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.


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

Assignment 4: ‘La refinería/Breath of Franco’

I have looked back over my work for this landscape section.

I think my best and most original idea was ‘Jimena castle by night’ (from the hard landscape section) looking up at the castle. This challenged me to find a way to  paint at  night and, I believe, gave a new perspective to a traditional view. It was also painted outside, along with my second favourite, which was ‘A July evening: Glastonbury Tor & Moon’ -(painting outside).  To work outside does give a freshness to the work I think. With these in mind, and also wanting to do something a bit more ‘urban’, I am thinking of the local oil refinery at San Roque, which, at night, is lit up like  a huge steaming and fiery dragon. I have heard that Franco ordered it built there in the hope that the pollution would drift across to Gibraltar…unfortunately the foul stench often sits over the local Spanish towns.

I would, of course, have to do some work in situ, and I would need someone to be with me.  Most of the vantage points near there are right on main roads but there is a place where I might be able to stop and climb up onto a bridge to afford a good view. I have in my mind at the moment anyway, a very dark background with bright lights and cloudy steam/smoke. It would be almost abstract looking.

I looked for images that I might try this and practice. The only one of this refinery I found was this one: Photo from CEPSA.

san roque


A3 acrylic paper using  paynes grey to sketch. How interesting that the domes and towers are like Islamic mosques.  I am not sure I will be able to find this exact view…

I stopped at the bridge with my husband today on the way back from dropping a friend off at the airport. Unfortunately it is a very windy day but we managed to park on the rough ground and got up on to the bridge. I just had 3 acrylics with me to try a fast sketch and to take some photographs. It was not the time of day that I needed however.


sketch 1

A4 acrylic paper. Ok, it IS very sketchy… I couldn’t stay long. At least I know we can access the bridge from there.  It is lovely to have some of the rock of Gibraltar behind. I can do some work from the photographs I have taken.  I will have to decide how much to put in. There is a roundabout, palm trees, a road bridge…all in front of this refinery. I will do some sketches at home to work this out.

I am thinking to go back with the canvas very early morning before the sun is up and when things are quiet (I have been advised that prostitutes work on the roundabout at night…) As the Sun comes up and the light changes I can choose the best moment to try and capture. I do not know what sort of street lighting might blur my view.


I am also researching other artists who have painted this type of landscape. I like Ghislaine Howard‘s ‘Urban Landscape’, which is part of her ‘365’ series of paintings. source:

She has captured a night or early scene with lovely loose brush strokes. I note the glow of the Macdonalds. I actually met this artist when she did an lecture at the school where I used to work.

Loretta Petraitis has actually painted a refinery! She has managed to really capture the feel of the metal with a limited palette. There is a scratched, rusty feel to it. I like this work very much.




Fast A4 charcoal sketch from my photos. Looking at composition. I think I will want to get Gibraltar there behind so the other view will not work. Of course, I can always move interesting features  in the view…the domes are not visible from where I was sitting which is a shame. I quite like the idea of the palm trees in front as a contrast.

Today I bought my canvas – the largest they had (in the local super chinese bazaar 🙂 …) was 90 x 60 which is the minimum size for this assignment. It is still the biggest canvas I have ever used. I also bought some silver acrylic paint and also some yellow iron oxide, which is what I believe Petraitis  has used in her painting. I had a play with these colours, using the silver as a ground and painting over it. It gives quite a good effect, and they adding some more at the end. A3 acrylic paper, working from a section of my photograph. I think the palm trees work well in the front especially as a complementary colour. The silver has not come out well in the photograph but it does give a good effect. Question: Should I be using something like a ruler to give straight lines or are my almost straight lines better? I can make more spontaneous strokes if I am not thinking about being straight and true. A ruler will slow me down. I can always ‘neaten’ things slightly when I finish off the work at home. I also think I might just prep the canvas with white ground as I have no way of knowing what the morning colours will be on the day. 20170812_152058_Richtone(HDR)

I painted the canvas with a white ground today and I also did a A4 linear sketch to try to see how I might divide the canvas up. I am feeling nervous if I am honest. It is a large canvas to paint from scratch ‘en plein aire’. Still, if it all goes wrong I will have time to try again. Low winds forecast tomorrow…maybe this could be the day.


