This has been an interesting series of exercises and I feel to have learnt quite a lot as I look back on it. My notes on each separate exercise in the Learning Log indicate my frustration and the degree of challenge that I met at each stage. But as I’ve said before, it is interesting how you hit a point where it begins to come together and you can see what has been learnt.
I enjoy painting from photographs after first spending time gathering on –the-spot information through drawing. Drawing for me is a joy and I like to get to know my subject through the pencil. I haven’t yet reached that point with the brush or with ink. The pencil allows me to explore, to go deep into the darks and see where the image takes me. By the time I’ve done the pencil sketch I’m already familiar with the image and much of it is beginning to form in my memory. I like to get to a point where I can begin to interpret what I have seen before I start to paint. The important thing for me is not so much what the image looks like but what I want to say about it. With the photograph acting as a prop to memory I then like to let the paint lead the imagination.
In this exercise, I didn’t do any preliminary pencil drawings before beginning painting from the photograph. However because the view is of the garden I am very familiar with the image. I enjoyed painting from the photograph and I was pleased that several of the washes came together well. There is an element of ‘me’ in the painting in the enjoyment of colour but I still want to find freedom with the paint.
Painting on the spot has certainly been an interesting experience. Having worked in the studio with the image from the photograph, I felt to know the subject very well by the time I returned to the place to paint it on the spot. This allowed me to be very free with the lines and the colours and I felt to be interpreting the view through the atmosphere around me. This was a great experience as I was drawing more visual information into the image, not in terms of detail but in expressive use of paint and lines.
For 2 of the studies I used pen and ink in the paintings outdoors because I wanted to explore this medium in the watercolour. I realized the importance of having the right kind of pen for this work and found in the second exercise a much more fluent line with the bamboo pen. The ink and the paint were drying fast as it was a hot day and so there is a good flow and energy about the painting which is different to the studied approach from the photograph.
The third study was a very loose expression of the colours that I saw in the image. By this stage I was painting intuitively and what I was feeling about the scene in front of me with little reference to what my eyes were telling me. This is my favourite painting. It is verging on the abstract.
Successful??? Never know how to answer this. I like the studies done outside with the bamboo pen and ink and watercolour because I enjoy the energy and movement of the image created by the line. But I also love the freedom of using the paint to express the light and colour which you are experiencing as you sit in front of the image. I was sort of painting the experience rather than the scene! Perhaps you can achieve this from a photograph as well.