Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Look no pencil!
At art class this week, our tutor gave us the task of painting a still life. Pretty straight forward, or so we all thought, untill we discovered that we were not allowed to use pencil to get an accurate image down on paper first, and the only medium allowed was watercolour. In addition, we were only allowed to use was a no.6 brush and in one colour only. There was also the fact that we had to paint it twice in our two hour lesson.
Well of course, this presented more of a challenge. In our tutor's words, these were to be "working drawings", where all our mistakes could not be erased and to be seen there in the finished artwork. There were a few gasps, but nevertheless, we set to using our paintbrushes in pencil fashion at first, then adding shading later.
In the first painting, I chose cobalt blue and quickly outlined the pots very roughly, correcting with shading as I went along. It seemed quite alien to paint this way, but turned out to be a highly intuative way to get the image down on paper. Apart from the initial linework, the shading was key to getting form and shape to the pots.
In the second painting, I used burnt umber and decided on a different tactic rather than do more of the same. This time I did no initial lines at all. I started with the handle of the tall vase and painted the shapes of the shadows. Then working my way round all the other pots in the same way - no outline, just shapes and depth of shadows. The highlight on the upturned bowl on the right was made visible by adding a lightly shaded background to make the white shape stand out. For me, this was a marvelous way to paint this still life, not by painting lines but merely painting shapes to form the picture.
The paper used for the first painting was heavy watercolour paper, but as I only had one sheet with me left, the brown version was done on ordinary cartridge paper, which had a lovely smooth finish, but buckled terribly, and of course the scanner recorded this as dark patches. The original is also more colourful than shown here.
I have to stress that these are quite rough sketches intended as practice for doing the 'real thing', but they are so useful for seeing what works well and to include in the final version etc. For instance the upturned bowl on the right of the second work looks really good when used with the negative shape created by the background.
In all, this has turned out to be a highly informative lesson and I am so glad that our tutor has took a firmer stand in giving us these projects, which teaches us not to get stuck in a rut with one style of painting doing our own projects in the same way each week.