I won't spoil it for those who don't yet know but will be revealing who went after this Semi Finals episode near the end of this post. (I found myself missing Angela - who went last week - as the episode got under way.)
|David, Jennifer and Alan tackling Movement as the Episode 5 Big Painting Challenge|
It kept reminding me of painting holidays where you always have the painters who want to see what everybody else is getting up to - especially as the competition was "hotting up".
There seemed to be a general consensus that Jennifer and Suman - who had each achieved two free passes to the next round - were the ones to watch as matters progressed with this challenge.
The setting for the Challenge for Episode 5 (iPlayer Link) was very familiar to me. Painters Hall in Little Trinity Lane in the City of London is the home of The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers. The Livery Hall in particular, where the Second Challenge was shot, was where the first few exhibitions of the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize used to be held. So it's very well used to playing host to a painting competition!
|The Briefing for the First Challenge|
The First Challenge - Ballerina dancing
The Big Challenge this week was to paint or draw the body in motion.
Mariella characterised this part of the episode - with a glint in her eye - as "the short warm-up before the main event tomorrow".
The first challenge was to:
- paint or draw a solo dancer performing a series of repeat movements very slowly for two hours - with short breaks
- achieve both a sense of proportion (or as Daphne put it - that the arms, legs and head all belong to the same person!)
- plus a sense of movement
- using the medium of their choice - in two hours
|Jimmy about to enhance the curves of the dancer|
Suman's was probably the most accurate drawing but it didn't flow. That may well have been because she ran into a practical problem of finding that the available paper wasn't suitable for the charcoal which she loves using - and has used a lot in the past challenges. (Dear BBC - there's no excuse for not providing artists with the paper they need!)
I'm not sure Alan is thinking about the composition of his painting before he starts it. I think maybe he'd a got a bit of a gung-ho approach of getting started before he has worked out what happens after he's got something down on paper or canvas. I'd love to see him making much more use of a sketchbook to work out compositions. (Or maybe he does and that gets edited out?)
|Alan with his short challenge painting|
Tips from the Mentors
This week the tips from the mentors seemed to be quite influential in terms of building confidence and introducing new ways of thinking about how to paint
Pascal - who has visibly relaxed as the episodes have progressed (he was even caught smiling and smirking this week!) - took them to Peter's Hill (between St Paul's Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge) to paint people passing.
His technique was to ask them to get away from detail and to simplify and try and capture each person with just one vertical stroke of the brush. That and paint a 100 people!
|The giggles you get after the Mentor asks you to paint 100 people as one stroke|
However, it worked! Both produced convincing monochrome crowd scenes using what I assume was ink and water (see below). This is David's blog post about this episode Big Painting Challenge 5 (Movement) - My Comments which includes comments on this task.
|The 100 people painted one vertical stroke at a time|
The 5th Big Painting Challenge - Swan Lake!
The BIG Painting Challenge of the series to date was to paint a troupe of dancers performed sections from Swan Lake! Like you do....
The artists were being judged on:
- The composition of the painting
- accurate proportions
- a sense of movement
Jennifer and Suman both took a gamble and got stuck in using the techniques they'd just been taught to get a better handle on how to tackle this challenge. It was a pleasure to watch them being visibly stretched in front of our eyes as they incorporated new knowledge into their normal painting styles.
|Easy? Right? Four dancers and a bit of Swan Lake to get down on canvas? No probs!|
I do know however that I'd have been suffering from a bad case of the full blown screaming abdabs if I'd had to listen to Diana Ali doing her rapid fire and incessant crits on paintings during the challenges. She REALLY began to irritate me a lot in this programme. Maybe because she had the two weakest participants in this episode?
