Monthly Archives: November 2016






Sketchbooks A to E [corresponding to parts 1 to 5]


Tutor reports 1 to 5


Paintings 1 to 10


Painting 1; Humbrol enamel on metal offcuts of nine medical supply items


Chosen to highlight wet in wet technique and creative display of single items used in everyday work that are taken for granted.


Painting 2; oil monoprints on paper of three portraits


Chosen to show more creative ideas developing from earlier attempts at monoprints.


 Painting 3; acrylic painting of view through letterbox in tondo format


Chosen to illustrate a development of concepts for a creative  house interior view.Taken tutor feedback advice to include a development work that was more successful than the original assignment work.


Painting 4; acrylic ink/masking fluid on paper of crumpled ball


Chosen to show the results of experimentation of many different mediums to reach the final result including oil and acrylic paint, masking fluid, sgraffito, wax resist and a black ground.


Painting 5; Humbrol enamel on metal offcuts of found images of homemade bombs


Chosen to show the development of emotive found images using a technically difficult medium on found metal.


Painting 6;  printing oil on paper tondo of graffiti


Chosen to illustrate the development of an idea from an exhibition of street graffiti using a tondo format, and monochrome.


Painting 7; oil on found cardboard of two self portraits


 Chosen to demonstrate an investigation into my own medical work self reflection and the use of wet in wet painting on found distressed cardboard.


Painting 8; oil on paper of life figure


Chosen to demonstrate use of oil in a limited palette and investigation into gestural marks.


Painting 9; homemade paint from red ochre rock and linseed oil print on paper of half sculpture head


Chosen to demonstrate the investigation of using self made paint as a print, and the discernment of image used including use of ground.


Painting 10; watercolour/acrylic ink/bleach on paper of tree


Chosen to  demonstrates use of watercolour with palette knife and interesting effects of bleach on ink and watercolour. Please listen to Soundcloud soundtrack whilst viewing.



Reflections on part 5 feedback

Having to change tutor so near the end of this course has been stressful [I had already completed assignment 5 at this point!] but meeting the tutor at a study visit last weekend put my mind at rest. I was heartened by this feedback. It was positive but also contained some excellent points to take forward for the future and made me feel enthusiastic but challenged.

  • my log was described as ‘an exemplary articulation of your practice and research’ which was great to read, as this has been a steep learning curve for me over the first year and I know I write more concisely than I used to.
  • ‘Even though you are just at the beginning of your degree I feel as if you are already at a point where you can start to really refine your notion of practice led research – in other words really allowing the questions to come out of the making and for those questions to then generate the research’. This is a good point and one of the biggest things I’ve learnt, to ‘go with the flow’ and see where it leads, rather than the concrete view I used to take, which didn’t allow for much experimentation.
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    42 x 15 cm Humbol on metal

    Painting 1 – ‘good use of the ground generally’. ‘Lorry is more clunky than bear.’ Yes I can see that, but enamel is so much harder to control and in a way unless it had been a disaster, the outcome feels almost accidental? Maybe that will change as my technique gets better. I can see it would have looked better as a series though if there had been less paint used.

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    Painting 3 final oil on gesso cardboard A3

    ‘“the selfie reflection did not work well in the computer screen, one in the window was possible but very blurred.” interesting – does this mean that you were not prepared to use the image as it was too indistinct for your expectations of the work?’. Excellent point – why did I need a solid form to work from, does that reflect my lack of confidence? This is an idea I will take forward for the future. Trying it out would have been a better option. I like the description of the final paintings though ‘strong and raw and capture the essence of what you were after’ which feels positive.

  • Life drawings – commented that a development piece looks more ambitious than the final one. I do think the one on the left has been enhanced digitally and have looked at it again in real life. It does look a more muddy mix than in the photo. From this advice I will take forward trying to be more ambitious to life draw classes – especially with dramatic range of tones.
  • img_0529Half head of homemade paint – likes the concept but feels underworked. I can understand that digitally but I do feel in real life it looks more interesting with fine textures to the print. I had experimented with different grounds but felt they detracted from the print. Tutor unsure why printing was used, but I had tried painting and felt prints produced accidental marks that I liked.
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    PAINTING 6 – A3 – watercolour and acrylic ink and bleach on hot pressed paper

    Tree painting – really lovely but as I thought top of tree lets it down. I will look up Michael Andrew’s final estuary painting. Could have been more vulnerable or raw – agreed.

I really like this – because it feels ‘other worldy’ even though I know what it is. Not abstract, but only just figurative. I will research more into this artist.

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    Sakura printing oil on paper 25cm Painting 2 FINAL

    Graffiti woman – yes I chose a method that translates the original stencilled image in a more accidental way – I agree!

  • comment that research used really well and writing is clear and logical – great to hear!
  • it would have been good to add what I thought translating the graffiti artists work into a print had achieved. I will add that to the final assignment. I have added a comment at the end of writing about painting 2;
  • comment about my quoted ambitions is insightful – that an abstract ambition is not quite the right word but more that the recording of information will not be all visual – yes I take that on board.
  • Tutor agrees with my thought the series did not work as a body
  • Look at the Jerwood drawing catalogue – great idea and I’m sorry I missed that show this year.
  • Next course reflect more slowly on artist’s work and allow the work to generate more research – good point.


Great points to ponder over and I will get the Jerwood catalogue, research slower in Year 2 [I’ve been too excitable bouncing around artists in Year !] and think of using blurred images as a starting point in the future, and experiment! I will research more into Michael Andrews, and try to see an original, I would like to know his media and techniques.

