Posted in Coursework, Part 5

Reflection on Part 5

Direction

The overall challenge I set myself for Part 5 was to develop my ability to convey an impression of a landscape, rather than to focus of accurate portrayal. I want the viewer to gain a sense of the scene from looking at the picture, leading to a level of interest in the image beyond that simple representation of the scene.

Cycles

Cycle 1: Tonal drawing

The direction of the cycle, within the overall intent, was to:

  • Tonal drawing with no visible outline.
  • Grey scale rather colour.
  • Matching tone and medium to subject

I believe that the images meet these intentions, and starting to eschew the presence of strong border within the image. I’m particularly happy with the final image, and feel that it conveys the feeling of the scene well.

Cycle 2: Line

In this second cycle I shifted focus, as I have also had challenges with the appropriate use of line to represent the scene – rather than purely as a border mechanism. The direction was:

  • Using line over tonal blocks to represent the image;
  • To convey texture using line;

I feel I was starting to make progress, especially in the use of looser and more expressive lines as part of conveying the feeling of the scene. This work was influenced heavily by consideration Van Gogh’s line work.

Whilst reviewing my part 4 feedback, and attempting the line drawing of Fountains Abbey I realised that I would be better focusing on what I wanted to convey rather than the technique I was using. I decided, therefore, to change approach…

Cycle 3: Fountain’s Abbey

For this cycle I decided to shift focus from technique to the scene and what I wanted to convey about it. The approach was:

  • To portray Fountains Abbey as a watercolour image based primarily in line;
  • To convey the beauty and tranquillity of the site;

There are significant technical and representational issues in this image, but despite that I am reasonably happy that it has met the overall intent fairly well. The tranquillity of the site shows through, and the image is clearly based in line rather than simply using the line as a strong border. I feel the influence of Cycle 2 shows through in the image.

Cycle 4: The Sea

The work on this cycle, and the associated Chania drawing, has represented a significant amount of elapsed time. I was aware when I started that I had set myself a significant drawing challenge, and that definitely was true.

The intent I stated at the start of the cycle was:

  • Depict the sea in a way that conveys the character of the scene, rather than accurate depiction;
  • To match the style and media to the choice of the sea state;

To a good degree I believe that the I’ve started to achieve this – though (admittedly) with a long way to go to produced a “finished” result that I would be fully happy with.

Going forwards, the basic approach to the painting worked well for watercolour painting for the Chania lighthouse. I also like the result of the Minnis Bay wave image – reworking it slightly larger and taking a little more care in the rendering might produce a better quality of outcome for the work for a “finished” piece.

I’m beginning to consider colour more carefully, but I need to put more practice into experimenting with colour. I’m starting to work out what I need to achieve in colour, and although I still struggle to achieve it I am developing a sense of direction and set of tools to learn with.

Cycle 5: Elbigenalp cross

This cycle was a challenge for me, which was partly my intention. The intent of the assignment, the intention of this cycle was to:

  • Represent the mountains of the alps in a way that conveys the feeling of being among them; and
  • To represent the site of the Elbigenalp cross in a way that coneys the scale of the work.

I feel I achieved only partial success:

I’m not sufficiently happy with any of the ideas to take it through to a finished drawing at this point.

Overall progress

Conveying the feel of the scene

When I started this section of the course I made the simple statement that my intent was “trying to convey the feeling of a place in a landscape drawing.” I clarified this with the statement that “This means selecting an appropriate approach, media and level of detail in an attempt to convey something of the image which isn’t based in technical accuracy.” As part of the journey I realised that this latter statement is partially correct, but insufficient. To this I would need to add selection of key of the work, and the appropriate use of colour.

The level of success in conveying the feeling of the scene varies. I found it simpler with the purely tonal drawings, as the addition of colour adds a whole range of variables to manage. The key and level of colour saturation, for example, both have an impact on what the image conveys.

Fountains Abbey

I tried to identify (in words) part of what I was trying to convey in the feeling of the work as part of its narrative. In the Fountains Abbey image, for example, I was trying to ” convey the beauty and tranquillity of the site.” I feel that the final image created at least manages to achieve this.

Elbigenalp cross

The Elbigenalp cross, however, was a more ambitious ask, as I was trying to convey “represent the mountains of the alps in a way that conveys the feeling of being among them” and “represent the site of the Elbigenalp cross in a way that coneys the scale of the work”. Of the work I produced the watercolour image was the sketch which I feel came closest to achieving this intent. I’ve also tried to work is the ominous clouds of the approaching weather, which I felt was part of the feeling of the alps at the time.

It was implicit in my statement of intent that I would be using different media, and selecting the media as part of the approach to conveying the feeling of the scene. This has been at best partially successful, as the determining factor of the result of a scene is not the media itself (within the set I applied) but the way that it is applied. That is not to say that the idea has been totally unsuccessful: The use of soft pastel pencils and charcoal have clearly come out with different impressions and that is clear in the Tankerton Slopes and Tonal studies. It is simply that other factors are more significant in conveying the feel of the scene than simply selecting the media.

The use of the different media has become, in part at least, a journey into colour theory and application. I have, for example, a tendency to use over saturated colours and colours “out of the tube/stick.” The use of more muted colour schemes and the selection of an overall value scheme for the work can have a significant impact on the feel of the work.

Integration of other artist’s work

Van Gogh inspired line

Whilst working on the cycles I was trying to explicitly integrate the work of other artists into my own work. With this I feel I’ve made a good start. The strongest example was the line work, where I studied the line work of Van Gogh, and modelled a line drawing following that style. This work then significantly influenced how I approached subsequent cycles, especially in the work on Fountains Abbey and the sea.

I have also considered other artist’s work during each of the cycles, and that has influenced my approach to how I approach the subsequent work. In the work related to the Elbigenalp cross, for example, considering how other artist’s approach the representation of the Alps and panoramic view supported my own consideration on how best to approach the scene. I do, however, need to be more explicit in my analysis of particular images and what can be learnt from them. I then need to feed that back into how I approach building a work of my own.

Creating a body of work

Relatively few of the pieces I’ve created during the part are of, or near, finished quality. They do, however, represent a good range of landscape sketches and drawings across a range of subjects. I feel the approach adopted could easily be adapted and extended to build a much larger body of work, given the time and focus needed to do so.

In fact, across all of the cycles I have much more work I would like to complete when time was available. I am also improving the way that I integrate my own experiments and the work of other artists into the work.

For working with the sea, would like to revisit the work I observed in the National Gallery and apply better analysis of the work to create more learning on composition, value structure and feed that learning back into work of my own. I feel this would represent a productive line of inquiry to extend the body of work further. For example: Might the broken colour approach used by Seurat improve the Tankerton slopes image?

Conclusion

The inquiry driven approach used in this part has been successful in developing a body of work that has started to meet at least some of the intent of part. This is at least partially expressing something about the different landscape scenes beyond a rendition of their appearance. There is a long way to go to convincingly start to produced finish work that would truly reflect this intent overall in a style that I could call my own.

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