Music in my head: Richard Strauss -‘also sprach zarathustra’ (2001 space odyssey )

Up at 5.50 to get to the bridge by 6.45am. Light was amazing, the refinery was all lit up. So beautiful my heart was singing (Strauss of course 😉 ). I discovered nobody actually uses the bridge but chooses the shortest, if rather dangerous, route across to the bus stop, so I was well out of the way up there. Wasn’t too windy. Sun rose too quickly though and although I worked really fast it was day light too soon. I stopped work at 7.40. It was light by then. I got a lot down in those 55 minutes …

2 views.jpg

so far.jpg

So above is my un -retouched and spontaneous reaction to what I was seeing. Of course, it is not at all finished and I did not have time to add in all the lights and the dark areas at the front. The sky needs to be darker for the lights to glow.I  have some photos to work from but my first reaction when I got back and looked at this was good –  I have worked quickly and loosely and have caught the essence of the view well.  I regret not doing a darker ground to work on and also I had not intended so much of the roundabout in front but somehow that was what I was seeing so there it is.


I have been working on the painting today for a couple of hours. I feel I am managing to keep the looseness and the spontaneity of it, which is what I sense is working for me overall here. I feel excited by this style which seems to be emerging.  I have  filled in the darkness of the sky and the hills and the rock behind, and started to add in some of the lights, and started on the road and roundabout in front.  And I managed to throw a cup of tea over one of my sketches I was working from….working

Another session today and I feel it is finished. I don’t want it to be too  precise. La refineria.jpg

Reflection: I realise my mistakes on planning this (I should have gone for the reccy at the same time as I was planning to paint, and worked the colours out better. (In my defense, it is not that near to here and I did not want to go alone.) However, I managed to paint in the darker background and I am pleased the with foreground that I originally hadn’t intended to be there. I think the flora is a good contrast to the industrial view and good complementary colours.  This was what I was seeing whilst I was there, painting in the moment, and I have managed to stay with that image, working from photographs and memory and using my sketches. My experimental prep work definitely helped me. 

I can see the influence of the Howard, in the looseness I was trying to achieve. The Petratitis influenced my use of colour.  I tried to emulate Turner’s description of light by using my fingers to rub the paint out (for the lights on the refinery and the roundabout) . I think of all the landscape painters I would most like to emulate Turner’s impressionist style and use of light. I think a looser style with defined brush strokes adds the energy to a painting. 

I feel I am not finished with this refinery. I would like to find the view with the domes. There is a mosque on the tip of Gibraltar; this might work in a series of paintings if i could get an angle similar with an industrial dome and a tower behind.  Also there is meant to be some Roman ruins in the midst of this industrial sprawl – how amazing it would be to juxtaposition the two in the same painting. 

Overall, I am happy with this outcome which shows the smoking, industrial landscape‘s strange beauty of its own, and pleased to have described this vista using a very different style than I have used before.


Assignment 3: Self portrait – Sabi & I.

This will be a self portrait but I am going to try and do something  a bit different. I will try some unusual angles, or maybe to put something in the picture with me…my cat, maybe? I was thinking of Frida Khalo with the monkey and a cat.  I don’t think the cat will pose with me so I will have to add him in separately….self-portrait-with-necklace-of-thorns


Also, I was recently looking at the work of photographer Florá Borsi (online) and her ‘Animeyed’ self portraits. 0a79513b601c75d0512e41a3_rw_1920.jpgsource:

The important key in the photos is that the eye pupils align up. This is what makes them work so well. So I am thinking about borrowing from this idea but obviously I will be painting and not photo-manipulating.

