Edited by Allison Symes
Images: by Graham MacLean unless otherwise stated
Following on from my post last week where I talked about my love of art, I now turn to the various media used in painting. I will share those I know, talk about the advantages and disadvantages of the techniques, and discuss a little about one of my favourite artists, Edward Seago. More to come on other favourite artists next week.
Drawing using line only.
Skilful employment of this with a minimalist approach is the desire of many an artist. Drawing employing a monochrome approach is easier to give shape and form. Shading is more time consuming and widely employed in portraiture. If one cannot draw one can never succeed with other media.
Pen and Wash
This is a skill developed to an art form in previous centuries as an accurate depiction of what is being seen for military purposes particularly by Engineer and Navigating officers. Winslow Homer, the most famous and best known American Watercolourist, learnt his trade as a Civil War artist.
Edward Seago, arguably Britain’s finest artist of the Twentieth Century, was a staff artist to The British Army in the European and I believe African theatres. Cook’s exploration and botanical study of Australia was accompanied by a skilled artist, Sydney Parkinson. It was his task to bring back accurate drawings and paintings for The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.
Seago’s shear versatility in terms of subjects and techniques in both oil and watercolour medium as well as the subject matter and location is amazing. He covered his native East Anglia, central and Southern Europe, Africa as well as The Falklands and The Antarctic.
In studying his work one can detect the subtle influences of Sir John Arnesby-Brown, Sir William Russell Flint, Brabazon Brabazon. Good twentieth century representational yet still romantic painter and entirely self-taught. Whilst never formally accepted by the RA was certainly good enough to be the art tutor to The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles.
Coloured and Conte crayon.
Accurate fast and simple to use for larger illustrations. Monochrome of course. Work inclined to smear or smudge easily unless very carefully spray fixed.
This is a very beautiful medium covering a vast range of colours . Made from finely ground pigment. Beautiful results although colour mixing difficult. Very inclined to smear and damage unless just the right amount of spray fixer is employed.
This is deceptively simple to use employing the techniques of the white paper coming through the mainly transparent colours used. Very clean and efficient requiring a minimum of equipment and ideal for location plain air painting. There are several pictures here. I hope you enjoy the slideshow.
Gauche is opaque watercolour using a filler . Quick and easy to use but rendering a somewhat dead appearance. Much used by technical illustrators.
This is pigment across the whole range of traditional oil colours and more (chemical base) mixed with acrylic polymer resin . Water soluble and can be employed in either the opaque or transparent watercolour mode. Very flexible but suffers the almost unavoidable disadvantage of drying far too rapidly especially in hot climates. For this reason more than any other professional artists do not continue with this medium and the resulting work is rather ‘chalky’ in appearance and the colours just not quite so good as that achieved by using oils. Again, I hope you enjoy the slideshow.
This medium was developed and perfected by the mainly religious. The Italian artists of The Renaissance are probably the most widely known: Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, Rembrandt, Holbein, Rubens and Francisca Goya.
Oil paint is the medium most employed by professional artists and others today. It’s employment rapidly spread to Spain, France,Germany and most famously to Holland. The reason for this being principally for portraiture of members of Royal or noble families and later simply those with the resources to pay the exponents of this skill. Also Landscape painting developed as a separate subject rather than simply being a nobleman and his family’s portrait with the country estate as a backdrop. To be fair this was often well executed by an apprentice but was never the main subject.
Both portrait and landscape painting crossed the Channel quite late but was taken up with enthusiasm and ever increasing skill by such leading exponents as Reynolds, Gainsborough and Constable. Turner is almost a separate subject such was his versatility and virtuoso landscapes in watercolour. You can understand why one of the major prizes in art is named after him.
More next week on my favourite artists.