‘Pushing’ the image further

‘Pushing’ the image of the garden shed further

There seem to be so many elements to consider in the construction of a painting.  In concentrating on colour and exploring this element I felt to have lost sight of the structure of the image in terms of tone.  I suppose that these basic elements become instinctive with experience but for me at this stage I find I have to consciously think about them.  Color is still very new for me and I am not always sure about the tonal value of colours – by this I mean the effect of elements like warm/cool hues, intensity or temperature of colours.  But totally fascinated by it all…………….

I went back to what I know, which is exploring the image with the pencil, and so with squinted eyes, I tried to see the tonal values more clearly .  A small tonal sketch helped me to structure the image in my mind before starting again with paint.

Over the following days and many hours of work, I explored and experimented with the two colours – cadmium orange and ultramarine. On A3 paper I began with a tonal sketch in ultramarine, developing depth in the picture through the intensity of the colour. I used Indigo and Prussian Blue to emphasise the dark areas and a wash of these cool colours for the distance. I brought the orange in as the highlights for warmth and energy using it as a wash for the distant sky.  I continued like this building up the different areas, experimenting all the time with different tools. The acrylic paint allows for a continual reworking of the surface and while I enjoy this and it helps to bring in a greater sense of freedom and experimentation, it also results in endless possibilities for changing the image.


I found that the effect of the blue with the orange was resulting in an image which suggested cold and an air of mystery.  The composition also began to irritate me with the tree in the centre of the paper.

Finally I had melt-down!! These are the thoughts I wrote down when it all collapsed…..

“Total disaster today with this study.  Something goes wrong when I try to work with analysis and response.  I’m not sure how to resolve this – when my brain is engaged trying to carefully work through tonal areas I just seem to lose the immediacy of everything. All my marks become laboured and careful and finally I can’t even get the tones right.  Having spent a day with this exercise I have ended up obliterating it all with white paint and a roller – felt good!!!!!  Just rubbish!  But I am learning things about myself!”

So I started again.  With the page now white with just a suggestion of colour coming through I began the process again but this time I just painted drawing now on instinct and what I had learnt over the past few days….moved the tree from the centre, brought in yellow to give the warmth needed.  My brush strokes were fast and simple, suggesting shapes of bushes and trees without any real definition.

What do I think of it?  Well, it represents for me another huge struggle.  I find the strong brush strokes too intrusive but I know that each one of them has a right to be there because of the struggle. In a way they are legitimate because of the process.

I want now to find simplicity and subtlety!


About pbfarrar

I am an Australian living permanently in England. I have recently retired from the position of Principal of an independent school and have taken up the study of Fine Art with the OCA.
This entry was posted in Log notes - OCA - Painting 1. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s