Katherine Ye Hangzhou 2014 Art Class
Unit 2- Painting

Art Unit Two: Painting
Duration: 5 weeks

Hey! I'm Katherine and I'm a student of CIS HK. Welcome to my process journal for unit 2. Currently our unit is on painting, enjoy! Note: Newest posts are at the bottom. Also, none of the photos that I use belong to me (unless I say so)!

Unit Title: Impression, Hangzhou

Key Concept: Communication
Related Concept(s): Innovation, interpretation, representation
Global Context: Personal and cultural expression

Statement of Inquiry: The characteristics of different medias have profound influence on how we respond to the world and how we express ourself.

Your Goal: Create a painting to convey your personal impression or observation of your new environment.

1) Research the works of Toulouse-Lautrec, Vincent Van Gogh and Edward Hopper, and answer the following questions:
A. How do the artists catch the essence of a scene by simplification and exaggeration of certain visual elements and express their personal feeling of their environments?
B. What are the differences between a camera and an artist's eye?
C. Is there any difference between the photographs you've taken of a place and your inner perception and feeling of that place? Why and how?

2) Gather images of the new environment in which we are now living, with your camera.

3) Identify the visual elements in the images that have the most impact on you emotionally, or have an influence on your relationship with, or your feeling about the new environment, either in a positive or a negative away.

4) Draw the images on your sketchbook for a deep understanding and observation, experimenting different possibilities of constructing your composition and exploring ways of realising your ideas.

5) Produce at least three different compositions, discuss with your teacher and chose one of them to create a finished painting on canvas.

6) Experiment with colour mixing and application.

The images influenced your impression of or your emotional relation with a place are not necessarily always a big scale scenery or structure, it could be the colour of a wall, a peace of furniture in your dorm, a corner of the canteen, a passage or corridor... Because of their colour, or shape, or texture, or all the combination. It may make you relaxed, excited, proud, anxious, curious, worried, sad or depressed, but you are not going to use any of these words, you are going to use the visual language only.

Evaluation of Famous Painter #1

Name: Toulouse-Lautrec
Born: 24 November 1864
Death: 9 September 1901
Nationality: French
Occupation: Painter, Printmaker, Draughtsman and Illustrator
Theme: Theatrical Life in Paris

Toulouse-Lautrec's work has a strong depth to the Impressionism, a 19th century art movement originating from a group of artists that are Paris-based including Claude Monet. His artistic style was highly influenced by classical Japanese wood prints, which was popular in art circles of Paris. Toulouse-Lautrec excelled in depicting people by emphasising their lines, giving them great contour, and using bright colours to emphasise the presence of joy.

Toulouse-Lautrec's Paintings

Evaluation of Famous Painter #2
Vincent Van Gogh

Name: Vincent Van Gogh
Born: March 30, 1853
Death: July 29, 1890
Nationality: Dutch
Occupation: Post-Impressionist Painter
Theme: Rough beauty, Emotional honesty and Bold colour

Van Gogh used watercolours to draw and paint. He was known for his bold and dramatic brush strokes, which expressed emotions and added a feeling of movement. In his early years, his drawings are unique because of his depiction of light, landscape and figures that can be appreciated without colour. In his advanced years, Van Gogh was inspired by light, vibrant colours and painted outdoors, changing his style and technique.

Van Gogh's Paintings

Evaluation of Famous Painter #3
Edward Hopper

Name: Edward Hopper
Birth: July 22, 1882
Death: May 15, 1967
Nationality: American
Occupation: Realistic Painter and Printmaker
Theme: Nighthawks, Automat

Edward Hopper's artistic style shows a mood of eerie stillness and his work clearly outlines forms while in strongly defined lighting. He was best known for his oil paintings. Hopper paid careful attention to geometrical design, and carefully placed human figures in proper balance with their environment. He also uses light and shadows, and saturated colours to create and contrast mood.

Edward Hopper's Paintings

Camera vs. Artist's Eye

What are the differences between a camera and an artist's eye?

         The camera's eye is a solid object that can only capture scenes it can see through its front lens, whereas an artists eye is more flexible and is able to choose from an unlimited amount of scenes. Camera's can capture still images as any moment, while an artist's eye is not up to that level of complexity. If the scene seen by an artist's eye is memorable then he or she will try to replicate it to the best of her/his ability, but it won't be the same as how a camera captures scenes.

