Assignment 4

Assignment Part 4: Seascape

Review of my landscape paintings and sketches so far:

Without a doubt the landscapes that most appeal to me are the colourful ‘big’ landscapes with mountains and valleys. eg. Paintings 3,4 and 8. Each of these used different techniques but the resultant effects are similar. No. 3 is neat acrylic. No. 4 is Anilinky paint and collage with textures. No.8 is acrylic glazes and lots of water. All are vibrant and bold, with the colour allowing me to loosen up and be a little less realistic.

I don’t feel that I’ve really got into landscapes in the way I hoped. There’s no seascapes, woodland/vegetation or proper townscapes. The last couple of months have been so totally unsettling and it’s really hard to focus on anything for long but I have to push myself to try at least one of the above to move forward.

Colin Pethick LiveStream seascape tutorial:

By chance I’ve heard that a local artist, Colin Pethick, who has featured on Sky Portrait Artist of the Year and whom I met last summer, is starting live stream sessions instead of his regular classes. The first 2 sessions will be a seascape – great learning opportunity I can’t miss out on!

Pretty impressed with this finished piece. Second session was really just touching up areas and trying to follow it on an internet connection that kept failing so I had to guess at most of it. Glad I made notes on how to make certain colours/ techniques as I went along. Learnt a lot about studying light and dark areas (under a wave is very dark, were light comes through top is light/jade, reflections) and also using a variety of brushes to get different effects. This has always been rather trial and error for me, usually error. But Colin explained how to use a fan brush to drag spray, large dry brush to smooth, large flat square ended brushes, one side of small flat brush to edge etc.

Also learnt about considering the need for a variety of values within a painting. eg A light source can only be painted so light but to make it really stand out there needs to be dark values as contrast. Think about a painting in terms of grey scale as you paint as well as considering the actual colours – there needs to be a balance of light and dark with everything between.


Colin Pethick on FaceBook live stream available only to friends/subscribers.

Bob Ross YouTube seascape:

My kids have long talked about Bob Ross and his soothing voice so I decided to YouTube his work and look especially at how he tackles seascapes. A much quicker tutorial this time but although he may have a lovely soothing voice, he doesn’t really explain a lot just tells you how simple it is!

He uses a very confusing palette of colours too with names of paints that I’ve never come across before. This makes it very hard to know whether shades are lighter/darker in relation to each other. I eventually discovered this is because he make his own range of paints and was able to print out his online list with vague colours included and mix my own versions (see sketchbook):

This took less than an hour and I found is very hard to follow so I’m surprised it looks as good as it does.

The sky: Black scrubbed lightly in spirals, then Phthalo and white in spaces. Next white with Alizarin Crimson. Blend base of clouds only – leave top edges sharper. Finally use large dry brush to lightly smooth horizontally. This hasn’t worked for me, I definitely need more white fluffy-ness and less horizontal brushing. ***More practice and investigation with painting skies is definitely needed!

I couldn’t make out his method for creating the splash against the rocks at all so I used a small palette knife over the top of the mess to add white and also flicked spray.

Rocks were his 2 browns (Van Dyke and Dark Sienna) plus Yellow Ochre using a palette knife. This is a method I’ve done before and it works pretty well. A bit fiddly getting the sea to meet the rocks at their base but tried a line of white with blue tint on edge of knife.


Bob Ross (2016) Bob Ross – Surf’s Up (Season 9 Episode 2). At: (Accessed 02/04/2020).

How to Paint Dynamic Skies:

Scott Naismith is an artist I’ve long loved and used for inspiration before. Again by chance, in these times when the internet takes on more significance, I discovered that he uploads lot of videos – mainly explaining to amateur painters what NOT to do rather than a step by step process this time.

Scott Naismith on YouTube: these are just a selection from my day watching this fabulous artist explaining how he paints. The fusion of air, land and water – do we need to know where one ends and another begins?

Graeme Stevenson (Colour in Your Life) (2018) Oil over acrylic painting techniques and tutorial with Scott Naismith I Colour In Your Life. At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

Scott Naismith (2012a) Painting A Sky in 4 Minutes!. At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

Scott Naismith (2012b) ‘Primary Sky’ Painting Demo. At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

Scott Naismith (2013) ‘Colour Theory: Balance and Harmony’ At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

Scott Naismith (2014) How to Paint Better Skies. At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

Scott Naismith (2019) Scott Naismith Interview with Morningside Gallery. At: (Accessed 01/04/2020).

