Exercise: Abstract painting from man-made form

‘Study a man-made object. Focus close on one part of it and try different viewpoints.’

When I started this I did not feel a great enthusiasm for the exercise; however, I now find I have been drawn into the whole process and my ideas seem to lead on from each other. I chose a bottle of scent as a starting point, as I felt it would offer interesting light on the glass and the liquid. I did a few sketches, and then was looking at the liquid and and bubbles that form if shaken slightly, and I thought to put it together into the round bubble shape and to mix the elements up a bit. The name has dots of red too, which add colour and interest. the liquid is a light yellowish green.  I thought a blue background would work well. I thought to kind of condense the bottle into the circle and turn the top round side on.



I dropped some water onto a plastic plate I had painted blue to study the light on the water.


Eden #19 abstract

A2 canvas on wooden frame. Well, I am not unhappy with it. I think my bubbles work well  and add interest. Maybe I could have done the glass a little better but because I changed the shape that made it more difficult. I admit I did enjoy this exercise and it has opened my mind to be more receptive to abstract working in future.



Book review: ‘This is modern art’ Matthew Collings


This really was an entertaining read – much to my surprise! Collings tells the story of Modern Art in an  amusing and witty way and seems to cover just about everything.  Also a good reference book to keep and refer to. (By the way, I didn’t steal this from a library…it came with that bar code on it! 🙂 )

So I learnt more about artists I was familiar with and many that I had not heard of. A useful reference book to dip into for research and inspiration.




Exercise: Abstraction from study of natural forms

‘Abstract by looking very closely at a familiar natural form and expanding what you see in an arrangement of lines, shapes and colours.’


I am in love with this rock down by the river. It is quite soft, and often seems to have changed. I think parts of it wear away. Sandstone? It has been calling to me for a while and I am thinking I could use this to abstract – maybe select a part of it to zoom in on, and put a complementary colour around this area. I may try a little ‘frottage’ on it next time I am down there.

So I did and the results are below. It was very windy and the rock stands a bit  proud to be able to do this, so it wasn’t really the result I had hoped for, but it was a chance to look closely at this structure. 

I have been sketching the rock and thinking how best to do this. 20171202_104547

I tried a few colours and added some flour to the acrylic (from the  previous exercise) to give a rougher effect, which worked rather well.  I think the blue background works best but maybe not textured as it looks like an island on the sea. The violet is too intense. 20171202_143552


20171206_165750I like the blue so I think of a sky with some clouds, as if this part of rock is floating. Little lines of wispy clouds. I start painting this onto an A2 canvas and then I realise….it seems familiar!!! So I do some searching and of course come up with Magritte’s floating rock (“Castle of the Pyrenees”)  Now I realise this is getting surreal, rather than abstract but now it is there I want to paint this. It has also made me realise how much researching other artist’s work influences you, even on a subconscious level.

source: https://aestheticrealism.org/the-surreal-is-everyday-part-2/



‘Sandstone Sky’

Reflection: This exercise was about looking closely at a natural object and abstracting from that. I realise I may not have quite fulfilled what was asked, but I am rather pleased with my result and the process which carried me there. I think the colours work well together and I am pleased to have used my ‘mixing flour with acrylic’ idea from the previous exercise. I think this has given a good rough and sandy effect here. I like the contrast of the rock with the smooth air and the fluffy clouds.


Assignment 5: Juxtapositions

My proposal here: https://throughaquamarine.wordpress.com/2017/09/15/assignment-5-proposal-2-juxtapositions/

the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
“the juxtaposition of these two images”
I think the idea of juxtaposition in terms of qualities of soft / hard, warm / cool etc sounds a good focus.  The wind turbine and pueblo or Spartacus v Blade Runner sounds intriguing.  I recommend that you keep it simple and don’t put too many elements into the piece.
I think working directly from the scene did help you to loosen up and enjoy the paint handling process.  Perhaps build in a good series of drawings, using loose gestural qualities in charcoal to start the process.  Practice your gestural in the evenings from your photographs.
#1: Don Quixote’s Vision 
My aim is to contrast the modern, hard, solid and strong lines of the wind turbines, using cooler, bolder lines with the warm, gentle, soft mountains and towns in the hazy distance. My idea behind this is a modern vision for Don Quixote to tilt at, with the Spanish countryside and white ‘pueblos’  behind.
I drove to the hill with the wind turbines yesterday (Manilva) and found a suitable parking spot. There is a track that goes right up to and past the turbines. They are HUGE when you get close and actually a little bit scarey… It was VERY windy, which is I suppose is why they are positioned there. It was not possible to sketch on the top of the hill but I managed to do some watercolour sketches from the car, looking out towards the distant mountains and towns to explore the colours in the hills and the sky. I took lots of photos and worked from them when I got back to do some gestural charcoal sketches and try to work out the composition I might choose. All in all a positive start. I have a canvas (50 x 70) which I will prime ready for a possible painting trip tomorrow morning, (cancelled due to the weather breaking)and I will decide on the composition later after I have tried out some more sketches. I think it will be portrait, even though it is a landscape, as I want to show the height of the turbines.20171016_125258
 I tried a few more studies. I still need to decide the composition. I think it doesn’t matter if I add the position of the turbines afterwards, after all, I am unlikely to complete the whole painting ‘en situ’. Having a large turbine central is dramatic but maybe cuts the picture in half, making it too dominant. 20171019_150007
This afternoon I tried another composition sketch in colour  and I think maybe this works better. There is some rule of thirds creeping in here…But I will paint in the moment when I am actually there – the sky may be very different now and quite dramatic as the rain has come back to Spain in the last few days.
colour composition sketch


