Category Archives: Projects and Exercises

P.4: Painting from a drawing


Choose a subject that is familiar to you like a corner of a room, window or a table with some objects. Make 3 drawings, tonal, linear and colour. Look for dominate colours and any effects of light that interests you, don’t get bogged down in the details. Pin the studies up, away from the subject and paint from the drawings. Its fine to use your memory to guide you. Make your painting larger but the same format such as rectangle.

  • Did the drawings provide enough information? When I enlarged the image, I found that I didn’t have any information about the floor such as shadows, tonal definition and where that related to other details in the over all picture. Because this was a drawing of an area I spend a lot of time around I was able to make it up and sometimes I wondered if I had really used the drawings as this was the 4th studies, it almost became robotic, automatic and autonomous.
  • Did you find being away from the subject allowed you more freedom to develop your painting style? For the painting , I just wanted to get the details down so used a linear style to inform the viewer I understood the surroundings. I wanted to show that I had taking in information to be able to depict a feel for a corner of a room. The colours are thinly applied and it was completed quickly like the drawings. I wanted to see the different medium within the same subject. I wasn’t concerned with experimenting with another way of painting. So I think that the freedom came from getting the painting down quickly and confidently.
  • What is your opinion of the finished painting? I like the feel of the painting because it explains a drawing in paint. This seems illustrative as a painterly style but that’s what painting is generally; illustrating a subject in the medium of paint. The bottom part of the picture trails off due to this are not being captured in the drawings. I could have worked this painting into something more than just a wash of colours but decided to leave it in a state of ‘ the start of something’.
  • I liked the idea of developing a painting from a simple drawing. From my drawings while out dog walking, I remember the trees in the park with different coloured leaves, almost like big blocks of random colours. The blobs of yellow, deep burnt reds and dark violets greens, bouncing around within the confines of the local park was something I wanted to capture in paint. My drawing wasn’t tonal or colourful, it was just a linear drawing of the trees sitting against each other with a metal fence. Because I didn’t have much information I had to work from memory and the colour blocking was inspirited but by all  the trees in the park. I started with a yellow background as this is a calming ground for me to work with and added in a dark red and blue together for the fore ground. The mid ground was blocked in colours of reds and the background was dark again which is against the law with regards aerial perspective, but by using a fat vermilion hue on the tree in the foreground , It creates a hierarchy of colour and therefore perspective. I dry brushed the grass in the foreground because it needed texture. The outcome of this painting reflects the research I have carried out so far. For example the portrait of Lytton Strachery 1914 by Henry Lamb. The colours of the massive elongated solid trees which fade away into ghostly illusions are within a calm warm colour pallet. Wassily Kandinsky paintings are representative of German expressionism and his work call ‘Autumn in Bavaria’ 1908 shows beautiful foliage distinctions between light and dark. Yellow sunlight is strong brushwork, the flesh tones of pink in the wall and the blue cool shadows explain the variety of colours found within a landscape scene.
  • Henry Lamb, ‘Lytton Strachey’ 1914

    Lytton Strachery 1914 by Henry Lamb.

  • Autumn in Bavaria, 1908 -  Wassily Kandinsky

    ‘Autumn in Bavaria’ 1908 Wassily Kandinsky

P4 ; research point; ‘Golden mean’

I have some sketches in my workbook of some examples, but I thought I would enter some more notes onto the learning log.

Painters of the Renaissance usually planned the composition of a painting on a geometric grid structure based on a triangle. A common compositional device used and has links to aesthetic values. Shapes have represented signs of feeling such as squares convey a sense of stability and compact solidity where long rectangles suggest calm.


The Golden section is a proportion in which a straight line of rectangle is divided into two unequal parts in such a  way that the ratio of the smaller to the greater part is the same as that of the greater to the whole, like the mathematical value of pi. Pi can not be expressed as a finite number , but an approximation. This is the connection of the theory being aesthetic because its similar to the laws of nature. Luca Pacioli a famous mathematician and friend of Leonardo wrote a book about it in 1509 called DIVINA PROPORTIONE.