As far as a background is concerned, I think for a portrait it can be plain in order to put the focus on the person, or it must complement in someway – or be relevant and not too cluttered.  In the Khalo, the green leaves work well with the picture as a whole, as it is all very organic with the necklace and the hummingbird and the butterfly/dragonflies.

I tried out a pencil sketch:20170418_123117

I think the idea will work, that cat’s eye needs to be right in the right place, it is not quite right but nearly.  I found a good picture of Sabi that I had taken, of him and the full moon, he is just at the right angle so I will be able to work from that and of course, get his fur colour from real life. cat and moon 2

I need to think about the background. I can drape a curtain or blanket over a screen behind me to work. I am wondering about an animal print… I have a towel that is green with zebra type stripes and also a blanket with big cat markings.

I tried both:

Perhaps they are both too distracting, Looking at famous self portraits, the backgrounds do tend to be fairly plain….

I do like the green but now I remember that I used green for the background for assignment 2 so maybe not again. Sabi’s fur and my blonde hair will stand out enough and I want the eyes to be the main feature. I might try a plain red. I have a plain red sarong I can use. My eye and the cat’s eye will be green so the red will make that jump out. In fashion, I also like red with animal print! So the cat fur will look good with the red behind, I think. I need to try painting the cat fur and also flesh tones next.

I have been looking online at the work of a local (Gibraltar) artist, Estelle Day. Her superb portrait ‘Robert’ has been selected for the BP portrait award exhibition. I note her subtle rendering of the skin tones and the subtle use of shade, which is what I hope to achieve this time.  Image taken from: facebook:'Robert' Estelle Day

I have been trying out the cat’s fur today. In life, he is sandier than in the picture. I have mixed raw sienna and naples yellow and some white to give a sandy base. I then used white for the light areas and black mixed with white for the stripes and speckles. Using white dryish on top of the black gives a good effect. And the red looks good next to the fur. I think now that the eye is not quite at the right angle, I need to have the head turned towards the viewer slightly because a cats eye is a flat disc really. I will do some more sketches and work it out. Skin tones next. 20170419_151841

I painted an A4 sheet with the red and let it dry. I then sketched my face (actually it doesn’t look anything like me…but just trying out tones) from the mirror, and tried various colours over. I quickly realised that I need to paint it in white first, then paint on top of that as the red shows through. This may not happen so much on the canvas however. I am trying not to have such exaggerated shadows as the last one I did of myself, which was not flattering… Titian bluff is my best friend when it comes to my skin tones and hair….More light on the face seems to work. It won’t be so exagerated as this, I want to get more subtle this time.image1 (97)20170422_170402

I have painted my face and hair roughly onto the canvas and worked out the cat – lining up the eye was very hard and I was beginning to regret my choice but then suddenly it seemed to work. I think now though that the cat body looks as if it is the other way around, as in he has his back to the viewer, so I have been trying to get my cat into position to sketch and photograph this angle..not easy -) I have also put my hand in holding the cat as I think this balances the picture out better. I am also thinking of putting something in the top left corner, a plant or maybe a butterfly as I also think this will balance the composition better. 20170422_170354image1 (96)

I am sure I should have worked this out beforehand but actually working on a between A3 – A2 board it is hard to visualise. Now I can step back from it and look with fresh eyes and see what is needed. Enough today.

Today I have been painting for about 3 hours. I think I have almost finished. I am pleased with the cat fur and the eyes line up well. Sabi’s eye is also my eye. Of course, my eyes are a green/blue and his are gooseberry green but my artist license allows me to make them the same 🙂 The ivy (it’s fake and plastic but moveable!) balances the composition out well I think. Going to leave it over night and see if I need to change or tidy anything tomorrow, with fresh eyes. Then I hope I can send this assignment off on Monday which should meet my deadline 🙂

So today I just tided up under the eye and and the hand. I think I am finished now and don’t want t mess with it any more. I am pleased that the eye lining up worked and I think this gives it a different twist. I like the bold red backdrop, I think this worked well, although red is a hard colour to paint on top and I had to use white alot on top as a base. Husband and sister think I have caught my likeness; I think I have but I am in a more flattering light (which is what I wanted anyway…) I think the skin tones are better than I have produced before. A delicate touch is needed for them I think.

