Monday, March 5, 2012

Inspiration Today: Alfred Wallis

Do you know the work of Alfred Wallis?  I didn't either until I found his art in Kettle's Yard in Cambridge. 
He was born in 1855 and died in 1942.  His paintings are an excellent example of naïve art; perspective is ignored and an object's scale is often based on its relative importance in the scene. This gives many of his paintings a map-like quality. Wallis painted his seascapes from memory, in large part because the world of sail he knew was being replaced by steamships. As he himself put it, his subjects were "what use To Bee out of my memery what we may never see again..."[2] Having little money, Wallis improvised with materials, mostly painting on cardboard ripped from packing boxes using a limited palette of paint bought from ships' chandlers.

 I was enamoured by his work and I bought a couple of prints in the gift shop before I left. I have since had them framed.  Sorry the photo above is not the best quality - but the idea here is the inspiration.  I love his colors.  I'm not a boat painter - at all.  My Dad was, and a great one at that... but me - nope, not boats.  The simple palette here of naples yellow, ultramarine blue and black and white are super in my mind.  So, I set off to use Alfred Wallis and his limited palette as inspiration to see what could do. 
The Wonky Teapot
encaustic on panel

For some reason, I could not get the yellow in this photo to look like it does in person.  It really is Naples yellow.  I learned a lot from this Wonky Teapot.. 
  1. Perspective does matter - to me.  I'm so rusty on it that I have to retrain myself.  While I love the  naïve art style... its hard for me to paint that way.
  2. I was so excited to get started that I threw out the idea of starting with a sketch, drawing and figuring out the composition, etc.  Really, all of the important stuff was forgotten.  I just freehanded and dove in. - Not the best way to go.  It set me up for lots of rework and composition issues.
  3. I paint from photos, not from real life.  This one is real life - first attempt and it has its troubles.
  4. Encaustic (wax) painting is difficult ... sometimes the wax just has a mind of its own and you've got to roll with it.  Rolled here... rolled a lot.  Once it gets overworked - it really doesn't want to cooperate
  5. Limited palette - good.

1 comment:

  1. Marji, maybe I just don't know enough to be critical, but no matter what you say about its shortcomings, I LOVE this painting!


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