As I discussed in my last entry, I wanted to spend some time focusing on a simple piece so as to get used to oil. The image, which I photographed on a walk a few months ago, felt fitting as it has a simple subject in focus and a blurry background where I could play around with the paint. In terms of the subject, I love the way the camera focused on the dog and the direction it is going in.
I started off by making sweeping motions across the canvas, which was good at conveying the general sense of movement and start blending the dog into the background. Progressively I went for a more rhythmic approach so as to depict the motion blur of the individual bits of gravel and the different parts of the grass. One technique I enjoyed was to use a thin layer of paint on a small brush and “scratch” the drying surface, sort of like scumbling but on a far smaller scale. I then looked into other ways of conveying motion.
This got me thinking about the idea of brushwork abstraction and how even within plain backgrounds, it can be used to make the painting more interesting¹. One artist that comes to mind is Rembrandt, whose backgrounds are far more complex upon closer inspection.
In the next week, I would like to focus on this idea, and it would also be a good opportunity to practice portraiture. My studio space is allocated right next to an alcove in the wall that stays dark when I'm in since no one in my time slot has a workspace there. I would like to use this area as a backdrop, as this would make the lighting quite dramatic. As such, I can practice abstract brushwork in this background. It'll also be an opportunity to try and not smooth out my strokes, which is something I struggle with especially in portraiture.
¹YouTube. 2019. Maintaining Abstraction In Your Brushwork - Oil Painting Advice. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuuIZdmm-xQ>.
Scott, D., 2020. Movement In Art. [online] Draw Paint Academy. Available at: <https://drawpaintacademy.com/movement/>.
Mirzoeff, N., 2015. How To See The World. Pelican Books.