Mind you I've always had an aversion to tutors/mentors who've got absolutely no appreciation of how disruptive the volume of their comments is to their concentration and focus of others. Much better are those who talk quietly with the person they are teaching. In terms of the BBC and sound levels for the programme - all they had to do was mike her up so they could pick up comments delivered at a lower level. Mind you that still wouldn't have tackled her rata tat tat delivery. Her comments completely wore me down over the course of the programme. I stopped listening to the content.
|Suman Kaur's painting of the dancers - much liked by the Judges|
- Suman's was wonderful because she had so many dancers in the painting - and they all looked like they were dancing! Plus she controlled her palette so there was some unity to the whole. Pascal's injunction to "stop now" was probably very helpful!
"It's like a map of thinking I think. I just started in one spot, didn't plan it at all" Suman
- Jennifer's painting of just two figures had a wonderful sense of colour and I liked the way she'd used the paint to produce both a sense of volume and movement. Now she's no longer wedded to the dreadful hair extensions, she's becoming a much more interesting painter.
- David's painting of three dancers on their points was quite unlike anything he'd produced previously and was good to look at even if it didn't give any sense of the body in motion. However I think the dancers really liked his painting.
- Jimmy's painting simply didn't look like it was going to work right from the beginning due to composition, perspective, anatomy and colour. I'd have been trying to persuade him to start again. The heavy and unrelated colouration of the background was not helpful and the amount of space given over to the people relative to the pictorial space was very odd. Plus his people seemed rooted to the spot. More time on the sketchbook working out a better composition and colour palette would have been time well spent.
- Alan's painting just didn't work. I'm beginning to think maybe he has no sense of tonal values and issues relating to depth of space. His red curtains killed the painting of the dancers stone dead - they totally distracted from the dancers in the foreground. His dancers were also technically not accurate betraying maybe a lack of observation. On the other hand, he is clearly a painter who likes to have more time to resolve issues and he is probably the most handicapped by the time limit of this competition. Alan wasn't happy with it and to his credit knew it was not a good painting.
The public viewing panel this week were professional dancers. They got to decide who got a pass straight through to the final.
|The panel of professional dancers and the finished paintings|
In terms of the Judges, fewer fireworks this week
- Daphne really liked Jennifer's painting - particularly the composition, colour, proportions and the sheer romance of the painting.
- Predictably Alan's curtains attracted comment and the disjoint between the background and the foreground. As usual David Dibosa's comments were at variance from those made by Daphne and Lachlan. Daphne thought his was the worst painting.
- Jimmy's painting attracted a lot of comments relating to anatomical accuracy and the lack of movement. Judges felt he was the one who was struggling the most.
- Comments on Suman's painting ranged between bold, brave, energetic and a painting with guts
- David was commended by Daphne for his lightness of touch and the composition - for his division of the support using vertical and horizontals which actually contributed to binding the whole painting together
"I think it's a very successful painting" Daphne Todd about David White's painting
The Judges decision - who goes
|The Final Judgement - the judges arrive in the Livery Hall|
(otherwise known as walking out of the corner where there is no door!)
Jimmy Mackellar was the painter who went home - with a flourish. I was tickled pink to hear his closing remarks - addressed to 'proper painters' he knew back home in Glasgow. This is because I know one of them who only realised last week that "our Jimmy" was in the programme - and I know she will be watching this episode!
For those hoping to come after him, he gave the following quotes to his local newspaper
“It really was a life-changing experience. It was the most incredible, challenging and exciting experience of my life, I loved every single minute of it. It took over my life. The production crew were wonderful, the other contestants were lovely and we were like a big family.”
The Big Learning Lessons
I think the big learning lessons from this week's programme are as follows:
- You need to develop your memory skills if you want to paint people doing things. It's important to be able to
- select and "freeze frame" a moment
- sustain engagement with subject matter which is not stationery over several hours
- It is entirely possible and, for most people, absolutely essential to simplify both people and movement in order to create a realistic figurative painting - if painting from observation.
- Potential tricks artists can use to help give a sense of movement were identified as:
- use an off-centre composition
- use looser brushwork
- crop figures at the edge of the canvas to make the viewer believe the action continues beyond the frame
- use gestures and be physical
- be fluid
- don't work too close to the canvas
- Mastery of composition, tonal values and colour palettes are still absolutely vital skills which make an enormous contribution to the success of a painting - no matter what the subject.
