Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lochcarron Days

I've been reading Van Gogh's Letters From Provence and two things strike me.  First that Van Gogh just went out and painted scenes in his locale that he felt moved to paint: he didn't appear to agonise over composition, medium or treatment - he just got on with it.  Second, that as he looked at the landscape, he saw it in terms of paint colours - ultramarine here and lemon yellow there.  There were lots of other interesting aspects to the book, but these are the key points for me at the moment.

I've also been reading a book entitled "Collage, Colour and Texture in Painting".  While this verges on advocating a formulaic approach, it is full of lots of ideas about mixing media, using various tools and it is also a good reminder about the importance of composition and a focal point.  On reflection, I'm thinking my pictures tend to lack a good focal point. (On further reflection, perhaps many of Van Gogh's pictures lack a focal point too).

The weather's been somewhat uninviting while we've been up here, and so sketching opportunities have been limited. Today was no exception so I thought I'd try a little painting.  Not in the studio, so had to use the materials I had brought - acrylics, watercolours, gouache and charcoal. Also subject to distractions...out for a little walk and off to the bottle bank (haha) etc.

Noticing that Prussian Blue is an important colour for landscape here at this time of year.  I had thought this before in the studio, but some of the dramatic scenes today (between sleet showers) highlighted the intense prussian blue of the hills in the middle distance contrasting with the burnt orange of Slumbay in the foreground.  Perhaps if I really want to get to grips with colour I should do this more often i.e. think about the colours I would use to paint what I see about me.  Perhaps I should be doing it all the time....

Anyway - I had a go at a couple of paintings today, based on photos of local scenes (easier when I'm in Lochcarron).  The first was a view over the bay near Slumbay that I had sketched in the snow the last time we were here.  I quite liked the composition, with the curvy bays leading to the houses down at the shore edge next to Slumbay.  So I figured that those houses and trees were my focal point.
Emerging picture of 3 Bays copyright Aileen Grant
The colour is not quite right as this pic was taken in electric light.  But it gives a good idea.  The other one I did was based on a view at Ardaneaskan - did a charcoal first then a pic.
Ardaneaskan View (Charcoal) copyright Aileen Grant
Emerging Picture Ardaneaskan View copyright Aileen Grant
I did a little more to the colour picture before I finished.  Hopefully I have managed to retain the feeling of abstraction.  Interesting to do the two compositions.  I like them both for different reasons (charcoal drawing more dramatic: colour pic more true to life with the open sea).  Anyway, a slightly different approach for me, using colour but trying to stay loosened up.

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