Research – Antonio López García

Antonio López Torres’ House, 1972-75

My tutor suggested that I should look at the works of Antonio López García a Spanish painter and sculptor known for his realistic style. As usual I started my research by popping onto Wikipedia to see if I could find some valuable keywords that could take me elsewhere and seeing that he is still alive I looked on YouTube to see if I could find a documentary or interview and i found a small part of an interview here.

It’s not only good to hear the artists voice but it’s also good to check any contradictions.

Antonio López García was born into a farming family in Tomelloso 1936 and was probably expected to carry on the family tradition as a farmer until his uncle, Antonio Lopez Torres a local landscape painter took an interest in his drawing when he was 13 years old.

As he says in his interview “…at 12 and 13 he didn’t pay much notice of me, I did the kind of drawings that all children do and he didn’t pay much attention to me…at 13 he saw something that made him intervene. He told me not to copy illustrations, that this was not good and I should do things directly from nature”

Antonio moved to the Spanish capital in 1949 to study so that he could qualify for entrance to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, which he did and won a number of prizes while studying at the school from 1950-1955. While attending the school he met his future wife and several friends who would later form a realist group together in Madrid. In 1955 he won a scholarship which enabled him to travel to Italy where he studied paintings from the Renaissance.

From the moment i saw the examples of his works that my tutor sent me I realised why my tutor suggested that I look at this artist. Facebook can be a bit of a demon sometimes and since I started this course I’ve been receiving regular posts from various hyperrealism pages which I think have had a big influence on my finished pieces. As a painter I seem to follow a more surrealistic path but this course has taken me in a very different direction. However the negative side of this like my tutor says is that I tighten up while working on the finished pieces.

Antonio López García was regarded by the critic Robert Hughes to be ‘the Greatest Realist alive’ with his style sometimes deemed hyperrealistic and yet his works are still very fluid, something that my drawings lack at this time.

López García has devoted himself to creating images of everyday subjects such as buildings, plants, his bathroom and even the red brick wall in his backyard but then he expresses them in such away that make them both beautiful and captivating.

As the artist explains, “the pictorial nucleus begins to grow and you work until the whole surface has an expressive intensity equivalent to what you have before you, converted into a pictorial reality.“-Wikipedia

At this time I can genuinely say that I can see this artist having an influence on my future work especially now i have discovered new mediums and I  am beginning to develop my drawing skills. I have had very similar ideas from time to time but lack of skills and knowledge of mediums have prevented me from putting my ideas on canvas or paper. Two of his works that particularly stand out to me at this time are ‘Antonio López Torres’ House, 1972-75’ which my tutor sent to me in the sample of his works and ‘Sink and Mirror, 1967’.

Antonio López Torres’ House, 1972-75
Antonio López Torres’ House, 1972-75
Sink and Mirror, 1967
Sink and Mirror, 1967

Assignment 1 – Check and Log

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Variations and Materisla Used

Did you do enough preliminary work before starting on your final pieces?

Yes definitely, the preliminary work not only helped me decide on the best composition for the final piece but helped me to decide which mediums I should use. In both parts of this assignment it changed my mind about what mediums I would use and also the layout of the composition for the final piece. I probably could have done more with regards to colour blending and make more notes on which colours to use for the Natural Objects.

Do your large drawings give an accurate interpretation of the still life groups? If not, what went wrong?

The large drawing for Made Objects I believe was a very accurate interpretation of the still life group even after playing down certain details such as the amount of bars on the electric fan cage. However I I’m not too happy with the interpretation of the still life group in the large drawing for the Natural forms. There are certain shapes on the edge of the drawing that I know are not the same as the actual objects this was due to moving the objects about trying to find the composition that I chose to develop, then having to work from the drawings I had already done and photos that I had taken.

Did you make a good selection of objects or did you try to include too much?

I believe I made a good selection of objects for both parts of this assignment with a minimum amount of objects in mind as I set out on each project.

Do your drawings fit well on the paper, or could they be improved by working on a larger sheet of paper?

The drawings do fit well on the paper but I do feel that both compositions may have been improved on a larger A1 sheet of paper because of the objects that I chose for the Made Objects and for the medium that I chose for the Natural Forms.

