Studio Practice Assignment One – Part One

In my review for part 1 I felt that I would like to use symbolism.  Using a subject that I feel strongly about I thought I could use a backdrop for a painting that would by symbolic.  A subject that angers me passionately is crime against children and women.  I cannot say how much it infuriates me!  Too often I come across child abuse in my job and I struggle to contain my feelings.  I had never really considered trying to show this through painting, mainly because I tend to use painting as an escape from reality.   I worried that if I tried to use a Jackson Pollock approach that my anger would dissipate as I started to relax with the paint and to make it a true painting I would have to sustain the feeling of anger throughout.

I enjoyed creating the ‘balloon popping’ painting and thought that perhaps if I used a slightly different approach to this type of painting that I could use it to express my feelings.  I gathered clippings from news items about child killers, rapists and paedophiles and glued them to a large piece of card.  As I read the articles I experienced a mixture of anger and disgust.  Many years ago I read a case of child abuse that was about to be closed by social services due to a lack of evidence.  Based on a gut feeling and records of the child’s behaviour the teacher pleaded with social services to keep the case open.  The key social worker made an impromptu visit she was horrified at what she found.  The mother had gathered her children and held them as she slit her wrists.  She survived due to the actions of the social worker.  The children were immediately removed from the home and the teacher never saw the little girl in class again.  It left an image of blood soaked crying children that I still struggle with.


My thought was to fill the balloon with red paint and pop it over the newspaper clippings to symbolise the blood that was on their hands.

I toyed with throwing mud at the painting as a symbol of the perpetrators but I felt that the ‘blood’ was a strong statement.  I used watered down acrylic because I wanted it to be translucent in order to see fragments of the criminals to echo the fragmented lives that they left behind…parents without children, women whose lives would never be same…scarred and ashamed by the trauma and unable to form positive relationships…those who were fortunate to survive.

I think the painting might seem minimal but I think the symbolism in the colour speaks volumes.  I am not sure if it portrays my emotions.  If I am honest I could have thrown a lot more paint at the picture and I might just have expressed the emotion I really wanted to but I needed to keep the images of these awful people visible through the ‘blood’ so that the observer would ask significant questions.


My next painting was experimenting with moving paint without using a paint brush.  I knew I that physically I would be unable to make a more elaborate ‘robot’ to make marks so I continued to experiment with other mechanical devices to make marks.  I tried using the hoover but felt that I controlled it too much.  One morning I was drying my hair when I suddenly thought that the hairdryer would push paint around the canvas if the paint was thin enough.

I mixed acrylic paint with flow enhancer and poured them onto the canvas.  I then used a carousel to move the paint before I used my hair dryer to push the paint about.

I used white, light blue, dark blue, green, yellow and pink paint.  I think it is colour overkill.  It was an experiment that I enjoyed.  I had no idea how it would turn out.  I think this unpredictability was part of the charm of doing this type of painting.  It left me thinking if I perhaps used only three colours, or if I used only the hair dryer what might happen.  I had experimented with my son’s robot to mark make and using a food mixer with lead refills attached and felt that I had very little control over the marks made yet found it quite exciting.  I think the way the paint responded in this case was refreshingly unpredictable.

I did not experience a sense of rhythm apart from when I used the carousel.  The motion was a gentle whirring like a mechanic pulse.  Since it didn’t work I feel cheated and can’t count this as choreographed or musical in any way.  I toyed with using a motor and switch to make a battery operated carousel but I didn’t think I would feel the rhythm in the same way that you can feel the rhythm by pulling the string in my very primitive carousel.

The third painting was one that I needed to feel the rhythm as I painted.  I had used pencil to emulate a sketch that was choreographed by Toni Orico.  The sketch was simple yet energetic and wholly satisfying to sketch.  The rhythm was like the sound of a train ‘ch-ch, ch-ch,’ with a movement that was like a swan twisting her body, lifting and dropping her wings over and over again.  It became like a marking of territory in quite the most majestic way.  I wanted to try this again using paint and without a paint brush.  I used twigs from a fallen tree as a ‘paint brush’.  The black paint used was household floor paint against a pale grey ground.  I stood on a circle of card in the middle of the grey card and dipped the twigs in paint and repeated the action.  I only used one hand this time as I used the other to balance.

This was my favourite of the three paintings for a number of reasons.  The first was that my emotions were not negative in anyway.  Secondly, the action and rhythm became a mindful act of mark making.  Thirdly I loved the shape it created.  Although my ‘brush’ marks were short and straight they look deceptively curved because I moved round as I ‘brushed’ the paper.  Using twigs as a brush gave me a connection to nature that is pleasing to me.  The dripping and splattering although a little unpredictable added to the character of the painting.

Although I enjoyed the feeling of expression and rhythm I can’t help but wonder if the observer will get that from the painting.  My children were out when I painted it but they loved it even though they were unable to think of how I created it.  I showed them how to paint the picture so they could experience the rhythm and mindful experience at some point for themselves.  My two younger boys are on the autistic spectrum so the repetition is very therapeutic for them.

The contrast of black against pale grey is very pleasing.

Painting 1 – What went well?

I think the concept of the splatter painting was quite poignant given the number of similar cases that has surfaced of late.  The colour red was highly charged and appropriate for this painting.  The action of the splattering was significant and the translucency of the paint allows the observer to see what is behind the pain.