Sabi & I

Updated: response from tutor feedback:

‘Your chosen palette red and green (ivy) have associations with christmas. This can interrupt other symbolic interpretations The red is a little harsh / loud / obvious choice sitting against the softer qualities of hair, skin and cat fur. Was this intentional and for what purpose? If not how could you alter the ‘background’ to shift the mood or psychological tone of the painting? If you were to paint this again, how might you approach it differently…. to convey what particular symbolism, ideas, mood or psychological tone etc .
The choice of a cat (your pet) and the piece of ivy dangling in front of the deep red sarong. Whilst there are obvious references to Kahlo. I wonder what your intentions were in conveying ideas or content of a personal nature. This isn’t commented upon in your critical reflection or on your process. Post your thoughts on these questions to your blog .’

I did not associate the red and green in any way with Christmas, and feel this is subjective. I see the red as strong, vibrant, exciting, bold  – and a good contrast to the skin tones, fur and hair.  I also used the red as a complementary colour to make the green eyes,  which are the focal point of this work, stand out. I had decided, after my demonstrated experimentation, on a plain backdrop. I am happy with the outcome and would not wish to change the red, although I had also considered a strong green but rejected it on the grounds that my previous assignment had  a green background.  Had I used green, it would also have been bold and strong; then I would have put in some red flowers, perhaps, to complement.  The alignment of the eyes symbolises my closeness to the cat and my constant trying to see the world through his eyes and also that we are all sentient beings viewing and  living in this world together. Although I had explored the idea of my head in profile being more interesting, it would not have worked to use it in this case as the main focus was the alignment of the eyes. Although the cat was a feral born, his marking are that of an Egyptian Mao, and I am pleased to have shown his markings and nobleness thus. I have bared my shoulders in several self portraits; this is so as to show myself as I really am – laying myself bare so to speak, … without being judged for my sartorial choices (also gives a larger area to explore skin tone). I also remove all jewellery for this reason, except my wedding ring.

Assignment Two Feedback and response

Action plan:

  • I need to look at my technique to ‘draw with the brush’ as I unsure quite how to facilitate this and how to work across the painting, rather than blocking in each area as I have been doing. I will look for examples of artists doing this on video. I will use this technique in my sketchbook to practice. I need to set aims of my own and also to be more adventurous, using a viewfinder or looking for different angles and views and to think more about what works, or doesn’t work well.
  • I will look more at how to apply my research to my own work.
  • I will repeat some of the exercises when I can, indeed I have already done so since my return from the UK.
  • I agree there was an element of me rushing on the assignment, but I had set a goal of finishing before Christmas. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about deadlines.
  • I will look at Bonnard’s compositions and write this up and also watch Luc Tuyman’s interview and reflect on this.
  • I have ordered the Michael Petry book, which I had not done before as it is not cheap…it is on its way now. The Artist’s Handbook I have already and have been using for reference, but will write a post about this.
  • I will post the missing ‘broken and tertiary exercise’.
  • I believe I am on the painting degree pathway rather than the fine art one. 


I have found the feedback extremely helpful, encouraging and informative and it has given me a clear action plan.