Is there any difference between your inner perception of photographs you've taken of a place and feeling of that place? Why and how?

        Often photographs cannot capture your true feelings of a place and that is when painting and drawing come in. As mentioned before, paintings and drawings are more flexible and can be manipulated however the artists want to, whereas when a photo is taken the artist is limited to what the screen of the camera can capture. Painters can easily portray their inner perception of places with ease because of that control that they have over their composition by shaping different factors and elements of painting like colour, texture or size. When taking photographs, what is seen of the place on the screen cannot be changed, only the framing and composition can be tweaked. To conclude, paintings allow artists to express their inner perception and feelings of places easier that photographs can.

Colour Mixing

       There are two types of colour mixing- additive and subtractive. In both colour mixing, there are three primary colours , three secondary colours (orange, green, purple), and one tertiary colour made from the three primary colours.  

Additive Mixing

        Additive mixing of colours involve mixing colours of light. The three primary colours are red, green and blue. When there is an absence of colour/no colours are showing, the result is black. When all three of the primary colours are shown, the result is white. If green and red are combined, the result is yellow. When red and blue are combined, the result would be magenta. If blue and green are combined, the result is cyan. Examples of additive mixing used would be in television and computer monitors and it produces a variety of colours by using only the three primary colours.

Additive colour mixing

Subtractive Mixing

        Subtractive mixing of colours is done by removing specific colours. In this type of colour mixing, the three primary colours are yellow, magenta and cyan. Subtractive mixing is opposite of additive mixing, while the absense of colour is white and the when all three primary colours are shown the result is black. The secondary colours are exactly the same as the primary colours in additive mixing, and vice versa. This colour mixing is used to create a wide range of colours when painting and printing on paper.

Subtractive colour mixing

Using Colours on a Canvas

Now we know that subtractive colour mixing will be what we will be doing to paint for this unit. Let's take a look at colour mixing in painting.

Important Vocabulary

The hue of a colour is a simple name we give to a colour.
The intensity of a colour is the strength and the vividness of the colour.
The value of a colour is the lightness or darkness of the colour. I.e. pink is the lighter version of red.
The tint of a colour is the colour plus white, while a shade of a colour is the colour plus black.

Basic Colour Wheel

Warm and Cool Colours

A good use of warm and cool colours on a canvas is extremely important as they can really help an artist portray and evoke strong emotions and feelings.

        Warm colours are made with a combination of orange, red and yellow combination. These colours tend to make you think of the heat and sunlight and they give an illusion as though they come closer or advance. This is why they make large rooms look cozier. Using these colours can help give off a happier emotions. Meanwhile, cool colours like blue and green have the ability to soothe and calm the audience. While warm colours remind us of sunshine, cool colours makes us think of water and sky. Opposite to warm colours, cool colours look as though they recede and they make small room look larger. If you want a small room to look larger, use a cool colour to make it look more spacious.

         It is important to remember that when you're dealing with the two types of colours, you should not just only use one. It's necessary to incorporate both elements to create balance and contract in paintings and drawings. Here is an example:

In this example, a large amount of cool colours blue and green is use but you can see hints of orange and red to balance and create texture. The highlights bring the painting to life, and creates a more realistic effect.

What emotions do colours bring?

There are four main psychological primary colours, and those are red, blue, yellow and green. Each of them relate to the body, the mind, the emotions and the essential balance between all of them in respective order.

RED- Physical

Positive: Physical courage, warmth, strength, stimulation, energy, excitement and 'fight or flight'
Negative: Aggression, strain, defiance and visual impact

Red, being the longest wavelength, is a very powerful colour. It has the property of being able to appear nearer than it is and therefore it grabs our attention first. This is why the colour is used traffic lights. The physical effect it has stimulates us and raises our pulse rate. It is a very strong and basic colour with no subtlety, and can be perceived as aggressive or demanding.

BLUE- Intellectual
Positive: Logic, calm, serenity, coolness, trust, intelligence, duty, efficiency and trust
Negative- Lack of emotion, coldness, and unfriendliness

Blue is a colour of the mind that soothes and affects us mentally, unlike the colour red that has a more physical reaction. Light, soft blue will calm the mind and help with concentration, while strong blues stimulate clear thought. It is a very serene and mentally calming colour and it does not appear to be as close to us as red does After research, it is the world's most favourite colour.

