coloured pencil on Arches HP, 8" x 10"
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Every now and again I try to emulate - in coloured pencil - a work of a master painter. I find it works extremely well in terms of making you really get to know a work. It also helps with understanding more about how somebody works. I don't mean literally in terms of the media used - but rather in terms of how they construct paintings and develop finishes and a 'look'.
Last night I needed a break from writing - so did a drawing based on one of Turner's works - limbering up for my project on Turner later this year! Emulating another artist's works always make me think of a television programme we used to have over here called Stars in their Eyes in which people impersonate singers. I never used to watch it (too painful!) but always remember the catchphrase "Tonight Mathew I'm going to be....."
This particular painting is part of the Turner Bequest and hangs at Tate Britain - you can see here. It's very appropriate for the time of year - being a snowstorm in a seascape. It's also got one of the longest titles for a painting that I've ever seen. It's short title, as used on the Tate website is "Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth". It's proper title is "Snow Storm - Steam-boat off a harbour's mouth making signals in shallow water, and going by the lead. The author was in this storm on the night Ariel left Harwich." Some argue this is Turner's greatest seascape.
What I always marvel at with Turner is how his later works could be hung in any contemporary art gallery and nobody would bat an eyelid. And yet this painting was completed in 1842 and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in the same year.
I found the structure of the vortex interesting to do and finding a way of adding in just enough boat but not too much was tricky. It was also very interesting to note how the drawing and values worked in relation to the golden ratio - see yesterday's post.
Drawing this painting as a study also provided me with an opportunity to work with coloured pencils in the way I like best - and which I'm seeking to develop this year. This felt very comfortable to me but I need to find a way of working on my own reference material for landscapes in a more abstracted way. I might be practising a few more Turners to help 'get my eye in'.
One sour note - I discovered last night that one of my books on Turner (Turner - the life and masterworks by Eric Shanes) has really terrible colour reproduction on some (but not all) of the plates. Shanes is Chair of the Turner Society, an authority in Turner and an author of several books and I'm very surprised that he'd allow colour reproduction like this.