Overall Comments
Thank you for editing and organising your portfolio, in addition to your blog content. I will comment upon specific aspects of the assignment under the headings.
There are recommendations for you to act on under the Pointers / Research .
Some recommendations from assignment 1, appear not to have been actioned; these I have indicated with **. Please post these to your blog when you have completed them.
When you take the time to consider, plan and reflect on your learning you achieve more confident outcomes. I suggest that this considered approach also facilitates a shift out your comfort zone. I recommend that you evaluate and factor in sufficient time to practice this, at the assignment stage. It feels as though the assignment is a little rushed, in contrast to some of the projects.
Your quality of drawing is currently stronger than your painting abilities, it would seem helpful for you to try and draw with your brushes (rather than filling-in each object or part of the picture). To approach the painting as you do drawing, by working across the page / canvas.
Your research has broadened a little since assignment one, do continue developing this as you work through the exercises and through to the assignment. Now begin to analyse and comment upon how and in what way to apply your research, purposefully to your work. This will require you setting aims of your own.
Assignment 2 Assessment potential
“I understand your aim is to go for the BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.”
assessment (see Conditions of Enrolment, Section 2 a). Contact the OCA Course Advisors to discuss this further.
Feedback on assignment
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity
Your prep stage helped you choose and select objects, colour, lighting and media.
In the assignment you limited your options for composition by staying with familiar
arrangements and format. I’d like to see you expand on this in future work. For example use a viewfinder, shift your position in relation to the subject (other than eye-level), try portrait rather than landscape format, crop-into the subject and shift the objects / subject around. Look at and apply Bonnard’s compositions (and use of colour) i.e: Before dinner, The bath and The terrace at Vernon. (see Pointers )
You have purposefully selected colour in terms of complementaries i.e: green / red in the case of the assignment. There is a relation here to your aim for a ‘calm and still mood’. This was a useful yet simple aim to achieve.
In addition to following the assignment task; set more aims for yourself; for example in relation to the mood or emotional / psychological tone, meaning or message- consider what you’re trying to convey to the viewer. (see Pointers ).
In future consider some further aims, that might be a little more challenging in relation to the context / content of your work Ask yourself , what are you wanting to convey or get across in the painting? I think Tuymans touches on this in the interview. (see Research / Pointers )
You have shown basic competency in your chosen media. There is evidence of you selecting the colour (and tone) in order to suggest ‘mood’ and create flow across the works.
Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity
There is evidence of an effective use of cropping (Billie Holliday) to explore a more interesting composition: scarf, corsage, record, than previous versions.
Some evidence (on blog) to suggest a testing of compositional options and shifting of objects (de-cluttering of corridor). Therefore making decisions to manipulate the interior in order to plan a more simple, effective drawing.
The drawing stage is useful to explore and plan where you want tonal values across the painting and how to convey form. For example once you’d drawn the handkerchief you recognised, how to paint it. The act of drawing can be an observational, thinking and problem solving process. Take time to explore these possibilities at the assignment stage.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
Good use of Harvard referencing throughout- continue the good practice.
You have made brief references to some 20th century artists, whose work you hope to learn from and apply to your work. In brief you mention: O’Keefe and Schiele. (see below)
Analyse more what elements / qualities you wish to apply from your research. Then follow this up by considering how and in what ways you can do this? Ask what the purpose of this is i.e: what are you wanting to convey / get across? Then reflect on how successful you have been (and areas for further development or re-painting ). (see Pointers )
Your primary research regarding the lecture, could help you to start analysing your own work, in a methodical and focused manner. Why not work through the handbook and ask questions of yourself (as well as the research you undertake).
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
You’re using the learning log as a site to record most of the exercises, projects and assignment. There appear to be some gaps in the exercises and research points i.e: colour theory and mixing of tertiary colour. Do post these to your blog.
Satisfactory documentation of the research you undertake. It will benefit your learning if you consistently reflect and analyse ‘how’ you might ‘apply’ research to your own painting / drawing practice. (see Pointers )
The blog is a reflective and research space- perhaps less about what you ‘did’ and more about how this works or doesn’t work. If you approach this in a balanced way to bring out your learning and set aims as to what / how you can develop strengths and qualities, plus how you can lessen weaknesses. You have some brief comments on what you’ve learned, follow these up with how you can apply this in future work.
Suggested reading/viewing
Follow up these suggestions ** from Assignment 1 and post critical analysis to your blog:
Research contemporary C21st artists such as:
** Michael Petry ‘Nature Morte Contemporary artists reinvigorate the Still Life ..’
Thames & Hudson 2013
** The Artist’s Handbook
Luc Tuymans Look at both his drawings and paintings.
Pierre Bonnard
Pointers for the next assignment
● Reflect critically on this feedback in your learning log.
● Introduce more of your own aims to the assignment work- then you will begin to
explore and develop your own voice.
● ** Use your sketchbook on a daily basis, if possible. More drawing (with a brush) willsupport your painting development. Make a minimum of 6 prep studies at no larger than A5: these studies may be for composition, tonal or colour references.
● ** You will learn and develop more from the course if you can allocate more time to practice and repeat the exercises and tasks ( the building blocks for the assignment) – be more ambitious in terms of going beyond the tasks / exercises set. (as these are the minimum requirements).
● ** Ask more questions when researching and analysing the work of others’ (as well as your own work). In your own words describe, analyse and critically reflect on the media, aesthetics, form and content of the works. How do they relate to your ideas and practice? Record all on your blog- then make some aims for your development.
● ** Extend your research to include some contemporary artists (C21st)- follow-up on
suggestions from Assignment 1. Ask yourself how your artist’s research relates back to and underpins your drawing / painting: process / content? Begin to place your own work within a contemporary context: related to the ideas, process and aesthetics of artists you’re researching.
Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment. Written or video/audio
Well done, I look forward to your next assignment.

