Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Imprimatura & Texture Process, John Constable Lecture



Today is the Daily Painters Gallery Valentine's day celebration! I know we're a little early, but we wanted to give people enough time to buy paintings for Valentine's gifts and get them in time for the big day. I have a good selection of paintings on my website to choose from, and an original painting makes a very special gift that will be treasured for years to come.

Right now I'm focused on developing a process for creating imprimaturas that incorporate texture as well as the usual values. Even though there is nothing new under the sun, artists always strive for something unique to themselves, a visual voice, a style, a painting process that is authentically their own and distinguishes them from other artists who work in a similar vein.

If you've been visiting here for a while you know that I've been experimenting with texture on and off as well as moving in a tonalist/luminist direction and away from impressionist high key colors and values. Over the last couple of weeks I've been looking at my recent paintings and deciding on what has really stood out. What I've found is that I'm drawn to more heavily textured surfaces that start out in a low (dark) value family and are developed with lots of layers of scumble to bring in the light. I find the final painting surface very rich and complex, a real visual feast.

Also, I don't know of any other artists currently combining a more contemporary development of textural surface with more traditional landscape compositions and a luminist/tonalist approach to light. So for all those reasons I'm going to see if I can develop a process for working out paintings that incorporates all those qualities. I've already had some success with a few prior paintings and from those experiments I hope to define my process and move forward.


Here's the imprimatura done in transparent red oxide, with impasto gel brushed on to create texture in certain areas. The impasto gel will dry clear.



Today, despite the snow, I attended a lecture presented by the Galleries in Motion program. Joy Pepe, professor emeritus at Lyme Academy College of Fine Art, spoke about John Constable. Constable was of course a British landscape painter (1776-1837) best known for painting Suffolk, England, particularly the Dedham Vale now known as Constable Country. His paintings fall in the realm of European naturalism with a touch of Romanticism thrown in. Today his bold studies are most admired with their lack of finish and insistence on roughness, rather than his finished paintings, though that was not the case in his lifetime.

His paintings of England, were very popular in France, but not in England itself with Constable selling only 20 painitngs in England during his lifetime.

One very interesting thing I learned was that Constable began taking his preferred subject matter, scenes from ordinary agricultural life in Suffolk, and making large six foot paintings. A scale formerly reserved for historical paintings. Not only that, he took to making full scale six foot sketches for these monumental works.

As a modern viewer I love the full scale sketches with their highly expressive brushwork and emotional freedom even more than the finished pieces. After hearing the whole lecture and many of the quotes by Constable Joy Pepe shared I think Constable may have preferred his sketches to the finished pieces too. Below are the full size sketch and the final painting for The White Horse, read more about both these pieces here.



This is the full size sketch for The White Horse by John Constable


This is the finished painting, of The White Horse, John Constable

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