Overall Evaluation POP1

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Through the course my work has grown with the use of different materials and techniques. Going from acrylic, simplistic use of medium creating a graphic style very bright first assignment,  to working on coloured ground, inspired by my discovery of Pierre Bonnard’s colourful work,  and textured ground and with different implements to apply the paint inspired by looking at Sigmar Polke and his love of experimentation.  By assignments 4 and 5, I was running with this freer use of materials and techniques and simply enjoying engaging with the media.

Quality of Outcome

I believe improvement showed from assignment two – the painting showed reflected colours, in the objects of the still life, I was beginning to look deeper into my composition, using thumbnail sketches to plan.     By Assign 3  I was trying to show atmosphere with colour and  allowing brush strokes to remain and give more liveliness.  My work has developed from tight beginnings and is now an expression of enjoyment of painting and investigating how the media can express my view.

Demonstration of Creativity

Experimentation became my joy thorough out the course, and any fear of just trying something for the heck of it disappeared.  Inventing new ways, for me,  to apply the paint,  lead to my final assignment being born purely from experimentation. Experimentation in my sketchbooks leading to new ideas being a tool I will take further during my next module. I have gone from using acrylic to oils, I have used oil pastels to experiment with scraffito and used mixed media during compositions. I have begun to use the computer , scanning in my work, as a quick way of playing out thoughts and ideas. This too I intend to use more going forward.


I looked a range of artists and found a few of my own through online research and visiting exhibitions. I have tried different ways of researching work, and thinking through intended pieces, including using mind maps. My confidence in critical thinking , when looking at other artists has grown . I can pin point the exact moment this happened, during research into Dutch Realist painters, which I’ve marked in the blog. I found myself beginning to look at the bigger questions through the work, such as “What is Abstraction?” and beginning to dig into these  through forums with other students.


I have done more reflection at point of submitting for assessment – I have taken sometime to look back over my blog at the point of writing this statement and the added reflections are in green on the blog pages.





Martin, J. (2001) The Encyclopedia of pastel techniques: A unique A-Z directory of pastel painting techniques plus guidance on how best to use them. United Kingdom: Search Press.
Sternau, S.A. (1999) Henri Matisse. New York: Bookmart.
Watkins, N. (1993) Matisse. London: Phaidon Press.
Watkins, N. (1993) Vitamin P2. London: Phaidon Press.
White, K. (2011) 101 Things to Learn in Art School: The MIT Press.
Kleon, A. (2012) Steal Like an Artist: Workman Publishing.
Pearson, F. (2007) Joan Eardley: National Galleries Scotland.
Collings, M. (1999) This is Modern Art: Seven Dials













































Reflection on Assign 5 Feedback

My assignment 5 feedback was very satisfying.  I had a Skype chat with my tutor which looked back over the module a whole as well as assignment 5 and looked at ways to work going forward. He followed this up with a briefer written report.

He said, and I agreed, that I have come a long way since the beginning of the module. My work at present is less concerned with representational painting, and meaning behind painting, and I am enjoying engaging with the media.  This  course has had a very freeing effect for me and this has been borne out in my final assignment, which developed through experimentation and not a pre conceived idea.

Using work that I already had to make new work and employing technology to play with ideas showed creativity and made for an interesting project.

I am a little economic with reflection on my work,  and therefore going forward I should spend more time on this.  I have a couple of posts in OCASA to look at as a kick off point for the future.     However,  for  assignment 5 itself, I did take more time to reflect and this was noted as a positive move in the right direction. I will be writing a supporting page for the whole course to submit with my work.

I have been worried about the writing side of things, but was reassured by my tutor that my more natural style is in order and I should not concern myself with this, just produce more of it!

He agreed that my choice of Understanding Painting Media would be a good next level 1 module for me.


Assignment 5

Initially approaching this assignment I had been daunted by the very wide brief. As a starting point  I chose to look back, particularly at my sketchbook work.  Looking for a key.

I have enjoyed experimenting, more and more and from the experiments above I could see a fascination in the drip work and lines and quite often the feel of colour up against black and white.  My intent therefore was to experiment more see what happens.  I am very aware how risky this is , not having a subject, and it is quite a step into the dark for me.

Taking the group of experiments above as a kick off point I began some more sketchbook work.


The second image above is from my ipad, I have been layering images using the Sketchbook App to see the effects.


