Monday, 23 March 2009

Study Session in Norfolk - WIP

A week ago I headed off to spend a couple of days at the Norfolk Painting School. The School is run by Martin Kinnear who is a fine oil painter, specialising in wonderful atmospheric landscapes using techniques of the Masters. The structure of his courses mixes theory, practical techniques, demonstrations and intensive painting time. The focus of this particular course was to be planning studio works concentrating on Composition, Tone and Colour. We were introduced to all three elements by looking at works by Turner, Van Ruisdael, Constable, Monet, Whistler and Seago. What was it about their use of the three elements that made their painting work?

We then decided on a source photograph for our main work and began to make decisions as to how we might tackle the subject. We had to make our own decisions about composition and support them with sketches, first of all in graphite then after making decisions about colour to produce a small oil sketch as preparation. However, before commiting to the oil sketch we had to decide what tonal range to adopt and most difficult of all which artist's work we would look to for inspiration. This gives me the excuse to gratuitously insert a few of my favourite images at the end of the piece. (Apologies for splitting the infinitive).

The first picture is the current state of the piece I returned home with. My source had been a photograph of some of the creeks on the North Norfolk coast, my inspiration quite clearly the great Turner. Having decided on an approach that would seek to produce a dramatic work with wide tonal range whilst incorporating layers of subtle sky colour I had to take time to build up layers of transparent colour, hence the work is still in progress.

Work in Progress - Oil on stretched canvas 40" x 30"

There is much work left to do. I intend making use of Turner's tendency to produce vortices as a compositional device by bringing the cloud across and down the left of the picture, then working over the water to produce appropriate light and shade. The introduction of crepuscular rays and highlights in the sky should complete the work. I will post the results when complete.

The following pictures all demonstrate the vortex compositional device that tends to produce violent and vibrant life to these works.

Shade and Darkness - the Evening of the Deluge - J. M. W. Turner

Light and Colour (Goethe's Theory) - the Morning after the Deluge - Moses writing the Book of Genesis - J. M. W. Turner

By the way, Goethe's Theory plays an important part in a special Turner exhibit at Tate Britain with interesting 'hands on' experiments. Go see it if you can.

Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Armey crossing the Alps - J. M. W. Turner

Snow Storm - Steam -boat off a Harbour's Mouth making Signals in shallow water, and going by the Lead. The Author was in this Storm on the night the Ariel left Harwich -
J. M. W. Turner
All of the above pictures are part of the Tate collection.
Whilst Turner was a genius with the brush it is evident from his titles that he found it a little more difficult to distill his thoughts in words.
Norfolk Painting school can be found at and Martin's paintings at


william wray said...

Turnner is so great... it took me 40 years to understand his greatness.

Dan Corey said...

OK Mick I have written a detailed comment twice and had it erased twice so this one will probably go through. long story short, great choice, one of my favs, and good luck, looks good so far. :) Dan

Mick Carney said...

William - thanks for visiting. We are so fortunate to have his bequest to the Nation here in Britain. Tate Britain do a great job in ensuring that all aspects of his work get attention in the way they chose to exhibit his work. When he is placed in context of the times in which he lived it is easy to see the massive leaps forward that he made. His impact on painting lives on.

Dan - sorry that your more detailed comment decided to remain in Maine. Hope you approve of the next stage in the development of this picture.

Anonymous said...

Just last week I was reading about the courses at the Norfolk Painting School....then happened on your blog via another art blog! Would love to hear more about your thoughts on what you took form your time there. I too adore turner.....must get myself up to the Tate. Looking forward to reading through your previous posts.

Ron Guthrie said...

I also totally enjoy the works of Turner...what a painter! I enjoyed the 2 Guthrie's you have here too Mick....a favorite of mine for obvious reasons.
Your painting looks very good and nice to read the background of it. Excellent!

Mick Carney said...

Maggie - Thanks for visiting. The Norfolk Painting School is run by Martin Kinnear who is a first rate painter in oil. What I took from would take a long piece to describe, I found his course so stimulating in a variety of ways. First and foremost he teaches a sound grounding in the application of paint in indirect fashion i.e. building up the picture in layers with the assistance of mediums. The technique is at the core of the practice of many of the masters, including Turner. Secondly he analyses the elements that constitute good painting and why they work. He draws on lots of examples from the greats and has a good selection of books in his studio. Last but not least, great demonstrations and lots of hands on painting. Each student leaves having produced a 40" x 30" canvas. If you wnat to know any more leave a note and I can correspond with you directly.

Ron - thanks for visiting. It must be in the genes, I knew there was something about your work that derived from nature not nurture. Following in the family tradition, eh?

Anonymous said...

Mick ~ Thank you for your generous reply. I am toying with the idea of one of his courses later this year or next year as I would like some good advice and grounding in making the transition to oil from watercolour.