Assignment 4 – ‘A Constructed Landscape’

I described my contextual research, my initial experiments and my plan forward for this assignment in a separate post at: http://ocapainting1.stefanschaffeld.com/?p=3055

Final Painting:

The constructed Landscape (12 segments each 40 x 40 cm – total 120 x 160 cm), Ink and acrylic on primed paper 600 g/sqm

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Constructed Landscape

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Constructed Landscape

Preparatory work:

As roughly outlined in my initial thoughts I looked up first my two sketchbooks #8 ‘Bernese Oberland and sketchbook #11 ‘Aare River‘  and cluster them with Photoshop together in 5×5 grid. From those total 50 images I pre-selected some images for my final paintings based three criteria on: walk/path, water/river, rocks/mountain. And those that I found as emotionally most appealing.

My plan was to make a de-constructed and re-constructed landscape as a cluster. Key topics that played a role were:

  • Memory: my site experience, my walking along the path, my visual notes in my sketchbook, my emotional and embodied sensations. Memory associated with old photographs was a theme that I looked at in more depth with exercise on ‘Squaring up‘. From that I took the idea of conveying memories, fading memories, not only from photographs but from my own sketchbook images. Although I still have very fresh memories to those visited scenes, I see that some already stronger and some are less. From a painting approach I could envision to add a wash of yellow-ochre as an underlaying over the support as in above mentioned exercise.
  • Construction: Landscape is a cultural image and by that a subjective construction based on human’s interaction and perception. Each viewer would see the same scene different, as each artist would paint it quite differently. In this context I learned  in exercise Linear perspective how to construct as scene, still close to a really experienced environment, but with different techniques applied that it can trigger various responses from viewers. See here also the comments received on that painting from the OCA Discussion/ Critiques forum (amended in above mentioned post). Another view on construction is construction of a larger image by ‘squaring up’, laying a grid over the small image and transferring to a larger support.  I can see this grid also a way of de-construction of a larger image into single segments.
  • My Self and my relationship with the world around me: In the context of this part of the course ‘Looking Out‘ it is my subjective interaction and perception of my environment. As explored in previous exercises it is what I chose and how I chose what makes a difference and what at the end portraits my self as a human being and artist. Did I start to look literally out of the window in Project 1 and starting to frame my view, I am planning now to move further and consider un-framing my single view by multiplied views together, making a new view not visible by merely looking out of a window.
  • Perspective: Investigated on Project 2, e.g Linear perspective, and my researches, e.g. architectural images, I found out that perspective can have different meanings. In the Albertian sense of the linear perspective with one stand point, as aerial perspective to depict a sense of visual depth what could be seen also as a metaphor for looking out and looking beyond towards the horizon. In the context of perspective I can also see the grid – e.g a grid from a viewfinder or the grid to ‘square up’ images – as a way of looking at. How our eyes do see a more complex image by focusing on different sub scenes. For this assignment I am planning to have a depict a multiple viewpoint, seen from different standpoints.
  • Chance: Another aspect that I learned to embrace and benefit from is a random application of paint, and at times an automatic application in the sense of the surrealists techniques. I experimented with this in my sketchbooks. e.g. the mini series ‘The Mountain Cries

In order to understand my ideas in a visual way I did a study on a roughly 65 x 100 cm watercolor paper 300 g/sqm, primed with a mix of gesso, pastel ground, and acrylic adhesive. I decided for a more coarse ground to possibly have more random visual effects.

  1. Making a rough landscape painting in ink, chosen one of my favorite sketchbook images with the distant mountain, the cloud in the middle, and the dark trees at the bottom. I am outlining a rough grid (30x30cm each) before. I decided to go for squares as I have found out that a square is most versatile, one can rotate it even and it fits into the same spot. Though not sure whether I would do this. I applied the ink quite fluently and with the help of a water spray to let it drip down (chance)
  2. Cutting the support into regular same size of grid.
  3. Applying a wash in yellow-ochre to enforce the ‘old photograph, memory’ look (see my painting #2 in Exercise ‘Squaring up’. In order to better discern the effect I applied the wash only to the half of the segments.
  4. Painting each segment one selected image from my sketchbook. Instead of ‘squaring up’ those images, I loosely re-painted in a sketchy way the scene alongside my recalled memory from site. My focus was on the key striking element of each image.

