Part 4 Project From inside looking out


  1. Chose a view onto the world.
  2. Decide on the purpose of the composition and the mood and atmosphere what you wish to create
  3. Make preliminary drawings and work on your painting in sessions that are at the same time of the day to allow for prevailing light conditions

I was quite constrained with this exercise in that I had no daylight in which to work, so my view onto the world over a period of a couple of days was going to have to be in the dark. As research into this exercise I was very taken by the paintings by Edward Hopper who uses windows and doors to frame his subjects from the outside looking in. Very often this is at  night, so the main light in the painting is of the interior. Given I was in the light looking out on the dark world, I decided to reverse the idea of Hopper and paint in a brightly lit environment looking out onto the night beyond. I chose to paint out our back door from the kitchen. I hoped that the painting would be of a cozy room looking out on a night scene on which the shapes of various outside objects would just be visible by a faint light provided by the open door and the outside light above the door. This outside light shines very dimly because it is mostly covered in a creeping plant. Not ideal if you need to actually go out and see where you are going after dark, but happens to create the ideal diffused light to add a sense of mystery to my composition.

Preliminary sketches

I decided that sitting at an angle to the door would be better than facing straight on. The shape of our kitchen (not being regular) meant that I only had one view-point that would allow me to see out the door and paint, whilst sitting far enough back for the top of the door to make sense (so I was not looking up at it). I decided on a fairly low view-point and set this by sitting on a stool. I tried to map out tones using so-called watercolour crayons however, they didn’t act like they were supposed to and didn’t soften and blend with the addition of water. However they did allow the tonal image to start to emerge. I simplified the wall structure and added a pot plant for interest on the inside with the idea that in bright full light it would contrast well with the soft foliage softly lit on the outside.

I went on to do the same study using acrylics. I was happy with my choice of viewpoint (although as previously stated I wasn’t able to change it really). The acrylic study did highlight the problem I was going to have of portraying the objects outside in a realistic way but with very little colour. The foliage above the door needed to be quite defined as it becomes a focal point in the painting as the eye is drawn to the very dark area in the middle. I then spent some time painting this foliage in degrees of saturation, playing with ways to depict the foliage.

Final Painting

Working with acrylics on acrylic paper using my sketches as guides I painted my final piece over 2 nights. My support was slightly wider than the A3 sketchbook I had been working in, allowing for more wall space to be depicted. I could have cropped the image but I decided to add a picture on the wall to add further interest and also add in an opportunity to harmonise the accent colours through the whole painting. I took some of the orange hues in the pot plant and used them to create the flowers, and the blue vase mirrors the blue of the door mat.

In the Night Garden. Acrylic on acrylic paper


What works..

The painting certainly has an air of ‘cheery inside’ about it, looking out into the night which was what I set out to achieve. I am particularly pleased with the pot plant because I have managed to SCULPT WITH PAINT! The brush strokes are also defining the shape of the broad leaves. It is one of my more successful attempts at using acrylics too. I am also pleased with the way that the subdued light is just lighting up the outside objects. You know they are there but they are not too defined. The foliage of the plant hanging down is less defined than I had originally planned, however with the addition of the wall painting the eye tends to get drawn back and forth between the two oranges. This means the foliage is less of a focal point so I have left the foliage more loosely depicted.

What could be better….

Whilst I am pleased with the height of the view-point, the angle is possibly not steep enough. Whilst the diagonal lines allow a sense of perspective for the viewer, the angles are not particularly striking so the whole painting has a sort of artificial wonkiness about it. Had the viewing angle been more acute, the linear perspective would have been more obvious. The angles of the short sides of the door mat are also not quite right. As such the mat floats up a bit at the back.

What this painting lacks is the energy and fizz of some of the portraits in Part 3. Unfortunately taking an extended break has set me back a little and I feel I am back to old ways of quick investigative work being the better, more loose work. I need to bring this with me on my painting journey again.

Note added after tutor comments on assignment 4: My point above proved right, my tutor saw my better work for this piece as being the two studies that I did, something that I can now see once it has been pointed out, but failed to realise at the time. That really is a bit of a step backwards! I have however managed to regain momentum in this this development in later parts of Part 4!


Part 4 Project From inside looking out

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