Self Directed Project: Painting For Inspiration

Friday, 30 March 2012

Colour Palette

When remaking The Arnolfini Portrait I feel the best place for me to start it by creating a colour palette for the entire image. I will then try to replicate these colours within my remake while still inkeeping with the styles of the Victorian era in which I wish to set my own image. I want the outcome of this exercise to show how although the two images will look different in style and period set, that the colouring will bring it all back together again, allowing for them my image to be obviously influenced by van Eyck's.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Fitzwilliam Museum Visit: Research

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

To further the research for my final design choices, I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
 as they have a fine selection of Pre-raphealite peices that I wish to reference within my study.
The key painting in the collection with regards to this is 'The Last of England' (1860), by Ford Maddox Brown:

Ford Maddox Brown, The Last of England (1860)
Art Historian Carola Hicks describes that this image, 'suggest's van Eyck's influence more obliquely. Brown set [the image] in a circular wooden frame resembling the mirror, while the subtly distorted perspective of the painting gives the impression that the whole scene is being reflected in a convex lens. The central characters are a couple. . .and they are holding hands; this motif is reinforced a second time by the woman's other hand, which clasps that of a baby otherwise concealed in the folds of her cloak. The painting is an image of marriage as much as that of imigration' [1]. I really like how the influence of such a different painting as the Arnolfini Portrait upon this one has enabled Brown to take his key ideas and symbols from the original to create his own painting that doesn't at all resemble van Eyck's until further research is made. What I find interesting about this is what parts of the original images, visual or symbolic, have been highlighted as most important and influencial.
For instance:
  • It is a couple in love.
  • There is the implication of a child/pregnancy (however not for certain)
  • Symbolism is a very important part of the image.
  • The colour palette is an extension of the symbolism.

[1] Hicks, C (2011). Girl in a Green Gown, The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait. London: Chatto & Windus. pg,175

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Period Setting Ideas: Styling

After choosing 'The Arnolfini Portrait' as the image I wished to re-create I had to decide whether to set it contemporary to the painting of a different period in History.
To set it in the 1400's would by no means be impossible, however I would feel that I have to get it absolutely, perfectly true to the original. So I then started to think of what other periods I could set it in.
I have always been interested in the early 1920's as it was a very turbulent time for changing roles for women and I felt that the symbolism from the image could be interesting to rework into this period.
Some female costume ideas:

While I do really love this period in fashion, there is something about it that doesn't quite work with the ideals and themes of the original Van Eyck painting. A key elements of the original is the supposed pregnancy and whether it is being hidden of not. The silhouettes of this era do not allow for any amount of deception with the dresses, so i think I will consider another period.

The second of my ideas for a period in which to set my remake is during the Victorian/ Edwardian era. With the bustles and full skirts, the hidden pregnancy theme would be better included into the womans costume. Also, the roles of men and women were still relatively similar to the period in which the arnolfini is set as it was before the suffergette movement. I really like the Victorian era as well as it is the period in which one of my favourite Art movements occured, The Pre-Raphaelites. Their contemporary paintings would be a great help in choosing styles of dress and how to dress the setting.
Costume Ideas:

Previous Interpretations

My initial research into creating my own take on the 'Arnolfini Portrait' was to see how other artists had been influenced by it previously.
I have found quite a few paintings already, for instance:

Anthony Brown, image from Willy's Pictures

Martin Rowson, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair-
the Special Relationship
(The Guardian,1996

Linus and the Fell Good Factory,
Juno aka the Arnolfini Portrait (2008)

In images 1 & 2 the majority of the image have been kept the same, i.e. the clothing worn and the basic setting. Image 3, however has been completely reworked in a new era with only the poses of the characters and window placement the same. I dislike the complete disregard for the colour of the original image. What I like about all of these images, is that they have taken the Arnolfini Portrait and used it as a spring board for their own Art and Political statements.
What I have taken away from this study is:
  • The importance of colour when setting in another period.
  • As long as the window (natural lighting) placement is correct then the lighting for the image should work well.
  • The poses of the two characters are very key to getting the image to look right, even when setting it at a different point in time.
  • all of the objects and colours withing the original image are highly symbolic, and while the symbols may have change through history it is still very important to have them/new symbolic objects in my final design.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Final Decision!