He uses the CMY colour wheel with primary colours as Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Making secondary colours of green, red and blue. And the complement to Blue is Yellow etc – very confusing! I had a go at mixing with the nearest colours I have (as above). Yellow and Cyan made Green as expected, but the others didn’t work. Ordered Winsor and Newton Process Magenta and Process Cyan to give it another go (see bottom tests on above). Yellow and Magenta does not seem to make red though at a push Cyan and Magenta make blue. I can honestly say that I’m now totally confused. I’m going to ignore all this and stick to the usual RBY colour wheel and its secondaries/complimentary colours. Love Scott Naismith’s use of colour but not his theories 🙂

My Assignment painting:

I feel like I have an idea how to attempt a seascape now and need to have a go on my own. I spend a lot of time down on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset so that will be my starting point for inspiration.

Vibrant skies/sun/clouds, reflections on the sea and sand, waves breaking and wavelets on the beach, rocks, wet sand… Composition sketches below:

I think no.4 works best : West Bay cliffs at Sunrise, golden colour of cliffs lite up in the sunlight to a glowing gold. Horizon at 1/3 from bottom so lots of room for sky colours. Cliffs on left 1/3 and rising sun at 1/3 from right side. Use techniques learnt from Colin Pethick for sea and sand (and Bob Ross?) and from Scott Naismith for the sunrise and clouds. Acrylics.

900x600mm is a huge canvas and it’s very intimidating! Eventually I pluck up the courage to at least put on a Burnt Sienna ground…

Now I feel that I’ve got the basic painting there and it needs lots of refinement.

  • Clouds need sharp top edge, blended base – see Scott Naismith notes
  • Adjust the dark tones at top right – the flow isn’t working there
  • make sky under the sun darker perhaps…
  • completely redo the wavelets and foam on beach, they are a mess. Possibly try white glaze over sand and drag backwards towards sea. Look at more photos
  • tweek cliffs and rocks – more golden, dark under ridge
  • continue with sea, waves and reflection (should it be wider?)
  • bring sky colours down onto sand and in reflection

Checking tonal values using greyscale photo: I think the cliffs need more light tones so they really stand out. Sky perhaps too dark? Sun and reflection have good contrast.

When I came back to this a couple of days later, my main concern was the sky – something just wasn’t right about it so I googled lots of ‘colourful sunrise’ images:

So I’ve got it the wrong way around – the light and bright tones are at the base of each cloud with dark above!

That’s better. The dark purple gives the clouds volume and shows the sky above and beyond. Now I’m worried that it’s too dark overall and I don’t like the dark sky against the top of cliffs (they need contrast) …

Added some lighter toned purples and more cyan blue for the sky behind. Light/dark contrast balance is better now but I preferred the previous version! I’m not a fan of light purple. And I need to repaint clouds so they are in front of the blue background. Needs some more of those deep purples back in there…

As finished as it’s going to be. I could go on and on with that sky but have to just stop now.

I really like the composition of this painting. The golden cliffs help lead the eye backwards to the horizon. The reflections in the sea and bright sand are a focal point leading to the slither of light coming down through the clouds.

The contrast between the shady base of the cliffs with the sun lite lower sand works well and the rocks in the sea help give scale to the foreground.

I used lots of texture to build up the cliffs using a palette knife to thickly apply the paint, scraping it back to allow the lower layers to show. I scratched horizontal marks across the cliffs to show the clear layers in the rock. The cliffs at West Bay are regular and rounded without great holes or features. The regular rock falls there take whole vertical slices from the cliffs.

The sea is calm with gentle waves. I have added light touches of colours from the sky into the water to bring it together – maybe I could add more of these? I’m happy enough with the sea to the right but struggled with getting the perspective correct with the sea going off into the distance on the left. It looks too flat, but then it is a long straight part of coast back to that far headland…

The slither of light coming through the clouds works well with the bright reflection on the water in the far distance. I think it would have been better if that light was a little nearer to the sea – less of a gap between.

crop of sunrise

The sky is the part that bothers me. I should have studied photos of sunrises before starting to paint and then I would have got the dark tones in the correct place first time but there’s now just too much paint. I love vibrant, colourful skies and this is an area that will certainly feature in my work to come so it’s important for me to keep practicing and refining techniques.

This painting has definitely been influenced by both Colin Pethick for the sea and waves, and Scott Naismith for the sky. I have really learnt so much from both of them during this exercise. Moving forward I must now study the paintings of the millions of artists that paint the sea/waves/storms especially off the Cornish coast, find those that appeal to me and study their techniques. Alongside this I need to continue looking at the clouds and how the tones work together to give a feel of volume and depth.

I haven’t yet read through Part 5 but assuming it fits in with the brief there, I’d really like to continue exploring ways of portraying the coast and sky using vibrant colour to show off its beauty and power.

Assignment 3

Tutor feedback and my thoughts on it

My tutor was pleased with my overall progress and suggested ways to move forward:

“There is an interesting relationship in your work between realism and your use of colour, which I think you could explore with more gestural mark-making, where the image is less reliant on realism and embraces the materiality of your medium. Try letting the paint drip and run for example, using paint in fluid ways to build depth and layers onto your surface.”

