With the extra time now spent in the house because of lockdown, and continual rain, we have been spring cleaning. A leak in our roof meant we had to clear out our small store room. Whilst going through some boxes I came across my art homework book from Salford Grammar School, from when I was eleven.
I was surprised to see the range of art theory work I had completed. Writing in my last blog about what artwork may have inspired me, I was interested to see how many, without remembering having done them, I still used in my art today.
Here, I was looking at Composition in paintings, starting with the horizon line and then looking at how this effected the composition, examples of what was considered a bad layout and how it could be improved.
This was about fifty nine years ago and nowadays present day art teachers may consider it to be an old fashioned way of looking at things. Today it could be seen to be more beneficial to break these early rules.
Moving on, homeworks were set studying Relative Proportion, including the spaces left around an object. This was to break the monotony of the composition.
Following on from this, we looked at what was described as the pleasant relationship of objects and how they relate to each other.
We moved on to looking at the golden section, a means of placing important items in what was considered its optimal place. This layout is often found in works by many of the great masters from the past.
Many other subjects were covered, including Line, Tone, Colour, Texture and even Emotion in a composition. Some homeworks being more successful than others.
This activity was based on Tone, the degrees of light and shade. It was meant to show how two different colours could have the same tonal value. Some worked better than others.
This homework book is one of the only surviving records of my art lessons at the start of high school. I was surprised at how good my basic grounding was in the subject and feel lucky to have such a good start in my art journey. I went on to study it for O level, A level and at College in Leeds.
I believe a great deal of this knowledge must have helped and influenced me in my artwork that followed and I am grateful for the advice and grounding covered by the teaching staff at my school.
( I noticed my handwriting was no better in those days as well!) LOL
#LSLowry #EdwardHopper #Cezanne #northernart
One of the questions I often get asked during interviews is why I paint the subjects I have chosen This is exceedingly difficult to answer, as often it is a subconscious decision. Certainly, many influences and stimuli are always around us. Visiting exhibitions, childhood experiences, the art books studied or nowadays, television and YouTube are available to view.
This is something I have started to think about recently and it was brought home to me when I posted a painting, I have done of two chess players. Someone commented that it reminded them of Cezanne’s painting of card players.
I had forgotten that whilst studying the Impressionists many years ago I had decided to have a go at copying this painting. I never got to finish this as I realised, I preferred to develop my own style and subject matter. Whether this could have influenced my choice of the composition for my painting I don’t know, although I suppose on reflection, work that I have completed in the past could have had an impact on newer paintings.
My copy of 'The Card Players' by Cezanne and my recent painting of 'Chess players'
Looking back, as a child my parents used to take me and my brothers to Salford market every Saturday morning. My mother would buy her vegetables etc. and my father would swap books on a stall. This environment was the inspiration for my first attempts at oil painting and it seemed a natural development for me to progress onto the precinct that was attached to the market.
On a footnote, all local artists see a lot of the work of L S Lowry and one of his subject matters was Salford Market. I don’t remember seeing much of his work at this young age or if maybe his scenes inspired my choice of compositions. However, I do know that I didn't consciously copy his work.
L S Lowry Market Scene Northern Town and one of my paintings
Moving onto painting people, I admired the work of Edward Hopper, but again the question is, 'Did I start painting my images before seeing his work or afterwards?' All I know is that after painting images myself, it made me appreciate his work more.
A painting by Edward Hopper and my painting
Looking back, it is easy to think that one thing or another has influenced me, but I will never be sure as at the time I just painted what I enjoyed and had no thought of why I chose the images, it’s only when people ask me that I try to analyse my thought process. Maybe I will never really know!