Painting 1 – What did not go so well

I would have liked to express my anger in a Pollockian way as I think that way the observer could have felt my anger.  On the other hand that style would have covered the imagery of these dreadful perpetrators and I think they should be seen and despised.  My feeling is that it might spark anger in the observer which is desirable.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I did not get the overwhelming feeling of anger that I wanted to get out of my system.  I think that getting it out of my system might not have felt choreographed but the act of throwing paint would have created and image that may have left the observer asking why.


Painting 2 – What went well

This painting was exploring unknown results.  It really was an adventure.  I wanted each painting to explore something different.  I wanted this one to involve ‘automation’ yet be different to my previous experiments.  The carousel was not a change but the viscosity of the paint was a variable.  The way the hairdryer pushed the paint about was scary…I couldn’t tell if the painting would fail or not.  The unknown was quite exciting.  I don’t think the painting actually worked in the way I would have liked it to but what did work was that it made me question the variables.  I don’t mean it to sound like a science experiment but it feels right to test the medium and to see what I can do with it.  I think that the process has got me on edge to try it again is very positive.


What did not go so well

I think that I tried too many colours.  If the paint was more viscous it would have moved more readily and would have created a more fluid effect.


I am not going to write this one off.  I will probably use this painting as a base for another painting at some time.


Painting 3 – What went well

The third painting is my favourite because I enjoyed the rhythm of painting it and the fact I wasn’t hostage to a paintbrush.  The black and white contrast is clean and the shape draws the observers eye into the painting.  The very short movements at an angle of 45˚ creates the illusion that the strokes were in fact curved.  That was unexpected but quite satisfying.  I think the household paint I used was a good choice as it is glossy and thicker than acrylic.  Jackson Pollock used household paint in his paintings so I thought that I would try it out.  It was a bit risky but worth it.  There was a musical feeling to this painting that made it feel so intense.  I think that comes across in the painting.

The most important reason why I felt that this went well was that it inspired my children and gave them a lot of joy.  They are my most important observers.


What did not go so well

I wish I had painted on a different surface such as canvas or wood.  I think it would somehow seem more complete.  I am trying to talk myself through the variables so it could just be that another layer of paint would have built up a nice texture but I am not sure if I would use the same paint.  I would be inclined to think that a high gloss would give a more three dimensional quality.


I have learned such a lot during this part of Studio Practice but I feel that my journey is just beginning.









Assignment One – review of my work for part 1

Exploring my own physical presence and physical and sensory relationship to the acts of drawing and painting

I can safely say that Studio Practice Part One has taken me to a place I have never been with my art.  To start off I was a tad nervous at the thought of action expression.  I couldn’t imagine dancing round my living room with a paint brush in my hand unless it was to paint my tired walls.  However, the exercises were quite addictive – some exploring rhythm, others exploring movement and uncertainty.  I never thought for one minute that I would cope with uncertainty.  I am a teacher who plans her entire day, who labels every cupboard and every drawer…everything in my life is predictable.  The experience of unpredictability was so refreshing and exhilarating.   I had worried about exploring emotions because I tend to supress my feelings when I am in front of others…behind closed doors not so much.

During this part of the course my house has been going through extensive renovations (nightmare!) so I have made use of my garden a fair bit.  It was far from ideal because it relied heavily on good weather.  I guess that was just embracing my limitations.

I think I became more self-aware during the exercises.  If I am honest I only had my own children observing so I was quite at home with the physical movements.  The more intimate with the paint I became I was glad that I was alone.

Painting as action and event

4 stick and dip in gloss.JPG

The first exercise of drawing small to large was very much a mindful exercise of self-awareness, movement and rhythm.  When I painted using sticks in the style of Jackson Pollock I actually felt happy.  I wanted to feel anger but I couldn’t sustain the emotion.  Instead I became aware of the birdsong and the rhythm I was making with my body.  I felt the paint running down the sticks and dropping on the canvas and the feeling of my heart beating in my ears.  The feeling of being in ‘my world‘ became so intense and focused that it actually hurt my head.  The two exercises were very different but they were both incredibly focused.  The drawing exercise was predictable and controlled whilst the painting was unpredictable.  I felt absorbed in the motion, rhythm and the emerging painting.

I didn’t start off thinking this will be the action and this is the event.  I think a sense of action and event was really the outcome of the exercises.  Perhaps the more unpredictable the outcome was the event was really the preparation and build-up, the willingness for the painting to work and then the performance working or otherwise.

Using the pendulum and carousel were unpredictable.  When I read how Paula Rego felt that not knowing the outcome was the driving force for some artists I realised that she was right.  The carousel became so addictive.  I wanted to alter the viscosity and colours of the paint and the speed of the machine in order to observe change.  I wanted everyone to enjoy the feeling that I had when I created my paintings that I made another carousel using k-nex and cotton reels and allowed my class to experiment.  I think there was a feeling that the paintings were over too quickly.  The actual painting was over in minutes but the preparation took a considerable time.  In fact the preparation for most paintings was time consuming compared to the time to paint.


