Thursday, 21 August 2014

Contre jours


Thumbing through a back issue of the SAA's magazine "Paint" I came across an article by Paul Apps in which he explained how he did a contre-jour painting in oils of Venice. Contre jours simply means "into the light" and although this is something I've done in photography, it is something I've never attempted with my art.  I was very interested in the article and the evocative descriptions of the intense light on the water but tossed it to one side as I don't do oils.

However, the image stayed in my mind especially the bright highlights on the water and the muted, almost non-existent colours of the city behind, and eventually I mused "why does it have to be in oils .... why not graphite?". In my opinion, graphite is underrated and underused for landscape and seascape work so I decided I'd have-a-go and see what I could make of it.

I used artistic licence to darken the sky considerably from the light, twilit sky in the reference photo, and it's been necessary to darken the water too, in order to make those highlights sing. The end result gives a much darker picture but I'd like to think it's captured the atmosphere of a day drawing to its close.

This probably sounds like a very silly thing to say, but while making this picture I felt less as if I was drawing and more as if I was 'painting with pencil'. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

14 comments:

  1. Hi John.
    A fantastic drawing mate. Beautifuly done. I do like pencil work, and this one is wonderful.
    All the best John.
    Vic.

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  2. A superb piece of work John. The decision to darken the surrounding areas was absolutely the right thing to do, and it has created a wonderful feeling of strong light.

    No, it doesn't sound silly to say that you were painting with pencil. That is all about tonal values and not at all about line. We talk about painting in pastels, and I think you are using pencil in the same way here.

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    1. I'd never thought of it that way before Keith. Thank you.

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  3. The highlights are definitely singing, John. An excellent drawing...!!!!

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  4. This will be one of my favorite drawings. Love the scene, the feeling and the technique..

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    1. That's very kind of you BJ, I'm glad you like it. Thank you.

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  5. I agree that graphite and charcoal too, are used enough. Your painting looks very dramatic

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  6. Beautiful drawing John! Lovely shading! Found your blog! Hope I have the right addy in my contacts now! LOL Pat V.

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    1. Glad you like the drawing Pat. Bear in mind that the contact form here won't work when my web site is down. Check here for announcements but you'll still need to use my usual email addy if you want to get in touch. Take care.

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  7. Looks good. Great composition. Did you take the reference photo too? Or was that from the article?

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    1. Thanks Sue. I used the reference photo from the article. Like you, I was impressed with the composition.

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