Project 3 – At Home – Research Point


Pierre Bonnard – The Late Still Lifes & Interiors – Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009

I have spent quite a lot of time looking at and reading about Bonnard’s work and process.  Apart from his daily sketchbooks for which he almost always used pencil where  his references were made up of mark making (which for him implied colour).   Until this research I was not aware that his work was mainly done from memory .  Whereas Cezanne was “finding the right metaphor for his sensations” Bonnard was “finding the right metaphor for his memory of his observed experience.”

As noted previously Cezanne used all kinds of devices to create his still lifes and interiors- manipulating the plains of his objects so as to achieve dynamic compositions.  Bonnard on the other hand was interested particularly in two aspects of his compositions:-

  • light as it affects colour
  • colour as it translates light

I have picked out the image above, La Venus de Cyrene 1930, because of the his particular use of the shape of his final elongated canvas and severe direction of gaze namely from above into what might be considered a very ordinary subject matter.

Whilst I have been coming to conclusions about my own interior drawings I have realised that in order to achieve intimacy the artist needs to think very actively about how she wishes to influence the direction and therefore response of the viewers gaze.

With this recognition I have started to look much more carefully at the choices I am making but am finding this is only adding another layer of complication at the moment.


Another artist I have been looking at is Winifred Nicholson.   A great deal of her work consisted of looking from inside to outside often with plants and flowers in the foreground.   She often named the places like the above Window Sill Logano (1923).  This creates an interesting juxta-positioning between the importance of the both places, inside and outside.


Adding to this Marc Chagall (The White Window 1955) could not it seems often be without his figures – the lovers – and exteriors were a wonderful fantastical world where often neither people or objects were grounded.


Patrick Heron – The Long Table with Fruit 1949 – stripped down it its essentials this view uses line, planes, blocks of colour and no tone or shadow.


Ivon Hitchens – Studio with Open Door 1942 


Another Hitchens – just because I love the fluency of his use of paint.  Without overdoing detail his use of line for suggestion of form or blocks of colour or brush strokes is enough.


Evidently the work of a well known Australian painter, Brett Whitely – My Armchair. So much going on both inside and being drawn to the warmth of the colours he uses to imply the outside landscape.   This is an interesting composition because his choice of colour and line draws the eye around the whole composition whilst the intimacy is achieved from the details brought with different techniques to the individual objects.

Learning points:-

  • Intimacy can be created with a variety of compositional elements and techniques
  • Become more discerning about making decisions in terms of these aspects when building my own work
  • Ask myself questions about what I am trying the achieve, how am I going to select? What do I want the viewer to notice? The whole scene or something in particular?
  • It is as much about what is left in as well as what is left out
  • Is it background or foreground or both?

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