In the studio today I started to work on making some responses to the photos I had taken at both Robin Hood Gardens and The Barbican. As this was my first go at working with the new pictures and I wasn't expecting great things I decided to start off with just a simple figurative sketch based on the picture below.
I chose this picture as I liked the symmetry it contained and the large geometric shapes in the centre.
Here is my first response below;
I then decided to make a sketch that was much looser and I started abstracting the information I liked best and responded to these elements with marks and shapes that instinctively came to me. I also decided that I would go to the photo I most liked from the Barbican session. My work tends to be very grid like with up and down lines occasionally at angles and its quite rare to see a curve in what I do so in many ways this is why I chose this pic to work from. As discussed previously, I don’t want to just sit comfortably re-producing versions of work I have done before that has been successfully. I can do this when I leave my studying. At this stage I very much want to forge new ground and stretch myself so that my practise is fresh.
This is my first response to this photo. The influence of the curves is very obvious straight away. This has also been juxtaposed with some more linear elements from the previous sketch. I suppose that this is working in a similar way to what I did last year on the south bank but importantly I am combing different photos into one sketch rather than different viewed scenes from on site produced sketches. I was also thinking about the triangular shadows cast by the sun on the windows of the flats.
I instinctively felt that the curves in the photo that attracted me should be reproduced using colour rather than the black of the charcoal. I felt this because to me curves in architecture seem much more playful and light. When you look at lots of Brutalism it is a very serious subject, lots of concrete, geometric forms, up and down lines, very masculine and modernists and these elements seem best produced using darker and colder tones. The curves to me are a nice light touch and as they are the opposite of the hard straight up and down edges they should also be produced in definite colours such as mid reds, yellows, oranges etc..
Above is the first sketch using the lighter colours and curves. This is remarkably different to a lot of stuff I normally do. It is much more playful and quite childlike actually. I see these as good qualities. It was Picasso who stated that "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." so I feel that if you can make art that looks like children did it then that may well be a good thing. This playfulness reminded me of many things such as old computer games such as Super Mario Bros but also the work of an artist I much admire Bernard Frize. Below is an example of his work. He appears to approach his painting in a very playful what I would call "painting about painting" approach where his focus is on what he can actually make paint do. he appears to be interested in the qualities of many different types of paint and exploring what he can do with each of them. He’s outcomes are often quite simple, very colourful, playful and he is not afraid to leave lots of unpainted surface for the work to breath.
Here is the second attempt at using colour. For this one I decided to incorporate elements from the other photo and sketches like I did on the earlier black and white one. I felt that the previous playful coloured sketch was just too far removed from my subject matter and the reasons as to why I chose it to inform my work.
I feel that this sketch has worked much better and it is starting to reference my source material much better than the previous effort. The colour has also added something else that is not present in the photos. These are not the tones of brutalism but one could argue that the forms are. Although I quite like this aspect I feel that it is not a direction I really want to pursue at the present. Although I don’t want my final outcomes to be very obviously influenced by brutalism I do want to put across some aspects of Brutalism that attract me to it such as the tonal qualities, the imposing feel and that "future - retro" feel. In light of this I thought it would be a good exercise to start to use some paint and try to mix up some colours that may go forward to final results. That way I could worry about other content at a later date.
Below is the images I chose to base my palette on.
I decided to use acrylic for this task as 1, I had them with me today and 2. they are easier to work with after a shortish break from painting. As I previously discussed about these two photos the grid like structure and muted palette really appeal to me. The colours make the building look tired and worn out, it’s past its prime. This could be seen as an overall view of Brutalism today. Brutalism started out very modern and promising. A new way of living and preserving precious public space for leisure activates but in many ways this "dream" has not become true because the spaces for these leisure activities was used to build office spaces and the buildings themselves did not attract the finances they needed to pay for their up keep so they are very much the epitome of the clichéd "broken dream" and I feel these two photo's capture that perfectly.
Here is my response in creating a palette based on the colours from the two photos. There are some really nice tones here but I think they are a little "light" in value to accurately achieve the effect I want. I'm really after something a bit moodier and harsher. However, this was a good exercise in getting back to painting and trying to mix up some tones.
I had a few small shop bought canvases I had been wanting to use up so I decided that I would put washes on them based on these tones and once dried I could use them to produce a few starter paintings based on principles I had been thinking about today that I explored in the sketches and discussed in the photos.
The photo above of Robin Hood Gardens attracted me most out of all the photos I took. As discussed earlier I feel it captures really many of the things I feel about brutalism.
In the photo I noticed there was a grid formation of doors and windows that was 4 doors wide by 3 floors high. I felt that this grid formation would be a good way to start my painted outcomes tomorrow.