Category Archives: Coursework

Researching artists suggested by my tutor

  • Jenny Saville
    The skin tone achieved by Saville is unique. Although natural there is something really raw and stripped back about her paintings of the human form. Fitting for her subjects and what she wants to say as an artist. It’s quite poetic to use the paint itself to aid in the story, not just the painted subject.

  • Euan Uglow
  • 1932-2000
    His tonal range is incredible and very natural/ realistic. His ability to create life like dimensions with his paint is one of inspiration.

  • Luc Tuymans
    Unusual skin tone very distinct and quite haunting.

  • John Currin
  • 1962 American based in New York.
    “Best known for satirical figurative paintings which deal with provocative sexual and social themes in a technically skillful manner. His work shows a wide range of influences, including sources as diverse as the Renaissance, popular culture magazines, and contemporary fashion models. He often distorts or exaggerates the erotic forms of the female body, and has stressed that his characters are reflections of himself rather than inspired by real people.”

  • Sally Muir
    Very dull colours. I understand how this itself can say a lot about a portraits subject.

  • Paula Rego</lhtm
    Surrealist and a very dreamlike approach to the human form. Quite reminds me of my approach to eyes.

    I am currently working on some critical readings of some examples and sketchbook work to follow.


Research point: The evolution of paintings (18th century to present day)

Spending time researching this area brought out many interesting changes through time. From imaginary subjects, through biblical times, romantic settings and atmospheres through to modern interpretations of this genre. The following are some that particularly stood out for me representing a passage through time, mainly 18th century to present day:

Cao Fei, The Birth of RMB City 2009. Second life environment. Tacita Dean, Bubble Hose 1999. R-type photograph 99×147 (39×57 1/8). No place Utopian possibility.
Modern contemporary artists such as the example above most definitely voice their environmental concerns through their interpretations of this genre.

Vincent van Gogh 1853–1890
Title: The Oise at Auver 1890
Medium: Graphite and gouache on paper
Dimensions, Support: 473 x 629 mm
Collection: Tate
Bequeathed by C. Frank Stoop 1933

Up until the eighteenth century landscapes weren’t seen as important in terms of recording them for historical purposes or documenting them for educational purposes.
“By the late nineteenth century, some of the world’s most beloved landscapes were being painted by artists like Van Gogh and Monet, practising the technique of en plein air, or painting outdoors. Now that pre-mixed boxed paints were readily available, the artists could travel outdoors to paint amidst a more natural setting, further developing the quickly changing social customs and the idea of the weekend. The bourgeoisie could take the train to the countryside on the weekends, escaping the drab of the city. Moments like these were captured by the Impressionists and their contemporaries, documenting this new lifestyle in paintings of landscapes and social scenes. Their modern masterpieces broke ground for today’s contemporary landscape artists”.

Research point: Artists who have sought to express the more emotional and subjective aspects of landscapes:

I had spent a large amount of time researching this area. Here are some of the examples that I have come across:

Salvador Dali (Surrealist – Dream like):

The persistent memory
1931 oil on canvas
9.5 inches x 13 inches
Location: Museum of modern art New York
I love how Dali uses the landscape to express his story: “The craggy rocks to the right represent a tip of Cap de Creus peninsula in north-eastern Catalonia. Many of Dalí’s paintings were inspired by the landscapes of his life in Catalonia. The strange and foreboding shadow in the foreground of this painting is a reference to Mount Pani.”

Gustav Klimt (Symbolist movement):

The birch wood
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Birch Forest
signed ‘Gustav Klimt’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
43¼ x 43¼ in. (110 x 110 cm.)
Painted in 1903

“Klimt’s landscapes express his wider concerns with biological growth and the cycle of life. Their dazzling decorative surfaces and abstracted motifs align him with emergent modernist tendencies. The trees depicted in Pine Forest I 1901 seem stylised, rendered in a strict vertical rhythm with reduced spatial depth, the quasi-pointillist brushstrokes recalling the treatment of costume in his portraits of Marie Henneberg and Hermine Gallia. The foliage in The Park 1909–10 is similarly flattened while his late Garden Landscape with Hilltop 1916 recalls the symbiosis of naturalism and ornament in the contemporary work of Egon Schiele (1890–1918).”

