Tutor Feedback Assignment Five – My response

My tutor gave me the following feedback on assignment five.  My response can be seen below.

Overall Comments

Thank you for the care taken in preparing and packaging your portfolio. The assignment submission included an A4 Personal Development (sketchbook) , several exercises and projects. Four paintings labelled as ‘Assignment Painting’ and one as ‘experimental piece only’.
The previous assignment 4 piece was included as was seen digitally and commented upon in my assignment 4 feedback .

I noticed that you have run-out-of-time as your course deadline was 24th April. I contacted Joanne Mulvihill-Allen (on your behalf) who has arranged an extention for you. If you plan on submitting your work for assessment you will need to follow this up with Joanne as soon as possible: joannemulvihill-allen@oca.ac.uk

I can see that you have worked hard in this assignment to act on previous feedback and guidance. You have also used the resources recommended and followed up on some previous suggested artists research . I encourage you to more actively respond to tutor feedback; Pointers and Suggestions on any future courses. Though this is at a late stage in the course; you should now build on this: to critically analyse the works of others , throughout an assignment . Keep referring to the resource below to help you develop some depth to your own methodical approach to researching the work of others https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/sg_looking _at_artists.pdf

You have stated many times you find ‘experimentation’ and ‘moving out of your comfort-zone’ difficult. !You have latterly, especially in this final assignment experimented more!; it will take practice on your part to commit to and expand on this. You will know from experience as a primary teacher, we often learn through experimentation, play and taking those difficult or uncomfortable risks. Perhaps you can draw upon your own learning & teaching strategies to help yourself to build on these small creative risks.

You have tried to explore ‘expressive’ and ‘free’ mark-making and brushwork in this assignment. It would benefit you to continue to explore and expand on these qualities; thereby extending your visual vocabulary and building your confidence in the use of a broad range of mark-making qualities.

You have introduced some varied surface and textural qualities; such as mixing matter into paint and incorporating stitch. It would be good to see you do much more of this type of experimentation in your preparatory processes and through to your assignment studies. I have previously commented; that some of your more interesting visual ideas are more evident in your sketchbook.

Do take time to look at, reflect and analyse your sketchbook studies and experiments.

N.B If you are applying for the assessment process- you must respond fully to the feedback comments and suggestions. I make these to offer guidance in relation to the assessment criteria: https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/visual_art s_he4_assess_crit_2_1.pdf

You will need to very carefully edit and select your portfolio ; if you are applying for assessment do make sure you read and closely follow the guidelines for the submission process: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/assessment-guidelines-painting

Assignment 5 Assessment potential

“I understand your aim is to go for the BA (Hons) Painting Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.”

assessment (see Conditions of Enrolment, Section 2 a). Contact the OCA Course Advisors to discuss this further.

Feedback on assignment

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

There is evidence of you attempting to stretch your boundaries and experiment outside of your usual comfort zone. Such as introducing textural matter into the paint, using different paint applications and expanding on your mark-making tools.

More experimentation at the preparatory stage of the assignment is to be encouraged. Do aim to do this across a number of studies ; then you can explore how you incorporate explored qualities into the final works. (Pointers)

You have undertaken working on different scales of support and surfaces; from miniatures to A1. I recommend that you continue to experiment with the format, scale and surfaces on which you paint- then reflect on which seem to help you ‘free’ up your approach, marks and pace. Ask yourself if any feel more appropriate or suitable than others.

Painting 13: There is some soft, subtle directional brushwork in the pale clouds in sky. The simple compositional structure, allows the eye to scan, then linger on different parts of the vast sky; where the light seems to be emerging from the darkness. The horizon of mountains is a little too black and dense; to the extent that they appear flat silouhettes, rather than softer forms. The waves in parts are too stark white.

You have tried hard to convey very particular narratives in the assignment pieces; so much so that you have titled each one. Calm before the storm on Arran, Storm is brewing, Glen Rosa in winter. You seem very preoccupied with illustrating an idea or focussed on making a picture tell a story . I do think this is hindering you exploring paint – composition – marks – qualities of light and darks in what you are observing.

If you drop the titling and focus more on looking, applying paint, exploring your material and visual language; connections, narrative …. may just emerge out of the process of painting if you allow yourself to become involved in the making.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

There are some interesting experiments with mixed-media and textural qualities. For example your s tudy of a pine cone incorporating stitch and paint. It would have been good to have seen you follow-up on your ideas to repeat the process incorporating fewer stitched lines. There was also scope to explore the drawing studies in pencil. often ideas are worth exploring a few times, before you can recognise where they might lead. In relation to the stitched pine cone; look at the paintings of Michael Raedaker who uses stitch and embroidery in his large scale, landscape oil paintings. (Reading / Viewing).

There is a sense that in your pine cone experiments; pencil drawings, then stitch, followed by threepaintstudies youmayhavefoundawaytoallowyourselftoexperiment. Thiscoulddevelop into a u seful strategy; if you can commit to it. The small loose study of the pine cone; with subtle mixing of greys, blues and browns shows your abilty to not only look but also perceive different shapes and colours within the natural cone form. This and the following perfume bottle experimental study have links to y our interest in pattern and repetition within nature / science . This is an area that you might want to explore further.

I encourage you to work more often in your sketchbook and pursue your ‘ideas’ to follow-through on your experiments . Do more experiments, one-after another and you may

find that your ideas will develop a momentum; which will help you develop confidence. ( Pointers)


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You have researched some familiar local artists: including brief analysis of their visual ‘style’, technical approach and tonal values. It would b enefit you to explore this analysis much further to include composition, range and variety of mark, brushwork and colour palette . You profess to admire and wish to paint ‘like’ Salmon, therefore a more in-depth observation and analysing of his visual language, content and strategies might better inform you . Now you have established contact- consider some well-formed questions and make some comments regardinghisworkthatmightopen-upapurposefulconversation.(P ointers) .

Whilst local artists are a source of research; it is important when studying on a degree pathway to use (when possible) source material that has a range of sound, academic research. For example in your abstract expressionism research y ou have used weblinks where the quality of the content, can’t be relied upon. If you are relying on websites to source research it is important to look at those recommended on the course reading list: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/p1-practice-painting-reading-list

When you follow-up research points from the course material; it would be useful for you to analyse and comment on how the research m ight be useful for your learning and development. Ask yourself how your research might (or might not) feed into your techniques, process and the content of your work? You can stall or get stuck, by focussing on ‘liking’ or not ‘liking’; thereby missing opportunities to learn from your research and reflections. (Pointers)

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You are using your blog and personal development book to log your progress through the assignment. This is shown through digital images recorded from your experiments and some drawings.

