Understanding Painting Media- Response to Tutor Feedback


I would like to begin by saying thank you to my tutor for her support throughout Understanding Painting Media. I have enjoyed this course and feel inspired to try out new things.

I will address each point raised in this report in italic type.

Overall Comments

This was a very nice completion of your studies Elaine, evidencing a wide range of approaches and a developing understanding of paint as a medium. Primary colours are odder than we might first think. You can have a set of primaries where grey is the ‘blue’ and brown is the ‘red’ for example. In some of your work, utilising the full set of primaries, no matter how strangely comprised, would have enabled a richer deeper palette and therefore more complex relationships and use of space. Do some work on Harvard refencing of your report and consider changing it to analyse a couple of paintings.

Thank you for that tip. I had a wee look through some paintings online just to see how the use of primaries can create a depth and warmth. I liked a piece of work by Patricia Kaufman called Emerald Hues. She uses golden yellows beside blues in the sky to create a warmth and vibrance to the painting. In other paintings by the same artist I noted her adventurous use of primaries that hooked me as an observer. I will really consider how to do this in my future work.

 I will go through my references and use Harvard referencing before I submit my final assignment.


Feedback on assignment

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity

  1. This is a nice idea with some delicate brushwork. A development on this would have been to involve some very slight bits of red and yellow – in other words some green bits and some slightly grey bits where you had mixed some ‘blues’ at the edges of blue if you see what I mean. Nothing too mad but just a bit of depth to the blue basically.

I agree with this point and I did think about that at the time. I liked the blues and I think I was busying myself with experimenting with the shape and blue that it wasn’t till I had finished that I wondered about a change of colour. I think I will be more aware of that next time I do something like this again.

1&2 – these are nice and crisp The use of text is successful and that is hard to do. 5. Is a bit less crisp and could do with a bit more definition in the darker bits.

I agree. It sometimes takes someone else to spot things like this. I felt that the text gave the plant identity… I always think I sound a bit eccentric when I want people to take notice of the diversity of nature but I think the writing was as much art as the sketches and of course the handcraft of mother-nature.

  1. There is some really nice observation in the seaweed which I find the purple bit is running interference on. The purple looks a bit random / coloured in and that undermines the lovely observation of the seaweed?

The purple was a risk that did not work. I regret this because I enjoyed the shape of this beautiful plant. Because the plant was dead I actually took it home and dried it out completely. I just loved the shape. I probably will do this painting again at some point. My father used to say you don’t have to guild a lily. If something is beautiful, such as this incredibly beautiful plant, the background is not necessary.

  1. congratulations on an experimental but luscious painting, using three different approaches successfully in one work.

This piece was fun to do, albeit a tad time consuming. It was one of these

3 is a bit wobbly.

In my head I was thinking that the shell could be part of a different collection of drawings. I found a piece of china with a blue pattern on it on the beach. I was picturing shells and plants on china. Then I thought about a pebble painting I had painted on a small stone and thought that it would be nice to keep the blue painting on a white pebble, rather like the broken china. I probably should have made my ideas more audible in my write-up at the time. I see it in my minds eye and I hope that I have expressed my vision in such a way that the reader can also imagine this.

  1. is a nice try at a Vilja Clemins type drawing. You might find that very careful dragging of a finely pointed putty rubber along and around the edge here would help create a sense of                                                                                         This was a strangely therapeutic drawing that I think I probably stopped when I did because it satisfied my need to experience the intimate relationship with my environment in the same way that Vija Celmins clearly experiences. I should have returned to the piece to see how to develop it.
  2. a very nice sky – a good range of blues that include rosier and greener versions. I wonder if the work you dd on 4 and 10 might have suggested a more informed approach to the sea? The sky is convincing and quite naturalistic, but the sea is more Kurt Jackson. I wonder if cutting back into the white section to make shapes like in 10 would work?

I felt that my work on 4 and 10 were up-close and personal whereas this piece was more about an overwhelming sense of the power and enormity of the sea. I get how approaching the sea in the same way as 4 and 10 would create a very different feeling. I started a painting of the ripples on the water after the assignment but didn’t finish it. I thought the finished piece would have reflected a colourful version of 10 and was becoming too rapt in one concept when I wanted to look inward and outwards at my environment.

