Category Archives: Projects and Exercises

P.5. Different ways to apply paint.2

Exercise; Dripping, Dribbling and spattering.

Look at the work by Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) whose paintings are explosive in effect. How have they been applied? And how could you create the same effect. Prepare a large sheet of paper and newspaper, mix up severally colours into diluted solutions. Lay this on the ground and work from above. Apply the paint in several ways such as dripping, throwing, spinning and any think about how some colours recede and others dominate.

Do you feel at any time finished? I think you get to a point where you wonder what is the point. At one time a just raised the paint off the card because it became dull, messy. The water cleaned away the paint and left behind a dry residues which were far more interesting. I stopped when is became interesting to look at.

How could you exploit any of these effects in future work? I think these are very good exercises to help loosen up and to stop your self looking for the obvious for example a tree, leaves, branches and generally all things that we know are there but our automatic thought process hinders what we really are seeing at the time. It helps to look at what is happening to the paint, how the oil and water react with one another and how the glue acts as a partition and colours gather creating a marble effect. Pollock said ” I don’t paint Nature, I am Nature…I work from the inside out, like Nature.” COLLINGS 1999. P.44 I think therefore that this exercise was productive in reminding me ,or any painter, that we are nature creating nature, not a machine that reproduces nature like the camera. Our creating is our rendition of our nature. So- don’t just copy what you see, be creative and express what you see or how you feel or both.

I worked on certain colours of grounds cover painted on A2 paper,  yellow ochre, cadmium orange light hue, burnt Siena , primary blue and black. I took these into the garden and laid them down from light to dark with stones to keep them in place. I flicked the White paint in a circular motion and the green paint was spattered over all the sheets from a higher level. The smaller dot patterns were from Indian inks and sprayed from a syringe  and then diluted with water. The black card was folded together to imprint the paint and mix the colours directly. I wanted to see what effect the black ground would have on certain colours as yellow can look green when painted on a black ground. I blended some of the colours on the page by Tonking. I wasn’t expecting to paint something, I was just playing with the paint, thinking about how to move my wrist and how hard to throw the paint tube. I was cautious not to use to much paint as I still wanted the ground colours to show. It was fun and playful and I was interested with the outcome as I didn’t expect anything so the paintings were a pleasant surprise.

I feel that you needed to be rather aggressive and chaotic  with the paint throwing to get the same effect as Jackson Pollock. He was nick named ‘ Jack the Dripper’. His drip and splash type of painting was named Action painting around 1947 . He used enamel paints , metallic paints and commercial paints as their texture suited the technique of action painting. He added materials to his paintings like sand and Broken glass and used non conventional tools such as knifes, garden trolls and sticks to manipulate his work that was fully abstract, no composition. Sometimes the canvas was later cut or trimmed to size influenced by the painting , he didn’t paint confined to the shape of the canvas. His most famous supporter was the critic Clement Greenberg (1909-94) who wrote referencing Pollock in his essay ‘The Decline of Cubism’ March 1948. Wood .2016.p.577.

‘Art has risen in the last five years, with the emergence of new talents so full of energy and content as Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock, David Smith…-then the conclusion forces itself, much to our own surprise, that the main premises of Western art have at last migrated to the United States, along with the centre of gravity of industrial production and political power.’ Wood.P.579.

Sand on Gold card with rubbed back Acrylic and Indian Ink.

Enamel Paint mixed with punched hole paper on canvas


Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artist by Ian Chilvers. Fourth edition. 2009 OXFORD university Press. Oxford.

Art in Theory 1900-2000 An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Edited by Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Blackwell Publishing 2016.

The Encyclopedia of Oil Painting Techniques by Jeremy Galton. Search Press.  Tunbridge Wells Kent UK 2006

This is Modern Art by Mattew COLLINGS. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. London  2000


P.5. Different ways to apply paint-1.

Exercise; Impasto. PVA and other gels can be added to Acrylic paint to add volume to achieve an Impasto effect.

