Category Archives: The Interior

Medieval tiles

I’ve been watching Tudor Monastery Farm on BBC 2 and they have just shown how tiles would have been made by hand in Tudor times.

The encaustic technique they used was how the tiles for the floor in St George’s Hall were made. Of course Minton wouldn’t have made them by hand it wouldn’t have been cost effective. They used a mass produced process which meant they could make such large floors.

I found these two videos from Somerset museums showing the process:-


Camera Obscura

My tutor suggested I should do some research on this as I had mentioned it in my annotation of a Vermeer interior and some experts believe he used one.

Camera = room
Obscura = dark

The ‘camera obscura’ has been known of since ancient times by the likes of Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci who in 1490 wrote about it in his sketchbooks. It was called the ‘camera obscura’ until the early 1600’s when it was used by the German astronomer Johannesburg Keples.

The ‘camera obscura’ is an optical device which projects an image on to a screen. Originally a room but over tone it developed in to a portable box which had a small hole in one side through which the light travels. Instead of it going in a straight line as is usual it reforms as an image on any flat surface opposite and is upside down and reversed.

The lenses used by Vermeer did not focus accurately so the middle ground would be sharp and in focus but the foreground and background were blurry. The camera we use today developed from the ‘camera obscura’ and we can use depth of field to get a varying range of focus from sharp to blurry depending on what effect we want in the photo.

You can read more here

I remember watching this Omnibus programme with David Hockney when he had written a book about the camera obscura. Can’t believe it is 10 years ago.

Part one

Part two

Les Nabis

When I did some research on Edouard Vuillard I discovered he was part of a group called ‘Les Nabis’ again I’d never heard of them.

On this website it says that decorative painting had enjoyed a resurgence in Europe in the late 19th early 20th century.

“Their works celebrate pattern and ornament, challenge the boundaries that divide fine arts from crafts, and, in many cases, complement the interiors for which they were commissioned”.

They were a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists in 1890’s France. Most of them were a group of friends who had studied at Rodolphe Julian (Académie Julian) a private art school in Paris.

Room with a view

For the exercise on annotating a room with a view they suggest that you do a drawing or painting of an interior with a window for myself.  I haven’t got time at the moment but I did one in charcoal when I did the old Drawing course

Tone and Colour Looking through a Window

Although they don’t show the window this one is a view from my studio (my brothers bedroom until he moved out and I took it over 🙂 )

Aerial perspective

and this is a collage of a view from my Mum’s bedroom.


John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse was born to English parents in Italy 1849 but moved to London to enrol at the Royal Academy of Art. Later he exhibited at their summer exhibitions

He was given the title of the Modern Pre-Raphaelite as he worked in their style but decades after their heyday in the mid 19th century.

He was known for his paintings of women from Ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legends.

Liverpool has a few of his paintings including this at the Walker and two at the Lady Lever here and here


Research point: Trompe l’oeil

Research some of the ways in which trompe l’oeil has been exploited in works of art, especially in decorative schemes.

Although trompe l’oeil which is the french for ‘deceiving the eye’ was used predominately in the Baroque age there are examples going as far back as the Greek and Roman era with murals being unearthed in Pompeii. It is an art form that uses realistic images to create an optical illusion of perspective and three dimension on a flat surface.

Once perspective was fully understood in the Renaissance, artists began to use the style of trompe l’oeil called “i sotto in sù,” which means “from below, upward” they painted ceilings as if they were seen from a true vanishing point perspective, so you think you are seeing a dome when in fact it is a flat surface.

Many 16th & 17th century Jesuit churches included trompe l’oeil ceilings. An example of this can be found in Vienna, the ceiling by Andrea Pozzo although only slightly curved had the illusion that there is a dome

Another form of trompe l’oeil is when a realistic painting is done on a piece of furniture or on a wall for instance a letter on a table or the Violin & bow that looks as if it hanging on a door in the music room of Chatsworth house in Derbyshire see here

Some more examples can be seen here and here

The modern day trompe l’oeil equivalent is 3D pavement art some examples can be seen here and this artists’ work is amazing. Fancy trying to pick up giant cup of coffee in London’s Coventry Garden here

I found this brilliant video on YouTube of a contemporary artist painting a staircase etc on a wall, when he is finished if you didn’t know better you would swear that it was a real staircase and try to walk up it.

Edouard Vuillard

My first choice for the Exercise: annotate an interior view was by the artist Edouard Vuillard and as he was new to me I did some research on him.

He was born in France on 11th November 1869 in and died 21st June 1940. He was a painter and printmaker who was associated with the Les Nabis (which is Hebrew for Phrophets) who were a group of Post- Impressionist avante guarde artists on 1890’s France. They were inspired by the synthecism of Paul Gaugin, a term that derives from the French verb synthétiser meaning to combine to form a new, complex product and was used to distinguish themselves from Impressionism. Instead of using a naturalistic approach to colours their approach was symbolic emphasising the flatness of the canvas by painting simple shapes and strong colours which was inspired by the Japanese woodcuts that were popular at the time.

He painted mostly interiors, streets and gardens in soft, blurred colours often using very intricate patterns. He never married and lived with his mother who was a dressmaker until she died when he was 60.

This painting is in the collection of the Walker here in Liverpool. I must look for it next time I go as I don’t remember seeing it.