In my sketchbook working with Acrylic paint for speed. In the first image here, starting with a dryish sponge brush and dragging the paint. Then adding water, scratching and dripping.  There were lots of layers but they need separating.  In the second I used thicker paint and continually added shapes, sometimes obliterating other shapes, sometimes adding.

DSC_0053 (1)

Looking at Gerhard Richards work at the beginning of this course had started me off using a card to apply the paint.  His sweeping of colours across canvas achieves wonderful depth and it was my awakening to the fact that one doesn’t have to use a brush.

After two layers, using an old credit card and scratching into the paint I reached this point.   I felt there now needed to be some more definition and strengthening of tone.


I chose a deep blue and added more paynes grey.  At this point I quite like it but feel there could be yet more strengthening of tone, I am placing it to one side to think for a couple of days whilst working on other paintings.

DSC_0061 (1)

Running alongside the first painting I had been playing with the thought of dripping the thin figure like characters that had come out of the first drip paintings and been brought to mind from my visit to the Giacometti exhibition.  I am really not sure about this and so it has been relegated for now.




For the next painting I picked out a digital sketch that I had done from the recent abstract exercise. I had used Sketchbook App on my Ipad to layer a sketch of mine and a painting and adjusted the colour.  I know I wont be able to do that but its one I had wanted to follow-up .






some leftover oil paint and a pallet knife in my sketch book, I then moved on to some large paper.










DSC_0043DSC_0045 (1)

I have been using a palette knife and adding colours. At this point I am not enjoying the colours, I may put this to one side for a couple of days. This picture is not capturing the true colour I need to wait for the oil to dry before I photograph it again.



yellow and orange added in ipad app

In the meantime I had popped my first painting into the App on my Ipad and played with adding further colour. This changed the whole feel of the picture and so I went back and added colour to the actual painting with the edge of a ruler.


I had also gone back to the picture that I wasn’t happy with and tried to adjust the feel by emphasising the figures

DSC_0044 (1)

I’m still wondering whether to include  this one, I know what’s in my mind but I just done seem to be able to translate it.

Starting another line of thought and back to my trip to the Giacometti exhibition I had come home and experimented with some air drying clay to see how it would feel to make a figure.  It was a bit of a disaster, it bent in the middle due to my complete inexperience, however there was still something about him that I liked.




In my sketchbook I painted him with my glue spreader. The marks resembling the texture of the clay I took this on as my next painting.

DSC_0041 (1)

Dripping a relaxed grid onto the paper in paynes grey.

Starting to build the figure with the glue spreader.

  • I have my theme now……..none of my paintings are using brushes and are all experimental. Could call it “no brushes were harmed in the making of this assignment”.

The grid is having the effect of pushing the figure forward.


Whilst waiting for the drying on the sculpture picture, I popped the abstract into the sketchbook app and played a bit more.  Back in the figure part of the module I looked at  Li Song Song, who uses coloured blocks over news type images. I felt this approach mighted help this picture and lift it out of its wallpaper look.

The challenge was now to work out how to put the colour on top of that which is already there. The solution was some sponge craft brushes that I had seen and bought a few weeks before.  Making up very thin solutions of colour I sponged on a glaze of Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red and Titanium White.  Then with cloth I took out some of the colour again allowing the deeper colours to show above this.


Much happier, needs cropping now.

Back to my odd dystopian view of the future, for that’s what it feels like.  I can’t quite let it go. I put it back on my easel.


I have emphasised the “figures” added more colour and drips. Decision is now how to crop this so that it works a bit better.  In this photo I have covered one end, it feels more balanced.

Finished and cropped all four paintings.

DSC_0001 (1)

All four paintings together

DSC_0002 (1)DSC_0001DSC_0002


Write an evaluation of your series of paintings and of the progress that you have made as a painter.  Draw attention to the parts of the course that have furnished you with the most creative resources and explain why that is.


1. The final series of paintings are linked by experimentation, the fact that I used no brushes at all and , looking at them together, there is an underlying loose grid in every one.  Three paintings have a colour against monochrome palette and one is quite different and an antidote to what became quite a dystopian theme.

The last exhibition that I visited just before starting this assignment was the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate Modern.  It has obviously stayed in my mind, and the strange sad thin figures that he made are a clear influence on the drip painting and the painting of the model that I made after the exhibition.

