Part 1, exercise 1.2: Using found images – black and white

19 April 2017. This time I was determined to do my research in a way to allow me to directly focus on and take into my own work the work done by artists to be researched (Open College of the Arts, 2015, p. 36)

2 May 2017. The research mentioned above lies now behind me and it proved to be a very rich source of inspiration (Lacher-Bryk, 2017).

This exercise required us to prepare 10 postcard-sized backgrounds, 5 black and 5 white, acrylic on good quality watercolour paper. On these we were to paint one or more found images, a set of two each (black on white and inverted) (Open College of the Arts, 2015, p. 39).  Other than with the first exercise I decided not to stay with only one subject, but chose five different ones. These are the results:

3 May 2017. The first pair of paintings I made of one of the famous marble dwarves in one of the parks in Salzburg (Fig. 1). I have done quite a bit of realistic painting before and did not take me too long to do despite the detail. As always with paintings this size the tooth of the watercolour paper had a strong influence on the precision of the outlines painted, more so, interestingly, in the black painting on white than the other way round. I prefer the white on black by far, also because the white pigment has a tendency to accumulate near wet/dry boundaries, an effect which I find really attractive. I am not yet able to apply this consistently, but boots and legs worked quite well:

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Figure 1. Sketchbook: Zwerglgarten dwarf, in black acrylic (left) and white acrylic (right)

Another pair of postcard paintings was dedicated to the lovely raven, which has taken to visiting the nearby university campus to convince, using its beak if necessary,  the students sitting in the sun that sharing their lunch was unavoidable. It will even search your pockets if the sharing is not started immediately (Fig. 2).
A few months ago a former colleague of mine had posted on Facebook Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem “The Raven”. The tragic contents of the poem has nothing to do with the scene I wanted to paint, but it made me remember the nice technique of image transfer using acrylic medium and decided that I would have a verse of that poem cross the raven’s body. I am no expert at transferring images, so this did not come out too beautiful, but in combination with the loose painting it looks interesting, especially in the black ink on white version. The second attempt was made with black ink on a black background. The poem was hardly visible after I had finished with it, but the ink left a most wonderful metallic sheen wherever it touched the acrylic background. Unfortunately this is difficult to see in my scan, but the effect is so attractive that I want to use it more widely.

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Figure 2. Sketchbook: The tame campus raven, first in black ink on white, then in black ink on black

Next came a painful memory my husband has of staying in Berlin for a week with his school group in the most horrendous youth hostel. They had merely checked in when they decided, in rare unanimity, that they wanted nothing more than go home (Fig. 3). I therefore made two desperate postcards, one in Jasper Joffe style in grey acrylic on white, the other in slick while dilute paint. Both results are not what I hoped them to be, but I was happy to see that I am beginning to connect to the research I do, to choose techniques and styles from a growing pool:

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Figure 3. Sketchbook: Wanting to go home, grey acrylic on white (top) and grey acrylic on black (bottom)

My fourth set comes from a series of photos we had taken shortly after sunset last December after having visited a Christmas market (Fig. 4). At first I had wanted to make a white gouache on white acrylic painting, but there was absolutely nothing to see on this piece of paper. So I went over it with some grey acrylic. Not surprisingly the inverted painting with white acrylic on black went far better, I also prefer the weird atmosphere produced as cars, trees and people seem to be illuminated by a ghostly light of full moonlight quality:

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Figure 4. Sketchbook: December sunset, grey acrylics on white (top) and white acrylics on black (bottom)

Finally, which has become my favourite pair, one of the nosy jackdaws up on mount Untersberg (Fig. 5). For the first painting I decided that I would make it a negative space composition. Again, this time using white gouache, the pigment tended to settle near the edges of the wet area and by coincidence it was just in the right places. The effect looks like the corona you see during a total solar eclipse. The second painting was made on dry white acrylic covered in a liberal layer of gloss varnish, on which I poured grey guache and allowed it to become semi-dry. On this slippy surface I produced my painting in darker grey. The paint will not stay in one place after the first application, but the paintbrush will produce grooves in the layer, which then dictate the behaviour of the paint. With more experience this combination might allow me to produce very attractive structural effects. Also something to remember!

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Figure 5. Sketchbook: Untersberg jackdaw as white on black negative painting in gouache (top) and grey gouache on dry white acrylic and wet gloss medium

I am beginning to get the hang of making these small experimental paintings and not too early, too. As I lost more than a month at the beginning of UPM for having to correct all my references in Practice of Painting, and another several weeks for various hospital and other reasons, I will have to keep working high speed to make it to my Assignment 1 deadline on May 31st. Which may be a good thing, because my work usually tends to improve when under pressure :o).

References

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Part 1: Own experimentation supplementing introductory research¬†point [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 2 May. Available from: https://andreabrykocapainting1upm.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/part-1-own-experimentation-supplementing-introductory-research-point/ [Accessed 2 May 2017)

Open College of the Arts (2015) Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media. Open College of the Arts, Barnsley.