Experimentation: Painting with Natural Paints I Made

After exploring the possibilites of creating paint using natural materials I decided that rather than just putting a blob of it on a page and writing down the ingredients next to it, I would try and use it to paint an image with. In my Sketchbook, I have explored blending the paints and using different mixtures of paint next to one another to create a landscape type image where the shape has been dictated by the shape of a twig.

Some of the paint surfaces are quite textural, others quite smooth, they all have different qualities. At first, I didn’t like the bits in the paints and wanted them to be smoother but actually having little bits of nature on the work that haven’t quite ground up makes the fact that the paint has been handmade more evident. I have used darker and lighter colour outcomes to create highlights and shadows and experimented painting one on top of the other. I had to let some dry before I could paint on top or blend the colours together successfully. It is very satisfying to create an image from paints that you have made yourself. These artworks are deeply connected to nature as not only are they painted using natural paints but they are also made up landscapes dictated by the shapes of natural stick forms that I experimented with previously. Experimentation has been key within my project to explore the possibilites of a relationship between art and nature and to create art that has a connection with it and could portray that to society/the viewer. I will experiment out of my sketchbook as well and maybe think about trying to paint with the natural paints using hand-made natural tools that I have created.

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DRAWING: Twigs Dictating a Landscape Experiments

I decided to draw the landscape experiments that I created by utilising the natural form and shape of the twigs I have found. I feel that by drawing the twigs, the landscape elements of the arrangement have become even clearer. I think the drawings are visually interesting and have more of a connection to nature than if I had made drawings from a stick piece that I had tried to make look like an existing landscape. Nature has created the shape of the landscape and the shape of the skyline. The shape of the sticks is what determines the shape of the landscapes.

I feel that drawing these sticks making up landscapes has allowed me to see the scape they are making up more clearly and I will now use these drawings to make more detailed landscape drawings like I have done from the Beacons previously within this project, the difference being that nature has made up these landscape images and so they will have a deeper connection with it rather than just simply drawing what I see.


Experimenting with the Natural Shape of Twigs: Suggesting Landscapes

In a recent tutorial, my tutor suggested that I let the twigs in my work “be twigs” and stop manipulating them to be something else. Previously, I have bent, snapped and positioned the twigs to make up images of the Brecon Beacons and not used their natural shapes as a tool to create imagery. Here, in these experiments, I have worked with the natural shapes of the twigs and used them to suggest a landscape image.

These suggestions have come from the natural forms of nature itself. The sky line is dictated only by the natural shape of the twig and is not trying to replicate an existing mountain or area and so arguably, these images have a closer connection to nature than the stick drawings I did of the beacons previously in my project. Rather than concealing nature, these experiments are using nature to suggest a more abstract form and are less illustrative. I think they are successful in being simple and minimal and still managing to portray a relation to a landscape but I don’t think they are very aesthetic. Using nature in art as it’s found is something to think about but I don’t really think this is very significant. In my opinion, the problem with my recent work was that I was trying to connect people with nature but using man made acrylic paint and bright unnatural colours. I will experiment with using only natural materials and reflect on the outcomes.


Andy Goldsworthy: Natural Materials

“Andy Goldsworthy is an extraordinary, innovative British artist whose collaborations with nature produce uniquely personal and intense artworks. Using a seemingly endless range of natural materials—snow, ice, leaves, bark, rock, clay, stones, feathers petals, twigs—he creates outdoor sculpture that manifests, however fleeting, a sympathetic contact with the natural world. Before they disappear, or as they disappear, Goldsworthy, records his work in superb colour photographs.”

Even though Andy Goldsworthy creates his work outside in the natural environment, in terms of the materials he uses he is highly influential to my work. Even though I am exploring a connection to nature mostly through painting and drawing, I am using natural materials within my work and his work shows me there are no limits to what I can find out in nature and incorporate into my artwork.

His work physically reconnects people with nature as when they do to see a work of his art they are going out into the natural landscape, he is making people appreciate nature more and want to be connected with it. I want to expose people to nature too but through painting and drawing rather than land art works. Nature being used in art heightens its importance I feel as it is a worthy artistic subject and has been for centuries.

Some of his works made out of natural material are more permanent in the landscape. Seeing these pieces in a natural setting creates an obvious connection between art and nature. So I feel that seeing my work in a studio or gallery with natural material incorporated into it could also create a connection between art and nature and when incorporated into a landscape painting, give a more real sense of the place as it has natural materials from the place embedded within it. I want my work to help people realise the potential of nature as I feel Andy Goldsworthy’s does! It is such a shame that natural world is overlooked by many today and incorporating it into art might prevent it being overlooked so much.


ROMANTIC LANDSCAPES: A lecture by Jon Clarkson

What is my place in the world?

Do I belong there?

