Recently I was talking about photographs (here & here) and how they have conditioned how we view realist paintings. Hambletonian by George Stubbs is a great painting by a great artist. The question is this, did horses of the 18th century really look like this? Obviously the patrons and horse owners of the time thought so. The other animal portraits of the time can look to us even more bizarre. I don’t think horses or animals have changed that much, its how we see horses and other animals in paintings which has changed. Degas was influenced by the early photographers and his horse paintings are more familiar to us who are also influenced by photography.
I admire the Dutch School of landscape painters of the 17th century. As with the paintings of George Stubbs, the images are definitely not influenced by photographs. This is particularly noticeable in the skies. Landscape photography celebrates the random and sometimes grotesque patterns found in clouds and yet we are inclined, as landscape painters, to stylize the skies to generic backdrops to balance the composition of landscape.
I am experimenting at the moment with cloud patterns we see in nature and are captured in the frozen images of photography. The difficulty is that there are constraints in painting. Design and composition, balance, harmony etc. etc., are valuable assets in landscape painting. In this painting I’ve tried to push the sky to the edge of apparent total randomness and keep a sense of design and harmony within the composition.
The colours used are a limited palette of: Indian red, Cadmium Yellow & Prussian Blue. Chrome Green Light is also used for the same reasons as Sap Green was used in the last painting. I will have a video of the painting process for the next post. See you then.