My relationship to painting: What I consider it to be or not to be


I was never going to follow a gross motor movement like the Shen Wei choreographed art pieces.  I still feel that I became fascinated by the action and the result of the application of paint.  I loved the feeling of repetition when I painted the ‘dragged’ paint picture.  I particularly liked the way the paint mixed.  Did I form a relationship with the paint?  I think I did.  The more unpredictable the result the more I wanted to explore it.  Playing with the colours (tennis bat and ball) and watching them mix was lovely.  I was willing the splatters to meet and mix as I batted the ball onto the paper.  As the ball rolled there was a second sensation of excitement as the colours mixed again and crossed lines. .  I tend to shut myself away to concentrate when painting but this was so different.  I painted a lot in the presence of my children as I wanted them to enjoy the paint as much as I did.  Their reaction was so nice.  Conor, my middle son who is autistic laughed so much when I popped the paint filled balloons.  He loved the way the colours mixed (and how the paint exploded on me too!) and splattered.  I never really considered my children to be my audience but the enjoyment they gained was probably also a driving factor.  They also went on to explore paint.  They enjoy art but this was somehow different.  It was like meeting paint for the first time.  We all have aunts that are stiff upper lipped and others who are just fun…well this was like meeting the fun aunt and not knowing what will happen next.  I loved that unpredictability in the paint.  Not knowing how a painting might unfold is like taking a journey with no map but arriving at a beautiful destination.

New possibilities…

I like the idea of using symbolism and I can see how popping balloons filled with paint could be used to represent something that is fragile or volatile.  For example a shattered friendship or pent up emotions can be expelled by popping the balloons.

The splattering of paint in Jackson Pollock style could take on a different appearance if it was done by a number of people in a large scale.  I also like the idea of standing on a huge canvas with a leaking bag of paint and me being the carousel.  I won’t be able to do that right now but it might be one for the future.

In terms of what I can do for my assignment I think I would like to use the carousel with a range of paints and use the hair dryer to push the paint.  I liked doing that earlier on in Part 1.  I would like to see how the painting could be developed using a range of paint and making the paint more viscous.

Earlier I tried a Toni Orico style sketch using graphite.  Because I like working with paint I would like to try the action painting using twigs instead of a brush.  I am interested to see the difference in terms of the lines, texture and tone.

Studio Practice Part 1 Project 5 Ex 1.4 Contextual Focus


This text considers the value of paintings created by automation as opposed to paintings created by the act of painting itself.  Whilst painting is an act of repetition it is also an act of creativity.  Paintings created by robots are in fact engineered by programming or coding in order to produce the desired outcome or painting.

It is an interesting thought that both forms of creation result from an artist or a person who enters the algorithm into the computer/robot knowing what the outcome of the painting will be.  Lee Ufan spoke about his art moving from a state of thinking …being conscious of his painting to exorcising his mind of all thought so his painting becomes an action without thought.  This process concurs with that of Paula Rego who explained the notion that not knowing and outcome produces a driving force that pushes the artist to new levels of discovery.

For Lee Ufan the act of painting becomes almost meditative and impulse driven.  The result is that his paintings become the language of his body, detached from mind and thought.  Like the paintings of automaton created by intelligence beyond the norm the theory behind Lee Ufan’s work reaches a level of intelligence that takes us away from the norm to explore the world from a different perspective.

Professor Rebecca Fortnum discussed how not knowing the outcome of a painting can be the driving force for some artists.  It would seem that no matter how capable a robot is at encoding its program it still cannot go beyond the realms of unknown.  Therefore automated paintings such as ‘Portrait of Edmond Bellamy’ with an estimated value of between £5-8000 has a capped market since the artwork lacks the creativity of the artist.


What do you feel painting is and what you feel it isn’t?

I think painting is not just about painting a ‘perfect picture’…painting is a language with many interpretations.  The storyteller paints a picture with words, the deaf man paints a picture through sign and gesture, the ballet dancer uses his or her body to paint a narrative and the musician paints through our auditory perception.  So for me painting is about expression and creativity, appealing to our senses and intelligence…it is about exploring concepts, emotions, values and intelligences.  The paintings I admire most are those that take me to somewhere I want to go or that touch on my emotions.  When I look at art that has been created through concept I tend to pick away at the intelligence of the idea and the attraction of the piece itself.

If I am honest, I am not sure then what art isn’t.  Since automated painting is also a form of expression it has the right to be called painting.  Paintings that hold no appeal for me will appeal to others.  That does not make it any less of a painting.

The purpose of painting: What is painting for

As I have said, painting is a means to express thoughts and opinions, emotions, values and intelligences.  It is a means to record events and also a way to encourage observers to explore concepts that they otherwise might not give a second thought to.

I think art can be a vehicle for social and environmental change.  I am thinking about environmental issues such as injustice and pollution.  It can be to represent beautiful things such as landscapes, seascapes, people, animals, plants, flowers and all that is natural or even the beauty that is beyond Earth.

Starting and finishing a work; where does an artwork begin and end

When I start a painting it begins with lots of ideas or something that catches my eye.  I might begin to think about how I could explore it and the materials I might use to do so.  Finishing can sometimes be a problem.  I sometimes find myself wondering if I should add something of if I have added too much.  Usually my marker is if it pleases me then I should leave it as is.  If it doesn’t please me I will leave it until I have worked out what I need to do.

Knowing what you are doing; is it unhelpful to know what you’re doing and is it possible to know what you’ve done?  