  1. This is fun. I feel as if there is a bit too much cream in this, but then I think that is more about how the sections are delineated. I feel I want to see the cream glaze across shapes and work in layers? Try and get up close to a Peter Doig or similar and see how he approaches this kind of thing. Or Mark Tobey.

I love the work of Peter Doig but have not had the pleasure of seeing it up close.  I will endeavour to do so.

Peter Doig

Process / Material Research

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

The little grey street scenes are fine and sensitive. As you say, the last two are particularly exquisite in terms of their working. It is a lovely set. How does this sit with you – do you like working like this? How could this be taken forward into larger paintings? (https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/michael_raedecker.htm)

I enjoyed working on the natural objects using fine lines and lighter tones.  I looked at the work of Michael Raedecker and I can see how the fine lines of the trees can be represented and extended using thread on canvas.  I think it might be possible to develop this in a few ways.  Perhaps even including the small paintings within a larger painting.  The fine work could be built up in the same way that Annie Kevans approaches her work – adding colour and tone gradually.  

The tondo looked good at this point – there is more flow between the bits?  You can afford to consider how you use space in your paintings and look to open that up. How do the white bits inter relate here compared to your final one? How does the blue move around and connect? You have differing levels of opacity here for the blue and that is important and could be used more if you like it?


I included the tondo at this stage of development because I liked it more than my finished piece. It is another one that I think I overdeveloped when I should have paid more consideration to the shapes and the negative space and the impact of space on those shapes. The blue didn’t ‘connect’. I guess I over-worked the piece and didn’t consider that the gesso could be a part of this abstraction.

Written Research / Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You found out quite a bit about the history of acrylic paint. You do need to reference this essay though, just have a go as it is a skill you need to develop.

You could have done a bit more to investigate how artists have used acrylic practically but your list of images does that job to an extent. For example, do you think Hockney embraced ‘plastic’ paint as a feature of modernity?

I will go back and reference the essay. I ran out of words and used pictures to illustrate how acrylic can be used. I think Hockney did embrace ‘plastic’ paint as a feature of modernity in the same way he digitally manipulates images. Hockney thirsts for new and exiting forms of media to pioneer in his own distinctive way.

Learning Logs or Blogs

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

Your log demonstrates a commitment to understanding your own work and I think you are working hard to extract the learning from the exercises. You do a good job of evaluating your own work and reflecting on its significance. I’m glad we agree about the purple. UPM does a lot to encourage you to work on prepared grounds so don’t forget that.

Thank you.  I feel that my work has developed through experimenting with prepared grounds.  

Suggested reading/viewing










Thank you for the suggested reading/viewing. Unfortunately the vimeo was experiencing playback difficulty. Hopefully I will be able to visit the sight at a later date. I was able to access links at paintclub.org. However, I particularly liked the work of Michael Raedecker and his use of thread on canvas. I love how he uses thread as an extension of line giving a beautiful depth to his work. I am itching to dust down my sewing machine and get experimenting.



Pointers for the next assignment

Think more about how you use spatial depth in your paintings, even when they are of surfaces or relatively shallow.

Let the paint move across forms and experiment with opening up areas to enable flow around the painting visually

Value the precision of some of your ‘drawn’ paintings and look to see if that can be juxtaposed into the more lyrical work? Just as an experiment?

Well done, I look forward to your next assignment.




Tutor name Emma Drye
Date 01/08/2019
Next assignment due n/a This is the date I will put in my diary to review your work, so the work needs to be with me in advance of this date. It is fine to change this date to suit your needs but please do give me notice so that I can manage my workload. Please don’t pay over the odds to get the work to me special delivery – just email and change the date!

Again, may I offer many thanks to my tutor, Emma Drye, for her support throughout Understanding Painting Media.

Understanding Painting Media Essay

Acrylic Paint


Acrylic paints are relatively new to the art world (by comparison to other arts media,) with acrylic first used in 1901.   Acrylics, however were not available on the market until 1947. Oil and watercolours on the other hand date back to the fifteenth century.

In 1934, Otto Rohm of the Rohm and Haas chemical company in Germany invented an acrylic resin that would become the key component of acrylic paint. However, they were not the inventors of acrylic paint. In 1941 Leonard Bocour, a manufacturer and maker of oil paint was introduced to acrylic and was impressed by how white it was that he began to work with Rohm and Hass to produce an acrylic based paint. Following war Il in 1947 Bocour began selling ” Magna ” acrylic paint.

