Research Point Claude Lorrain and Turner

Mount Vesuvius in Eruption

Look at the work of Claude Lorrain and Turner. Write notes on how these artists divide their landscapes into foreground, middle ground and background.

Claude Lorrain

In the earlier research point I refrained from looking at the works of Claude Lorrain as I knew I would be looking at them again here. However looking at his paintings now, some of those artists may have possibly been influenced by Claud Lorrain himself.

I looked at quite a few of his paintings but for this research point I chose three to look at in detail.

Claude Lorrain Landscape with Merchants
Claude Lorrain Landscape with Merchants

The first painting that I chose out was ‘Landscape with Merchants’ a prime example of how Lorrain used different levels, like platforms, to divide his paintings into a foreground, middle ground and a background helping him to create a great sense of distance in his paintings with the foreground level being the clearest and the most colourful with each level on top fading to the background. In this painting he staggers each level to depict the river flowing in a snake like pattern around the hills into the distance.

Landscape with Aeneas at Delos
Landscape with Aeneas at Delos

Again with the next painting ‘Landscape with Aeneas at Delos’ he has used the layers in the same way but this time arranged them into what I would say blocks on the left which remind me of stepping stones and doing this has managed to depict the coastline of a sea or massive lake with one final layer set to one side allowing him to show the sea meeting the sky in the horizon.

Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia
Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia

Trees also play a big part in depicting distance in Lorrain’s drawings often using them to divide the foreground from the middle ground like in the ‘Landscape with Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia’ above’.

J M W Turner

I looked a few of Turner’s paintings, his later seascape paintings were a bit too stressful for me so I decided to take a closer look at his earlier work. The first painting I came across was ‘Composition of Tivoli’.

Turner - Composition of Tivoli
Turner – Composition of Tivoli

Realizing that it did have an uncanny resemblance to Lorrain’s paintings I decided to look at the web page from which the image came, which turned out to be an article on the Guardian’s website entitled ‘Turner Inspired – In the light of Claude‘.

Interestingly, the article goes on that Turner was even known as the British Claude and ‘In his immense and complex bequest, Turner left two landscapes to the nation to be hung next to a pair by Claude so that the affinities would be fully apparent to succeeding generations. You can see them in room 15 of the National Gallery to this day.’ says Laura Cumming who wrote the article.

‘What Turner took from Claude is all there at a glance: the aerial view, the graceful staging with great trees on either side and the landscape dissolving into the distance in untraceable gradations, the mastery of hazy golden sunrise and the luminous glow of dusk; Claude’s magical light.’

However, in ‘Mount Vesuvius in Eruption’ below he takes the magical light that he got from Lorrain to the next step and actually depicts the eruption of a volcano. In this painting Turner uses the same kind of levels as Lorrain but he wants the background and Vesuvius to dominate the painting and so drenches the foreground with light in the form of reflection off gentle waves.

Mount Vesuvius in Eruption
Mount Vesuvius in Eruption

 

 

A Limited Palette Study from Your Sketches

Adding Colour

For this exercise I was to make a limited palette study from the sketches in my previous exercise ‘a Sketchbook of Townscape Drawings‘ in 2-3 colours. I used a chocolate pastel pencil, sanguine and black Conté pencils and a Derwent Chinese White drawing pencil.

I had already done a pencil sketch of my school in the last exercise as well as a drawing of the same school in colour pencil and knowing that it would work for this exercise I decided to develop those sketches into a larger drawing with a limited palette.

1 - Sketch of School in H pencil w notes
Sketch of School in H pencil w notes
Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils
Section of School in 3B and Dry Watercolour Pencils

I followed the instructions of this exercise, drawing in the strongest verticals first, which were the corners of the main school building. From there I drew in the diagonals which were the many roofs of the school building and most of everything else.

Adding Colour
Adding Colour

Drawing in the detail was quite easy simply because I got the verticals and diagonal lines right the first time but if not then drawing in the windows, roof beams etc. could have been a disaster.

