Reflective Journal Week 14, 29 Dec – 4 Jan 2020

I cannot tell whether it was good or not. I gave up the “social” in the three S concept and selected to focus on “study” and “sleep”. The last one is now very likely to be ditched away as well. Anyway, happy new year!

I am happily announcing that the Spanish part of the book is now finished. I have put all the illustrations below. Comparing to the composition design on the sketchbook that posted last week, some changes can actually be seen.

I have changed the font size to 12pt on the file. I don’t know whether it was correct, however weeks of data collecting suggested people interested in my work are mostly aged 40s above. Images and text on the website can be zoomed in, not on physical prints. Although it might be damage to the visual effect and reduced the harmony of the composition, in the case where digital edition was provided, I believe I should focus on the readers’ experience on my book.

The illustration on the cover page of the Spanish part was based on a squared paper. Experiments suggested it might not be suitable when being placed on standard format postcards. Thus, I reevaluated the following images that will be produced for the English landscape, as they will be printed as postcards as well. However, the detail-focused painting of the Spanish scene already decided that A5 size should be chosen instead of the traditional smaller format(experiments were done).

Although I intended to look into continental landscape paintings, the recent study of Hudson River School really opened up an attractive timeline for me. I have not chosen to study it immediately due to the deadline. But by accident, I saw the work of American painter William Merritt Chase. Chase served in the Navy, then moved to New York. Later in his life, he studied in German.

His utilisation of colourful and bright paint as the foundation of the floating air on canvas creates joyful scenes reflecting experiences in the countryside. Some interior life-drawing of his demonstrated a flexible control of atmosphere building. The Americans’ appreciation of families reflected on his themes as well. Some of his scenes of the daily indoor scene really reminded me of the famous painting Whistler’s Mother.

Whistlers_Mother_high_res.jpg

The similar personal experiences of these great American artists represented one of the flourishing fields of 19th-century American art. I believe such a trend of worldly scenes is also a reflection of the State’s establishment of its national position in America and its great expanding overseas. This pattern is very similar to genres scenes paintings of the Dutch Golden Age.

The flourishing of a country often reflects on how artists’ production. Before the world entered the era when nations were divided by different ideologies, the transition of painting themes often go through heroic – romantic – idyllic then it declines to quietness as the country. Such a pattern can be seen on the development of English landscapes from 19th – 20th Century as well. It is fascinating to look into how artists understand landscapes in a different era.

Another American painter Abbott Fuller Graves has drawn my attention. Although the lack of data from other samples, his focus on floral scenes and genre themes could support my statement actively. He was born in 1859 and reached his highest in the late 19th Century. The establishment of the nation indeed attracted artists to focus on the dramatically rising living standard and desire of beautiful decorations instead of the romantic conquer of landscapes of Hudson River School.

Giovanni Giacometti was a Swiss painter. He also studied in Munich in the late 19th Century. His work contained a vast range of colour and has the apparent feature of impressionism. The style was extremely close to the maturest form of post-impressionism where artists boldly throw paints on canvas and constructing physical patterns to express layers of objects.

Anders Zorn, a Swedish painter, was researched this week as well. His paintings about open-space water scene with portraits are really inspiring and worth referred to work my works involve with cliffs and coastal scenery. It may not be fully included in the first unit, but such themes are much appreciated by me and will be worked on in the future. Anders Zorn was famous for his master of pencil strokes. He arranges a few stokes to form the watery surface. It is an exquisite technique reflect flexible controlling of simple tools and understanding of figures. The simple style of his sketches brought me ideas regarding keep my picture organised and clear. Zorn’s oil paintings of similar themes are also appreciated.

Swiss art often remains the world how disastrous it can be when ideas were tied up. When I studied the Dutch Golden Age, I was really moved by how a damaged nation can be united quickly by diverse races but guided by the self-discipline of honesty, hard-working and helping each other. Secularised religion of Calvinism kept beneficial qualities for immigrants entered the seven provinces and eliminated what Sebastian Castellio fought against. The historical lesson taught European the tediousness of Medieval religious fanatic. Even the most exceptional quality could be used against people for maintaining one’s power and benefit. The high-pressure ruling of Jean Calvin ultimately, as I believe, was responsible for the absence of Swiss art in history. Despite the fact that Switzerland has been a nation with considerable economic strength and unignorable military forces, the culture of the country will be tied; as the most significant reputation of Swiss culture, the output is their artisan and banking skill. The lesson is still referential to modern society.

Some examples from the sketchbook this week:

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About cechenpaints

An artist, painter, illustrator based in London.