Monthly Archives: February 2017

Exercise- Convey Character & Review Portraits.

Convey Character through facial expressions, most sitters tend to slump forward and the facial features relax and tend to look sad. It is not possible to keep smiling the whole time so a photo of an expression can be a useful way of capturing a moment of expression.

I chose Graham Norton as I found a great photo of him in the Culture supplement of the Times (Louis wise. 18.09.2016. Photograph by Francesco Guidicini)). The photographer was up close when he took the shot and I think you can see Graham ‘thinking’ in his eyes. I painted onto a pale blue paper because he wears a blue shirt and I think he suits this colour. The flesh tones with the blue and the grey spikes from his chin react well with this tone of blue. I worked quickly and wasn’t as careful like I was with my daughters and my self portrait as I didn’t care if I muck it up….it’s only Graham Norton, it’s not like he’s going to tell me I’m rubbish at painting. Due to this responds I think it’s why I worked more fluidly and I felt I went into automatic mode and didn’t think to much about what I was doing wrong. I felt like I was painting in areas and just letting some blue paper show . Then I pitted the paint with a dab of a sponge as Graham’s skin is textured around the forehead and cheeks. This technique is good at smoothing in the brush strokes that I tend to slap on sometimes. I didn’t want to paint the shirt as I wanted the blue paper to be noticeable and this allows the head to pull away from the paper as a form but with some of that background showing through.

I will try this coloured paper effect again as I think the foreground and the background can be far to finished , sometimes the blanks need to be visualised so the viewer can take notice of the painting.

Culture supplement from the ‘Times’ 18.09.2016

Pencil sketch of Graham Norton 02.2017 mw

Oil painting of Graham Norton 02.2017 mw

Look at all your portraits and ask…

  • Which one is best?
  • Any technical demands??
  • Was the element of portrait painting difficult?

The best one is of Graham Norton,, it’s fresh ,lively, fluid and delicate. These qualities. Make it a good exercise.
The technical demands were the depicting form , features and a likeness. The personalities of people close to you becomes a distraction so the Contextual research and the exercises to help loosen up were all needed to deal with this evaluation and I was able to think about strategies. To resolve the problem.

Painting portraits are very difficult but I find painting landscape a challenge also. Gesturing a line to depict a likeness is a skill of observation, getting the line correct is a fundamental structure when taking a drawing and then creating a painting.

Contextural research for Portrait project.

Before I started the Project – looking at faces, part 3 ,Painting one. I wanted to practice some different techniques. For part 5 of Drawing one I FOCUSED on portraits and the depiction of movement, So I felt I had already covered this subject in away that I didn’t want to repeat again; but in paint. I was cautious by my efforts in Drawing 1 and didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole again as I enjoy painting, drawing and looking at faces.First of all I wanted to experiment and loosen up, so looked to my exercise books such as ‘ Drawing and Painting people- A fresh approach by Emily Ball. (Crowood press. Wiltshire. 2015). On pg 27 she writes about Drawing and painting the head; chapter two, where she explains that the head is not just a face, it’s a form of the body and to think of it as a form and not a personal feature. “My reasons for giving it a very impersonal title are to allow a new view of the subject to be possible and for you to have a more personal relationship with your work, as opposed to making a copy of the way you think a person looks.” (Ball 2015) She carries out a number of exercises in her book with Charcoal as its more tactile and are similar to working with paint.

EDVARD MUNCH self portrait in 1895 is a strong representation and very memorable, the strong front position and the dark room ,use of light to convey mood.

The use of charcoal as a dust is a good technique to infiltrate the Whitness of the page. The starkness of the page can be overbearing when starting something new and her examples of rubbing charcoal dust into paper first and then erasing it away later has being helpful to me in the past. This time because the charcoal can react not so well with paint for this topic of faces I used Coffee granular and hot water. This reminded me of the works from the past and old maps where the paper had aged.

‘MYSELF’ Portraits by 40 artist (by Juliet Heslewood. Frances Lincoln publishers 2014. London) Was where I found a Samuel Palmer (1805-81) self portrait 1826 Chalk on paper. It’s very delicate and I didn’t get the same effect as I went to dark and bold with my lines , I needed to use a dip ink pen, but the experience of looking at the marks around the eyes and nose was very good at identifying delicacy of line.

Due to the relationship of the need to understand delicate lines in the hope of depicting delicate features as found on the face, I looked to Tom Phillips and his book ‘The portrait works’ from his national Portrait gallery show 1989-1990. (London) On pag 74-5 are portraits of Anna (1985) and Sally East (1975) Both are beautiful and delicate. Charcoal and pastel is used in a hurried fashion and the lines are gestural of movement in Anna. I like that the eyes are not white and that dots are used as well as lines.