Did you have problems with drawing, or find hatching too difficult?

I don’t feel that I have any problems with drawing, any problems that do have are probably from the lack of experience with certain mediums. In the Natural forms part of the assignment I thought I did quite well in developing my hatching skills with hard pastel.

Assignment 1 – Natural Forms

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Finished Drawing

Getting started with this part of the assignment was quite difficult as it is hard to find good natural forms in Bangkok and did not have time to leave the city for the countryside. So I  collected pebbles from the car park of my apartment and in front of the office block where my language centre is and also went out with a pair of scissors and took a couple of cuttings from plants in the garden downstairs. Overall I was quite happy with the objects I chose.

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Finished Drawing
Assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Finished Drawing

After the very technical composition of the made objects I wanted to show a complete variation with something more simple and the objects I chose allowed me to do so. I originally intended to do the finished drawing in colour pencil but as I began the project things took a different path.

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Composition Studies
Assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Composition Studies

Working on the composition studies it was like a breath of fresh air compared to the composition studies of the made objects so much so that I may have moved a bit too quickly with fast strokes and very sketchy outlines. The leaves the plants that I had brought in to draw were not going to wait for me as they had started to wither as soon as they felt the air-conditioning of my living room, so working quickly was very necessary. I tried a few compositions with three and four pebbles eventually settling for one of the easiest compositions possible and so worked on it a little more and got it ready for enlargement.

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Composition Development
Assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Composition Development

The next step was to experiment with different mediums to help me decide exactly which one I would be using for the finished piece. By this stage the plants were well on their way to the grave, so I took several shorts with my camera so that they would help me later, unfortunately I did not take a photo of the composition I had chosen this would prove to be a problem later.

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Variations and Materisla Used
Assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Colour Pencil and Hard Pastel

I actually wanted to try soft pastel but then when I opened the box up I realised I had purchased a portrait set which would be no good for this project.So I tried both colour pencil and hard pastel. I don’t like the feel of colour pencil on paper, they are ok for lighter work but for work that needs more darker tones you have to press on and it makes me feel uptight as the pencil drags across the paper. Hard pastel is different on different types of paper on the Canson sketching paper it can not be smudged but is great for sketching. I decided that I would develop the composition in colour pencil and use hard pastel for the finished drawing.

assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Composition Development - Colour Pencil
assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Composition Development – Colour Pencil

Drawing a grid onto another A3 sheet from my sketchbook I enlarged the drawing and completed it in colour pencil to see how it would look. I was satisfied with how it looked but I wasn’t satisfied with the waste of paper around the edges. There was a very minimum amount of shadow in this composition and so I had to take advantage of the negative space between the objects and cropping the composition would help me to do just that. I had already erased the grid I drew when enlarging the previous drawing so it was a great chance to use the acetate grid I made in the Enlarging an Image module.

Assignment 1 - Enlargement Grid
Assignment 1 – Enlargement Grid

By this time the plants had withered up and I had forgotten to take the photo of this composition so I was working between this drawing in colour pencil and various photos. I was worried that I would just be smudging on this piece especially with my chosen medium and not be able to demonstrate anything I have learnt in the first part of the course but apart from smudging on the rocks and pebbles I managed to resist the temptation of smudging and complete it with some nice hatching and fluid strokes.

Assignment 1 - Natural Forms - Finished Drawing
Assignment 1 – Natural Forms – Finished Drawing

There are certain parts of the finished drawing that I am not happy with mainly the rock and the pebble in the top left they don’t look two bad but the shape is out on the sandy coloured rock and I couldn’t play with it that much for fear of messing up  the leaf and the white pebble which I did and used fixative before going over it again.

However, I am satisfied that I managed to make reference to certain projects in the first part of the course such as negative space, enlarging an image, tone and form, hatching and lines and other marks and managed to demonstrate quite a lot of these in the leaf and the purple plant alone. I do wish the rocks would have been more sketchy though but with the pastel paper that I used it was hard to do so without the paper underneath showing through.

composition of natural objects
composition of natural objects

Assignment 1 – Made Objects

Assignment 1 - Made Objects - finished A2

I originally had the idea to to use traditional Buddhist items for this part of the assignment such as yellow cloth, a candlestick, temple type money box and did go out and purchase them. The medium I chose for the original composition was coloured pencil, but as I laid down watching the girlfriend iron in front of the electric fan with the white wall of my apartment I had a better idea.

