Learning from Hockney

Loose sketch of David Hockney's My Parents

This is a rough sketch of a David Hockney painting called ‘My Parents’ for Sketchbook Skool‘s Boot Kamp. The idea with this assignment was to look carefully at a piece of art and write your observations alongside it.

I kept putting off doing this homework because I couldn’t decide which drawing or painting to look at. Then, last night I noticed a postcard of this painting on my coffee table that I’d bought on my trip to the Tate Britain the other week and thought I’d just go with that one.

It looks quite a simple painting but there seems to be a lot more going on in it than I think I noticed at first glance. In particular, another part of the room is reflected in the mirror and now I want to go and look at the original of this work and read more about it to find out if there’s any significance to the things in the mirror.

My main thought as I was drawing it was that it reminds me of a Renaissance painting called The Marriage of Arnolfini, or The Arnolfini Marriage, which shows a man and woman standing side by side, with a mirror on the wall behind them, reflecting another part of the room. There’s a lot more symbolism in that painting, which is what made me wonder if there’s more to this piece by Hockney too.

What I like about this though, is that unlike the Arnolfini painting, it’s not perfectly symmetrical. His Dad is sitting at an angle and in a different position from his Mother but there’s still balance to the composition. I also like the light coming in high from the left side because the shadows create interesting depth to what could otherwise be quite a flat painting.

It’s funny what you notice when you draw something.

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