After narrowing down my favourite three paintings from the two galleries for this project I have finally come to a decision as to the painting I will style for the photograph at the end of this unit of my SDP.

I have chosen 'The Arnolfini Portrait', Jan van Eyck (1434) There are a few key reasons that I picked this image, most importantly to me is that it has always been one of my very favourite paintings, even from a young age and to be able to put my passion for it into something constructive on the course is a real pleasure which I am very excited about. It also allows me to use the research techniques I learnt doing an Art History A level to further the depth of my knowledge of the painting, which in turn, will create a greater depth to my final image. It is also a beautifully compositioned painting which I am very excited to set up. I feel that a location shoot may be beneficial for this image as it is so clearly set in a bedroom and is greatly influenced by the natural light from the window, which I don't feel could be a achieved in a studio. With regards to this I have been considering a few locations, and will get in contact with them immediately, such as the Russell Cotes Museum, Bournemouth. And I have also been looking into the National Trust owned Kingston Lacy.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Tutorial 1: Styling

Painting for Inspiration                                                                                           22March2012
Tutorial #1
  • Talk to Amy/Jo re: Photoshoot
  • Get a studio/location booked ASAP
  • Chosen image: 'The Arnolfini Portrait' Jan Van Eyck (1434)
    • Good number of characters (don't wan too many, makes it harder to style)
    • Colours are key to the themes and meaning to the image *
    • Research the period in which it is set and consider how these can transfer to a different period; can the symbolism work and be significant in a different era?
    • Modernised.
    • Symbolism within the painting.
    • CAN use photoshop to emphasise

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

My 3 Favourite Images: Styling

Narrowing down my choices of paintings to just three was extremely hard. I found that almost all of the images I had initially chosen had great merits as to why I should choose them as my final piece however the following are the ones that I feel would be the best for this particular styling project due to character numbers to themes and aesthetics.

'The Three Witches from Macbeth'
The Three Witches from Macbeth, D. Gardner (1775) NPG
  • Intense lighting could be achieved in a studio setting.
  • Only three characters.
  • Interesting colour palette, very dark.
  • I also like the composition of the image, very much at the front of the picture plane.
  • Costumes would proved difficult to not look like a  'halloween' costume.
  • If the lighting wasn't quite right the atmosphere would be all wrong (key to the image)
  • Hard to achieve the paintily effect of the image.

'The Arnolfini Portrait'
The Arnolfini Portrait, Jan Van Eyck (1434) NG

  • The subject matter is fascinating.
  • The symbolism and colour themes are the key and could be transferred to other periods.
  • The composition is complex in it's embellishment but simple for the characters but very powerful.
  • I feel that it could be re-interpreted to a different era in a very interesting way. Not purely as simply a 'copy' but as an image in it's own right.
  • There is a lot going on in the image and a lot of props to source.
  • The setting needs to be right but this could prove problematic.
  • The colouring needs to be spot on to make the image work in another era.

'The Beach at Trouville'
The Beach at Trouville, Monet (1870) NG 
  • Only two characters.
  • Simple setting on the beach.
  • Minimal props.
  • Costumes can be source from the archive
  • Parasols already owned

  • Setting would never be exact.
  • Weather/ Clouds would be very hard/ impossible to get just right on the day of the shoot.
  • Outdoor/ Public settings are hard to orchestrate.
  • Hard to achieve paintily effect.
  • Cannot artificially light so the correct time of day would have to be waited for. Allowing only a very small window of time to get everything right.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Everyday Fashion Influenced by Art

When searching further into the influence of works of Art on fashion I discovered this collection oufits that have been selected and inspired by paintings through history. [1] While the outfit are very simple and very modern and not a choice I would make to include in my final photograph, they do show the importance of picking out the key colour from the image and how that alone can link an historic painting to a modern setting:

Gustav Klimt

Mary Cassat


Another interesting site: More High End fashion:


Vivienne Westwood: Portrait

I really like how Fashion is influenced by works of Art and I wanted to include some of the key pieces from Fashion History in my research.