Assignment 2: Still life- Mask with Red Apple

With lots of ideas running through my head and my time running out, I remembered having been inspired at the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition in London by the beautiful simplicity of her ‘Mask with Golden Apple’, and had thought how this might inform my own work.



I have a wooden mask from Bali and have just returned from the market with a couple of shiny red apples. Have just spent some time arranging possible positions and backgrounds  on my desk upstairs and I think I have decided on a soft green silk scarf, that belonged to my grandmother and just the one apple beside the mask. The apples are quite large and as the mask is flat to the surface it does not quite work the same way as O’Keeffe’s arrangement.


I would want the mood of my painting to be very still and calm, with good contrasts from the natural light through the window,  painting the background in a soft and fluid way, with the mask and apples taking stronger brushwork.  I like the mystery of why the apple with the mask? I think the pattern on the scarf will add background interest and the green is a good complementary colour. The light from the window is very good today as the sun is out but I may have to set up a light if working at another time. I am doing some sketches and working out how best to describe it.20161215_155122

The pattern on the scarf might be a tricky…

Today, having done a few more quick sketches and a fast water colour, to my surprise I think the original arrangement, with the apple in front in the centre, is the most pleasing and well balanced composition




Colours to use: colours

I laid down a pale yellow wash as a ground and when that had dried I made a start, using a pale wash to lightly mark out the objects. I am having a break now and may continue later or

I have started painting the silk background and I am thinking that the pattern is not going to work. It is just too complicated.  I had tried it on a smaller scale but I think I am going to have to have it as a plain green background, with some fabric folds. I am having a break to re think. This is bad because it means I had not thought it through properly. I am not pleased with myself at this moment. My focus had been on the mask and the apple and the positioning of said objects. I am, however, pleased with the mask and the way the red apple jumps out in contrast. I will leave it today and go back fresh tomorrow.

Next day. I even had a dream about this painting last night! Stressed?! Moi?! So, I am going to leave out the pattern on the scarf. I also had an idea of letting some of the underneath table edge show but having quickly tried on a smaller scale decided this unbalanced the painting.


So I will just work to describe the material folds and shaded areas, highlights and tones. This is more in keeping with the simplicity of O’Keeffe’s work.


I am not unhappy with the outcome, although I recognise and have learned from not thinking the background through properly. My husband had a very positive reaction when he saw my work, which is encouraging 🙂