form it can produce a powerful picture, evoking an emotional response.

The use of Chiaroscuro has a possible origin dating back to ancient Greek and Romans, but it was an artist with a dubious character called Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio who fine-tuned the technique by darkening the shadow areas.

Merisi de Caravaggio

Saint John The Baptist  Probably 1610

http://www.caravaggio-foundation.org/St-John-the-Baptist.html

This is a beautifully painted picture of a young John the light revealing the most prominent items in the picture to be the boy and a red cloak. Light gives these shape and form, the sheep although picked out by light is beginning to have less form, as are the plants shown by a change of tone. What is fascinating is the use of light in the top left corner and the lower central bush, a mere touch of light on leaves is enough to give life and the suggestion of a three-dimensional form.

Jusepe Ribera

Paul The Hermit 1640

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-saint-paul-the-hermit-jusepe-de-ribera.html

 

Jusepe Ribera depicted as a follow of Caravaggio  was known as a Tenebrist painter and printmaker, though the painting above is more in the style of Chiaroscuro, it does show Chiaroscuro effect the dark background with delicate changes of tone show shape and Saint Paul lit by an opening in the cave a skulls form just picking out by half light. As Caravaggio the touch of light gives shape to the subject. I love this painting, the craggy face, bones of the knees and the sagging muscles all shown with great skill.

Peter Paul Reubens

Venus Frigida 1614

This oil painting by Reuben’s is another good example of Chiaroscuro although there is more detail in the painting than seen in others, it’s clear the light falling on Venus is depicting her three-dimensional shape emphasizing the curves of her body and Golden Hair. The painting was said to have been enlarged at a later stage, I didn’t know this when first picking the picture to study but felt it was unbalanced at first view.

 

John Constable

 

I chose John Constable because I can see what he means when he says through application of light and sky the painter conveyed emotion capturing what he called the chiaroscuro of nature.” He made a series of engravings from his prints engraved by printmaker David Lucas the second series had the subtitle Principally Intended to Mark the Phenomena of the Chiar’Oscuro of Nature.

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/constable-lucas-old-sarum-second-plate-t04035

This print and its dramatic light and dark is a good example of how nature does indeed create its own chiaroscuro effect.

 

 

 

Adam Butler, C. V. (1994). The Art Book. New York: Phaidon Press Ltd.

America, F. A. (2017, April 23). Saint Paul The Hermit. Retrieved from Fine Art America: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-saint-paul-the-hermit-jusepe-de-ribera.html

Caravaggio. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Caravaggio the Complete Works: http://www.caravaggio-foundation.org/St-John-the-Baptist.html

Chiaroscuro. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/art/chiaroscuro

John Constable. (2017, May 23). Retrieved from National Gallery of Art USA: https://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/highlights/highlight1147.html

John Constable, David Lucas, Old Sarum (second plate). (2017, May 23). Retrieved from Tate: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/constable-lucas-old-sarum-second-plate-t04035

John the Baptist (Caravaggio). (2017, April 26). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_the_Baptist_(Caravaggio)

Venus Frigida. (2017, 5 23). Retrieved from Baroque: http://barokinvlaanderen.vlaamsekunstcollectie.be/en/node/7963

Venus Frigida: Rubens’s portrait of love in a cold climate. (2017, May 2017). Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/picture/2011/dec/16/venus-frigida-rubens-jonathan-jones

 

Part 1, Exercise tonal study on white ground

Part 1, Exercise tonal study on white ground

still life paint053
Quick Limited Palette Still Life

still life 5052 tonal

For this exercise, I had to find a few simple objects to hand which are plain and un-patterned. A jug vase and some fruit would be ideal. Place them so that they are lit from the side, either by natural alight from a window or by lamplight.

A soft tonal drawing medium was to be used to do some simple studies of my objects in my sketchbook, to ascertain the best viewpoint and angle to use for a tonal painting.

I then had to use a board or sheet and using my drawing to help work on a simple tonal study. Work directly or lightly sketch in outlines with charcoal. I had to only use two colours and white – at least I think that is what was meant, I didn’t find that clear.

I did start with a charcoal sketch but I am not keen on this approach and may try the blue pencil or a plain carbon or graphite pencil. The Charcoal even when brushed off does show through light applications and can mix and taint the paint. The sketches were useful when deciding on the tone and grouping of the objects as I have found in the past what looks good in a photograph doesn’t always look good on paper.

