13 July 2018

Painting course at Camden Arts Centre

Five weeks of Thursday afternoons, following on from a course last term. Looking back, what did I learn.... Mainly, to enjoy the painting process more, and to be freer with the materials, eg add collage.

Week 1, using gesso and washes -
Attractive drips (dilute acrylic on a canvas board)

... but wet on wet disperses so quickly!
 Adding collage elements - I'd brought some origami tissue paper and some travel lines, and pasted them onto my wash-and-blobs -
 ... using paint as glue. This is the paste paper, can't remember if I kept it or made myself throw it away immediately -
 Week 2 - viewing the Sadie Benning exhibition - the more I thought about it, the more intriguing it became -

then back to the studio to continue with our personal projects.

Week 3 - the life model. First we did two continuous-line drawings; for me the challenge was to assess the proportions and mentally mark out the paper (in the absence of any physical clues!), then keep to that. As you work down the page (if you decide to start at the top) there's less and less room left for legs and maybe none at all for feet...

She was wearing bright colours and our second task was to use coloured paper -
I really enjoyed the finger painting, even though the result is rather dominated by the flooring -

Week 4, back to our projects...  Personal project 1 - the panel - adding more collage elements (cut from an old magazine), glued down with paint, which I hoped would make interesting ridges around the edge of the shape -
 and some string -
 Ouch, hurts the eye doesn't it!

Out comes the white paint, and the end of the paintbrush is used to scrape through it -
 Slightly different treatment on the other side - and the tissue paper colour bleeds through the paint -
 Unifying the two halves -
Some final touches, including several more layers over that bleedin' tissue paper -

Project 2 - the envelopes - working towards a submission for A Letter in Mind fundraiser. My piece last year consisted of travel-lines spread over 6 envelopes that were done in one journey on the Victoria Line - the work of an hour - this was so simple but took a lot of agonised rejection of complicated stuff beforehand. This year, more agonised making and still no simple idea... The theme this year is "A Way with Colour".
Some I prepared earlier -

 And what happened when they got near gesso and/or white paint -

 A bit more paint ...
 Another idea (it didn't happen, but I'm enjoying the colours and shapes as redefined by the accidental shapes) -
 Quite a lot going on -
These little bits are from the paint chart made for a book fair in November 2015 - they were so pretty I couldn't bear to throw them out -
 Some envelopes, with some travel lines - and Matthew's crow -
 Another crazy collage idea -
 cut from an old magazine; the layers of colour on the pages are rather good -

Bringing it all together in the final moments of the class, for viewing-

 Matthew did demos -
Oil pastel + solvent = oil painting

Finger painting for adults (wear gloves)
 ...and had inspirational images available each week -
Chantal Joffre and Matisse, for the session with model

Bringing it all together - 

Must say I don't have a "favourite" among the items done in the course - the fingerpainting (top right) was fun and so was the collage (top left), and the collage on panel got overlayered many times. I have some red ric-rac and might glue that on over the red paint; possibly the ric-rac was in the back of my mind throughout ... there came a point, after the paint had gone on, that I started thinking of it as "the ric-rac piece".

In the collage, the green paper that I'd picked for background had that corner cut out so I decided it was a window, and some of the other shapes hide joins in that paper. Some fill the space, in the sense of connecting the figure and the window - but I didn't want it to feel cluttered. 

While cutting and pasting, I felt I was responding to what was happening, rather than trying to get a likeness of the model. Perhaps the change of activity (picking up and putting down the scissors, the glue) gave just that break that allowed for "seeing" the work at each stage, rather than working blindly on a preconceived idea. Perhaps when the painter picks up a different brush and loads it with a different colour, there's that "seeing" moment before the brush adds the colour, that chance to respond differently.

After the collage, we put on gloves and moved on to fingerpainting the model - that was very liberating! Again there's a lot of space around the model on my paper, and I think it might benefit from cropping. (Lesson: think about size and placement, next time....)

We also did line drawings, or rather we did those first in that session with the model. Quite quick exercises. One continuous line each, a change of pose in between. It was only when it was finished that I realised how wrong the proportions are - the continuous line keeps you intent on the drawing rather than the looking and adjustment that conventionally happens. With the continuous line you have to "make the drawing" rather than "get it right". 

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