First, a few photos of the view from the windows on the fourth floor of the venerable old buildings of Yale University...
You might also want to check out this post which has a good link to more Turner info and this post which contains more Turner paintings from a prior trip the the Yale Center for British Art
Turner started out working in watercolors in a style that relied heavily on precise drawing. Over the course of his life he painted in both watercolor and oil. As he pursued his investigations of light, atmosphere and color, his style moved further and further away from precisie drawing.
Eventually he abandoned form and line all together.
The idea of the sublime as a philosophical idea, a notion developed by Edmund Burke had a profound influence on European Romanticism a tradition that Turner was closely connected to.
According to Burke, the sublime was "based on man's feelings in the face darkness and natural elements unleashed in all their fury...as opposed to the balanced nature of beauty, the sublime awakens an interest in vast landscapes and terrible dramas...The notion of the sublime was central to Turner's work. It appeared both in his choice of subject matter, mountains, storms, volcanos, fire...and in its treatment, and it evolved through his career, moving from the most literal interpretations to pure metaphore." ~ Oliver Meslay
Turner's Paints and Brushes
Turner used both cobalt blue, verditer blue, smalt(Smalt is powdered glass, colored to a deep powder blue hue using cobalt. Smalt is used in decoration, dyeing and laundering. ) and ultramarine (used only sparingly).
He used flake white and blanc d'argent also known as Silver White Ceruse Dutch White French
chrome yellow and gamboge
Dry pigments were rubbed onto his wooden palette with cold-drawn oil and
colors were mixed daily.
Round and flat hog bristle brushes, also camel hair (even for his oils) and Chinese brushes were used.
These observations were made by F.EW Trimmer in 1851 when he visited Turner's studio just a few days after his death.
Here are some of the materials and techniques Turner employed: He mixed wax, resin and oil with his paints. He worked with both glazes and impasto paint. The surfaces of his paintings were scratched, torn, scumbled, masked out and had paint poured on them.
Things like wax, resin, glazes and impasto are fairly classical materials and techniques. It's the treatment of the painting surface, the scratchin, tearing etc. that really foreshadows modernism and the handling of paint and materials that would come on the scene in the 20th century.
It's those techniques employed in the service of traditional landscape motifs, coupled with the use of light as an expression of spirituality and the sublime that fascinates me and continues to influence my own work.
I wonder if Turner would have embraced acrylic paint with it's impasto gels, modelling pastes and texture laden mediums? I think so. I'm certainly glad I have them at my disposal and intend to explore further with them this year.