Exercise: View from a window or doorway (painting)

window-view-final-low-res

View of Pete and Sue’s, 40 x 30cm, acrylic on paper

Looking back at the ink drawing I did for Drawing 1/Assignment 3, I felt  I had succeeded in interpeting the scene (a view from a top window of our home across to Carl Peter’s house) in a personal and expressionistic way. As I do not feel that I have yet managed to bring this same looseness and expression to my acrylic work, I decided to have a go at reproducing this picture in acrylics. Today has been beautifully sunny and there were good shadows, so I did a little work on these in my sketchbook so that I could interpret the scene a little differently. Not very differently as it turned out…

I knew I needed to keep the colour palette limited and I did some colour prep work by turning to the exercises in which we blended colours from two complementary colours (I’m glad that I kept these as a reference in one of my sketchbooks – they are a really useful resource. I decided to work within a range of colours produced by blending ultramarine, white and orange and ultramarine, white and warm yellow. I prepared my colours in advance and also made up a nice grey using ultramarine, white and raw umber. I decided on an orange ground.

I am learning that it helps me a lot if I plan the  palette in advance and mix up the colours… it  helps to avoid me chucking colour at the canvas with wild abandon and ending up with an overworked, brown mess!

Midway I realised that I was falling into my usual trap of getting too complicated – trying to paint in all the tiny panes in the windows for example. I made myself step away and look at the work of Gwylim Prichard and Richard Diebenkorn. I know enough now to realise that it is not fussy detail but shapes and relationships, interesting marks and texture that makes a good painting. This picture of Buildings by Prichard made me go back to the windows and take out the detail. Prichard is my current most admired painter. I discovered him recently through an obituary in The Times. See Pinterest Board here.

Comparison of original ink drawing and acrylic interpretation

window-view-final-low-res

Acrylic version

Step 3:

Ink version

I don’t think one is necessarily better than the other but this was an extremely useful exercise as it forced me to think about ways to reproduce different effects.  I’m surprised at how similar the two paintings are as the production techniques for each are very different.

What works?

  • I’m pleased with the colours which are neither dull or over the top.
  • The view through the window panes is nicely obscured (this is the bit I like best).
  • I did quite a bit of work on the composition in Drawing 1 so I’m happy with it and the way that the open window leads the viewer into the picture.
  • It is a little impressionistic… more so than my previous acrylic work so in this sense it is a step in the right direction… but not yet the quantum leap I am hoping for!

What doesn’t work so well?

  • It feels a bit laboured… I know I’m trying too hard and should paint more spontaneously from the heart using more confident marks and brushstrokes and more paint so that I can get some texture and also scrape /scratch away at it.
  • Perhaps I should have let more of the orange ground show through? I added little orange next to the gate in order to provide a dash of complementary colour contrast but I did this very cautiously.
  • The perspective on the window is a little imperfect… but then again if it was too perfect that might also not match what I was trying to achieve.
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