The answer to this question I think is quite complicated.  It can be very helpful to know what you are doing because you have a goal in mind.  However, everyone needs a little bit of risk and adventure sometimes so exploring something new can be really quite exciting.  Not knowing is like the Jumanji of art…playing the game not knowing where it will take you but enjoying the ride.  That does not necessarily result in the most successful paintings but then again knowing the outcome can seem almost conceited and it might not be rendered any more successful than an ‘adventure on canvas’.  I think that it is possible to know what you have done if you feel that it has ticked your boxes in terms of knowing what you want.  With paintings that the outcome is unknown the artist will know what they have done when they have the feeling it is done. (2018). Is artificial intelligence set to become art’s next medium? | Christie’s. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18th  Jan. 2020].
 Myers, T. (2011). Painting,  Documents of Contemporary Art. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Studio Practice Part 1 Project 4 Things Perform for You

Using one of the tools explored in exercise 1.2 add/develop another element that removes our gesture from the process of making a mark.  For example; you could attach a leaking paint bag to a mechanical toy, wind it up and lit it move across the paper, or you could attach a graphite stick to the bottom of a door so that every time it opens it makes a mark on a surface placed under it.


In exercise 1.2 I painted with leaves by dipping them in paint then whacking them against paper.  The painting was quite unimpressive so I was happy to experiment over it.  My 21 year old son got a robot for his 8th birthday.  It gave him such fun that he kept it all these years.  He allowed me to attach chalk to the robot’s feet and hands.  To start off I set him in dance mode with the chalk on his feet.  When the robot hits a surface he will stop and say ouch.  His sensors were confused with the chalk on his feet that he just kept saying ouch.  Eventually, after lots of readjustments he was able to cross the paper with the chalk on his feet.  The result was still quite unimpressive and didn’t satisfy my needs.  We then taped the chalk in his hand and set him on strike mode with the paper attached to the wall.  It was quite funny to watch the robot but it took quite a long time for him to make marks.


It was a little frustrating to want something to perform and feel a lack of control.  It was only after a considerable time that he actually made enough of an impression on the paper and by that time I was a mixture of frustration and relief that it had eventually worked.  There was a little bit of excitement as I watched the painting develop.


In this piece I attached graphite to the whisks of my food processor and placed it against the paper.  As it moved the graphite snapped and only produced an arc rather than a circle.  I wasn’t frustrated because it wasn’t quite as I had expected.  Instead I felt quite tickled that it had made the marks so quickly.


I then thought I would try the same idea using paint in a bag…a bit like the pendulum only attached to the food processor.

The first time I tried this I think the paint was a touch too thick so I watered it down a bit.  The paint emptied in seconds and produced thicker lines this time.  Because the processor moves at such a rate the paint dispersed everywhere and little went on the paper.  It was over too quickly but I felt a build-up of excitement prior to the exercise.  I felt happy that the marks were more than splatters but a little disappointed that it didn’t last longer.  I had no expectation of what it would look like so I am glad I tried it a second time with the paint more viscous than it was the first time.

Velocity played a large part in this painting and so too did the unexpected result.

I then went back to graphite, this time I attached it to the bottom of the door.  I had a notion that if I attached several pencils at one time that the picture would be more interesting.  I attached the pencils to a plastic container and weighted it down with a candle.  After opening the door several times I felt it was too predictable so I moved the paper in a circle several times until the graphite made many cross-overs.  I felt that I was cheating a bit with this one because I physically moved the paper.  The patterns relied on the opening and shutting of the door.  I wasn’t particularly excited by this experiment.

In using objects that perform for me do I feel as if something has been taken away or added?  Strangely, I feel that something has been added.  The sense of not knowing and feeling out of control gave me a feeling of adventure.  Reading about artists who have used pendulums and rotary devices made me see this type of art with different eyes.  If I am honest, I had very little time for abstract art before I started the painting course but as time has gone by I think my reading and experimenting has opened my mind to different experiences with art.

I see how having little control over the result of such experiments can take away a sense of ownership or direction but sometimes a journey with no particular destination can be most enjoyable.

IMG_20200112_160243.jpg IMG_20200112_161315.jpg

In all, if I had to choose an experiment that I enjoyed most it would have to be the painting using the food processor.  It was somehow like a little wow moment that made me think about the possibilities and how this painting could be extended.  Perhaps placing the food processor upside down (somehow) with the paint bag as full as possible on a very large surface might produce a splattering or a number of fairly evenly cast of circles.  By placing shapes on top of the canvas that could be removed after the painting might also create an interesting painting.  Or by layering shapes and layering colours the painting might take on a more three dimensional quality.



Project 3 Visual reflection Ex 1.2 Mapping/diagram


Project 3 Visual reflection

Exercise 1.2 Mapping/diagram

Create a series of maps or flow diagrams that enable you to reflect on the processes involved in making the studies from exercise 1 and 1.1

I found exercise 1 and 1.1 to be very mindful experiences.


In this exercise I felt the sounds and rhythms were pulsating from my head as well as from the body.  There was an overwhelming feeling of being alone in this world of sound and movement, hence the sketch of me lost in the sound.  I linked the sound to waves because it was so rhythmical.  I think there are sounds we interpret as threatening, such as a scream or loud crashing sounds.  The sound of waves is one that most people can ‘tune out’ and interpret as non-threatening.  Waves can also ‘drown out’ the sound of other threatening sounds.

I also linked it to the sound of stirring.  I think I did that because I like baking and I hadn’t really thought about how calming baking can be.  I actually made toffee cakes for the boys to zone in to why I like baking.  Without realising I actually zoned out of everything round about me and I became aware of the sound of the wooden spoon against the pot.  I don’t get smells (I lost my sense of smell after a head injury) but I did get phantom smells and phantom tastes of the hot, sweet, sugary syrup as I stirred.  So…the sounds and motions that I linked to the act of drawing were calming and relaxing sounds.