YELLOW- Emotional

Positive: Self-esteem, optimism, friendliness, emotional strength, confidence and creativity
Negative: Emotional fragility, depression, fear, anxiety

Yellow is the strong colour in terms of psychologically because it stimulates emotions. It lifts our spirit and it represent confidence and optimism, but at the same time if it isn't handled well it would cause the self-esteem to lower, which gives rise to fear and anxiety.

GREEN- Balance
Positive: Refreshment, harmony, universal love, balance, peace, restoration, rest, environmental awareness, reassurance
Negative: Blandness, boredom, enervation and stagnation

As the centre of the colour spectrum, green is a colour of balance- an important concept that people may not realise. It strikes the eye in a way that requires no adjustment, therefore it is a restful colour. Green is a reassuring colour because if our world is full of green, is means that there is the presence of water and less of a chance for famine. But, green could represent blandness is not used correctly.

VIOLET- Spiritual

Positive: Luxury, spiritual awareness, truth, vision, quality, containment and authenticity
Negative: Suppression, introversion, inferiority and decadence

Violet is often called purple and has the shortest wavelength. It is a highly introverted colour and inspires meditation or contemplation. This takes your awareness to a realm of spiritual values or higher level of thought. It usually associates with royalty and show the finest quality. It also bring out time, space and cosmos, being the last visible wavelength. Too much of this colour will bring out too much introspection or something cheap and nasty.

Positive: Food, sensuality, fun, passion, warmth, abundance and physical comfort
Negative: Frivolity, deprivation, immaturity and frustration

Because orange is a combination of yellow and red, it stimulates a reaction of the combination of physical and emotional. It draws our mind to issues involving physical comfort like food, shelter, warmth and sensuality. Overall, it is a very fun colour. On the opposite hand, it would focus on the exact opposite, which is deprivation. This occurs when warm orange is used with black, and too much orange can suggest the lack of intellectual values or frivolity.

Positive: Femininity, sexuality, love, physical tranquility, warmth, nurture and survival of the species
Negative: Physical weakness, inhibition, emasculation and emotional claustrophobia

Pink is a colour that affects us physically because it is a tint of red, but it soothes us rather than stimulates. Fun fact: red is the only colour that has separate names for its tints, like pink. Tints of other colours like green are simply called light green. It indicates the feminine principle and it is nurturing and soothing. Too much pink will be too draining and can be emasculating.

Positive: Psychological neutrality
Negative: Lack of energy, depression, lack of confidence, dampness, and hibernation

The only colour that has no psychological properties is pure grey. It is quite suppressive as the virtual absence of colour seems depressing. Heavy use of grey shows fear of exposure and lack of confidence.

Positive: Glamour, efficiency, sophistication, emotional safety and substance
Negative: Menace, coldness, heaviness or oppression

Black is all colours absorbed. It is basically the absence of light because there are no reflected wavelengths and so it can appear menacing. People are afraid of the dark! On the other hand, black communicates absolute clarity, sophistication and excellence. It works extremely well with its opposite, which. It creates the perception of seriousness and weight. For example, look at these two photos below- which box looks heavier/bigger?

Positive: Purity, hygiene, simplicity, sterility, efficiency, cleanness, clarity and sophistication.
Negative: Coldness, unfriendliness, sterility and barriers

As black absorbs, white reflects. It is often a strain to look at this colour because it reflects full force of the spectrum into our eyes and creates a barrier. White is clean and hygienic. White working with warm colour makes them look garish.

Positive: Nature, support, earthiness, warmth, seriousness and reliability.
Negative: Heaviness, lack of humour and sophistication

Brown consists of red, yellow and a lot of black. It a seriousness like black but it is slightly warmer and softer. It associates with the earth and natural world.

Brainstorming ideas for my painting

My Inspiration for my Painting: Vincent Van Gogh

Sketch #1- The Bridge

This is sketch that I did when our art class went out to the river next to the campus to practise drawing. I found this bridge as the most intriguing structure on the river and so I decided to draw it. I think that this would be very easy to incorporate into a painting because of the many textures in the scene- the rough stone bricks, the soft water and the light sky. I could demonstrate many techniques of my inspiration painter, Van Gogh, by using this the colours and brush techniques that he uses. This will be challenging for me because of the many components in the painting, I think that at the same time this sketch strongly portrays my impression of the city of Hangzhou.

