View Full Version : Project: Samuel Palmer

04-07-2008, 05:35 PM
Samuel Palmer- Project

Welcome to the project on Samuel Palmer’s art work. :) I have admired his watercolours and pen and ink drawings for many years. I know many others in the forum love his work too, so I thought it would be a good idea to study his art.

04-07-2008, 05:38 PM
For the practical aspect of the project the challenges are to do one or more of the following:-

1. Copy a work by Samuel Palmer, using the original medium, or use a medium of your own choice.
2. Make an original composition based on Samuel Palmer’s preferred subject matter
3. Use one or more of Samuel Palmer’s techniques in a painting.
4. Add some information, pictures, and /or links to sites on Samuel Palmer.

A new way of seeing.:cool:

Samuel Palmer (1805-1881) was a British artist specialising in landscape, often with figures in the scene. He had a very original personal poetic vision. He was a friend of another important visionary artist, William Blake.
Samuel Palmer’s work is much admired and respected. He is sometimes called an artist’s artist. He specialised in pen and ink, and watercolours, although he also painted in oils, and towards the end of his life, he also took up etching. His subject matter often included shepherds sleeping and other aspects of an idealised rural life, the pastoral. He was involved in an artist’s group calling themselves the ‘Ancients’, Their interests were similar to another artist group of the time called the ‘Nazarenes’.

His techniques included:
1. Use of smooth hot-pressed heavy weight paper, usually Whatman, or Bristol board
2. Combination of transparent watercolour with gouache
3. Sometimes, he used a layer of zinc white on the paper, before painting his watercolours (see pre-Raphaelite project in this forum)
4. Emphasis on form and line
5. Use of brilliant colour hues: ultramarine, traditional earth colours, and the new artificial colours introduced in his time, e.g., cadmium yellow.
6. Painting at night by candlelight

Some of the methods he used in his Watercolours

1. Initial graphite drawing
2. Use of sepia or black ink to strengthen the original lines
3. He preferred to layer his tints rather than pre-mix colours on the palette, although he did mix some colours
4. Work wet over dry, rather than wet-in-wet washes to gain control and precision
5. Preserving the glitter of white paper by having small skips of reserved paper between brush strokes
6. Heighten with body colour
7. Use of gum Arabic and sometimes also egg yolk to thicken paint
8. Variety in brushwork- stippling, hatching, broad sweeps, matt scumbles, thickened highlights, etc

Characteristics of his scenes
1. Dramatic light effects- chiaroscuro
2. Interest in texture- see the curly wool on his sheep
3. Radiant personal vision

Reference: ‘Samuel Palmer: vision and landscape‘, British Museum Press, 2005

I hope this is enough to pique your interest in Samuel Palmer, the man and his art, and to try out some of the challenges!!

Looking forward to seeing your work.:wave:

04-09-2008, 11:33 AM
Here's a 'pastoral' subject I did yesterday, in watercolours, around 6 by 7 ins. Called it, 'buttercup hill'. Based on some photos I took at my local zoo.

04-09-2008, 01:00 PM
YES, yes, yes a thousand times YES!!! this was my next goal.....what joy.....
must go to the laundry mat but I shall return.......

04-10-2008, 12:09 AM
Great to have you on board for this project Azul.

I thought sheep would be uninteresting for art....but now I have started painting them, I find I can't stop...I love them. I did one last night but no photo of it yet. I'll post it tomorrow.

I was going to try painting by candle light, but I couldn't see my colours to mix them!! How did he do it?? Maybe he had really strong candles. I'll need to look for big candles...mine's are just little night-lights. It sounds romantic to paint by candle-light, don't you think?

Here's a pen 'pastoral' from a few years ago.

04-10-2008, 08:28 AM
June - the goats grazing is just about real good, the restful & colorful meadow with the moving animals - admirable. And the pastoral sketch is a joy; the people embracing, and the light bouncing off them and all the lines and faces - wow.

