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Old 11-19-2007, 10:06 AM
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Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites




What this project is


This project looks at the watercolour paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) who were painting around the latter half of the 19th century in Britain (the ‘Golden age of British watercolours’) and suggests some practical project ideas for art works which we can all do.



Why watercolours?


The watercolours of the pre-Raphaelites are almost as intense in colour and subject matter as their oil paintings. But whilst there is a lot of information on the methods used in their oil paintings, (e.g., a book by Townsend: Pre-Raphaelite Painting Techniques- oil paintings) there is little on their watercolour painting techniques. A snippet here and there is all I could find on the web. There seems to be a gap in knowledge.

Thus, investigating at the PRB watercolour methods gives us a chance to do some original research. Plus, there is the enticement that they used a method in their watercolours and oil paintings which they tried to keep secret. Its ‘out’ now, of course, and we can try it out, maybe even incorporate the idea into our own compositions at some point. In addition, I chose watercolours because its relatively easy to pick up a piece of paper and a pan of watercolours and start painting; a study of oil painting would require a lot more in the way of materials and painting knowledge.

Apart from doing one quick demo of a watercolour by Rossetti (The Borgia family) to get us started on this journey, I am essentially a beginner in the study of the Pre-Raphaelites. So we can all contribute research information, PRB web images, and our own practical works inspired by PRB paintings.




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Last edited by artbyjune : 11-19-2007 at 10:45 AM.
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:08 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites



What I will cover to get us started

  • a short list of websites
  • a list of some PRB members
  • snippets on their philosophy concerning art
  • subjects they chose to paint
  • watercolour methods they used
  • a few practical project ideas for us to try out
  • a more in-depth study of one PRB member: i.e., Rossetti
  • demo of a quick study of part of one of Rossetti’s watercolour paintings (The Borgia family- children dancing).





1. useful websites:



http://www.abcgallery.com/R/rossetti/rossetti.html

www.sheffieldgalleries.org.uk
collection of John Ruskin.

www.bmag.org.uk
Edward Burne-Jones.

http://collection.artgallery.nsw.gov...bject&id=35827

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/praf/hd_praf.htm

http://www.nyss.org/watercolor/Shatt...1-history.html

http://www.metmuseum.org/TOAH/HD/bwtr/hd_bwtr.htm






2. significant members


1. Dante Gabriel Rossetti
2. William Holman Hunt
3. John Everett Millais
4. Edward Burne-Jones
5. Ford Maddox Brown


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Life beats down and crushes the soul.... and art reminds you that you have one. Stella Adler

Last edited by artbyjune : 11-19-2007 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:13 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites



3. art philosophy of PRB-

1. they admired medieval Italian frescoes
2. and medieval book illustrations
3. they desired to be true to nature therefore paid attention to minute detail
4. they chose glowing bright jewel-like colours, with an emphasis on pure primaries and glazing to keep colours luminous
5. they aimed for moral and ethical uprightness

4. subjects:-

1. religious, bible stories
2. medieval legend, e.g., King Arthur
3. portraits, mainly of their relatives etc
4. illustrations to poems, Lady of Shalot


5. watercolour methods- they used some or all of these methods in their watercolours

1. glazing over a wet white ground, using Chinese white, newly introduced by Winsor and Newton
2. use of transparent and opaque watercolour in the same painting
3. use of layering/glazing to give colour depth
4. hatching to build up density, richness of colour and shading
5. juxtapositon of colours to get optical mixes of colour (as per pointilism theory)
6. some pre-mixing of colours on the palette
7. scratching-back colour to provide highlights



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Old 11-19-2007, 10:16 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites



6.Practical project ideas:
  • Copy a watercolour by 1 of the PRB, using their methods
  • make a copy using your own method of watercolour painting
  • make a copy using another medium, e.g., copy a watercolour by Rossetti but do it in soft pastels
  • Illustrate a poem/ legend/ or biblical references previously illustrated by PRB but make your own composition based on it
  • study one painting by one PRB artist in depth and talk about symbolism used in this picture and any other interesting tidbits concerning the painting chosen
  • research lives and times and methods of PRB in watercolour and other mediums and post info
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Last edited by artbyjune : 11-19-2007 at 10:50 AM.
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:19 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites



1. Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1828-1882

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/rossetti/index.asp


He was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In his middle years he created vivid watercolours and intricate drawings on themes of love and morality. He is perhaps best known for his images of powerful and mysterious women. These dreamlike and erotic paintings have a magic that still speaks to us today.
Rossetti created a new kind of art. He used colour, design and symbolism to suggest a mood and to convey the ideas that were important to him - female virtue, beauty, sensuality, love, death and destiny.
The romance of the Middle Ages fascinated Rossetti from his early years. As a child he would read Sir Walter Scott's novels and medieval ballads. Medieval subjects appeared in his works from the early 1850s when he
read the legend of King Arthur. Ruskin also encouraged him to study medieval art. After 1856, when he met the young William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, fellow medieval enthusiasts, Rossetti's interest became even more intense.
In 1855 Rossetti was approached by the publisher Edward Moxon to contribute to an illustrated edition of Tennyson's poems. It was published in 1857 with illustrations by many artists, including Millais, Hunt and Rossetti.
Rossetti did not illustrate these poems literally, but evoked their spirit, only sometimes using details mentioned in the text. He often invented his own images, including details derived from manuscript illumination and Flemish painting.
His drawings were transferred on to wood blocks and cut by skilled engravers. Rossetti was not happy with the way his drawings had been cut. Even so, he succeeded in creating a powerful vision of Tennyson's world on a very small scale.
At the same time he continued to create an original vision of the Middle Ages in many other works. These included watercolours and murals at the Oxford Union. They do not attempt to reproduce the reality of medieval life, but to evoke a world of the imagination. They feature intensely glowing colours, playfully inventive details and an emphasis on flatness and surface pattern.
Their rejection of realism or narrative in favour of mood and suggestion make these pioneering works, leading towards the formal abstraction of the Aesthetic Movement.
In the 1850s he met Elizabeth Siddal who became his model, lover and in 1860 his wife. The brief marriage ended tragically when she took an overdose of laudanum. Her death provoked another change in his art, with sensuous portrayals of women painted in luxurious oils replacing literary themes as the focus of his work.



http://www.victorianweb.org/painting/prb/3.html

Rossetti's early short story "Hand and Soul" (1849) also provided a manifesto for Aesthetes and Decadents. It tells the tale of a fictional early Renaissance painter, who, depressed by the failure of his art to improve the world, has a vision in which his soul comes to him in the form of a beautiful woman. She instructs him that he should paint her, his own soul. Such a pronouncement, which provides the program for all Rossetti's later paintings of women, embodies the attenuated romanticism that is the essence of the Aesthetic movement, for it holds that the artist's only duty is to cultivate his own emotions and imagination and then express them.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti


Rossetti acquired an obsession for exotic animals, and in particular wombats. He would frequently ask friends to meet him at the "Wombat's Lair" at the London Zoo in Regent's Park, and would spend hours there himself. Finally, in September 1869, he was to acquire the first of two pet wombats. This shortlived wombat, named "Top", was often brought to the dinner table and allowed to sleep in the large centrepiece of the dinner table during meals.

He is buried at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England. His grave is visited regularly by admirers of his life's work and achievements and this can be seen by fresh flowers placed there regularly


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Old 11-19-2007, 10:27 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

I decided to try the 'secret' technique used by the PRB in watercolours. The method of glazing over a first wet layer of Chinese white. It sounded intriguing and I chose to try it because I did not believe it would work.

Rossetti: The Borgia family, children dancing

Here's a demo. It got me started with PRB watercolour methods, and I think I'd like to try a full painting in this method.


steps

1. traced part of the painting The Borgia Family by D.G. Rossetti
2. used Not surface watercolour paper- some tooth but not too rough (they may have used hotpress paper of smooth paper because they liked very smooth canvas for oils)
3. layered the area to work on firstly in chinese white.
4. whilst the Chinese white was still wet, I glazed the first layer of colour on to it.

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Old 11-19-2007, 10:32 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

next 2 stages of the WIP/demo
Attached Images
  
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:40 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

When the first layer of colour was dry, I added the shading in complementary colours.

I chose a rather dull painting here. Usually the PRB watercolours are full of bright primaries and secondaries, e.g. vermillion, chrome yellow, ultramarine, emerald, purple...

This was the only Rossetti painting I had in a book at home. I think I'd like to go on and copy a brighter painting. It was fun.


Here's a copy from the web of the original Rossetti painting: The Borgia family.




Hope you are inspired to try one of the practical ideas above.

Looking forward to seeing the results.
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Old 11-19-2007, 10:55 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

P.S. My colour palette for this copy was: gold ochre, vermillion, burnt sienna, French ultramarine, Winsor green and deep violet. Plus Chinese white for the first layer.
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Old 11-20-2007, 09:40 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

June this is a wonderful program! Thank you so much for getting it started.
Wow new research! I love it! I have watercolour and ready to get started!

Your examples are great!!!!!

Is it ok to work on artists that are influence
by Rossetti and Burne-Jones and are followers of the Pre-Raphaelites: Frederick Sandys, Henry Holiday, Simeon Solomon, Maria Stillman, John Atkinson Grimshaw, Thomas Matthews Rooke, John Melhuish Strudwick, Eyelyn de Morgan, John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope, Walter Crane, Sir Frank Dicksee,Sidney Harold Meteyard, John William Waterhouse, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Edward Reginald Frampton,Elanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Herbert James Draper, John Liston Byam Shaw, The Hon. John Collier, Frank Cadogan Cowper, I think there are more, but as long as they did watercolour and then also do your suggestions which are so way cool ?

