Giorgio Morandi- Composition

Here is an interesting Quote about still life that was also discussed at the British Museum Visit-“In the hierarchy of genres (or subject types) for art established in the seventeenth century by the French Academy, still life was ranked at the bottom – fifth after history painting, portraiture, genre painting (scenes of everyday life) and landscape. Still life and landscape were considered lowly because they did not involve human subject matter” (Tate).

Giorgio Morandi- Composition

On the surface Giorgio Morandi’s compositions look very simple but according to research I have done this is a deceptive notion Morandi was very obsessive about the placement of objects. He would spend significant time obsessively moving objects around to find the right placement or position. The objects often overlapped or sit tightly next to each other but he would explore various combinations. This was more to do with volume, shape and space of the objects rather than the narrative of the objects. Looking at multiple shapes of the objects he often paints a scene where unrealted objects appear all at the same height or sometime with just one anomyly of one object. The objects lack of hierarchy  of a purpose as they appear just as volumes. There is no identity to the objects or whom or where the objects belong to. The perspective of the painting either looks straight or downwards.

This article in the independent explains it well:

“Take this Still Life from 1953. It presents five objects in a tight group. Morandi shows little interest in their domestic lives. They are removed from any kitchen scenario. The cup, the vase, and the three boxes are little more than a set of solids. Their volumes are made clear, roughly squared or rounded forms. This clear geometry is important to the picture’s central trick. It means that, though we can only partly see some of these objects, we’re able easily to judge their unseen volumes” (Lubbock T).

Tate Still life Art Terms [Online] At:

Lubbock T 2009 Great Works Still Life [Online] At:


Compositional Annalysis of Giorgio Morandi and Pierre Bonnards Interiors and Still Life.

The feedback I recieved from Assignments 1 and 2 were to “Research Giorgio Morandi and analyse his compositions on your blog.  Pierre Bonnard’s interiors / still life- Analyse the structure of foreground / middle / background- then try these in your preparatory drawings”.

Giorgio Morandi 1890-1964

This article on Tate: is a  good overview of Morandi’s Life and description of the painting below.

There is a peacefulness and stillness about Morandis compositions that I enjoy however looking at Morandis compsoitions I feel a little confused as to what is a good composition- the objects in many of the paintings seem purposefully placed centrally which I feel misses a narrative. It is simple object representation painted to capture a sense of the scene. Maybe this is something I need to try- just repeatedly drawing the mundane objects of no perticular meaning or narrative to see what occurs?

This painting in particular and others I have viewed has the objects placed very close together. The foreground has 3 objects that create a geometrical pull to the two objects in the middle ground presenting a 3 to 2 Triangular structure.The background is a an expressive wash of paint implying movement. I noticed that Giorgio Morandi uses alot of muted blues, beige or browns assuming to represnt the wall colour and brown as the wood for the table that reminds me of similar backgrounds by Cezanne and  other Vanitas  still life artists (See blog post on Still Life).

The objects are hinted to be placed on a table in the forground with a subtle hint of shadow in the background that are unrelated to objects in the painting.

Giorgio Morandi, 'Still Life' 1946

Fig 1 Giorio Morandi Still Life 1946

Questioning what is a good composition? has led me to do some research on this subject- what are the rules or description of a good still life composition?


Fig 2 Compositions on Pinterest


Fig 3 Composition Cheat Sheet

I found theese illustration’s and cheat sheets on pinterest and remeber reviewing something similar years ago, interestingly the theory is inside me subconsciously as I have used the triangular and cropped composition in previous still life drawings. I also have identified that Assignmnet 2 has a circular layout following the objects through the cropped composition.

Piere Bonnard 1867-1947

Pierre Bonnard’s paintings have a lot more life about them than Giorgio Morandi. Bonnard uses more pattern and texture that create more complexities to objects and excitement in the environment that surrounds them. The colours are more vibrant and looking at a multitude of images and without knowing anything about the artist there is definitely a Mediterranean feel from the images that I always love in paintings and makes me feel happy.

Looking at Bonnards work against Morandi I have a clear preference for Bonnards exciting paintings. Bonnards work makes me feel alive but Morandis work is dull and depressing. Maybe Morandi’s work can be appreciated more when needing some calm to reflect on in life.