Assignment 1 - Made Objects - finished A2
Assignment 1 – Made Objects – finished A2

I wanted to show something about my life in Thailand and I felt that the new objects set out in the right composition would describe my life perfectly, a normal working-class life in a tropical country. With 13 years in the country and the last few years living alone I knew these objects intimately but the fan would prove to be something of a challenge..

Assignment 1 - Made Objects - composition studies
Assignment 1 – Made Objects – composition studies

I began with composition studies in my A3 sketchbook, I found it difficult to come up with more than two variations as I was locked into how i felt the objects should be presented from the start. How every I did vary the composition slightly with the iron laying down in the first composition which I think was actually my first idea and then the iron stood up proudly in the second. The ironing board was lifted up on the table and I was almost laid down drawing the second composition sketch which I liked so much that I decided this would be the one to develop and decided that I would be there for a while so raised the ironing board higher with the ironing board on top of a table on top of another table. We had to do without a place to eat for the next few days.

Assignment 1 - Made Objects - Photo of Original Composition
Assignment 1 – Made Objects – Photo of Original Composition

At this stage I did things a little bit in reverse with the composition studies just finished I decided to develop the composition in pencil to get a feel of how it would look in that medium before looking at others. One of the main reasons for doing so was being insecure about whether or not I would be able to demonstrate the techniques especially pencil holding techniques that I had practiced in the first part of this course. I then concentrated on enlarging the image by drawing a grid over the top of the composition ready for enlarging for the finished drawing.

Assignment 1 - Composition Development and Enlargement grid
Assignment 1 – Composition Development and Enlargement grid

At this stage I was still not so sure about what medium I would use for the finished drawing, so as instructed on an A2 sheet I practiced with colour pencils and charcoal.

Assignment 1 - Charcoal and Colour Pencil Studies
Assignment 1 – Charcoal and Colour Pencil Studies

Charcoal would have been great for the towel and even the water bottle and possibly the iron but on an A2 sheet which I was planning to use this medium proved itself too messy for the electric fan. I did love the way the water bottle looked in charcoal though, rather like stencil street art. Colour pencil wasn’t too bad but didn’t look solid enough for me, I was still trying to get practice with this medium and didn’t feel like I could carry it off in any other medium than graphite pencil and so that was my final decision.

assignment 1 made objects
Fan Almost Complete

At this stage i decided the composition still needed more work and moved the squirty bottle further in to create less negative space to fill the rectangle shape of the paper. The layout of the fan was very technical it helped that there was no front on it but still took well over an hour and a compass and ruler for the cage. After everything was sketched out my insecurity about not being able to show the various techniques that I practiced in the first part of the course disappeared as I got into it, swapping between 3B and 4B pencils using different pencil holding techniques and several different forms of hatching.

The squirty bottle was pretty straight forward and quite easy to show tone and form on…eventually after I managed to get the shoulders of the bottle right after several goes, as I had moved the bottle in since the composition development work. This was completed mainly by hatching and cross hatching.

The iron allowed me to use several different drawing techniques including hatching, smudging and drawing the patterns on the blade with a putty rubber. However the shape of the iron varies slightly from the photo above I was having double vision when it came to the iron as my left eye is quite bad but refused to work from the photo.

The towel and the ironing board itself allowed me to draw with texture using short, lines dots and a putty rubber on the towel to dry and fluff it up and cross hatching for cloth ironing board cover.

I’m satisfied that I have managed to make reference to most of the aspects of drawing that have been covered in the first part of the course in this part of my assignment from holding pens and pencils to enlarging an image. Drawing the fan allowed me to demonstrate different pencil holding techniques, the bottle allowed me to demonstrate tone and form while the iron allowed me to show both tonal variation as well as reflected light on the blade. The towel was also a great idea which I originally added to raise the iron and didn’t realise it would help me to demonstrate techniques for drawing with texture.