Research: Cathy Lomax

‘Look at how she uses layers of wash, thin – thick paint, a variety of brushwork to
build up her painting and what is she conveying in her works.’

I founds Lomax’s blog (that I am now following) which in itself was quite interesting and contains a lot of her work and the reasoning behind it


Method Madness2_reflected

I can immediately see why I was asked to look at Lomax’s work. This piece, ‘Method Madness Green Mirror (detail), 2013, oil on paper & board, mirror, hinges, 30x60cm’, reminds me very much of some of my selfie work in paynes grey. I note her very loose and fluid brushwork and the minimal pallette. ‘The Method Madness series investigates method acting and the way its exponents draw upon real experience to create a performance. The figure in the paintings is inspired by Vivien Leigh’s depiction of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). Leigh unlike the rest of the cast was not a method actor. Her immersive performance in the film is said to have led to a decline in her mental health leading to a series of bipolar episodes.’  She has used very pleasing, sparing brush work and has left some areas blank. The look in the eyes is intense and almost glazed. Art reflecting real life?

Lomax also did a series of paintings of Marilyn Monroe’s dresses without her in them, although they are moulded to her invisible body. Entitled ‘I’m a girl not a ghoul’, in response to Monroe being told she looked like a ghost as she kept herself so pale and liked to wear white a lot. Also, I can understand from this the importance of a title and thought behind the work, without this knowledge it would not have the same impact. I love the way the dresses mould to the body, which is absent. I realise I need to look more at the idea/meaning behind my work, as this then brings a painting to life. I am interested in one idea sparking a whole series of work reflecting this.

‘It seems ironic the most enduring American film star – Marilyn Monroe – has little association with the healthy idea of American tan and is instead all about whiteness. In a series of work from 2012 called I’m a Girl not a Ghoul, I looked at how her personality was consumed by this whiteness.’ source:

Girl not a Ghoul



This is Monroe again, I have read some of the biographies and she did indeed realise the need to keep her body looking good, her ‘instrument’. In fact, I remember a photo of her out running long before it was fashionable. I like how she contrasts the whiteness of the Monroe works with a black background. She seems to glow.

I was inspired to try this myself. I  posed in a jersey wrap dress and tried a quick sketch but decided it would be hard to  paint in this  position, so I got my man to take some  pictures and I worked from one of those. A3 acrylic  paper. I used only payne’s grey and white and slowly drew it in and then built up the deeper layers. I had the idea of my dress heading off to have a good time without me, now that I don’t go out so much!

Without me
‘Without me’

(I am now working on a parallel project to continue my ‘selfies’ project by painting my dresses with my body absent from them.)

More work Lomax below, same source:





Researching the ‘golden mean’

My own feelings on this are that this is how nature is, how things are formed….and what we are attracted to is in our nature…therefore artists with an eye for what ‘works’ or looks good, balanced, pleasing, … would instinctively use this rule without thinking about it, measuring it out or anything as contrived as that. And rules are there to be broken anyway….. 😉

image below, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa illustrating the rule: source:


There is lots of information and a good explantion here:

‘Rule of thirds’ in Landscape painting:

The horizon is usually best a third of the way up or down a landscape painting. Key features also work best a third of the way across from each side.

I tried this on my last painting. (I am not too good on the paint app…) but, roughly:

I think the moon is in the right place! and the top of the mound. I could have made the field in front larger and moved the hedge up to the next line…

Glastonbury tor with moon 2.jpg

So, I cropped the bottom and tried again:Glastonbury tor with moon 3.jpg

This brings the second hedge up to the line, the top of the mound is correct and the moon also. And yet, if I am honest, I prefer it as it was…. although maybe this is because my memory of that view is there and the exercise was to describe what was there;  but it was an interesting exercise.

Research: Expressive landscapes

I begin by looking at Salvadore Dali. There is a lot of information on this website: . (image from here)metamorphosis-of-narcissus

‘Metamorphosis of Narcissus is Dali’s interpretation of the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a youth of great beauty who loved only himself and broke the hearts of many lovers. The gods punished him by letting him see his own reflection in a pool. He fell in love with it, but discovered he could not embrace it and died of frustration. Relenting, the gods immortalised him as the narcissus (daffodil) flower. For this picture Dali used a meticulous technique which he described as ‘hand-painted colour photography’ to depict with hallucinatory effect the transformation of Narcissus, kneeling in the pool, into the hand holding the egg and flower. Narcissus as he was before his transformation is seen posing in the background. The play with ‘double images’ sprang from Dali’s fascination with hallucination and delusion.’