From my own self reflection, I’m going to tweak my essay and make sure the artists work is related to my own more. Footnote – I have updated the essay now to be more relevant to my work.


Following discussions with my tutor after the final feedback, who reassured me that I didn’t really need to change anything if I didn’t want to,  I did decided to add a few marks to the tree foliage and make it less ‘comfortable’!

I practised on the development pieces until I felt I had the right marks and colours. I realised it need to be 3 marks in a dark colour, as the rest of the foliage was light enough. I liked the marks with a palette knife best, because they seemed more random and exciting. I do see how they add something to the top part. I think adding more would look overworked and am happy to leave it there.

I did look many times at the sculpture head painting 5 but after experiments with a wash as background already tried, I did decide to leave it as it is, which felt harder than trying something out!


Painting 6 – Acrylic ink/watercolour with palette knife on A2 paper

Reflection on course as a whole

This  course has been a steep but interesting learning curve!

My tutor’s observations have been astute from beginning, encouraging me to use different brushes, make a variety of marks, and not be stuck with portraits as a subject.

I have used enamel on metal and made monoprints for the first time on this course, both of which I enjoy and will develop further as I progress. The tondo is a compositional idea I will use again.

I have attended as many OCA study visits and gallery exhibitions as possible to supplement my reading around contemporary art. The study visits in particular have been invaluable to discuss issues with the artists and studying in general! I feel this course has given me a much greater depth to my knowledge of contemporary artists, which has helped to influence my future direction.

I feel I am finally finding my potential in using sketchbooks, which I was quite hesitant about when I first started and now I feel they really are beginning to be a record of my development and something I can refer back to for an idea. I think the multitude of postcard sized paintings at the beginning was helpful here.

Finally, experimenting and coming up with new creative ideas for composition and playing with media has been a challenge with failures along the way. I realise the failures are the ones that are going to make the successes and I now see them as part of the development in their own right.



Assignment 5- essay on oil painting and looking at the work of JM Turner and Laura Lancaster

I  enjoy standing in front of JM Turner’s ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ at the National Gallery. The heroic fighting ship is on its final journey to be broken up.

The radio broadcast  ‘In our time’ [1] describes how Turner did not use an accurate depiction, but painted a vivid sunset in thick dynamic colour over a quiet Thames.  Had the ship been mastless on a teeming river, it would have lacked the emotion of this one.  Similarly had my ‘work selfies’ [Painting 7] been realistic I would have lost their rawness.

His  experimental use of pigments is seen in his love of the colour yellow [2]. He would try new pigments and experiment with them in both oil and watercolour, not observing boundaries and in Painting 9, I have made my own paint and in Painting 10, used the paint in an unconventional way.

His later works bordered on abstraction [3] and he showed no accommodation to his critics which is appealing to me, especially as my work develops in that direction. I like work where I have to think to understand it. Was the Fighting Tamaraire a comment on his own declining health [4]? In Painting 6 I painted graffiti that made me question the meaning of it. He was not afraid to paint controversial subjects, with his ‘Slavers..’ painting of desperate hands and a fish feeding frenzy a compassionate comment on the issue. During this course, I have tried to tackle some unpleasant contemporary subjects I feel strongly about [Painting 5].

I discovered Laura Lancaster at an OCA study visit [5] and  was intrigued by the emotional response she got from our group. She uses found images and reinterprets them. In the John Moores painting prize catalogue [6] she describes painting as a ‘transformational process’ and ‘the stuff of paint itself is a tangible substance’.

She inspired me to use found images, and I now find myself looking for and storing these images constantly, never knowing when they might come in useful.

Like Turner, Lancaster uses thick and thin paint. She lets the paint mix on the canvas wet in wet creating dynamic marks that I like. Her marks are bold and confident. Her influence on my oil painting can be seen in Painting 3  where I let the paint drip and mix to create accidental marks.

Her paintings are not ‘pretty pictures’.

As in ‘Untitled 2014’ [7] the identity of the found image has been removed and the white brush strokes wrap the peering figure in a bizarre bandaged space suit. I like paintings where I ask questions. Her painting recalls Willem De Kooning, another artist I admire and want to investigate further.

I am inspired by the emotional intensity she puts in her work.

From these artists I take forward the following ideas for my own work

  • To consider subjects that affect me and to consider the composition in a way that affects the emotional effect of the subject, rather than aiming for realism
  • To continue to experiment with new oil colours, wet in wet technique [as I feel this makes my work more dynamic and looser] and experiment with mark making using thick and thin paint
  • To not fear the critics and develop my painting in a less figurative direction


Please note that Painting numbers refer to my UPM assignment 5. 

  1. In our time. The Fighting Tamaraire. BBC Radio
  2. How to paint like Turner. Tate. 2010
  3. Late Turner, Painting set free. Tate. 2014
  4. Turner in his time. Andrew Wilton. Thames and Hudson. 1987
  6. John Moores Painting Prize catalogue. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. 2012
  7. Vitamin P3. Tom Melick and Rebecca Morrill. Phaidon. 2016

Assignment 5 – Curating the work

Curating research

Reading the book Art and Artifact. The Museum as Medium. James Putnam. Thames and Hudson. 2009 has been invaluable for insights into the display of art and I have learnt many things I hadn’t thought of [notes here – Reference 1].

