Reflective Journal Week 12, 15 Dec – 21 Dec 2019

The major contribution of the week was the confirmation on technical parameters of book designs. According to the previous plan, I have designed two formats, Royale and a customised for the commercial-style illustration book. Also, the format of the artist book was confirmed. Both plans’ feasibility was proved by crafting and experimenting.

However, the efficiency and the amount of work is still huge negativity in this project. I have been considering to reduce pages of the illustration book. After the effort of two nights, the page count didn’t fall but increased to 60 now. Job well-done.
The incident brought anther due evaluation in mind. There is no doubt my time arrangement ability was strictly self-discipline. However, I believe I should work on the problem of continually adding contents. The project has expanded three times larger than the beginning of the semester — it was meant to be a wall of individual paintings.

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After settling down compositions and starting fitting finished paintings in the book, I went back and re-looked some references from the past. Some empty slots on the plan remind me the attempt of “pushing into the region of unknown”; thus it would be a great idea to choose a direction of interest and squash its potential as much as possible.
Establishing an intense atmosphere which helps the audience to blend in is being considered as the primary objective. The series of work only reviews humanity by describing human activities mediately; it was guided by an emotion which longs for human companionship. Firstly, I picked Jakub Schikaneder as the first artist to be reviewed.

Most of Jakub Schikaneder’s work composite a single human figure in the image. The model would often be rendered out of an ambitious background which sometimes strongly shows the influence of Impressionism. The artist was skilled at creating a scene of solitude, but somehow still substantially connected to the other beings. His brilliant manipulating of emotional foundation, in my opinion, was not in correct proportion with his reputation left in the history of art.

As my style of watercolour was dominantly influenced by English landscape paintings, learning from English landscape painters would be essential. I reevaluated my previous study regarding famous war-time artist Paul Nash. Additionally, I looked into his brother John Nash’s work as well. Both of these brothers found their highest during the Great War, and apparently, this phenomenal tragedy basically changed their world view. From a watercolour painting of Paul Nash The Garden at Wood Lane House(1912) that commonly ignored by reviewers, my statement could be strongly supported. The paintings demonstrated a very classical illustrative style — very close to victorian area illustrations. According to my reading experience and several books from my collections of 10s image reference book, I would argue the artist has experimented in the style which commonly adopted by commercial illustrators. It is rare, most of Paul Nash’s watercolour evidently reflect his war-time painting’s uniqueness.

Paul Nash mastered in installing dramatic narratives in cinematic scenes. Scenarios in his painting usually express the unbearable barbarity of the Great War. As the generation born in a peak of the European civilisation, the powerful comparison stroke the artist substantially. The elegance of a well-educated upper class Slade School graduate yet was unable to be hidden by the brutality of the war. He chose to express the catastrophic scenes of the war in a clocked way. The cannon fire at night, the numb facial expressions of soldiers became his tool of shaping ideas. Chaos was always formed by the highlight of irregular and isolated fortifications among well-organised geometrical shapes. The visible influence of the fast development of abstract painting in the early 20th century combined with his documentation of real scenarios further pushed his work into the decisively influential position of modern English art.

His brother John Nash yet focuses more on peaceful scenes. Although he was a war artist as well, his works from the post-war period have brought the field a touch of distinctiveness. Unlike his brother’s cubic painting style, his works often show a smoothness of shaping objects. He often chose to maintain the gloominess of his painting. However, bright colours have been massively applied. His work often reflects the peacefulness of the countryside, and a lasting interest in trees has been developed.

The preciseness in my painting and personality, as well as my fondness to demonstrating the overwhelming strength of nature, decided my interest in works of romanticism. Especially the Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog 1818 by Casper David Friedrich. The famous work shows a conqueror of landscape. It highlights the beauty of humanity when showing a scene that a male figure facing the dominated strength and vastness of nature. Its idea coincides my opinion, although I prefer to focus on the connection of people-to-people and people-to-natural in landscapes. I intended several pieces of this project reveal dramatic scenes as well, Friedrich’s understanding of the relationship between human and nature in Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog is inspiring and worth being studied.

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.