After undertaking the still life painting workshop, I was forced to think about an object that linked to my theme of the city. It took me a while, but I suddenly thought about how many people wear headphones when walking through the city. I started thinking about how if everyone around you in the city was wearing headphones to avoid its loneliness and to avoid facing the fact that you will interact with no one, then the people who don’t wear them must feel even more isolated.
I wanted to portray these ideas and experiment with firstly showing how common it is to see people wearing headphones in the city, and secondly how alone someone would feel in a city surrounded by “headphone beings”. I started sketching.
I was really happy with these quick sketches and felt as if they accurately portrayed a body wearing headphones that you do not interact with and just passes you by in the city. I wanted to work these beings into a piece and decided that using actual headphones within the work could be interesting
As an experiment, I think I have successfully explored the idea of being surrounded by people wearing headphones in the city. However, I think the concept of being surrounded by others but never conversing with them and the thought that they may as well just be silhouettes is more successful. I do not think this is a particularly successful piece and to me it looks quite amateur. I feel this might be too literal and is not an area that I am going to continue to experiment with. I am glad I experimented here however, I learnt that thinking about how people avoid loneliness makes others lonely is not a route that I want to take my project down. I will now start thinking about finalising final pieces and consolidating my project as a whole.
I am very pleased with the body of work that I have been producing relating to the City. I feel like I have an interesting concept, exploring the Hidden Loneliness of the City and have experimented with this idea in depth. However, I felt like I needed to consolidate my findings and portray what I have learnt and think is working so far. I decided to make a piece reflecting on these findings.
In this piece, I have incorporated a variety of different medias including paint, ink, charcoal and gouache. I have portrayed the sepia tone influence that I have been working with inspired by an artist I came across in Berlin and user Shoe 18 on the deviantart forum. I started off with a dark brown ground here, influenced by my experimentation after undertaking the grounds workshop, I also painted an underpainting using a palette knife and worked on top of this employing Dry Brushing techniques that I learnt from attending the paint workshop sessions with James Green. I have worked with the concept of all of the people around you being insignificant and portrayed that they are just bodies and may as well just be white silhouettes because I believe it is particularly successful and left one person in colour to show they are lonely and singled out among all the others that they do not interact with.
I wanted to formulate a piece that includes all the experimentation and things that I have learnt that I believe have been positive and successful within this project. I believe this is an accurate reflection of this and a successful piece of work in itself. Now that I have consolidated and reflected, I feel that I can move on in my project with confidence and continue my experimentation.
After my tutorial on Monday, I realised that I haven’t experimented with monochrome because I was so inspired by the influences of the artists I mentioned, but this is what I will be working with next, I believe that the loneliness may be heightened by an empty monochrome background and the colours of the one person will appear more vibrant and therefore the person will stand out more. This seems like it will progress my work further and add to the portrayal of the Hidden Loneliness of Cities.
To recap, on our first meeting, we met and produced some A3 initial collaborative drawings, that we decided would eventually become part of a book that we produce together. Today, after finishing the final edits to our animation and uploading it to YouTube, we met up to work on the book some more. We started by producing A3 sheets of drawings that relate to our own individual projects, to show where we started and how we got a feel for each other’s drawing etc.
We then thought about all the research we had done to come up with the ideas we have and started documenting artist research and animation inspirations in the form of printed imagery and hand written text. In terms of collaboration, we each wrote something on every page, it’s nice to see all of our different hand writing on a page together and the different thoughts on things and comments people made on sessions we have undertaken and things we have made and researched.
After that, we thought about how this book was perfect for documentation and we included images of us doing collaborative drawing and pictures of us working as a group. Again, we added hand written text and took a step back and looked at all the pages we had created. At the moment, we have lots of a3 pages to create the book and it is looking like it’s going to be a highly valued document.
We are excited to add more imagery into it and for the textile members of the group to bind it or thread it into a complete book. It will definitely make a treasured item to accompany our large drawing and animation as it shows are journey and contains a little piece of each one of us.
We also had a tutorial this morning with tutor contact and we were pleased to learn that they were really shocked by how well we were collaborating and commended us on our work. They helped us along with ideas for our next animation and commented on how well the music complemented our animation and described it as quite magical. They encouraged our existing ideas and helped us finalize them. We are looking forward to more guidance and feedback when we see them next time with new work.