Had a wonderful morning painting yesterday. Very bright, sharp light and low wind levels so I could get out of the car and work. (Got attacked by large ants and a millipede got onto my mix plate…) I feel happy with what  managed to put down, although slightly worried that the colors are too sharp, and need to be softer for the ariel perspective…but this is how it looked to me yesterday.




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I have spent a few hours today working on this. I am not quite sure if I have finished or not…I tried to make the mountains bluer and paler but not sure it worked. Over all, I think the balance of the elements is fine. I have tried not to get too detailed and I also tried to give some movement to the blades by blurring some white near them. The turbines had turned yesterday and were rotating slower. I think the track works well and leads your eye into the picture. Don Quixote's Vision

#2 Car graveyard/Stork nurseries: This is the one I was not so certain about; however when I went or the reccy I discovered mountains of scrap metal all gleaming in the sunshine. On closer investigation(I got told off…I was trespassing 😮 ) I could see, and indeed I asked in my best Spanish – they are cubes of squashed, scrapped cars all gleaming in the sunlight. I was very excited by this and thought what a great juxtaposition with the birthplace of birds and the graveyard of cars. All that gleaming metal and then the undergrowth around there and the trees, and the storks themselves (they were still there so they don’t all migrate.) I don’t think it will be possible to work outside there, I have been back twice already, so I am going to work from my sketches and photos. I was also inspired by the earlier exercises where the paint was scratched off or into and I think this sgraffito technique might work well to describe the scrap in an interesting way.  I am also remembering that tutor commentary on the student Adrian Eaton, and how he had scratched into the paint to show metal and wire fencing to great effect.



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I sketched some storks to include on the nest or in the sky.

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I started experimenting on acrylic paper with using silver paint (mixed with white, paynes grey and black), and scratching with the end of the brush whilst it was still wet to describe the metal and I ended up painting a whole picture. I am quite pleased with the effect for the metal. I think the idea of the dark fence showing the forbidden area is good and I might keep that. There is also a cannon type gun in there (from the war I guess…or army reject) and maybe I can use that somehow too (any cars left alive get shot 🙂 ) I will buy a canvas that is more square in shape this time but I think I will go portrait again, as I want the height for the stork’s nests.

So this is the composition I am going to work with, including the stop sign and the red pipe and the gun.









I spent 2 afternoons painting and after a few more tweaks I feel it is finished. The prep was all super useful, especially the stork sketches and the compositional water colour sketch. I decided to put in the railing at the front to add more depth to the picture overall and also to add to the ‘forbidden area’ feeling. I also added in the hills behind which I felt was needed , working from my photographs of the area and to give a feel for where this was situated. Stork Nursery-Car Graveyard

#3: Ruinas Romanas/La Refinería 

Yesterday I visited Carteia Roman Ruins, near San Roque. A strange place, among the oil refinery and so close to the sea, I had no idea. We were given a free guided tour but when I explained that I wished to sketch and paint I was told I could not be left alone…the guide did say if I went on a day when there were no other visitors she would sit with me as I painted for an hour. So I am a bit stumped actually. I really want to do this, the  last one, ‘en situ’ as I could not for the last one. So many forbidden areas and I chose 2 of them… 😦 However I got some great pictures and it was an amazing morning, so interesting.


I have been doing some sketches and working out which view might work the best. I think I am going to have to mash it up a little, or it could just look like a pile of rubble…the best pieces have been moved but I can move them back into my picture. I have been back again but it is not going to be possible to paint there which is disappointing; however, I am going to have to be creative here anyway to get the effect that I want.



I felt I had stalled a little on this one – and this had been my original inspiration for this series of painting!  My cat is really ill so I have been nursing him and could not seem to put my mind back on here. I did manage to decided on the composition though. The steps need to be there as they are interesting and lead the eye up to the refinery I think.


Yesterday I marked out loosely with paint where everything should be and thought, this is going to work. We have been having some amazing morning where there is low lying mist around the fields and trees and above clear sky and clouds. I could take my canvas up to the top terrace and paint this onto the canvas; the mist around the trees and the refinery towers coming through. This morning I did just this and it worked; I had the picture in my head at the same time as looking at the sky and the mist below. This is something to note for the future that I can paint ‘live’ somewhere else onto an existing work to get that fresh, spontaneous look.


