Sunday, 21 November 2010

Session 6: Painting with Chris Hough

This was another tough exercise in starting from scratch. Another still life. Another attempt to locate and define the objects, this time in paint. And once again a dispiriting opening not just lacking in accuracy, but also weak in composition. It felt like I had learnt nothing: except, that these first cack-handed attempts were just that. Merely a first few steps on a much longer journey and steps that can be re-traced and re-taken:
But Chris was much more concerned with making a painting and his session was full of good advice (not that he was laying down the law, just offering us an approach: this is what I have learnt from him so far: you do need an approach and you should try and make it consistent, then adapt or try another, but not stick with what you've always done or hop about from one to the other).

Here are some of the ideas I picked up that seemed helpful:

  • Try starting with a ground colour that gives you something to work from either being an opposite or a sympathetic colour to your eventual palette. Cover the paper then rub it down to give a lighter ground. In the above it was red rubbed down to a pink. 
  • Then the outline drawing itself should also be in a colour that will work in the finished picture
  • Once you start to put in colour 'float' in the shapes do not define them. Keep it rough. "Start loose and then tighten as you go". Also start THIN and apply colour more thickly as you go on. 
  • In particular leave the white and highlights until last: they will need thicker paint. (We looked at several classic paintings and noted that the blacks were thinly applied and the highlights were laid on thick)
  • Stick to your game plan! Once you settle upon an approach, stick with it. Especially in the choice of your palette. (He referenced the abstract work of Sean Scully here where he sticks to a strict set of usually muted colours, but builds up his patterns within the limits imposed).
  • Use big brushes at the start, don't be obsessed with detail. It distracts from composition and colour.
But best of all he tried to get us to lay down the dark colours first and then lay the light over it. In particular with the shadows: lay shadow everywhere, then paint in the lighter patches. This counter-intuitive approach really worked and I was pleased with the way some of my shadows suddenly lifted of the paper when the light was floated in.
Struggled on, trying to put all this into practice and ended up with a painting that wasn't anything like as bad as I had expected throughout most of the afternoon. In the end I felt pleased with the colours and many of the shadows (it was a complex and somewhat inconsistent set of shadows).
 Certainly something to build on by way of a 'game plan.

1 comment:

  1. am a fellow student struggling with the twists and turns of city lot fine art course