I have seen Dali’s work in many galleries over the years but never found myself drawn to his work for some reason. This is so brilliant though, having just spent some time really looking at it, how the hand echoes so the well the kneeling figure. I also like the idea that there is a poem to read whilst contemplating this painting, and also that by staring for some time at the kneeling figure it also becomes the hand holding the egg from which springs the flower. I am fascinated as I also like staring at objects until they change into something else. I have found you can do this to yourself in a mirror also.

I found the poem here:

Max Ernst:  ”Creativity is that marvelous capacity to grasp mutually distinct realities and draw a spark from their juxtaposition. ”
– Max Ernst.

I shall endeavor to achieve this!

I found lots about Ernst’s history and work here:


‘The Temptation of Saint Anthony’, 1945. This was painted for a film made of the book by Flaubert, which was also panted by Dali, but they chose Ernst’s version to use in the film. The is the Dali one: source:

They are both pretty amazing. I think I would have chosen Ernst’s as well. It has more menace to it with all of those strange, nightmarish creatures twisted within it, I find it more disturbing. The colours also add to this. The Dali’s in contrast is more light and open looking, with dramatic perspective.

Giorgio de Chirico: There is a lot of information in this NY times review:

also here:

image source:


Looking at de Chrico’s work, he uses long shadows and an almost simplistic style. The bananas also seem to occur a lot. The perspective here is very disturbing, it does not look correct; the two small figures seem to be going up a hill but it does not recede in the correct way although the building next to it does. The clock and the train in the distance all add to the theme of departure. (I also like his ‘Red tower’ and may use it to inspire my next piece of work.)


Graham Sutherland: Black Landscape 1939-40 by Graham Sutherland OM 1903-1980

This Welsh scene reflects the artist’s anxiety at the threat of war; it was painted during the ‘phoney war’ between 1939 and 1940. Both the title and the ominous twilight effect suggest imminent violence.’ It is also interesting to read that Sutherland was influenced by the pastoral visions of William Blake, as I can almost see a dragon hatching out of an egg. I note the limited pallette which adds to the uneasiness of this work.

Paul Nash: I have looked at the work of Nash previously. p04d4h3l

‘Landscape from a dream’ source:

‘When the war came, suddenly the sky was upon us all like a huge hawk hovering, threatening,” he wrote, poetically. “Everyone was searching the sky, waiting for some terror to fall.’

Here in this dream landscape, the hawk is watching himself and the world is being reflected back to him, with a dangerous red sky with portent of things to come. To the left it is perhaps a window through which we see the sea and the beauty of the coastline.


German Expressionist :Emil Nolde: 

Twilight, 1916
Oil on Canvas – 73 x 100 cm
Basel, Kunstmuseum


I love the simplicity of this and the colours together, and the yellow of the twilight reflecting back at the bottom in the water. This balances the composition well. There is a real feeling of depth and perspective, with the receding river onto the horizon line, and the distance blue of the hills.  ‘Nolde’s fondness for Germany and his homeland are well known.  The painter however was always in a particular situation, his northern region of Schleswig-Holstein having been given to Denmark at the Treaty of Versailles. Thus, born German, Nolde acquired Danish nationality while remaining in his “homeland” and defending its identity against the Danish authorities, despite his wife having been born Danish. This region and its inhabitants continually inspired him : portraits of peasants and glorious landscapes, such as the Twilight  recall this rooting in the land.’

Symbolist movement: Gustave Moreau:  


I have chosen this painting, which I am now thinking I not from his symbolist period…however, it is a wonderful sunset(?) and I love his use of colour in this and the texture of the sky which reflects and works with the earth as well.  I imagine the paint has been put on quite thickly giving an impasto effect, something I would like to try although I am not sure how well it works with acrylics.

Leon Bakst: information on the artist here

‘Leon Bakst was attracted to oriental style; and motifs from ancient Greece and Egypt became signatures in his paintings and theoretical work. The Benua circle also introduced him to symbolism and Art Nouveau. Bakst influenced and developed Art Nouveau style by bringing in a curvy line, as well as bright colours, oriental prints, and flowing drapes.’

He designed costumes and backdrops for the Russian ballet, like this one below, source: tumblr_midpbv3SbE1qekd4ho1_1280

It is exquisitely beautiful; I note how the tall trees frame the sides and the blue of the recumbent person in the foreground is also shown in a tree behind, which balances it out. It definitely has an oriental feel to it in the style with which it is painted.