For these drawings I used a grid system to help guild my drawing of correct details.

I started to think about the exercise of creating mood and atmosphere and was going to set up a candle in a dark area but then came across ‘The Desperate man (Gustave Courbet 1819-77. Self portrait of 1841) And thought this would be good practice of depicting strong contrasts of light and folds of fabric. When ever I paint myself I end up looking like a harassed person so coping Courbet was predictable. The White of the eyes are interesting in this composition and the hands in the hair which is very similar to mine, I was tempted to copy this pose for my own self portrait pose for the above exercise but though that I would try something else. This research was very helpful for identifying contrast and shapes of light fulling on areas of the face and hands. He has such a strong structure of a nose and the lips are delicious, he is beautiful but not handsome.

My last exercise was the portrait by Berthe Morisot (1841-95) that she painted in 1885. She married Manet’s brother after she found success as an impressionist painter and exhibited at the Paris salon in 1874.

“It is important to express oneself, provided the feelings are real and are taken from your own experience”. ( 61 2014)

Taken from her writings about her work where she was described as a feminine painter because of her light brush strokes, domestic scenes.

This portrait was great for me to get working with some paint again. The brush I used should have been smaller but the looking at her brush strokes and the tones, made me understand how quickly she did this portrait. This encourage me to paint a few self portraits quickly (45 minutes). These were not as successful as Morisots self portrait but it was a process with in progress.


All work is my own.

Drawing and painting- A fresh approach by Emily Ball Croswood publishing 2015 Wiltshire.

Portraits by 40 great artist by Juliet Heslewood. Frances Lincoln publishing Lonon 2014

Tom Phillips- The portrait Works with introduction by Bill Hurrell. National portrait Gallery publications ..London.1989

Exercise- Creating mood and atmosphere.

Oil paint, final photo

oil paint . needs more definition of features

Charcoal drawing

iPad photo with light from candle.

For this exercise I chose the topic- self portrait. Points to note when thinking about position

• Unusual

• Expressive in some way

• True to life or not

• Menace or mystery?

• All of the above can be more available when positioning myself than someone else, I am able to be as pushy as I need to be with myself but when asking someone to pose I have limited time and options. That is why I decided on a self portrait for this exercise.
Experiment with lighting to find the direction of light that best create atmosphere.
At this point I went to the library and borrowed some books on Portraits. Then I did some copy studies where I used pastel, charcoal, chalk and pencil to contextualise my research . In the last research point I was asked to look on the Internet for portraits that convey mood or atmosphere. This time I wanted to look more at the marks that they used to creat this depiction of mood or a moment. By trying to copy someone else’s work it bales me to focus and try something different, question why they used that mark, it helps to understand the expression, the speed of the lines or the speed they were working. It like reanimating another person, It’s very liberating and helps to recognise muscle memory that can become a negative habit when painting. The concentration levels needed when trying to animate someone else from history is rewarding .
I used a candle glow so this did affect the wariness of the colour pallet that I chose. I used reds, violets, yellows,and greyscale and Persian Blue for more depth to dark tones.

I needed strong contrasts but the colours I used were all on one side of the colour wheel.
• What have I achieved?

• Is it an expressive and unusual likeness?

• Interesting statement in paint?

• Mono chrome or is it and exploration of colour?
When ever I paint myself I always LOOK is terrifying, that’s why I looked to Gustave Courbet and Goya with my contextual studies. The Desperate Man by Courbet (1841) has fantastic contrast and a glow or this could be the photography or printing , I have never seen it in person unfortunately. The eye balls are positioned with the White of the eyes above the eye ball and the nose is very long and I think he has the same sort of hair as myself.

• I have achieved at portrait that is heavenly saturated in light which conceals some of my features such as the moth and left nose.

• It is a likeness.

• The paint has been used to suggest form due to the directional brush work. The gradients of colour are bold, harsh but this is to reflect the use of intense candle light within a darkened room.

• It is an exploration of contrasting tones, not so much colour but depth of colour on the jumper is the darkest tone and then this contrasted with the bright light on the face is extreme and can make me look deformed as the features are to bright to make out. At one point I had not mouth at all and this was not a concern, I though how realistic this image was….A women with no voice. In a area of saturated communication, with so many arena, platforms to speck but in a time where everyone is speaking but no one is listening. What is the point of a voice If no one is listening?

What would you do differently if you were to re do this exercise?