Work on prepared grounds to produce experimental paintings and try as many different ways to apply paint, such as-

  • Using a brush, variations of brushes such as a feather. Wet and dry brush work.
  • Using a painting knife and the different effects different blades can have. The effect of pressure on the blade and how this effects the flattened and blending of colours. Good for areas but can be overwhelming if used as an entirety.
  • Scratching. Sgraffito. Scoring is a technique to depict hair, wrinkles, a lace collar. Scratching on board is better than canvas.
  • Tonking which is where to much paint is on the surface so to remove some can create an interesting effect if you use newspaper. Good for portraits as the details for the facial areas can become loaded with paint.
  • Scraping back , selecting areas to thin out on can create an area in the distance so ideal for perspective enhancement.
  • Add layers by paining brush strokes in different directions and then using a glazing technique/ diluted paint is then caught on the rougher paint surface which is ideal for sky or water.
  • Dabbing with a sponge, rag, paper towels and cotton wool buds.
  • Texturing with added materials such as sand, cement mix, pencil sharpening waste, sawdust and fillers or shaving foam.
  • Imprinting. Good for oil paints as the drying time is longer so greater variety of materials or objects to be pressed into the paint. Things such as spoons, forks, saw blades, comb, toothbrush or leaves. I used this technique with the exercise of painting a ‘portrait that conveys mood and atmosphere’. The painting needed texture so I ragged over it to give texture to the over all image, by doing so the colours merged and every brushstroke was less detailed, precise and softer like the candle light used to express mood. Good technique for depicting concrete walls and also use ‘Scratching’  the paint to depict the blocks.

How could these techniques enhance some of your previous work?

The exercise ‘ scaling up’ was taken from a photo where I laid down on the grass to take a picture of the Manor House, the foreground is all grass. Knife painting used in the foreground to depict the grass would have worked well here as this technique leads itself well to grasses and foliage where movement is associated with it.

Scraping or scratching/ sgraffito would have been a technique I could have used in one of my early still life exercises. Most of these earlier paintings are very flat as I wanted to concentrate on depicting form with tonal colours so texture was something I didn’t consider but I did scrape back to allow underpainting to show though.

The exercise ‘ painting from a photo’ could have been enhanced with some of the above techniques to deal with the rock face. I think that the idea of Imprinting or Tonking would have worked well here, but the paint is now dry so I can’t use those techniques but something for consideration.



Tonking, Imprinting and Glazing.


Scraping away to show the ground colour, reminisent of Hockneys water pattern.


Feather painting, masking tape, cork bottle and black pepper used to apply paint



P.5.Research point; Expressionist.

Look at a range of painting, with particular the Expressionist and how they applied paint. Look at some 20th century pastel paintings and make notes about the effects you find.

‘Expressionism is a term used in the history and criticism of the Arts to explain the use of distortion and exaggeration for emotional effect’. Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artist by Ian Chilvers. 2009.p.210.

Subjective versa objective is noticeable within this context, the subjective feeling is expressed by the Artist depending upon the response to the composition which is the objective observation. Think about Monet’s love for his garden and light. Van Gogh with his frustrating dilemmas fighting within him.  Joan Eardley and her self exploration , depression and isolation, She was a feeling artist and a thinking artist. Edvard Munch was expressing his inner demons, ill health and feeling regretful and responsible for the death of his mother and sister all manifest within his work of woeful melancholy. They express them selfs though the action of painting, the colour they use , the brush work, the size of the work and the subjects they paint.

The range of effects-

Van Gogh effects are his suggesting movement with the many brushstroke style and the colours he uses such as complementary colours layered or within the same composition. Hi technique is Impasto and worked mostly outside. He did not work from photographs so the ever changing landscape or light would have had implications to the outcome of his work.

Monet love and romance towards people and natural things such as his gardens and the effect of the light upon nature are depicted in his gentlemanly style. He plays with the paint on large scale canvases and he bounces colours off one another. His Brushwork is very fluid and he worked up close to the paintings so would have lost himself in these massive panels. I think he was trying to lose himself in his work (he did have many children), like all of the above artist did, they were lucky enough to become absorbed with there creative practices.

Joan Eardley paintings of shabby houses in Glasgow and the poverty of the tenanted children to fishing village of Catterline in Aberdeen can look like a hard landscape versus soft but they don’t express these qualities.

She painted on location, often during wild storms, using oil and boat paint mixed with newspaper, sand and grasses on hardboard. She captures a response to what she sees and the viewer gains a sense of the place. Her paintings are wild, rich in character, just like the subjects she paints.

Edvard Munch pastels are beautifully smooth, delicate and I think he works many layers to achieve a dark moody depth of tone. He is emotionally  part of the work, it’s like his hands were sculpturing the composition with the pastels, charcoal or paint. All the mentioned artists have intrinsically attached themselves to there work and you really see this as an expression of themselves and what they have seen and how that situation has driven them to create very powerful emotionally charged paintings and drawings.  They are not erratic , hectic mess, which is what you would expect from them with all these swollen emotions stirring up inside them. What you see is dedication and a source of exasperating the built up emotions though the medium of paint. It’s a controlled deflation process.

