Exercise: Broken or tertiary colours


I think I did this exercise before but cannot find it so have repeated it.

I did an orange red through to blue green to start, using a little white to try and keep the tonal values. I then did orange to violet and was surprised that the middle broken colours where almost the same as previously. The violet to green felt more tricky, as the colours went very dark, almost black however that was a useful thing to know!

I think the tertiary colours would be useful to use when painting in shadows, as shadows are not really just black and grey when you really look at them . I shall try to use this within my own work.

Exercise: Simple perspective in interior studies

I am not sure that I quite found the right place, in the previous sketching exercise,  for this exercise. I need to create an illusion of space using accurate perspective. It has to be muted colours or a limited palette. It is an exercise in drawing with paint. I have to decide on the outer limits of my view  when I have found it (!)and the format and scale of my painting.

As this is about perspective, I have decided to do the view down the corridor from the living room. This incorporates some of the drawings I have already done and offers a chance to really work on linear perspective. I may have to simplify the view slightly or it will look too cluttered. I will work portrait and larger than A3, using some more of the roll of canvas I have attached to my board. The colours are mostly browns, dark reds and creams.

I did a quick sketch A3 using charcoal to see roughly how it would look and I thought it was a good composition to show perspective.charcoal.JPG

I then made a start drawing it out lightly with a pencil and using a ruler. I identified the vanishing point in the wine rack in the kitchen 🙂 It didn’t go well; I made the corridor too wide and then ended up putting in extra tiles across thinking this would be ok… So I decided to start again and turned the paper over. This time it went better and I think I have mapped it out accurately enough. I am going to start with the painting tomorrow.

left: wrong    right: right 🙂

Well, I have been painting for almost 3 hours. It is not near finished. I need to add some details and shadows and highlights…also, I am not sure if the bricks on the arch are quite right, perspective wise.

But overall, I feel it is going in the right direction.

Today I spent another hour and a half finishing.  I think the perspective is more or less correct. The curtain and the two darker walls frame it and the eye is drawn to the vanishing point down the corridor. I have left a lot of detail out, so it does not become too complicated or confusing. I think the hall stand is not really quite right; it was tricky at that angle and I think because I know how it should look, my mind is creating it for me whereas someone else will not really see it as it is. I have tried to use the paint to suggest more detail and it some cases it has worked – but maybe not completely. The table in the kitchen should be more strong and detailed… But it has been a useful exercise that has made me use perspective in a good way.



Linear perspective

Perspective is what gives the painting a feeling of depth. In order to do this you need to find the horizon and the vanishing point, which is usually at your eye level. All lines which look parallel actual are heading at various angles towards this vanishing point. I have found that sometimes the vanishing point is not actually within the area you are drawing, which makes it harder….

There is some very good information on here:


and here:


which includes this Van Gogh with perspective lines drawn on.


I have downloaded the pdf from this website for future use, which is excellent.

Exercise: Quick sketches around the house

I got a keen sense of deja vu with this exercise, as I think we did something similar in Drawing 1…anyway, as I said then and I’ll say now – our house is small and cluttered. No wall is straight.

For the standing sketches I decided to stand just in the kitchen, where there is a view down the corridor to the front door, however I didn’t the other views would be very good. Also, it  was difficult to draw standing up…and I wasn’t sure whether to try and use a ruler for the straight lines, in the end I didn’t as it said these had to be fast sketches so in theory I had just 30 mins for these. I would definitely have preferred to use charcoal to produce rapid sketches….

The looking down the corridor one is the most interesting, but I think for the sitting drawings I will move the other end into the living room for a different view.

So, I have just done 4 fast sketches from a seated position in the living room…

I feel the one of the window and cushions offers the most promise, with lots of light and dark areas. I also like the alcove with the wooden buddha and the plates on the wall. I am not certain at this moment if I will use any of these for the next exercise. I feel I will have to do some more sketches before then. 