I have also looked at the way the text recommended artists curated their work;

Mari Eastman

This artist seems to use the ‘white cube’ method of display where the work is spaced out on a clean white background with the display in a single line, not always completely straight. I read the artist had thought of displaying in the gallery’s storage and workroom because she had realised that’s where people gather and socialise [2]. It is interesting to have read about artists displaying in gallery lobbys for a similar reason [1].

Andrew Mania [3]

This artist uses some clever devices to frame his work – such as the metal mesh divider between two paintings, and placing a blue bulb to illuminate them, with a painting of a blue shadow. I have also found photos of works placed against wood, and frames so that you could look at work through a round or rectangular frame.

Nadia Hebson

This artist uses the space in a seemingly more random way – looks like there are paintings on the floor, which I haven’t seen before!

In this exhibition the artist had used dry ice as a device, although the reviewer in the piece above was not keen on this prop!

Karen Kilminik [5]

In this exhibition [5] the artist uses a stately home setting as a backdrop for her paintings, with dark walls, separate rooms to give a sense of the works being divided up.

Although I found in her latest exhibition, it is curated more like the white cube again in a very straight single line!


Curating ideas from research;

From reading [1] I did form a few ideas for curating my assingment 5;

  • ask others to curate for me for their personal perspective, although my daughters first thought of curating them ‘from best to worst’ sounded a bit scary!
  • juxtapose them with personal items [? valuable to me like medical equipment] although I bear in mind the OCA text warned against props!
  • interspersed between furniture [gives a flavour of me but is props again]
  • illuminate through fabric if possible [I liked Barbara Bloom’s installation ‘Historical ARt Nouveau’ 1993 where ornate chairs formed shadows], not sure if I have anything that this will work through.


Curating assignment 5

This was an enlightening experience. Having read about curating for the last few days, I also learnt a lot from actually trying to do it myself!

Spaced arrangement;

First, I arranged the work around my landing as that has the biggest expanse of available white wall. They were hard to photograph as they were on four different walls as above! They were not on the same eyeline, and the flow was disrupted by that and by doorway openings. I liked the smaller groups together – ie. the figures, and the two earth coloured paintings, but the tondo and the metal did not really go with anything else and seemed better on their own.

Grouped arrangement;

I think this worked the best, as I had worked out by then which sub groups went best. I had no space to put the figure and portraits together but in an ideal space they would all have been on the same eyeline.

Guest curate;

I asked my daughter to arrange them, and she chose the stairs.


While I think this was an innovative idea, and I liked the upwards flow, I do not this this was sucessful. Paintings in the foreground were naturally thrust forwards, while the ones at the back seemed to fade away. It reminded me of the stairs collage at the William Kentridge study visit [6].

Illumination through cloth;

I tried this with a strong light though cloth but it did not work well and I now see that it would work best with objects and the cloth needs to be much thinner.

I quite liked the illuminated tondo on the right though, I thought it gave it atmosphere.

Using props;

Even though the text warned about this, I thought I would have a go;


It did look twee and rather forced, and I can understand why props with paintings really have to be carefully thought out!

Reflection on different displays;

Apart from my environment, there is no link between these paintings as a whole. I was looking to depict myself, things I like [the life class], environment [city graffiti and rural landscape] and a found images with homemade paint and enamel. By trying to make each one develop a different technique, they have not really come together as a whole. Of the artists I investigated above, I would say the more ‘white cube’ display of Mari Eastman influenced me the most, but I’m glad I tried out different ideas, even to see if they didn’t work. For the future, I would look at a more coherent theme and similar mediums within a series if I wanted it to work better as a collection.



Assignment 5 – Reading

I have enjoyed reading more about contemporary art generally during this course and most of these references are embedded within the blog where they are relevant.

I made extensive notes for the book ‘Art and Artifact’ because I enjoyed it so much, and I think in future I need to have a separate book to write a bibliography and written notes to refer back to.



I have made extensive handwritten notes in the sketchbook for Part 5 but will highlight a few points below;

Art and Artifact. The Museum as Medium. James Putnam. Thames and Hudson. 2009

Since 1960’s artists have used a display case – the context is changed to the viewer and it becomes unique, now the untouchable.

In 1972 Bloodthaers displayed 300 objects representing eagles with a label declaring ‘this is not a work of art!’ questioning the significance of the label and the object described. It is a homage to Magritte’s ‘cest n’est pas une pipe’  – where the words address the viewer.

Jeff Koons series ‘The New’ 1988 used vitrines to make vacuum cleaners seem special.

Damien Hirst used a display case to present 40 fish in 1991. He used a case for formal groups of objects to convey an authoritative look of truth.

Amikam Tores ‘Safety Regulation painting no 10’ 1999 challenged the vitrine idea by painting the display case glass opaque and propping one end up on the empty cans.

Lisa Milroy in ‘Plates’ 1992 displayed a variety of plate styles as if they were pinned butterflies in a museum case.

Christian Bottanski ‘Inventory of the Man from Barcelona’ 1995 labelled personal objects as if in a museum to give then special significance.

Artists often investigate themselves and their memory using associations with collections of artifacts.

Michael Landy ‘Breakdown’ 2011 listed all 5000 personal possessions, then displayed them on a conveyer belt before pulping them like waste. I wonder if he regrets that now?

Artists question established power systems – critiquing/imitating – not usually directly but encouraging the viewer to question.

