8. Moving from green to blue
'Filitosa 2' - acrylic on calico £1200 Liz Cleves
I enjoyed painting 'Filitosa 1' to such an extent that I was inspired to follow through with the theme that emerged from watching the programmes about The Planets presented by Professor Brian Cox.
In this second piece I have biased the palette towards blue. I have used indigo, cerulean, cobalt teal and ultramarine blues. The orange areas are there to create a dynamic contrast.
Working on calico is interesting in itself because it absorbs paint fast allowing me to keep working faster than I can on canvas duck.
(My next piece... Filitosa 3 will use warm reds and earth tones).
7. Choosing the dimensions for a piece of work
Usually one chooses the shape of the paper or canvas one intends to work on at the outset, but does this have to be the case? Not necessarily. The shape that one uses can start and finish the same, but equally can evolve along the way. For example, I have tried working on a triangular shaped surface and that comes with it’s own particular set of challenges.
During my schooling the paper that was handed out seemed always to be of standard rectangular dimensions and no one was expected to challenge that (I believe it was referred to as 'imperial' or 'half imperial'). One had two choices… to work with the paper placed vertically or horizontally…. And that was that! It came as a pleasant surprise when I moved to college and it was suggested that one should make a 'choice' to work on circular, triangular and even wobbly edge surfaces.
I chose the dimensions of this week’s ‘Picture of the Week’ to echo the kind of landscapes seen in Wilshire and Dorset– open skies, rolling downs and wide vistas. I wanted to cash in on that sense of looking out and around and taking in a wide view of things. The picture is almost in three sections (like a triptych). I thought it was important to create some verticals in the picture to help with the composition. In fact it is important to think hard about verticals in any work as these influence how the work comes together.
The overall effect is rather like looking out of a window on to the landscape. Ben Nicholson used this kind of device in some of his work. Have a look at the Tate St Ives Gallery site to check this out.
'As Wide As...' acrylic on treated canvas 127 cm X 30cm - Liz Cleves
Midsummer is nearly here. This picture is one I painted a couple of years ago. The title came after the picture... as is often the case! Naming artworks can be a tricky business. How much should one influence the looker and how much should one leave unsaid?
I used a number of different blues to make this piece of work - indigo, ultra-marine, turquoise, cerulean....... In the past blue pigments could be difficult to obtain and very expensive. I am lucky to have such a choice.
5. Responding to Music
I have begun to work on calico as opposed to canvas duck. This is the second picture on calico.
Firstly, though, I have to tell you about why this picture has developed as it has......
I had put down some sepia paint as a thin wash on the calico - as a starting point to work on from. Then I began to hear part of the Planet Suite by Gustav Holst playing in the next room so I dropped the paint brush into the water jar and went to listen more.
Professor Brian Cox was introducing The Planet Suite and talking about how the music was conceived by Holst. He was comparing Holst's knowledge with what we now know about the planets. It was an amazing programme.... both for the planetary images and the music.
I felt that making progress with my painting could now be inspired by the images and the music itself. (I particularly love Jupiter for it's vivacity). Because I also love dance, I wanted to create a sense of space and movement in this piece.
Here's a thought.... it is amazing that we ourselves are planetary influences... affecting our planet in everything we do!
'Filetosa 1' acrylic on calico 70 cm x 53 cm - Liz Cleves
Dipping into my past art work
It’s often useful to think back to what inspired one as an artist along the way. This can inform what one is doing in the present and help with decisions about ‘what to do next’.
Still Life with Sunlight below, was made in 2012. I had been looking at the work of the St Ives School and found the work of Ben Nicholson particularly interesting at that time. I had been thinking hard about how to move on from representational work and wanted to begin to develop abstract ideas through discovering new ways of composing my pictures– particularly reflecting on what to put in and what to leave out. I was impressed with Nicholson’s work in that he was a brilliant graphic worker and able to describe space using line. I often looked at his drawing skills and composition as there I could get to see exactly how he was ‘making’ his pictures. A useful example is his work December 1951. Many of the drawn lines are off the vertical and off the horizontal. The product of that is that the images group together and the composition becomes tighter. The effect for me is that I feel thrown into the picture and instantly part of the picture space. I like that.
'Still Life with Sunlight' - Oil on canvas 2012 Liz Cleves
When I began work on Still Life with Sunlight, I set up a structure using similar devises to begin to organise the visual space. Immediately new compositional opportunities showed up. I could now see new ways of balancing form and colour. My thinking moved away from representation towards finding a more imaginative way of expressing an idea about a still life. The picture moved on from being about a lamp, a table and some plants to an expression of how light falls on objects and produces colour. It also became an adventure in organising the picture space to create a lively composition.
Ultimately, I called the picture Still Life with Sunlight because it was light that gave direction to the way the work developed. In the end it was the balance of colour used and effects of light that emerged as the most important elements of the work, while the linear aspects provided the structure.
I discovered Van Morrison's music late on. I wish I'd heard it many years back. For one, the lyrics are great. Two, the musicians he has in his band are brilliant. Three, it is good music to have playing when I'm painting. It's good music to work to, as it doesn't interfere with my thoughts but encourages me to work forward. So... this picture is dedicated to poetry in music and poetic musicians.
The picture is an acrylic on stretched canvas. I worked with thin paint at first ... watered down a great deal so it would work into the canvas. Then I built up layers of colour. I used some Golden gold to mix in with the other pigments to create a faint sparkle (like moon light). The composition is, to some extent, structured on a grid which gives the picture some formality.