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.


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.

Researching paint application

Monet‘s ‘Rouen Cathedral’ employs the impasto effect. He appears to have built up the layers in a rough way, as he explores the light and dark areas of the cathedral wall. He did a series of these to explore the light at different times. Impasto would be a would way to describe rough stone wall that needs a textured, grainy look.



Pissarro: pontilism, impressionism. Pissaro used both of these. He seemed to use visible strong brushstrokes and some impasto effect. I found a lot of work with frost and snow, which he describes beautifully.  In ‘White Frost’, I particularly like the sunlight on the frosty fields,  almost like an animal has scratched across the painting. Bush strokes are visible and the sky continues this, with the colours as well. He makes you feel the rough, hardness of those frosty clods of earth by using strong, rough brushstrokes. and long strokes for the spikey, bare trees.

‘The Impressionists found that they could capture the momentary and transient effects of sunlight by painting en plein air. They portrayed overall visual effects instead of details, and used short “broken” brush strokes of mixed and pure unmixed colour – not blended smoothly or shaded, as was customary – to achieve an effect of intense colour vibration.’white-frost

Your eye mixes the colours.


Cézanne: impressionism, post-impressionism, cubism. I  was excited to find Cezanne’s skull paintings. Cezanne made several skull painting near to his death,  like an acceptance of the inevitable.  source:



Two of the skulls seem to be looking at the viewer, there is one at the back which has fallen down. They seem to be in a cave or on some rock and this background echos the structure of the skulls. I note the bold brush work and the strong light and dark areas. There is a roughness to this brushwork that mimics the rough stone behind and the dry, porousness of the skulls.

I wonder how he came into possession of them; not so many regulations in those days! I am unlikely to ever have the privilege of painting a human skull.

van Gogh:  “Sometimes the subject calls for less paint, sometimes the material, the nature of the subjects themselves demands impasto.” Van Gogh in a letter to his brother source:

Van Gogh seem to have used impasto to add not only dimension but to emphasise for example the swirling clouds in the sky in ‘Starry night’.  In ‘Bell lilies in a copper vase’, he has really managed to describe the texture of the beaten copper and the dull glow of the colour.  source:

He appears to have echoed the surface of the pot on the background and then it contrasts with the rush mat, for which he has used long, rough strokes. It gives a good effect of the light bouncing off the copper. The bells of the flowers look heavy with the thick paint. I wonder if he used a knife and some other objects for the small points of light and to scratch into the surface.

 The Expressionists: 

Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.[1][2] Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning[3] of emotional experience rather than physical reality.[3] source:

So they are presenting a distorted reality to show their ideas.

Paula Modersohn-Becker:  20170831_132956

‘Self portrait with blue irises’. image taken from ‘The A-Z of art’ , Nicola Hodge and Libby Anson, Carlton Books. With a limited pallette, she conveys such feeling in this self portrait. The eyes are huge and haunting, the expression is open and vulnerable, and yet knowing. I have noticed in self portraits I have a tendency to paint the eyes larger than life, without realising what I’m doing;  probably because the eyes are where the expression and feeling in the face is shown.

Franz Marc:  I am drawn to his painting, ‘The Large Blue horses’.



I like the rounded shapes formed in this, and the power of the horses, somehow held in check by their bowed heads. He is using primary colours in this and it is to striking effect. Strong, solid, round shapes.

Blue Horses in symbolically bound to certain of the originating conceptions of the contemporaneous Blue rider group: in the symbol of the horse as a vehicle of breakthrough, in the emphasis on the spirituality of blue, and in the idea of spirituality battling materialism. That Marc had employed four horses in his earlier composition of the Lenggries Horse Painting and reduced the number to three in 1911 may reflect the further influence of Kandinsky, who, following theosopyical practice, employed three instead of four horses as reflective of the apocalypse. But the absence of a rider is in keeping with Marc’s own belief in the supremacy of animal spirituality over that of humans.’

…or maybe he just thought this would look amazing if I painted using just primary colours and made the horses blue… 😉

By coincidence, and I LOVE coincidences, as I am looking and experimenting with impasto work, in the novel I am currently reading (A spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore) there is a lovely description of some impasto work.

‘But there were the pictures. They were so alive that they seemed to vibrate on the wall…the bright leafless trees shone as if they had been polished. The strokes that made up the painting were thick and very noticeable: it looked as if you were meant to be able to see how the paint had been put on…this painter had a different idea of reality…’

This research sections also asks that I look at 20th century pastel paintings, but I have not really found anything of note, and am going to look at Toulouse-Lautrec (19th C).



I have not myself really got to grips with pastels, and I will experiment in this section of the course with them again. 

This is a beautiful, deceptively simple sketch of a dancer. Lautrec has employed a variety of lines and strokes to achieve the gauziness of the net dress and the shine of the tights on her legs.  It is quite linear as well, with strong bold outlines. I love that she is lost in thought, gazing to her right. I think pastels are good for fast, on the spot sketches.







Reflecting on the course so far

Having looked back at the landscape section (part 4) and to the research I did at the beginning, I was amazed at how the research had influenced my work. I had not realised this at the time.  The night scenes of Palmer and Caspar David Friedrich inspired me to try painting at different times, the night scene looking up at the castle and the dawn view of the refinery for assignment 4…plus Lowry’s smoking chimneys seem to be in there too.  Evene Shiele’s little bundle of houses seem to be in my ‘When the snow came’ painting. It shows what you take in without even being that conscious of it. This is something to be very aware of! I have enjoyed painting outside and  I think this has shown in the work I have produced.  One of my pieces for the final assignment will be a landscape which I will paint outside, hoping to catch a sunrise and describe the light.

In part 3, portraits and figures, I re visited ‘conveying character’ by painting my husband while he was watching football and I feel that I captured him and his concentration very well. Although it was a fairly fast piece, I felt it worked better than the one I did of Taylor from a video still (influenced by Tuymans) which was perhaps a bit bland, although colourful. I feel my work is better when I can work quickly and loosely. I always enjoy the challenge of a life drawing group when I am back in Somerset. The poses are very fast and it seems to free you up to find the the essential gestural lines that describe the human body. I was pleased with the work I did in that class. I am hoping to get together with some artists locally to start one here. I have also enjoyed doing self portraits; observing myself in the mirror or through ‘selfies’ (for my project) and I hope to be using this in my final assignment as well.

Still life paintings are more interesting to me than I thought they would be initially. I think I have a preference for natural objects…I thought my sunflowers worked well, although I also enjoyed setting up one that told a story (with the record sleeve and whiskey bottle).  I also learnt that cropping can make a more interesting picture. This will definitely be in my mind when I set up a still life for my final assignment.

Overall, I would not like to be restricted to one genre, and if I go ahead with my proposal for assignment 5  I will be able to work in all of them; which will be challenging and will hold my interest well.