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Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea

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Comparing it to a classical Landscape – Richard Wilson, The White Monk 1760-65

Caspar David Friedrich – Morning in the Sudeten Mountains 1810-11

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How does Friedrich’s painting differ from wilsons? Colour palette, mood.

How do the painters think about religion?

Wilson seems more distant from religion than Friedrich. Friedrich is thinking of religion organising our relationship with the natural world.

In Caspar David Friedrich – Monk by the Sea – What time of day is it?

Written about as a lightless dawn. For the monk, the dawn isn’t important as it is for the pair on the mountain in the other piece.

Do you think that this place is real or imaginary?

It is a culmination of experience . Long flat horizon. Empty paintings.

Jan Van Goyen – View of Harlem 1646

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Alternating pattern of light and dark, Colours lighter in the distance, more full of colour in the foreground. There is more cloud perspective than in friedrichs work. Friedrich’s is much flatter. Distance becomes flatter and more immense because there are no markers in it.

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Mark Rothko 1969 – Is there still distance in this picture? Does it look like a place to you? There are similarities to Friedrich’s work. It is stark and there is a fluctuation between flatness and deep space.

There is a lot of fine detail in Friedrich’s Monk by the sea. It makes it look more like a portrait of the place. When you notice a painting has fine detail, you walk in closer to it. Having an intimate relationship with the work. The artist must be thinking about where he wants the spectator to be. The monk isn’t entirely resolved in himself.

What is the relationship between these figures and their surroundings?

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Caspar David Friedrich – The wanderer above the sea of mist

The figure is taking possession of a view, dominating the landscape. He wants to be there and he is in control.

Caspar David Friedrich Chasseur in the Forest

The Chasseur in the Forest 1814

The landscape is dominating the figure here, he has no horse, he is lost and not in control. He’s french, the forest is german. Friedrich is a nationalist. German land rising up against the french invaders. Vulnerable.

Romantic Woodland circa 1824-5 by Francis Danby 1793-1861

Francis Danby – Romantic Woodland landscape 1824-5

Will nature accept us? Romantics think of nature in a more psychological way than an ecological way.

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Anselm Kiefer, Varus 1976 – For Kiefer, Germany begins with Slaughter in the forest.

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Marina Neudecker – Things can change in a day 2009

Models in vitrines suspended in liquid. Does the vitrine intensify the situation or distance you from it? Like a cinema screen, they encourage you to project yourself into the scene.

How does a group rather than a solitary figure alter the confrontation with nature?

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Caspar David Friedrich – Chalk Cliffs at Rugen 1818 – less vulnerable, more people – However, not a strong sense of communication.


A Connection to the Surrounding: Mixing Elements from Nature Into Paint

After attending the exhibition of Anselm Kiefer’s work in the Royal Academy, London: I thought about how he mixes things like lead or rock into paint to create a textured surface and a sense of place. In my work I have been experimenting with sticking nature to the surface of the board I have been working on which does create a sense of the surrounding but I feel that by mixing objects in with the paint, there is a sense of place in every brushstroke, area of the board and mark.

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Here are some experiments that I have produced by mixing nature in with Acrylic paint. I have created these experiments with a view to making pieces with these elements and textures.

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Items mixed into paint in order of image: bits of twig, sycamore seeds, cut up yellow leaves, small hedge leaves, soil/mud and lastly, rocks and pebbles.

Many interested textures are being created from combining natural objects with acrylic paint. This is an incredibly valuable experiment as I feel that I could make a highly successful piece using the knowledge I have gained here. I want to and have been advised to work on a larger scale. I would like to make a large landscape painting including these textures, with nature mixed into the paint and added to the surface. I could also incorporate elements into it that I have played with so far in my work like scratching into surfaces and abstracted shapes and marks.

This experimentation has also encourages me to think about how found objects from a place can be an art piece in their own right and document a surrounding or journey.


Experimenting with Tracing Paper: Mist and Fog Naturally Abstracting a View

Whilst thinking about abstraction within Landscape and how marks can represent realistic Imagery, I thought about the fact that the fog and the thick mist that descends on the Brecon Beacons at home sort of abstracts it and obscures it from view. The fog is dense and you can only just make out the mountains in the distance and the foreground is a lot clearer. I thought about ways in which I could use John Pipers influence and portray a sort of abstracting mist. Tracing Paper was the obvious choice of material to use for this experimentation.

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Here, I have taken photographs of the Beacons and overlayed them with tracing paper to portray a misty effect. The mountains are abstracted in a way and difficult to make out. I have used fine liner pens, white pencil and graphite to draw in a minimal foreground as this is all you would see when looking into a sheet of fog but I have included the influence of my original chosen object to look at by using abstracted shapes and marks to create the foreground of the Landscapes.

I think that these experiments are quite interesting to look at and I think that all experimentation is positive whether it works or not, but I cannot really see a way to progress within my project using the ideas or techniques at work here.