Rose Finn-Kelsey ‘Bureau de change’ 1988 made Van Gogh’s Sunflowers out of change and employed a uniformed guard to sit next to it to highlight the monetary value of the recently sold painting.

Artists question the role of institutions housing art – the traditional hierarchical structure. Although this work may ultimately end up in a gallery!

Daniel Buren ‘On the function of the museum’ pointed out how the gallery selects objects it implies are worth looking at.

Hans Haacke ‘Taking Stock’ 1983-4 looks at the patronage of arts and how that shapes it. He refers in this work to Saatchi funding of Thatchers campaign and the links between wealth and shaping contemporary art.

In ‘Metromobilitan’ 1985 he refers to Mobils funding of the then apartheid supporting governments.

Photographs of gallery spaces can show a unique aspect.

Louise Lawter ‘Objects’ 1984 photographs everyday and major works in storage areas.

Artists are often invited to curate works and offer their own interpretation based on individual interests. Breaks down formal standard classification and they frequently choose from reserve collections.

Group material ‘Americana’ 1985 curated alternative works at the Whitney Biennial showing cultural diversity distinct from the established scene. These were juxtaposed with everyday objects of material culture.

Interweaving of artists work with a museum collection. Displaying in non art contexts reaches a wider audience.

Fred Wilson ‘Mining the museum’ 1992 – juxtaposed slavery objects with examples of fine living – wanted posters for escaped slaves next to fine silverware. He said ‘what they do not display says even more’.

Unofficial exhibitions – Dove Bradshaw ‘Performance’ 1978 affixed a label to a gallery fire hose and sold photographs of it unofficially in the shop. When they sold well, the gallery bought the original photo and sold authorised postcards!

Museums without walls – using off site places, like Germaine Koh’s ‘Knitwork’ 2002 from a knitted blanket cascading down the British Museum’s stairs.

Contemporary Cultures of Display. Emma Barker. Yale University Press. 1999

I did not find this book quite as accessible but there were some interesting points;

How expansion of art galleries with shops etc have bought fears of them becoming like a theme park with little interest in the art.

An interesting essay on the modernist display or white cube – widely spaced and evenly lit compared to the dark walled stacked walls behind rails of the older art institutions.

The challenge of the white cube – supporting ‘purified’ works at the expense of less unified art. Example of MOMA Frankfurt breaking from the neutral model with a variety of rooms.

How even though the National Gallery is free, it is still dominated by middle class viewers, as those without the cultural/ social backgrounds to appreciate the works are excluded. Would more art history teaching in schools and gallery visits help her I wonder?

Tate Gallery Liverpool – initial local resistance as money wasted. Warehouse conversion left little original character as it was transformed into a white space – and cut off from the city centre by a 6 lane highway! As I was in LIverpool in 1988 when it opened this was an interesting read. I remember being confused by the shows back then!

Art and Today. Phaidon. Eleanor Hartney. 2008

Great book – two examples here.

Elizabeth Peyton ‘live to ride’ 2003  – exaggerated contrasts and her use of entertainment culture. Red of shirt echoes on arms. Abrupt cropping.

Peter Doig ‘100 years ago’ – vivid dream like. Uses film stills, album covers, travel brochures and postcards as inspiration. Lonely figures lost in vast landscapes in unusual colours.

Techniques of the worlds greatest painters. Waldermar Januszczak. Chartwell Books. 1989

Paul Cezanne – outlines in graphite and overlaid with thin blue ultramarine. Wet in wet before outlines dry. Marks of thin colour follow the outlines in cool and warm colours.

Pierre Bonnard – let painting assume its own size. Some areas thin and some thick. Finishing touches applied when painting in frame.

Max Ernst – Used collage like painting so objects appeared stuck on . Frottage like painting and pressed paper on surface and peeled off. Grattage – scraping pigment over canvas laid on heavily textured surface. Adhesive tape for straight lines. Oscillation – drips from can suspended on string.

Painting Today. Tony Godfrey. Phaidon. 2009

Good insights into contemporary painters.

Luc Tuymens ‘the Walk’ 1993 is muted colours, a beautiful mountainscape when the viewer realises the right hand figure is Hitler – rather a shock. His history paintings eg. Congo series show blurred fragments, has to be reconstructed by the viewer.

Daniel Richter ‘Tarifa’ 2001 – vivid colours with composition pushed to top. Makes refugees in a boat look quite stranded surrounded by black empty space.

John Moores Painting Catalogues

2016 – see OCA study visit to the exhibition

2014 – Mike Silva ‘landscape 2013  – like the monochrome wet in wet technique. Improvised mark making

Gideon Ruskin ‘three girls’ 2012 – Faceless girls, background unfinished.

2012 – Damien Meade ‘Talcum’2011 – very textured hair on top a plain black shoulders. Can almost feel the head!

Henny Acloque ‘277’ 2011 – Classic landscape disrupted by colourful marks – makes me question what these are?


I realise the learning point here is to make written notes that I need to organise in some way, to refer back to in the next few years of this degree, as I do find I forget things once I read them. Probably a notebook would be the easiest way.





Assignment 5 – paintings


Painting 1

Close environment is a very broad topic! I’d been mulling this over for weeks, but decided to start with a mind map which helps me to develop in new directions.

This first painting was inspired by an article on homemade bombs left by terrorists in Iraq. This would be bad enough, but they had been wired up to toys to appeal to children to pick them up, an absolutely sickening thought.

