Week 1: Influenced by Vieira da Silva

January 1-7, 2018

Week One inspired by Vieira da Silva

2018 Personal Challenge: A year of Daily Sketches inspired by the work of other artists. Each week, a different inspired by artist. 

The work of Portuguese-French abstractionist painter Vieira da Silva (1908 – 1992) immediately connected with me. I first saw her work in 2004 in Barcelona, Spain. Her work hung with the abstract work of three other Portuguese artists in the gallery on the main floor of Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milà (La Pedrera). I recall being in awe of the accelerated movement she achieved mainly with black lines and extremely subtle variations of white paint.  The thrill of that moment has lost none of its power over the last decade. 

Above are two of the four paintings I created in 2004 (inspired by the work of Vieira) following my trip to Portugal and Spain. 

Paintings: left (40″ x 30″) right (24″ x 36″, I think)

Below you will see this past week’s daily sketches (January 1-8, 2018), each one followed by Vieira’s painting that influenced my sketch.  I’ve also added photographic references, when used, and comments regarding my experience of working under the influence of her paintings as each day passed.

Day 1:

Glass Dip Pens – Dala Art – ink and watercolor – January 1, 2018

The Tiled Room 1935 oil on canvas 60×92 cm by Vieira da Silva

Warming up to the challenge … Feeling the need to use multiple pens to create a greater variation of line in ink. 

Note … You can imagine how thrilled I was when I unexpectedly saw The Tiled Room hanging on the wall at the Tate Modern in London last fall.

The Tiled Room by Vieira da Silva on exhibit at Tate Modern, 2018

Day 2:

New York City Doorway – ink and watercolorMálaga 1969 oil on canvas 97 x 130 cm by Vieira da Silva

New York City Doorway photographed in July of 2017

The perception of depth that Vieira creates is mind-boggling. Though I understand the geometry of the depth she creates, I don’t quite get how she is able to create the illusion on multiple levels without it getting chaotic, confusing or distracting.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such marvelously constructed deep, spacial perspective from so many independent shapes.

Day 3:

High Street Arcade, Cardiff, UK – ink and watercolor

Dihedron 1963 oil on canvas and pasted papers 195 x 130 cm by Vieira da Silva

High Street Arcade, Cardiff, UK photographed in October 2017

Using black ink rather than oil paint to create my strong lines doesn’t capture the power of Vieira’s lines. Her lines are far more varied.  They fade into nothingness, change subtlety in hue ad value.  It’s not just a matter of thick and thin, nor the transition from thick to thin.  Working strictly in black and white isn’t helping me to capture the movement of Vieira’s oil paintings.

Day 4:

London as seen from the top of The Shard – ink and watercolor

Knotted Landscape 1937 oil on canvas 81 x 130 cm by Vieira da Silva

View of Old London Bridge district from The Shard photo taken Oct. 28, 2017

Simplification of such a complex cityscape has always been a challenge.  I felt like a fish out of water trying to both simplify the shapes AND create a sense of the lines knotting together.

Day 5:

London as seen from the top of The Shard – ink and watercolor – 2nd attempt

Knotted Landscape (Vieira da Silva) & London (Chris Carter)

Same photo as yesterday.

I focused my attention more on the dance of the lines than I did yesterday.  I felt much happier working this way. Vieira’s influence can definitely be felt in this sketch whereas I couldn’t see it or feel it in yesterday’s sketch.

Day 6:

Old London Bridge Station, view from top of The Shard – ink and watercolor

Gare Montparnasse by Vieira da Silva, 1957 oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm


Old London Bridge Station (Chris Carter) & Gare Montparnasse (Vieira da Silva)

Old London Bridge Station, view from The Shard – photo taken Oct. 28, 2017

Pure joy! Using the range of warm-toned values really helped.  I’m having fun using my vintage fountain pen with a super flexible nib to vary the line with a smooth sweep of my arm and a twist of my hand.

Day 7:

I wanted to try something a bit different.

Mannequins De Vitrine – pencil and comic markers

The Procession (Vieira da Silva) & Mannequins De Vitrine (Chris Carter)

The Procession oil on canvas 38 x 55 cm by Vieira da Silva

Mannequins De Vitrine, Paris, France –  photograph taken on July 26, 2017

Quite an amazing week for me.  Mid-week I began to wonder what I had committed myself to and whether I would be able to do this for an entire year.  It definitely won’t be easy, but it will definitely be worth the effort to grow as much as I believe I will.  I found myself digging through my supplies to find pens, inks and markers I haven’t used for years.  My mind feels expanded and open to whatever challenge comes next.  

I am giving myself the liberty to change the rules whenever I feel it necessary to reap the most benefits from this Year of Influence Challenge.  On the fourth day of this week, I decided I needed two weeks for each artist.  I’ve decided that the second week may, or may not directly follow the first week. 

Comments are welcome!

Let me know if you would like to join our Daily Sketchers private Facebook Group.  You don’t need to be doing The Year of Influence Challenge to be a member.