Practice of Painting Research

         Part One ~ What Paint Can Do

Project ~ Transparent & Opaque


Over laying washes Research

During working on the ‘over laying washes’ exercises I looked at Mark Rothko’s work which was interesting in a way that the coloured layers of his abstract paintings would bounce slightly – one moment one colour would come forward and the other colour recede and then they would swap.

Mark Rothko ~ Seagram Murals

Mark Rothko Seagram murals
Mark Rothko ~ Red on Maroon, Oil on canvas, 1959 ~ Tate.

Rothko notes
Notes made while listening to Tate’s audio of Rothko’s Seagram Murals.


Project ~ Working on different Coloured Grounds

Chiaroscuro (research point)

Originated from the Renaissance ‘Chiaroscuro’ was originally a technique of drawing on coloured paper with light tones with gouache and dark tones with ink. Chiaroscuro is mainly known for the use of contrasting light and dark in paintings and drawings. Good examples of chiaroscuro can be seen in the religious paintings of Caravaggio.

Caravaggio’s ‘Calling of Saint Matthew’ 1599–1600 – oil, shows the contrast between light and dark really well. The darkness of the figures legs disappear into the shadows of the room and under the table. It is only the lit parts of the figures legs, facial features and bodies that define the characters in the painting.

Caravaggio has used contrasting light to highlight the characters depicting the story of a group of tax collectors seated around a table with St Mathew in the middle being chosen by Christ who is on the right of the painting slightly obscured by St Peter (a rugged character). St Mathew is the bearded character sitting in the middle pointing to himself as though to say “who, me?) He is surrounded by much younger figures counting money in a dark room, perhaps a tavern. Christ is depicted here in a contemporary place compared to a biblical composition portraying heaven. The hand of Christ is very similar in style to Michelangelo’s ‘Adam’ giving a spiritual notion to this Baroque painting.

Calling of st matthew ~ caravaggio
Caravaggio’s ‘Calling of Saint Matthew’ 1599–1600 – oil.

Jacopo Tintoretto (1518 – 1594)

Jacopo Tintoretto
‘The Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple’ ~ 1553 – 1556 by Tintoretto

‘The Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple’ ~ 1553 – 1556 by Tintoretto shows light to represent the young Mary’s climb up the fifteen (number of the Psalms) highly decorated stairs and up to the Priest waiting for her up at the top. The light is continued in the colour and light of the clouds reflecting that of the stairs. The light in comparison to the darkness on the left of the painting is guiding the eye up to the top right of the canvas following the path of Mary in the drama of her arrival to the temple in Jerusalem aged only three.


Finding the body of St Mark - 1562 Tintorreto
‘Finding the Body of St Mark ~ 1562 by Tintoretto

Tintoretto’s ‘Finding the Body of St Mark’ displays chiaroscuro effects to highlight the drama of the finding the body of St Mark in a renaissance cemetery. The Venetians retrieved the body of St Mark, patron saint of Venice from Alexandria, Egypt where he died in the 9th Century and brought him back to Venice. Tintoretto has painted his body to the left foreshortened on the rug in a very light colour to highlight further. There are figures pulling bodies from the tombs in the crypt to the right and figures possessed as demons while a female figure tries to leave the scene to the right. The lit drama is set against a backdrop of darkness showing the scale of the Venetian building in high renaissance style, presenting scale, light and colour as well as perspective where the eye is drawn into the painting’s vanishing point in line with the standing figure of St Mark on the left.



'The Night Watch' Rembrandt
‘The Night Watch’ Oil on Canvas (363 cm × 437 cm) by Rembrandt, 1642.

Rembrandt’s painting called ‘The Night Watch’ is one of the most famous of the Dutch Golden Age paintings. The use of yellow in the costumes of the male figure and the girl to the left highlight these figures from the darkness of the surrounding scene, (Yellow resembles victory) The contrasting light has been focused on the central two figures where the painting gets it’s title.

Joseph Wright of Derby

Two boys with a bladder - Joseph Wright of Derby
‘Two boys with a bladder’, 1768-70.  – Joseph Wright of Derby.

The ‘Two Boys with a Bladder’ is one of Joseph Wright of Derby’s candle light paintings. The luminosity of the boy on the left has a beautiful radiant quality which stands out from the intense black of the background. This example of chiaroscuro shows how much information within a composition can be given with only a small part of the lit areas of the figures. I did wonder at first what the boys were playing with and what bladder it was. “The pig’s bladder was commonly used by children as a toy balloon, and, when depicted in art, represented the fragility of existence.” (Gleadell, 2020)




Close To Home Research

Project ~  Understanding Colour

Research Point 1

“The French colourist Michel-Eugene Chevreul published ‘The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colours and their Application to the Arts’ in 1839 in France and 1854 in Britain.” (OCA, Course 2017). Chevreul’s colour theories influenced many of the impressionist and post impressionist artists such a Van Gogh, Seurat, Gauguin, Pissarro, and Signac. The impressionists lay dots and defined brush stokes of complimentary colours next to each other to create light and movement. Good examples of this are ‘Cafe Terrace at Night’ 1888 by Van Gogh where, here has used the complimentary colour of yellow to show the light reflecting from the cafe against the night sky. The cobbles of the street are warm in tone created by many brush strokes of pale lilac, orange, blue and cream. ‘Starry Night Over Rhone’,  1888 by Van Gogh is amazing in the richness of colours where the stars in the night sky really do shine out of the canvas. I saw this painting last summer at the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. The reflected light on the river is painted in a bright cadmium yellow and there is a glow surrounding the stars. When viewed up closely the stars become flowers with the delicate brush strokes Van Gogh has created.