Often your writing is about what you did i.e; how you used materials and tools. T here are some elements where you begin to comment on the qualities of mark, tone, colour and pace – you need to bring in this type of analysis and develop depth to your reflections. D! o use the ‘looking at artists..’ resource more closely to guide you in this process. (Pointers)

In order to progress you will need to broaden your research sources and visit galleries; looking at a bredth of contemporary art / painting (not just what you ‘like’). A good, clear and accessible introduction for you would be:
‘Ways of looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art’, Ossian Ward (2014) (Research / Viewing)

Suggested reading/viewing


Look at the paintings of Michael Raedaker who uses stitch and embroidery in his large scale landscape oil paintings e.g: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/raedecker-spot-t07514 (accessed 08/05/18)

Relating to your interest in pattern and repetition in the natural world look at the works of Terry Winters it will be useful for you to look through his Drawings, paintings and prints so you can see the connections and development of his visual language and process of researching (the Graz Cabinet) and how this informs his developing ideas: http://www.terrywinters.org/

‘Ways of looking: How to Experience Contemporary Art’, Ossian Ward (2014)

Pointers for the next assignment

  •  Reflect critically on this feedback in your learning log.
  •  Work more often in your sketchbook and explore your ‘ideas’ to follow-through on yourexperiments. Domoreexperiments,one-afteranother,after-anotherandyou may find that your ideas will develop a momentum; and become a body of ideas (rather than one-off experiments). For example do at least 8 small studies / experiments.
  •  Research, look at and analyse (use the resource’looking at ….’) the work of Raedeker and Winters. What could you take from their works that might feed into your own techniques, processes or ideas? Or what would you not take to inform or feed into your own work? Comment on your blog and then follow up on your ideas.
  •  In preparation for editing, selecting and presenting work for assessment you must follow the guidelines provided for painting level 1: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/assessment-guidelines-painting
  •  When accessing online websites for instance relating to your research on abstract expressionism; you would be better informed by looking at the Tate and Oxford weblinks in the POP Reading List: https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/p1-practice-painting-reading-list

Tutor name Cheryl Huntbach

Date 08/05/18


My Response to my Tutor

I would like to say thank you to my tutor Cheryl Huntbach for her support and feedback throughout Painting 1.  I am grateful to Cheryl for arranging an extension for submission for grading.

I have to start by saying that I didn’t really know where I was going with my painting at the beginning of Painting 1. The exercises did put me out of my comfort zone a lot but I knew that was a ‘necessary evil’ (I hope this is a well known phrase and not just a local one…I don’t want to offend). Anyway, it did push me in the right direction. My tutor kept saying to take risks with my painting and I must confess that I didn’t really understand this until assignment 5 when I started to pick out things I liked in my sketches, ideas from tutorials and paintings observed and from memory that I realised I was actually beginning to take risks. I like the idea of taking ‘small creative risks’ and continuing to explore free mark making and brush strokes. In my log I have often written what I think my next steps should be. I am going to take my tutors advice on this one and take those small creative risks and experiment. I hope this will develop my visual vocabulary.

Cheryl also suggested a web link to help me to look at artists work with a more analytical approach. I now have a list of questions I want to find out when I look at paintings that I hope is beginning to stretch my observational vocabulary.

My tutor went on to comment on my use of thread and suggested that I should consider ways to develop my ideas. She gave me a link to look at the work of Michael Raedaker. I just love his work! He uses thread on parts he feels are important…that deserve more attention. The addition of thread, he believes will guide the observers eye round the picture. If you look at his work the thread tells a story. It’s like the ‘Golden thread’ pulling a story together. It invites the observer to touch and connect with the painting.

Michael Raedecker blueprint 2017.jpeg  Michael Raedecker not yet titled 2016.jpegd7hftxdivxxvm-1.cloudfront.net.jpegd7hftxdivxxvm.cloudfront.net.jpeg

A selection of work by Michael Raedaker

In my painting of the pine cone I followed the lines from the cone but to develop my painting I would like to follow only one side of the cone and attach it to the tree using thread, perhaps a falling cone with the thread snapped would indicate that the time is right to let go…for the new seeds to be planted. It would signify the beauty of the life giving mother tree. Ok that was deep, but I love the connections and disconnections of the thread.

My tutor commented on my range of pieces in Part 5, ranging from miniature to A1 in size. She suggested that I continue to experiment with this. I enjoyed creating miniature pieces. My mini Jackson Pollock was my favourite to date. I like the texture of it and I can’t resist running my fingers over it. I gained such a lot from working with different textures. I would like to use more textures in my painting but I do also want to experiment more with how I can use paint alone. It was good to work in the smaller scale as it did free up more time in order to complete tasks quicker. I have a desire to develop a series of minatures in the same way we did for the assignment series.

In Painting 13 my tutor pointed out some aspects of my brushwork that needs a little attention. She suggested that the horizon is a little too dark and dense. I will try to work on this as I imagine my pieces must appear rather solid.

In the assignment we were asked to name our paintings. I did this based on what I thought they looked like. My tutor suggested that I don’t allow myself to get bogged down in the story of my painting and that I try to focus on the qualities of the paint. I hadn’t considered this at the time but I think that I do feel controlled by the ‘story’ and not by the paint. I am not sure how I will do this. My feeling is that I need to employ some mindfulness with paint. Perhaps going back to splatter, splash and abstract expression techniques to immerse myself in that freedom again for fear I end up caught up in narrative that I forget my relationship with paint (that makes sense to me but I am not sure if others will understand).

In my sketchbooks, Cheryl suggested that I follow things through to see where my experiments could take me. She commented that I did this with the pinecone sketches and I would find this a useful strategy if I could commit to it. In truth, this was a reaction based on my lack of understanding of where I should have been taking it that lead me to try out a few different things. I don’t think I considered this developmental process before now. I had been so busy focusing on preliminary sketches, selecting my favourite and the finished piece that until now I hadn’t considered to take my art out for a little ‘test run’ to see what it could do before I settled. It has perhaps taken me a long time to understand that I have to be in charge of the direction of my art.

When my tutor talked about my enjoyment of pattern and repetition when I was doing the perfume bottle, I thought about where that sits with me as an observer. It is probably a part of our subconscious that tells us that pattern is comfortable, there’s a rhythm and a texture that we either like or don’t like. I looked at the work of Terry Winters, suggested by my tutor, and I have to say the patterns were amazing. There were so many created in many different ways. I spent a long time just looking and trying to work out how he created each one and where in the world was he seeing these fantastic patterns. They are everywhere! I had no idea about the potential to develop so many patterns. I love patterns in nature, in textiles, glass and in metal. Until now I felt they were outside my comfort zone but I can see ways to develop pattern that I had never considered before thanks to my tutor pointing me in the right direction. I also think that it is something I should explore with my p4/5 class at school.

th-3.jpg  th-2.jpg

th.jpg  th-1.jpg

When researching I realise that I am not yet accessing as wide a range of materials as I could be using. I have discovered a great library in the Glagow Gallery of Modern Art.  I endeavor to use it more often. I went into the Gallery to help me to understand concept art.  There was a section on feminism which I understand because of my personal viewpoint.  I don’t think it is right that men can get more money for doing the same job or that some men see women as sex objects before they see them as people. So the art I saw on display was about making a point.  However, I don’t see it as beautiful, I see it for what it is and that is a statement about feminism.  There was an artist who displayed work in the Castle Gallery in Glasgow.  His name was Raphael Mazzucco, a famous fashion photographer now artist.  He takes pictures of beautiful places with beautiful women, family and friends.  The art on display was modest by comparison to some of his photographs/art.  I can’t make my mind up if he is sexist or if he really is combining beauty and beautiful places.  Some artists made me think, some made me angry and some wowed me.