Getting the balance between realism and making it my own is certainly an area I struggle with. I may start a painting being loose and making gestural marks but as I refine the painting I always seem to return to a small brush and aim for precism. During Part 4 I have really tried to move away from this. A useful way of doing this with landscape painting has been to put away the photos and sketches once the initial drawing is done and rely on memory and imagination to continue. For the final exercise “Working from a Photograph” I went a step further and let the paint do the work with runs and drips in multiple layers – very satisfying.

Sketchbook: He encourages me to continue sketching which is a skill I really struggle with although I appreciate its value. During Part 4 I have found it hard to get out and about to sketch, firstly due to the wet weather and then the lockdown but have tried my best.

Research: “some of your analysis is a little brief and would benefit from more critical reflection of your ideas, explaining in more detail why you like or are inspired by a particular work, technique or idea and how this supports your own practice”. He suggested I read a couple of OCA links and I especially found the one on ‘so what is research’ interesting and useful. I understand that I need to look at artists and their painting with an ever increasing analysis of their methods, reasoning and how I can use this. I am certainly now finding that research forms a vital part of any piece of work and enjoy looking for new ways to tackle a piece. I’m beginning to find it easier to understand ‘why’ I like/dislike a work and to be able to study a composition and ask myself what makes it work or not.

He suggests I begin to think about the types of subject matter and themes that interest me for incorporating into future paintings. Both Part 3 and Part 4 have made me realise that an important part of this has to be colour. It’s becoming more apparent that I’m always drawn to vibrant palettes of (usually unrealistic) colours. Artists such are Scott Naismith, Lorna Holdcroft-Kirin, Fred Hatt, Francoise Nielly, Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Raoul Dufy and Van Gogh to name but a few. I loved doing the portraits in Part 3 and finding a way to make them my own with colour. In Part 4 its the big landscapes I’ve enjoyed most but I need lots more practice at these as I don’t feel I’ve really touched the surface with them yet.

Assignment 3

Assignment 3: A Portrait in the Fauvist style

During Part 3 I have discovered Fauvism which I had never heard of before. I’ve always been a great fan of all things bright and colourful so I’ve found I keep returning to images in this style now and want to have a go for myself!

Started with just a bit of a play around to get a feel for the difficulty really – see sketchbook

It’s hard! Need to do some serious research in techniques.

Research: Firstly searched the internet for lots of images of contemporary fauvism (it appeals more than the 1900s style)

Colour, colour, colour. Bold and unblended. Dark colours, like blues and purples, used for darker toned areas and light colours, like yellows and pinks, used for lighter areas. Black commonly use to accentuate the features or outlines. Hardly any background – what does show is a continuation of the colours.

Now watched lots of YouTube videos showing examples of how to go about painting in fauvist style ie using colour instead of realistic skin tones.

Ground with black then yellow ochre. Starts by drawing portrait with dark paint then infills with Van Gogh greens and oranges. Beard colours were intense, often red. Mixes new colours using remnants on brush so that they work together. Then smaller brush for more detail. Black outlines esp around darker side of face to return the painting to more of a ‘drawing’. Background of squiggles that follow the profile, highlight with purple to make vibrant and add same in accents to face too.

Big bold strokes. Complementary orange and blue. Dark tones are dark colour. Palette knife and wedge. Lots of white added at end which enhance vibrancy of other colours. Too much white on hair?

A lot of pallette knife and wedge work as well as brushes big and small. Background colour of oranges and green (with lots water). Chalk drawing for placement then dark paint outline with more detail. Palette knife for bold colours on face then large decorating brush for whiskers. Fingers to smudge.

Abstract background to start, then basic outline. Built up with mainly dark colours. Flesh tones to right side of face but still leaving background showing. Cloak highlights to finish – which is otherwise only a few lines for creases.

Wow such an unusual way to paint. No model, just from imagination. Starts with thick black outline which she adjusts by running under tap to wash some off, then overpaints, sometimes wipes back with cloth too – very messy (can’t imagine it coming together at all!) When happy adds colour, no blending really, lots of overpainting to get balance right. Continual adjustments, always with big brush and bold strokes.

This is the one I love. Ground of acrylics then water mixable oils. Relies on very accurate base drawing. Uses fluorescent colours too. Thin with linseed oil to consistency of mayonnaise. NB although teeth are considered to be white, always add some grey. Fill whole canvas with colour (dark colours for dark tones etc) and only then stand back to adjust lighter or darker. No blending between colours. Frequently uses yellow ochre for shadow under the nose. Hair all black and then highlights added. Lips are flat colour with darker hues for shadow and highlights of white. Eyes and lips are the main focus.