The ‘rule of thirds’ is a characteristic of the golden mean/ ratio/ section. Where Renaissance artist placed landscape within a grid of 3 rectangles equalling 9 sections and moving the focal point into an intersection away from the centre point of the canvas. These sections such as foreground, mid-ground and background help to divide up the perspective view.

Some examples-

Due to the copyright law, I have posted these on my windows ‘notebook’, Please click on the link.

P4. EXERCISE: Creating mood and atmosphere

I started with a primary yellow background as this is a good coverage to suggest evening sun. This is what I wanted to suggest was an English garden in the evening sun, but I didn’t achieve this because; • Overworked it by trying to mix the colours on the board

• I sgraffito to let the yellow show through but it all looked far to basic, amateurish.

• I added in pencil to define shapes and details such as the arc windows in the castle.

• The lack of shadows and dull light is really hard to paint interestingly.

• Lack of depth in the perspective, both surroundings are rather close to the viewer. This then had and effect on the opacity of the colour hues, again causing concern due to dullness and flatness of overall work. My previous work was more about focusing on distance. This time I wanted an enclosed space, a feeling of being in a garden, Similar to ‘Flowering plants’ by Emil Nolde (1909).

Techniques I used

• Pencil with the details and greyness within the hard surfaces.

• Sgraffito to add texture to the surface and the show some of the lighter , brighter colour behind.

• Painting knife to blend the colours together for the foliage and grass.

• Straw and pencil for the petals of the flowers to add a dap type of paint application which is more identical compared to a brush. Impasto effect in the foreground for the flower beds.

• Poured turpentine to dull the tone of the colours and soften the edges. Similar process to Glazing.

• Used the painting knife again to add in the white to the sky. All my paintings so far are very dull in colour and typical of the English light source. Will go drawing and painting when the sun shines like in the painting of the walk ways down to the beach.

• I worked on two simultaneously as a process to help me to control my over working. When ever I got caught up on one I would switch to the other. This was interesting and kept me focused on painting.

Separated my colour pallets so I put blues and crimson on one plate and greens and primary red on the other. I find my mixing of colours can be robotic and need to remember the different colour combinations, such as red and green make a soft grey when white added. Blue and Orange make a warm brown when white added.

I would have liked to been more expressionistic and gone wild with colour and added in some collage and sprayed an ink wash over the whole thing, I have been extra conservative here and not sure why? The reason may be, that the idea of being expressive isn’t an indication to go crazy with paint. 

Finaly added in more colour to the flower beds and changed the shape of the path..

After researching German Expressionist,, I came across Gerhard Richter (1932) Work. I liked his squidgy paintings and tried this out with the photo I took on the day and decided to add some more paint and some sand to one of my previous paintings. I think it looks much more desirable and something I could do again.


P4 Research. Expressive landscape; Surrealist…

Research point.

Landscape art from the Surrealist (Dali), war time period (Paul Nash) to the German expressionists (Emil Nolde)and into the symbolist movement (Gustav Klimt).

The surrealist movement began between the world wars with one of the founders being Andre Breton (1896-1966). His definition of surrealism was “psychic automism in its pure state…Dictated by thought in the absence of any control exercised by reason exempt or moral concern.” P190 Art since 1900. Foster.

Insisting that psychic automatism could be unknowingly transcribed by a brush or pencil, Breton welcomed the uncontrolled Masson’s sand painting. Miros dripped and splattered dream pictures , Ernst trance like rubbings.