I started writing my notes about my gallery visits in a little book that I will submit along with my final assessments. I hope this will help to support my reading and research in future projects. I will also look at the web sites recommended by the college.

Finally, my tutor suggested that I should look at how the content of my research might feed the techniques of my own work. I think this is where I need to focus attention on what the artist is doing or trying to say and not shying away because I don’t like their work.  I need to ask more questions and show the links between my work and the work of others.





Tutor Feedback and Response

Formative feedback

Student name Elaine Wilson Student number 513218
Course/Unit Practice of Painting Assignment number Four
Type of tutorial (eg video/audio/written) Written

Overall Comments
Thank you for the care taken in organising and packing your portfolio. The submission included an

A3 sketchbook and one A3+ painting on board (unlabelled). A learning log was accessible.

Within the submission was a written note stating; The final assignment piece isn’t available to view due to it being wet and your primary research at Kelvin Grove wasn’t included as ‘no photos were taken’.

To clarify: assignment 4 arrived outside of an agreed time-frame. Due on 18th December, it arrived on 2nd February; with no prior communication. Hence the delay in my feedback report. I am willing and flexible to negotiate assignment due dates, yet do need advance notification.

In each previous assignments see (Pointers) I confirm both your strengths and areas for development ; and offer specific recommendations for ( Research/Viewing) . I find little evidence that you are acting or responding to these in your learning log, sketchbook or within the portfolio i.e; Your sketchbook work often has a vitality (that seems to get lost as you work from photographs and on the final assignment); observational drawings of Kali and Conor…. . loose studies from observation outdoors. Do take account of this and act on each of these.

At times you recognise that you are excited by keeping brushwork and mark-making loose, exploring ‘expressive’ mark-making and a diverse range of tones to create form and ‘mood’.
I encourage you to keep practicing these approaches and applications of media / paint. It is important to follow up on these insights, these exciting and experimental paths.

In this report I have retained comments that refer back to previous feedback reports (Ass. 1, 2 & 3) ; to avoid repetition, I have indicated these with (**) . Prior to this report I emailed to encourage

you to make contact with Learner Support, or Joanne joannemulvihill-allen@oca.ac.uk to seek further guidance, in addition to the resources posted in my reports;

(**) https://weareoca.com/subject/fine-art/how-to-use-your-tutor-reports/ (**) https://www.oca-student.com/weareoca/film/getting-most-your-tutor

Keep refering back to your strengths – these are affirming and constructive areas for you develop further.

It would benefit you to spend time analysing the visual language and aesthetics of what you are looking at and the link below can help you break this process down to key components : https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/sg_looking_at _artists.pdf

Assignment 4 Assessment potential

“I understand your aim is to go for the BA (Hons) Painting Degree and that you plan to submit your work for assessment at the end of this course. From the work you have shown in this assignment, providing you commit yourself to the course, I believe you have the potential to succeed at assessment. In order to meet all the assessment criteria, there are certain areas you will need to focus on, which I will outline in my feedback.”

assessment (see Conditions of Enrolment, Section 2 a). Contact the OCA Course Advisors to discuss this further.

Feedback on assignment

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

The assignment piece was unavailable for the report ; due to it not being sent as it was wet. Regarding this issue I have two recommendations:

  •  When painting in oils plan and factor-in additional drying time; dependant on the thin – fat paint consistency. Allow between 10 -14 days drying time and you may wish to consider adding driers for oils (research Winsor & Newton etc). ( Research ) & ( Pointers )
  •  An acceptable alternative to sending work is taking a number good quality (high resolution) and in focus images of the piece. I recommend you take a t least one good quality image of the whole work and several details to show the range of palette, brush and marking across the work. You need to double-check the quality as seen on screen or printed in sketchbook. ( Pointers ). 
The one image available in your sketchbook was of too poor a quality, out-of-focus, dark and small.

You have been exploring a diverse palette across the warm and cool spectrum ; this being evident in your sketchbook. It would be interesting to understand what you intended to portray through this type of exploration. You use the term ‘moody’ several times , b e more specific as to the type and quality of ‘mood’ ? This will then help you to achieve the specific ‘mood’ such as dramatic, calm…etc ( Pointers ).

It is difficult to ascertain how the charcoal drawings have informed the assignment ; due to not having good quality images of the assignment piece.

There are possibilities in two of the charcoal drawings (Ardrossan shore in sketchbook )that could have been developed further to bring some dynamic interest to composition i.e: the bank of trees if made more dense across the foregreound (akin to Doig’s The Architect’s House….) and the triangular mass of trees (right-hand side) if made more dense at the extreme right could have created a dramatic sense of space between foreground / distance. These type of experiments at the prep stage would help you to take more risks in your composition and mark-making.

Do refer to the assessment and grading criteria for Level 4 assessment criteria and use this when reflecting on your assignment; https://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/assessment-criteria-visual-arts


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

An interesting experiment: painting quickly, without your glasses. You comment that it is ‘rather crude’ yet ‘enjoyed just having fun’. I ask you to compare this ‘Aerial Perspective’ quick study, with the landscape on board in your portfolio . Comment on the range and qualities of brushwork . It is a quick study, however it has an energy and vitality that seems edited-out of the painting on board …. Do you know why this is and how can you retain the fresh, sense of movement and elemental qualities in the cloud, air, landscape? (Pointers)

In order for you to become more ‘expressive’ (your phrasing), you could develop these expressive qualities by expanding on your mark-making, tonal values and the pace of your marks on the paper / surface. It would also guide you to look closely at more contemporary (rather than Romantic or Classical research); Frank Auerbach and George Shaw both in the course material and Barbara Rae or John Virtue could offer you insights into how you might challenge and stretch your mark-making and visual vocabulary. Then practice some of the marks and qualities of brushwork yourself. Play more, experiment and enjoy material qualities of charcoal and paint. ( Pointers )

(**) Drawing (and painting studies) from observation (not photographs) will help improve your ‘observation skills’ , explore technique and provide more opportunities enabling you to look, draw, review and re-draw . This type of drawing / painting practice will benefit you in many ways. It is a good means of problem-solving before you begin an assignment.


Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis
A range of research from postcards / internet; diverse yet unclear how this informs your own ideas

and painting.

Some of the research has a bias toward Romantic and Classical landscape- let’s see more contemporary research as recommended in the course material….to stretch and challenge your visual vocabulary and mark-making (less reliance on narrative / story-telling).

The course material: Exercise asks for a critical Review (of 500 words) on an exhibition or book. I wonder where this is? (Research).

Peter Doig is both an interesting and contemporary research point in the course material. You seem to have written a couple of paragraphs and looked at one example. Expand on this more fully. My recommendation was to focus on fewer artists; look at, analyse, reflect and then apply what you notice to your own work. See previous feedback;

Peter Doig ’s to spend time looking at, analysing and then reflect on what you learn to then inform your own; painting visual language and mark-making, composition, palette and ask how the title might relate to the work you look at? ( Research & Pointers )

(**) One of the main benefits in primary research is the opportunity to appreciate viewing visual work in galleries / museums etc (rather than on screen or in publication). This means you can more closely observe and analyse the techniques, visual language, aesthetics, process and manipulation of media, surface,colour and scale. You seem to spend little time observing, analysing and making notes on what you are looking at . Use the ‘Looking at artists’ link to help you more thoroughly reflect and record what you see (not what you think or read the narrative or meaning is, this can come later in your analysis) . Use this link to also help you to reflect on and record what you see in your own work. (see Reading / Pointers ).

(**) Your reflections tend to focus on the narrative or stories conveyed . It would be useful for your development and learning to critically analyse the visual language and aesthetics in work (in addition to a possible narrative). https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/sg_looking_at _artists.pdf

Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

You comment that you find it difficult to accept or appreciate ‘praise’ ; however a s part of the assessment criteria ; you need to be able to critically reflect and analyse your own (and others’) ‘strengths’ ,qualities and areas for development. How can you accept and act on the critical analysis and feedback to help yourself to develop further, (rather than perceive it as ‘praise’)?

You conscientiously reflect on the exercise and the assignment, what are you learning from this to help you develop as you progress through the course . Practice being more constructive in your critical analysis ; give equal time and space to observing qualities that you observe and appreciate . This will then feed your sense of confidence. (see Pointers )

(**) Try and keep things simple . It may help you to break each exercise and assignment part down; so you tackle them in bite-size sections and don’t rush ahead.

(**) You are using both your blog and sketchbook to record your research and reflections on the process and progress of your work; you need to only evidence this in one place. This is a doubling of your time and attention. Make a clear decision about what you are posting to your blog and what needs to go into your sketchbook . This is probably affecting your abilities to manage your time effectively. (see Pointers )

Suggested reading/viewing


(**) Follow up on previous assignments: Reading / Viewing: Assignment 1, 2 & 3.

Research into driers for oils available from many oil paint manufacturers incl; Winsor & Newton and Daler and Rowney….. Look at both the pros / cons and test out for yourself.

Peter Doig ’s The Architect’s House in the Ravine , Swamped , Jetty and Canoe: Analyse and compare (& contrast) each of these works. Write 500 words on what you learn, (appreciate?) and what you could apply to your own work. Begin by using the resource: https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/sg_looking_ at_artists.pdf

Complete the Exercise in the course material pg 103 / 4: Review of an exhibition or book (500 words).

Pointers for the next assignment

  •  Reflect critically on this feedback in your learning log.
  •  More experimentation with brushwork, mark-making, pace and scale of your visual language….lets see more of the ‘expressive’ qualities you seek and ‘enjoy’ the use of materials.
  •  Take better quality digital images; in-focus, high-resolution, in good natural / artificial lighting, full-image and details for screen / printed.
  •  Improve your time management by setting yourself small stepping-stones towards deadlines and stages for each part of the assignment; Research, Prep, Project / Exercises, working on and completing the Assignment and Critical Reflection….. Add in drying time of oils.
  •  Be more specific about what you are aiming for in your assignment; ‘mood’, ‘feelings’ in yourself in order to convey more clearly / expressively to the viewer. Ask how you might convey these qualities through brushwork, mark-making, paint qualities (thin – fat), tonal values, palette, composition…
  •  Use a greater range of brush and mark-making techniques. Do the comparison between quick, glasses-off study (a) and the oil on board (b). Apply what you notice and appreciate from a & b to your assignment and prep work.
  •  (**) Spend time observing and critically analysing the sketchbook study of Callie or Conor on coloured ground. Put your thoughts, analysis and reflections on your blog.
  •  (**) Set yourself a clear time-frame and manage your time in the assignment. Plan good time to explore visual ideas but not to get yourself lost in too many ideas.
  •  (**) Give equal consideration and time to reflecting on qualities within your work that you notice and appreciate for future development, alongside those that you see as weaknesses to improve.
  •  (**) Draw and paint more from observation, and less from photographs.
  •  (**) Building on your research ; (Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Doig….) critically analyse the visual language and aesthetics in more detail. Post to your findings to your blog. Ask what you might learn from this to apply to your own work.
  •  (**) Only post research, analysis and reflections to one location; your blog or your sketchbook.
  •  (**) Reflect upon your strengths and weaknesses, then set specific qualities to develop further or improve upon . Keep these aims simple. Make a note of them to keep by your work-space to remind you .
  •  (**) Choose fewer artists’ work to research and reflect on . This will offer you scope to analyse at a greater depth and purposefully apply this to your own work ; https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/key-resources/res-files/sg_lo oking_at_artists.pdf 
Please inform me of how you would like your feedback for the next assignment. Written or video/audio


My response to feedback

I confess that I made an error with the date of submission for assignment 4. I feel really silly about that. I have the date for my next assignment on my noticeboard and on my phone alerts. If I miss this date I have no excuse.

My tutor commented on the poor quality of photographic evidence.. I asked a local photographer for a quick tutorial on how to improve my photography. I have since removed the photograph of Arran from my sketchbook and replaced it with a better quality photograph.

My finished piece was still wet and I couldn’t send it at the time. I have sent the painting with Assignment 5 and have invested in Liquinth Original liquid to speed drying and improve gloss. I hope that I will be able to plan and send future pieces of work without the delay of drying time.

I have been practicing working at quicker pace in order to explore mark making. It has been challenging because I often slip back into doing my same old style. I then end up having to do the same painting again and try to take less time. I have cut back on this by simply setting myself a time limit. My tutor was concerned about my time management so I hope that by doing this I will cut back on unnecessary work. I have also now put a plan in place where I can devote a certain amount of time for my job, family and art. I think it took my tutor to make comment about my time management before I realised that I need to achieve a work/life balance.

