I became a bit confused between Exercise 2 and 3 of this project in deciding how to go about developing a composition.
These first two sketches are from my sitting room where there is much more light and variety of objects of differing values and colours.
As I mentioned I had been reading about Bonnard and was particularly struck by one of the compositions which was longer and looking down on the subject.
Although not in itself containing particularly interesting objects this is one of the most intimate views. Therefore worked on cutting down and looking from above so that I could isolate the subject more specifically. I was surprised how difficult I find this process from different points of view. We are used to taking in a scene and scanning it not concentrating on particular points of view and therefore it is a challenge to cut out all the extraneous “stuff” when looking.
I came down to the view above slicing through the view and taking in my neighbour’s sunflowers outside the window. This says particular time – early autumn and place to me.
How I Worked the Drawing
I have never attempted such a large interior – this is an A1 sheet and my first challenge was getting used to the scale and thinking about what materials I wanted to use.
Somehow I was daunted by the white sheet of paper and covered the drawing area with an ochre ink wash. I realise that I have never actively thought about working on different grounds so this was a first for me.
The next challenge was to pin this down to time of the day. The light comes directly in during the morning so this is when I decided to place/time the drawing.
I had worked during the earlier part of this part of the course with multi-media materials and as it is up to us to decide what to use I went for this option.
First big mistake – I had thought about doing the drawing with coloured pencils but when I started to work on a piece this size I thought it would take me far too long to complete the exercise. So I went for oil pastels and coloured pencils. Unfortunately they do not work as the best of friends if you lay down the oil pastels first – the surface became very slimy and unworkable.
Panic! – Should I start again or do something drastic? I did something drastic – used some white gouache to block in the main “light” tone areas. Second big mistake.
Day 2 – Spent quite a lot of time trying to get rid – scraping back both the excess oil pastels and the gouache. This was possible in some areas but not others.
Spent a lot of time trying to get the tonal values across the whole drawing correct but found this was very elusive.
The area I feel that I couldn’t resolve because of the decisions made on the first day are the curtains on the left of the composition. In real life they are not textural like in the photograph but just messy.
Using the oil pastels works in some areas and not in others as do the coloured pencils.
I did my now usual thing of cropping the final image – taken out the curtains on the left. In some ways I think this makes a better composition all round but regret loosing the hint of the table and its warm light.
My Neighbour’s Sunflowers – Conclusions
- Still not disciplined enough with myself to stop and think about making a plan of action when undertaking a piece of work
- I like work that is less fussy than the work I produce
- I need to learn more about the materials that I use and definitely for the next assignments do more tryouts before committing myself to a final piece
- I really hate the sunflowers – they look too false and formulaic- although in a way they are.
- I need to learn more about aspects of foreground and background. It was interesting in reading that it is said that Bonnard was democratic in his compositions – everything was equally important.
- The coloured ground really works and brings a warmth to the whole piece
- Finding a composition is a complex task which takes practice – it does not come naturally to me
- I am still finding it hard to follow the instructions in the exercises – I get carried away and then when I go back to them I often find I have misinterpreted what was wanted
- Working at larger sized pieces needs different skills that I am not used to and needs to be practised
I thought I would do a final Bonnard action – he worked on pieces of canvas without making decisions about the final size of the work and often worked on more than one image on one piece of canvas. So I have cropped again:-
The sunflowers look even worse in this but I like the chair, cushion and reflection on the curtain.
A bit messy – especially hate the left over gouache light shadows on the table. The gate is a bit wonky too!