Most notably is the 'Portrait' collect from Vivienne Westwood a/w 1990-1. Westwood has always been known for her embracing of the avant garde and this collection is no exception. What I am most interested by with the collection is that she didn't just simply re-create all of the images into physical garment but was also influenced by furniture and upholstery patterns within the paintings.

Westwood's Interpretation of the
above Painting

François Boucher's portrait of Louis XV's mistress,
Madame de Pompadour, and Westwood Interpretation

Furniture print of Andre Charles Boulle and Westwood stunning
creation in velved and printed gold
A quote from Westwood that really spoke to me is that; '[she takes] something from the past that has a sort of vitality that has never been exploited - like the crinoline - and get very intense. In the end you do something original because you overlay your own ideas.' [1] I am really inspired by this idea. That one could quite easily recreate a painted image in the right era or in modern times but it would be a greater challenge (but also a much more satisfying outcome) to extract the key element of the the image and add to it my own ideas to create a new piece in its own right but that it still clearly drawn from the original.


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Further National Gallery Research

Favoured images :

Joseph Wright 'of Derby', An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (1768)

Degas, Beach Scene (1869-70)

Rubens, Samson and Delilah (1609-10)
Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait (1434)

Delaroche, the Execution of Lady Jane Grey (1833)

These are the images I favoured from the National Gallery. I very much want to remake an image that has a strong sense of story and an interesting background. I wish to find one that has great deal of symbolism as well as I feel that this can be transferred across to any period in which I chose to set it.

The Girl with the Pearl Earring

As soon as this project was set I began to consider other forms of research than just image stills influence by art. One of the first ideas that came to mind was to re-watch the 2003 film, 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring', based on Vermeer's eponymous painting, starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. Not only does is this film centralised around the final painting, where Greit (Johansson) has posed for Vermeer wearing the pearl earring, but there are multiple scenes throughout the film that re-stage others of Vermeer's works.

Vermeer, The Girl with the Pearl Earring (1665)

Scarlett Johansson as The Girl with the Pearl Earring (2003)

I feel that Vermeer's painting communicate well into film and photography due to the subject matter and simple staging. One critic argued that, 'Jan Vermeer's works aren't paintings - they're frozen films, cinematic dramas in paint and canvas.' this was possibly due to the notion that, ' Vermeer is often said to have anticipated photography... There is convincing evidence - in the lucid cold blueish spaces Vermeer paints, the artfully disarranged furniture (a velvet upholstered chair pulled back, a rumpled tablecloth) and the particular quality of his edges, shadows and foreshortening - that he used a camera obscurer.' [1]

Still of the main setting room in the film

Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher (1664-5)

Still from the film


Further National Portrait Gallery Research

Pages from my sketchbook:

A selection of the images that stood out for me at the gallery and some that I sketched.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

National Gallery & National Portrait Gallery, 15th March 2012

On Thursday I took a trip to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery to choose images one of which will become the inspiration for my final styling piece! Knowing this changed the way I went round the gallery from my past visits as I found myself looking at the setting, number of people and whether I could moderise it in a good way. I found that this meant I was looking at an almost entirely different set of paintings that usual.

I was drawn to the following paintings:
National Portrait Gallery

  • The Somerset House Conference, Unidentified Flemish artist (1604)
  • King Charles I & Sir Edward Walker,  Unknown artist (1650)
  • The Three Witches from Macbeth, D. Gardner (1775)
  • Charles Robert Darwin, J. Collier (1881)
  • The Secret of England's Greatness (Queen Victoria Presenting a Bible in the Audience Chamber at Windsor), Thomas Jones Barker (1863)
  • Joseph Southall & Anna Elizabeth, J. Southall (1911)
  • Lady Ottoline Morrell, A. John (1919)
  • Dame Anna Neagale, Barclay (1940)