In this exercise my mind was racing all over the place as the ideas came flooding back.  I recorded some of the emotions that I experienced.  It was exciting when an idea came to fruition.  At the same time I felt like a naughty school girl making lots of mess…mess that worked.  So I got covered in paint but it felt good!  I loved the fact my husband got grumpy at the mess and that my children loved that too.  The lines connect the little drawings and the feelings that I experienced as I created the paintings.

When I painted my Jackson Pollock style painting I felt the moment and made connections between my emotions, my body awareness and the environment.  The feelings I experienced were echoed by the environment but the action expression itself made me more aware of myself.  When I wrote my emotions on the mind-map it was a reflection of emotions that were visible when I painted.

I perhaps should have separated the experiences but I felt that this reflects the jumble of emotions that I experienced.  I don’t quite know how to explain nor express through the mind-map but engaging in this type of activity is addictive with each act ‘dosing’ the addiction.



Reading Points

Reading Point – Notes on painting by the artist Julie Mehretu

Reading points Read ‘Notes On Painting’ by the artist Julie Mehretu from: Graw, Isabelle & Lajer-Burcharth Ewa (ed) (2016) Painting Beyond Itself, The Medium in the Post Medium Condition, Berlin: Sternberg Press. Research Julie Mehretus’ work online, in books or journals. Think about how the form, structure and rhythm of the writing in the above text might be mirroring in some way her drawing/ painting process. Going forward find examples of artists’ writing; this will prove especially helpful in preparation for the writing you will be asked to do in Part Five


Julie Mehretus is well known for her large scale gestural, abstract paintings.  She layers images of the things that motivate her politically, historically or personally onto topological representation of place. The effect is an almost 3 dimensional painting that represents movement not just physically but historically.

Julie Mehretus maintains that her paintings are not so much about the drawing but of the challenge between reality and architectural landscape.

Looking at her paintings I was at a loss as to what was going on in her thought process.  In the clip Mehretus explains the process of under-painting blurred images of photographs then building up layers to represent oppression and somehow it began to make sense.  The building of layers was like the building of a narrative with almost architectural accuracy to represent the oppressors.  In the act of layering she becomes like a story teller feeding her observers part of a story.  Her paintings, she believes, deal with things that our language can not explain.  Effectively, her thought process and gestural action becomes as important as the painting.

Julie Mehretus is very interested in the history of abolition and emancipation and explores this in her paintings.  After years of black oppression and conflict words cannot justify nor reflect the pain and suffering wrought by white Americans and white people in general.  Mehretus felt that by layering images of American architecture and landscapes of today over blurred images of race riots that her narrative will be explored.

When Julie Mehretus painted her large scale paintings in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art her friend, composer and jazz musician worked alongside her to compose pieces of music that reflected the different moments in history that she painted.  The music complimented the art and gave the piece a different type of volume.


Reading Point – Fortnum, Rebecca ‘Creative Accounting: Not Knowing In Talking and Making’


Reading point P70 to 87 on not knowing how artist think

Who has not stood in front of a painting in the Tate Modern and pondered what on earth was going through the artists’ mind when they painted this?  The observer might consider the techniques used, the chosen media, colour and application of the paint; they might even attach meaning by relating the painting to their own experiences but it is not always possible to truly understand the piece of work.


Paula Rego suggests that not knowing the outcome is a driving force for many artists.  Exploration of the unknown intrigues the artist on their journey of discovery.  Using a technique that has an uncertain outcome or techniques that seem absurd or illogical constitutes modern art.

The notion that having a studio unlocks the artist’s creativity and freedom to explore their expressive self can be seen as a barrier.  By that I mean the act of performance in isolation is somewhat egocentric (even eccentric) when it excludes the audience.  Performing art can be informative and give the observer a greater understanding of the thought process of the artist.  However, the studio for some can be a place of sanctuary.  In his essay ‘The Function of the Studio David Buren likened the artists indulgent isolation in their studio to an ‘ivory tower’.  I don’t have a studio so I can’t quite connect to this sentiment but I do from time to time enjoy the sanctuary of my house when my boys go to watch football (I’d rather have acupuncture on my eyeballs than watch football!) in Aberdeen (4 hours to get there, 2 hours at the football ground and another 4 hours drive home).  It is bliss!  It seems wrong to say that my art is ‘terra incognita’ so much as ‘Under construction’.  I shut myself away in my ‘ivory tower’ so that I can absorb myself in art.  It may not be a fanciful studio but it is my space and it allows me to be free.  If I chose to be messy my garden is my studio.

In this article Rebecca Fortnum talks about ‘The Process of the Unknown’ where some artists detach their conscious thought from the medium so that the medium gains greater attention than the artist.  In that way the focus shifts so the artist is not longer communicating but the painting is.  It seems that the artist is taking the ‘unknown’ to the limits.  Merlin James however talked about the process being intuitive as he edges towards the unknown.  In a sense every new painting, every abstract, landscape, portrait, collage or otherwise takes the artist to unfamiliar territory.  Effectively the artist is looking for innovation…something new.  Not so the Concept Artist who begins with an idea and an understanding of the destination.

Some artists might differ in their use of  terminology to describe the process but whether they call it intuition, instinct or critical thinking they appear to agree that the destination is terra incognita.  When talking about Ryan Gander’s theory of the unknown Rebecca Fortnum remarked that the process, when coupled with intuition and critical thinking becomes a display of knowledge and the application becomes more valuable that the actual painting itself.  This would concur with the work of artist such as Jackson Pollock, Julie Mehretus, Merlin James, Runa Islma and many other action expressive artists.

