Evaluation of understanding colour
I chose to do this module on understanding colour because I believe if I’m to understand the works of Cezanne it is imperative that I am to understand his treatment of colour. The work of Cezanne has become the focal point of my subject practice and from studying his paintings I can see that the interaction of colour against one another and how it’s perceived by our retina is a key factor in Cezannes method of working. This is evident from the way he utilises tones to shape form to creating distance in perspective through his use of warm and cool hues. Therefore choosing this module would not only broaden my ability to handle colour but also give me a deeper scientific understanding to why and how colour reacts and is perceived in certain ways. In our first lecture we learnt about ‘the elements of colour’ by Johannes Itten. Who explains that in 1679 Isaac Newton using a triangle prism, analysed white sunlight into a spectrum of colour. The seven contrasts are -The contrast of hue- The contrast of light and dark- The contrast of cool and warm- The contrast of saturation. -Simultaneous contrast. -Complimentary contrast.- Contrast of extension (proportions of complimentary pairs are yellow violet 3:1, orange blue2:1, red green, 1:1). We covered the basics where we discussed the three primary colours and how they are not ‘pure’ and mixed with secondaries. Therefore you need to be aware of this when mixing colours, if you want to mix ultramarine with cadmium yellow you could end up with a muddy green because there would be a lot of red in the paint. This is because red Is the complimentary of green. We did many exercises, one consisted of creating a colour to match a magazine cut out using only primary colours, I didn’t find this very challenging because I usually restrict myself to 3 primary colours when painting. However I found it harder when we had to create untrue colours, sometimes using earth colours would help to achieve the correct hue. Yellow would be substituted for yellow ochre, blue for raw umber and red for burnt Siena. We also learnt to mix our own black instead of using synthetic. I found the best mix was 40 ultramarine, 40 crimson and 20 lemon yellow.
The exercise I found most exiting was the last. It made me realise that playing with colour is a science and you can manipulate them in such a way that tricks the eye. What we see isn’t necessarily what’s before us, and we get an insight into how intelligent the result of careful colour placement can be. Colour is perceived differently when placed next to another colour, in this exercise we took two strips of the same hue and shade of purple and placed them onto two different chroma which caused the two identical purple colours to appear different to one another. This also creates an ora of a complimentary colour that is perceived by our retina.
Evaluation of cultural collaboration Marrakech
My practice is currently very much based on the landscapes within Cézanne’s paintings and how he is able to create harmony within nature by simplifying objects to their simplest form and altering our perception of perspective. I found coloration between the landscapes in Cezanne’s paintings and the square and layered buildings that create Marrakech; which could easily construct a cubic painting. I embraced what the city had to offer and I soon began to notice the fundamental difference between Cezanne and Marrakech. Cezanne’s landscapes are very isolated, usually void of humanity whereas Marrakech is a very vibrant, busy city. I found myself concentrating more on documenting the people and what made their culture more than anything else. There was an interesting contrast between the old world and the new, for example; the old square, flat roofed clay houses all which were equipped with satellite dishes. I then started to think about ways to represent this juxtaposition of cultural identities. I also wanted to capture the busyness of the city, by walking through the medina it became clear to me that ink was a massive element to Moroccan culture and would be effective in giving a rushed and primitive element to my drawings. I started to paint landscapes on top of the dyed material I made during the print workshop. The three dye colours I chose to work with was blue pink and green which are known as the three main colours of Marrakech. The vats were made through adding ink and mixing it with boiling water. I would then twist and shape my calico to give my desired pattern and then dip it in the vats, the longer the material was left in there the more vibrant the colour. Once that was done we could re-fold the material and place it in a different colour to give a unique pattern. Within this I was trying to achieve a sense of busyness but also capture that cezannesque landscape of layered geometrical shapes from conflicting viewpoints.
The city is full of colour and this is something I found utterly inspirational and exciting, from the artificial vibrant colours of the dye vats to the raw untrue colours of the architecture. This is something I was desperate to emulate in my own work. I started to use a lot of colour in my prints that were inspired by the Moroccan culture. I developed many skills in the print workshops and I felt this was very important in furthering my practice in terms of incorporating colour and texture. I learnt to use the heat press, batique, dye vats, all of which have altered my perception of what a canvas could be. I am very glad I chose this module, morocco was definitely a culture shock but in an insightful and inspiring way. Not only has this experience given me a solid ground to study from but it has also provided a continuous pool of inspiration that I can continuously draw from within my future projects.
How has the experience influenced my practice.
Both projects have provided me with an enrichment of knowledge and a better understanding of my own project. What I’ve learnt from both projects also continue to influence my practice today. My subject work was initially focused on dissecting the landscapes of Paul Cezanne and understanding what he was trying to convey through his work. The project ‘understanding colour gave me a much more developed and mature understanding on how to manipulate colour. I now always mix my own black when painting rather than use synthetic black, I believe this this gives the painting a more natural quality and is not too distracting a colour when painting. I also feel I have a much more accurate ability to replicate a colour in the real world from a restricted pallet of three primary colours. Whilst painting since the ‘colour module’ I am able to appreciate that there is an intellectual science behind the handling of colour.
I was most impressed by what this module helped me discover about Cezanne. It became clear that colour is an integral part of Cezanne’s practice, his use of colour is his means of transcending the truth of visual experience onto a viewer, it Is clear that he uses the gradual modulation of tone to shape form, he uses warm colours to push subjects forward and cool colours to draw focus away from an object. Cezanne understood that colours behave differently when placed next to each other and this manipulates our perception to create a closer truth of visual experience.
Using more colour in my work has brought my canvases to life, before my pieces resembled a welsh landscape however now since working with oils over acrylic and using more radical colours the canvas became less muted and more representative of the landscapes in the south of france.