The versatility of acrylic was recognised across the globe. Acrylic paint combined the properties of oil and watercolours without the lengthy drying time of oils and unlike watercolour, acrylic paint does not fade with age. The product has since been refined and developed to create other acrylic based products such as liquitex and acrylic ink.

In 1949 Leonard Bocour and Sam Golden invented a mineral spirit-based paint. Golden developed a water-based acrylic known as ‘Aquatec’.

In Mexico, Jose Gutierrez produced Politec Acrylic Artists’ Colors and at the same time in Cincinnati, Henry Levinson produced Liquitex colours for Permanent Pigments Co.

Acrylic lends itself to experimentation and innovation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MPlxFzeOw6U shows a ‘rainbow’ experiment of pouring and mixing the paint.

Texture can be created by adding a variety of acrylic media products such as Glass bead texture gel, to create a jewel-like effect or iridescent medium to give the painting a sparkle. Using heavy structure gel or modeling paste can give the painting a thick impasto style.

th.jpeg th-1.jpeg

Glass bead texture gel

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modeling paste

The versatility of acrylic allows the artist to explore mixed media such as collage and is open to experimentation and innovation.



3.jpg Alla Prima

images.jpg wet on wet

download.jpg stippling

download-2.jpg dry brush

7.jpg Sgraffito

8.jpg Spattering/Spraying

9.jpg Faux painting

10.jpg  Impasto

However it does have some limitations; its quick-drying property makes blending wet-on-wet very difficult. For those who have embraced acrylic in their work these hurdles can be overcome using fluid enhancers and water sprays, allowing them to create fresh, new approaches reflecting what this medium has to offer.


Acrylic became the perfect vehicle for Andy Warhol to drive his ideas. Warhol  was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century and a leading figure of the Pop Art movement. His work often looked at the connection between artistic expression and mass media.




Warhol also painted portraits of celebrities in bright garish colours using acrylics.

In 2008 his ‘Eight Elvises’ sold for $100,000,000



At the age of 82 David Hockney is one of the most innovative artists alive. He has embraced new technologies such as the i-pad and camera but he has made his mark creating vibrant paintings using acrylics.



The card players is one of my favourites as he cheats perspective in a way that only he could.



Monroe, Laura, ARTmine, https://www.art-mine.com/for-sale/paintings-submedium-acrylic/history-of-acrylic-painting

Visited July 2019


Acrylic painting, Encylopedia Britanica, 2019 https://www.britannica.com/art/acrylic-painting

Visited July 2019


Artists Network, 11 Famous Artists Who Paint with Acrylics, 2019 https://www.artistsnetwork.com/art-mediums/acrylic/famous-artists-paint-acrylics/ visited July 2019

McArdle, Thaneeya, Thaneeya LLC, 2008-2019


visited June 2019


Acrylic Painting, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART,


Visited July 2019

Understanding Painting Media Assignment 5

For your final assignment on this course, you’ll produce a group of paintings, drawings or other images that describe aspects of your environment. The number of images will differ from student to student, depending on the nature of your work: discuss this with your tutor.

Your final work might include a combination of any of the media materials you’ve already used.


I live on the edge of a town in Ayrshire in Scotland. A five minute walk in one direction can take me into the town centre, another direction will take me into the country and a further five minutes will take me onto the beach. Following discussion with my tutor I decided that the focus for my assignment would be the beach. Since I spend a lot of time beach combing and walking there I felt that it was the environment that is closest to my heart.

When I reviewed my work for part 5 I listed several things that I wanted to develop. I wanted to depict the plants, shells and water not necessarily together.

I wanted to explore a range of media and investigate how the media can be manipulated.

I wanted to develop and demonstrate my artistic voice and I wanted to look at how I could use shapes and manipulate them with the chosen media

I began jotting ideas down. Some I liked and others not so much. My ideas 1 – 3 would depict the beach in its entirety but they seemed too busy for the elements I wanted to explore.

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The sand dunes and sand (idea 4 and 5) fit the theme of the beach but not in the techniques and media that I wanted to explore.

I looked at ways to show the beach but they seemed to try to capture everything. I decided to look inward before I went outward and toyed with ideas for a tondo.

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I liked idea 6 because it seemed to curve to the shape of the tondo.

Idea 7 I could see how I could use mixed media to create a tondo that would be like looking through a porthole of a sunken ship. It was actually seaweed caught on an algae and barnacle ridden rock.

