Part 4, project 5, exercise 1 – painting from a drawing

This exercise requires three drawings (paintings) of the same very familiar scene – a corner of a room, perhaps – in line, tone, then colour. The challenge then is to translate these into a painting and ask whether or not the sketches contained enough information to do this effectively.

There are some practicalities that put this technique far enough beyond likelihood for me as to make the exercise near redundant. I will almost always need to use a combination of memory, photograph, and painterly interpretation to make my work.

Nevertheless, I have found that very rough pencil or conte sketches give me a feel for the images I’m looking at and help shape my approach to whatever comes next. I have found a suitable corner, and looking at it reminds me how I’d rejected it earlier (in the Drawing module) for being ‘uninteresting’, so either some magic has been performed there or my ‘eye; has had an upgrade!

Looking rather like an oddly sited toilet bowl, this is a pouffe in bright, complex fabric, sitting next to a beautiful blue table with mosaics on the top surface (made by a co-member of Steyning Arts) and that has perched on it a black cat silhouette, an Echo Show, a butterfly lamp, a mosaic cat, and an alien. Next to these two, on the floor, is a bucket containing dried (and dusty) bay leaves from my garden and some of the cats’ toys that have to be picked up so the vacuum cleaner doesn’t choke itself. I bought the table, the pouffe was a present from my sister, and anything Cat is an inevitability when you have five of them. I am attached to everything in this corner, I see it any time I sit down to watch TV because that is tucked up close to the table. I will need the photograph to keep the image alive but the relevance is what will shape the painting.

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As per instructions, I put this photo aside and winged it by sketch and memory, regretting somewhat the complexity of the patterns in these items.

I used a yellow wash on white gesso as the ground layer then drew in rough shapes with black conte. Once dry, I used a variety of brushes plus my fingers and a piece of flannel to apply patches of colour in wash, impasto, and light layers then to blend and scrub to make an unfocused base to any detailing I might do later. There needs to be a little more orange, the pink mosaic cat needs its mosaics, and there’s yet another cat shape to be filled under the table. There’s something satisfyingly rudimentary about the pouffe in particular but also the leaves, table, and black cat which I should really try hard to leave alone. I might blend the yellow and white in the background a little though.

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This has surprised me, it’s that corner – imprecise and cluttered, not at all composed, but I think anyone who’s sat on my sofa looking towards the TV would recognise it. I’ve used various flat brushes, some pointed ones, my fingers, and a piece of flannel to apply cadmium yellow, lemon yellow, titanium white, Payne’s Grey, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian blue, sap green, cadmium red, and cadmium orange. This is a very colour-heavy corner!

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Time taken: 7 hours.

Learning outcomes 2 and 4: I found I was able to translate a rough sketch into what, to me, is a vibrant painting that really resonates with the reality, and while I used my favoured media, I also used fingers and a piece of flannel to achieve the effects I wanted. I believe the narrative exemplifies reflection on the process.

2 thoughts on “Part 4, project 5, exercise 1 – painting from a drawing

  1. Well done with the pouffe! Also “on the table is a cat, an Echo Show and an alien”. Damn aliens get everywhere, eh?! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

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