The colours I chose were Burnt Sienna and Ivory Black as I didn’t have Payne’s Grey as suggested. Black was never used on its own always mixed with Burnt Sienna to create the shade wanted mixing with white when necessary and mixing was done by eye as I put down various layers in slightly different tones.  I started with a dilute wash of Burnt sienna on the walls and base, the walls were my sketchbook, base a table cloth, there was a little artistic licence removing the pattern to keep it simple. I then laid down thin layers of dry brushstrokes and wash, to keep the background and base simple but interesting. I decided to do this to give the negative area some interest. I love Georgio Morandi since my tutor told me to take a look at his pots, his use of pastel colours I find very soothing. The remind me of the pastel painted  houses in Greece so bring back happy memories. The day I painted the picture my objects were illuminated by both natural light and a table lamp, the shadow very deep so I felt the group of objects were balanced more if I used the shadow as balance and set the objects to one side. I enjoyed doing this tonal painting though I need to get some extender for blending in future. I think I managed the tone well, better than I handled the paint, which I found patchy and temperamental. Maybe I should put more colour down next time. the picture in various layers, a hang up from watercolour painting. I have never used Acrylic paint before starting this course and find it a great learning curve. I usually use pencil or watercolour.

Colour tone is still difficult I forget that acrylic paint dry’s darker and forget to compensate and need to keep that in mind when painting. Overall for a quick painting though I was surprised how well it came out and although the photograph below shows the tone of the teapot to be lighter, this is due to the light. I painted the picture from real life and not a photo, the photograph being taken the day after in different lighting conditions,  for some reason the teapot looks much lighter possibly as the daylight was poor and the pots were illuminated mainly by lamp.

pots.

Painting 1, Part 1 what paint can do, Monochrome Studies

green on a white background
Green on a White background
white on a green background
White on a Green background

For this exercise I have to explore two approaches to the same subject, one in which the transparent qualities of the paint provide the dominant effect and the other which exploits the opacity of the paint. I am not sure this is correct as the latter part of the exercise says prepare dark coloured wash and a grey colour then use the alternate colour on each to paint the suggested subject of a tree.

First prepare two sheets of paper at least A3 or two boards, I did this by applying gesso to cartridge paper, I put the colour tint within the Gesso for the base and applied a wash of each colour to the paper.

I then used charcoal to draw the picture of a tree as suggested the worked on the light ground. I found this the easier of the two exercises, my tree was worked from imagination and I portrayed the finer branches and twigs with a broken line.

The second exercise was to block in the negative shapes on the darker ground, I started drawing the tree in charcoal but got lost along the way. Working backwards was really hard, I kept accidentally painting over the branches and in the end I had to scratch some out because it was so difficult to do without drawing them in first. Charcoal didn’t give me the detail I needed to do the exercise the way I wanted.

I am not sure what the transparent and opaque part of the exercise was as both seemed to be opaque but I can see the uses of both ways of applying colour and have probably used both within my drawings, because in the main we use them to create form and contrast. The whole exercise reminds me of Piet Mondrian The  Gray Tree http://www.piet-mondrian.org/the-gray-tree.jsp.

Part 1 What Paint Can Do, Opaque colour mixing

 

 

For this exercise I had to choose 3 of my previous washes and try and duplicate it mixing with white. Then compare them side by side, the exercise was to help me think of ways these different ways of using paint can be worked.

I found this a difficult exercise not only because Acrylic dries darker than seen when painting but its behaviour is also different.  The white used within this exercise was Titanium White.

The top yellow and blue just didn’t mix in the same manner, so I found it impossible to duplicate there was a less subtle exchange of pigment and the colour mixed with white was far more solid, it seemed to hold less light, the colours used were Ultramarine Blue and Cadmium Yellow. Although they did produce the expected green as I kept the acrylic wet it was a much more linear exchange.

The second was Ultramarine Blue this worked better and although I didn’t get the colour exact it worked well, unfortunately again things looked great when the paint was wet but the lighter parts of the picture dried too dark and it is something I am going to have to get to grips with and practice. I am not used to acrylic and this is a great learning curve.

The third is a mix of Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson to create orange, this I felt was the most successful not because I manage to get the colour correct I didn’t, I had fallen into the same problem as before and the colour was too dark. However the gradation was much smoother. Rather than keep the paint moist I worked hard at mixing the colour with white on the paper at a greater speed. I was pleased with the result even though the colour was still not a match.

Finally I had to look at the various ways in which the two types of application would work together. There must be numerous ways in which they can be used. Washes over a dried opaque mix could offer a tint of a colour. Opaque mix over a wash could cover up mistakes underneath. Many tints can be made with wash and white incorporation. The wash is far more delicate and can show underpainting so a good use would be for areas where a more delicate touch is needed in flowers, sky, water, tinted washes. Where the opaque mix will be good for solid items within the painting that need statement, and for covering areas which I may wish to erase.

 

 

 

Part 1 Overlaying Washes

orange on red dry
second colour over first dried colur

 

red on orange dry
Something went wrong with this red over dried orange.

Above are various exercised tried out using wet in wet and wet on dry applications of paint

For this Exercise I was to use the dry papers from the last Exercise, make up the same colour mixes only this time paint the second colour over the dried wash that I set aside. I was to notice the different ways the colour behaved and make note in my learning log. For Example

Does this method give you greater control?

Have the colours merged in the same way?

How could I employ these techniques of building coloured glazes?

After I was to practices what I had learned with some of my other colours. I was to finish up by looking at Mark Rothko and the interactive tour with the Tate.