Idea 8 was another one that I liked because the seaweed and kelp that had washed up on the shore were close to an area that looked like patches of oil washed up on the beach. I manipulated the seaweed and liked the patterns it made.

Idea 9 I thought did not suit the tondo but would suit a rectangle.

Idea 10 was too similar to idea 6.

Idea 11, although the sea has washed up a lot of seaweed that has dried out on the sand I don’t see how the picture could develop more than one form of media.

I opted for idea 7 to start off with. At the beginning of part 5 I painted a watercolour and added salt – a technique used in science to force changes to matter. I had read that the same effect can be achieved using acrylic and surgical spirit. I painted a sheet of card using sap green acrylic. Whilst wet I sprayed with surgical spirit. When dry, I coated with Prussian blue and sprayed with surgical spirit. I repeated this with white and finally with sap green.

I loved the effect. It looked like the green algae on the rock.

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I then cut out a circle the size of a small dinner plate and sketched the shape of the seaweed using watercolour. Having established where the seaweed would be I then used modelling paste to create the barnacles. I used a palette knife, a pin and a brush to painstakingly create the desired shape. I painted the leaves of the seaweed with acrylic paint. I used a drybrush technique to create lighter shades of green on the algae. When dry, I coated it with several thin washes of green and yellow. Finally I coated the leaves with gloss medium.


What went well?

I think I made use of a variety of techniques and media. I like the composition. It suits the tondo as it really does resemble a scene from a porthole.

The colours are dark yet the gloss gives the plant a lively little shine. The barnacles give the painting a third dimension.

What did not go so well?

At one point I thought about using fabric to add another dimension but in retrospect I am glad I didn’t because in the light the water on the plant is glossy as is the gloss I used to paint on the leaves.

What I learned.

I learned to persevere first of all. This painting too longer than any other painting I have done. However, I loved the technique of splitting the colour pigment from the acrylic resin. I imagine that this technique could be used with different colour combinations. I researched the difference between barnacle and limpet – something that I am ashamed to say that I never really considered. Barnacles will fix themselves and settle down. Once settled they will not move.

In between stages of this painting I drew some plants from the shore. When I looked closely at each plant I couldn’t help but admire their beauty. The rock-pools were full of so many different plants with beautiful colours and shapes. How dare we call them weeds. They are flowers of the sea. For 22 years I have walked this shore, guddled in the rock-pools and never once did I think of what each plant was called. When I sketched the Phaeophyta I used brown fine-line pens. Its colour is orange/brown. Up close the plant appears to be like a tiny skeleton. I had been looking at the work of botanical artists and decided to treat these plants with the respect they deserved. I tried a sun-print (in the style of Anna Atkins) but it did not work out, although I did like the ghostly image.

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The Fucus Vesiculous might sound like a sorrowful medical condition but in fact it has many healing powers. It can give relief of rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis. It is rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur, silicon and iron and high in some B-complex vitamins. It contains moderate amounts of phosphorus, selenium, manganese and zinc and small amounts of vitamins A, C, E and G.

This plant is also known as bladderwrack as its bladders and usually paired.

I watch people squirm as they try to jump over piles of bladderwrack on the beach. How sad that we don’t give it recognition for its healing powers (I am not turning into a witch doctor – just ashamed at my ignorance).


I drew this shell because it was one of millions yet seemed so alone. It’s tenant was no longer there and slowly but surely the tides were breaking it down.

I like the idea of developing the three drawings by using glass paint on porcelain pebbles.


My next painting I also decided to make another tondo but using oil paint. In my reflection of part 5 I wanted to revisit the technique of painting using watercolour then over-paint parts with oil. I also wanted to use texture.

I cut a circle from hardboard, sanded it then coated it several times with gesso. I then painted my plant onto the tondo using watercolour. To create the texture of the sea-kelp I used modelling paste and PVA. I then painted it with oil paints and sprinkled sand into the PVA and paste. I ended up using a textured paste as well because it didn’t create the surface I wanted.

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Although I like the painting and I am pleased with the composition I did like the watercolour before texture and oil.

What went well?

I think the composition and colours are nice. It is almost abstract. I made the oil marks appear pretty and yet menacing. I loved the plants and how they curled and caressed each other. I think it comes across that I loved this plant. It is more that what is actually there because I wanted the swirls round the plants to be like the plant. That makes sense to me but I am not sure how others will perceive it. I investigated media and brushstrokes.