Image;Max Ernst Forest and Dove 1927. Tate © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2017

But.. The conscious state of mind can not be interpreted without the unconscious state of mind just the same as; to define up , you need to understand what down is. The states of mind are both being exposed within the surreal movement. Similar to the theory of Schrödinger’s cat where one cat is placed inside a precarious deadly box and the quantum out come is either a dead cat or an alive cat, but during the experiment, we suspect the out come for both cats. Its a paradox where the surreal statement is contradictory as it contains the states from the conscious and the unconscious that are true but not realised at the same time.  Signs are a key factor in surrealist work by the artist Dali. The understanding of the misunderstood is captured and directed by signs. Our Dreams signal to us fear, worries, apprehensions and concerns that have manifest within a conscious state to be reinterpreted in our unconscious sate of the dream. This quote taken from ‘Authentic society’ explains the signs within ‘The persistence of memory'(1931) by Dali.(1904-1989)

The ants, seemingly attacking the orange clock positioned on the rectangular table-like object perhaps indicate the anxiety associated with time… the ants simply represent the association between “work” and time. As if time, in its very short and long hands “working” throughout history of our generation and life experience just like ants who are building an ant house?

Image ; ‘The persistence of memory'(1931) by Dali.(1904-1989)


The dream interpretations are commonly associated with surrealism but the movement was much more than depicting the surreal and more to do with the psychoanalytical theories associated with Freud. The ‘Uncanny’ is how subjects tend to receive an  eerie feeling, often artist would take the familiar and replace it in an unfamiliar surrounding such as the iron below.

Image; Man Ray Cadeau 1921, editioned replica 1972 .Tate


Freud relates this eerie/ uncanny feeling to the mirror stage and to castration anxiety. These theory’s are where subjects feel safer duplicating or doubling as a way of dealing with the act of seeing and looking and then taking meaning from this experience and how this subject feels at the time. For example when boys realise girls don’t have a penis, and how they fear that castration of the phallus, and when you look into a mirror and your ego returns the look but somehow you don’t feel the same as the reflection in the mirror. Its a shell of the actual self, similar to the states of mind; the conscious being the shell and the unconscious being the inner self (the one we cant see therefore understand). The duplicating or doubling is how signs gain meaning as semiosis. Freud names them ‘presentiments’ which is where signals were registered and meaning given to them because they then became true. Such as Bretons market stall find; ‘slipper spoon’ is a doubling of his earlier request to Alberto Giacometti to sculpt a Cinderella ashtray. The two objects present the idea that Breton was unconsciously a prince searching for a mate.

Paul Nash (1889-1946)was a British surrealist and war time artist

Image; Totes Meer (DEAD SEA) is a 1941 oil on canvas

I have seen this painting at the Jerwood gallery in Hastings and it was hung on a dark toned wall. This painting at first, looks like the sea where the waves are structured against each other. The moon also is very noticeable as this informs the viewer the time of day and why the colours are glistering. When I got up closer I remember the uncanny feeling that I felt. It was sad to see all those dead and broken plans,  are they meant to represent the death of soldiers or of these war machines? These machines were created to kill and be destructive. So why feel sadden by them crashing up onto a beach. The silver grey violent sea is rather mean when you get closer and start to understand the picture. The grey metallic wet sand is being solidified or soiled by machines and war fare. The battle in this picture is between the harshness of manmade versa the organics of the sand, land and moon. Objects live on but life’s are lost. It is certainly an expressive painting and stirs up a variety of jagged feelings within the viewer.


Image; Flowering plants Emil Nolde 1909 Paint

Emil Nolde (1867-1956 )was a German / Danish painter and printmaker that love to use colour with full intensity as a technique to stir emotion. The above painting keeps the viewer very isolated within the focus of the flower bed. The big trees that surround the flowers are almost imprisoning them within the confinement of the garden. There is contrast of heat with the warmth of the colours in the foreground, contrasted to the dark foliage of the fern like trees beyond. The painting has very little perspective towards depth, hence the intimate closeness of the surroundings. I think this is an interesting painting and I like the detail of the trees and the tiny indication of a bright blue sky beyond. I can see myself referring back to this example as we have plenty of these trees in the local park that I want to paint with regards the ‘painting outside’ section in part 4. The pink and violet flowers are looking more like a sea of flower blooms and the red hot pokers or foxgloves, give structure to the flower bed. Such as contradiction to the Paul Nash painting above ,which is a sea of death, this is a gestural brushstrokes representing a swirling sea of colourful life.