In this workshop, I explored and made notes on the use of grounds in painting. It is a subject that until now I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable of. I was aware that different coloured grounds were used under paint but it was interesting to learn, that we use grounds in painting for a vast variety of reasons.
Painting a coloured ground onto a piece before you produce the painting changes the colour of the paint applied and as a result changes the outcome of the work. For example, to achieve the maximum luminosity of colour and to create a vibrant outcome, you would paint a white ground to work on. Impressionists introduced the idea of working on a white ground as they desired extremely bright colourful characteristics within their work. I learnt that working with mid-tone grounds can be beneficial for darker paintings and make the colours you apply look duller and more subdued. An artist that sprung to the mind of the tutor that uses mid tone and dark grounds to work on was Rembrandt. Rembrandt is famous for creating a lot of depth in the backgrounds of his art. This is down to the use of many thin glazes and painting on many thin grounds to build up a dark background that you feel you are looking deep into. To me, the background of Rembrandt’s work looked as if he had made his own Black and worked with it. It was intriguing to find out that this wasn’t the case and that so much effort had gone in to working into a part of the painting that many of us don’t consider to be as important.
Rembrandt, Hendrickje Bathing in a River, 1654
Using a ground, changes the colour of the glazes you apply. Green was the last colour to be produced/manufactured and was extremely hard to get hold of. Artists cleverly used a Blue ground and painted a yellow on top to create the green tones that they desired within their paintings. In this workshop, another thing I learnt was that using a Cadmium yellow ground does extremely odd things to the colours you apply on top. Painting a cadmium yellow ground is traditionally something you don’t do, but for some artists the outcome is a preferred and desirable effect. Many artists work with a tinted ground, usually a white base with a hint of colour added to it.
Interestingly, I found it fascinating that you could use two different grounds on one canvas or panel. For example if you were painting a landscape you may want to use a mid-tone ground for the foreground and a blue ground for the sky area.
As well as to achieve certain colour outcomes, I found out that grounds are also used to control the absorbency of the surface of a board or a canvas. Gesso grounds are highly absorbant, they absorb oil colour incredibly well and almost make it look like watercolour. Gesso ground is only to be used with Oil paint, all other grounds can take oil paint too as long as they are fully dry. People use specific materials that have man-made surfaces because they desire the fact that it has no absorbance, a quality you may use if you liked the paint to stay wet and move around on the surface a lot. When painting, the surface has to have some sort of texture. Canvas has a texture, working on different surfaces changes the mark that is made.
I was informed that grounds do not have to be a flat surface, you can use textured grounds and make them up yourself. For example, glue and sawdust. You may want to work on a ground that contains brush marks or sand to achieve a certain result from working with a particular texture. Acrylic grounds dry incredibly quickly, which is both an advantage of them and a disadvantage. Obviously you can work on top of them quickly, but if you don’t like them later on you cannot just take them away. Gesso ground have a lot of preparation to them and dry incredibly slowly. How you apply a ground is highly important, for example, the brush you use has an effect on the surface of the ground. The ground is also different depending on how it is applied, it would be a completely different surface if you applied it with a palette knife. The way you use the materials affects the ground too, long brushstrokes would give a vastly different result to stippling.
Even though a ground is usually considered to be painted on and remain underneath the paint on top, I realised in this workshop that you can still have some of the ground showing in your final result if you desire.
We talked about the endless possibilities of grounds, you could paint a ground and draw into it with a sharp object or nail to produce a ghost image as a guide for your painting. You could also use chalk which would create a more smudgy effect when paint was applied on top. It is completely acceptable to stick things into acrylic grounds like newspaper and photographs as long as the material isn’t organic. You can work with oil paint on acrylic grounds but not the other way round.
In terms of my project, the tutor and I talked about possibilities within my hidden loneliness theme and how I could apply my newly found knowledge of grounds. Working with Black emulsion or layers of dark or mid tone colours like Rembrandt did could be an interesting pathway to explore and something I will consider. I was encouraged to think about the fact that taking away paint off a piece, can be as interesting as putting it on and therefore revealing under painting. Working on dark surfaces or fabrics could be interesting to explore within my city work.