Painting by candle light is one way to get something done after dinner. The initial attempts will probably odd but maybe you'll find the way if you keep on. Yes, is sounds romantic, magical.
Hopefully I'll have something to post.

04-10-2008, 08:35 AM
June these are beautiful works of art. I really enjoy seeing them.
Thanks for starting this program.

Hi Azulparsnip!

I am going to love
researching more about Palmer.
Here's one link to images from an exhibit awhile back on his work

Samuel Palmer (1805–1881): Vision and Landscape
March 7, 2006–May 29, 2006


04-10-2008, 02:00 PM
That is a good link nickel.

I wonder how he got such depth of colour and richness into his paintings. I am in awe...

Today, I was just itching to more. This subject 'inspires' me a lot. Can you tell?:lol:

Here are the two I did by daylight. Still no candles to try night painting. I don't think my night painting would turn out very well.

1. two goats

2. The magnificent laburnum tree.

I think they are more or less finished. I could add more darks but if they look OK I'll maybe leave them.

04-10-2008, 02:03 PM
These are based on photos I took around my local zoo. I think maybe adding egg yolk to make tempera might help the 'richness' effect.

04-11-2008, 08:03 AM
Hi Nickel, that IS a good link.

June those goats are good. I keep looking for a bridge & a troll .

Palmer did like trees, so do I. And the dogwood and apple's are blossoming......Palmer material is everywhere (mostly outside.......)

I did this pen and ink yesterday with lots of nice lines and marks and then ugh.....lost all the details with the water. My pump is primed thought. Hope to get another one today.

I love all the depth and detail in his landscapes/vistas.

04-11-2008, 11:52 AM
Beautiful study of the tree. I really like the realism of the tangle of branches. Also the wash adds to the effect of solidity, I think. Pen and wash is a good medium. Looking forward to your next studies.

Goats are nice to draw and trees too. They're subjects I haven't done much in the past.

I have the flu...so I slept today. My fault for going out in the snow on Sunday morning.

04-11-2008, 08:50 PM
Hi Everyone, Hi June, Hi Azulparsnip!

You both are so creative! I love the two goats and laburnum tree! And hehe bridges and trolls. :lol: ;) I do sometimes wish I had a real goat. You ladies set high goals to reach. Lol., it is suppose to rain again tomorrow. I am just going to have to go for a rainy day painting. Azul your tree is good and strong and realistic. I don't see the water color pulling away from it's interest.

I found another link, it has 11 image links. One I like is to a sketchbook drawing of a funky looking donkey and a tree plus some more of Palmer's work that is just as interesting. I really like how he did the Classical River scene.

June, drink plenty of feel better fluids (hot toddies) and rest.

04-11-2008, 10:52 PM
Just a little warming up exercise to try and find a Palmer mood.


04-14-2008, 08:17 AM
Hi June & Nickel

in a bit of a rush, but squeezed in this value study of Ruth Returned from Gleening - gotta go to work

Nickel - you got the palmer panorama goin' on there :)

04-14-2008, 09:00 AM
Hi Nickel, I like that idea of a moonlight scene.

Hi azul, Ruth 'the gleaner' is really marching across the land.

I took some photos of big clouds in the sky to try some sketches of them later and maybe put them in a painting.

04-14-2008, 01:58 PM
Hi June - I jetted out and when I "landed" at the work site I realized I didn't wish you a get well - so that means I been thinkin' bout ya double and here you are out taking photos. Hope you're feeling better.

04-14-2008, 05:30 PM
Thanks azul. I am a lot better...slept for 2 days. I only nipped out the front door to take the cloud photos...and back in again. Haven't started any new pastorals!!

04-14-2008, 11:24 PM
June - Good.......getting better is the best part of being sick:clap:

I started on Ruth with the brown ink. This is on the back of a cereal box. I saw some awesome brown, black & white drawing done on them in the world wide sketchcrawl forum.

