Assignment 4: Tutor feedback and my reflection


Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Your planning and preparation for the refinery helped inform the final assignment .
Good to see you bringing your own ideas into the assignment brief and researching more
In future do aim to do a minimum of six studies prior to the final work. As this is where you can practice and plan; composition, tonal values, colour and qualities of brushwork…
It has benefited you to set some simple aims for yourself (outside of the assignment tasks).
Starting with a clear set of intentions helps you to focus on what you want to explore and
develop . I would encourage you to continue to do this as you progress , this will begin to inform your developing personal voice.
It would be useful for you to explore several options for your composition at the prep stage. Some useful research that informed both aspects of your palette and the looser brushwork .
Elements of the canvas work well ; some simple yet lovely brushwork in the refinery structures and lights , use of red to punctuate elements in the foreground refinery (a nod to Turner here) and a varied use of dry – wet paint .  Ask yourself what you would change, develop or improve on and what will you take from this to your next assignment? Then write this into your assignment 5 proposal .

From this I will take the looseness that I achieved by working quickly outside to capture the moment and feeling of the scene. I will definitely do more preparation sketches for my assignment 5 landscapes and explore composition options more thoroughly.  I was not really intending to put the roundabout in – my aim had been for just the refinery so I need to mark out the proportions of a scene first rather than just ‘going for it’. This is what I would change perhaps.  La refineria croppedHaving said that, I am not unhappy about the inclusion of the roundabout and I am not sure this cropped version works better, although it does give the sky and smoke with the shinning lights (which I feel works best) more prominence. This above is closer to what I intended, as can be seen from my prep sketches.


Looking at tutor commentary

‘Watch the commentary by tutor Michelle Whiting on POP1 student Adrian Eaton . Interesting in terms of his approach to paint handling, colour palette, mark-making etc and how he translates his shift in focus to ideas around the ‘Selfie’,

I enjoyed watching the assessor’s commentary on this student. Actually, I really liked his urban paintings but it is his ‘selfies’ work I shall comment on.

His use of foreshortening in these paintings is dramatic, and of course more apparent than they would appear in a photograph (I have noticed this before…I can only conclude that it is because it is unexpected in a painting..) This means that the faces appear huge and the bodies shrink away.  I think is showing the faces that the girls pull when taking these selfies – somehow they strive to all look the same (what ever happened to wanting to be different?!) And also showing themselves in states of undress; to show off the results of a severely limited diet..?! There is a feeling of caricature about them all. The eyes are very real though and as the commentator says, glazed looking, focused on getting that pose just so to show themselves at their (perceived) best.

The colours are bold and blockey with not a lot of blending; they are quite linear at times. Brush strokes are evident, particularly in the hair. I note the bold high lights as well and particularly in the eyes which added to the glassey effect.


Exercise: preparing a textured ground

I have 4  x A5 canvases and I thought this might be a good chance to use them to experiment on. I covered one in glue and then stuck on a load of leaves from the orange tree we have. I then painted the glue over the top and covered it in plastic so I could weight this down a bit flatter. When almost dry I peeled the plastic off. I then painted over the whole thing in thick white acrylic paint. I then painted over the leaves using a green and blended in some white and a darker shade and used a yellow orange to contrast at the back, leaving some white to show through. I am wondering what to do with it now…

Orange leaves
Orange leaves

I collected some sand and shells the last time I was at the beach. I covered a board with glue and then covered this with sand. I scraped away one side, where I imagined some sea water coming in, and also some footprints in the sand. When it was dry I painted in the water with a blue and left some white, and in the foot prints I also added some blue and white and dabbled a little gold as well.  I think this worked rather well. The sand is quite securely on there.

Beach walk

I glued rice and some grasses onto the next one. The rice doesn’t stay on that well, although it gives a good texture. The grasses however did and were easy to paint over, much to my surprise.



I used the glue quite thickly on here into a swirly pattern and stuck on some things from my button box. When dry, I painted over with white and then with pink and blue with a touch of silver to high light. There is something female about this and the colours made me think of baby clothes. It all seems to be securely on there.

Buttons & babies
Buttons & babies

This type of work is not something that I have a great interest in; thus it was difficult to get myself to focus. I think the sand worked best and it is the one I am most pleased with, maybe because I scraped into it to create the shapes.

Assignment 5 proposal #2: ‘Juxtapositions’

Following tutor feedback from assignment 4,  I have reconsidered my proposal for assignment 5.

the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
“the juxtaposition of these two images”
Whilst painting the oil refinery for assignment 4, I noted that there are some Roman ruins amidst this area and I mentioned what an unusual contrast a painting of both would be. I believe my landscape with the oil refinery was successful as I did a lot of the painting ‘en plein aire’,  which loosened up my style somewhat. I also started to think about other contrasting things around this area and have come up with these ideas for a series of landscape paintings for my final assignment, which I hope to paint in the same way that I did the refinery, that is most of the work and sketching done outside… (I will need to do some ‘reccys’ when I return from a 2 week holiday,  and will then add more detail to this proposal. )
  • Juxtasposition #1 ‘Don Quixote’s vision of the future’. We have a lot of wind turbines in this area, and I know of a road where there is a chance to get quite close to some of them, and there is also a great view of another white pueblo in the distance, Casares. I was thinking of a turbine really close that would dominate the front, to one side, maybe cropped and the hill town in the distance. Lots of ariel perspective. A chance to paint some ‘Turneresque’ light.  (photos are my own.) 