From my reading of Toby Clark, he expresses a cautionary statement about selective German expressionist writings being fiercely nationalistic declarations and vaguely anti capitalism ,often expressing nostalgic images of a community spiritually unified and at one with nature. The expressionists art and lifestyle of physical sensations and passion over academia was also a sentiment shared with Nazism’s cult of action. The connections are contradictory but there is a doubling or uncanny theory associated to these claims. German expressionism was rooted in the study of ‘primitive’ art with the example of (Image)Ernst Ludwig Kirchner(1880-1938), Bathers at Mortizburg, 1909-26 oil on canvas.


There romantic view of so called primitive life echo’s Nazism’s grassroots; developed from Volkische culture which is a populist culture focused on romanticizing folklore by celebrating the past.  Josef Goebbels said that German expressionist should be embraced by the Third Reich as they represent a national spirit. But the contradicting tones of authoritarian elites and painting which is considered affiliated to the Bourgeois culture, Degenerated away from national socialism. Senior Nazis including Hitler attacked this modernist movement, even though Hitler was a painter himself.

Image; Avenue of Schloss Kammer Park Gustav Klimt 1912

Gustav is notably known for his portrait paintings which are symbols of mystical erotic which are elaborately decorated and classified as

Art Nouveau/ Symbolism. Art Nouveau is a movement where organic forms were incorporated with more angulated geometric shapes. Symbolist painters tried to give visual expression to emotional experiences. At the time when modernism was treated with trepidation and where Gauguin called the freeing of painting; ‘the shackles of probability’ (I Chilvers p.613 ). The most emotional painter around this time is Edvard Munch where his paintings pour out emotional turmoil. His use of colour ,composition, brushwork (or lack of) encourages the viewer to look further than just the layer of paint on show. The painting above was started outside but later finished in Gustav’s studio. His landscapes were not commissioned unlike his later portraits so we hope this landscape symbolises his love for painting and not the need for; money, appreciation or popularity.

Final note about Surrealism; The idea where subjects are prone to duplicate or obsessive with repetition is a doubling / uncanny theory which leads itself to the popularity of photography which is a process of copying. The copy tends replace the original as one becomes impossible to differentiate between the two. Similar to reality and the unreal or conscious thoughts and unconscious thoughts, the dead from the living. The simulacrum condition is a world of multitudes without originals, its all fictitious and questions the causation of our desire to repeat.


Oxford Dictionary of art and artist, Ian Chilvers. OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 4TH EDITION 2009

Art and Propaganda by Toby Clark . The Orion publishing group. London. 1997.

Art since 1900. Thames and Hudson. Hal Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh. London. 2004

P4. Perspective; linear & aerial

Points to remember-

  • Perspective is a method of creating an impression of 3dimentional space.
  • Traditionally we use linear or aerial methods
  • Contemporary perspectives are often bent or unusual, so keep an open mind.
  • Linear is about shapes and how they are arranged such as foreshortening.
  • Aerial is about using tone and colour , or atmospheric techniques to depict space and depth.

Please see link of a good example of the above.

Examples of Linear Perspectives. Links to Images due to copy right law.

The Avenue at Middelharnis by Meindert Hobbema. Oil on canvas, 104 × 141 cm. 1689. National Gallery, London.


The earliest photograph of the Boulevard du Temple is by Louis Daguerre (1838


In Young Man at the Window (1876), the artist’s brother René looks out at Haussmann’s new city below (Credit: Gustave Caillebottee)


Examples of Atmospheric or Aerial perspective-

Image; J.M Turner (1775-1851). Rain, steam and speed The great western railway circa 1844. Oil on canvas. Currently at National Gallery.

Grey Hills By Georgia O’Keeffe  Date: 1941  Media: oil, canvas Dimensions: 50.8 x 76.2 cm

My finished Linear painting.