It seems that art has not stopped evolving.   Where the focus was (and still is) on the painting on the canvas, Performance Art has shifted the focus to the artist where it is not so much about understanding and interpreting the painting as it is about appreciating the artists response to a stimulus.

Research Points


Research Point 1

Shen Wei is the artist well known for choreographing the spectacular opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.  His exuberant dances and vivacious paintings make him one of the most expressive artists to date.


His preordained future was borne of a father who was the director of a Chinese opera company, performer and calligrapher, a mother with a prestigious career as a theatre producer and two visual artists as brothers.  Shen’s upbringing was steeped in the arts.


At 9 he was accepted into Hunan Arts School, a multidisciplinary university, where he studied dance, voice acting, opera and acrobatics.  After graduating from Hunan Arts School Shen dabbled in painting, exploring many different styles until he entered and won a dance competition in which secured a place in Guangdong Modern Dance Academy.  He later graduated from the Dance Academy and pursued a career in dance and choreography.


1 Undivided divided at park Avenue armory

Fig 1 ‘Undivided divided at Park Avenue armory 2011’


2 sb-undivided-divided-furry-being_620

Figure 2 Shen Wei Dance Arts in Undivided Divided.

3 shen-wei-undivided-divided-at-armory-2011 copy

Fig 3 Black, White and Gray


With interests in both art and dance he combined the two disciplines to create a new language in art.   His huge, expressive paintings, carefully choreographed to give the observer a sense of rhythm, space and flow of movement, can be viewed in a number of galleries round the world.

4 exploring the unknown

Figure 4 Exploring the Unknown

5 image

Fig 5 Untitled Oil and acrylic on canvas


On his own, Shen’s work takes on an altogether different form of expressionism.  Executed behind closed doors, his personal paintings are more intimate and a result of a meditative state of mind.  Although he also asks his dancers to go into a meditative state throughout the choreographed pieces, his ideas and thoughts are expressed through them, whereas his personal pieces are almost sensual.  His state of mind allows him to orchestrate the sound and movement as he adds texture, depth and emotion into his paintings.  His holistic approach using subtle body mapping, ritual deliberation in a tantric state of mind allows him to inject life into his paintings.


Its understandable that with such a frenetic lifestyle that finding solace from the emotional and physical stress is essential.  In an interview with Jordan Levin for the Miami Herald, Shen said…

“I spend so much time touring and around so many people I need time to be alone,” Shen Wei says. “I don’t let my assistant or anyone come in. The whole process is alone. It’s really, really personal. When you’re in that kind of mood or space it’s so beautiful. You’re really alone and so free at the same time, with expression and imagination and in time and space.” 1

In such a state of meditation Shen often leaves his work as untitled.  Perhaps for his observers to attach their own thoughts and emotions, or simply because his meditative state involved mind, body, movement and texture detached of meaning.

Tony Orrico

Like his counterpart Shen Wei, Tony Orrico choreographs his body to create his bilateral drawings.  As a dancer and choreographer with an interest in art he combines the two disciplines to fashion geometrical shapes not unlike a human Spirograph.

6 tonyorrico6[1] penwald drawing

Fig 6 Penwald Drawing

Orrico uses his studio to ‘perform’ his art pieces.  He lines the floor with paper, then positions himself on the paper with his pencils or charcoal ready to draw.  By rotating or moving his body and within the limits of his reach he repeats movements over and over again, moving his body slowly until he has completed his drawing/performance.  Similarly, on his wall mounted paper he repeats movements with both hands to create symmetrical pieces.

7 penwald

Fig 7 Penwald drawing

8 tonyorrico

Fig 8 Penwald Drawing

By contrast to Shen Wei, Orrico’s movements are more controlled with less large gestural movements.  He is interested in mathematical shape, although he admits he is by no means a mathematician.  In Designboom magazine (online) Orrico talks about the how his mind and body connect as he absorbs himself in his drawing…

‘I am not versed in the convergence of art and mathematics or sciences, but find myself instinctually attracted to this relationship. I try to dilute my efforts and find an experiential point of entrance. I like to experiment with both embodied and cognitive systems that yield beauty.  My favorite art is somewhat accidental and overwhelmingly concise.’ 2

Tony Orrico is known to spend hours creating a piece of work.  One of his exhibitions was called ‘Faster than the speed of day’, an excellent play on words that would juxtapose the time given over to each piece of work.  The upshot of his effort results in a drawing of almost mathematical precision – something that can only be achieved through complete focus and endurance.

In a vimeo Orrico talks about his focus on contour lines in correlation to each other whilst moving through space.  With music playing in the background he impulsively moves until his body becomes exhausted.  When he finally stands up he is week with exhaustion but rewarded with the appreciation of his viewers.

Performance art is the mantra of Heather Hanson, also a visual artist who also uses her body as a tool for her creations.  She uses spontaneous movement, both large and small to create patterns. Her performances perhaps don’t last quite as long as Orrico’s but the art reveals a sense of rhythm, flow of movement in space and time.