My tutor commented that she couldn’t see the link between my sketches and my paintings. I think perhaps I am sketching, looking at the sketch and planning out what to paint. I should be making more comment on how I intend to use my sketch. I was too busy trying to show views of the landscape that was there that I never considered that I could use my artistic license to manipulate the scene. She also suggested that it could bring a dynamic interest to the composition of Arran from Portencross had I added more trees into the foreground. I am now working on a painting of Arran with more trees in the foreground in the style of Peter Doig.

My tutor commented on the effect of my work when I conducted a little experiment of painting without wearing my glasses. She asked me to compare this piece to other pieces. I updated my piece of work on ‘Aerial Perspective’ on my blog as a result.

I recently made a pro-forma of questions to help me be more focused on visual vocabulary when looking at a painting. My tutor directed me to a link that helped me to understand what I should be looking at when I look at a painting. I feel more focused and I hope that comes across in my work. In part 4 I failed to say how the artists I have looked at have influenced my work. I often look at the work of artists to improve my work. For example, when I looked at Monet’s work I noted that he used complementary colours and I tried this in some of my work. I didn’t say that this influenced me. I will try to improve on this by making links to my work in my blog.

I am compiling a folder of my visits to art galleries. I visited two galleries in Wales and I will be visiting the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow tomorrow.

In my next steps I expressed a need to become more expressive. My tutor suggested that I looked at the work of Frank Auerbach, George Shaw, Barbara Rae or John Virtue. She thought that they could offer insights into how I might challenge and stretch my mark-making and visual vocabulary. I went on line to research the artists


Although I didn’t like the work of Frank Auerbach I read a review of his work where the author, Ben Uri commented on Auerbach’s use of lively colours and ability to transform a hectic London scene into a ‘vigorous surge of pigment’. He is right, it is a surge of pigment but I cannot see me using this style. I appreciate the speed in which he must have worked and the way that colour is mixed on the canvas.


George Shaw’s work was more pleasing to me. His subject matter is unrefined and shows the scene with ‘warts and all’. His painting of the woodland shows a dumped polythene sheet. Through his painting he is making a statement about the affect of man on nature It is not at all glamorous but the images in his work express his view quite clearly.


Barbara Rae’s paintings are colourful abstracts that explore the history of place rather than the topography. Her work is also energetic.  She uses sgraffito in her paintings as well as making use of vibrant colour combinations.

I think my tutor wanted me to consider what expressive marks means to me and also to the observer. It was for me a nudge to research abstract art and find techniques that I felt that I would like to explore.

My tutor asked me to complete a review of an exhibition or book. She suggested that I look at the work of Peter Doig as I have expressed an interest in his work. I cannot find this exercise on pg 103/4 but I will complete the research.

I was asked to read over Part 1, 2,3 and 4 to make necessary changes.  I will work on this over the next few weeks and make changes suggested.

I will endeavour to address the learning points outlined by my tutor.

Thank you Cheryl.





Assignment 5 Painting 1, Part 5

I chose to paint a series of paintings of the Isle of Aaran. Aaran is a beautiful little island of the west coast of Scotland. Depending on where you stand on along the coast the island might appear small and far away, in other spots you feel as if you could reach out and touch it.

The first painting that I did was of Glen Rosa. In my preliminary sketches I toyed with several views of the mountains in the glen. In the close up of the mountain the brown tones of dried heather with grey/sap green grass seemed to be too sparse and winter worn to hold the interest of an observer.


The second sketch was beginning to get overcast and very cold. This scene was to the left of the stream. I liked that view slightly better as it took in the part of the glen that is known as The Saddle.



I then tried a sketch looking up the river toward Goatfell. I liked the idea of creating texture in the water as it tumbled over the rocks. However, the weather was beating me and I couldn’t stay warm enough to finish the sketch. Also I would like to return in summer to see the changes in colour. I couldn’t think how I would be able to capture the scene and make the painting more interesting.

If I could work like local blind artist Keith Salmon (registered blind)I would be happy.


Keith used oil pastels, acrylic, conte sticks, pencils and oil paint to create texture in his painting. By building layer upon layer of pastel and paint the surface of his canvas feels so thick an tactile. During the winter months the plant life shrivels and the grass looks a ‘sad’ grey/green, yet somehow he lifts the spirit of the valley. The dull colours of the mountains against the lighter, softer colours of the sky with the icey blue mountains receding into the distance create a contrast between the warm earthy colours and the cold blues. Arran is exposed to the cruel winter yet that hint of green against the yellow and pink/brown gives a warmth to his painting. He blends the sky by overlaying pink, blue and white pastels on top of paint. When I spoke to Keith Salmon he told me how he lost his sight after developing diabetes. He now has 20% vision so he looks at light and dark shadows and tries to portray the effect that light has on a landscape in his paintings. I like how he has painted the snow as a haze of blue and white over the mountains. I was intrigued by how he managed to capture the cold winter morning yet eluded to a warmth breaking through. Although his painting was 2015 the weather was still pretty similar to the weather today (in March 2018).


In my first painting I tried to create warmth by using brighter colours and texture. It totally changed the picture and made it appear more like a summer day. I wanted the sky to be unblended and the brushstrokes to appear thick. The colours did not work together because I didn’t take the opportunity to blend them slightly on the canvas and still maintain the thick brushstrokes. I liked the texture on the distant mountain (Goatfell). I used jute string mixed with PVA and paint to give it a texture. I liked the texture of the paint in the foreground even though it did not reflect the ambience I wanted to achieve. Perhaps I should have tried to use browns, grey and sap green mixed with grey.  I chose to reject this piece for the assignment but use it as an example of texture that I can refer to.


The next painting I tried was a postcard sized painting using dark blues, reds and greens and using opaque blue to hint at the river and also at the distant mountain. I was inspired by an artist called T. A. Marrison who uses lots of warm colours in her paintings.

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The colours she uses, orange and blue, green and red work so well together. Her landscapes are from her imagination. I find it tricky to use these colours in such a way that they complement each other. I think her paintings appeal to me because of the way she uses colours in such a way that they feel warm. Her blue landscape is far from cold. The use of pink/red warm the blue tones. The red behind the house make the houses seem warm and inviting.

I wanted my painting to have that feeling.

I liked the texture in this painting and I loved the colours. It still wasn’t as abstract as I would have liked and the colours did not reflect the actual colours. I think it is alright to play with colours and to experiment with brushstrokes but it is somewhere in between abstract and romantic. I have deliberately worked on small pieces in order to quickly experiment.


I thought that I would try to paint the grey and brown tones without texture to see if I could make the colours blend rather than show detail.


