Monday, June 18, 2012

The Draughtsman's Contract



This past weekend I was wishing I was in Peter Greenaway's movie, The Draftsman's Contract(1982).
Mr. Thomas Neville, a cocksure young artist is contracted by Mrs. Herbert, the wife of a wealthy landowner, to produce a set of twelve drawings of her husband's estate.
Mrs. Herbert offers an unorthadox agreement:
'For which Thomas I am willing to pay 8 pounds per drawing and to provide full board for Mr. Neville and his servant'.

This is the artist surveying the properties.
Mr. Neville replies:
'The conditions of the agreement are my services as draftsman for 12 days for the manufacture of 12 drawings for the estate and gardens,'

Parks and outlying buildings of Mr. Herbert's property'.
Unfortunately for the itinerant artist the contract extends much further than either the purse or the sketchpad. The sketches themselves prove of an even greater significance than supposed in solving a murder mystery.
This weekend as I was sketching a scene in Cap Ferrat, south of France...

I thought wouldn't it be better to do it onsite non?
Or this wedding church in Sauternes for an announcement I have to sketch. I would much prefer to see it in the flesh so-to-speak...

A gelateria in Roma awaits my pencil and brush. Oh how I would adore to taste their gelato to get the true essence of the place.
Same situation here.

Several US Guerlain girls wanted their portraits in front of...
The Paris Guerlain headquarters. Et voila!

Tosca insisted on sitting in front of the cafe Georges V on the Champs-Elysees. So do I!
Photo by Carla Carlson
Here's a well known artist composition trick demonstrated in The Draftsman's Contract which Carla explained in full in her blog post recently.
The law of '
The Golden Mean' is a grid divided always into 3rds that helps create worthy compositions preferably with the center of interest in the middle right, like here or middle left.
NEVER smack in the middle.
Quelle disastre!
I have one of these viewfinder grids. You can easily DIY with a little frame and a bit of plastic. Then draw on the lines et voila! You're set to go. I have the same viewfinder grid set on my Canon S95 screen. Just go to Functions, find 'Custom Display' and then 'Grid Lines'.

Here you can see the draftsman's setup for plein aire painting.
The subject is lined up on the grid.

Then the grid is traced onto the paper and each area is filled in accordingly. You can see my strawberry on the cheesecake watercolor doesn't just happen to fall in that spot. OK it did, but I've practiced this so much it's been internalized. Try it you'll like it. And watch The Draftsman's Contract trailer below. If you want to send me or your hound to St. Tropez my bag is packed.

17 comments:

  1. That would be un magbifique contrat pour toi to have a commission such as this..Imagine..12 days..on a beautiful estate..room an board..and a remuneration for your talents.
    Who knows what the future holds..
    ?

    The wedding notice will be charming what a great idea! Love toutes les aquarelles:)

    And thank you for the grid reminder.
    Today..is just so magnificently beautiful here..That I won't have wanderlust..
    But things change quickly in QC~
    Thank you for ce beau billet~

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  2. oops typo magnifique.The other way is when I have a cold:)

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  3. Loaded with information comme d'habitude today.
    LOVE the idea of going onsite especially if it happens to be Cap Ferrat or a Rome gelateria
    yum yum

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  4. The film looks gorgeous! Never heard of it before...
    Thanks for the link to photographer Carla - more gorgeous work!
    I think you should DO IT by all means!

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  5. I must see that movie -- I love 17th century gardens and 17th century men's hair. The only weird thing will be having to watch someone draw with the wrong hand -- being a leftie myself, it always looks so odd when I see someone sketch or paint with a right hand.

    As a kid, teaching myself how to embroider from books, I had to turn the illustrations upside down to get the correct leftie perspective. I guess it's a good thing that I wasn't born in the 17th century -- wasn't that when everyone who was left handed was burned as a witch? But I digress...

    Great post today. From now on I'll always look for the strawberry whenever I compose a picture.

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    1. You can watch the WHOLE movie on YouTube if you don't mind the 10 minute intervals
      Fabulous film!

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  6. Carol S.1:47 PM

    THANKS!
    The pup looks GREAT on that patio.
    I would love to send you to Cap Ferrat. Why didn't you say?

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  7. I watched that movie last month...crazy sexy fun!

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  8. IT is absolutely essential that your patrons provide full board while you stay on site to paint!! A brilliant idea whose time, apparently, has gone!

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  9. I love your paintings - so many today!

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  10. Carol, thank you for the reminder of The Golden Rule and also for that marvelous movie.

    It was fun to watch the trailer, and be reminded of seeing the film so many years ago. I don't know, what other films did that director direct. Perhaps I must consult google?

    Today was such a mild summer day here in NYC, it was grand to stroll along the latest extension of The High Line with a friend, seeing all the plantings, and looking beyond the immediate High Line space to see how it connects with the rest of the NYC skyscape beyond.

    Perhaps I should have kept The Golden Rule in mind as I clicked a few photos on my camera.

    A post might still result.

    xo

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    1. sounds like a wonderful thing to do..
      I'm recovering from a bout of food poisoning last week so haven't been anywhere scenic.
      Definitely do turn on the grid - helps get buildings lined up

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  11. How do you find all these interesting movies? Love this post. All wonderful paintings and ideas. I like the Grid idea too. My favorite painting is the dog on the porch. The first one you posted. :)

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  12. Lovely watercolors as usual... You definitely grasp the French style and spirit

    See you very soon !

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  13. Hi, Carol--no--still not getting feeds--I wonder why? Maybe Duke changed something in firewalls or something--who knows. I'll have to remember to check in, then! I'm in NYC today!

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  14. I should really see this again. I saw the film soon after it came out but was nursing a newborn, so how could I go to the next city (in North Carolina) and see a long movie? I'd have to take the baby. But what if she cried? Solution: I nursed her throughout the entire film. No one noticed in the dark, she was happy, and I got to see the picture uninterrupted.
    Voila!
    Jane

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  15. That cheese cake looks sublime! I loved the Draughtsman's Contract when it came out years ago. I recommended it to my parents and they thought I was insane :)

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