Study for landscape segmentation and construction:

Step 1 & 2:

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Study - Landscape segmentation

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Landscape segmentation

Step 3 & 4:

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Study - Landscape Construction

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Landscape Construction

 

Overall I am pleased with the outcome so far. Still I find the total image not coherent enough. The images with the pre-wash are differentiating, the other and especially with the blue looks to dominant. I find the sketchy way especially in the cluster view intriguing and quite successful. Further, I find the simpler my brushstrokes the more visually appealing they became.

With the study and my plan outlined I was ready to start with my final assignment painting cluster. I decided to make the pre wash over the entire painting before cutting.

Work in progress:

For the painting I decided to chose my thickest paper I have (hot press watercolor paper roll 600 g/sqm from Fabriano). I prepared similar to my study the paper with a mix of gesso, pastel ground, and acrylic adhesive. I made a grid of a bit larger segments than in my study (40 x 40 cm) but still small enough to handle each single segment easily and loosely. I had to nail the paper onto my studio wooden wall, for the study I taped the paper to a board.

  1. Painting the same landscape subject as an intermediate landscape and support for my smaller paintings.
  2. I applied ink (black and blue) and used a water spray in a more or less controlled manner. The drippings occurred randomly,
  3. As the last step after the ink was dry I applied a thin yellow-ochre wash in acrylic with a wide brush without taking too much care about uniform distribution.

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Landscape segmentation

    Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Landscape segmentation

 

Here are the final prepared support before cutting into 12 segments

 

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Landscape segmentation

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Landscape Construction

 

  1. I cut the pre-painted support into 12 segments each 40x40cm and numbered the segments on the back with the sequential number 1 to 12 (from top left to bottom right). Each segment painted with 12 individual scenes based on my two sketchbooks and inspired by my re-called memory.

For one scene out of my sketchbooks I browsed the 12 cut segments to find with a pattern that would suit best the intended scene.

In the following the 12 paintings in acrylic. I turned some of the segments by 90 or 180 degrees where I found the pattern would suit better.

Paintings #1 – #4:

from original segments 6, 1, 3, and 8

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Study - Paintings #1 - 4

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Paintings #1 – 4

Paintings #5 – #8:

from original segments 4, 5, 9, and 7

 

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Study - Paintings #5 - 8

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Paintings #5 – 8

 

Paintings #9 – #12:

from original segments 2, 12, 11, and 10

 

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Study - Paintings #9 - 12

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Study – Paintings #9 – 12

For the last 2 segments it was a bit more difficult, as I was facing patterns that I had to find a scene from my sketchbook  a kind of reverse order of chosen and finding. Reminded me more of a random process – the pattern dictates my selection of scene? For the second last I found one of my pre-selection list that fit well. The last unpainted segment inspired me to make a pure imaginatory painting, with reference to my memory from the Bernese Oberland with its many waterfalls. And with reference to painting #1. By now I finished all 12 paintings. It was quite an endeavour, considering as well that I caught the cold some days before and still felt it.

Now it was surprise time as I put all paintings together in the order of the original painting. There is not that much left of the initial landscape painting though. Some ground were looking through but not enough to convey a believable image. What would mean that it is lost – my memory only is keeping it (and of course the taken photograph – what I consider as memory as well)

The re-constructed total painting of 12 segments (3 x 4, each  40 x 40 cm)

Stefan513953 - Part 4 - Assignment 4 - Re-Constructed Landscape

Stefan513953 – Part 4 – Assignment 4 – Re-Constructed Landscape

Looking at the overall image I was wondering whether this is the only way to show the cluster – and my memory of places.. As there the initial landscape painting is ‘lost’ there would be no harm in changing positions. I decided for another construction of the landscape and my fragmented site experience from two spaces/places. I arranged the 12 paintings in such a way that the bottom row would depict scenes more with a foreground, the middle row with scene with focus on middle ground, and the top row with scenes with horizon and more far away perspective. I was really astonished that I split my 12 paintings nearly in those three groups; unintentionally, unconsciously.

The final and my chosen cluster landscape painting (for exhibition) see at top of this post.

Remarks: I arranged the 12 painting virtually together, They are not a real cluster photograph – what I will make later and amend my post.