A Limited Palette Study in Conte, Pastel and China White
A Limited Palette Study in Conte, Pastel and Chinese White

The colours that I chose for this exercise went very well together and so the roll of each colour i.e. light, dark and mid-tone swapped over in different parts of the picture with the most prominent colours being the Sanguine and the Black Conté simply because they helped me depict how bright and fresh the day was.

The chocolate colour pastel pencil was mainly used for shadow along with the black Conté  at minimum pressure. The Chinese white was grade for toning down the Conté and also adding 3D properties to the tiled roofs.

I have to be honest and say I love the finished study which does remind me of some drawing from an history lesson at school.

360 Degree Studies

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North

For this exercise I was to choose an expansive landscape where I had an open view in all directions, then using my viewfinder to find a focal point and to frame my view I was to complete a fifteen-minute drawing.

From there I was to turn my stool on the same spot to face West, South and East, each time repeating the process of finding a focal point and completing another fifteen-minute drawing.

With not much choice of expansive Landscapes in Bangkok I knew I would be going back to the park where I did the sketches for the last exercise ‘A Sketchbook Walk‘ but I wasn’t sure when I would get the chance to go back. Then with a stroke of luck the Thai government tried bringing an ‘Amnesty Bill’ in so exiled former president Thaksin Shinawatra could come back Thailand without being strung up, so the protesters hit the streets again and I got three days off.

Well to start with I didn’t have a stool and I would have looked a bit silly getting in the taxi with a buffet but it hadn’t rained for 2 days so I decided I would sit on the floor, so armed with my artist’s wrap, my A4 sketchbook, my small viewfinder and my small drawing board I headed to Suan Rot Fai again. I’d already decided where I was going to sit and I started drawing what I thought was North and what happened next was a series of accidents.

It was pretty clouded and I was pretty positive the direction I was looking was south and there was no need to look at the GPS on my phone so I pulled out my charcoal pencil from my artist’s wrap and started drawing, two trees in I realised I had forgot my cutter and a pencil sharpener was just not going to do the job so I finished the drawing in compressed charcoal hence the two bushes in front of the trees in the background came out looking more like coal slacks than bushes.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: South
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: South

This first drawing did take me spot on 15 minutes and although I am not happy with the finished drawing as it looks more like Autumn in England than Rainy season in Thailand I thought I did quite well drawing the landscape with this medium for the first time.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: East
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: East

As I turned 90 degrees anti-clockwise to draw what I thought was West I realised that the Sun had come out from the clouds behind me and it was nearly three in the afternoon so I was actually facing East, I’m usually great at guessing where North is…however I decided to carry on. East was very tricky it was the first time I had drawn water and I was facing a lake so I chose not to carry on in Charcoal but to switch to a 4B pencil, a decision I now regret.

Focusing on the tree directly in front of me, that looked like it was bending towards the water to get a drink, I began to draw. The whole process from beginning to end was a rush trying to finish in the 15 minute time frame and I was very lucky that it came out looking anything near the view I was drawing, I was going to leave the buildings in the background out but then decided to add them at the end. I wasn’t looking at the time but I reckon the drawing took me about ten minutes over the 15 minute time frame, the problem…too many trees!

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: North

As I turned North to face more trees, I decided to switch mediums again and this time began to draw in my trusty ball point pen, even though the sun was shining by now and I think I depicted this quite well in the sketch, it probably does look more like an Autumn Scene. It took no time at all to sketch everything out but then another 15 minutes to get the trees looking anything like trees. I feel now that a fine marker would have been a better choice of Medium.

Exercise 360 Degree Studies: West
Exercise 360 Degree Studies: West

The fourth and final drawing, which I thought would be the easiest was left incomplete dead on 15 minutes and after going over it about three times in charcoal, the medium that I thought was the safest for this type of landscape given the 15 minute time frame.