National Gallery

  • The Ambassadors, Holbein (1533)
  • Mary Magdelene, Savoldo (1535-40)
  • Penelope with the Suitors, Pintoicchio (1509)
  • Charlemagne and the meeting at the Golden Gate, Master of Moulins (1500)
  • St Michael Triumphs over the Devil, Bermejo (1468)
  • The Baptism of Christ, Piero Della Francesco (1450's)
  • A Scene from El Hechizado por Frerza, Goya (1798)
  • The Magdalene Reading, Rogier Van Der Weyden (1468)
  • The Arnolfini Portrait, Jan Van Eyck (1434)
  • The Bathers, Seurat (1884)
  • Samson & Delilah, Rubens (1609-10)
  • The Beach at Trouville, Monet (1870)
  • The Toilet of Venus, Velazquez (1647-51)

Styling Research: Booooooom website 'Remake' Project [2]

After further research into this project I found two more remakes that I really liked. Both are remade to be as accurate to the original painting as possible, with really stunning results. While I have not yet decided whether I want to create a modern take on an image or one that is exact in every way, I have, from these images learnt that I want precision to be the key element in my final photograph.


Van Gogh, Bedroom at Arles (1888)

 Joshua Louis Simon, Bedroom in Arles remake

I particularly like how this image could easily be part of a set for a Van Gogh inspired film, again colouring is key.


 Herbert James Draper, Pot Pourri (1897)

Tania Brassesco and Lazlo Passi Norberto, Pot Pourri remake

Of the entire 'Remake' collection that I have seen this is my favourite. The original painting is stunning and the accuracy of the remake is breathtaking. Every element of the original has been painstakingly put out, from the hair style to the placement of the roses. It is clear just how much time and effort was put into achieving the final outcome.

Styling Research: Booooooom website 'Remake' Project

I am finding the 'Booooooom Remake Project'  truly inspiring for this project. I presented a competition to remake a famous piece of artwork in a photograph and while some entries are mediocre I have found that others are really beautifully devised.

My initial favourites (although I will definitely be researching this collection further) are:


Gustave Courbet, Le Désespéré (1843-5) 

 Stefano Telloni, Le Désespéré remake
I liked this entry as it does very well at being as accurate as possible. One element I would have changed is to have broken down the shirt a little to fit better with the original.


Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (1485)

Julio Cesar León Peña, Birth of Venus remake

While i don't particularly like the outcome of this remake I do like how the artist has portrayed the classical image in a modern setting.


Renee Magritte, The Murderer Threatened (1926-7)

Natalie Pereira, The Murderer Threatened remake

Styling Research: Supper at Emmaus

Once I began to research more images that have been inspired by works of art I found some that I really loved as pieces on their own as well as ones that were very like their original. The first that I looked into was 'Supper at Emmaus', I think that this was highly sucessful mainly down to the colour choices for the costumes and setting and the lighting. I particularly like how although set in modern times it is presented in such a way that the images look almost identical at first glance.

Caravaggio, Supper at Emmaus  (1601)

Jeff Hazelden, Supper at Emmaus 

 From this image I have learmt that lighting is almost as important as the costume choices for this project, as well as future filming projects. once the it has been established, then colours and positions can be chosen as differnt lighting can totally alter the final image.

Time Plan

To organise my time throughout this project I have created a calendar using Microsoft Excel. This incorperates not only my timetabled sessions in uni but also independant study times, trips and also scheduled 'free time'. I feel that this is already helping me to arrange my time in a way that benefits my learning.

Initial important dates are:
  • 12th March - SDP Breifing
  • 13th March - POP Breifing
  • 15th March - National Portrait Gallery and National Gallery Visit
  • 10th April - Courtauld Gallery Visit
  • 13th April - Film Pitches
  • 20th April - 'The Crafty Art of Designing for 'Thrust'' Exhibition, with Pamela Howard , Chichester.
  • 23rd April to 4th March - SDP Film Shoots
  • 1st May - Course Board Meeting
  • 15th May - POP Hand-in
  • 21st May - SDP Hand-in