So in my next attempt I tried to create the cold feeling and the emptiness of the barren land by calming the sky down using ultramarine, paynes grey, magenta and white. I painted the land using paynes grey, burnt sienna, raw sienna, burnt umber, magenta, cobalt blue, ultramarine and white. I tried to use the techniques used by Keith Salmon which was to scribble over parts using oil pastel. I used white spirit to blend the colours. My hope was to make the blues and purples, brown and buff titanium somehow blend into each other. I added snow using white, grey and blue to the peaks of the mountains.

I know that the lines of The Saddle (where the two mountains sweep into each other and look like the seat of a saddle) sweep down and up as if the two mountains join together so I wanted to use similar colours for both. It is only from a distance that you can see these sweeping lines. The closer to the mountains the more jagged the terrain. I felt that I didn’t want to create a texture as it might have removed the feeling of the ‘meeting’ mountains.

I used the technique of creating light using buff titanium against brown. I admired this in a painting by Louise Balaam.


Near Dozmary pool, Bodmin moor by Louise Balaam

I love the contrasts in her paintings. The pale blue against the dark blues and brown creates the same warm and cold contrast as Keith Salmon in his painting of Glen Rosa.


I feel that both artists influenced me. I am in part happy with my finished painting. However, looking at Louise Balaam’s painting I could have used thick textured paint to give the painting the feeling of rough terrain which reflects the actual terrain. The colours are similar to the colours I have used and they do offer a contrast of warm and cold… the warm gournd chilled by the snow and icy blue sky.


I quickly repeated the exercise on a piece of acrylic paper. This time I decided not to blend the colours of the oil pastel. I wanted the white pastel to give the feeling of the icy cloud descending upon the glen.

I deliberately did not spend time blending paint. Some of the paint blended on the paper. I wanted to show the brushstrokes to create a movement that was missing in the previous painting. I have to say though, that at this time of year there is a stillness in the glen. Goatfell, the distant mountain is a tough walk but not as tough a climb as Ben Nevis, so it is quite a lonely mountain in the winter. Nonetheless, I wanted to create a movement in the sky to make it look as if the snow-cloud was menacing with the mountain. I dashed the mountains with icy blue and moss green to give the contrast of warmth and cold.


For my next painting I wanted to look at Aaran from the mainland.  This time I really wanted to work with the water and the sky to create a moody storm over Aaran. Typically the minute I decided this is the atmosphere I want to portray, the weather changed. So I cheated! I used my previous paintings and a painting of a surf wave in which I used paste and beads to create texture and my preliminary sketch as a reference. I went online for a tutorial on how to create dark skies and in the evening the sky began to look stormy – not as stormy as I would have liked but it did mean that I could sit by the window in the warmth and paint rapidly. I think this shows in some of the unblended brush stokes. In the foreground I wanted to give the appearance of waves and the reflection of the light breaking through the clouds so I used thick paint.

I wanted to make the sky my focal point with Arran under threat from the brewing storm. One of the online tutorials I watched used this technique and it was effective. It was quite linear in the foreground and then a huge expanse of sky. I am not sure if the artist intended to do that but I was experimenting. It goes against the ‘rule of thirds’ and I probably should have stuck to the rules for the assignment. Then again, I am trying to move towards abstract…which really bends the rules.


What went well?

The colours are dark and brooding and portray the storm coming. The sky is a combination of blended brushstrokes and visible brushstrokes. The unblended brushstrokes over the top of blended paint creates a sense of movement in the sky. The dark sea and silhouette of Arran almost merge to create the sense of overwhelming threat from the coming storm. The thick white paint in the foreground is a combination of moving sea and a white reflection where the light is breaking through the cloud.

It could almost be a painting of nightfall over Arran.


What didn’t go so well?

I think I could have stuck to the rule of thirds but I am not sure if the message that the world is a small place in the grand scheme of things would have been lost. I could have used thick paint on all of the water to portray the sense of depth.

Paul Bennet’s seascape explores the use of dark tones and thick paint. The land in the foreground is a warm brown. It gives the sense of cold moving towards the warmth that I don’t think that my painting does. Perhaps if I had used brown hues the contrast of warmth and cold would have been present.



The next sketch was a small painting done in haste, without referring to pencil sketches or looking at Arran. I added in some brown tones but I dismissed the idea for now. I don’t want to emulate the work of an artist…be influenced yes but not to covet his/her style.

Back to the drawing board…

The next sketch was a postcard painting of Arran again on a stormy day or rather a stormy night. This time I thought I would try to add texture in the waves and use the splatter technique that I learned about earlier in Part 5. I liked the idea of the waves being thick and bright against the dark blue sea.



My final piece of work came about from a walk along the coast early one evening. The sky was threatening and one bright snow cloud remained in the sky which lit up the snow peaked mountains on Arran. It was stunning! I know I have said this before but I don’t think I could ever portray just how beautiful the island is. Each day the island looks different. The weather, good or bad, changes the scene. With no camera nor sketchbook I had to take the image back in my mind. I did go online to see how artists created rolling sea.


What went well…

My painting uses texture, painting with a knife (for the rocks) and using the splattering technique. I have used the warm brown in the rocks at Portencross and it does contrast with the cold clouds and the snow on Arran.

I have used a combination of lines – the strong horizontal lines of the sea, the soft curves of the distant mountains of Arran and jaggy lines of the rocks in the foreground.

The spray from the water was created by spraying white paint onto the canvas using a toothbrush. The light reflected on the water appears blue in the distance and gradually lightens as it gets closer to the shore. Movement is created in the sky by using lighter wisps of pale blue. I used a dry bush to create the large cloud of titanium white, buff titanium, cerulean blue and magenta.

I think that the painting gives the observer the sense of place. My connection is my love of nature – the clouds, water rocks. I love watching the sea crashing against the rocks. I love exploring rocks from both a scientific and a mindful point of view. The relationship between the water in the rock is demonstrated in this painting. The highlights of green/white looks like light shining through the waves.

What didn’t go so well…

I think the painting errs on the Romantic style of painting and not so much to the abstract style. The sky is perhaps too dark and makes it look later in the evening than it actually was.

Brushstrokes are mostly blended and would give the impression of movement had they not been blended.

We were asked to arrange our paintings our paintings into an order. When I considered this I thought that perhaps I would arrange them to move towards abstract. In which case I would arrange them as follows:


1 Glen Rosa in Winter


2 Snow cloud over Glen Rosa


3 Storm is Brewing – Arran


4 Calm before the Storm on Arran


I think in this order the paintings get progressively abstract.  I named the first painting ‘Glen Rosa in Winter’ simply because the mountains have a scattering of snow over them.  Even the mildest of winters Arran gets a sprinkling of snow.  People tend not to climb Goatfell (the largest mountain on Arran) during the winter.

The next painting I called ‘Snow cloud over Glen Rosa’ because the snow cloud is moving over the mountains and because there was a heavy snowfall just after my sketches I felt the snow cloud was an important part of the painting.