I am not impressed with my performance on this exercise, However I do feel that I have learnt something very important from it and that is choosing the right medium for the right job…the job being a 15 minute sketch in this type of environment.

What I did like about this exercise though were the notable changes in the landscape just by shifting my view a little, I could have got many great and very different drawings just by sitting in the same spot. I took advantage of this by finding the focal points that I thought would be best to start from given the 15 minute time frames.

 

Still Life – Check and Log

1st Attempt at Dip Pens

What aspects of each drawing have been successful, and what did you have problems with?

Still Life Group Using Line

I drew this drawing from scratch without sketching in pencil first in this aspect I think I did really well. However I found it very difficult not to start hatching to depict tone and so I probably went overboard on the pumpkin but I feel that it was better to but too much effort in than two little.

I was also dissatisfied with the pumpkin because the actual surface wasn’t as rough or bumpy as what I made it out to be in my drawing. In both drawings.

Still Life Group in Tone

The only problem I had with this is I should have chose a composition that used up more of the paper. I also could have been more adventurous with the subjects that I chose. Apart from that I think I did really well with depicting tone and none of the objects look out of place.

Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your Drawings? What elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped create that sense?

This is one thing I did not have a problem with with the Still Life Group Using Line exercise I did this by placing the tallest objects at the back. With the Still Life Group in Tone I looked down at the group from an angle.

What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone? 

Like I said earlier sometimes it was very difficult not to cross the fine-line between drawing with line and hatching.

Drawing Animals: Check and Log

What were the main challenges of drawing animals?

I would say that the main challenges for me were unique to the subjects that I chose. For one ‘s very hard to capture movement with ravens as they don’t stand still for long. Unlike a dog or cat the only time you can catch a bird sleeping is at night in a tree basically, so I had to capture movement with sketches as well as photos. Texture was also a challenge, birds feathers are very complex and have a different texture in different parts of the body.

Which media did you enjoy using most and which did you feel were best for the subject matter and why?

Grabbing the Chance Finished Drawing
Grabbing the Chance Finished Drawing

As always I enjoyed using the ball point pen the most, for the sketches of the ravens in Grabbing the Chance. With the ball point pen and the colour of the raven’s I could almost do a continuous drawing of the birds. Coloured pencils were great for the finished drawing in grabbing the chance, they captured the details well and were great for layering all the different colours but they weren’t dark enough to capture the deep colours of the bird. hard pastels may have been better for the job.

Where can you go to draw more animals?

The only real place in Bangkok to draw animals unless you have a pet or live in a street where the stray dogs run freely is the zoo. I went to the zoo with the intention to draw different animals but came across the ravens while there.

Research point: Renaissance Masters and Animals

Leonardo da Vinci “Study of horses”, red chalk on paper, 1504-6

Research point: Look at how Renaissance masters such as Leonardo and Dürer depicted animals

During the Renaissance period (14th-17th centuries) Europe became the academic heart of the world with Renaissance scholars absorbing the knowledge acquired from other older cultures such as vanishing the Islamic world. Like many other areas of study during this period, both biology and natural science became progressively more specialized and began to take on their own identity.

The Renaissance began a cultural revolution that seemed to be driven by art and science at this time was no different, in fact it was the artists and sculptors of the Renaissance period seeking perfect realism in their work that brought anatomy and biology to the forefront of all scientific areas.

Renaissance artists were the first to dissect plants and animals for a better understanding of the living world. From this artists were able to create more energetic and realistic works of art and make the connection between the structures of animals and humans; Leonardo da Vinci was undoubtedly one of the first scholars to do just this.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

These days described as the first animal rights activist Leonardo da Vinci would often go to the markets and buy caged animals to set them free. In several of his works Da Vinci combined art with science. This combination of art and science is especially clear in his depiction of animals.