Starts by totally covering surface with abstract blocks of colour. Then uses black to gradually add placement of eyes, lips, under nose. Adds darker toned blocks to give right side of face with blending inwards, and also background on left side etc. Chin is lighter tones. Hair uses less blocky shapes but rather more curvy lines. Very clever build up of detail – rather beyond me right now but fascinating.

What I’ve learnt from all this:

  • Get an accurate drawing down first
  • Fill entire surface with colour – light in light areas, dark in dark etc. Then stand back and do adjustments. Keep reworking.
  • Use acrylics so they dry fast and lots of adjustments can be done without having to leave for several days.
  • Accuracy of the base drawing is vital to get correct placement of eyes and mouth especially. The colour tells the story of the variation in tones but if the layout isn’t correct then the painting never will be.
  • keep adjusting and reworking. I usually stop way sooner than these artists seem to. Continue to tweek and adjust.
  • Add white/light highlights last
  • Dabs/blocks of colour rather than accurately scribed marks.
  • Minimal blending, leave it bold and broken
  • In all of these examples the background behind the portrait is a continuation of the abstract colours without identifiable shape and form.

A bit more of a look at Francoise Nielly art – see sketchbook:

Ready to have another go now. I’ve chosen to do a portrait of my daughter laughing (crop from same image as exercise on Conveying Character). Starting with practicing accurate drawing so using a grid to help with placement:

Now to have a try with colour. Watercolour brush pens in sketchbook:

Canvas Board, 24×20 inches, ready primed. Gradually building it up and adjusting. I can actually feel that it’s getting there, coming alive. More tweaks to make though:

  • Background
  • detail of eye lashes and creases in black
  • nose
  • areas inside glasses are too pink compared with yellow outside
  • add hair strands to left side
  • teeth detail

Largely finished? now to leave it alone for a day or two to ponder what else is needed….

The finished portrait: Fauvist Katie.

Added a couple of adjustments: made the teeth less white by adding some very pale yellow. Also made less of a colour change down line to right of mouth by adding some blue and yellow to cheek area.

I stuck to my proposed colour palette but the blending of colours when wet has created a wider range of colours including green and oranges which I feel really adds to it. I’m really pleased with the vibrancy created by using a whole range of colours which ping against each other. I studied the photo very carefully for changes in skin tone and substituted appropriate tones of colour.

For the background I continued with the same colour palette. I made sure to use contrasting colours in order to bring the face to the foreground eg on the left side of the face which is largely yellow/light tones, I used the darker pink/purple colours behind.

This painting is all about the sparkle in her eyes. I chose to keep her hair black (it isn’t really) and painted lines to show the flow and style of her hair. I then filled the gaps between with the same colours as the background in that area. Looking at it now, perhaps I should have painted more strands of hair so it was denser, with less background colour between – something to try next time.

Everyone I’ve shown this to (and since I’m pretty proud of this one, there’s been a few) has recognised my daughter, Katie, straight away. I have managed to capture the sparkle in her eyes and the way her happy face lights up the room.

I’m not completely happy with the mouth, teeth and lips. I’ve kept the colours here fairly realistic which I feel is right but the teeth and gums are especially hard to paint! I struggled with making the teeth not totally white and added a touch of yellow from my palette which is OK. For the gums I suppose you’d add a little black to give pale grey pink but that didn’t seem right. So I tried making a darker pink from my colours but they’re now really too pink I feel.

As a comparison, the above 2 photos show my progression with painting this portrait. Same image but far more accomplished now (well I feel it is). The eyes are now looking and seeing, and there is a sparkle to them. The cheeks are pronounced and in the correct place now for a laughing face. I’ve certainly learnt how important it is to get the initial drawing correct before starting to paint (shape of glasses!)

I’ve enjoyed painting this portrait so much that I’m now having another go. Found a photo of me and tried sketching out:

Not enough contrast between light/dark – this would be hard to get a good range of colours. Try another…

This photo of my daughter Beth, has better contrast between light and dark and shows her caught in a natural smile. However, this image doesn’t capture the essence of Beth in the way that the one of Katie did. Beth doesn’t usually wear makeup or have her hair done fancy – I hope I can manage to none the less capture her spirit and make her recognisable.

Had a bit of a problem with my sketch which I struggled to get right – then I realised that the face was one square too wide! Folded the page and yes it’s her now.

I want the colour palette that I use this time to be slightly different, tricky as I used all my favourites. I’ve decided to use more orange and perhaps red, instead of the rose red pink this time. The background will be orange / blue rather than pink / purple.