I had not thought of Gustav Klimt as a landscape painter….I found a lot of information here:

gustav klimt forest i

I love this dense forest with only small glimpses of the sky showing through, and the knotty, spotty trees with their dry stick branches above. He has used this speckled technique for the forest floor also. I have some forests of pine trees nearby and this has given me an idea of painting a landscape that is perhaps more enclosed and mysterious…

Frida Khalo. I am a big admirer of Khalo’s work and I feel she is already an influence on me. I have a beautiful book, published by Bullfinch (Frida Khalo) and I found this landscape,  full of symbolism, within. ‘My Dress Hangs There’, 1933, pokes fun perhaps at America, with the toilet and the golf trophy. The cross on the church seems to be a dollar sign and there seems to be a graph on the hall steps and has Mae West set the theatre on fire? And Frida is in the centre, her Mexican dress proudly displayed. Wonderful.20170618_165023

Hokusai: beyond the great wave

20170610_160353During my trip back to the UK I had time for a quick visit to London. Of all the exhibitions on at the moment, I could not resist getting tickets for the Hokusai at The British Museum. Yes, he is 18th/19th century but he is work is exquisite and although I am sure the Hodgkin at the National portrait Gallery was interesting, for me this is what I needed to see.

The exhibition was tight on timing, and it was very crowded and rather dark, so much so that it would have been impolite to stand and sketch for any length of time which was a shame. I was also not allowed to take any photographs. I made some notes as I went round in shockingly bad handwriting…..



The leaflet inside and some postcards:



The clouds in one of the many Mount Fuji paintings reminded me of Georgia O’Keeffe’s clouds paintings. A lot of the work was very linear and not tonal. I liked his unexpected touches, for example the white sea foam birds and turning in plover birds. He was inspired by his area, living with the view of Mount Fuji and the birds and flowers. This reminds me to look and paint the beautiful things I have here, in Andalucia. He was also inspired by poems, ghost tales. Some of his work seemed stylised, and then sudden it would be just bursting with life somehow, as below in the ‘Gamecock and Hen’ Gamecock and hen


I am captivated by the expression on their faces. Sometimes you just don’t need to put too much into a painting; I just love the simplicity of this. The cock so proud and challenging and the hen look coquettishly at him, she would flutter her eyelids if she had any. This was one of his later paintings.

There is another Guardian review here also:

This is a quote from there:  ‘There is precious little evidence of a later flowering, “beyond” The Great Wave, in this increasingly baffling exhibition. Hokusai’s late painting of a dragon, done in the traditional way on a silk scroll in 1849, the year of his death, shows he could still ink a decent monster at 90. Yet it is not any more exciting, sensitive or profound than the much earlier dragon painting shown here that he’d created in about 1798. Late style? What late style?’

I disagree. I loved all of his work but the later ones seemed to have more life in them somehow; they seemed to say more to me. My stand out favourite that I would loved to have stolen and taken home with me was the dragon in the smoke above Fuji that this critic is referring to. This is not a good copy but it took my breath away standing in front of it.  I think maybe it is the scale of the dragon against the mountain and the beautiful, again simplicity, of the whiteness of the mountain. Also, I have had to leave a work I am in the middle of  which is a vulture of death coming out of some clouds so I saw this and thought, yes, this is what I am trying to do.  source:

“If heaven will afford me five more years of life, then I’ll manage to become a true artist.” Hokusai.


‘Mutt and Jeff’, ‘Self portrait with Lemon Tree’ and Ruth smoking. Analysis and thoughts.

‘Spend min 10 min each reflecting and recording your responses to: Mutt and Jeff, Portrait lemon tree and Ruth smoking.’

Mutt & Jeff: purpose: to describe my feeling with regards to my hearing loss and the anguish and frustration I often feel from my body letting me down in this way. Red is a warm, hot colour but also describes pain and anguish, my arms raised in frustration, almost pulling out my hair, my eyes squeezed shut to stop tears. I used rough brush strokes and also a sponge to blend and to make sure this was not attempting a mirror likeness. Yes, I did not include clothing again, laying myself bare for the world to see me as I truly am. In order for this not to be taken so seriously, as after all, I do have hearing aids and can actually hear and it is not life threatening…so I used the title to lighten it and to add some humour in here. Yes, I get frustrated but don’t take me too seriously.

Ruth smoking: I had tried a few poses with this model but when we stopped for a break and she lit up her cigarette I asked if I could portray her in this way, defiantly smoking indoors, lost in her own thoughts, this is in fact the Ruth I see socially from time to time, an independent lady who challenges you to criticise her (lack of) eating habits and her cigarette habit. The portrait is quite bold and tonal, I think I have caught the light through the window quite well, which was my intention, but it also brings to the fore her character.

Self portrait with lemon tree: This pose was chosen by me from my selfies challenge, as I felt it to be the most interesting, and I learnt a lot from building up the layers in this portrait. I discovered the profile pose to be an interesting angle and one which I will be using again at some point. I also cropped to add interest. I am wearing a hat and a shirt as this is me outside, about to pick a lemon.   I initially thought this work was not bold, or clear enough, but looking back I can see the subtleties within it, and also that I have captured a certain look, (content, and intent, on what I am about to do). As my tutor seemed pleased with this self challenge, I may well continue with this project and see where it leads me.