This has also been a noticeable change since spending time in Marrakech. The city embodies colour and texture and as a fine artist I found the atmosphere totally encaptivating and I felt an integral need to document this. My work became completely focused on colour, when I returned my landscapes became more vibrant and I started to make prints using inks that showed fluidity of intense colour. I also noticed that there is a difference between the isolation in cezannes landscapes and the busyness and movement in the city of Marrakech. I found this fascinating and realised how important it is for me to document humanity and culture. My work started to change direction, I wanted to document people but apply what I had learnt from cezanne’s use of colour to this. I have also considered means of bringing this sense of chaos and busyness into my work. I wanted to show movement through using paint that had a visceral quality that would cause the boundaries of colour to be distorted. So although my work has developed from landscape to figures it still uses the behaviour of colour and the idea of capturing the truth of visual experience.
CSince my practice is currently very much based on the landscapes within Cezannes paintings and how he is able to create harmony within nature by simplifying objects to their simplest form and altering our perception of perspective, I felt that choosing the ‘cultural collaboration’ field module would be crucial in pushing my practice further. I found coloration between the landscapes in Cezanne’s paintings with the square and layered buildings that create Marrakech; which could easily construct a cubist painting.
However once I was in the city as I embraced what the city had to offer I soon began to notice the fundamental difference between Cezanne and Marrakech. Cezanne’s landscapes are very isolated, usually void of humanity where as Marrakech is a very vibrant lively, busy city. I found myself concentrating more on documenting the people and what made their culture more than anything else. I was fascinated by everyone in the markets forcing onto the tourists this notion of tradition and heritage however most of the people lived a very westernised lifestyle. There was an interesting contrast between the old world and the new, for example; the old square, flat roofed clay houses all equipped with satellite dishes. I then started to think about ways to represent this juxtaposition of cultural identities, I thought their could be a means within the way Cezanne would play with contradicting view points.
I also wanted to capture the busyness of the city, by walking through the city it became clear to me that ink was a massive element to Moroccan culture and would be effective in giving a rushed and primitive element to my drawings. I started to paint landscapes on top of the dyed material I made during the print workshop where I used the Marrakech colours of pink blue and green. Within this I was trying to achieve a sense of busyness but also capture that cezannesque landscape of layered geometrical shapes from conflicting view points.
I made many colourful prints of the Moroccan culture and learnt a lot of new skills in workshops I had never done before, I felt this was really important in furthering my practice in terms of colour and texture, and has altered my perception of what a canvas should be. I am very glad I chose this module, morocco was definitely a culture shock but in an insightful and inspiring way. Not only has this experience given me a solid ground to study from but it has also provided a continuous pool of inspiration that I can continuously draw from within my future projects.
Another new technique I learned through doing this project. Mimaki printing is a process which involves scanning a photographic image or a drawing Into the computer and then a mimaki printer will print your image in high resolution colour onto fabric. I wanted to try out this process because I wanted to experiment with different materials acting as a canvas. I also needed to explore the texture element of the module and I found that my drawings printed onto this material gave my art more substance/another layer.
As I have previously mentioned, I’m focusing on the motion of cultural identity and how does tourism affect this. The more tourists that visit Marrakech looking to find traditional Berber culture the westernised the culture becomes. I have been thinking of ways to create a play with the old and the new. That is why I have been playing with imagery of western girls in traditional head dresses. I started by doing some ink paintings to achieve that primitive, unfinished, old quality that the city has, I also felt that the material added to my concept. I made sure the ink was a bright orange colour to bring in the notion of the vibrancy of the city yet again with the primitive quality.
I also created an oil painting under the same concept but focused on the techniques seen in paintings by Cezanne. I used blues to create an ambiguous outline, and used one directional brush marks and the gradual tonal modulation of similar hues to create form.
I have started to focus on the work of John Sargent. Although I have always loved his work I feel that he is fitting for this module since the artist created a study of paintings out in Morocco, a simple idea but I believe it was effective and in a similar manner that is what I’m aiming to achieve. A simple study of Moroccan cultural identity. Although I am working with the contrast seen in this cultural identity, Sargent was painting at a simpler time and when I look at his work I am always inspired by the artists means of capturing movement and vibrancy along with the general atmosphere of a moment.
This piece in particular ‘feme de gris’ interests me, compositionally he has placed the model in an architectural niche in the open courtyard of a building which appears to date from the eleventh or twelfth century. The model is posed just right off centre conflicting with the geometric pattern on the floor. The model is also most likely from Jewish origin rather than Muslim origin. This gives me ideas as to how I could play with this juxtaposition of cultural identity and the contrast with the old and new world. I photographed a western girl in a similar to the image above, also in a similar architectural composition
my intention is to create a painting in the style of Sargent using a western girl in a headdress to create that contrast in cultural identity.
To push the dyed calico further I took them back to the studio and started to draw some images on top of them using ink. They behaved as my canvas and I worked with the pattern of the dye to enhance my ink drawing. I believe the material of the calico also added to my concept because it had that unfinished messy feel to it, like the atmosphere of the city it is busy, old, careless and almost reckless. I chose my images from photographs in Marrakech and the style was inspired by some artwork that I found out there. Just simple figures made from ink that within one or two brush strokes you achieve an essence of the character and the atmosphere in Marrakech.
I am particular happy with this image as I believe the pattern on the calico work well to compliment the jumbled architecture of the pink city, also in the image you an see the contrast of traditional old buildings and religion with the satellite dishes on the flat roofs. Also we see the old Berber woman in a pink spotted dress.
However if I was to work on top of these again, which I will more than likely do with one of the drawings, I would work into the material of the clothes with some loose stitch work to add to the concept of the busy and haphazard city and it would also bring in the element of texture to my work.