Again the tate have an excellent overview on the painters life and work;

Bonnard is a French born artist  who was a painter and printmaker. He was a founding member of a group of Avande Garde painters known as Les Nabis interested in comtemporary/ post impressionist art and literature.

It has been puzzling me for a while how describe his work. After watching Sky Arts Portrait Artist  of the year 2017 the winners programme Gareth Reid described Bonnards paintings perfectly as “Magic” because its hard to describe or copy how he painted them .


Fig 4 Pierre Bonnard Still Life (no date on reference)

I really like how the main focal point of the plate of fruit is situated in the foreground centrally and the table cloth’s pattern is used in the middle – backgound to pull the viewer into the painting. The very rear top right of the background hints at the interior of the room. There is a sense of touch about this painting that I really like that is emphasised with its soft palate of colour.

not_detected_221960(1).jpg!LargeFig 5 Pierre Bonnard White Interior 1932

The White Interior by Bonnard painted in 1932 is a little trickier to lable a distinctively or decisively. The table and objects are distincly in the foreground and the radiator to outside the door area is the background. The fireplace and floor are definately the middleground however I am debating the white door (centre). Initially I placed it in the middle ground however Im unsure if its intended for the background or a device to pull the viewer to a final viewpoint of the outside door.

Below is a photo taken from my sketch book to show my thought process on interpreting the forground, middleground and background within the composition.


Fig 1 Giorio Morandi Still Life 1946

Fig 2 Compositions featured on Pinterest

Fig 3 Composition Cheat sheet:

Fig 4 Pierre Bonnard Still life (undated)

Fig 5 Pierre Bonnard White Interior

At Home Exercise 3 Material Differences

I really struggled with the brief for exercise 2 and 3 of the at home section. I was completely engrossed in Assignment 2 at the time and after reflection it has really been annoying me that I had not completed this exercise (although I arguably explored the learning points in my sketch book). I really struggled to feel inspired to find just one interior focal point. I started my completing the four sketches (as per exercise 2 Composition an interior) of the place I felt the most drawn too. (my dressing table).ex-2

Exercise 2 Composition an Interior.

I keep trying to push myself to discover my capabilities with differing results. The brief ask me to think of the best materials for the exercise, I find this such a narrow view as I think is no right or wrong material to be used? I like that different pencil, Biro, black ink, coloured pencil and hard pastels can create atmosphere and represent textures differently and successfully. Heavily inspired by the results from the research point- interiors I decided to continue with the idea I had had in my sketch book.


Sketch book Interior research.


My Bedroom Exercise 2 Material Differences. A2 Biro, Pencil, Hard Pastle, Ink and fine pen.

I regretfully wished I used A1 paper and added further sections. I wish I had swapped the top right hard pastel area for the left fine pen area to break up the colour. Again I could explore this idea further… Conscious of moving on with the coursework.


Working on 4.Possible Side Effects

Despite an huge effort to do thumbnail sketch’s and experiment with media, after a sleepless night I often feel I need to execute my idea’s by just starting the final composition.

Layering the package was a process in itself.I purposefully placed the packaging representing the colour that would later be drawn in each area as per the still life in front of me. Then purposefully cut out and placed the “4.possible side effect” wording again according to colour.

From experimenting I quickly found out that when using permanent markers when it goes wrong it would go wrong quickly. I had to be mindful that when mapping out the composition onto the surface every mark could potentially be seen in the finished result. At this point I only had one surface (packaging A2) and not enough packaging to make another large enough if the assignment piece went wrong. Every mark is of course permanent: it cant be re painted, erased, smudged. It can to some degree be gently layered but that then can easily lead to the mark being overworked.

The initial process of drawing the composition was intensely observational extremely slow and thoughtful.Then after the first session of working a major accident happened. I sprayed a small area  with fixative (because of the conte sticks) and the lines drawn by sharpies blurred and were able to be smudge.  Panicking I managed correct the burred lines. However it became the perfect solution to blur the leaves and generate the different colors and tones on the leaves.

I quickly put together another collage canvas and experimented (after gathering more packaging)…

Sharpies mixed with fixative


Another solution I discovered to rework areas was to glue another package over the top to create an area of blank canvas. I was mindful though that this could only be done once or twice so that it didn’t change the overall collage.

