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DESCRIBING A PAINTING

 

A painting can be studied on several levels and from a variety of perspec­tives.

 

1. The general effect. (The title and name of the artist. The peri­od or trend represented. Does it appear natural and spontaneous or contrived and artificial?)

2. The contents of the picture. (Place, time and setting. The age and physical appearance of the sitter. The accessories, the dress and environment. Any attempt to render the personality and emo­tions of the model. What does the artist accentuate in his subject?)

3. The composition and colouring. (How is the sitter represented? Against what background? Any prevailing format? Is the posture bold or rigid? Do the hands (head, body) look natural and informal? How do the eyes gaze? Does the painter concentrate on the analysis of details? What tints predominate in the colour scheme? Do the colours blend imperceptibly? Are the brushstrokes left visible?)

4. Interpretation and evaluation. (Does it exemplify a high de­gree of artistic skill? What feelings, moods or ideas does it evoke in the viewer?)

 

 

Here are a few examples of how pictures can be described, analyzed, inter­preted and evaluated.

1.

"Lady Elizabeth Delme and Her Children" by Reynolds is a typ­ical family group portrait in the Grand Style of English portrait painting. Lady Delme was the wife of a member of Parliament and belonged to the privileged class of the landed nobility. Here, with an air of apparently casual informality, she is shown on the terrace before her country-house, while behind stretch the broad acres of her family estate.

Reynolds has taken care that the gestures, facial expressions, and poses of his subjects are appropriate to their age, character, and social status. "The joy of a monarch," Dryden once wrote, "for the news of a victory must not be expressed like the ecstasy of a harlequin on the receipt of a letter from his mistress." So, in this portrait, Lady Delme is dignified and gracious, secure in the knowledge of her beauty and wealth. Her son John, aged five, as if sensing the responsibilities of manhood, gazes sternly toward the distant horizon. Her other son, Emelias Henry, in unmasculine skirts as befits his three years, is coy and winsome. The fourth member of the group, the unkempt Skye terrier, is the embodiment of loyal affection. Note the simplicity of the pyramidal design and the low-keyed colour scheme. These features were for Reynolds symbols of dignity and good taste.

 

B

The "Mrs. Sarah Siddons” by Gainsborough has the distinction of being not only a remarkable work of art, but a unique interpretaion of a unique personality. It is not only one of the artist's finest portraits, but also one of the best of the many likenesses of the great tragic actress, who sat to most of the celebrated masters of her day- It was painted in 1783—1785, when the queen of the tragic drama was in her twenty-ninth year and at the zenith of her fame.



An enthusiastic admirer who saw it in the Manchester exhibi­tion of 1857 wrote as follows: "The great tragic actress, who inter­preted the passions with such energy and such feeling, and who felt them so strongly herself, is better portrayed in this simple half-length in her day dress, than in allegorical portraits as the Tragic Muse or in character parts. This portrait is so original, so individu­al, as a poetic expression of character, as a deliberate selection of pose, as bold colour and free handling, that it is like the work of no other painter.

 

C

"Dedham Lock and Mill" (1820)

This is a brilliant example of Constable's view painting at its complete maturity. The salient features of the landscape are treat­ed in sharp relief— even those not strictly necessary— yet they merge perfectly under a serene, perfect light. This painting con­tains, in synthesis, all the elements of landscape which Constable loved best: the river, the boats, the soaked logs, the river vegeta­tion, the sun shining through the foliage of the tall trees, the scenes of rural life and, above all, Dedham Mill. The cultural origins of this work are apparent in the traditional composition, in the use of chiaroscuro, in the way the landscape fades into the distance, after the Dutch manner, and in the complex, laboured palette. The com­pact tree mass in the foreground is blocked in against a sky filled with movement, reflected in the calm and transparent waters over which plays a pallid sun, as we find in Ruisdael.

 

 

D

For Constable I have an affection that goes back to my earliest recollections. In the first years of my childhood, there hung in the halls of my father's house a large steel engraving of "The Corn­field". Often in the long hot summers of the Middle West, I used to lie on the floor, gazing for hours into this English landscape carried from the dry and burning world around me into a vista of blessed coolness, thick verdure, dampness and everlasting peace.

I lived in that picture. To me it was more beautiful than a dream: the boy, flat on the ground drinking from a running brook; the sheep dog waiting patiently with turned head; the ambling flock; the old silent trees; the fat clouds reeking moisture...

Some years later, when I went to London to study pictures, I saw "The Cornfield" and many others by Constable, and my first impressions were confirmed. In his grasp of the stable, one might almost say formidable, repose that man feels in the presence of nature, and in communicating the spiritual contentment induced by companionships with nature, Constable is the master of the English school.


1. In "Midday in Italy", Brullov has depicted an Italian girl, throbbing with the joy of life, harvesting grapes. He painted from na­ture, in the vineyard, and the entire picture is suffused with the hot sun.

2. Perov worked in what was virtually a greyish-brown mono­chrome like most of the Wanderers, who deliberately chose a low-keyed colour scale to counter the flowery ornateness of the drawing-room art of the time.

5. Kramskoi continued the work of Perov in the psychological portrait. Leo Tolstoy was painted by him with deep psychological insight, the entire attention being focussed on rendering the inner world of the great writer. Kramskoi himself always avoided affectation, and in his work, too, there was a certain restraint. The play of light and shade was subtly calculated giving the illusion of transient expression in the face of the sitter.

4. The painter who handled the peasant theme best was probably Savitsky, who treated the subject with great sympathy, and whose paintings convey a profound social message.

