What I saw is a series of sketches of people and situations that I encounter in the city. I’ll be posting once a week.
I’ve been looking at the work of South African artist, William Kentridge. I could look at his drawings and prints endlessly.
He makes short animated films from his prints and drawings. In the video below, he talks about the artist’s role in observing and depicting pain and suffering.
For more videos on Kentridge’s work – and for videos about other artists’ work – see the Art21 website (great resource).
I’ve started dabbling with painting. Sometimes I copy paintings and sometimes I paint from life. This week’s work has reminded me how much it takes to develop a way of seeing.
This apple painting is a copy (unfortunately, I don’t know who the painter is.)
If I’d put an apple on my kitchen table and tried to paint it, I doubt I would have used the dark shadows and background that make the colours of the apple so vibrant. I used the painter’s understanding of composition, tonal values and colour.
When I paint from life, I have a hard time figuring all those things out. And brush strokes. I don’t know which brushes to use, how wet or dry they need to be, how to make the transition between shadow and light and between one colour and another, and all kinds of other things.
There’s an endless amount of stuff to learn about technique and materials. But for me the most important thing is developing a way of seeing.
A year ago, I picked up a pencil and started learning how to draw, first with basic exercises, then copying pictures from books. I try to draw something every day – even if it’s just a doodle. It’s been good – peaceful, actually. My head is quiet when I draw.
Eventually, I want to be able to render subjects accurately. Not because I see myself working in a realistic style, but so that I have some techniques under my belt when I start exploring how I see the world.
My eye is already looking ahead at the work of artists whose way of seeing appeals to me. Joan Eardley (1921 – 1963) is one of those painters. Her landscapes are luminous and sparse and filled with energy.
The BBC website has a great gallery of British artists. I found a slideshow of Eardley’s work there – really worth checking out.
And here is my first painting, a study of an Eardley landscape – my version in black and white, painted with white household latex paint and black ink – what I had on hand.