04-14-2008, 11:25 PM
ugh -

04-15-2008, 12:08 AM
Azul, I think pretty good! Don't ugh. I want more. :wave:

Who knew that a laburnum and a golden chain tree where the same?
Not me, and I have a little one I planted two years ago. It's just starting to
bloom. It looks nothing like what June painted. I'll try and get a piccy of the blooms and post it.

Let me tell you a little story, my little ink drawing, lol, somebody asked, is that an ax in that person's hand and did they just kill their dog? :eek: :lol: :wave:

04-15-2008, 03:30 AM
Hi azul, a lovely line drawing. And what is the world-wide sketch crawl? Sounds intriguing.

Nickel, we call them laburnum in Scotland, but I gather other folks call them by various names, including golden chain. It was my favourite tree in my schooldays. (Of course, the seeds are poisonous). The one I drew is in my local zoo. Its in the grounds of Dudley castle and the tree is huge. People like to picnic under it!

04-15-2008, 12:51 PM
I experimented with a colour version of my 'harvest' nocturnal pastoral. Black & white version above. But it didn't turn out quite as I wanted. Probably because I rushed it. :o

I need to come up with a better colour idea. Maybe limited to 2 colours. here it is. 9 by 12 ins, pen & ink wash and then watercolors.:wave:

04-17-2008, 11:11 AM
Nickel - LOL about the dead dog, You could do two versions of the sketch. RightchU are....no more ugh.....(I was ughing cause I forgot to attach in the first post)

June - I like those moonlighters but other colors would be alot different effect for sure.

I got a little something done on Ruth. Who said Palmer was an artist's artist? Didn't somebody post that.....well, I can understand that cause copying this made me see his creative marks and freedom to experiment

04-17-2008, 01:13 PM
Ruth is coming along well.

I see you can buy various additives for watercolours, e.g., irridescent medium (for pearlised affects), texture medium, blending medium. I think I'll try some out.

04-18-2008, 11:37 AM
I think the pearlized could make a nice moonlight effect

Worked on a lino cut yesterday. Not sure I'll get to work on Ruth, gotta work on house:eek:

04-21-2008, 11:29 PM
got a little more done- I've been using the dip pen . It is a nice change from the fountain pen and definitely a nicer line

04-22-2008, 06:17 AM
Its looking fabulous!!

04-29-2008, 08:10 AM
I finished Ruthie last night- gotta scoot to work

04-29-2008, 11:50 AM
Fabulous finish!!! Will you frame it? Looks good for the wall!

What did you learn??

04-29-2008, 07:54 PM
thanks June, yes I think I will frame it to enjoy for a while.
What did I learn? ALOT - I learned to draw what I saw even if it made no sense to me cause the next day or so it would. I liked how the brown ink created the middle tones and then the black and white played it off. I also learned that Samuel Palmer was a playful, freespirited, earth loving guy. I learned about composition.

04-30-2008, 04:41 PM
I did a quick study copy of Palmer's 'cornfield by moonlight' last night. Burning the midnight oil, I worked from 9 to midnight, by electric light though not candle-light!!:lol:

I found it difficult to persuade myself to make those dark areas in the mountains dark enough...but eventually managed. (Using a lot of Payne's grey). I added white gouache to the lights on the corn and I think it makes them stand out against the layered darks. I added a bit of ink to the foreground too. He makes a lot of interesting marks.

Its an intensive way of doing watercolour compared to the rapid washes of contemporary watercolours. It would require work over a few days or even weeks to do a large painting in this style.

My copy is 6 by 8 ins on hot press paper. I may varnish it later. Don't know yet.:confused:

Anyway, here it is.

04-30-2008, 07:33 PM
Azul, your Ruthie turned-out very soft with romantic light! That brown ink worked magic!

June, your moonlight is glowing! I so want to see it if you varnish. I wonder what type he used?