I instantly recognised from the trailer where they're going next week for the Final. It looks like they're also going to be painting in the Queen's House at Greenwich and on a boat.
Below is my sketch of the view they will be painting. It's the Canaletto view of Greenwich which you can read all about in my blog post from nearly ten years ago - A Canaletto View - and see my sketch I did at the time below!
| © Katherine Tyrrell A Canaletto View |
(the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich from Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs)
8" x 10", pen and sepia ink and coloured pencil in Moleskine sketchbook
My money is still on Suman to win. She's raised her game a number of times when challenged and I think she is the one who best responds to being put under pressure.
She's also somebody who copes well when she needs to find ways to simplify the subject in front of her to make it both fit the criteria of the challenge - and doable within the time limit!
In other words, she has the best attitude and tactics as well as artistic skills. I shall be really surprised if she doesn't win.
David and Alan are still a tad too literal for me. They are the sort of painters who will greatly enjoy spending many hours deliberating on how best to create a realistic painting (within their style) and getting it just the way they want it. However as this series has proved, getting to grips with the criteria for the challenge and making decisions fast - with no procrastination - is the best way to come out on top.
The unknown is Jennifer - who could either win or produce a mess which ignores the criteria for judging the painting. She's probably the one who has made the most progress in terms of moving outside her comfort zone and she's also very determined to succeed. So who knows what's going to happen?
Who do you think will win? Leave your comments below...
Participant websitesThe websites of the artists who have participated in this series are as follows.
- Suman Kaur - https://sumankaurart.com/ | https://www.instagram.com/87skart/ | https://www.facebook.com/Skart87/
- Jennifer Morrow - http://www.jennifermorrowartist.com
- Alan Tsang https://ats.gallery
- David White https://www.david-white-art.com
Gone but not forgotten
- Lesley Rowe - left Episode 1 http://www.lesleyrowe.co.uk
- Maud Wellington - left Episode 2 http://www.tenartists.co.uk/artists/maud-wellington
- Camilla Frederick - left Episode 3 http://www.camillafrederick.com
- Ruaridh Lever-Hogg - left Episode 4 https://www.lavsco.co.uk/
- Angela Watson - left Episode 4 - no website
- Jimmy McKellar - left Episode 5 http://www.jimmymackellar.com
Others blogging about the series
I've also found links to more people who've been commenting on the series - including the artists themselves
- David White
- Big Painting Challenge 5 (Movement) - My Comments
- The Big Painting Challenge 4 (Portraiture) – My Comments
- Big Painting Challenge 3 (Animals) - My Comments
- Big Painting Challenge - Program 2: Personal Comments
- Tatch the Artist has been providing a commentary - here's
- The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week Four. He argues that going to an art college should never disqualify you from entering a competition like this because art college never teaches you how to draw or paint these days!
- The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week Three
- The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week Two
- The Big Painting Challenge Series Two Week One
SERIES TWOI'm maintaining a list of my blog posts relating to each of the episodes as the series progresses
- The NEW BBC Painting Show - which outlines the process for entering.
- BBC's NEW Big Painting Challenge
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 1 (Still Life)
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 2 (Landscapes)
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 3 (Animals)
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 4 (Portraits)
For those who want to revisit the 2015 Big Painting Challenge you can find all my past blog posts still available - and listed below!
- The Great British Paint-Off: BBC1 searches for best amateur artists
- The Big Painting Challenge starts 22nd February on BBC1
- So what did you think of The Big Painting Challenge?
- The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 2
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 3
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 4
- Review: The Big Painting Challenge - Episode 5
- The Final of The Big Painting Challenge
- The Bigger Picture - the Big Painting Challenge Artists have an Exhibition
- The Big Painting Challenge - the artists' blog posts