To render the animals in his works with scientific precision Leonardo not only studied the anatomy of the animals but also their physiology. But too really depict them with scientific precision he performed dissection on a number of animals as well as studying their movement in their natural habitat.

Cavillo di Leonardo - 1490 c
Cavillo di Leonardo – 1490 c

Nowhere is it more obvious as in his ‘Cavillo di Leonardo ’ (Leonardo’s Horse 1490 c) right. Not only has he managed perfectly reproduce the animals stance and bowed head but the wonderful muscle tone and folds around the neck.

Leonardo da Vinci “Study of horses”, red chalk on paper, 1504-6
Leonardo da Vinci “Study of horses”, red chalk on paper, 1504-6

In ‘Study of horses’ red chalk on paper 1504-6 which I think is actually a ‘ A Study for the Battle of Anghiari’ he focuses on the horse’s hind legs especially on how the defined muscles and tendons giving an impression the horse’s legs are buckling under weight. To me this is a prime example of how his scientific studies helped him to achieve this standard of realism.

Albrechct Durer (1471-1528)

Born in 15th century Nuremberg, Germany into the Northern Renaissance period, Albrecht Dürer was the son of a goldsmith who taught his son to draw, hence Albrecht’s appreciation of fine detail. Dürer is undoubtedly one of the greatest oil painters of the Northern Renaisssance but is also famous for his superb watercolours as well as woodcut prints and engravings.

Until the superb quality of George Stubbs’s work elevated animals in art in the 18th century animals were not thought of to be ideal subjects and the drawing of animals was considered to be merely a demonstration of an artist’s technical skill. However almost two centuries before Stubbs, Dürer began to view animals with the attention they deserved and demonstrating this with an array of watercolours and woodcut prints that over time have become increasingly popular and widely reproduced.

Albrecht Dürer Wing of a Blue Roller 1512
Albrecht Dürer Wing of a Blue Roller 1512

Albrecht Dürer was a familiar name to me and I was especially familiar with his painting ‘Wing of a Blue Roller 1512′ an image I have come across time and time again, and it’s a always been a goal of mine to create something similar being inspired by this wonderful piece.

The painting Is a perfect example of his exceptional drawing skill, ‘he uses watercolor to delicately blend the soft graduating color of the plumage and overpaints linear detail with gouache (an opaque watercolor) to pick out the jagged edges of the feathers.’ [3] He has managed to capture the contrasting textures of the feathers and down of the wing perfectly with so much realism that you can almost feel it.

Albrecht Dürer Rhinoceros 1515 pen and ink drawing
Albrecht Dürer Rhinoceros 1515 pen and ink drawing

Dürer created this pen and ink drawing of the Indian rhinoceros based on notes and a sketch by an unknown artist from Lisbon who had obviously been a traveler and seen the animal with his own eyes. However Dürer had never seen this animal for himself and recreated the drawing enhancing the anatomy of the animal by adding an extra horn to the Rhino’s back. The rhinoceros had not been seen in Europe since Roman times and Dürer’s image of the animal was generally accepted as being anatomically correct until the 18th century. Again, even though he had never seen the animal for himself, he has almost managed to recreate the exact texture of the animal.

[1] http://www.medievalists.net/2011/05/10/leonardo-da-vincis-representation-of-animals-in-his-works/

[2] http://explorable.com/renaissance-biology

[3] http://www.artyfactory.com/art_appreciation/animals_in_art/albrecht_durer.htm

Negative Space in a Plant

Drawing Negative Space in a Plant 2nd Attempt

I don’t have any plants at all in my apartment and was quite worried about where I would get one from without having to travel to the outskirts of Bangkok to find a suitable pot plant for this exercise.

My Subject - Jasmine
My Subject – Jasmine

Luckily it was mothers day here in Thailand (12th August – the Queen’s birthday) and while my girlfriend was shopping in Tesco she came across some Jasmine plants, Jasmine is the Queens flower and at only 49 baht (just over a pound) they were a bargain and I’d definitely picked the nest time of year to do this exerise.