My recent visit to the Nottingham art exchange to see graffiti in Iran and the Egyptian uprising [ 1] made me feel more drawn to painting a more serious subject than I have been in the past.

Above is some sketchbook work developing my ideas. I was going to do a single painting of a bear wired up to dynamite but decided to try a series of smaller works, considering round supports but deciding for the smaller size that rectangular would be best.

Next was to decide support and media. As these were simple compositions I thought about acrylic or enamel on metal. I had a choice of metal offcuts either aluminium or a darker aluminium surface with imperfections. I decided the latter would suit the dark subject better. I was influenced also by Nathan Eastwood who paints in enamel on board and is described in the book ‘Documentary Realism’ [2] as ‘ uses loose brush marks, surface has imperfections like trapped hair – makes the paintings look not photo real’.

I tried acrylic on a dark ink ground first, then on metal and it worked alright. But then I tried glossy enamel and I felt this looked much more vibrant.

The use of enamel was inspired by my visit to George Shaw’s end of residency exhibition at the National Gallery [3]. He also puts shocking objects such as porn magazines in a beautifully painted woodland. I felt this related to the linking of dynamite to the toys. I like the loose enamel brush marks in Geraldine Swayne’s work too [4] and one of her first paintings was the Nazi female applying lipstick.

After initial preparations, I decided to adjust the compositions slightly to make the dynamite more prominent in the bear work for instance, and make the toy truck larger and spill off the support on one side.

Enamel is tough to work with, it quickly goes gluey but I enjoy the medium because it encourages loose work.


15 x 13cm Humbrol on metal


15 x 13cm Humbrol on metal


15 x 13cm Humbrol on metal

Here are the final images. I tried to work with the medium – allowing it to mingle wet in wet in places such as wires. The bear fur I painted it more thinly in places to suggest shadows rather than just darkening the paint which hopefully gave it more delicate texture. These are small supports so I did not try to cram too much in.

I experimented with the order of the works and tried black and white backgrounds.

I decided I preferred the white as it made the darker grounds stand out. My final choice had the white card in the middle as I felt this was the focal point because it had the greatest difference in tones.


42 x 15 cm Humbol on metal

I hope that the images I’ve made are clear enough to tell what they are but as I’ve found on many gallery visits now, a title can be very illuminating!

Painting 2

I wanted to paint some local street graffiti after being inspired by the street art at the Art Exchange [1] which led to me buying a book which comprehensively documents it [5]. The book explains how much the streets mattered in the Egyptian revolution, starting with small stencils of people killed developing into massive murals depicting protest and hope.

Ar0und my city centre is some graffiti, and I found an intriguing image of a woman on a wall dressed in her dressing gown and slippers next to a canal. I’m not sure what the message is, but I felt it really stood out painted white against the dark brickwork. Other things I’d looked at seemed more ‘tag like’ and less interesting.

I wanted to keep in mind my tutor’s advice about varying my brush marks, and Kim Edwards monoprints [6] seemed a good place to start research.

I like the composition where the top half of the horse looks to be leaping out of the paper, and the rapid and varied marks.

I also looked at Natalie Dowse’s work [7] where she uses very dilute watercolour to make strong shapes with some parts left open, and the negative shapes of her monochrome oils.

Lastly, I looked back at Maggi Hambling’s reductive monotypes from my visit to the National Gallery [8] because I really liked the expressive and varied marks used here. I wondered about trying reduction prints with a rag and cotton bud.

First, I sketched out my composition a few times, choosing the middle one as having the graffiti figure large enough and a small part of background.

Next I painted larger works 20cm  with water colour to develop the image further and realised the figure needed even more enlarging as she is the focal point. I also wondered about making this print a tondo.

I liked the circular shape as it contrasted with the straight lines of the canal scene next to the graffiti lady. I wondered if using an oil monoprint would give it more definition.

I practised using Sakura printing oils with a smaller tondo, using reductive techniques on the black oil with rags, cotton buds and cut up credit card for the bricks.

I realised that I could use the circular cut out to paint within it on the glass plate, and then could produce a rectangular print from the circular image. I decided that was more interesting than using circular paper to print off.

I also needed less oil, and to thin it with Sansodor to make it easier to remove.

Next I used a larger 25cm circular cut out to paint in very varied brush marks on the plate, and used the techniques I’d been practising to remove the paint in a more precise manner.


Sakura printing oil on paper 25cm Painting 2 FINAL

I added a little more paint to the image to make the canal background clearer and some parts of the figure, but I did not want to obscure the marks, some of which were accidental and I think added to the character of it.

I think I managed to convey the graffiti on the curved brick wall. The canal part is probably not that clear, apart from being an urban landscape, but I was worried that adding much more paint could lead to it being overworked.

23/11/16 – Note added following tutor feedback. What did I feel translating the original stencil to a monoprint added? The graffiti artist thought of the concept – still not sure what a dressing gowned figure with bag means, is it a feminist comment?- and used a stencil which takes out expression but does mean it’s quick and accurate. My work is darker and has more tonal differences. It has been made in a more random way, but would have been more effective in a larger size like the original.

Painting 3

For this painting I wanted to do a ‘selfie’ but not a realistic portrait, going more for atmosphere. I had been thinking of looking at how I feel on work days as a doctor, as these are very pressured. During the day, I feel shattered, drained, overwhelmed, tired, angry, sad…the list could go on. Mostly I do love my job, but it is all consuming on those days I work.