What didn’t go so well?

I think the texture of the sand was not as I had hoped and it appears too sparse for the composition. Crushed shells might have been better but I don’t think I could have played about with the paint had I used shells.

Glossing using varnish did not go well at all. The brush I used was not suitable for the job. The lines created by the brush can be seen.

What I have learned

I think I would like to do this painting (or at least this type of painting) again, only I would like to back it up with digital imagery. For example using digital filters to change the colours as shown below.

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In the large painting I wanted to create ‘noise’ by painting the choppy waves and the grumbling sky over the horse island on the beach. I also wanted this painting to be Alla Prima in order to create the imminence of the storm and the motion of the waves. I hoped to create an image of the sea that is powerful. After all, the sea is home to the plants and animals that is my environment.

I used acrylic paint with a water spray to keep the painting wet so I could work wet on wet. I started by spreading modeling paste on the canvas with a knife. I then over-painted before it was dry. I am not sure if that is something that should or should not be done…it is done now and it worked. I worked with a big brush for all but the little lighthouse, when I used a number 2 round brush. I wrote my 500 word essay on acrylic paint because I think it is such a versatile medium. I know that what I have done only touches the surface of its potential.

What went well?

The painting reflects the place. I like the composition, the menacing sky and the darkness of the water. The pale blue and turquoise soften the picture a little. I think it does make the sea appear to be powerful and I think it gives the illusion of noise. Blending colours on the canvas worked well and the painting only took just over an hour. I think this shows my artistic voice because it is expressive, with brushstrokes visible and bold sweeping movement on the canvas.


What didn’t go so well.

I think that the colours could have been brighter on a brighter day or more menacing and grey. Many times the sea looks darker especially in the winter, so to paint greys would be perhaps more suitable. I think perhaps more texture would have made the painting more interesting.

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This painting was another experiment using acrylic.   I very quickly painted the paper with watery acrylic then, whilst still wet I placed cling-film over the top and moved it about before removing it. The film removed some of the paint and left an effect that I tried to work with.

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I work with splattering white and pale blue to represent the moving water. Because the painting wasn’t really working the way I wanted it to I decided to add gold the make it feel almost magical. I remembered seeing a very dark blue painting by Maggie Hambling where she used gold pen the give the wave a magical feel.   I turned my painting on its side because I thought that I was trying to create the waves in a different way that perhaps we should see things from a different way too. As an abstract I like it. The colour is rich and full and the gold gives it warmth and that magical feeling.

What went well?

I think experimenting and investigating gives a sense of freedom which is reflected in the piece of work. It is abstract and in a way had I continued to make this painting into a photo-real painting it would have been over worked. On its side is a statement that I take from my research on John Berger’s ‘Ways of seeing’ in that there is more than one viewpoint – not everything has to be conventional to make sense.


What did not go so well?

I am not sure that not knowing how a painting will turn out should be a problem or seen as not going so well but to an extent the unknown gives the artist so many possibilities that it is not necessarily the best way to develop the painting but in this case I chose this way. I could have developed this painting into something completely different. For example I could have been very controlled about adding the white sea foam/spray to create the photo-real finish. I could have used a mix of gouache paint to create a matt, gloss contrast.

What I have learned

The creation of an abstract painting gives you so many options on how to develop the piece. I used colours I liked and when I spoke to an abstract artist from St.Ives she said that there are always people who don’t like your art but if it pleases you then that is what really matters because you know that it will please someone else. I think the uncertainty of abstract boils down to an idea that works or doesn’t’ work but the message that she imparted is that art is subjective.

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The last painting I did was of dying Fucus spiralis that was washed up on the beach. I painted the paper with acrylic then painted using watercolour. I liked the shape of the plant and I thought the oval shape would suit it well. After I painted it I thought I should add in shadows but I now really dislike the piece of work. If I had to do this painting again I think I would paint on a rectangle so that the space is part of the painting. I would also paint it without the background colour because the plant is undeniably beautiful on its own and it should be given that respect.

When I put the paintings together it had to be on the floor because I have no wall space in my house I struggled to photograph them.


So, I made layout plans then selected my favourite formation.

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In my first arrangement I had used the sea plant but thought it was out of place. When I moved the paintings around using the plan I finally opted for this arrangement because the tondos were grouped and the rectangular sketches and paintings were set out in an interesting way. I am not sure if I should have tried the large painting in the middle so the observer would look inward then outwards to take in all. This is perhaps an area I need to work on.