9 Heather Hansen

Fig 9 Emptied Gestures

10 Heather Hansen

Fig 10 High Fructose


Further Research 2

A first observation of Jackson Pollock painting might give you the impression that the man was completely irrational and was perhaps going through some sort of crisis.  However, in an interview with Hans Namuth the Action Expressionist from Wyoming explains his creative process of ‘thinking through doing’ as a means of expressing his feelings.  At the onset of this process Pollock maintains that he always had an idea of what he wanted in his painting.  He liked to work on the ground so that he could walk round the painting and add to it from all angles.  This approach gave him the opportunity to involve himself in his painting.   It might seem profound but he claimed that his painting technique was borne by a need to lay down his emotions rather than simply a vehicle for his statement.   Without meaning to sound disrespectful or demeaning it is in effect having a tantrum with a paintbrush.  To put this in perspective and to give Pollock’s work the justice it deserves I tried this style of painting with a child in my class.  I am going to call my student Harry for sake of anonymity.  Harry suffers from Cerebral Palsy.  He has no speech and uses sign language and PECs to communicate.  When Harry’s dad died he became angry…angry that God could take his daddy away, angry that other children had their dad’s and angry because they did not understand what he was going through.  I gave Harry paint in squirty bottles, foam balls soaked in paint and a variety of objects to throw at the canvas.  Harry attacked the paint with every once of emotion, screaming for his dad and pointing to heaven.  Harry couldn’t shout his dad’s name or ask why…his emotions said it all.  When his paint was all used up and his howling was reduced to a tired sob he drove his wheelchair back and forward over the canvas.  Not a child nor adult had a dry eye that day.  His painting was perhaps the most expressive I have ever seen.   Harry’s grief was not just in the painting…it was the painting. Harry’s painting helped me to understand Pollock’s painting.

The first time I saw a Pollock painting I looked at it for some time and the gentleman beside me must have read my mind when he said ‘What the f***’ .  Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum wrote a book called ‘On Not Knowing – How Artists Think’.  The book talks about how artists who begin a painting not knowing the direction it will take then taking the art in an unforeseen direction creates a language that is unparalleled by any other discipline.  A painting that invites the observer to interpret and assimilate so they can attach meaning becomes alluring.  I think this to be true of Pollock’s paintings.  We have all experienced anger, frustration, love…but on canvas it becomes a mindful act that comes to life in the painting.


Pollock maintained that for his painting to come alive he had to become a part of it.  In an interview with Catherine Wood, curator of A Bigger Splash at the Tate Modern 2012 – 2013 she talked about the video of Jackson Pollock painting being as important as his work.  It gives the viewer a deeper understanding of his creative process.  Jackson Pollock’s painting was placed on the floor of the Tate Modern as if he had just finished painting it.  His preferred method of painting was to lay the canvas on the floor/ground and so it seemed right that this painting should be placed so.  In the same room David Hokney’s painting ‘A Bigger Splash’ hangs in juxtaposition to Pollock’s painting in so much as Pollock is part of his painting Hockney’s painting is part of his life.  Hokney took two weeks to complete is painting.  Alongside it is a video of his friends diving into the pool and coming out again.  The film was made 2 years later but serves to inform the painting.   Catherine Wood likened his painting to a theatre set of his life where he created a fantasy of his life in New York.

Eleanor Rankin’s representational painting, which is in fact a video and not a painting, shows her applying make-up.  This piece is intended to represent her transforming herself rather than showing her identity through her painting.  Pardon the pun but is that applied art?  In some way or another the work of all three is in fact a performance of their lives.

Amelia Jones recognised Jackson Pollok as a pivotal figure between modernism and post modernism.  Although Jackson began his career influenced by Picasso, Thomas Hart Benton and Joan Miro he was a bit of a rebel and found as a result he was expelled from The Manual Arts School in Los Angeles.   He continued to revolt against traditional values of realism and began to explore the ‘drip’ technique.  Jackson’s art did come under scrutiny by art critic Robert Coates as “mere unorganized explosions of random energy, and therefore meaningless.”.  His work began to be seen as a performance and earned his work the title of Pollockian Performance.  While the art critic believed his ‘explosions’ to be random such body art was performative thus moving his art into the realm of post modernism.   Amelia Jones defends this vehemently harking back to the ‘act’ rather than the product.  I don’t agree with her reference to ‘body art’ relying on the male body to transpose transcendent meaning.  I can’t deny that it was a male who started this movement but Shen Wei’s choreographed dancers are predominantly female.  Perhaps at the time this book was written this statement would not seem quite so bold.  Now, however the feminist viewpoint might feverishly disagree.

It is sad that people like Warhal and Dechamp felt that they had to rebel against the narrow-minded bourgeois by over-acting.  I contest, indeed detest such hidebound views but equally I don’t feel that we should have to fight for political correctness…it should be embedded in society.  Performance art is spectacular without chipping away at the anti-masculine, anti-modernist block.

Now I am going to contradict myself a little when I lambast the gestural ‘art’ of vagina painting by Shigeko Kubota and Keith Boadwee’s Purple squirt as nothing more than a vulgar inarticulate gesture that deserves no more consideration than I have given to it.

Jackson Pollock’s untimely death was tragic.  As he moved from modernist to postmodernist I can’t help but wonder if he were alive today which direction would he have taken in the world of art.




1 Miami Herald, 2014, Chinese choreographer Shen Wei to debut painting & dance show during Art Basel Miami Beach BY JORDAN LEVIN (on line) Available at:  (accessed 21st Sept. 2019)


Dance Magazine. (2019). Shen Wei: Making Art Move. [online] Available at: (Accessed 21 Sept. 2019).