I have found

  • Working on several paintings at once an advantage. It is useful from an oil paint drying time point of view and as I naturally have a butterfly mind that hops around, I was able to go back and forth between paintings.
  • Using experimental techniques that I  had tried earlier in the course  has encouraged me to be more experimental in this assignment.  I  used  credit card spreading of paint, glue spreader, scratching and knives, in the earlier parts of the course.This time I have added dripping, texture and sponges for glazing.
  • I don’t feel that the paintings have quite lived up to the sketches, this may be a case of inexperience in translating my thoughts from pencil to paint..
  • Using blocks of light glazes, came originally from looking at Li Song Song.  Using craft sponges to make the effect, is an idea I wish to take further in the future.
  • During the course I have dabbled more and more with my ipad, in particular an app called Sketchbook.  This time it became a tool to try out thoughts before committing to the paintings.
  • I really liked the cut off strips that I too from a previous painting and drew in pencil, but couldn’t quite work out how to take this further so it was abandoned.

2. Progress over the whole course.

I have realised the importance of preparatory work and the sketchbook and used it more and more as the course progressed.  This is important for me as working and studying part time makes for unwelcome breaks in the flow of thoughts and ideas. I am methodical in keeping my blog up to date and write as I work, preferring not to leave it all to the end of an exercise.

My curiosity has developed in two ways. During research my interest in artists’ works and how they produced their ideas grew, particularly when visiting exhibitions and seeing work ‘for real’.  Nothing beats seeing work in real life, computer research is fine but standing in front of a painting, so close that you can see the brush work and feel the size of the work has helped give me confidence to go away and try different techniques. This has fuelled my curiosity and enjoyment of trying new techniques myself and experimenting with what paint can do.  This has also brought about the realisation that I have only scratched the surface (pun intended) of what possibilities are out there.

In the first part of the course when we are encouraged to find out “what paint can do” I began to let go of my preconceived ideas of what painting should be. As the course progressed I became freer and not so literal. Discovering the work of Pierre Bonnard, pointed me toward, coloured grounds and using more than one colour on an object as colour reflects from nearby objects. Using colour for the joy of it also.  Mixing colour on the surface and seeing how many ways there are to do this.  Gerhard Richter, whose work I saw at Tate Modern, led me to experiment with application of paint with card, dragging it across the surface and seeing accidental mixtures emerge.

One of the biggest influences the course has had is to unlock my willingness to experiment.  Taking some time looking at the work of Sigmar Polke fuelled my desire to investigate and experience the joy of experimentation without necessarily coming to a conclusion.  Ideas and techniques discovered in playing can be used at a later date. Recording these in your blog or sketchbook, frees your mind to try new things as you know you wont lose your current ideas they’ll be safely recorded.

My enjoyment of trying new techniques has fed into creativity and I have looked at different ways of composing an image. Sometimes through the sketchbook and looking at more traditional artists, such as Gwen John, whose influence in composition for the self portrait I followed,  and more recently with the help of play in a sketchbook app on my ipad, which helped me solve questions in part 5 of colour and invention.  Cross fertilisation between technology and traditional art is an interesting area which I would like to explore going forward.

I think my understanding of artists’ work, through research has improved.  I have more confidence in writing about artists’ works, and am gaining trust in my own opinions.   Writing is still not my strongest point, but the more I look at other art and artists, the more I gain from it.  This translates into a belief in my own ideas and I can see the influences developing through my investigations.





Abstract painting from a man-made form


, , , ,

Very simply started to play around with a wine glass which has a lot of lines and shapes with the glass itself.  Any colour within comes from what that glass is near too.

DSC_0054 (1)

I initially thought that looking into the centre bubble and the base of the glass near the neck would make a fun abstract, again any colour I was wearing would appear in the glass.


The shadows produced by the glass standing on white paper made pleasing tulip like shapes, but a little dull.


Placing the glass upside down on the  orange cover of a pad gave very pleasing rings in the foot of the glass.  Photo above poor, apologies.

DSC_0052 (1)

I did a quick painting on a small scale, in a square format again.  The blues and greys in the glass working nicely with the complimentary orange.  The rings were pleasing to paint and not perfectly symmetrical due to the nature of the glass


I have cropped the image and find the balance more pleasing now.  It works nicely with the rule of thirds here.

