Exercise: View from a window or doorway (research)

This exercise sent me  back to my work for Drawing 1/Assignment 3 which had the same theme. This was a chance to review the research that I did then and remind myself how different artists have tackled this subject. This theme offers a lot of possibilities and things to think about – how much of the room’s interior to include, whether to include items on a window sill, whether to use an open door or window to lead the viewer into the picture.

Then I went off to take a look at the work of Raoul Dufy and Gwen John – there certainly is a huge contrast between the two. Dufy’s work is glowing with colour and light and the interiors are a significant part of the compositions – in fact the views are sometimes secondary and interpreted in a quick and sketchy way. I did not find Gwen John’s work either gloomy or claustrophobic. I found it ethereal and melancholy… with a sense of remoteness and isolation too. There are no views through the windows so I guess the open window is symbolic of an alternative world outside.

I’m a recent convert to Pinterest (having been persuaded by a discussion of the merits on a recent OCA forum) and have put a collection of these artists paintings together here: Raoul Dufy | Gwen John.

For me there is one absolutely outstanding window painting and that is Andrew Wyeth’s Wind from the Sea with the net curtain billowing. It is so delicate and there is so much movement and so  much mystery – who is in the room looking out? Gwen John’s paintings use this curtain device too … it is very atmospheric and a great shame that my painting skills are not yet up to it!

I’ve seen plenty of Edward Hopper’s work, including the 2004 exhibition at Tate Modern, and picked up the sense of drama but I now realise that I am seeing more by thinking about how the window links the interior and exterior worlds. See Edward Hopper Pin Board here.

References: National Gallery of Art, Washington

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