Expressive monochromatic sketches yield quick results.

Sketches that are expressive and monochromatic...those were key words that attracted my attention in a recent email sent to me from Ivy Newport. Newport, an Oregon artist, posted a free tutorial on her website to advertise her upcoming class on Picasso's blue period.

The tutorial inspired me to paint two sketches of children from Victorian times.

Rejected - monochromatic sketch

                   "Rejected" - mixed media on Canson 9x12 watercolor paper.

Keys to expressive monochromatic sketches

I enjoy experimenting with different styles and techniques, and finding new subjects for my vintage series.

Ivy describes her style in this tutorial as “loose, evoking emotion, and allowing the piece to take form without over-controlling the outcome.”

I usually obsess over the details. I am surprised at how easily I can see the final product taking shape using Ivy's technique.  

From start to finish, the study can be completed in less than an hour, including a bit of drying time here and there. After all, there is only one colour to work with and I am only deciding how light or dark each area should be.

This is a very watery process with lots of drips, something else I love about this process.

Picasso’s blue period

Last year I visited the Picasso Museum in Màlaga and do not remember seeing any paintings from his blue period. It was a bit of a rushed visit, I admit. 

Picasso’s Blue Period (1901-1904) is characterized by his use of a limited palette of blues and greens with occasional touches of warm colours.

Controversy and theories about Picasso monochromatic paintings

Many theories seek to explain Picasso’s use of monochromatic blue.

Picasso, is a man of his time: all explanations appear to stem from this one simple fact.

His art reflects what was happening around him. The blue period is followed by a rose period, and several other periods in his work, all corresponding to what was going on in his world.

This blue period coincides with a dark time in his early twenties.

His best friend commits suicide in 1901. Picasso feels guilty because he sent his lovesick friend, Carlos Casagemas, away from Spain to Paris. It seems Picasso had lost patience with Casagemas and his unrequited love for a French woman. So some theories would say that he felt guilty because he could have been a better friend.

Picasso was poor. Some theorize that he could only afford a few colours and so, he chose blue. However, other art critics maintain that he was poor before this period as well and something else must justify his use of one colour over a three year span.

The artist frequented prostitutes in Paris and witnessed the marginalized in his society whether it was in Spain or in France. His blue paintings are thematically unified. They depict the dispossessed, the vulnerable, the downtrodden members of society including the homeless, the orphans or “street urchins”, the beggars…

Abandoned - monochromatic sketch

                "Abandoned" - mixed media on 9x12 Canson watercolor paper.

One thing is certain. The cold blue tones bring to life the problems of his time whether they are the result of personal issues or of a general malaise in society around him in the early 20th century.

If artists were to portray the malaise of our times, what would it be?

Certainly poverty, abandonment, famine, and war have not been eradicated. The most vulnerable in society as still the ones who suffer the most.

Which images do you think are likely to represent the new millenium?

What do you believe will be most telling about this period in which we live?

2 Responses

  • Love these Louse, you are so clever. 🤗👏👏 A colour for the new millenniums my first thought was black but trying to be more optimistic perhaps I would choose bright pink!m🛍

    • Thank you, Sally. I think blue fits this millennium as well especially when I see the children of war and their suffering. I am remembering the little boy washed up on the beach a few years ago. He and his parents were trying to escape war.And then the image of another little boy stays with me…it is the image of the child sitting quietly in an ambulance after having been rescued from bombed building in Syria.

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