SHEN WEI Dance Arts (online) Available at: (Accessed 22 Sept. 2019)

Fig 1 ‘Undivided divided at Park Avenue armory 2011’ (online) Available at:


Fig 2 ‘Undivided divided’ Available at:



Fig 3 ‘Black White and Grey’ (online) Available at:–in-black-white-and-gray/



Fig 4 ‘Exploring the Unknown’



Fig 5 Untitled (online) Available at:


Fig 6 Brain pickings, Tony Orrico: The Human Spirograph (online) Available at:


Fig 7 Brain pickings, Tony Orrico: The Human Spirograph (online) Available at:


Fig 8 Brain pickings, Tony Orrico: The Human Spirograph (online) Available at:

Tony Orrico: The Human Spirograph


2 Designboom, 2011, ‘Tony Orrico Performance Drawings’, by Erika Kim (online) Available at:



Fig9   Emptied Gestures, November 2013 (online) Available at:


Fig 10 High Fructose, 2013, Heather Hansen’s “Emptied Gestures” Combines Drawing with Performance

by Victoria Casal (online) Available at:



National Endowments for the arts, Tony Orrico: Endurance Drawings by Adam Kampe. (online) Available at:


STEVEN McELROY DEC. 3, 2010 New York Times, If It’s So Easy, Why Don’t You Try It


Studio Practice Project 1

Exercise 1 Smallest to largest reach

Work on a large table, on a wall, or on the floor. 

Using a graphite stick or other drawing media begin to make gestural marks on paper by moving:

  • Your fingers only, what are the smallest marks you can make?
  • Your hand, articulated from the wrist.
  • Your hand, articulating the lower part of your arm from the elbow.
  • Your hand, articulating your whole arm from the shoulder and through the elbow and wrist



I didn’t have the facilities to set this as a short film so I decided to work in isolation so there would be no disturbances and I would be able to focus on my thoughts. It became a very mindful exercise.  I hadn’t really considered how totally absorbed I would get and how very quickly my mind focused only on the act of drawing, the sounds, rhythms and patterns I was creating.  As I came to the end of a line I felt the need to create a new rhythm.  The sound of the charcoal was magnified in my ears and I started to associate the sound patterns with patterns I had heard before but had slipped into a distant memory.  The loops became like the waves getting louder then quieter.  Dashes sounded like a dripping tap ‘d’, ‘d’, ‘d.

The changes in shape and rhythm and pace gave the exercise a sense of direction, a bit like a dance on the paper, only instead of using my feet, my hands were controlling the marks made.

As the movements became bigger the sounds began to change.  Large circular movements reminded me of the sound of stirring a pot with a wooden spoon.
Finally, the large movement, I felt had to be circular and took on the sound of a wave once again.

I had an overwhelming feeling of time and space with me controlling it all.  My head was quite sore by the time I had completed the exercise.  It sounds a little crazy but it was choreographed meditation.  The mapping out of marks was quite deliberate and felt like sheet music that somehow linked with the movements in a pace that seemed as if the movements were almost using 2, 3 and 4 beats to the bar.

As I made each mark I became very aware of my body – how small, medium and large movements were controlled and repetitive and how movement, sound and marks were connected.

Reading Points

Reading points Read ‘Notes On Painting’ by the artist Julie Mehretu from: Graw, Isabelle & Lajer-Burcharth Ewa (ed) (2016) Painting Beyond Itself, The Medium in the Post Medium Condition, Berlin: Sternberg Press. Research Julie Mehretus’ work online, in books or journals. Think about how the form, structure and rhythm of the writing in the above text might be mirroring in some way her drawing/ painting process. Going forward find examples of artists’ writing; this will prove especially helpful in preparation for the writing you will be asked to do in Part Five


Julie Mehretus is well known for her large scale gestural, abstract paintings. She layers images of the things that motivate her politically, historically or personally onto topological representation of place. The effect is an almost 3 dimensional painting that represents movement not just physically but historically.

Julie Mehretus maintains that her paintings are not so much about the drawing but of the challenge between reality and architectural landscape.

Looking at her paintings I was at a loss as to what was going on in her thought process. In the clip Mehretus explains the process of under-painting blurred images of photographs then building up layers to represent oppression and somehow it began to make sense. The building of layers was like the building of a narrative with almost architectural accuracy to represent the oppressors. In the act of layering she becomes like a story teller feeding her observers part of a story. Her paintings, she believes, deal with things that our language can not explain. Effectively, her thought process and gestural action becomes as important as the painting.


Julie Mehretus is very interested in the history of abolition and emancipation and explores this in her paintings. After years of black oppression and conflict words cannot justify nor reflect the pain and suffering wrought by white Americans and white people in general. Mehretus felt that by layering images of American architecture and landscapes of today over blurred images of race riots that her narrative will be explored.


When Julie Mehretus painted her large scale paintings in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art her friend, composer and jazz musician worked alongside her to compose pieces of music that reflected the different moments in history that she painted. The music complimented the art and gave the piece a different type of volume.



Painting Beyond Itself, The Medium in the Post Medium Condition, Berlin ‘Notes On Painting’ Julie Mehretu, by Graw, Isabelle & Lajer-Burcharth Ewa (ed) (2016): Sternberg Press. Viewed 23.10.19

Artnet, Julie Mehretu, 2019, by Artnet Worldwide Corporation, Viewed 23.10.19








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? (

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 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. 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

th-2.jpeg th-4.jpeg

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,

Visited July 2019


Acrylic painting, Encylopedia Britanica, 2019

Visited July 2019


Artists Network, 11 Famous Artists Who Paint with Acrylics, 2019 visited July 2019

McArdle, Thaneeya, Thaneeya LLC, 2008-2019

visited June 2019


Acrylic Painting, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ART,

Visited July 2019