To convey depth and space I used a composition with lots of light so the shadows are strong and are noticeable to add linear perspective with use of direction of light. I used the railings to structure the direction of the viewers eye. The hard and soft landscape were utilized and exploited depth, For example the railings fade away into the distance. The street furniture was great at defining the distance as the first one is much more visible than the last one. I have 2 horizon lines (if that’s possible) where the foot path heads down and then another, where it goes up to the centre right. The path that looks like it runs down to the beach is at a higher point than the fence line, this is confusing to explain but much easier to draw. The railings were tricky as the angle felt all wrong but once rubbed out and redone, it connected with the over all perspective. At first I just did what the brief said in the course work, which was to draw the lines with a brush and not get bogged down with tonal range or colours. But I liked the composition that I thought I would take it further and add to the base of the painting.


The part that doesn’t work is the cliff side to the right because its not defined enough, but this could be of the adjacent to the harsh structure of the railings and street furniture on the left. The painting seems to be slit in half . I would like to define the grass in the right hand corner but need a knife to lay some pint down in this area. I think by creating another interest in the right hand corner would keep the view in the foreground but seeing the background flowing away.

Aerial Perspective painting.



I had a lot of trouble with this painting. At first I worked in monotone from a grey scale photograph taken on a dog walk recently of the moody beach side where the clouds had become so dark and grumpy. I thought this would be a good composition for an aerial composition. I could not get the painting to work so I added some colour to it and thickly painted to add more interest. This didn’t look right either as the composition itself was all about the sky and the landscape was lacking shape and form. I then scraped all the paint off with a pallet knife and drowned it in turps and started again. In the end I used acrylic and used high saturated colours but scraped them together on the canvas as I had got annoyed with trying to mix the colours on the pallet before adding it to the canvas. The technique I think needed to be more about manipulating the paint with the knife and mixing and scraping colours in and away. I don’t need to be so precise and needed to be more expressionistic and less concerned with the details so left out the stairs  going down to the beach and a few more details and just worked on the sky, sea, beach and cliff. The sky I dragged down pure white into blue and then scraped that together. The dark moody grey to the right was the mess left behind from the previous painting. I needed some definition and tonal areas but didn’t want to get to precious so just added in pure flesh tint and portrait pink for the sandy / concrete areas. Added some dark grey in for the darkest areas as the composition seems to be lacking in tonal variation. I have a strong white sky line , blue horizon line , warm pink foreground and murky grey to the right. Its interesting but not sure I like it because it doesn’t look like anything. Both techniques are about shapes; Aerial is creating forms and Linear is about shapes with the use of line. I wasn’t able to depict the beach as a form and should have thought more about how Georgia O’Keeffe paints her mountain landscapes.


I think the first painting worked well because I used all three techniques. I used a strong use of line with the railings, the railing shadows, created a feeling of space. The colour saturation was much more intense in the foreground than in the background so I feel this was more an aerial technique of creating depth. The brief was to create a feeling of perspective so I feel the Linear exercise was more successful than the aerial exercise. I feel to combine the two traditions is the most effective was to create perspective.




References.> No copyright so link only available.>>>

Turner image ;

Please note all images were accessed on the 26. September 2017.



Hard or soft landscape? P4.2

For this exercise choose a hard landscape such as rock formations , urban landscape or a soft landscape with soft edges such as trees. Describe the view from a window or doorway and think about the size and format such as portrait or landscape. Look at how things appear to get smaller within a distance. Exploit the contrasts of colours and light on leaves , buildings and street furnature to create mood and atmosphere. If working on a soft landscape: is there any features that will draw the viewer into the picture?, are there strongly contrasted tonal areas or bright colours that make the composition interesting / intriguing ? and if you linked the colours and shapes ,that might help.