5. Vassiliev's "Meadow" is an outstanding example of Russian re­alistic painting. It is handled in big masses, but with all details care­fully finished, especially in the foreground. The colour scheme conveys the dewiness of the grass and air.

6. The art of the Wanderers reached its highest pinnacle in the work of Repin and Surikov. The vivid national character of their paint­ing was evident in subject matter and ideas, as well as in sources and traditions.

7. Ilya Repin's versatility was one of his most astonishing traits A great genre painter, he was at the same time one of our most distinguished portraitists. In addition to his monumental historical canvases, Repin depicted the contemporary revolutionary scene.

8. In the late 1870's Vassili Polenov abandoned historical and battle-scenes in favour of landscape and genre painting, for which he thought his talents better suited. Faithfully and with -great sincerity depicting the surrounding scene, Polenov did his best works including a particularly delightful painting called "Back Yard in Moscow", which is imbued with a freshness and sunlit lyricism not to be found in Russian painting before him. His approach was novel, too. Starting with the homely patch of ground behind a small house of a type very common at that time, he showed the sheds and the well that belonged to it, and in the background, more wooden dwellings and a church with its five golden cupolas and tall, tent-roofed bell tower, the outline of still another church in the distance to the right.

9. Nesterov's soft, predominantly greyish-green tonality, as in the portrait of his daughter, brings together all colours harmoniously. The delicate brush stroke permits Nesterov to combine precise, de­tailed rendering of objects with a remarkable unity of the whole.

10. A great master of lyric landscape was Isaac Levitan. The great variety of his subjects reflects a whole gamut of human emotional experience from a quiet radiant joy to profound sorrow. In his delicate perception of nature and his ability to convey a mood he is somewhat akin to Chekhov.

 

 

Scene Painting Vocabulary: drop: a large flat cloth panel, intended to be flown or hung. often painted, generally made from scenic cotton ("muslin") scrim - a type of cloth with an open weave - used for "see thruogh" and "dissolve" effects. can be painted paint frame: a frame for hanging drops, scrims, etc. to paint them pigment: the "colour" in paint binder: the stuff that makes paint stick medium: whatever dissolves the binder scenic paint: high concentration of pigment in an acrilyc or latex (or combination) binder, soluble in water housepaint: similar, but much lower concentration of pigment oil and laquer based paint: many different kinds which use mediums other than water glaze: a generic term for the many varieties of "clear" finish: essentially medium without pigment flat brush: scenic brush, long bristle, flat ferrule round brush: scenic brush, round ferrule, not common fitch brush: scenic brush, oval ferrule paint rollers and pad brushes: same as for house painting lining stick: a piece of wood with a handle attatched, used to paint straight lines sponge: natural sponges are often used for texturing effects rag roller, cut roller, texture roller: alter a paint roller so that it paints texture rather than just flat paint sprayers: various types, including compressed air, pump (electric sprayer), and low pressure air airbrush: a small paint sprayer, developed for photo-touchup and artwork but sometimes used for scene painting cartoon, layout: the full size drawing of the picture to be painted grid transfer: a method of enlargement. Various projectors (slide projector, opaque projector, etc) are used as well base coat, primer coat, size coat: the first coat of paint, intended to prepare the surface for colour. on scenic cotton, this coat also shrinks the fabric layin: painting large areas of a drop or set piece workup: the "intermediate" stage in painting a drop or set piece finish: the final stage in painting a drop or set piece enhancement: painting dimensional detail with dark and light to compensate for the flattening effect of stage light vignetting: painting the edges a bit darker so that objects or drops seem to "fade to black" wash: a thin, translucent layer of paint. sometimes done with dye, sometimes called a glaze graduated wash: a wash in which two or more colours blend, or in which a wash fades out gradually scumble or wetblend: a wide range of techniques in which two or more colours are blended on the painting surface to create texture spatter: use the brush or a sprayer to splash drops of paint on the surface for texture effects drybrush: use the brush rather like a comb, generally used for woodgrains housepainting: painting as one would a wall in a house - flat, one colour, one or more coats. Not generally done in theatre, but often done for film scenic artist - the person(s) responsible for painting the scenery charge artist: the scenic artist who is responsible for spending the paint budget and supervising the painting scene painter: a scenic artist doing simple work, or an apprentice scenic artist scenic sculpture: dimensional carving, casting, and forming of all kinds. Not always done by painters, but scenic artists are often also sculptors dimensional texture: such as real plaster, or blobs of stuff that will look interesting under stage light - usually done by scenic artists dyes, luminescent paint, metallic paint, etc: scenery may be painted with all kinds of odd stuff for special effects of various kinds

 

 

undercoat: a type of paint that you put on walls first, before you apply a layer of colour. You often use undercoat if you want to paint over a dark coloured wall with a lighter colour. Undercoat is usually white or cream. We need to put some undercoat on this red wall if we don't want the white paint to end up looking pink! matt: a type of paint that is not shiny Do you want matt or gloss paint? gloss: a type of paint that has a shiny or smooth appearance I don't want this wall to have a dull finish. I think gloss paint will work much better than matt. a primary colour: red, yellow or blue. These colours can be mixed together in different ways to make any other colour Children often like bright primary colours but I like more subtle colours. a pastel colour: a pale and soft colour (light pink or yellow, for example) My teenager daughter wants her bedroom decorated in pastel shades of pink and lilac. earth tones: rich dark colours which contain some brown I want strong primary colours but he's more into browns and oranges and all those earth tones.

 


Date: 2015-01-02; view: 2303


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