Realised that I had made the jaw and cheek far too dark and also too cleanly edged. Overpainted with titanium white and left to dry so that I could try that part again! Also shoulder behind neck is too dark and I need a distinction between earlobe and neck…

Toned it all down and added the detail of eyes and mouth. Eyes are Copper acrylic – I wanted something that would sparkle a bit compared to the rest of the palette and she has dark brown eyes.

Adjustments for next stage:

  • Pupils of eyes are a bit flat, try adding a darker edging, also white spots
  • The lashes on the right eye are lost into the dark background – trying lightening the background so they show
  • It is all TOO YELLOW! She looks like a character from The Simpsons! I need to add much more variation in colour to the skin – more oranges, reds and blues. I know why this happened – she is very pale skinned and this made me keep using my lightest toned colour ie yellow. Notch everything up a few tones…
  • The eyes just aren’t right. I expect this is because the blue shading on the eyelids looks like eye shadow and she doesn’t do makeup. Also less black line on lids needed

Finished painting: Fauvist Beth

Canvas Board 20×24 inches, ready primed

That’s better. Made the changes as above plus added some titanium white touches in the lightest areas of nose, chin and forehead.

I especially like the ear and jaw line. My mistake early on with making this side of the face far too dark has really paid off in that I’ve left just a slither of the dark blue along the jaw line and that really sets it off well. Ears can be very tricky I’ve found but this time the use of colours has come together well.

It’s not quite a correct likeness as predicted but the essence of her is there – slim face, lush hair. It appears ‘off’ because of the red lips and made up eyes – perhaps I should have toned down the red lips but then this is pretty fundamental to the style I’m creating…

What I’ve learnt from these Fauvist Portraits:

Wow I’m loving this style! So pleased with the results too. And I can see definite improvement between the two painting.

The black lines of ‘Katies’ hair are too few and there isn’t a lot of contrast with the background. For ‘Beth’ I carefully painted more lines, showing the style too, and infilled with a lighter colour to show some contrast. I also overpainted the black with some yellow as some shine and highlights.

I struggled with the neck on ‘Katie’ as there was less definition to show. With ‘Beth’ there is a clear, strong jaw, neck and chin.

My brush strokes also became smaller and slightly more blended which I think works better too.

I found working with the first colour palette of pinks and purples easier than with reds and oranges. I suspect this is because I’m happy with making lighter tones of pink which gave a good alternative to using yellow for all the light tones. A lighter toned red is, of course, pink which I didn’t want included in this palette and so I became restricted to using yellow for the light tones – ie making her into a Simpson character.

I’m so pleased that I did some thorough research before starting as it really helped me know just where to start. I adopted some ideas from the paintings I studied such as keeping the eyes and mouth fairly realistic like Francoise Nielly. Also continuing with the same colour palette for the backgrounds and keeping it without recognisable forms as many of the contemporary artists do.

Now I need to attempt my son so that I have portraits of them all. That will be hard – the style has been about the flow of hair amongst other things and he has short hair and a beard. Needs a lot of thought so I’m not including this in the assignment.

Assignment 2

Tutors Report for Part 2 and my thoughts on it

Thanks to my tutor for such positive feedback. It’s very reassuring to know that not only am I loving exploring and learning to paint but I’m also on the right lines for this course.

“Feedback on assignment: Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

Within your outcomes for this part you demonstrate a good technical command of your materials across a range of mediums. You show a commitment to your practice and good compositional and visual skills throughout. Your confident use of colour and alternative formats show an inventive approach and you are commended for your ambition with your final piece.

Your still life studies show a well considered colour pallette and observational awareness. Your technical skills are good, evidenced by a command of perspective. There is a graphic quality and precision to some of your sketchbook work and I particularly like your use of a viewfinder to crop a painting study, as it intensifies the vibrant orange, reds and green of subject and creates a more abstracted and formal image.

The technical parameters of your fish eye works for this assignment are challenging and you have shown a competent ability to represent this well, within your final outcomes and more so in your preparatory works. The cropped edges of your work on board enhances the optical quality of your composition. Works depicting interiors can feel claustrophobic but by using this non-human viewpoint you have managed to create an expanding space. This gives the piece a sculptural quality that could perhaps be explored further in future work.

(I really enjoyed developing this fish eye interior and it’s definitely a style that appeals to me and will certainly pursue it further at some point. Crossing the surfaces linear boundaries and having parts continue outside, helps keep the eye searching every corner of the piece – I find including this were possible helps a composition)

There are many challenges with this work and it’s good to see you explore different methods of applying your paint, alongside thorough planning of your composition. You have developed some intriguing results, most successfully when applying more illustrative methods, rather than impasto techniques, where to my eyes the optical effect of the composition is lost through the more gestural application of paint. Here raises a question between representation and abstraction, and how to select methods and mediums for the type of ideas explored.