From my visit to the BP portrait exhibition, I wondered if I could capture a selfie in my computer screen in a similar way that Charlie Masson had done in his mobile phone.


Diversion. Charlie Masson. 2016

I looked again at Marlene Dumas’s ‘Stern’ 2004 that I saw in the Tate Modern [10]. It has a very pale face, with a green smoky outline of the face and certainly looks ghostly. She is dead but with her mouth open, eyes closed she almost looks ecstatic.


Marlene Dumas Stern 2004

I also looked at Rezi Van Lingard again, in particular at Linger 2004. I like the suggestions of body parts and am interested in how this is reached. There are large brush strokes and dabs, are some parts reductive? I have bought a book of her work [11], and read that she woks on panels on the floor and applies tonally similar paint. the image arises out of the meeting of the two colours ‘cajoling it into the semblance of a figure’. She uses oil on canvas or board. I wondered if the paint was thinned to make it mix like that. It almost looks to mix like I’ve seen enamel do.

I also looked at the work of Alexander Tinei [12] which I like because the painting is not repetitive marks – it is scraped and dragged. Thin blue lines appear and disappear. Is this blue his signature mark? He uses photos from the internet and reworks them . He says he uses the boundaries of private photos and public gaze.

In the end, the selfie reflection did not work well in the computer screen, one in the window was possible but very blurred. I thought back to my quick ink portrait from Ex 3.1 and I liked the one looking upwards the best. img_9539

So I took selfies after a good time at being at work because I wanted to see the emotions in my face.

I tried a few sketches and the last two appealed the most. I wondered about trying cardboard as a support, after part 4 and looking at ‘rubbish’ I decided to try cutting panels from an old cardboard box. Then I thought about scrunching up the cardboard because these emotions I’m trying to convey are more negative ones. I put on some gesso with black acrylic to make it a rough grey. My last thought was about mounting this on white card and letting the painting come off the support onto the mounting, so it feels like it’s less ‘contained’.

I tried blue black and black on smaller supports I’d made. I liked the compositions coming off the page, but felt that should be just one side rather than all four sides. I thought the blue black looked better than black, which made me wonder about a second portrait in a different colour, and I tried cadmium red and viridian green.

I decided to go for the red because it contrasted well with the blue black.


Painting 3 final oil on gesso cardboard A3

I painted this quite quickly, using wet in wet and large brushes to start with, changing to a few smaller ones later. I liked the effect of the crumpled card and was careful not to cover that over. This was quite thick paint and I wondered about trying thinner paint and seeing how it mixed together for the next one.


Painting 3 final oil on gesso cardboard A3

Again I only used one colour and white but this time I let the grey background show through for darker areas. I wiped some paint off to get this effect too. I let the thinned red and white mix in places and I liked the effect when I tipped the support in different directions. It made a red tear come out of one eye which I kept in, as I have certainly shed a tear at work at different times.

I would present them together like this;


Painting 3 final oil on gesso cardboard A1

I think the proportions are not too bad, considering I did not want it to be too perfect anyway. I’m pleased with trying the crumpled cardboard as a support, as I think the rough texture added something. The gesso background was fairly neutral but I liked the marks and colours were not even and showed through. I think I have made selfies that sum up how I look through my work day. I’m glad I tried out a different colour for the second portrait. Also, that I just went with the flow of development – I did not set out to make two, but that just seemed a natural progression, as did painting on the white mounting.

Painting 4

I’ve been trying to develop life drawing in the last few months, painting with acrylic and more recently with rags [can be seen on ‘non course work’ for each part].

I was inspired Chantal Joffe [13] who paints in a gestural style which gives a sense of the sitter in a way that is interesting and leaves a lot to my imagination.

I bought the book of her recent exhibition [14] and one painting that stuck me was ‘Paula in a striped dress’ 2015 which I could not find a picture on the internet to put here sadly.

There is a vibrant lime green ground which shows through in various places in the face, hair parting and highlights the old-fashioned dress [which is at odds with the modern colour]. The figure is negatively highlighted by black, the hand looks exaggerated, the eyes are simply painted with no eyebrows. The dress is broad brush stokes, but I can see different sized brushes have been used with a variety of marks for the whole figure. In the book, she says ‘I was always trying to inhabit other people, particularly other artists…I love them so much I want to be them’. She paints friends and family and American literary figures. The way she paints makes me wonder about her relationship with these figures.

Emily Ball [15] paints in a more abstract way. In her book [16] she describes how she painted ‘Flora’ below. The model stood right in her personal space forcing her to be ‘engaged, sensitive and find the figure with a sense of urgency and purpose’. Oil and charcoal was used, and the marks are varied with the oil and charcoal mixing in places.

The artist described an exercise where 3 colours of different tones are used and dragged through each other wet in wet, following contours until the body is ‘found’. I have tried a similar technique using charcoal dust and then charcoal stick on top.

At past life classes, I have tried this technique with rags to produce more abstract marks in acrylic paint;

But I wonder if the marks might be more varied by using brushes and oil paint? The rags make the paint look a bit flat, and the acrylic dries so quickly perhaps it doesn’t mix wet in wet as well as I had hoped.

John Skinner [17] is an interesting painter  like because his work contains surprises.

The lime green ground highlights the figure and the inside of the arm. The lack of jawline makes the mouth float somewhere in her face and neck. In her book [16] Emily Ball explains how this girl annoyed the artist by being on the phone for most of a dinner party and this emotion inspired the painting.

