Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Time for planning

"Simply Trixie" ACEO can be bid on here.

Hello dear reader. I had meant to do a post yesterday but it would seem that I ran out of wood again and had to re-load and go grocery shopping and finish up a commission and clean out water troughs and...well, you get the idea. I was busy.
Did that stop me from finding out more about VanGogh? Nope. Did that stop me from doing more sketches? Nope. I was being productive in my absence...really. Stop looking at me like that.

More about Vincent...
There's a common misconception that he was an impulsive artist and just slapped paint on canvas like it was going out of style. That ideas just popped into his head and away he went with no thought for planning or studying. Hate to burst the bubble but those ideas are quite far from the truth. VanGogh was actually a meticulous planner and his thousands of (surviving) study drawings and sketches attest to this. A study for one piece, entitled 'Fishing Boats on the Beach' was a detailed drawing of several fishing boats and in looking closely one can see that each boat has been carefully labelled with the correct colours so that when he went back to paint this scene he could recall which colours went where. There were some instances when he was a bit more impulsive and didn't pre-plan quite so much but detailed drawing and taking notes was largely part of his process. He was very loyal to mainting his drawing skills and realized their importance in becoming a good artist. That said, it has been noted that when it came to painting, unlike many painters, he didn't believe in drawing on his canvas first and instead opted to put paint to blank canvas, relying on working from his sketches. I suspect this is why he found painting so liberating because he had already worked out the nitty-gritties of a piece within his drawing which in and of itself is a time consuming task.

Now, this isn't to say that VanGogh didn't give off the air of being impulsive or, to put it politely, odd. One fellow he used to paint with in Arles was Lieutenant Millet, an officer who passed his time with painting and who was obviously intrigued by VanGogh.
When asked about VanGogh and his artistic excursions with him Millet had this to say "...a strange fellow, impulsive like someone who has lived a long time in the sun of the desert...Sometimes he put his easel up and began to smear away with paints. And that, well, that was no good. This fellow who had great taste and talent for drawing became abnormal as soon as he touched a brush...he painted too broadly, paid no attention to details, did not draw first...he replaced drawing by colours."**
That, dear reader, is saying a mouthful.

So in this regard I don't fit VanGogh's bill. Very rarely do I sketch out my works and I certainly don't do black and white drawings and then label them with the appropriate colours. I don't create smaller versions of the larger works I plan on doing although I do pre-plan a my head. It's difficult to explain but that's just how I work.
That said, I do doodle compulsively if I have a pen or pencil in my hand and there's a piece of paper nearby. It's like those people that suffer from twitches, nail biting and the like, I can't help it and I refuse to break the habit.

Keeping VanGogh's pre-planning in mind last night I did up a sketch from a picture I took this past autumn. I've driven past this spot countless times and every time I find myself staring at this little run-down barn/ shed (I suspect it was a carriage house at one point) and I know that I'd like to do a piece with, at the very least, this building in it. One time I almost drove off the road because I was so focused on it...did I mention I'm fun on road-trips? Anyway, in order to avoid filing a rather large insurance claim I decided to snap a picture of it while my other half was driving. It was a drive by shooting, really.
Below are the fruits of said picture and as I was skecthing this one (done with a cheapy HB pencil and clocking in at about 1 hour...I was watching a movie at the time) I could appreciate the actual act of pre-planning on paper. I don't know that this will turn into a habit of mine but I must admit that it was enjoyable.

So I still have yet to decide what I'll do for this project although I'm leaning towards a landscape. Will it be this one? I dunno. It was interesting in black and white and it might be fun to try and incorporate VanGogh's penchant for colour. Y'know, blue barn, chartreuse grass, red sky...that sort of thing. Can't you just see it now?

** Taken from "Through the Eyes of Vincent VanGogh: Selected Drawings and Paintings by the Great Master"


Katherine said...

Rita - great to see you getting into Van Gogh mode. I'm currently drafting a blog post about all the VG project contributors and will make sure your posts are all included.

Katherine said...

Rita - there's a log of all the contributions to date here

Rita said...

Thanks Katherine!
I did enjoy doing that sketch and I'm finding myself doing more and more of them...maybe it will become a new habit?