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For this exercise, either create a completely new painting that evokes a powerful atmosphere of some kind or e-work one of your earlier paintings.

I have taken a view that I see pretty much every day on my way back from walking my dog, based on the fact that it is a fairly simple view and I am hoping it has some flexibility to adapt it to fit this brief.

Staring with  a sketch, my intention is to try a couple of different approaches using what I have just seen in the last piece of research.


Doing the sketch again this time attempting to think surrealist having looked a Dali…….. i have clouds reflected in the road, overhanging branches fingerlike, sheep wearing jumpers, jumpers and balls of wool lying around, one jumper impaled on the barbed wire fencing, trees imitating clouds by their shapes.


This feels silly to me and I’m not comfortable with it, however …

I had also been looking at Graham Sutherland and was particularly taken with


The City a fallen lift shaft (1941) Graham Sutherland

this painting, the darkness and the few crisp areas that seem to punch home the point of the picture.

During the last exercise I had several rubbish attempts before the one I really liked emerged and this time I wondered if by starting two paintings together I might reach my outcome.

The left picture is the intended surrealist approach ground and the right the dark atmosphere for the warlike version. The left paint applied with brushes, the right with a credit card as with the last exercise. This approach is really loosening up my painting so i wanted to give it another try.

The next step with both versions, now I am definitely preferring the right hand version and having used the card at first, I now used the glue spreader for some finer detail. Next I start to smudge on more paynes grey to darken the sky, field and road, using my fingers wrapped in a piece of kitchen roll.



At this point Ive darkened it and added texture with screwed up paper dipped in the paint ….its not a good photo as its wet and shiny and the flash of my camera is catching in the sheen of the oil paint.  I need to let it dry for a bit.


Whilst drying I took a photo and loaded it on my ipad.  I wanted to darken the picture further and thought this might give me a clue as to what would happen.  Just gently smudging around with dark grey, blue and then rubbing out, with a view to remembering where the moon is (moon as opposed to sun as I had decided it was a night time picture). This feels as if I’m looking at the field through smoke, or dark fog. The separation created by the opaque marks adds to the atmosphere. I may not be able to do this with paint, but it has helped me decide to try.


I scrubbed paynes grey and venetian red all over with a cloth and turps and then tried a gel pen for high lights which of course didn’t work. Compressed charcoal gave me a nice black for the barbed wire and white oil for high lights.  I’m struggling to photograph it as its wet again ….

Below taken with my mobile which seems to work better.


My picture has now turned from a pretty view to a dark, night view.  The deliberate choice of few colours and changing the trees in the distance to more burnt out stick shapes and the emphasis of the fence and wires giving it a war like feel having been looking at Graham Sutherland this feel was entirely intentional.  The use of mixed methods inspired by the lines within the paint and the mark making on his work.

I have made all of this picture without a paint brush.  Credit card, glue spreader, fingers, cloth smudging.  Then charcoal.  Surprises happened all the time with this method, colours mixed in unexpected places. Embracing what happened and going with it was very freeing.  Also adopting the little device of starting two pictures and then abandoning one, served a useful tool.  The abandoned one served as my warm up and I felt no qualms about leaving it behind, as the other took control and became my focus.