The painting I chose next was called ‘Storm is Brewing – Arran’ for the simple reason that the storm was heading towards Arran.  Aaran is a lot colder than the mainland and storms are commonplace.  Storms are beautiful.

The fourth painting I called ‘Calm before the Storm on Arran’ because the clouds were gathering but the waters were relatively calm.  The swell can be huge.  The island is cut off from the mainland so children who attend the academy on the mainland must have a back-up plan in case they get stuck on the mainland.  The storm can cause problems for a lot of people.

I feel that my painting is improving. I have learned a great deal about adding texture to paint in part 5. I don’t always want to use textures but I think that I am more open to exploring texture. The biggest influence on my painting has been looking at the work of other artists and picking out techniques that I like and applying them to my own work. I was influenced by my research into colour and through the exercises on using opaque and translucent washes. As a result I will find myself applying a translucent wash to bring elements of the painting together or adding opaque washes to create mist or cloud or to highlight differences by placing opaque next to translucent washes.

My tutor has given me links to web pages that will help to develop aspects of my learning. I believe I am looking more now at brushstrokes and application than I was at the beginning of Painting 1. She also gave me advice on how to streamline the workload to make it more manageable. I have now posted my research on my blog and not in my sketchbook as well. My tutor also wants me to take risks with my painting. As a result I am in the process of painting a couple of my assignment pieces again and I am going to take a risk with them.

My next steps would be to practise mark making using thick and unblended paint to create a sense of abstract impressionism. I think also that I need to research different approaches to the application of paint. Finally, my biggest step of all would be to take more risks and explore my capabilities.

My Reflection Painting 1, Part 5

In Painting 1 Part 1 I learned about the application of basic techniques, how to use different brushes and the effects and application of different paints.

Learning about how to use opaque and transparent washes has helped me to understand when to use them in my work and to be able to plan the effect I want using them.

In Part 1 I often found that the exercises were putting me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes I would do an exercise and wonder why the OCA were asking us to do it.  For example, using monochrome and dark grounds was at first restricting. I now find that I am using both with more confidence and I now understand that the exercise was a foundation to build upon.

Using a colour study confused me a bit. In my assignment piece I literally plucked just one strand of withered fern and worked on it, not really knowing why. My tutor said that I should have developed my painting round my colour study so the fern itself played a major part in my finished piece. Now that I have finished Painting 1 I will rework the assignment with a better understanding of what I am doing.

In Part 2 of Painting 1 I learned about the research into colour by Miche- Eugene Chevreul. I looked at different artist such as Monet and Renoir amongst many to see how they applied complementary colours to intensify the colour and the application of paint to imply movement.  I have applied the technique of using complementary colours in some of my work – mostly when painting grasses and water.

In ‘Regatta at Argenteuil’ Monet painted thick broken lines to represent the movement of the waves. Although I have not used this technique to paint seascapes I now understand how to use it.

I have used one point perspective when painting rooms and buildings. At first this seemed to be a mathematical process outwith my comfort zone but it now makes perfect sense. I think it has given me confidence to use the technique when I see fit to do so.

Painting 1 Part 3 really pushed me off the scale of my comfort zone. The life drawing class was too ‘up close and personal’ for my liking. Painting portraits went off to a bad start when I couldn’t get a model. Self-portrait painting was painful! It involved looking closely at myself and I didn’t like the model! However, I learned a lot about the use of negative space and line when I painted protraits. Chevreul’s study of colour was also helpful and John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ shed some light into my own ways of seeing.

Painting 1 Part 4 looked at aerial and linear perspective. Looking at the work of different artists to see how they applied the technique made me consider ways to improve the mood and atmosphere of my work. From the work in this part of the course I concluded that my paintings need to be more expressive. My assignment piece probably lacked atmosphere although I did enjoy using oils. One exercise, working from a line drawing, tonal drawing and a colour study was challenging but it was most helpful when the weather held me back when I did my final piece on Aaran. My tutor suggested that I look again at the work of Peter Doig and add more trees into my assignment piece. I actually have someone who wants to buy the painting so I am going to take time to do the painting again and experiment with adding more trees.

Probably the painting that I got most out of was my painting of Ardrossan shore looking out to Cumbrae. It was painted on the beach and was by far the most invigorating painting that I have done. I loved the feeling of freedom and expression. Being on site I saw pebbles, sand and grass that I wanted to use in my work but I just didn’t know how to do it. Weather has held me back from doing more of this but I have done most of my preliminary sketches on site. When I use my sketches I have found that I experiment more with colour. Sometimes it doesn’t work but mostly it is giving me a greater sense of autonomy. I have also learned to observe the colours and effect of light then when at home I can look out of my window to paint the sky.

My tutor suggested that I look more at brushstrokes and colour and try to develop a vocabulary or visual language when looking at paintings. The link she gave me was most helpful. I made a little set of questions to ask myself as I observe a painting. I believe it has helped me to be more focused.

Areas I need to work on

If I am honest, I know that I probably need to do more work on portraits, with a focus on skin tone and gesture and brushstrokes. However, I also need to work on landscapes with a focus on texture and application. My tutor advised me to look at the work of Frank Auerbach, George Shaw, Barbara Rae and John Virtue. When I studied their work I made a decision to experiment more and find myself in my work. I then researched more and found other artists such as TA Marrison, Scott Naismith, Melissa McKinnon and Paul Bennet.  I need to continue to work on my visual vocabulary and continue to experiment.


For assignment 5 I would like to concentrate on Landscapes with an aim to develop my understanding of how to be more expressive.

The Isle of Arran is a beautiful island in Ayrshire. As the weather changes the island looks different. I want to look at different views of Arran from both on the island and on the mainland.  I need to critically analyse my work and plan out my next steps in my learning journey.

Exercise: Abstract painting from man-made form Painting 1, Part 5

With the same degree of close scrutiny and analysis, study a man-made object. Focus on one part of it and try out different viewpoints. Isolate areas or particular details and work on several studies in your sketchbook until you have an abstract composition that you can develop and enlarge into a painting.

The man-made object that I chose to look at for this particular study was a bottle of Safari perfume. I love the shape of the bottle and how colours refract as light touches the glass. On the windowsill the lines of colour emanate. When I looked at the pinecone and drew abstractions I continued the lines from the centre. The lines of the crystal continued regardless.


I then decided to look closely at the refraction of light by placing the bottle very close to the eye. All I could see was a mass of stars and shards of light. The science behind this is that refraction splits light when it travels at an angle and connects with a surface with a different refractive index, thus white light separates into colours. As the refractive index is multiple the light separates hundreds of times over.

The diagram below shows how light, when refracted through a raindrop appears as a rainbow. Rainbows are beautiful…thousands of tiny little rainbows is awesome…


Not so awesome to paint! My abstraction took ages to paint. The brush had to be fine and the ground I felt had to be coloured in order to see white light.

