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: http://www.iberia-natur.com/en/weissstorch/20100122_Storchenkolonie.html




  • 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 https://www.sanroque.es/turismo/carteia-san-roque-romana

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: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/D04166

‘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.

source: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/t/tachisme

Hans Hartung: ‘T1982-E15’ source: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/hartung-t1982-e15-t07401T1982-E15 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: https://www.gagosian.com/artists/franz-kline

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: https://www.jackson-pollock.org/the-deep.jsp


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: http://www.marieraymond.com/works1.html


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: https://awarewomenartists.com/en/artiste/marie-raymond/

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

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.




Proposal for final assignment

I propose to do 5 paintings using acrylics. At least A1 size, if not larger. The subject will be the link between them all and it will be a goat skull found locally (Jimena de la Frontera, Andalucia). 20170826_183636

I have long had an interest in skulls and bones and it seems fortuitous that this skull has just been handed to me just as I was considering my options for this assignment. I do not find these things macabre, I think they are good reminders of the inevitability of our own deaths and the birth-death recycle. I hope to express this in some way through my work. I feel that awareness of our own mortality forces us to live in the present moment and that life is more precious for being ephemeral. (I also explored this subject in my final assignment for drawing 1.)

I would like to choose to represent all the genres to fully challenge the range of my painting skills and to show the many different ways this skull could be described.

The ideas below are not set in stone;  for example I will not know what to put into the still life until I start to lay it all out and sketch my options. I will consider how to approach the abstract when I have experimented in the exercises at the beginning of part 5.

  • Still life  ‘The things they leave behind’ . Set up a still life with the skull plus possibly some feathers, snail shells, a snake skin, antler – anything that has been part of a  living creature but is now discarded, unwanted and left behind. Maybe lit with a strong light one side to get some good contrasting tones.
  • Self portrait .  ‘The death of Pan’.  I will draw on my selfies work for this and aim to produce a self portrait,  probably in profile, and holding or facing the skull. In Greek mythology Pan is the only god to die and is usually shown with goat horns, goatee beard and cloven hooves. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_(god)  I could play on the  Greek mythology or pagan beliefs for this when I set this up, with my choice of clothing, jewellery, background etc.
  • Landscape. ‘Mountain sun rise with goat skull’. I plan to paint the view from our terrace of the mountains en plein aire, just as the sun is rising. I hope to emulate Tuner’s use of light and also some of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, with the skull either on a wall or a pole. source: https://www.georgiaokeeffe.net/deer-skull-with-pedernal.jsp . The mountain would be more prominent than in this painting.deer-skull-with-pedernal
  • Surrealist.  ‘Full circle’. There are plenty of goat herds around where I live so I hope to get out there and make some sketches to work from. I plan to use the skull as a big rock and show the goats playing on or around it.
  • Abstract. I will have more of an idea on this after I have tried a few abstract ideas/experimenting by adding to acrylics, at the beginning of part 5, but  I will look for patterns within the skull to repeat.

I have already started to draw and study this skull.

Selfies project continued: ‘Without me’

‘It was good to see that you initiated a parallel-project of your own (…”to challenge myself”). The Selfie series is an interesting idea. It helped you to move away from your comfort zone and explore different methods of paint handling and bold composition. I would encourage you to explore this further, alongside the course material. It seems a pertinent idea, to think about the nature / purpose of the Selfie; in relation to your concerns for portraits to be ‘flattering’, there seems a strong link. This is a personal project through which, you could really stretch your critical and technical abilities.’

In many of my self portraits I have chosen not to show any clothes; I felt clothes might be a distraction from my true ‘self’. Also, thinking about about my life, and how things change, as I don’t go out perhaps as much as I used to do, I had an idea of my clothes, in their frustration, going out without me…. This has been inspired in part by  looking at the work of Cathy Lomax and her Marilyn dresses, that show the shape of the body but without the actress within. So I thought to continue my ‘selfie’ project then, using mainly payne’s grey to draw with the paint and build up layers working from selfies in various items of clothing, but with myself absent, although my body is in a way present underneath.

Cathy Lomax, ‘ I’m a Girl not a Ghoul’,2012, oil on paper, 30×21.5 each below. source: http://cathylomax.blogspot.com.es/

Girl not a Ghoul

This was my first attempt. I took pictures of myself in this dress and then did some pencil sketches. It has quite a ghostly feeling to it, I think.  A4 acyrlic  paper. #1 MarilynWithout me

With this one I added a light tint of green (which the dress actually is) Doesn’t show up so much in the photograph.  The best poses are full of movement, rather than static.  I set the timer on my ipad and dance around… #2 Bette20170730_122706

Crinkled silk , yellow tint- hard to describe. #3 Sienna

3 Sienna

White cotton, #4 Ibiza


They make a set together. Of course, they are only sketches and I might work on larger version of these at some point. Plain dresses without complicated patterns worked best. I am not sure trousers and separates would have worked as well and might have looked rather comical. They look best displayed together. I had a lot of fun with these 🙂