This would lend itself to a larger painting and could then be given more detail and finer delineation of the lines and colours.


Exercise: Abstraction from study of Natural Form


, , ,


The last exercises using texture , adding things into the paint and dripping have all produced abstract paintings, but how do you abstract something that’s in front of you.  I began by using a very simple shape and seeing how many ways I could look at it.


Feeling this had potential for texture too, I experimented again, this time mixing oil paint, Liquin, thinner and flour from the kitchen.  I had read that oil paint doesn’t take to being mixed with media as well as acrylic but this actually turned out quite well.  It may not have long term staying power, but at this point I can’t tell.


Noticing again that despite this being Acrylic painting paper it does still soak up oil and leave a rim, I began the painting by painting a layer of gesso on the paper first and then a first coat of oil paint.



I am trying a square format as I think this will fit the subject well and I haven’t tried this up to this point.


Adding the colours in thin washes.


Added some splashes by flicking the paint.


Cropping the final piece to this size made sense to me and made it feel more abstract.  I decided not to go for the texture as I wanted to try glazing the colours and felt this would detract from that.

I do wonder if it is truly an abstract though as it looks maybe too much like the apple.

On this point I then googled the word abstract….

“relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures. “

Well, I’m still not convinced, this painting seems to do both, it represents external reality to me, but is that because I know what I did.  Naturally it is going to achieve its effect using shapes, colour and textures.

To see if others recognised it I asked a couple of family and friends and most see it is a flower centre and one even said they saw it as a space vortex……..well that’s abstract!


I started a discussion ,on the Facebook Group that I belong to of OCA students ,on Abstraction.  I got some very interesting and varied answers, discussing things with fellow students is always helpful and I am now more relaxed about this exercise. The thread being summarised in that ………..all art is abstraction as it is not actually the object you are looking at.





Exercise : Mixing materials into paint

I have kind of got these two exercises on mixing things with the paint merged and muddled. I got a bit carried away and was working on several experiments at once.

Any way the next thing I tried was a collage using the materials from my recent visit to the Royal Academy.

DSC_0021 (1)

Beginning by sticking the papers on the page, then a light wash, the pale orange.  Next I mixed the paint with a little flour and water to make it dribble but thicker and used yellow and orange for some large dribbles. I did quite like it at this stage but carried on experimenting further.  Taking a green paint I mixed it with pva glue and in another pot added salt.  These were very thick mixtures.  I painted on torn up receipts from the day.  This was all acrylic paint which I haven’t used for a while but I understand is a little more tolerant of having things mixed with it.  The Glue worked with the paint and everything stuck well.  The salt sucked up every bit of moisture and made it hard to paint with, but when it dried gave a nice crystaly blob of texture.

DSC_0020 (1)DSC_0019

Next I wanted to try and include the natural objects from the forest with more success than last time.

DSC_0023 (1)

Making a textured surface and having stuck little pieces of masking tape on first, I tore them off to see if this would make a difference when painted. (It ultimately made no effect as the pain covered the area very thoroughly)

DSC_0024 (1)

I began to add colour and leaves, I realised that I had gravitated to the colour combination on the RA leaflet from the last exercise and resolved to change that a bit later, though it did sit quite well with the leaves.

Then I tried to add seeds from grasses but adding them to paint was almost impossible so they were sprinkled on patches of glue. DSC_0036 (1).jpg

Coming back to it I added a deep blue and yellow ochre. It now felt like an autumn windy day so I left the colours. I liked the leaves still sticking out in places but the seeds continued to be a problem.


Close up of the centre.

Another  thought, egg shells…..I couldn’t mix with the paint so they did get stuck on with glue first.





Enjoyed painting over this, playing with the colours.

Possibilities are endless and a lot of fun to try.


Giacometti at Tate Modern

I hadn’t know much about this artist before visiting the exhibition.

The first room entered was of sculpture and particularly sculptured heads from his very early work at 14 years of age through to late works.  They were displayed in rows on plinths,  in the centre of the room, chronologically.  It was a fabulous way of showing the growth and experimentation that the artist went through to reach the style that is now associated with him.  The early heads being very traditional in style, the middle very experimental with a lot of different styles and the final few rows of slim tall heads very similar be constantly being refined.  Apparently he was never satisfied with his work.