Review of my work for Understanding Painting Media Part 5

Looking back though Understanding Painting Media I would say that I am learning and my work is developing. Some of the exercises really challenged me and took me outside my comfort zone but I think a great deal of my learning took place then.

I enjoyed learning new ways to use media – painting with watercolour on an acrylic ground, painting white on black, working with monotypes and painting tondos.

What is my personal voice?

I think my personal voice has developed through a mindful approach to my work. I like to paint objects that mean something to me or represent something important in my life. My favourite pieces of work have been very personal and representational. My painting of Balintoy Harbour on a stone was a lovely memory of taking my dad on holiday.   The tondo of the mannequin sitting on a box looking at a mess of paints represented the oil paints my dad bought for me and the box represented memories and secrets that I should have shared.

I was influenced by the work of Alli Sharma when she exhibited the ‘Pawn Shop’ – the notion that behind objects in the pawn shop there is a story fits my way of thinking. I was also influenced by the work and words of Vija Celmins. She has an affinity with nature and is known for her meticulous renderings of natural imagery.

My artistic voice is somewhere between representational and guided by the work of ‘mother nature’.

When I painted my pictures on bark I was trying out gouache but it went quite wrong. I am going to chalk that down to feeling rather off colour at the time of my accident. I revisited the paintings and looked at the work of 17th Century artists and found that the luminosity in their floral arrangements was achieved by applying multiple transparent glazes. When I did this I found myself returning time and time again to achieve that luminosity using oil paints.

I enjoyed working with monotypes. Again, I took inspiration from Ali Sharma, with particular regard to her black and white series, ‘Tainted Love’. My monotypes of Billy Connolly portrayed a story of Billy ‘looking forward and looking back’.

It is very difficult to describe my practice in three words but I would say I am developing, mindful and ardent. I am learning and developing all the time. That will be a word that will describe my practice from now until I stop painting. Mindful is an approach that makes me question the value, meaning and the intention of my work and lastly, ardent I hope is reflected in my work and the process I go through…manipulating objects, feeling the texture and exploring the colours.


What might I continue and develop?

I liked colour mixing on the painting and working wet on wet as well as using a dry brush technique. I would like to add more texture to paintings and somehow incorporate sound.

Although I felt the tondo challenging I liked how the shape suited some paintings. I also liked painting the miniature tondo. I would quite like to develop the tondo and find appropriate ways to use it effectively.

Using mixed media was strange and challenging. I would like to revisit this and continue to develop the use of mixed media

When I revisited my paintings on bark I found that glazing created a luminosity that I liked. I would like to use this technique in other pieces of work.

I would like to revisit monotypes but I would like to develop them in landscapes.

Having read about painting on metal and recently visited galleries where the artist painted on metal I would really like to try working on metal.

I painted on stone – a most enjoyable experience that I would also like to develop.


Have I fulfilled all of my ideas?

No, I have still many ideas that I would like to develop. Having seen the work of Geraldine Swayne I would like to paint a shocking little miniature and watch the reaction of the observer. I think that is a bit cheeky of me but really I want to see how the observer reacts to any of my work.

I want to continue to draw and become more expressive with my brushstrokes and learn how to paint on metal and explore abstract ideas.

I am still very much at the beginning of my journey in art and these things that I have not yet been able to achieve are things that I endeavour to try along the way.

Understanding Painting Media Five Ex 5.4

Understanding Painting Media Exercise 5.4

Make a study of packaging or rubbish from something you’ve bought or rubbish that you’ve found near your home.

Make three oil or acrylic studies of some packaging or rubbish. It would be tonally interesting to choose something of fairly neutral colour like Alex Hanna’s pill packets and buble wrap or Giorgio Morandi’s bottles and ceramics. Place the packaging or rubbing onot a piece of white paper in strong light.




I decided to paint my pill box with an empty pill packet, a water bottle and the jam-jar I use for painting. I failed to notice the next page of the handbook which asks us to do three pencil sketches first. Oops! So I did this exercise round the wrong way. I wish I had completed the pencil sketches first because it would have made me more aware of building up tone.

Of the three paintings I would say that the jar was the most successful because it explored a range of tone. I deliberately painted the jar as if I was painting with watercolours rather than acrylics. The paint was so very pale and the tone was gradually built up. My painting of the pills and box was not so successful in that I tried to achieve the tone too quickly. Stripping the tone back is not so easy so I abandoned the painting.