  • Juxtaposition#2 ‘Stork City‘. There is a place I call Stork City,  about 30 minutes from home, that has a lot of large electrical pylons and boxes along side the railway line that the storks like to nest upon. I love this idea that the storks have made use of these made made things. I could contrast the hard silver metal and electrical lines with the large, twiggy nests and the vegetation around there…palm trees, bamboo etc. Maybe even the railway line itself.  I have lots of photos of the storks that I have taken so if they are not there I can add some in. IMG_6932source:




  • Juxtaposition #3 ‘From Spartacus to Blade Runner‘.  Roman ruins against the oil refinery. It would have to be day time for the opening hours to this place, which is stated as 10.00 – 14.00.  Only one of their photos show the refinery but it is plumb  in the middle so I think they have perhaps been choosy with their shots. I have not been there yet but it should, looking at a map, I hope,  be possible to get a view with the tanks and chimneys behind the stones and pillars. I am imagining soft sandy coloured stones against the hard steel and smoking chimneys, plus trees etc.a5

Looking at Turner’s Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle: Colour Study 1798-9 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851
Dolbadarn Castle: Colour Study 1798-9 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856 source:

‘Turner’s: Dolbadarn Castle study and oil painting: Do more thorough analysis of his use of brushwork, colour, the composition and how he builds up the painting . Then ask yourself, how might this understanding and knowledge inform your own.’

This piece speaks to me of the vastness of the sky and the mountains. You can see the wind and the freshness of the air in the clouds, and the sunlight breaking through up the valley. The castle stands tall, but is overshadowed by the mountains. My eye is drawn to the carved steps up to the castle and the red presence in the lower foreground.

Turner has used cool greys and whites, with a touch of warmer pink in the sky. He appears to have worked loosely with his brush to build up the layers in the sky to form the clouds and give the movement; they do not seem to be static in the sky but moving and swirling, which he describes beautifully. There is  brilliance in the centre as the sun tries to break through, he has used whites with some red to give a pinkness suggesting the warmth of the sun behind. The clouds are low and over the tops of the mountains. The further mountains are also described in the blueish greys of the sky to give ariel perspective. The nearer foreground he switches to brown, earthy colours, with horizontal brush movement. I believe the flat area it is a lake in front but appears brown as it is reflecting the near ground. He has suggested some vegetation with upward strokes. I am guessing now the red is a boat of some kind. He uses a strong broken movement with his brush for rocky areas.

I notice how he sweeps boldly with his brushwork and how that movement is carried around the whole picture and also how effective is his use of restricted pallette. He has used the rule of thirds for the positioning of the castle.

So Turner’s work is about the light breaking through and the movement within which gives the energy and atmosphere to his work. I want to bring this energy and movement to my own landscape work by suggesting with the brushwork rather than trying to be too realistic or accurate and also to look at the light and dark areas in the composition and what the general movement patterns are;  whether with the light, clouds or the wind in the trees.  Ultimately, to showing the atmosphere or feeling for a place, perhaps more than photographic accuracy.

Abstract Expressionism and Tachisme

‘Tachisme was the European equivalent to abstract expressionism in America. The name derives from the French word ‘tache’, meaning a stain or splash (e.g. of paint).

The introduction of the term to describe these post-war developments is usually credited to the critic Pierre Guéguen in 1951. However, it was used in 1889 by the critic Félix Fénéon to describe the impressionist technique, and again in 1909 by the artist Maurice Denis referring to the fauve painters.

Tachisme is virtually synonymous with art informel.


Hans Hartung: ‘T1982-E15’ source: 1982 by Hans Hartung 1904-1989

On first viewing this looks to me like a hedge formed from tall grasses, maybe a wheat field, that got burnt in a wild fire. A small creature has pushed its way in through the centre. It has an evenly painted background that is graduated from blue on the left through to yellow, on the right, with an orangey-red through the centre.  On this central colour he has made sweeping, gestural strokes with small splatters and maybe has scratched into the paint at the bottom.  There is a feeling of movement to this central part, created by the strokes of paint and scratches, and the tiny bits which seem to be flying off on the lighter areas (of what I see as wheat). ‘At this time Hartung commonly worked by dipping olive branches in paint and using them to thrash the canvas powerfully and it is likely that he employed the same method for this painting .’  (same source) Well, you would need a large canvas (I this is on linen) to thrash it with branches. I am drawn to the graduated background and this is something I may call upon for a more abstract study, although it says he used a spray can for this I am sure this effect could be achieved with careful brushwork.