Room 2 displayed work from the 1920s when the artist was exploring conceptual sculpture.  I found some of these fun and some slightly disturbing/surreal.  Making little sketches as I stroll around, one of these being of Point to the eye made in 1931. Quiet an odd little sculpture of a figure represented only by a scull like head and rib cage mounted on a pin on a rectangular base with a large bone like rib shape balanced on a pin with the sharp end literally pointing to the eye of the skull.

My notes

Another room was filled with decorative objects that he had made in order to earn a living including work that he made during is period of being involved with surrealism.

Room 4 contained some of his larger pieces.

Room 5 contained work he had done whilst visiting his mother during the war in Switzerland.  He had been unable to return to France and therefore found he had to work with limited material and space.  These sculpture were tiny…..really tiny.  Quite beautiful with enough detail for recognition of the human quality but not so much as to be fully descriptive of the shape.

Following on from here were the tall slim figures that everyone associates with this artist.  I had not thought much of these when seen in books or online but standing in front of them they hooked me completely.  There is something very peaceful about them, and the taller and thinner they became the more I found them fascinating.


Standing woman on a base


Four standing women on a base










The Four Standing Women above at first I interpreted as a family, then it could easily be four trees, there was another with more figures that was entitled The Glade.


I stopped a while to sketch one of The Eight Egyptian Women.

There were few paintings in the exhibition and I was surprised at how dark they were, almost devoid of colour despite being portraits.


This exhibition had only a few and all either of his brother, Diego or his wife.  These two subjects he painted and sculpted again and again, not seeing any reason to use different models.  At first glance I thought they were drawings.  His painting style being very linear, with hundreds of fine brushed lines searching for the shape.


This sculpture is entitled Falling Man.  Elongated Limbs, feet and body and tiny head. The artist is quoted in the exhibition notes when talking of these figures “I wanted to hold on to a certain height, and they became narrow…The more I wanted to make them broader, the narrower they got.”  They were originally exhibited in 1948 and were thought to  be a powerful image of humanity,.. a generation traumatised by war.

Looking at them now …words that came to my mind were.., peaceful, quiet, calm,  and gentle, interesting what difference time makes.









Exercise:Preparing a textured ground

I had attempted some texture early in the module and am very happy to return to this area, I am embracing experimenting more and more as the course goes forward.

I dribbled pva glue onto a sheet of canvas oil painting paper and let it dry.  Oil paint could then be smeared over it with a cloth.  Disappointingly the pva soaked into the surface rather than standing proud of the surface so I didn’t follow this one any furtherDSC_0026

Remembering something I had tried before during the still life brief I added kitchen roll to a board and painted over it with gesso.


still life from earler in course



Without thinking too much I just began to add paint.DSC_0013.jpgDSC_0012.jpg

DSC_0017 copy.jpg



Small section from the painting

I am learning to be a little more patient and letting colour dry between layers.  This is starting to make a difference and I am enjoying the colours going on in layers and still being able to see those layers.  Something textured like this realy alows the colours to show through.  Using a dryish brush and just skimming the surface meant the colours just hit the raised texture in places.  I like this small section, and perhaps this is something to take forward, not a picture but texture and colour for its own sake.

Another thought, I collected bits whilst out with the dog…


Much harder to stick to the surface and paint over, but I gave it a try anyway.

My thought was that the grasses should show, so painting them in a bright contrasing colour, but the whole thing is rather unsatisfactory.  I like it better before I applied the blue.  As texture goes they are probably too specific a shape.













A lesson in using experiments you don’t like!

During the dripping exercise, as I was trying out the paint consistency and how/if I could control the dripping I came up with this.


I really liked it but had no clue as to how to carry on and in which direction so put it to one side.

During a break in another exercise I fiddled and filled in the squares.


Then I hated it and was disappointed, it got shoved to one side again.

Picked it up a few days later and remembering how I loved dragging paint on with  a credit card…

I tried to scratch in some of the lines from the original as I went.  Now it was starting to bring to mind the work of  Gerhard Richter whom I had looked at right at the beginning of the module.



I tried to mute the colours a bit with another layer and scratched vigorously into it where I felt I wanted to let other colours back through

Close ups of two of the areas I particularly liked.  I like how the colours play off each other, its like a crazy tartan.

I suspect the difficulty with this type of painting is knowing when to stop.