What went well?

I think I achieved tone in the final sketch of the jam-jar. I built up the tone gradually and I was quite pleased with the result. The colour painting of the jam-jar was similar in that I built the tone up slowly which made it more pleasing to the eye.


What didn’t go so well?

My tutor has said before that I need to work on shadow…she is so right. I find the shadow so tricky to achieve. Again the jam-jar is probably the most accurate. The bottle had cast several shadows under the strong light. I tried to capture that but it looks more like I have make several mistakes and tried to rub them out.


What I have learned…

Well I think the biggest lesson is that I need to treat the shadow as part of the picture and not an ‘add-on’. If I treat the shadow with the same build up of tone as I do with the rest of the picture then it should make a more complete and professional picture.

The big lesson is that tone must be build up gradually and not to forget that the rubber is a valuable tool when it comes t picking off shimmers of light.


Understanding Painting Media Five, Ex5.3

Understanding Painting Media Part 5 Ex.5.3

Make a study of a corner of your room. Choose a corner where the light changes a lot throughout the day. Using watercolour on A5 watercolour paper, make a study from life in the morning, at midday and during the evening.

I had a quick look at the artists Pierre Bonnard, Lee Maelzer, Hayley Field and Walter Sickert before I started this exercise.

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I like the work of Pierre Bonnard. His domestic scenes are warm and intimate. He uses a warm palette and his compositions are close yet he creates perspective by making use of open doors and windows looking outwards with subtle changes in colour and tone.   This use of perspective makes his interior scenes seem more intimate and cosy.

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Lee Maelzer is a contemporary artist known for her paintings of interiors. She is clearly interested in social deprivation and often depicts this in her work. Her representational art is a hard hit on the imbalance of wealth in the country. Maelzer paints the interiors of the socially deprived with such empathy. She captures the gradations of light that leads the eye around the room and invites her viewers to take cognizance of the deprivation endured by some.

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Hayley Field’s approach to her work is quite unique in that she spends much of her time working and re-working paintings until the final piece slowly emerges.   She is an abstract artist whose work is about her personal response to the things she observes.

In this painting she creates light using what I assume is a wax resistance technique and pale washes of pink with the hint of a blue shadow.

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German born Walter Sickert moved to London as a child. He became one of the most influential artists in Britain at the time. As an artist during the Victorian times he really tested the water of moral conventions with his shadowy interiors and scenes suggesting sex and violence.

It is argued that Sickert had connections with Jack the Ripper but nothing was ever proven. Sickert did show a dark side in his art as many of his sitters were unclothed with postures resembling the victims of Jack the Ripper.

His style was to paint using short broken lines with impasto paint (influenced by Van Gogh). His subject matter consisted of some landscapes, portraits and interiors. Sickerts interiors were often dark and creepy scenes with naked women and often a second figure, usually a male, fully clothed – somehow makes the scene seem seedy. His use of light is very effective as he peppers the interiors with highlights giving them a slightly lighter feeling.

I liked the work of Pierre Bonnard with his little trick of painting a scene with a window to create perspective. Although my room is altogether dull by comparison to the scenes he paints I thought I would try to create that perspective using the corner of my living room with the window looking towards my neighbour’s house.


In the morning the light floods the living room and moves toward the back of the house by midday.



What went well?

I think there are differences in the light and shadow of the three pictures. The curtains and fabric appear to be different in each one. The shadows are much darker in the evening painting. Outside the tone is different to that of indoors which I think creates a sense of perspective.

What did not go so well?

In all paintings the furniture is not in perspective. I confess to painting by the eye and not using lines of perspective. I was more concerned with the changes in light and shadow throughout the day that I neglected to be methodical and mathematical with perspective.

In the evening painting I think I should have used masking fluid and created more reflections on the windows.


I think if I can take anything away from this it would be that light and shadow adds dimension to a painting and the values give the observer more information about time of day, weather and season. Having the window to create perspective works well during the day but not so well at night time. Using an open door looking into another room would create a sense of distance in a way that a dark window cannot.







Understanding Painting Media Exercise 5.2 A study of a walk in the local environment

Make a study of something you see on a walk within five minutes of your house.

Make five sketches in black ink on grey/beige postcard-size paper.