I used my faithful ball point pen and an A3 sheet of paper, placed the plant in front of a large drawing that I am in the progress of doing for a friend in England and began to draw. Concentrating on the negative spaces, I started to draw the space within and around the pot plant beginning at the top and working my way down to the bottom.

Drawing Negative Space in a Plant 1
Drawing Negative Space in a Plant 1st Attempt

My first attempt went really well until I got down to the bottom where the plant came out of the soil and I realised that the right of the plant would be well out, so to make the plant readable I drew in a few more negative spaces to even it up. I then began to finish it off by filling in the negative space in the drawing with some swirling psychedelic patterns.

Drawing Negative Space in a Plant 2nd Attempt
Drawing Negative Space in a Plant 2nd Attempt

My second attempt was quicker and I think is also an improvement on the first, this time I crossed over a few lines along the way and when I had finished filled in the negative space with more conservative lines.

Detailed Observation – Check and Log

Exercise - Stipples and Dots, Finished Drawing

Which drawing media did you find most effective to use, for which effects?

For me I love pencils I’ve been developing my pencil skills more and more on this course and I have got to the stage where I am doing less and less smudging and more and more hatching using my pencil at different angles with different holding techniques. I really think I did well depicting the tone of the wood and especially the bark in the ‘Getting Tone and Depth in Detail‘ exercise. However I was very happy with my stippling with the Rotring drawing pen on the ‘Stipples and Dots’ exercise, not only being able to depict the tone of the leaf but also it’s texture.

What sort of Marks work well to create tone and texture?

I used a variety of hatching to depict the texture of the tree branch with sporadic hatching to depict the bark and fluid lines and hatching to show the stripped wood all these marks worked really well. I thought I had chosen the wrong type of subject for the stipples and dots exercise but I think I showed the texture of the object really well with dots and patterns of stipples to show creases in the dying leaf.

Did you enjoy capturing details or are you more at home creating big broad brush sketches?

I must admit that capturing details with stipples and dots was a bit tedious but I am delighted with the finished drawing and I really enjoyed working on the tree branch in the first exercise so I can probably say that I am more at home capturing details.

Look at the composition of the drawings you have done in this project. Make some sketches and notes about how you could improve your composition.

The composition and the angles of the subjects that I chose were thought about long and hard before embarking on these exercises, I feel I chose the best compositions that I could to not only capture the full beauty of the objects but to fill the paper.

Still Life Group Using Line

Still Life Group Using Line 2

In the brief for this exercise I was to set up a still life group out of objects at my disposal, either objects that naturally connect together or deliberately contrast. For this I did a supermarket shop and purchased onions, a big chunk of knobbly Asian pumpkin and a red cabbage thinking about three objects that gradually went from rough to smooth.

I had to think about the following questions: ‘How will I treat the objects?’, ‘How will their connections be clear?’, ‘How will I capture the differences between the objects?’, ‘How do the objects relate to their background? and ‘How will I reference the colour in the group in this drawing?.

Then with these questions in mind I had to select a medium such as pen and ink, marker pens or fine black pen and A3 paper and begin to draw; which is exactly what I did. I wanted to use pen and ink for this drawing as I have kept delaying it but when i saw I would be using them in the next project I decided to use a Rotring 0.3 drawing pen.

My objects had already been in the fridge a couple of days so they wouldn’t last long once I took them out and my SD card for my camera kept locking due to me removing it too often so I had to work fast as I couldn’t get a photo to work from in case I didn’t finish before evening came.

 Still Life Group Using Line 1st Drawing
Still Life Group Using Line 1st Drawing

There was no drawing this out in pencil first for me, I wanted to do start as I meant to go on and and put my Rotring drawing pen to paper. I started on the outline of the three objects together rather than drawing them individually then when the outline was complete I finished the shape of each object individually.

