I’ve finished this Autumn’s weekly life class session. I did a similar course last year, so thought it worth comparing the results of the final efforts, to see if I’ve moved on at all.
Last year’s final work, done in acrylics:
and this is the one I’ve just finished using oil and liquin:
This is an improvement because the face is better and the flesh is more solid and convincing. I still need to work on the colours – which are a bit crude and alarming in places, and the shading on the tummy and leg on the picture’s doesn’t look right.
I’ve enrolled again on a life class course – one afternoon a week for 10 weeks. Below is a selection of what I’ve done – I’ve selected the work that I’m most satisfied with. The main thing I’m learning from this course is the importance of looking. Compared with this time last year when I did the same life class, my mark making is improving. There are two more sessions to go and the model will be in the same pose for both, so it’s an opportunity to produce something more finished.
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.
I’ve made a collage based on the twilight photo’s I took of the Leicester Royal Infirmary (see earlier blog, Light: Luminosity). I’ve achieved what I wanted – which is to capture the lights behind the hospital windows against a purple sky, but with some big bare trees silhouetted in the foreground, and the lights of cars going by.
I’ve finished the life class course now. In the final two weeks we had one pose – 5 hours in all. I used acrylics on a canvas 3′ x 2′. I painted over the whole thing twice, and I’m still not happy with it. However, I’m going to treat this as a starting point for an oil painting. I will treat it as a study by taking a painter I admire and I’ll copy their style. Not sure exactly who at this stage but I’ll have some fun researching. This is going to be a Christmas project.
colourful nude, acrylic applied with a pallet knife on card, 64 cm x 45 cm
These are my most recent attempts. This one (above) was done with a knife and the paint was hard to control. I chose this method to set myself a challenge and to stop getting precious. As I’ve said in the title to this post, the result isn’t particularly lovely to look at, but that’s not the point. The point is to stretch myself.
The next two are warm-up sketches. The model in the life class is excellent; interesting poses and she keeps really still .