(I agree – I wasn’t at all sure about the green impasto version but some students at the study day preferred it as it gave an abstract fairytale feel. I did like the texture and life the impasto gave however so definitely more experimenting to be done here.)

Moving forward, continue as you are and use experimentation to develop unexpected directions for your work to take. Use your sketchbook to trail diverse ideas and push your comfort zone. Explore mixing different mark making mediums on your surface, with a focus on explorative processes and material investigation.

Sketchbooks: Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

You are finding a good balance between sketching, planning, note-taking and experimenting with exercises, alongside some artist research throughout your sketchbook. There is an eclectic mix of ideas and images and it’s building into a great document of your progress so far. The only thing I would say is to be less precious with the pages and let further experimentation spread across more and more pages. Sketchbooks don’t have to be linear, go back and rework sections, or pull parts out to use in other works.

(This first POP sketchbook was far too neat, nerves at it all being so new. But this is changing – lots of experiments in Part 3)

Research: Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have included some interesting references throughout your blog, offering insight on your thinking process and exhibition and study visits. You demonstrate an understanding of the research points and write clearly about a variety of ideas. Moving forward, focus your reflecting on how contextual research is impacting specifically on your own work. What can you glean from your research that is supportive of your own practice, both technically and creatively. Try to reflect more directly on how contextual research is impacting on your own ideas, methods and approaches and importantly the subject matter you are interested in.”

(Noted, and I’ll attempt to write more about it. I find researching work by other artists of immense benefit and commonly use this as a starting point for my own pieces – more direct reflection needed here then.)

Several links to contemporary artists were then included which I shall investigate and write up seperately.

Assignment 2

Part 2 assignment

I have decided to develop the interior painting of My Studio rather than doing another still life composition. I feel that I’ll definitely benefit from more practice with interiors and need to find an interesting and lively composition.

Research: Anthony Green

During the past year of visiting exhibitions I have come across paintings by Anthony Green on several occasions. The fascinating composition of these instantly leaps out at me to make him one of the few artists whose work I can identify.

I spent some time looking at his interiors on the internet then decided that the thing to do was to print some off and make notes on them. See sketchbook:

Main points:

  • Irregular shaped supports or even multiple supports loosely joined.
  • Almost always uses a high viewpoint, up at ceiling height.
  • Multiple perspectives, includes all walls, both those in front and behind the viewer, plus ceiling, next door rooms etc. Great sense of space. Some rooms distorted or extended to create extra space.
  • Very bright vibrant palettes but limited to a few colours. Many are tones of oranges and reds, others greens.
  • Trickery included – reflections in mirrors can show different people.
  • The artist himself and family members included, almost as caricatures. Eyes high on head.

Also bought this book, really interesting insight into what is behind his painting:

Royal Academy of Arts (Great Britain) (2017) Anthony Green: Painting Life. (s.l.): Royal Academy of Arts.

For Part 2 of the Drawing 1 course last year, I worked on My Studio to do these pieces. Then I was using David Hockney (for multi-perspective) and Roy Lichtenstein (for changing/updating patterns and textures) as inspiration:

This isn’t quite what I was hoping for, too many straight lines…. then I thought about taking panoramic photos with my mobile – that will give a curved perspective….

Yes that’s much better, more the effect I have in my mind. Too many objects and clutter to include, I need to be selective to get best composition.

Another sketch, this time on A1 paper, long to include all walls of the room.

  • Curve to the walls as they go off into distance.
  • Furthest point is left end of window wall where it meets shelves so this part is the smallest and lines grow as things get nearer to the viewer.
  • Desks are central focus (and nearest point) so items are large.
  • Desk edge sticks out beyond edge of support to accentuate.
  • Ceiling beams included, as Anthony Green does, with them sticking out. These help to hold the room together and make it look like the side walls are parallel. Without the beams I’m not sure that I’d have the 3D feel at this stage.
  • Can see into adjoining wash room though I’m not including the door itself as that’s too dominant (pretend it opens away from us and hinged from right of doorway)

Next stage was fiddling around with the lines again and making a simplified plan. Now what colour palette to use? (see sketchbook)

Decided to use different colours than it is and go for green walls and a reddish colour (its complementary colour) for a wooden things. Practiced mixing various greens – mostly they turned out pretty dull and mossy which isn’t what I want. Grass Green with either Cobalt Blue or Cadmium Yellow gave a good range of vibrant, in your face, greens.

I wanted to use a support other than paper – try something new. I found some hardboard and drew on the outline, then was told that I should draw it on the reverse side to get a smooth cut on the front. I did this but stupidly forgot that I needed to reverse the pattern so it was cut wrongly – bother. And the back is very textured so no good.

I’m going to have a go anyway and attempt to do a mirror image of the room.