I decided to re collage the area of the canvas below. After studying the Leaf of the Lily plant with colored pencil I wanted to capture the varying greens in the same way with Sharpie’s. The dark area of the skull also lacked depth in the darkness using sharpies and after trial and error the only solution was to use acrylic paint. Acrylic paint had to be used to identify the darkest areas around the skull and leaves, although I deliberated over using other mediums. This lead to a thought around Drawing V’s Painting where is the line.. I am still researching this.


Before re working the leaves/ darkness.

The packaging was simply glued together using PVA glue whilst the paper underneath was still stretched on a wooden board (although afterwards discovered this had caused the slight bucking).  I researched glue hoping to find a brilliant glue that I hadn’t heard of before or something that may be able to use as a transparent base for the top of the packaging this proved unsuccessful.

There was one change I made from how I layered medicine packaging together form Exercise 3. It was to place the packaging in reference to the colors of the objects depicted from the still life set up in front of me. (Blue paracetamol packaging blue area) this actually made it more difficult to piece all the packaging together.

I then used the leaflets and cut out sections of 4.Possible side effects to reinforce the collage idea.

Subsequently I have discovered that Sharpies also work well on acetate (see through layer).

I for a short while I felt uncomfortable with the absence of objects to the right of the composition and had an afterthought that I wanted to add a Ukulele into the right of the composition.I used the drawing function within my windows photo editor to see if I could get an idea of how this may look. Ultimately  I decided it would be too much brown/ red in the composition.


Experimenting with adding Instruments to the composition

I really like the idea of incorporating technology into natural drawing. I have really enjoyed the experimenting I have undertaken in this part of the course and I intend to keep experimenting with mixed media ideas- the discovery is endless.

Reflection Part 2 Assignment 2 4.Possible Side Effects

Reflection on Part and Assignment 2

As soon as I read the brief for assignment 2 I knew I wanted to continue the experimentation of mixed media that I had used in “Project 2, Exercise 3- Experiment with Mixed Media” (Please read). For Exercise 3 I had used medicine packaging juxtaposed together inspired by the cardboard effect that Andrea Bowers used  in “The Workers Maypole” 2015 (photographed at the Tate Modern June 2016).


Andrea Bower’s The Maypole 2015 (photographed at the Tate Modern June 2016).

I  wanted to continue the medicine theme I had researched from Assignment 1 looking at how beneficial it is taking medicine v’s its possible side effects (Linking back to the Dr who Doesn’t do Drugs research- Assignment 1). The final idea I had was to somehow incorporate a modern Vanitas composition linking object symbolism.

I wanted for Assignment 2 to contrast Assignment 1 and start to demonstrate a range of different mediums that I am drawing with. To follow the theme of Intimacy in Part 2 I chose the viewpoint to be zoomed in closer to the still life purposefully cutting off objects . I spent hours working on the composition, moving the objects around my house, experimenting with light, shadow and seeing what elements of different rooms reflected in the mirror  (please see At Home vs Assignment 2). Although I intended to represent place within the composition (mirror reflection) and thought to draw a fake reflection  (photographed from another part of the house) I couldn’t get the light to work harmoniously. In the end drawing from life prevailed so after finding a suitable place in my studio the mirror only reflected the plant, medicine and a blank wall.

1 Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills

I think overall my technical skills are improving and I have learnt that drawing what I see and not from memory is imperative (60 % looking at the still life 40% at my drawing). I think I am consistently trying new idea’s but now want to focus on techniques and looking at how other artists are working too.

Some of the drawings I did from the Exercises worked, lots didn’t but I have learnt something at every point like diluting ink, more thumbnails sketches and accidents that lead to discovery. I have also tested my compositional skills by including backgrounds which has had positive and negative results. I will continue experimenting with different backgrounds(as per tutor feedback).

I have really pushed my experimentation with materials for the final assignment using mixed media which included:  Sharpie’s (permanent markers), PVA glue, Pastel fixative, wax crayons, white ink applied with brush, conte sticks, colored pencils, a small amount of black acrylic paint and the medicine packaging.

Quality of Outcome

Please also read At home vs Assignment 2 for process of idea’s.