Action plan following feedback from assignment 3

I have updated assignment 3 with a response to the tutor feedback here (bottom of the post):

In addition to the assignment task, set clear aims for yourself. Before you begin your prep work,ask what are you trying to convey and communicate (beyond a ‘likeness’) . Make yourself a list of aims and objectives and refer to these as you work on the assignment. 

‘Whenever possible you would benefit by spending more time doing observational drawings and painting (rather than relying so much on photographs). You will learn more from spending time looking at, analysing, making visual and written notes and then to paint directly from life.’

For the portraits section I feel it was necessary to rely on some photographs; my model would not have had time to sit for hours (it took me many hours to complete the painting ‘Ruth smoking’; I worked from my many sketches and fast captures as well as my i pad for this. In ‘A simple wedding’ I had to rely on photographs – but I made this my own and worked by adding to them and combining what I had. Maybe it was a little self indulgent but I really enjoyed the chance to paint my grandparent’s wedding day and to imagine how it might have been. In my assignment I had to photograph the cat for the position, it was not possible otherwise. My self portraits have all been from mirror work except the selfies project. However, with the next section I am working on, landscapes, I will not be using photographs at all and hope to be outside working as much as possible. Indeed, have already done so.

(**) Look at and apply Bonnard’s compositions (and use of colour) i.e: Before dinner, The bath and The terrace at Vernon

This has been done from last time here:

(**) Luc Tuymans Look at both his drawings and paintings, the content of his ideas, his visual language and cropping-in.

I research and watched this and wrote it up here:

I also took the idea of using a still from a film from Tuymans in ‘Conveying character’.(Elisabeth Taylor in ‘The taming of the shew’.)

‘ Think about and compare your portraits with the series of Van gogh’s portraits, ask what your ‘purpose’, ‘impression’ or what you wish to ‘convey’. 

Not sure this is in my version of the coursebook but have now done so here:

‘Spend min 10 min each reflecting and recording your responses to: Mutt and Jeff, Portrait lemon tree and Ruth smoking’

I will also do this and post separately on my blog.

I will look at the work of Cathy Lomax.

I will watch the commentary by tutor Michelle Whiting on POP1 student Adrian Eaton.

‘(**) Extend your research to include some contemporary artists (C21st)- follow-up on suggestions from Assignment 2. 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.’

Contemporary artists I have researched recently include: Mark Rydan, Luc Tuymans, David Hockney, Gaela Erwin, Estelle Day, Tracy Emin, Peter Brown…. and I will continue with this. I realise I need to relate their work to my own. 


  • I need to make more aims and objectives before starting an assignment or exercise and think about what I wish to say or convey with this work.
  • Analysing my own work is something I find hard to do; however  think if I return to a painting a few weeks afterwards it is easier to do so, as I have by then lost the rather child like enthusiasm I have for my latest piece, therefore I will aim to do this and add to my blog posts retrospectively.
  • Since last feedback, I felt I had been doing more preparation work (at least 5-6 sketches) for each exercise or assignment, however it seems I am still deficient in this so I will aim to be more thorough.
  • Analyse more what elements / qualities I wish to apply from my research. Then I will need to follow this up by considering how and in what ways I can do this.
  • Daily work, even if just sketching.


Perspective examples, linear and aerial


Georgia O´O’Keeffe ‘“Her paintings often times used the vantage point of being on the ground and looking up which conveys a sense of wonder an individual might experience while craning one’s neck to look up at the awe-inspiring skyscraper.”

In this example one is looking down at the city. I love the distant lights on the road.okeeffenewyorkatnight


I also thought of Peter Brown, the Bath artist who’s exhibition I was lucky enough to visit earlier this year. Brown paints a lot of city scenes of Bath and uses perspective well to capture the streets and buildings.  source: Departing sun, Marlborough Buildings 2015

In this example there is a clear vanishing point and the road rises up and away from you. I like the metal poles (what are they called..?!bollards?) that get closer together and they move away from the viewer.

Vincent Van Gogh. I like the simplicity of this painting of a  ‘Street in Saintes-Maries’

source: Street-in-Saintes-Maries


JWM Turner. I think this is a good example of aerial perspective, although of course linear is also employed here on the track, which fades away into the pale light in the distance.



Claude Monet ‘Antibes vue de la Salis’



The shimmering colours in this work fade to pale  for the distant town and mountains behind.

Jack B Yeats. Although his work is very abstract at times, I think he shows good aerial perspective in some of his work. This one, ‘Hearing the Nightingale’, depicts the view from Richmond Hill in London. image