Inspired by these artists, I made a particular point of getting to know the life model before the session started.  During the session I kept reminding myself to be engaged with the form of the model, as its so easy to drift off and not actually see whats there.

I was not aiming for photo realism, but more of a merging of colours to produce a form which was more of a fresh observation.

Before going, I completed some research as above, then warmed up with 5 minute charcoal drawings.

With these, I first pushed charcoal dust in the general shape of the figure, adding a few marks later and not  following the lines of the charcoal dust if they  were not right.


A2 oil on paper

This was an OK practice but the mixing of the colours was not successful and it felt confused. This was not helped by continuing the figure colours on to the cloth. The black rigger lines look boring and uniform.


A2 oil on paper

I felt this was an improvement, but again that there was too much paint on the paper. I let the lime ground show through in places but this felt a bit random as I was time pressured and did not add anything to the finished work in the way that Chantal Joffes had as discussed above. Addition of black to red was almost too dramatic and was helped by toning down with white. Better that this was kept to specific areas whereas the first attempt the paint was applied too uniformly.


A2 oil on paper PAINTING 4 FINAL

I felt this painting contained all the elements I wanted. An interesting composition, as I was looking down from standing and could not see the model’s head. It has the gestural marks I wanted, without getting confused. I felt the black rigger marks added the bit of detail needed but was not overdone. I felt that leaving the blanket as a simple outline worked, because it focussed the eye upon the figure. I thought the body looked almost mountainous. I think this loose wet in wet technique is difficult, like watercolour, as once it starts to go wrong, its hard to pull it back and I think I have to accept this technique means there will be more failures than successes. I’m pleased to have tried painting with rags at previous sessions, but also recognise that the brush marks here add something to the work that rag work can’t.

Painting 5

For this painting I was inspired by the resident Portmeirion artist Briony Clark [18] to make y own paint! I sourced rock from Paris Mountain on Anglesey [a disused quarry]. This was ground down to a fine powder with a pestle and mortar, baked and linseed oil added. It was then ground again and sieved through muslim cloth. It was quite oily, I wondered if it would print well or work on a dark ground or with oil paint?

I went on a sketchbook walk and tried to look for unusual things that this medium might suit.

I thought about a crumpled bag left in a layby [too similar to exercise 5.4], telegraph pole [not suiting the medium], vines on a tree and dandelion head but decided in the end on a found image of a crumbled half statue head in Art Review.

As inspiration, I looked in the John Moores Painting Prize catalogue from the OCA study visit [19]. I liked Benjamin Jamie’s ‘Dissolver’ 2015 which uses oil, distemper, wax and charcoal.

He is inspired by many sources including fly tipping and studio detritus. There’s an organic ‘stickiness’ about it, I wondered if my paint would be as fluid as this? From the same show I also liked Talar Aghbashian ‘Untitled’;

I like the contemporary theme, a memory of a toppled statue seen on the news. It’s an interesting viewpoint and I wondered if the paint would have enough tones to paint a statue?

I looked at the book Painting Now [20] and William Daniel’s ‘Shipwreck’ 2005, who reconstructs well known paintings into maquettes made of scavenged materials, which then model for his painted works.

I liked the muted colours, it recalls cubism and gives me the idea for muted colours in this painting. I decided to keep this idea for the future.

Finally I looked at the work of Tanya Wood [21] who uses pencils to draw everyday objects, pillows, paper bag whose creases tell a story. This made me look at the Mcdonalds bag discarded in the layby. This reminded me of George Shaw’s work [3] of disturbed beauty spots with traces of humans.

Next was trials with the paint on various papers, including black.

I tried adding Winsor and Newton fast drying medium which made it more gel like and transparent. After a few experiments, I realised I had to add some yellow ochre oil to make it print. Next time I do this, I won’t add as much linseed oil.


I tried watercolour compositions as I wanted to see what a coloured or white ground would be like.

The printing process was a steep learning curve. I made black paint out of charcoal dust and linseed oil. It was hard to print with and finally I got a successful one off a glass plate.  I felt the white ground worked better than the ochre or blue watercolour ones. I had also tried black paper but felt this dulled the paint.


Print before paint added


Painting 6 FINAL – homemade paint on paper


Painting 6 FINAL – homemade paint on paper – DETAIL

The paint made an interesting organic tree like shapes when printed. I added a little more paint but did not want to obscure the pattern. I took off a little paint with cotton buds around the eye and mouth.

I’m pleased with the creative process to get to the monoprint, the days making the paint made it feel more special. I have other rocks to try with the process for the future, but it is time consuming! I needed the practice from part 3 to do this print, as I had to adjust my amount of paint compared to conventional oil paint.

Painting 6

For this last of the series I wanted to experiment with a medium I have a love-hate relationship with….watercolour. It’s not as popular in contemporary art as oil, does it have a reputation for being boring and old fashioned? I saw a couple at the British Art Show 8 and Georgia O’Keefe study visits [22], and have since found a great book Contemporary British Watercolours [23] which was inspiring. In it I found Barbara Howey, who uses images from the internet of places she has lived. She uses swirls of watercolour, allowed to mix but with a definite edge perimeter and in one corner of ‘Saxa Vord’ is a tiny collage of a delapidated building.

Cecily Brown ‘s [24] ‘Untitled [The Flood] 2015 leaves 1/3 of the paper white with her composition squashed up in one corner. She uses a narrow palette, earth tone and black and the animals are in dynamic poses, some have tones, some are sketched.