Make it bigger and be really expressive with the paint , push the paint around the face with my hands, sponges, ect. I was so focused of depicting the glow of the candle , the tilt of the head, the relaxed eyes, my relaxed subdued posture that I worked the paint to much, got to intense with the paint.

Exhibition-Entangled, threads & making

Turner Contemporary Spring 2017 Exhibition.
Fantastic and outstanding display of creativity from the carnival sculptures in the foyer , the carpeted gallery service lift which was painted to the pendulum black taffeta.

‘The exhibition brings together artist from different generation and culture who challenge the boundaries between craft, design and fine art, and who share a fascination with the handmade and the processes of making itself’ exhibition leaflet.

Over 40 international female artists who work with knitting, embroidery, weaving, sewing, wood carving and jewellery that combine found objects ,waste material such as the left overs after cutting out the pattern for dress makers and plants, horse hair and bird quills.

The only problem with this work is that it’s so tactile but no one is allowed to play with the works so the works that are able to be replaced or maintained are the most enjoyable and when placed in rooms along side the more delicate untouchable works then you are able to move through the show with less frustrated temptation.
SAMARA SCOTT, OLD LAKE 2017- b 1985-

Carpet, yoghurt, plaster, food colouring.

British born artist that often works with site specific locations like the service lift at the Turner Gallery. She characterises her work with rich colours, natural and artificial, the synthetic and organic, an engaging implication with contemporary CONSUMER society. She likes to work with installations that ‘nestle’ into the location.
Maria Roosen b1957. When I Think of you 1998

Machine made embroidery and wood.

A Netherlands artist that started sewing a line at a time in her life when she was very sad after the death of her partner. The first line was straight and long and then she kept trying to copy it over many days or weeks. The purpose of coping with the aid of the sewing machine allowed her to focus and each line represents her time of healing and thoughts while working away her pain.

Marion Baruch. Cologne, 2015

Woollen cloth. Romania artist b 1929. She sourced the fabric from the fashion industry after they have cut out the patterns for products. Baruch has taken the negative fabric and turned it into a pice of art and by doing so has given it new life. She selects the pieces to use and then plays with the orientations to creat abstract compositions . “The first time I pulled one of these fabrics out from a pleas to bag, I felt as if I were looking at a Klee(Paul)”

Rivane Neuenschwander. CASOS EROTICOS (EROTIC CASES) 2 2014

Silk tread on fabric.

Rivane (b 197, Brazil) IS Knowen for her contribution to the Brazilian conceptualism and her use of ephemeral materials as they provoke certain emotions. The reference is to the chance made when making these works, she has dropped string onto fabric napkins (the detailed pattern on the napkins AIDS as a frame ) then she embroidery the outline. The shapes that emerge are considered curvaceous, twisting, sensual as they are organic and created by chance, this approach relates to other abstract practices by artist such as Marcel Duchamp and John Cage.

Christiane Lohr B1965- German sculpture.

6 miniature sculptures made from grasses or plants.

Aiko Tezuka

Loosening Fabric #6 (entangled 2017)

B 1976 Tokyo. She unraveled the treads of existing pieces of fabric, working with assistance as its painstaking delicate work. (1 hour to unpick 10cm of fabric.) the resulting work spills out to impersonate a looming process that once occurred to create the work that has reversed it purpose. The viewer is so engrossed with this warped thread as you can’t seem to help yourself working out the process , was it the beginning of the weaving or somewhere in the middle. Once you read the description your even more amazed as its been hand unpicked from its original form.

Laura Ford. Penguins, 2012.

Steel, plaster, fabric.

Laura Ford (b 1961 Wales) creates these fabulous human like animals sculptures. They are the same hight as an ten year old so this makes them even more adorable and friendly. ‘Sculptures dressed as people dressed as animals” She has grouped them anxiously looking around the bleakness and towards global warming. She takes the walls of the gallery to suggest an out of place environment for her sculptures and acknowledges a fun side but explain a dark side which the viewer is a wear of.

Paola Anziche. Natural Fibers, 2016.

Installation of 37 mixed , single media pieces, Chenille, mohair, alpaca, hemp, cotton, jute, wool, twine, raffia, paper, cord, grass and string.

Italian artist (B1975) is inspired by the Latin American interactive artist LYGIA CLARK. SHE WANTS PEOPLE TO ENGAGE CLOSLY WITH THE MATERIALS , enjoy the experience. By putting the woven hat like piece on your head you can observe others doing the same thing, you both see each other interacting with the art work. A group of students were taking a group selfie and they looked like they were all attached to the high ceiling via woven old fashioned hair dryers. When I stood to look up into the woven hat objects they are like funnels encircling up towards the ceiling, all hanging at different heights . They reminded me of Virginias and how Freud would call them objects for penetration. The fact that they are styled on hats makes me think how erotic close knit hats (Beaney) could be…..