The lines travel in all directions like little stars of red, orange, yellow green, purple and blue as well as white (white light). I didn’t imagine that this would be so scientific but then again the perception of colour, according to Isaac Newton is a scientific phenomenon. Eugene Chevreul, Professor of Chemistry in 18th century France explored many theories about colour and perception of colour. Chevreul created the colour wheel as we know it. His work, for artists forms the cornerstone of understanding of colour and tone, secondary colour, tertiary colour and the effect of complementary colours.


What could I have done differently?

I could have focused on one refractive index.  That would change the dynamics of this piece of work completely. The piece is very busy. I am not sure if I like the painting. It started off as therapeutic and ended up being very frustrating. So I think if I am honest I was sick of the sight of it by the time I finished it.

I then went on to look at an abstraction from the lid of the bottle. This sketch is very basic but I can see how it could be developed by looking at how light is reflected on metal rather than looking simply at the pattern.


What have I learned?

I have a better understanding of how to create abstractions. The act of looking at something from a particular focus rather than holistically changes the perspective. According to John Berger, we all have different ways of seeing an object and that is influenced by our knowledge of the object. In other words, our expression of abstraction is personal. Whether the abstraction is from a man-made object or from nature, the representation is an expression which is of course open to interpretation.

Exercise: Abstraction from study of natural forms Painting 1, Part 5

Abstraction from a study of natural forms

In this exercise you can abstract by looking very closely at a familiar natural form and expanding what you see in an arrangement of lines, shapes and colours. You could study a highly coloured flower or leaf or a butterfly wing or examine closely a highly structured form such a s rock crystal, shell or seed head.


Before this exercise I think it is important to record my feelings about developing an abstract. It is safe to say that abstract is out of my comfort zone. I have never understood the origins of abstract. When I have to be told what each part of the painting represents I detach myself from the piece. I like to look at a painting and try to decode its story, so abstract is a real challenge for me. I love colour, so from time to time I will see an abstract showing pleasing combinations of colour and I am drawn to it.


For this exercise I looked at pinecones and how I could extend the lines. I liked the idea of using thread but keeping the trailing thread to symbolise the tangles of nature. I knew the painting would get lost a little but I thought that could be like the grass growing over the fallen pinecone.


I wasn’t so keen on end result because the picture was so lost.


When I looked closely at the pinecone I could see a number of colours…black, blue, red, orange, beige and white.   The idea of using these colours seemed right. If I did this again I think I would like to paint the pinecone bigger and follow only a few lines.


I decided to look at the different shapes and colours as I rotated the pinecone. In Drawing 1 Project 6 we looked the work of Anthony Green.  He considered interiors from multiple viewpoints. I liked the idea of looking at the pinecone form multiple viewpoints so I painted and turned it each time I looked up.  It was very strange to do this because I have always struggled to represent objects with more than one viewpoint.  As I turned the pinecone I could see different colours so I decided to exaggerate them.


In the end it become quite abstract and I like it.


The thought of doing this exercise was at first outside my comfort zone.  As my ideas began to generate I relaxed into the exercise.  The colours I used appealed to me.  Some of the tones on the pinecone looked blue.  Since I wanted ownership of this abstraction I made the blue tones lighter and the brown earthy colours I painted red and yellow ochre.

The lines are more random than they would have been had I looked at it from only one view point.  The brushstrokes were quite rapidly applied because it was within the time of ‘look up, blink, look down, apply paint, look up’.  The bold pattern reminds me of those 1970’s retro fabric patterns of my childhood.

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As much as the concept of abstraction was out of my comfort zone I experienced a feeling of nostalgia and a calmness during the painting – even though it was fairly rapidly executed.

If I did this exercise again I might have used a variety of colours and coloured grounds and perhaps only one view point.  The pattern could focus on the Fibonacci sequence and would therefore become exponentially larger and would appeal to the ‘left’ side of the brain (although my logic would suggest that mathematics would use all of the brain!)

When I think about abstraction I am inclined to think that there is no right or wrong representation.  While expressive abstraction is a communication of emotion there is nothing to say how artists should or should not observe and abstract.  It is after all another form of expression.




Exercise: Mixing materials into paint Painting 1 Part 5

In this exercise we were asked to experiment with mixing materials from the landscape to build texture.

I gathered pebbles, shells, bark, grass and barley. I also used beads and jute string (not from nature obviously but I liked the texture)

I mixed modelling paste with PVA and mixed the different textures in.

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Beads in gel medium and PVA                                 Jute string in gel medium and PVA

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Crushed shells in modelling paste and PVA                Bark in modelling paste and PVA


Rocks created using the crushed shells in modelling paste and PVA


When I painted this picture I wanted to use horse hair and tiny shells but I just made do with the things that I had – jute string and tiny beads with modelling gel and PVA.   The sand is in fact sand and modelling paste.

I think the texture is effective. I would have liked tiny shells and tiny pebbles but I really liked the texture of the beads because they reminded me of those bursting blobs of sea froth.  The little holes in the beads were really quite like the bursting bubbles.

I liked the idea of adding things into paint so I explored my kitchen…


Salt                                               Lentils                                    Cotton


Split peas                                        Rice                                        Barley


In the white flowers I added sand (not enough to give a texture unfortunately), the pink slower have beads, dark green leaves crushed eggshell and purple flowers just paste.

I wanted to squirt the gold stems on using a piping bag but I got the consistency of paint wrong and it didn’t work out as planned.

DSCF0563.JPG painting number 15

This was a little (and I mean little) after thought.  I gathered leaves, sticks and grasses from the garden and dried them using a hairdryer.  I coated the mini canvas with gesso and black paint.  While the gesso dried I mixed black paint with small amounts of PVA and texture paste.  I split the paint into 5 portions and added split peas, barley,  leaves,  grass and sticks to each.  I then placed the grasses and sticks and arranged the peas and barley to represent buds.  The leaves were added to create different levels.  When the paint was dry I added small amounts of gouach with a pearlescent tinting medium to highlight areas of the painting.  When the painting was dry I coated it with a thin layer of varnish to add gloss to the painting.

What a therapeutic way to spend time.  I imagine this could be used on furniture by way of ornamentation or developed on a wooden jewellery box using gold or silver paint.  The colours I chose were dark but I can imagine that this kind of painting could use a lighter palette to make it more suitable for children’s bedrooms.

The observer can connect the painting to nature given the arrangement of natural objects.  To randomise the distribution of the objects would change the dynamics of the painting.

What does the painting remind me of?  Well, it wouldn’t be out of place as a witches bouquet at halloween or a gothic boudoir.  The textures are rounded and jaggy and pleasing to the touch.  The process took just under an hour, including gathering and drying the leaves and sticks.