I’ve been watching Sky Landscape Artist of the Year 2017 and one of the artists used a Pebble Sculptor / Contour Tool / Wedge (seems to be called many things) which I’d not come across before. I’ve ordered one and am going to try using this along with palette knives – just to try to create a different effect and to add some texture. It would be too easy to just do a regular brush painting and make this realistic – I want to experiment and try new stuff!

Initial layer of acrylics applied using Wedge and Palette Knives – scraped so that under layer shows through and there’s lots of texture. Carpet applied with an old toothbrush and stippled to get texture. Allowing this to completely dry and then I’ll try adding washes to sort out tones and detail. Working in reverse is actually quite interesting – the lines are less instinctive and I hope I’ll be looser rather than obsessing with accuracy.

Some parts are sticking out to me as very wrong:

But some of the textures are great:

There’s a lot wrong with some of the line work – the shelf unit is far too narrow, hasn’t got a smooth curve around and the tall part too wide/short part too narrow! Working as a mirror image was hard – as you can see I failed to reverse the items on the table and I got confused by the curve of the ceiling line above the window.

I do love all the textures though and they really add to the interest of the piece. I worked hard on the tones, especially on the walls, to show places where there was light or shadow and I feel that I’ve largely achieved creating space and depth to the room.

Although I’m pretty pleased with the finished painting, I’ve decided to have another go this time on mount board and hopefully the correct way around!

This of course looks far more like my studio, that’ll be the accurate colours used this time. I leant by my previous mistakes and spent the time getting the lines right first this time.

The curves of the shelf unit are correct this time and I’ve added a small view of the near left end which helps (though it can’t really been seen from this view point). When I painted this unit on the linear perspective exercise, I really struggled painting the straight lines of the unit front and they ended up very wiggly. This time I used the wedge to ‘print’ straight line sections – these are slightly raised and reflect the white paint well resulting in a nicely highlighted front – much happier this time. I painted in the shadows/light in each shelf to give it depth before filling with miscellaneous items. I deliberately kept the painting of these items vague and loose, not accurate representations but general forms.

I think that both the use of tones on the walls together with the curving lines and including the ceiling, have all contributed to giving a great sense of space within the room. As one fellow student said, they would like to walk into the wash room to explore in there too.

The far window looks better with the window sill included, along with being able to see the sides of the window recess (not the top due to high view point).

I did the ceiling beams as on the first piece – black on the shady sides and black with gloss medium on the light sides, with streaks of white allowed to show through. I also did the carpet the same, stippling colours but adding more shade this time too.

This second piece is more realistic, calming, accurate and sits well on the eye. But, it is more boring in many ways with its largely smooth texture and cool colours.

I presented these two assignment pieces at the SW Study Day on Saturday 9th Nov to fellow students and tutor Lydia Halcrow who was there. I asked which they preferred and why – interesting responses:

  • Green has more energy. The errors add interest and intrigue, and make it my own. Since the perspective and line is rather abstract, these errors aren’t seen by others as errors. Texture is great. Colours and texture give it quite a fairytale/dreamland quality. A place of energy and adventure.
  • Blue is obviously more precise and the colours are calming and relaxed. The feel of space is very realistic and they’d like to walk into the wash room to see that too. More to look at in this piece, one student commented that they could study the contents of the shelves for ages deciding what the items were.
  • I had assumed they would prefer the blue one however opinion was split between the two.

This has been a great learning assignment. Lots of positives and lessons learnt that I can take forward into future painting. ie use lots of texture and apply paint in a variety of ways to create interest, Accentuate the light/dark tones, Don’t fuss with fine detail but do make sure there’s plenty going on for the eye to find, Initial sketches, planning and mapping out are very important!

Assignment 1

Tutor feedback to Part 1 and my thoughts on it

My tutor liked that I had been experimenting with mixed media and paint, and encouraged me to continue this which I will definitely do – so much to explore and learn!

He also suggests I continue to develop layering paint to build depth on the surface, and explore line, tone and texture in abstracted ways, as opposed to focussing on representation accuracy. This is great as I’ve really been focussing on trying to be more abstract in Part 2 – exploring using palette knives and wedges etc rather than just brushes to give more texture and different lines.

He suggests that I spend more time sketching and trialing ideas before starting. This should help with getting the tonal properties correct and the contrast between light and dark areas. Definitely something I’m becoming more aware of, especially when painting interiors. On receiving this feedback, I revisited the interior pieces I was working on and added more variation between tones – creates a clearer sense of depth and space within the room.

As far as research is concerned, he suggests that I choose 2 or 3 artworks each time and compare and contrast these in more detail. I’ll certainly give this a go in future though I’d completed all the research for Part 2 before receiving this advise.