  • I live in a seaside town and I could have gone to the sea and painted a soft landscape but I’m more interested in the funny little houses that back onto mine and the hills that surround us help to add interest as the houses are like steps upto the sea.
  • With painting back gardens I have ended up with a hard and soft landscape but mostly hard.
  • I first of all drew the landscape over a couple of days to help with observation and encourage myself to see beyond what I normally see from the stair landing. I have lived here for four years and the view from this window was considered intrusive at first and  oppressive as the houses are close to our fence line but over time I find this view intringing and could look for hours as I think Iam waiting for people to appear from the boxes but hardly anyone does.
  • I then painted in water colour and found my colour pallet is far to intensive and need to buy some more faded colours for landscape.
  • The final drawings were started from the top and worked down wards which is a different process for me. I did this because the trees are in the foreground and I needed to draw them in over the top of the structures behind. This helped when I came to paint the canvass as the first layer of oil was to get the structure of the composition down and then the tonal colours so I left out the trees and shrubs till another couple of days while waiting for the first layer to. Dry.
  • The painting at first was painted on an A4 canvas and the colours I used were very woody and I left the white background AS A SIGHT LINE ALONG THE ROOF TOPS.
  • I later changed this lack of variation ,  dominated by Browns and reds and added in blue greys and more white grey. The evening sun was what I was trying to represent but the tonal variations are to stark and the distant buildings are bland, but I like this pink colour as this is an evening colour.
  • I think I need to work the leaves on the tree where the sun hits them on one side only and I haven’t yet given that much attention.  My tutor said to review the details but also not to over work my paintings, this is much more diffulcult to do in pratice as the fine details are sometimes just the smallest of line or mark is needed and to many gives the affect of   An amateur painting.

View from a window or doorway. P4.1

Choose a view into the world, think about- • How much interior to include.

 • What will be the main focus.

 • The view will be from the position you sit at, your sight line. 

 • Think about the time of day and natural light casting on the subject.

 • Think about the mood and atmosphere of the purpose and composition.

 • Either use the window/door frame within the composition or as a frame for the composition.

 • Look to other artist for help…..

 • Rahul Dufy (sunny colourful Mediterranean scenes), Gwen John (contrasts of within and emptiness) and Edward Hopper (the way he calms the natural with the man made allowing them to connect and depict atmospheric isolation) are suggestions from the course work. 

 • Using a window / door frame at an angle helps to achieve pictorial space.
After reading my last tutors report I considered to work freely, loose and not concern myself to much with the brief as I feel this may be why I am ‘over working’ my paintings. So I decided to sit down at my easel and just look up out the window and start painting what I saw. This was more about concentrating on observation because I have seen this view so many times, I realised I was painting what I though was there but not really looking and trying to get the angles, tonal variation and scale correct. I didn’t want to paint every leaf so went for a wash of colour so used a very diluted oil with a large brush and cloth after I had drawn the composition in oil sticks. This was a good exercise at encouraging me to be less delicate and more courageous. I got 3 A2 size sheets ready to work, I intended to log different approaches to the same subject so creating a number of studies. This was good at getting me to move onto the next sheet and not get to focused on one painting. I’m really concerned about the comment that my work becomes ‘over worked’. Knowing when to stop is a problem for me as I feel what makes a really good painting (like what the masters created) are not done in an afternoon but over many months and sometimes a year. That is not ‘over working’ like what my tutor suggested but could mean the same thing. 

The second painting was given a Naples Yellow ground which is what I learned from some contextual research of Alfred Sisley 1839-1899. The use of the yellow allows other colours to gain a luminous effect like snow. There is a lack of tonal variation within this painting but I also feel it captures my small corner view of the deck chair and umbrella with the afternoon sun.

After this I wanted to experiment with other colour grounds so put down a light wash of Indigo mixed with titanium white. Here I was working from dark to light grounds so I used the Humbrol Enamel paint which I only have 4 colours (yellow, orange, blue and green gloss) which sit on top of the paper like a metal paint and they take along time to dry, they don’t wash well (on the paper or via a tap) but they radiate a gloss and depth of colour. This time I added the wall behind the fence which gives a feel of imprisonment to the mood of the painting. A lack of light in this painting gives the feeling of late winter but it’s early spring. All compositions capture the view from my window as I look UP into the garden which I think is different than looking out onto a view. The viewpoint looks up the skirt of the umbrella and the chair is given prime location, throwing the trees behind and the fence then the wall so I think a pictorial space has been directed without the use of an angled window or door frame.