From there I started on the lines of the onion which were fairly simple and while I worked my way around the onion with a variation of light and dark lines (applying different pressures) I thought about how I was going to approach the different objects. Working from right to left I tackled the red cabbage next and it was extremely difficult; trying to view the patterns as a whole and then working on the lines individually was enough to drive me crazy.

The pumpkin was the next obstacle and because this was a still life group using line I had to exaggerate the texture of the pumpkin at certain parts where there was no real pattern at all. It looks like I have tried my hardest to depict tone here but actually I wasn’t thinking about tone at all. I was just trying to complete the surface of the pumpkin with as many different line as possible, squiggly lines, short strokes, anything that came to mind.

The cabbage leaf on the right of the drawing was probably the most difficult object in this drawing and was very difficult to draw without hatching to depict it’s smoothness which I wasn’t very successful in doing so.

Then when I finished the composition I ruined the whole picture by doing some stupid speckle background and so I decided to have another go.

Still Life Group Using Line 2
Still Life Group Using Line 2

This time I tried a slightly different angle and the finished drawing was cleaner but there are a lot more things that I am unhappy with. For one I don’t know how the cutting board got so out of shape the cabbage leaf didn’t turn out that great and the pumpkin surface was a little too exaggerated but certain parts of the pumpkin surface turned out a lot better.

Masters of Detailed Drawing 2, Modern Artist, Eliot Hodgkin

Eliot Horgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing 1 from the 19th century or earlier and a modern artist. I already researched the 19th century artist Thomas Hartley Cromek in ‘Masters of Detailed Drawing 1, 19th Century, Thomas Hartley Cromek‘ and it was now time to find a Modern artist. Again I wanted to find an artist that I wasn’t familiar with so I started my search on Google looking for British artists of the 20th century. A list of names of British artists came up on Wkipedia so I went down the names looking at their work 1 artist at a time.

I came across the name Eliot Hodgkin, a name that I was very familiar with but I’m not sure from where so I took a look at his work to see if I recognised any of his paintings. I had never seen any of his paintings before but what I did see was truly inspiring and perfect for this part of the course. With the image below Large Leaf 2 particularly catching my eye as near my school there are some very similar large leafs that I would love to draw for this part of the course.

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card
Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Curwen Eliot Hodgkin was an English painter born into a Quaker family in Purley-on-Thames on 19 June 1905 and was the cousin of abstract painter Howard Hodgkin. Eliot Hodgkin was educated at Harrow School but his artistic life began at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools where he studied under Francis Ernest Jackson.

Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts
Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts

Hodgkin had already established himself as a still life and landscape painter by the mid-1930s and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1937 Hodgkin started working in egg tempera a recipe that was given to him by his close friend and former teacher Maxwell Armfield.

Hodgkin stated that he wasn’t attracted to tempera as a medium as it was used by Italian primitives and their work did not do anything for him, he simply used tempera as it was the only medium that allowed him to express the unique character of the objects that fascinated him.

Hodgkin said that his conscious purpose was to ‘show the beauty in natural objects’- that people would usually think unattractive such as ‘Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide.’

When i did a search for his paintings and saw his work the first thing that went through my mind was how beautiful his paintings were and yet his compositions are so very simple. I have heard of tempera before but as far as I know I have never seen anything painted in it until now and I knew at firs glance that they were painted in a medium other than oil or acrylic.

He depicts the texture of his objects wonderfully and his paintings are so crisp and life-like but still he manages to express them in a way that makes u aware of the beauty of these objects for the first time with wonderful contours and a brilliant balance of light and dark tone, whether it be a dead leaf or a toilet roll.

Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin
Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin

Like Eliot Hodkin Says ‘ People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.’

For me I agree with others that to see these objects in his paintings is to ‘see’ them for the first time with detail and beauty that you would never notice before. Hodgkin really makes you notice every part of the object, every leaf, every crease and every pattern on the objects surface.

Bibliography – Wikipedia