Franz Kline: ‘Black Sienna’ oil on canvas. source:

Black Sienna

I looked through what I could find of Kline’s work for something I might enthuse about but I am afraid I cannot.  My eyes want to create something which is not intended I am sure; which is a man playing a piano viewed from behind, the top part is the piano without the man and the lid down. rear-view-of-man-playing-a-piano-in-music-studio-HE33F9He has used bold, gestural sweeps of the brush in stark black on white. Whilst I can see the movement within this and the boldness of it, this style is not something I would ever wish to emulate myself.

Jackson Pollock. I looked at Pollock’s work previously, and it was the  inspiration in the previous exercise for my piece ‘Clusterf**k’ .

‘The Deep’, 1953 source:


I have chosen to look at this painting as it is a little different from his others. Entitled ‘The Deep’, it does indeed look like a chasm within the sea, complete with seaweed floating strands and coral and maybe jellyfish and shrimps. It looks at first just black and white but there is also yellow and maybe some greenish tones to it. I think he started with a black ground and then he has used a cloth or sponge to make these soft effects with just some flicking of paint across the central dark area. It is like looking into another world. That soft effect would work for portraying clouds or mist, or snow.

”I continue to get further away from the usual painter’s tools such as easel, palette, brushes, etc. ”
-Jackson Pollock

Marie Raymond: I was looking for a female artist within this group and was delighted to find the colourful work of Raymond. ‘Untitled’ 1943 oil on canvas, from ‘paysages imaginaires’  source:


This to me looks like a countryside scene, with trees and plants. It is full of joy and life. I note the complementary colours and the slight delineation of some of the ‘objects’. She has employed quite rough strokes of the brush at times whilst at others it is fluid and soft. I have found that this series was inspired by her walks in the countryside! ‘…The war forced her family to settle in Cagnes-sur-Mer, where Raymond began painting Paysages imaginaires (“Imaginary Landscapes”, 1941-1944), inspired by her inland walks.’ source:

I take from this the different directional brush strokes which I think give this work so much life and movement.

Exercise: dripping, dribbling and splattering (& a spelling mistake…)

I am looking at the work of Jackson Pollock , who is most famous for this type of painting. The Tate have a few works on their site. I rather like ‘Summertime’ as it seems less cluttered than some of the others and a nice, long canvas. I am pretty sure he has used a brush to fill in those small coloured areas. It looks a little like figures dancing across the canvas.

Summertime: Number 9A 1948 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956


I got set up in the largest floor area I could find in my tiny house and painted a pink ground on A3 card. I then flicked and dribbled and used a squirty bottle (this did not work too well) I think if you do this enough you get a feel for which flicks produce what. I tried blowing to move the paint but then got my hairdryer which did work much better! Maybe if I got some straws to blow through…. Shimbala

Next I painted a gold ground on card and then when it was dry I used some masking tape across it so as to leave some areas just gold. I will see how this works out. I did pouring on this one. The colours ran beautifully on this gold paint, like a bloom -but whether it dries with that effect I have yet discover. I have bought some cheap wooden letters and may try to spell a word out through the splatters and see how that works out. Not sure yet how to fix them on though. Goldbloom

So it dried and not quite as good when wet but still, interesting effect. I like the gold very much, it looks like weathered metal. The masking tape did not mask as well as anticipated but still left some area free, which helped to produce this effect.

I put some letters onto A3 paper and tried flicking some paint. I decided not to glue them down to see what happens. I need to put a lot more paint around the letters to make them clearer. You can only just see the word…

I prepared a large canvas with Prussian blue and then laid some letters across it. Took a while to find all the letters. After I had spent a happy afternoon throwing paint at it, my husband pointed out I had spelled Pollock wrong – pollack. How did I do that? 😮 Never mind, I am not submitting this to be assessed…. pollack is a fish, just looked it up. I am calling this work ‘Clusterf**k’. Because it was….’a disastrously mishandled situation or undertaking.’

I picked the letters off and it worked! The stickiness of the paint held them on and it just took a moment to pick them off. I COULD change that A to an O…but I might leave as is, as I think it’s rather funny 🙂


This technique could be used as a background for something but I would not dare to add it to a painting as it is difficult to control, although I am sure Pollock worked out a degree of control. The more you do, the better at this you get. I think you know when to stop, it just feels like enough but that is subjective. I don’t like things too busy. And maybe my desire to block areas out is trying to get back a degree of control over it.

It is not the sort of work that appeals to me at all but it has been a fun experiment.

In fact a couple of days later I was gazing at the night sky and seeing the Milky Way just about visible, more visible if you don’t look directly at it!  I thought of how my ‘Clusterf**k’ looked a bit like a starry night and I thought how, with a light flicking of a paint brush, I could describe the night sky.  So I made some notes in my sketchbook and mapped out roughly how it was, and then painted it the next day and created it starting with a few dabs of white on tissue paper, followed by flicking a brush loaded with runny white paint through the centre. I added in the stars I had marked out with a fine brush, and then the vegetation in the foreground that was just about visible I used grey and silver and scratched through with the end of my brush. I think it worked out quite well and worth remembering next time I am painting a night sky.

Centre of the Universe