Paul Nash (Emotional and subjective aspects of landscape):


Wood on the downs 1930 (Aberdeen art gallery)

One of the most evocative landscape painters of his generation. Tate gallery says “Nash, however, found his personal inspiration in the English landscape and he saw himself in the tradition of English mystical painters William Blake and Samuel Palmer. He was particularly drawn to landscapes with a sense of ancient history: grassy burial mounds, Iron Age hill forts and the standing stones at Avebury and Stonehenge. For him these sites had a talismanic quality which he called genius loci, or ‘the spirit of a place’, and he painted them repeatedly.”

Landscape painters of this genre really do bring such a greater depth to the world around us. Yet again through art a subject that can often be taken for granted, can be used to express the depths of a persons soul. Beautiful!

Exercise 1: View from a doorway

For this exercise I spent a great deal of time exploring different viewpoints for varying settings too. My search resulted in a view from a doorway and my decision to keep the content of the interior basic., enough to bring the story alive. However, not enough to take away the main focus of the painting. I chose to actually include the door frame and the main shapes, to draw the view in through the lines of the linear perspective. I wanted to visually take the viewer through the journey in to the garden.

Personally I wanted to create a peaceful mood and a relaxing atmosphere. I used a wash for many of the colours with acrylic in order to bring a similar result to my watercolour study. It created quite a romantic atmosphere. I explored the tonal range initially through my colour studies. This really helped when creating my final piece.

Initial sketches:

section 4 001 001

Taking my chosen viewpoint further:


Watercolour study:


Acrylic painting A4:


Exercise 3: Working from a photograph

I have to admit that working from a photograph really has it’s advantages. I discovered a lovely aesthetically pleasing landscape that was fairly balanced and included the main components that achieved a “typical” landscape. The mirrored water was achieved much greater in earlier sketches and my mini tester painting. The more that I spent time on this painting and even completed another second larger scaled one too, the more freedom that I discovered as I moved away from the original. I feel that the final painting moved away from the original, however, not too much that it lost why I loved it in the first place. I would say that the biggest changes were the colours used. They ended up being more of my own emotional expression, in comparison to the original.

I wasn’t as satisfied with it as I would of liked though. There was something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This is something I am going to personally explore.

Other possible subjects:


Initial sketch, line and colour study for my chosen subject:


Watercolour painting in my sketchbook:


My A3 acrylic that I wasn’t happy with and decided to try again:


My re-done final painting on A4:


Exercise 1: Painting from a working drawing

For this exercise I used a familiar subject. Using the corner of a room with a very simple composition really allowed me to explore this exercise to its full potential. Stripping away the fuss and clutter and exploring the area with three drawings:

  • a linear study (main shapes)
  • tonal study
  • a colour study

015 016

Creating a painting using these drawings around me, really worked. I used a canvas, still small in scale, however, larger than the drawings.

017 A water colour painting bringing together all of the techniques.

025 Acrylic on canvas.

  • The sketches definitely provided enough detail to complete the painting. If the subject had been more detailed, I question if this would of been the same.
  • Once being away from the subject (as you can see), I was definitely able to explore my own style and freedom. I explored researched work that I had undertaken on other artists work in this area and especially colours used. This is something that I have been exploring more and more so recently after recent tutor feedback. I am being braver in my colours with the more knowledge that I am gaining on the subject.
  • Out of all the interiors that I have painting, I preferred this one. This surprised me as it probably took me less time in comparison. However I was more confident in my colour choices, etc. The linear perspective worked well too.

This is definitely a method that I will exploit in my work in future.

Exercise 1: Painting a landscape outside

I was surprised by my subject for this exercise. I was originally planning a similar landscape to that of the natural landscape. However, whilst walking my dog, I came across a view that really conveyed a linear perspective and was really enjoyable to paint outside.

I am happy with the results of this painting. I am also happy with how successful the watercolour was in terms of adaptability and its ease in transporting it, etc. This is definitely something that I will be spending more time doing in the future.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about undertaking this challenge, however, I soon found a comfortable peace and enjoyment. This has definitely encouraged me to do this again as I was able to bring a lot more from the subject in comparison to a photograph to work from. It definitely encouraged me to bring out of the subject everything that I wanted as appose to copying or attempting to justify the intent of a photograph.


I also spent some time working on some sketches for possible assignment subjects:


I wanted to take this painting further for a possible assignment piece:

I completed a small canvas using acrylic:


I colour pencil sketch looking at tone:


Investigating the subject using acrylic on A3:

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