project 3 - change and decay

change and decay: rotten apples

I’ve completed just a few more preliminary sketches this week. With the rotten apples I’ve tried to capture the sagging, folded, wrinkled, old leather look of the skin. I’m reasonably satisfied, and I think I can take this further.

The poppy heads haven’t worked  – they look clumsy and too solid, rather than fragile. This reminds me that I need to have a clear intention at the outset. In this case, I just started drawing without thinking about the qualities I wanted to explore. Also I’m still too literal.








Finally the acanthus is OK but the one I posted earlier has a more spiky, edgy look.


project 3 - change and decay

project 3: change and decay

Project 3 is now underway. I’ve started later than planned, so it will  finish on 27th February, which gives me four full weeks. I’ve adjusted the title. On the year one plan it was called ‘Time’, but this is just too broad. As it’s winter, I’m going to focus on ‘change and decay’. I don’t see this as a negative thing as decay  is a vital part of the natural world. It can even be beautiful.

Already from the few preliminary sketches I’ve made of things collected from the garden, I’m excited about the richness of textures, form and colours in such things as moss, lichen, rotten apples and bark. These first sketches are in pencil and charcoal.

This week I plan to carry on with exploratory pictures of things from the garden and the allotment, using a wider variety of media and introducing colour. Next week I’ll  move onto images of derelict and demolished buildings and objects in the Museum and Art Gallery.

life class


first attempt in acrylics, completed in a life class

Before Christmas, at a weekly life class, I painted a large nude in acrylics. It was a good pose and the lighting was interesting, but the result looked clumsy and unconvincing. My key problem is in the quality of mark-making. In other words, my brushstrokes and choice of colour aren’t right.

second attempt using oils, done without the model
So, during the Christmas period I thought I’d have a go at improving on this first attempt by painting over it in oils. Of course I wouldn’t have the model in front of me, but I thought I could work with a photograph of my original acrylic picture for reference. In the end I painted over parts of the original twice, but the picture got worse not better. It is still clumsy and she doesn’t look is if she if made from flesh. So I’ll paint over the canvas with primer and move on to my next project.
I’ve called this post ‘Synthesis’ because  in these pictures  I have been trying to capture the image using as few brushstrokes as possible; ie. making each mark really count. It’s hard to do. I picked up on the term from ‘Still life in oils’ by Jose M. Parramon, which is a useful little book on oil painting technique.
He says, ‘The ability to create synthesis in drawing or painting is really a case of being able to see and draw or paint the most important parts of a subject, eliminating detail and non essentials. It is not easy and requires deep knowledge of painting technique. It also means painting with freedom, spontaneity, elegance, and with understanding of the subject and your materials.’
After doing this exercise,  I understand what he means, now I need to start putting it into practice.