We moved on to consider the fact that Canvas in itself is a ground, even though you haven’t specifically done anything to it, you have decided to work on it. Brown Linen canvas would give you a different outcome to a white one. The choice of something can be a ground, the surface of timber is technically a ground.
I was fascinated when the tutor mentioned that grounds can make your work easier and that it could help you along. And example of an artist that makes the work harder for himself is Julian Schnabel. He uses broken crockery as a ground to work on, the bumpy surface must be difficult to paint on, but he is setting himself up a very interesting outcome. He produces a completely opposite ground to that of traditional portrait painting, he takes risks within his work and they have obviously paid off. Creating difficulties by making a ground such as crockery can make for a more absorbing, charismatic and overall successful piece of artwork.
Work by Juian Schabel
Anselm Kiefer is an example of an artist that replicates real surfaces when producing grounds. Tar and bitumen are prominent materials within his work. However, they are slow liquids so his work can move and in exhibitions of his you may literally see bits falling off his paintings or parts that already have below them. People accept that Kiefer’s work has a sense of impermanence.
From this workshop, I have learnt that working with grounds is all about experimentation. I have gained a knowledge on the reasons we use grounds, the key reasons are to achieve certain colour effects, to create surface or texture and to control absorbency when making paintings. I found this workshop incredibly interesting and inspiring. I will definitely be experimenting with the use of grounds and will think a lot more about the surface I am working on and choose it appropriately. I am already looking forward to the workshop next week where I will be researching painting mediums and glazes, the stage of painting after producing a ground.
Here are some paintings that I produced in relation with Hidden Loneliness in the city. As I’ve mentioned I was heavily influenced by the colour palette and technique in the work of an artist I saw in the urban spree gallery and the work of the user shoe18 on deviantart online (previous blog post), I made some quick sketchbook drawings and I have decided to take it further and experiment with their inspiration in my paintings. These are mixed media pieces. I have used Black and Brown drawing inks, charcoal and Acrylic paint applied with a palette knife to produce these pieces.
I am really happy with these pieces. I think they portray my concept incredibly accurately. As I proposed earlier I have painted one person in colour and everyone else as white silhouettes with slight detail. I have deliberately painted the colour figure with no features to show that you are lonely in the city and when wandering it, you may as well not have an identity. People don’t notice anything distinguishing about you at all. The dripping ink is very effective. I am really pleased with the outcomes and I think the paint being applied with a palette knife and the bleeding of the inks is really effective. I am really taking a risk working with figures as I find it extremely challenging. If I was to do this style of work on a larger scale which I am tempted to do, I will spend more time working on the figures.
We wanted to progress in this group collaborative drawing session. This time, we wanted to produce collaborative drawings with a twist of our own artistic backgrounds within them. We all brought our own materials to the session, with focus on what we would use on our course. As a fine artist, I brought paint, charcoal, sketching pens, brushes, palette knives and oil pastels and tracing paper. The textiles girls brought fabric, and tissue paper, thread and various cottons, buttons, beads, needles and embroidery kits. Our illustrator brought along black fine liners and our graphics guy preferred to work in Biro. For this session, the ceramicist brought along watercolours and drawing materials she uses in her sketchbook but will be experimenting with clay and glaze on the paper in the future.
We started by sticking on surfaces like tissue paper and tracing paper, adding paint washes and backgrounds and drawing on top of them.
I really liked the effect of ink and fine liner on tracing paper with water. The drawing styles and ideas of others are starting to inspire my own practice.
After finishing one drawing, we reflected on it, talked about what we liked and dislikes, things we would like to add or develop and moved on to another one. We felt really inspired by each other and wanted to take advantage of this.
This was a highly successful drawing session, the use of mixed media and materials was a great idea, it brought all of our disciplines together and the outcome is definitely an improvement on the last session. We are all looking forward to creating an animation with our drawing next time and eventually working on an even larger scale.
I am really pleased with how well we are all collaborating and really enjoying producing the work. It is a very valuable experience seeing how the others think and draw and learning from one another.