Working from my sketches and photographs, I slowly built up the rest of the picture, keeping that misty feeling to it. I balanced the colours of the sky in the stones and the wall, which was there anyway.

ruinas romanas-la refineria


Evaluation & reflection:

I think it doesn’t matter in which order they are viewed, however the order I worked on them is fine.  I think they work well  as interesting and unusual local landscapes of this area of Spain, and they also work viewed together with similar shapes and colours therein. It is strange perhaps that I chose portrait view for them all in the end, even though they are landscapes, but they all had ‘height’ that I needed to capture and I felt this worked out the best.

Painting outside requires quite a lot of planning. It is best not to assume that you are allowed to paint somewhere as it is disappointing to find this is not the case (however I am pleased I overcame these problems and it worked to my advantage in the end). The last one #3 is perhaps the most interesting view, with bolder, more adventurous brushwork,  and I am pleased with the colours. This was the one that originally sparked my idea for this series of paintings back when I was working on assignment 4, so it is always worth looking back and focusing on earlier ideas to follow through.

Reflection overall:

Looking back over this module, I feel that my work has become bolder; I am more confident with my brushstrokes and not afraid to work in a looser and freer way. I find I can capture things quicker, I have noticed this particularly in life class situations and also when painting en plein aire.  However, I am aware that this is something to develop further and take forward from this module. I have also found the benefit of researching other artists work, and how this inspires and influences my own work, sometimes even at a subconscious level. Something else I have learnt is the develop of my own ideas,  to reflect critically on them and how one idea can then lead on to another, as evidenced by the development of my ‘Selfies’ project, which lead on to ‘Without Me’ and which I still feel I can develop on further.

I am very much looking forward to starting work on my third module and seeing where this takes me.

Exercise: Mixing materials into paint

Experiment with mixing materials from the landscape to build texture into your painting.’

I collected sand, flour, marjaram, earth, poppy seeds, cous cous, rock salt to try mixing with acrylic paint. I chose a green paint that I had purchased cheaply from a Chinese bazaar.

The flour worked rather well and mixed in to form a thickish paste, and I feel this could be used to give a empasto effect quite well, maybe because flour is absorbent. The larger ‘bits’, the rock salt and cous cous did not work as well – I think glue would need to be added as well as it did not cling onto the paper very well. Smaller ‘bits’ the seeds worked ok. When I added another colour on top this worked really well as it highlighted the effects. I will explore these  more at some other time.



Art group work (Jimena)

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18/10/2017. Very nice to be actually working with other artists/beginners and to have someone teaching and looking over your shoulder. We started this week using charcoal, stick and compressed and a white stick, plus rubber on brown paper. A rough pot. The light kept changing.  I think I got a good likeness to the pot. The teacher recommended using the rubber a lot, although I seem to recall from Drawing 1 it was not recommended..? She reminded me to put white against the dark areas to make them stand out. I hope I am not taking on too much at the moment as I am working on assignment 5 and this has to be my priority for the December deadline. But a lovely morning lost in the drawing moment 🙂

25/10/2017. Another good morning. we took 15 minutes each to draw each other, trying to concentrate on the light and dark areas and not get caught up in the detail. Maybe I got too detailed but not bad for a short draw. We then drew each other without lifting the pencil from the paper, then again using both hands at once. Interesting experiment. I am enjoying this class. I found today’s work very freeing,although I remembered a lot of this from drawing 1.


30/10/2017: 3 of us got together to do some mutual drawing of each other. 20 minutes each. Charcoal and conte stick. A good session, although I didn’t draw Jane very well!


01/1/2017: We had a model for this class and the weather allowed us to work outside in the courtyard. 4 x 20 minute sessions. For the coloured one I continued on to add on colour using pastels. First full body one not quite right on proportions, face detail good likeness. Better proportions on the coloured one.


9/11/2017: Kasbar, Gibraltar. Life drawing session. I was not able to get to the Jimena group this week but heard of a new group starting on Gibraltar so thought I’d go and join them for a night. Not much room, no easels so no chance to paint but I worked with charcoal and pencil and enjoyed the session. I think I am getting faster at capturing what is actually there.




‘Without Me – left clutching the hanger’

To continue with my selfies projectI have been doing some charcoal sketches of myself, trying to capture an image of me trying to grab my escaping dress. I also tried a couple of other dresses to see how it might work.



I felt this one worked the best, as I look like I have just fallen over.


The longer dress give more ‘flow’ and I think works better. (I am running out of dresses!)

A quick sketch to work out compositon…20171113_150951

I decided to work with the paynes grey again, with white when needed, and maybe add in pops of red for interest. I will work in the same way as before, using small brush strokes and building up the layers. Keeping it simple with not too much detail.


I think it is working well. I have given myself red knickers ,-) and am considering a red setting sun outside the window. Will continue tomorrow.

'Without me-left clutching the hanger'

I think it is finished. It has an almost ghostly feel to it, I think.

This selfies project has shown me how an idea can evolve and develop and in turn lead on to new ideas, from my ’15 selfies in payne’s grey’ to ‘without me’, taking inspiration from other artists and photographers; Cathy Lomax and Sam Taylor Johnson. I feel I will continue with this idea and maybe do a series of these escaping garments. (But now I need to finish assignment 5…)