Circular Paintings

For this exercise I was tasked to create five circular paintings using thinned down paint. I could either take a photograph of something inside my house and place a circular viewfinder on top of the image, or make a card viewfinder to hold up to an area inside my house to paint form. I decided to take photographs and then digitally crop them into circles. There was a selection of examples provided by The Open College of Arts to paint from however some seemed a little repetitive, as for example, I has already painted shoes and the contents of a drawer in previous exercises Unusual Painting Media, Lisa Milroy and Painting on a painted surface.

So I decided to veer off slightly and wandered around my house looking for interesting images to capture instead including: sunlight shining on a staircase, natural sponge, unmade bed, dead fly on window sill, bathroom window view, and bedroom window view. I couldn’t quite settle on five so chose six instead. Here is the entire collection of photographs (above) and then corresponding paintings (below). I used a range of watered-down paints including, acrylic and water colour, I specifically wanted to experiment more with watercolour after really enjoying working with it in my response to the works of Virginia Verran.

Natural Sponge

I photographed the sponge as it was already sitting – in a metal bath rack with bubbles beneath. I particularly liked the textures of the bubbles, the sponge, and the strong lines from the metal rack. I started by sketching the image, and then painting the bubbles beneath, the sponge in situ and finally the metal wires.

Dead fly on window sill

Although this subject matter is quite morbid, I couldn’t resist it, as I was wandering around the house trying to figure out what to capture and paint I found this poor little thing sat lifeless on the window sill. Much like with the natural sponge I liked the strong lines, and yet the delicateness of this little housefly, surrounded by a light patter of dust.

Unmade Bed

This felt like a very simplistic response to the photograph of the unmade bed, I sketched out the mage using pencil and then started tracing the lines and shadows using very diluted black acrylic paint. It also took on more of a watercolour painting experience as it was so diluted. I really like the simplicity of this painting though, it’s quite small too, and its like a tiny little glimpse through a binocular lens at my bed.

Sunlight shining on staircase

I really enjoyed painting the stair case using watercolour, I had to remind myself to leave the space for the light shining and the sides of the stair case, and I started by adding only slight layers of colour and then building it up to create shadow. I also then used a fine liner to add in the edges and bends of the stair case. I had previously prepared a selection of paper to work form and had the black paper on the left, in contrast to working with the watercolour and leaving space on the white paper to indicate the light shining, I tried to work in the opposite way, by trying to use the darkness of the paper underneath two signify the shadow and dark lines of the stair case. It’s interesting to see both images aligned in quite different ways. I think though due to wanting to capture the light shining on the stair case the watercolour is the far superior material to use in this instance.

Bathroom window view

I chose this photograph as I really wanted the challenge of trying to depict the frosted glass, I also liked how you could just see behind the glass – the white edges of the window outside, and then the front lawn, a car in the street, the front garden wall. Also I only know this as I know it’s there, the viewer wouldn’t really know what is behind this frosted glass. To create the frosted effect I used a selection of white greys and blacks and gentle flicks of a thin paint brush to create the frosted effect. I also chose to paint on the packing paper as I felt it was a good match for the tiling underneath the window, and wondered if the thin surface might add something to the texture of the frosted window.

Bedroom Window View

Here is the painting of the view from my bedroom window, I painted in the view through the window and the window frame itself (tree, fence, houses etc.) before then lightly going back over the entire image with very watered down grey paint to give the illusion of the net curtain, adding in some stronger lines and hint of blue. I think it’s quite effective although in hindsight it’s perhaps a little too dark and I should have used a very watered down white paint first as opposed to grey.

Looking at the collection together, I feel like I’m detecting an element of voyeurism, looking through windows, and travelling along stairs, in beds and bubble baths. It’s not just documentation as I’ve seen in previous painting exercises. I think especially as the images are captured as tondos they remind me of looking through a camera lens or binocular, I suppose they are all looking through a camera lens as I chose to take photographs to paint from rather than making a viewfinder, I think this in itself has also contributed to the voyeuristic tone.

4 thoughts on “Circular Paintings

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