Sketch #2- The Track

This is a sketch of the Greentown Yuhua Secondary track, featuring the side of our school’s academic building. I found this as a very beautiful scene and attempted to draw what my eyes saw, but the angles of the field were very challenging to draw. If I chose this as my painting, I could incorporate how Van Gogh paints his trees and stone, but I do not feel like this would really bring my impression of Hangzhou.

Sketch #3- Xi Hu Pagoda

This is a sketch of a photograph that I found online, and it shows a bridge over the waters of Xi Hu leading to a pagoda. In this photo I could easily use Van Gogh’s technique of painting water and water lilies. But, this photo is very generic and it will be difficult to paint the pagoda.

Sketch #4- The good and the bad

This is a sketch that I drew using my imagination and it represents the decision making in that occurs Hangzhou. You have to make sure you choose the right choice. In this sketch there are two sides, one side is happy with lots of nature, which the other side is empty. This shows my impression of hangzhou, but it would be hard to incorporate Van Gogh’s style.

My Final Decision: Sketch #1!

Progress of my painting

Covering the sky with different shades of light blue was the first step to the beginning of my painting. If you look at the upper left corner, you may see that there is this odd discolouration and that is because I started off with the idea of an abstract purple sky, but after painting the corner purple I found that it didn’t look good and so I tried to conceal it. I learned that in order to paint a realistic sky, you have to learn how to use different shades instead of using one solid colour.

I continued the painting by painting the water dark blue with white highlights/accents , and I did this by using small brush strokes. I think that by using that technique I managed to add the right texture and the soft properties that water has. I made sure not to use the same type of blue that I used for my sky for my water.

Then, I added the base layer of beige for my bridge by using long and smooth brush stroke. I waited for that layer to dry, to added another light coat so that the pencil marks underneath were hidden. While waiting, I covered the empty gaps in the water with more strokes of white and blue to create a fuller effect.

I used light dabbing motions to create the leaves of my trees and that created the right soft textures of leaves. I used mixed my own green with yellow and blue, then I added a bit of red on the edges of the tree to create a more 3D effect that livened the trees. I also painted the base layer for the supports of my bridge with a beige that is slightly darker than the body of the bridge.

In this picture you see that a I filled the bottom of the bridge with the colour light brown to create that dark effect, and that added dimension to my bridge.

I have filled in the back wall of the river and the staircase at the lower left have side with the same brown I used for the bottom of the bridge. Then, I added the connections to the supports on top of the bridge with a mustard yellow colour. If you may have noticed, I started to outline the bridge with a thin black layer, but that is later removed (read bellow).

Mr. Tang gave me feedback and said that usually painters don’t ‘outline’ their painting, and he said that I was thinking to much of drawing. So, I attempted to cover up the black lines. He also said that my bridge looked rather flat, and so I added darker shades of beige towards the bottom of the bridge, and highlighted the top of the bridge as where the sun hit.

I have covered all of the parts where is meant to be sky with light blue, and overall my painting look complete. There only needs to be a couple of finishing touches. I changed the colour of the bottom of my bridge to a more reddish brown because it was too similar with the wall below it, and I also painted it with different shades so it gives the bridge a more 3D effect. I added more texture to the wall of the river by making rougher strokes. The staircase the the lower left corner is complete and I outlined the bricks with dark brown.

The steps at the bottom left corner are redone. I used a light khaki colour for the steps for where the light hits and dark khaki for the bricks at the side. This creates more depth and 3D into my painting.

My painting is complete. Because I had extra time to make my painting better, I decided to take a risk and add clouds in my sky. The clouds were not in my original plan, but I decided that my sky was too plain and empty. This class I learned to mix the colour grey from the three primary colours- red, blue and yellow. Simply mixing white and black creates a very dull and dimming effect so I used the three primary colours as an alternative. I made the lightest part of my cloud where the light hit, and shades the bottom with the grey colour that I learned to mix in order to give the clouds a fluffy and light effect.