There are numerous factors that are involved in how this exercise goes, from thickness of wash, gradient of paper, type of paper, wet on wet, wet on dry.  Wet on wet if done on a slant mingles with the second colour and you get happy accidents within the mix as can be seen within the previous exercise. How well it mixes does I have found depend on the colour pigment used. The most definitely don’t all act the same way, even within type of colour Ultramarine Blue is far more grainy and unpredictable than Cerulean Blue which flows more even when doing a wash.

Working wet on dry is altogether different, rather than mixing and having a range of colours by merging mixes, you get a very vivid colour either end with a slight tint of the second colour and a gradation rather than a mix.

The exercise of wet on dry I tried out from my original paper didn’t work, I have no idea why although the orange over red worked better, the uptake on the paper was odd, it could possibly be because the paint was left in pots overnight and hadn’t fared well. However the orange and red both contained Alizarin Crimson a colour which didn’t work as well with the previous exercise. However I tried out numerous sheets of various applications and paper some worked some didn’t. I think Acrylic this watered down is far more unpredictable than watercolour paint, however like watercolour it does work better on watercolour paper. I painted one sheet of watercolour on some old watercolour paper I had and it works so much better when applying as a glaze, the piece I painted was wet in wet and can be seen second from the left top line.

Above are a selection of some of the exercises I have done including the two original ones that didn’t work.

Wet on Wet and Wet on Dry applications will have their different and similar effects which could be used for various reasons especially where a gradient is needed or wet in wet gives a feathery look which would be good in skies, petals, water whilst layered washes can give a glow from an under colour that just can’t be got by a single colour it adds depth and texture and will be able to be used for various reasons, like stone, paintwork, sky and so on.

I looked at Mark Rothko and whilst his work is not something I particularly like I must say after the exercise I can see the fascination on his use of colours.

Part 1, What paint can do, Tonally graded wash

 

For this exercise I had to set my paper lengthways choose a strong colour and with a small amount of colour work in water. With a medium wide brush work from the top to the bottom of the sheet with increasingly dilute mixes of the colour until, at the bottom of my sheet I had a very pale wash almost faded out to white. After practising find another colour that is close to the original in the spectrum and paint graded washes on at least two more sheets.

Next work wet in wet paint a graded wash onto one of the sheets that has the first colour. Keep the intense tone of the new colour at the pale end of the first colour and allow the colours to merge in the centre.

First I didn’t have any watercolour paper so had to use a mixed media paper, however it worked well enough to do the exercises. I taped them down to a board but on removal they are still buckled so didn’t work as well as a well stretched watercolour paper. I tried applying the colour to the paper dry on the first exercises then adding water as I went down to dilute the paint as I went, in the main this worked well and I got a gradual lessoning of colour. However it works better when the first line of colour is applied to damp paper as can be seen in the large wet in wet exercise sheet. The Crimson pigment in the dilute Acrylic didn’t lay that even so it wasn’t as smooth as I could wish, it was slightly better with the orange though it had a mix of Crimson and Cadmium Yellow so wasn’t perfect.

The wet in wet didn’t work too well as by the time I had turned the paper around the Acrylic had dried when my wash got to the merge stage. I had slight merging of colour but you could still see a dry line. I found a larger offcut of paper and tried again, first I wet the paper and then applied the Crimson, turned the paper around and applied the Orange and got some nice fingers of mixing colour in the centre, rather like high summer cloud washing over the blue sky.

I am finding the experiments fun and a great way to learn about the properties and art of using Acrylic paint. I think in future when I get my off cuts of watercolour paper I will repeat the process and see how the paint behaves on a better support.

Basic Paint Application-Painting with Pastels

 

 

 

pastel 1

 

For this exercise I was to try an exercise with pastels if I had them. Pastels are both drawing and a painting medium, and nowadays are used more in the latter category. The application of oil pastel and soft pastel is very different, particularly in relation to painting:

Oil pastel is usually used with turps and can be used to layer and blend.

Soft pastel picks up the tooth of the support and can be blended with paint using a damp cloth or brush and water scumbling techniques.

Large areas can be covered with the side of a stick, lay one colour over the other and blend colours and tones. The points can be used for linear details.

I was to practise making marks and blending with pastels and if I had time make a simple picture.

I had some old oil sticks which I had never  used and about 6 water soluble colours, but no turps.

A few techniques were attempted using sticks in various ways, making a number of marks using the point and the side of the sticks and blending with various methods, fingers, kitchen roll, baby oil (no turps), and water which I blended the water soluble crayons with. I also drew two rough pictures using just about all the above. The one thing I found was finer work without adapting the sticks or using turps was difficult and it made me use it vary lose in application.

I didn’t use chalk pastels as they are something I have used a lot in Drawing 1 so I wanted to try out the oil crayons as they were new to me and I wanted to try out using them. They are a lot more versatile than I realised, so will attempt using them again in the future.