He says how important it is to take as much inspiration as possible from other artists through visiting exhibition (as I’ve been doing, especially over the summer) and reading a range of books. He suggested I get a couple of books 1. Vitamin P – New Perspectives in Painting, by Barry Schwabsky (2002) – bought this and reading through. 2. A Brush with the Real: Figurative Painting Today (Elephant Books) (2014) – too expensive for me, maybe I’ll find it in a library…

In summary, Pointers for the next assignment:
● Continue to experiment and explore your visual thinking in different ways, both in terms of medium and subjects. Focus on your processes rather than final outcomes at this stage and build confidence with your application of paint. – loving experimenting, there’s so much to learn. I’ve explored applying Acrylics with tools and well as brushes which I find frees me up more, and am persevering with the troublesome Gouache as I love its vibrancy. Going to invest in Oil paints for the next part to see how they compare.
● Develop greater contrast in your work but spending more time observing the tonal properties of your subject. Exaggerating the relationship between light and dark may reveal a more realistic three-dimensional space. – something I’ll really need to focus on and learn to exaggerate as I can see how it’s the contrast that adds reality.
● The subject of the next assignment can be approached in a traditional way, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Push the creative boundaries of your practice and utilise what you learn from your contextual research.
● Search the OCA website for resources and guides on academic writing and critical reflection, including how to use Harvard referencing when citing your research sources. – I’ve done this and am now using PaperPile to help with referencing.

Assignment 1

Assignment 1

Choosing a composition proved far harder than it ought to be! As I’d just been researching Chiaroscuro, I thought at first perhaps a portrait with direct light source but it quickly became clear that I couldn’t make my studio dark enough for the light to have effect (nor did I actually feel capable of painting a portrait). I tried an assortment of arty things but that felt too predictable.

Eventually I settled on a Still Life of some household objects that are connected by their colours, have a good range of heights and a variety of materials/textures to test me:

Paint choices: acrylic paint. Decided to just go for it and adjust colours as I go along. I don’t currently have any mediums to add to the paint for gloss, matt, texture etc as there’s too many options to choose from! I’m meeting a couple of more experienced OCA Painting students next week for some technical know-how.

Started with a rough dark background and sketched on the outlines in charcoal to get proportions correct. Added blocks of colour and left to dry.

Layers of colour added to reduce transparency, especially of mug and lemon. Several layers of glaze (colour with water) to apples to try and make them glossy and colours blended. Darker tones to right side of objects where less light. Decided that the upturned flower pot was too similar to background colour so changed that. Also tried to add the spots of light on the apples using white – that didn’t look right at all and I thought I’d messed it up as the white is too opaque to cover but I found that despite being dry I could scratch it off. Tried adding the texture pattern to the ‘cows’.

I found this really challenging but focussed upon knowing I could always repaint parts that weren’t right and I’m fairly happy with the final painting.

I found selecting the correct brush more tricky than I’d realised it’d be – I guess that’s a matter of practice. Small details eg the ears, were particularly hard and these are pretty messy. My hands can shake a bit making the fine lines of the flower stem and apple sticks rather wobbly. I think I’ve managed to capture the idea of 3D with the darker tones and shadows – perhaps more variation between the vertical and horizontal planes of the background would have helped ie make the objects look like they are sitting on a flat surface. The left hand cow tends to blend into the background as they are similar colours – a lighter area behind him could have helped this.

More critique in sketchbook:

A lot to be thinking about now with this and many lessons learnt.

Having another try at still life:

After seeing the ‘Coffee Pot and Lemon’ still life of Colin Pethick at Open Studios, I wanted to have another go. Such amazing reflections caught in the metal and table surface but on close inspection his brush strokes are very rough and nothing is totally blended. Love this style but it is oils rather than acrylics…

No coffee pots so I’m going for a white tea pot with lemon. I found that placing it on its side gave far more tonal variation and a more interesting shape. Added a few flowers to complete composition:

Same colour pallet as before but decided to make the background more vibrant so started with Vermillion, Copper and Gold paint. Tried to use brush strokes to define the difference between horizontal table and the vertical. Used chalk to add outlines and painted basic shapes. White, of course, being opaque, covers the background nicely but I can see I may struggle with the orange flower (lemon will hopefully be OK as there’s nothing behind it and the background colours can be used to add tones).

Detail of lemon: some white mixed in with yellows to cover background then dappled a darker tone to give texture. Finished with glaze of yellow. Photo is a bit blurred I’m afraid but I can see progress from the lemon in my first piece.

Shadows ground the objects well. Happy with lemon and white flowers. Orange flower is still too transparent and I needed to add more white to paint. Flower stems were very tricky again as my hand stook too much for an even line. I think I have a good range of tones in the tea pot but found it very hard to blend then properly.

Sketchbook critique:

Far from perfect but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I’m learning from each try and can see improvement.