This section of the course has shown me how important the preliminary experiments and sketch work is (trying to restrain my need to get stuck in). I am also discovering my method of working is a bit backwards-to draw the final composition then work out whats wrong.. subsequently wanting to re work the drawing. I still want to rework the Monochrome fish and  Exercise 1 of the driftwood despite doing thumbnail sketches before had the original A3 drawing was completely uncomfortable and overworked.

The final outcome for Assignment 2 is what it was intended to be- an experimentation of idea’s. I get a sense of nervousness using this for an assignment submission. I feel it is a risk because the drawing (final piece) as a whole is not beautified, (subjectively-  without sparking the  what is beautiful v’s what is art debate?). Its raw and uneasy, yet vibrant at the same time. What I really like is the transparency of the sharpies (giving another dimension) and different marks that pull the viewer into the composition. Although there is a sense of the simplified too,  I have tried to stay away from the illustrated look. I notice different elements every time I view it which interests me.

I could have created a beautiful pencil drawing but I have this need to push myself and find the limits of where I can work, what works and also what is encouraged by the OCA.

Demonstration of Creativity

For me this assignment (and part 2) was all about creativity and ideas. How do I translate the images and idea’s in my head onto paper (or other materials)?  Every idea I had I experimented with and could have continued to do so over the next couple of months however I am mindful of moving on within the course.

The biggest challenge with working on this assignment was the use of sharpies on non absorbent packaging. I really wanted to see if I could push this medium that naturally lacks texture to not only capture texture but use it to draw without an obvious abstracted or simplified style. Through the experimentation of marks I have captured the objects colour, tone and contrast. I spent time experimenting with different media on the packaging to discover what other media could be used to get the same transparency as the Sharpies and have so far been unsuccessful.

I hoped I have displayed a good level of creative thinking, imagination, experimentation and invention. It has been thoroughly enjoyable to create this assignment piece from effectively nothing. It was the most appropriate medium for the subject whilst experimenting with idea’s materials and methods.

From reading the OCA article explaining personal voice I think from scrolling through my blog I am starting to see familiarity within my work ( and other students) by the way of how I use tones, lines and marks- although this could just be an attachment to my work- I am unsure?


Hopefully my final assignment screams context. Assignment 2 references the research we did at the beginning of the course about Still life. Independent research I did into Vanitas, Symbolism and research recommended to me by my tutor around using background’s researching artist Giorgio Morandi.

Giorgio Morandi, 'Still Life' 1960

Giorgio Morandi- Still Life 1960

Giorgio Morandi Still life 1955

The underlying theme of this assignment piece is the benefit of medicine v’s the possible side effects that could be experienced by taking the medicine. Although I do not have strong views about the pro’s and con’s of various medicine’s I find it an interesting subject (Again this links back to Assignment 1’s research the “Dr Who Doesn’t Do Drugs”).

I have tried to tie in art symbolism and object representation in the still life; Skull (death), Apples(immortality and health), Red Wine (blood) and the Lily Plant (purity). The mirror represents self awareness and finally the medicine bottle links back to Assignment 1 and medicine in general.  The possible side effects are always listed as no.4 on the leaflet.

Using of mixed media within also questioned  the line between what is drawing and what is painting or what mediums are specific to each subject- an area I am still researching.

Within the exercises and working within my sketch book the biggest challenges I have faced is my own confidence and distraction. I have only been drawing again (with direction not just doodles) for 6 months and there is so much I want to learn and try, its exciting yet almost overwhelming. Now that I have finished The Creative arts today course that distraction is gone and can focus solely on this course. I have spent more time on the content of my blog and importantly have recognized to maximize learning I must update my blog as soon as I have finished the practical exercises. I have however overcome the apprehension with working on larger paper and I am sourcing art materials (and how to use them) easier.

I really struggled to enjoy drawing natural objects at the beginning of the course or find inspiration. Despite foraging efforts nothing sparked my imagination so stuck with the subject matter as per the course examples. Except the weird shaped fruit, which fascinated me. After working on Project 3 v’s Assignment 2 something clicked and a realization of how I can enjoy drawing anything has sparked a list of exploration that I wish I had had at the beginning of part 2. I have a visit to the Welcome Collection (recommended by my tutor) scheduled for next month which will also ignite this need to draw the less ordinary.  There seams to be a theme running that I am interested in the idea’s as much as the technical drawing (although more focus is needed aspects of technical drawing), I am eager to see how this manifests within the Landscape section of this course…..