Quote:
artbyjune
  • Copy a watercolour by 1 of the PRB, using their methods
  • make a copy using your own method of watercolour painting
  • make a copy using another medium, e.g., copy a watercolour by Rossetti but do it in soft pastels
  • Illustrate a poem/ legend/ or biblical references previously illustrated by PRB but make your own composition based on it
  • study one painting by one PRB artist in depth and talk about symbolism used in this picture and any other interesting tidbits concerning the painting chosen
  • research lives and times and methods of PRB in watercolour and other mediums and post info


Thanks again, Nickel

Last edited by Nickel : 11-20-2007 at 09:46 AM. Reason: to add more question to my question :O)
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Old 11-20-2007, 10:58 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

Art by all followers of the PRB movement will be really interesting to see. Nickel, there are lots of names there in your list that I don't know so I'm looking forward to more info on them.

Focus on watercolours if possible. But I am fairly loose about it- you could copy an oil painting in watercolours, for example.

Main thing is to study the PRB style and subject matter.
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Old 11-20-2007, 02:46 PM
Nickel Nickel is offline
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

Ok let be the first to say, I'm no watercolour painter............but I am going to try this.

I'll be back with more on this painter and why I picked this painting.

Simeon Solomon
friend of both Rossetti & Burne-Jones*
Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego preserved from the Burning Fiery Furnace

Watercolour signed 10.63

32x23cm //// 12 3/4 x 9 inches

private collection

my attempt

wip



*The Pre-Raphaelites, Christopher Wood
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Old 11-20-2007, 07:05 PM
Nickel Nickel is offline
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

Hi June, here is a copy of the painting I picked.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:S...h_Abednego.JPG

Now I'm not one to be shy, Solomon's life is quiet a story considering he lived in a very strict moral Victorian society. I'm not sure how much I can find out about his actual watercolour method or any painting procedure compared to his more interesting to write about in a historical context, life choices. Solomon explored homosexuality and lesbianism in his artistic work, an example is Sappho and Erinna at Mytelene.




Feb 11, 1873, he was arrested for homosexual offences and shunned by all his former friends. Solomon became a social leper and an alcoholic. Even though he supported himself by selling drawings and pastels of allegorical androgynous heads to undergraduates of Oxford he still died a pauper. His main media was gouach and oil paints to depict Jewish ritual, classical and allegorical subjects. I picked this painting, one the subject topic and two the compositon is pleasing.

And a biography of Simeon Solomon
http://www.artmagick.com/archive/art...=solomon<br />



Nickel
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Old 11-21-2007, 09:01 AM
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

Congratulations on being the first to jump right in there, Nickel!!

I had never heard of Simeon Solomon. It was interesting to read his biography in artmagick- which looks like a good source for information on the pre-Raphaelites. I see they have an art gallery there as well as collections of pre-Raphaelite writings.

I think the diaries of the pre-Raphaelites go into their methods/techniques of painting in more detail. But that would be for the special interest enthusiast amongst us. I haven't done that...yet.

Brilliant start on your WIP of the Solomon painting. I like the original by Solomon- those gold and brown colours look good. And it is an interesting story to illustrate. Plenty of scope for the imagination to interpret.

OK- tell me, did you do the wet Chinese white underlayer technique in this one?

Did you enjoy using your NEW watercolours?
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Old 11-21-2007, 10:38 AM
Nickel Nickel is offline
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Re: Watercolours of the Pre-Raphaelites

Haha, you really want me to confess my woes.........woe is me......I'm ready to take the watercolour back, bad, bad watercolor runs everywhere and makes messes and I turned over my water bottle and lost the lid, and I don't know what I'm doing................. and I know why I paint with oils. I did use deer park water if it helps. Maybe somebody beside me
I used the chinese white. I bought half pans colors and then I got a tube of chinese white. It's not zinc but titanium white no 6. What gives with that So maybe I can blame that... Overall I am having fun! Really! Tomorrow is Turkey Day here in the USA.....
So happy Thanksgiving! Oh! I've started my second copy. I bought 15 sheets of paper to work my water studies. I am planning to make one study with a "Renaissance technique" you and Granby where trying last December. I always wanted to do that. Back to the chinese white, I liked the way it made the watercolour creamier and it gave the color a more pastel look. But is it supppose to do that? It was way more opaque. Did I use tooo much? I hope everyone that is looking at this program understands it's ok to be a newbie like me at doing something. So many people already know how to do stuff perfect. Well I am looking forward to those experts, come on show us what you got! Oh June, glad you liked the magic site. What a name It was funny, I went to the craft store, the only place to buy stuff late, haha 8:30 pm, and asked the guy a question about tape for the watercolour paper and he said he didn't know and he was taking classes for dewberry strokes. and I should take classes too. Wasn't that sweet. Sorry I told him I'd rather make my own mistakes. I should blog that experience Nickel

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