In recent philosophy of mind, the term “phenomenology” is often restricted to the characterization of sensory qualities of seeing, hearing, etc.: what it is like to have sensations of various kinds. However, our experience is normally much richer in content than mere sensation. Accordingly, in the phenomenological tradition, phenomenology is given a much wider range, addressing the meaning things have in our experience, notably, the significance of objects, events, tools, the flow of time, the self, and others, as these things arise and are experienced in our “life-world”. From the article –


Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artist by Ian Chilvers. Oxford publishing press 4th edition 2009

Review my work so far. p1-p4

Review what you have achieved so far and reflect on which projects you enjoyed the most and which ones were challenging and why. What areas do you feel require more practice?

I have laid out some of my work but as with Drawing 1 , its a lot of work that takes up much space that I don’t have. This course has been taking much longer than expected and it is hard to remember how I felt about the exercises at the beginning.

So far I feel I have a good understanding as to where I am going , what I need to focus on and have strong ideas about the development theme for part 5 of the course. I feel that like most painters you never feel like you have accomplished much even if you painted every day. That is the concept of painting, which is that you are never completely happy with the outcome because its a creative subject which keeps encouraging more creativity, you therefore feel the work has never come to its creative full stop. What I have achieved is a recognition of my style of working (emotionally lead, thoughtful but playful) and I’m starting to see a certain style in my PRACTICE OF work. My work is a style which is rumpty, wonky, colourful, bold and jolly, these characteristics just seems to appear when looking at all my work together.

The projects I enjoyed so far are the people and landscapes studies. I didn’t enjoy ‘drawing 1’ landscape part of the course but really got to grips with it using paint and pastels. I like drawing people and enjoyed using the paint to create different colour tones and atmospheric forms. The most challenging thing is to find something that interests me while carrying out the exercises, sometimes I just find them to restricting but feel like I will carry on regardless so that all the objectives are meet, sometimes affecting the outcome of the assignments. This time I will whiz through the exercises and focus more on the assignment work and the studies.

All painting requires more practice so this is an odd question to ask a student. I know my strengths and weakness and now I need to decide if I work harder on developing my weaknesses such as the technical aspects or carry on developing my strengths? I think this is where I find the course work tedious because its about techniques; perspective, shape and forms and the laws of colour theory. I prefer to work with the paint ; gestural, large and bold. This is the area I will practice more and remember to think about the technical side of things when critically reviewing my own work. work so far pop

Some of my work so far for painting 1, practice of painting 2016-2017.


P4 exercise:Painting from a photo

Choose a landscape with plenty of space, trees and hills. Find from a magazine or the internet then look at it critically and decide how you will interpret it. Make some quick drawings of the shapes within the composition. Your aim is an interpretation , not a faithful copy so pin up your drawings and photo but only reference them occasionally. Add to the painting with materials such as sand. dirt or anything that refers to the place.

In what ways did you depart from the photo?

I didn’t paint a composition that was suggested, I like this photo of the beach and the red wall and I was tired of painting trees. I am lucky to have a variety of landscapes on my door step and looking at all the paintings I had completed so far for part 4, I found they were all similar, because of the trees and the sky line being interrupted. I didn’t like the sky in this photo so I painted sky taken from another photo, which is far more angry and turbulent. This would of course change the colouring of the rocks, but this is the beauty of painting which is; I can interpret the image how I want. The painting is of sun warming the rock face and an angry sky brewing above, looking out towards a magical purple sea line.

Why did you make that choice?

My painted colours and contrasting tones are more severe than the photo, but that’s my way of defining texture. I wanted the tones to be similar to the two photos to suggest the surreal. I made the rock face more clumpy because , that is how I interpret this rock face; like its about to crumbly down to the beach. I am also suggesting that something else is around the corner, you would have to walk further to see because the rocks are in the way. I think this makes it more interesting and the rock face looks less normal.

Did you produce a painting that you are satisfied with or were you over influenced by the photo?

I had taken so much time in getting the rocks to look similar to the photo, so wish I had not become so influenced by the photo. I tried to lay the paint on thickly to give a more solid textured paint work, but it just looked out of place next to the soft purple of the low tide. I had to scrape this paint work off and start again. I need to find a balance of working from a photo and just letting the painting practice take over.

On reflection, most my paintings look stiff other than the more abstract ones. I plan to start using photos as a reference only, as I have noticed from this exercise how influenced I am by the photo.