Make five sketches in water colour on HP watercolour paper, postcard size.



I walked five minutes in one direction and five in the other direction from my house. I stopped along the way to take photographs of things that interested me.

The pathway, or ‘lovers lane’ is a meeting point for young couples, the tree in my second picture is one that my husband remembers when he was a boy. The fields are for me a reminder of the life I had as a child brought up on the farm. I think of all my drawings and paintings it is the most delicate because of my love for nature. If we were to characterize trees I imagine they would be able to tell a lot of stories. These trees are probably only about 60 years old, which is young by a trees standard yet to me, it is old enough to be wise and should be treated with the utmost respect.

I recently took a walk along the riverside and was horrified by the vandalism done to trees along the way. Part of me wanted to paint something beautiful on their broken bits to make them a little bit better, whilst the other part of me wanted to beat the vandals with the broken branches. The later response would not be as pretty!





I painted 5 pictures of the local environment using watercolours.

What went well?

I think the ink sketch of the country is light and delicate by comparison to the others. The fourth sketch is just round the corner from my house. I like the perspective of this sketch and I like the way the path leads the eye towards the trees and houses in the background. By the time I got round to these sketches I was getting the hang of water and ink again and like the range of tones, more so in the fourth sketch.

I am not so keen on the first two watercolours but liked the effects in the others. The third sketch omits a lot of detail but I like the light and the curves of the road. Dropping very diluted paint onto a wet ground created the trees in the background, when dry, the trunks and branches were added. I was experimenting with line and tone. If it didn’t work at least it felt good.

The fourth painting is a view of Saltcoats/Stevenston beach from the brow hill. I like the hint of houses in the distant shore and the variety of tones fading into the distance. I think this painting shows an understanding or atmospheric perspective.

The fifth sketch is my favourite because it was very free and watery. Much of the painting was wet on wet and me experimenting with mixing paint on the paper. At the end of the painting I used a thin wash of yellow to pull the tones together. I think there is a nice glow to this painting.

What didn’t go so well?

I think that I was a little heavy handed with the ink on sketches 2 and 3. The paper was too thin for this exercise and better suited to pencil sketches. That really boils down to me being unprepared with the correct tools for the job. My location means that I have to order a lot of things online as the nearest art store is Glasgow. The immediacy, or rather my need for immediacy would not wait for a next day delivery. In retrospect I should have because the way paint bleeds on paper is affected by the quality of the paper.

In the first two watercolours I was used dark colours too quickly and should have built up to a darker tone instead of launching straight in with dark colours. The third painting was quite the opposite but I used it as a guide for the next two paintings.

Next Steps

I have learned a few things about watercolour that I would like to revisit soon. For example, building up tone gave me a greater variety of tone. Using pathways to lead the observer into the painting and using lighter tones in the background created an atmospheric perspective that gave depth to a very small painting. I like small paintings and I would like to experiment with miniatures as well as apply the different techniques to larger paintings.


Artists I liked

I loved the work of Richard Long. What satisfaction he must gain from manipulating sticks and stones to make pathways. When I visited St.Ives last year a local artist was working on the beach making sculptures from the rocks. He said that it is a mindful art in which he can focus on the beauty and shape of the stones carefully carved by mother nature and blot out the world. I imagine that Long must lose himself in such activities.


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Long’s notion that his sculptures will eventually be reclaimed by nature is such a beautiful thought in itself. His rejection of creating a lasting structure in order to create a meaningful declaration in a minimalistic way is probably the defining reason I appreciate his work so much.

Visual artist Jane Grisewood records her walks by marking her journey on paper. Her concept is of time being transient – a profound and interesting thought. Her account of time and journey is completely abstract and has an almost childlike quality that is quite fascinating.

I appreciate the concept but I am not sure that I would record my journey in such a way. My feeling is that Jane Grisewood’s recordings are personal and to repeat or imitate would be wrong.

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Robert Priseman

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I managed to find a few paintings by Robert Priseman pertaining to this part of the course. I felt as an artist he has such a lot to say. He became famous when he purchased over 100 damaged paintings on ebay then over-painted them with celebrities who had commited suicide or as a result of a an over exuberant way of life. For the observer he tried to present the notion that he was somehow replacing a saint with an idolised image who will become as forgotten as the images they had replaced.

Priseman also explored issues such as the use of capital punishment.

I think he is an artist I would like to learn more about.