Researching Dutch realist genre painters and a look at interiors

I decided to look at and compare these two paintings below:

Davidsz de Heem’s ‘Still life with a glass and oysters’. dp147903

Above source: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/436636

Below: Attributed to Willem Claesz source:http://risdmuseum.org/art_design/objects/2033_still_life

RISDM 34-778

I think De Heem’s painting  depicts the simple pleasures of food and wine…it is portrayed in a full blown sensual way, glistening grapes, the shine of the rich oysters, the lemon ready to squeeze, the cloth a rich, green velvet. This meal is ready to eat, where as Claesz’s meal is half finished – the fruit half peeled and cut, the bread more than half eaten, just 2 olives left in the bowl. Does this perhaps show time passing? The wine glasses in both are beautifully described and catch the light of the room, reflecting the world outside. I think both artists are trying to make the viewer appreciate the simple and yet rich pleasures of life and the simple beauty of this.

A composition of objects like this go together so well for a still life, and is something I could use myself, a meal and drink laid out in a pleasing manner like this. Look for contrasts of materials. Light it well to create depth and shadows and interesting points of light.

This is not maybe relevant to this research section but I want to include a contemporary Dutch artist I found whilst researching: Tjalf Sparnaayn . This was just such an interesting documentary about contemporary Dutch artist, Tjalf Sparnaay, who paints megarealism in the style of the old Dutch masters. His work is incredible, such attention to detail. I normally do not like too much realism in painting ( I think well, why not just use a camera…?!) however Sparnaay takes this to a whole new level.

Sparnaay paints everyday modern objects (like fried eggs or squashed coke cans) as they are usually large works, this gives him the space to describe incredible detail, things you would not normally notice. portret_bmg_paintings_2013

source: http://www.tjalfsparnaay.nl/en

I particularly like the ‘Fleamarket Milkmaid’, where he has copied Ver Meers work and given it a twist by adding a plastic wrapper as if it is a reproduction you would find in a market. What I take from Sparnaay is that he has found his own unique style by looking at the world around him in a different way. Indeed, it reminds me of  O’Keeffe, who painted small flowers in a large and detailed way to make you look again really closely at the things around you.

Looking at interiors

A contemporary painting of an iconographer’s studio on Mount Athos. By Aleksei Evstigeniev, 1997

source: http://www.orthodoxartsjournal.org/orthodox-architecture-and-iconography-as-subjects-in-fine-art-painting/


What I have noticed mostly about paintings of interiors is that there is normally a window, or a door included to let in the light and create the light and dark areas that  add interest and depth to the work.  I particularly like this one by Evstigeniev, as it is of an artist’s studio. The floor tiles give depth and perspective and I love the light outside with the sunlight reflecting off the sea and you can just glimpse a chair inviting you to sit out on the balcony and leave your work for a moment’s break. The deep archways of both the door and window I imagine were tricky to get right, and I can compare this to my own home which has a few archways too… my home is also tiled so this could be useful when looking to employ perspective. The paintings and the furniture in the room are to the left side and do not dominate but add to the interest, and contrast with the impression of the vastness of sky and ocean outside.

Another artist’s studio – but time Picasso’s.  source: http://www.pablopicasso.org/the-studio-at-la-californie.jsp


A completely different style from the Evstigeniev, there are still similarities. Yes, it is an artist’s studio, indeed Picasso’s own at  ‘La Californie’, near Cannes. The artist’s work is shown in  progress and there is a window, arched also, to the outside world, with a balcony and some palm trees can be seen. There are other archways drawn within the room. I love the greys, greens and browns of this work, which is perhaps a link to Georges Braque. It has a Moroccan feel to it, with the Moroccan brazier to the left, and also the in the patterns of the furniture. I think it is very recognisable as a Picasso!  It is suggested on this website that the blank canvas in the centre is a reference to  ‘Gustave Courbet, The Artist’s Studio (1855)’.

Charles Essenhigh Corke was a Victorian visual artist born 1852. I think he painted quite a few interior scenes but I particularly like this one: 8ea5fd2c-8e6b-4138-a308-5a41bf3e6f35_570

‘Interior of Jacobean Long gallery’ source: https://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/Interior-of-Jacobean-long-gallery/D2221C0CF4E2167C

This artist has used the floor planks and use of the vanishing point to describe the long length of this room. Also the window at the far end draws the eye down. The bands of light coming through the windows form ever decreasing rings also adding to the illusion of length. It looks almost more like a tunnel than a room, as the ceiling extends down the side walls. The fireplace to the front is lit and there is a table to the right, suggesting someone has been there recently. I am not sure what the red cloth hanging from the table is, maybe someone has been sat there sewing. The colours are soft and muted, which gives a hazy feel The red of the cloth is echoed further down the hall by some curtains on the end window.