P4 exercise: Squaring up.

I enjoyed this exercise, even though I though it was a waste of time because most the time, people use technology to enlarge pictures with the use of a projector or other various apps. What I think I liked was doing something different, similar to the last exercise of painting a corner of the room which was a change from the landscape. I don’t mind landscapes but painting them for a period of 3 months can become methodical and tend to loose inspiration. The way exercises can remove you from a way of doing something or looking  at something and thinking differently is when you know the experience has been influential and the process is important to entertain.

P.4 exercise: Painting outside.

I had been thinking about this exercise through out this part of the course. Every time I went out , I was scouting for locations and views that I though would be enjoyable to paint. I was anxious about this exercise as I have only ever painted in the studio or with other painters inside and when I have painted outside it was on my isolated farm in New Zealand. I saw someone painting at Government Acre recently and he was disrupted by people walking by and commenting on the practice of painting. People don’t comment on people having a picnic, or playing with a football and they don’t stop to talk to you in general. But when people see a person with a easel or paintbrush, suddenly its an opportunity to converse, as if its a performance. I am an approachable person as I have worked in retail for the last 28 years, but when I’m concentrating on a task, I preferred no interruptions. This is why I choose to paint somewhere that was private so I decided to paint at the Allotment which is situated by the grave yard on a hill. This location has privacy, has a view out over the busy allotment and over the Ramsgate rooftops, out to sea. I felt very comfortable in this location as it’s very quiet other than a squirrel fighting with the tree above my head and some strange bird songs.  The practice of painting I find must be completed within the environment that is creative. I feel this exercise of ‘painting outside’ was more about capturing a feel for a place/landscape, not so much replicating the view on canvas. The experiencing the moment and presenting that feeling within a canvas directs itself as an abstract association with a place.

On the first visit I looked at different angles of views such as low down as if sitting on the grass or standing. The first visit I didn’t take enough water pots with me so the colours became dirty and I lost depth of tone. Then I painted a wash of colour to block in the variations of colours. This aids composition as the first drawing had to much foreground and not enough back ground so it was to green. I balanced the colour blocks for the next painting. This time I spent to much time on details. Then I saw an Art tutor of mine and we got talking and then I had to go home so didn’t finish the painting.

The Second visit was more successful as I took my Oil paints and 3 small square canvases. I was more prepared but should have taken a heaver pallet board as this kept flying off in a random gust of wind. Unfortunately I left my hat at home and this did give me problems with adjusting to distance of view to canvas and the light, the colours of the paint would glare in the sun light . The changing colours and tones were forever moving, but instead of getting frustrated with this constant change of perception I become selective. When the sun was bright I would take in the colours and work from memory, knowing a cloud would soon positioned itself above, darkening the perception of the landscape so I ignored this view. I think the experience and the practice of drawing a moving figure is helpful when trying to capture a changing landscape. I had to sit and wait sometimes, knowing the image I wanted to capture would soon return and I needed to be ready to capture it. The sky is very white around the seaside as its either low cloud in from the sea, or damp misty sea air and can be very moody but its mostly white and dense. I choose not to correct the paintings later in the studio, but the colours do need attention as the light outside was much harder to understand than when you see the paintings inside. For example the tree in the middle ground is very prominent so this needs toning down so to reposition it into its correct location as its sitting severally dominate.

What I learned was that I prefer a location that is private as I need to concentrate and don’t like interruptions. The place where I paint effects the work that I create; if I’m in a peaceful location, where I have all my equipment to hand, I can focus. I enjoy painting in my studio because everything has its place, its comfortable. But painting outside is enjoyable as its experiencing the moment and working within a natural environment to create and represent that experience. As a society we relay on materials to aid us with living. Artist use equipment such as as IPad and cameras to help them replicate a digital image. On the TV show called’ Sky portrait artist of the year’ we see most competitors utilize the IPad technology to help them, even though the model is sitting a few feet from them. Here we see artists experiencing the intense moment of a competition , faced with a celebrity model, being interrupted and surveyed but they feel comfort sitting along side trusted technology such as the camera. We have the opportunity to have the moment of reality and the virtual moment captured in the past as a photo, simultaneously. We live in a technological era, and are encourage to embrace it positively as we will be more fulfilled apparently. I’m very cynical about this but I identify the positive side of photos, for example, I cant expect sitters to sit till I have finished or sit for long periods on the wet grass. Technology is beneficial but cant replace the experience of creating spontaneously.