Category Archives: Exercise 1.1

Exercise 1.1

What fun this exercise was – 20 small paintings on different backgrounds.

Of course, I went for the more conventional white ones to start with, but soon found I had to experiment on enamel and black blotches!

I decided to have a theme of figures and faces – I found a mixture of vintage photos, magazine stars, photos of statues from the V and A, and pictures of teenagers from the 80’s – a great era!

Drawings of vintage photos naturally fitted with the thinned acrylic and watercolour wash backgrounds. These are OK, maybe lacking in 3D with too few tones – too drawn rather than painted? This reminded me of the Laura Lancaster exhibition at the Walsall Art gallery [1].

The thin black acrylic gave better tones here. Taylor Swift got a slightly elongated face and Mick Jagger lips, but I had decided to draw in paint, so mistakes are made and hopefully the image looks fresher.

Watercolour on enamel was a great surprise – to get the paint beading. You can leave it thin like this or add thick streaks which don’t bead.

Watercolour on acrylic beads a little, but not as much as enamel. Marks can be wiped off if quick only. I like the glasses on this face, they look realistic. Its hard to get dark  tones with watercolour on acrylic. The second is acrylic ink on acrylic paint. The one colour was a bit boring and not sure thicker paint bought out the lighter tones enough.

Thinned acrylic on a grey acrylic background for both of these – the acrylic sinks quickly – patience is needed to build up the layers. I like the unusual colours for each face – although purple for Prince is hardly original!

I wondered what to do with my black blotchy background. I added thinned acrylic layers and really tried to push the medium with different marks including dry brush. I’m pleased with the second one as I think I got a loosely painted face out of 3 colours adding black for the eyes and hair. I took on board research on Marlene Dumas who does not overpaint. These last two are my favourites – the first face I worked with the blotch, rather than painting over it which gave it a more interesting feel I think.


What worked? I really did try experimenting with different mediums here and trying more unusual composition.

What could be improved? Some look like drawings – for instance the bronze acrylic ink and black ink Boy George. They needed some more colours adding. I need to practice white ink on black backgrounds – that face failed. The thick acrylic punk girl failed because of drawing mistakes and the opaque paint having no depth.