James Quin [25] has a varied style in his works, his ‘survivalist’ 2010 shows a man climbing from a pavement door, but there are few clues as to who this man is, which I like!

Finally, Louise Cantrell [26] is in the book, and I generally like her watercolours, which are a simple style but I could not take to ‘Mount Coutha storm’2008.

Maybe there isn’t enough white paper left? But it does give a sense of tangled foliage.

I took a sketchbook walk to my local tropical house to see if there was anything interesting.

I decided to go back to a vines entwining a tree I had seen earlier in the week and had been an idea discarded for painting 5. I liked the shapes and distinct tones  and I thought it would suit a fluid medium. I thought of bleach and ink [but already tried that], coffee [tried but did not react with bleach as well as acrylic ink and granulating watercolour]. I thought about trying a palette knife again as I had done back in Part 1.

I experimented with bleach on a variety of media and various watercolours. The best were the granulating ones and the acrylic ink.


I tried the picture in coffee and watercolour but it felt a bit twee and a stronger version with the palette knife of the vines, and bleaching the background tree colour;


Next I experimented with larger versions with the vines in masking fluid and another with them palette knifed in a pale buff watercolour.

They were both a good learning experience and playing about with the media and bleach but I thought they both looked too confused, neither had the strong look of the vines I wanted, and neither had the bleach effects. The placing of the colours needed more care. I was pleased with the spattering for the leaves, and the bleach making the watercolour granulate, and the ink form patterns. The paint on top of the masking fluid is something I will remember for a another project.

I used the same colours with the addition of ultramarine red to make the palette knifed buff vines stand out. I was more careful with colour placement and the drawing of the actual tree which I think made this more successful;


PAINTING 6 – A3 – watercolour and acrylic ink and bleach on hot pressed paper

I recorded a short 2 minute soundtrack in the wood  accessed by clicking the link above as I hope that listening to this while viewing the painting will enhance the experience of being there.

I like the different marks and textures that came out using bleach and the palette knife. It was hard knowing where to stop, as it would have been easy to keep adding marks, but I wanted to leave around half the paper white [almost did it!]. I kept the foliage at the top of the tree light so it did not detract from the trunk [I experimented with using a kitchen towel to get random marks applying it]. I think this is probably the weakest of the series, but I’m still glad of the experimentation and learning that has come from it.


Following discussions with my tutor after the final feedback, who reassured me that I didn’t really need to change anything if I didn’t want to,  I did decided to add a few marks to the tree foliage and make it less ‘comfortable’!

I practised on the development pieces until I felt I had the right marks and colours. I realised it need to be 3 marks in a dark colour, as the rest of the foliage was light enough. I liked the marks with a palette knife best, because they seemed more random and exciting. I do see how they add something to the top part. I think adding more would look overworked and am happy to leave it there.


Painting 6 – Bleach/Acrylic ink/watercolour with palette knife on A2 hot pressed paper

Reviewing against assessment criteria

Demonstration of  visual skills; this course has made me so aware of my environment, I feel my eyes hurt when I go out! I see so much more than I did before, and have found interest in things I would have passed by without a thought before. I really enjoy using found images for things that really speak to me, like the toy homemade bombs. I think better use of sketchbooks is improving my composition skills rather than going for the first view I think of. I’ve used a variety of materials [enamel, oil, watercolour, printing ink, acrylic ink and even tried making my own paint! Supports have been varied too with metal, tondo paper and cardboard.

Quality of outcome; I have tried to persist in development until I get to a work I think is successful and sometimes this has taken many versions [particularly in the home made paint print and watercolour/bleach paintings. I think I have started to become more discerning with what material will suit each project after investigation.

Demonstration of creativity; In this last part, I’ve tried to strengthen my thoughts in my sketchbooks but recognise this could be improved further. I know I can be self conscious about writing thoughts down when they’re being read by someone unknown but I recognise how valuable an idea can be to come back to in the future. I’ve tried new techniques or to develop them with all the work for this assignment and I don’t believe before this course I could have done that. Using a sound recording is a first for me, and I now wonder about going on to try video.

Context; I think this has been the major part of this course for me. I have looked at a diverse range of artists suggested in the course, and through attending as many OCA study visits and galleries as I can – and not being discerning, so that by going to ones I’m not so keen on, I can usually find something in the work that I like. I think my work as a doctor can’t help but filter in to my work, as well as my own political views and general interests. I have a healthy art library at home now which has been invaluable for inspiration. Buying catalogues from each show has also been helpful to recall work later. I think this enthusiasm for contemporary work will help me to develop further and I really can’t wait for level 2 and the new doors this will open!


  2. Documentary Realism. Painting in the digital age. Robert Priseman. Seabrook Press. 2015
  5. Walls of Freedom. Street art of the Egyptian revolution. Basma Hamdy. From here to fame publishing. 2015
  10. Painting People. Charlotte Mullins. Thames and Hudson. 2008
  11. At the first clear sight. Rezi Van Lankveld. Ridinghouse. 2011.
  12. Picturing People. Charlotte Mullins. Thames and Hudson. 2015
  14. Chantal Joffe. Victoria Miro. 2016
  16. Drawing and painting people. A fresh approach. The Crowood Press. 2015
  20. Painting Now. Suzanne Hudson. Thames and Hudson. 2015
  23. Contemporary British Watercolours. Simon Carter. Amazon. 2015