I’ve just re-visited Tate Modern. Last time was 12 months ago, when I was a student on the Foundation programme in Art and Design at DMU. My response to most of the collection was the same as before, except this time I didn’t feel inadequate that I couldn’t engage with most of the exhibits. I guess this means I’ve learned to have more confidence in my own reactions.
The unexpected treat was to see three Bonnards , The Window, The Bottle of Milk, and The Table. The colours glowed, but quietly. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of hot and cool colours. In the same room there was an equally thrilling early Mondrian – Sun Church in Zeeland, Zouteland Church Facade. The colours were built up in layers – pink, then pale blue, then red and finally orange. And then just close to the Mondrian was a lovely contrast – a Gwen John, all quiet colours , a unified palette, still, and undramatic but just as compelling. The other work I really enjoyed was by Robert Delaunay, Windows Opened Simultaneously. Again it was the colours that did it for me. The individual hues weren’t strong but the contrasts made the whole picture buzz.
The main purpose of the visit was the Gerhard Richter exhibition. His work did not excite me in the way the Mondrian and Bonnards had. But, it was interesting to see so much work by one artist, especially one who has explored such a wide rage of approaches. It seemed to me that in addition to his subject matter ( family, townscapes, landscapes and seascapes, history/politics) Richter’s work is concerned with different types of mark making. His techniques include painting from enlargements of photos with no visible brushstrokes, blurring images with a squeegee and water-colours.
The stuff I liked best were the Colour Charts, the Cloud Tryptich, and the photographic landscapes. My response to Richter has been to have a go at painting the blurred tomatoes. This is my effort and it taught me how difficult it is to realise a photographic image.
Looking at my year plan, I realise that I have only a week left on this project in which to develop some ideas and, if I have time, work up a final image. So now is the time to draw a line under the exploratory phase. What I need to do now is review what I’ve done so far, and decide on the avenues I think are ripe for further development.
Because of other commitments, including visiting the Gerhard Richter exhibition, I won’t have time to do any more work until Monday.
In the meantime here is a lovely image from the NASA site and my failed attempt to capture it.
image from NASA website
improvisation based on the above, acrylic on A1 paper
Here are some photos and a sketch of a bowl of tomatoes which I did yesterday. I’m looking at Gerhard Richter at the moment and will be visiting the Panorama exhibition at Tate Modern soon. Not sure what I think about him yet, but it’s quite exciting looking through the exhibition catalogue, as lots of his images are derived from blow-ups of photographs which are then smudged and painted, so it’s relevant to this Scale and Space project.
This morning I made a watercolour sketch from a photo I’d taken looking over the Blakeney channel in North Norfolk. Then I messed about with the image on the PC using Paint and Photo Editor. I’ll come back to theses images later in the project, perhaps.
I didn’t do any large focus images at yesterday’s Adult Education life class. Instead I reverted to doing the type of competent, but safe and rather bland images that I used to do, before following the Foundation Programme. Why is this? Possibly the unspoken ethos at the adult ed class is to produce something nice and accessible, whilst on the Foundation in Art and Design risk taking was encouraged. It was Ok to make mistakes. The image on the right was done yesterday at the life class, the image on the left was done about 8 months ago during the FIAD.
two nudes: left, acrylic, approx 63cm x 55cm; right, pastel and chalk, approx 63cm x 50cm
I’m learning how to use watercolours at a local class. I tried teaching myself from a book but it was too hard. I think it’s crucial to have an expert demonstrate the techniques. My attempts so far have included landscapes and skies. I’ve tried to take some close-up pictures of fragments of the skies – a small image of a big scale subject. The results are a bit out of focus but I’m including them here as there might be some milage in this avenue later in the project.
At this stage I’m exploring ideas from the mind map – images of space (not very exciting) and sketches of objects etc where I’ve focused in. I need to get a lot more images down on paper. Tomorrow it’s the life class so I’ll see if I can focus, in large-scale.