Exercise: Still life with complementary colours

This exercise is using just two hues, one colour and its complementary colour, plus white to lighten tone. I like the idea and freedom of just using 2 colours, but now I have to decided which ones to use. The background and the glow from the lamp is orange-yellow so maybe I’ll go with blue (which is in the record sleeve) and orange-yellow as the complementary colour. I can mix, I hope, something for the scarf (which is red) and I can use white to lighten as well. I am looking forward to see what I can mix with these 2 colours.

Sketches and ideas worked out before in this post:


I have decided to use colbalt blue and yellow-orange. I think these are good complementary colours. I am going to start by using the yellow-orange as a ground wash. I am having a play with these two colours to see what I can mix while this dries. I have used some canvas that was given to me, cut to fit over my board, so it is about A2 I think. Seems nice quality!

Ok, so I have been over confident here. Working with just the two colours is very difficult. I abandoned my large work and started a new, A3 sheet. I was now aiming to paint a dark, shadowy version using the grey/greens that can be mixed from the yellow and blue. After a while this, too,  I felt, was also not going well. I have now gone back to the other A2 piece and painted over some parts I was not so happy with and I am working on this again now. I hope I am learning from my mistakes…. So my mistake was to think I had done enough sketches of this still life but for this exercise I needed to look at the colours and work out in advance how I was going to use them. Still, I think I am back on track now.Will continue tomorrow.image1-27

I have had a good afternoon’s painting and I think I have finished. I painted the handkerchief white in the end, with blue spots and stripes. Strangely, it now looks as if made of silk rather than cotton – it was hard using different colours for things and getting the tones to look ‘right’. I do like the colours – the orange- yellow works so well with the dark grey/green that comes up when mixed with the blue, but I didn’t like the blue alone in this picture, it just did not look right.

So, the next day I looked at this again and decided that I was not happy with the handkerchief  white…I think not having the actual colours to look at has made it tricky to describe…so I have painted it over blue, with just a little of the yellow to darken, then added some white.  I am missing black more than I realised, but have also learned that you don’t actually need it – if you are clever! I was pleased with the handkerchief when I did it red as in the colour accuracy exercise but it has been the trickiest thing for me here. So now I think it is a little better than it was although I am not really satisfied with it…

I was bothered by the handkerchief so I did a sketch, using the original photo I took, then I tackled it again. Much better I think…. See, Wendy, slow down and study things, don’t try to rush 🙂image2-22






Exercise: Colour accuracy

For this exercise I have already set up a still life and have done some sketches to prepare, which I have put on a separate post.


This is about trying to accurately  mix the colours and tonal values, without being overly accurate with outlines, scale etc. It was suggested to take just a part of the whole scene to simplify, which I have decided to do. I did a sketch with a soft pencil to map out the area and look at the tones. This has helped me to focus on the part of the scene that I need to and I looked at this as I was painting to see what was ‘in sight’. I prefer this to using a frame.


This gives  me the red neck scarf and the blue of the record cover, the dark amber if the whiskey in the bottle and the yellow-orange tones of the surface.

I used a light prussian blue wash to map out the objects onto an A3 sheet of acrylic paper. I then worked on the record sleeve, which I decided was pretty much prussian blue, I mixed a little black in to darken it slightly,  the outer edge is lighter in colour. The middle of the record is a lightish red, which I think  have managed ok but the scarf is not quite the right shade so I will be working over that again tomorrow. This is as far I as I have got today:


So today I mixed yellow-orange and cadmiun red with some white for the surface colour, and added light and dark sections. I went back over the handkerchief and then added the white spots and stripes detail. The flower is picking up the yellow and amber colours and I am struggling to get the amber of the whiskey…now the prussian blue mix has dried I feel it could have been a bit greener. But its not far off.  I am happier with the red handkerchief now which is a mixture of my two main reds. The whiskey colour is hard because it has a glow all to itself. The colours do change when they dry. My colours I think are brighter in tone and I have not captured well the glow from the lamp, which is what gives the whiskey that elusive effect. I enjoyed this exercise very much and feel I have learned from it. It was good to focus on a section and I actually like this area better now than the whole thing together.image1-26

I cropped the picture I took originally and put it side by side with my painting, it is another look at how I did. Of course, you cannot really judge the colours on a photograph but it mine is brighter in tone. Not too far out, though.