Research Point; Portraits that convey mood

Look on the Internet for examples of work that is more than simply physical likeness but convey a distinctive mood or atmosphere. Example given are Picasso’s blue paintings due to there mood of surreal sadness, Van Gogh’s dark dirty paintings such as the Potato eaters. Rembrandt’s portraits convey an essence of a persons mood. The Fauve painters with the strong colour contrast and the German Expressionists.

Self Portrait with Lowered Head – Egon Schiele

Gustave Courbet The Desperate Man (Self-Portrait

Julian Opie (‘Julian with T-shirt’), self-portrait, 2005 Kees Van Dongen 1877-1968

Toulouse Lautrecs Absinthe Lady

The worst thing about the interest is trying to find authentic work and citation that is able to reference this work to guarantee its originality. That is why I haven’t be able to find all the images on line that I wanted to research.


The Ironer by Picasso

The Potato Eaters by Van Gogh

Rembrandt self portrait in his latter years.

William De Kooning self Portrait.

Edvard Munch- The Madonna or the Brooch Or Birgitta.

Jackson Pollock self Portrait

Kees Van Dongen- Femmes a chapeau


Mood and Atmosphere conveyed in portraits can be depicted via colour and to have colour you need light. The context and the gesturing add to the mood but the basic foundation needed is Light. John Singer Sargent, Lantern paintings all depict a mood of celebration and soft colours and feathery painting explains softness and delicacy so the paint application and the composition can express mood and atmosphere. Painting children can be bland, dull as no lines or wrinkles to focus on and the skin tone can be tonally plain compared to the story a weather beaten face can tell. The artist can either express this lines , wrinkle,features with the add of artistic licence or concentrate on the light definition which defines the facial features and create a mood with colour, brush strokes, composition, all the principals that help to create an image.


Part 3 Head and shoulder portrait


This is a2 size portrait, painted in oils. My Daughter is sitting up in bed reflecting on life or just sighing about having to sit while I paint her. She wears a black hood with large draw string rope hanging down and a stripped vest top. I wanted the strips to show her bunched up pose in the mid drift area and this helps to represent the posture she is positioned into. The Background is of a painted movie poster and I think the colours blend with the pillows and the bed head. The walls are cream<white so rather lifeless but didn’t want this to draw the attention away from the thoughtful character portrayed . The colour balance has been toned down with mid grey which is repeated in the mid drift area of her body so that background and body of portrait are the same tone. The telephone book paper has been used in the mid drift vest to aid with gauging the mid tone and the concept of identifying ones self with either forenames or surnames which is what the telephone book publishes ; names and numbers to contact those people.

This concept come from a walk along the sea way going towards Hern Bay, where people have pushed shells into the very soft clay Clift side and have spelled out names such as ‘Kate’ . I found this interesting as I wondered why they decided to use the shells to spell out names and not other words. The shell decoration was not as quick as to write with the found Pumas which is often used around the coast.

I think the success is the head tilt position because the colour under the neck is tonally variant from the tone on the forehead. The light violet under the neck and the red-violet found as the shadows from the hair help to represent the variations of skin tone. The hands were very blue from the reflection of the black hoody top and black pyjama bottoms. I worry when painting skin that it starts to look dead when adding to many dark tones. When I look to Lucian Freud and his nudes such as Night Portrait (1978) I notice all the dominating warm tones such as yellow, Browns, terracotta and then the violet and blues. When I first tried this , I created bruises. I realised you needed a dark back ground to give colour variation to the overall composition and then the flesh tones don’t look as dark if the back ground is dark. I keep hearing the ringing words from my last tutors report which was ‘work on your mid tones’ so with referring back to Lucian Freud, you can only have a mid tone if you understand the darkest tones and the lightest tones, everything else is mid tone. 

I think this looks like my daughter and have taken a photo of her position to help check her sitting location and took some close up photos of her hands to colour check along the way. I finally dried brush over the background and into her hoody and hands. This process of dry paint brushing is useful with blurring and softening the colour tones and edges and pushing the background back into location and intensifying the foreground or the areas of focus such as the portrait. This dry brush work can in effect delete the details so may have to wait for the paint to dry so to clarify anything, but at the moment I am happy to walk away.

My Daughter thinks the painting shows her hands are more like sausages.

I have redone the hands several times , changed the position of the hands and taken more photos but they still need work. I have decided to let the paint dry and not look at it for a while as fresh eyes upon this at a later point may allow me to see a better solution other than scraping the paint away and starting again on the hands.