Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Exercises

Not a lot of time this week so I decided to keep going by trying a couple of exercises. The first one is something I promised my friend Dan Corey that I'd be having a go at some time soon. The object of the exercise was to observe the range of values in an object and render them in monochrome. Value recognition and rendition are at the heart of producing convincing images in paint and concentration on colour often have one forgetting the importance of values.

To do this I first of all mixed a range of greys so that I had them to hand and could concentrate on observation. The concentration required was intense and I was totally absorbed maybe to the point of convincing myself that there were value shifts that weren't there.

As an aside, I produced this work on a gesso panel, the first time I'd used one, and was surprised at the way it sucked in the paint rendering it almost dry in a short space of time.

Value vase - Oil on gesso board 6" x 6"

The next exercise that I tried was more an attempt to familiarise myself with some new acquisitions, some squirrel mop brushes. I came to buy these after a conversation with fellow artists, Colin Joyce and Peter Dimmock. They came along to introduce themselves during the recent Art Fair. During the chat they enthused about having worked on courses with Alvaro Castagnet and also of their admiration for the work of Joseph Zbukvic. I also enjoy the work of these two so I dug around in my library and the various video clips on the internet to find out a little more about their working methods. Central to the approach seemed to be the creation of large washes of colour laid down with mops, particularly Castagnet. Never having used them I decided to pick up a couple of mops from my local art store.

Brushes in hand I discovered a Zbukvic demonstration in one of my books and decided to have a go. The brushes felt really unfamiliar, my usual tools being Kolinsky sables. Judging the amount of pigment to add to the large reservoirs of water held by these brushes was something of a trial. The one thing I learned was that it would take a bit of practice to get the hang of the technique. The feel of the softer fibres lends itself to a much looser approach and from that point of view make the effort well worth while so I'll persevere. Anyway the attempt is below, crude though it is.

Venice Fish Market after Zbukvic - Watercolour on Not paper 12" x 10"

13 comments:

Maggie Latham said...

Mick, I presume you are talking about squirrel mops with a point like Isabey or an equivalent top brand...not just plain old large mop brushes…
I urge you to just play with your brush on scrap paper or the backs of paintings you don’t like to get the feel of how much water to use etc. One trick I would recommend is to always have an old tea towel folded next to you on your desk by your palette, a place where you can wipe out water (and pigment) to control the amount of water you use on your paper. You can also lift out colour quite well with clean damp mop brush using the point…. remember to use a touch like 'Angels Kisses' when laying in washes and glazes…. very gently skimming the paper, and pay attention to how the direction of your strokes will create the appearance of form. So glad you have a nice brush or two… the only other important brush is your rigger, really. I generally only use squirrel mops and a rigger these days…
Did you make the panel yourself for your oil work? It’s nice to paint on a solid support, isn’t it…. you can push the paint right into the surface. What did you prime it with ad what kind of board did you use?

Mick Carney said...

Maggie - You are such a wonderful correspondent in the blogging world. I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and advice.

You give valuable instruction in the way that mops should be used. Yes, they are Isabey brushes. I particularly like the tips about the tea towel and the 'Angel's Kiss". I think that the use of those two ideas will give a real boost to my technique.

Unfortunately, I have no advice to give with regard to the gesso panels as I bought them on a recent trip to the States. However, I have made a few of my own panels which are just sealed MDF with a few coats of acrylic gesso on top and I endorse your comment about a solid support.

Once again thanks so much for your assistance and interest.

Maggie Latham said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maggie Latham said...

Mick, you are welcome! 'Angel's Kisses' is not my idea .....a well known watercolour painter in the States uses this phrase often, and I have always used it since I heard it some years ago....as it sums up the amount of pressure and a light touch pretty well. I see a lot of my students using watercolour brushes like house painting brushes....... and then wonder why they have streaks, backruns etc. Watercolour is about how much water you use to achieve different effects, and your brush will also determine that.
For some reason I can't get a long with MDF..... I miss the vast array of supplies available in the States.

Peter Ward said...

Hi there Mick. Why haven't you replied to my e-mails about the latest challenge? Well you did make me do a seascape (grin).

Mick far from me to make judgments but are you not in danger of spreading yourself too thin? You already switch between oils and watercolour. Castagnet and Zbukvic seem to be flavours of the month at the moment, and I see lots of stuff on Wetcanvas extolling and generally discussing them. I'm not suggesting they aren't very good because they are. I've had Zbukvic's book for some time but there is no way I'm going to change direction - again. I've gone through that scenario several times and turned my face against it. It can just lead to a loss of momentum and grief. Still you do what you want as I'm sure you will. It's only painting after all.

Mick Carney said...

Peter - First of all I've not received the mails you mention. I've sent you a mail to test the communications.

There's something in what you say about spreading oneself a little thin. I'm just having a dibble at one or two things to see if I learn a little to expand my technique. I'm still struggling with the notion of reaching a recognisable style of my own.

Mick Carney said...

Maggie - You're absolutely right about the variety of stuff available in the States, particularly in the types of supports and framing options.

Taking your advice about mark making, not quite 'Angelic' yet.

Peter Ward said...

What I should have added Mick was about the use of Squirrel brushes. They require an entirely different approach to both ordinary synthetics and sables. To start with they hold enormous amounts of water but are quite lank and not firm at all. Some people use them and love them but equally others hate them. I've tried them in the past. You need an entirely different tecnique.

I've done a lot of soul searching about which direction (to try) and travel but in my opinion the only way to progress is to decide on a particular path and follow it relentlessly. That doesn't mean ignoring other artists with different styles. I'm currently looking at my landscape painting which I fear has regressed with little plein air this year. The artist I've focussed on is John Palmer and I've just ordered his book on Watercolour Landscapes (used). Hard to get but I've found a copy at a reasonable price.

I've just resent the e-mail with the Dec/Jan Challenge.

Mick Carney said...

Peter - Still no Challenge arrived. Is it a large file? Did you receive my e-mail?

Peter Ward said...

I've only had the one e-mail Mick. I'll have another go with a different approach. Confirm if you receive anything.

Dan Corey said...

Hey Mick, I really like the values used in that study! The base it self might be a touch wonky (but that's not the point of the study at all) thanks for trusting me in doing these! I believe if you focus on your values and drawing instead on any particular artist your work will really take off. Ive been there and if you keep an artist in mind you will always be trying to catch up instead of running your own race. I say This all in general and not at anything particular in have said or done. Black and white studies! Lets all get to work!! :))

Mick Carney said...

Dan - Thanks a lot. I think you articulate the best bit of advice that any of us can get as artists - concentrate on drawing and values. I'm wandering around the kitchen saying it like a mantra - drawing and values.

Dan Corey said...

: ))