Learnings:

  • I enjoyed the process of making this assignment. My study with limited segments encouraged me to scale up one step further. I learned what worked and what not more effectively by discerning my own work. From the previous ideas I was able to reduce the complexity and combine it along the serial and multi segments approach that I discovered successfully in part 3.
  • I do think that not all single images are as successful as some others. Those were I tried to make an appealing painting ended up quite weak. eg. 3,  7, 9, and 12. Most successful single images are for me: 2, 4, 6, 8, and 11 due to the simpler and quite fast application of paint. At times with one single brush stroke to depict one form, e.g. the rocks in #2
  • I found my chosen painting approach, a combination of fluid ink alongside use of sprayed water quite successful. At times I do feel that over time it became more of a technique, Perhaps quite in the style of surrealist automatism. A combination with acrylic paint worked quite well, although I had to be careful not to overpaint. Finding the edge of how the two can work together. I imagined to combined it with oil (as in exercise ‘squaring up’, but due to time constraints and to be on the safe side I chose acrylic,
  • From my various points of interest (architectural elements, embodied painting on site, using found objects and artefact approach) I eventually made the decision to funnel it down to my journey as such during part 4 i.e. building on my sketchbook works as my personal encounter with the world around me and how I do related with it in a constructed way. I would leave the other options away, still see them as valid for further exploration. Looking forward to part 5 of this course I am wondering how I can combine them together with me self portraits part in a coherent and perhaps serial approach. How I am constructed, not only the landscape around me.
  • How did I deliver on my five dimensions for a constructed landscape?
    Memory: My sketchbook images taken on site were the base for my subsequent paintings. I found my on sketches very helpful and I could easily relate to them and re-sense my site exeperience. Looking at the final painting I do feel that the images went a step further, in abstraction and looking at the essence of the place. Some areas more or less fading.
    – Construction: The final painting is not a ‘real’ landscape in the sense of that it delivers on one viewpoint. It shows a snapshot, the essence of my site experience and visual notes some weeks/months earlier. The order to the single paintings is changeable. The underpainting of one view (mountain Bernese Oberland) is not visible any longer – overtaken by the new paintings. I can see that my sketchbook paintings as well as my underpainting are images from my past – fading. Now my memory of the two places are re-painted and re-constructed with a new set of images.
    My self & relationship: The images are done by myself and do show my chosen viewpoints of a landscape at two places. Some visual elements do rather deliver on a more emotional and mood based experience than on accurate depiction of nature. The painting cluster is a capture of the essence of my embodied and painted experience in multiple steps. By this sequential order and re-ordering I did find an approach to articulate my relationship with my environment.
    Perspective: The cluster consists out of 12 viewpoints. Eventually I was astonished that more or less I split my we paintings equally between image with focus on fore-ground, middle-ground, and background. By that I do believe that perspective in the Albertian context can be extended to a next level of experience. My final painting cluster can still be seen as one viewpoint perspective cluster. I am wondering whether I could not have pushed this further towards a more contextual level considering the importance of fore-ground and background of my Self and in relationship with my environment. For the time being my paintings rather sit on the same level.
    Chance: I worked with fluid ink and gravity to form the mountains and trees of my underpainting. As mentioned the landscape of the underpainting became un-visible, However, I kept the patterns on each segment partly visible. The painting of each segment was done rather consciously with loose, expressive and at times sketchy strokes.  I thought that the element of chance was ‘enough’ for the underpainting. The re-constructed landscape (cluster of 12) was than another chance element regarding the visual appearance. Not that bad at all but I felt  new construction by perspectival elements (foreground, middle-ground, background) for the final painting cluster would make more sense – also visually. Perhaps this is one step too much. Contextually I do see this as part of construction. But obviously I interfered here with a conscious decision. Is this again to self-conscious?
  • From the landscape painters that influenced me are Emma Stibbon for her sketchbook approach and John Virtue for his sketchbook and multiple panel approach. From Uwe Wittwer and Hurvin Anderson I took reference on painting application and memory images. I do sense some connection with the emotional intense landscape paintings by J.M.W. Turner. From Anselm Kiefer I feel intrigued by the physical intense approach on painted support with found objects and other media. Two australian artists that I am inspired by are Fred Williams for his unique and rather abstract depiction of the australian landscape and by Seana Reilly are for her unique approach with random application of media and the view on artefacts.

Next time:

  • Re-think other ways of constructing landscapes.
  • Paint monochrome only or with further limited palette.
  • Envision that the original landscape image after construction still is visible after re-painting.
  • Paint in a more coherent total image, e.g as the multiple panel image by John Virtue.

 

Reference:

 

 

 

 

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