Cafe Terrace at night 1888 Van Gogh
Cafe Terrace at night 1888 Van Gogh.
Starry Night Over Rhone 1888 Van Gogh
Starry Night Over Rhone 1888 Van Gogh.


Project ~ Still Life

Research Point 2

Still Life in the 17th Century

Researching 17th Century Dutch Still Life and Flower Painters, and I have just come across these beautiful tulips. When I research historical paintings I tend to look up the National Galleries first. So found some good references on the National Gallery website. These exotic tulips demanded high prices during a high culture that admired the exotic and unusual. Originally from Turkey the tulips below were sent to the Netherlands now famously known for growing tulips. The paintings below are quite exquisite in detail against a black background. By the mid 1630s the popularity of tulips and the rising prices grew into ‘tulip mania’. (The National Gallery, 2020).

Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1609–10

Flowers in a Glass Vase, 1609–10 - 17th century Artists

Flowers in a vase - Paulus Theodorus van Brussel

Flowers in a vase - Paulus Theodorus van Brussel detail
Paulus Theodorus Van Brussel ‘Flowers in a vase’, 1792, oil on Mahogany.

These 17th and 18th century paintings have an amazing amount of detail and photo realist qualities. I’m not usually drawn to these artists personally or of this style of painting, however I do appreciate the talent and skilful technique involved to create such detailed and realistic paintings. Many of these still life paintings include insects such as bees, butterflies and caterpillars. I wondered if there is any significance at all, whether it is a form of symbolism or a fashion of that time when collections of insects became popular in the cabinet culture. Although maybe this culture was later during the late 1800s. A still life of flowers could be considered as a form or Vanitas  being “a symbolic work of art showing the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death, often contrasting symbols of wealth and symbols of ephemerality and death.” (Tate, 2020)

The bee in ‘Flowers in a Vase’ painting symbolises the fragility of life and of sacrifice as the queen bee is known to sacrifice herself in order to save the hive. The bee as well as the ant symbolises the meaning of community and team work for success.



“Inanimate objects such as fruit, flowers, food and everyday items are painted as the main focus of interest in still lifes. The term derives from the Dutch ‘stilleven’, which became current from about 1650 as a collective name for this type of subject matter.Still life painting – later called ‘natures mortes’ was particularly popular in the Netherlands during the 17th century and was often associated with material decay and the futility of worldly life. Still lifes with this interpretation are known as ‘Vanitas’ or ‘Memento Mori’. Though losing most of this symbolism still life has remained a popular subject with artists to this day.” (The National Gallery, 2020).

Still life in the 19th Century

Still Life with Magoes, Guaguin 1893
Still Life with Mangoes by Paul Gauguin,1893

Paul Gauguin is one of my favourite artists due to his primitive style and colours. I love the rich colours in this still life. Even though they are rich they are also muted at the same time which I find intriguing. I think if I was to try to recreate this colour pallet it would be very difficult. There are complimentary colours to the top right of the composition as well of blue and green hues which brings the painting to life against the hot reds and orange tones. Gauguin used to paint still life paintings in between his famous figurative paintings. He would do a still life while working on his larger pieces of work to give himself a break. (, 2020).

This painting has a style very similar to that of Cezanne. Outlines around the objects are evident and they have both treated the white dish in the same way with a heavy outline. The colours are of neutral hues in parts of the composition and also include complementary colours of yellow and oranges in the front of the still life.

Table, Napkin, and Fruit (A Corner of the Table) Cezanne 1895-1900
Table, Napkin, and Fruit (A Corner of the Table), Cezanne, (1895-1900)

I like this composition very much with the fruit strewn across the table draped in cloth and with the white dish on  a tilt creates a loose style together with a loose style of painting compared to the rigid precise style of the Dutch Seventeenth Century painters.

“After studying Dutch and French Old Master still life painting at the Louvre and other Parisian galleries, Cézanne formulated his own semi-sculptural approach to still life. Typically strewn across an upturned tabletop, Cézanne’s pears, peaches, and other pictorial elements seem at once to rest on a solid, wooden plank and yet float across the surface of the canvas like a new kind of calligraphy. As if to press home that point, Cézanne typically includes chairs, wooden screens, water pitchers, and wine bottles to suggest that the gaze of the viewer rise vertically up the canvas, rather than plunge deep within any implied corner of a real kitchen.” (Anon, 2020).

Still life in the 20th Century

Violin and Palette, Georges Braque, 1909
Violin and Palette, Georges Braque, 1909.

In the early 20th Century the art movement of Cubism formed by artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque around 1907–08. Cubism was a new and brave approach to still life and larger compositions where the artist would abandon the single perspective view point to create many different views and angles in planes overlapping and inter-locking into an abstract painting. Georges Braque has created a repetition of elements of the violin such as the strings and the curves of the violin main shape in ‘Violin and Palette’. To make it more abstract Braque has flattened the spaces and shapes by muting the colours into neutral greys and browns.

“By 1909, Picasso and Braque were collaborating, painting largely interior scenes that included references to music, such as musical instruments or sheet music. In this early example of Analytic Cubism, Braque was experimenting further with shallow spacing by reducing the colour palette to neutral browns and greys that further flatten out the space. The piece is also indicative of Braque’s attempts to show the same item from different points of view.” (Anon, 2020).

Still life with chair caning, Pablo Picasso, 1912
Still life with chair caning, Pablo Picasso, 1912

‘Still Life with Chair Caning’ by Picasso intrigues me. At first I thought the chair caning was real, however from watching the Khanacademy video I realise that the imagery of the chair caning is actually a reproduction and glued onto the background of the painting. It is described as a fragmented piece of work where Picasso was playing with space to create this still life. There are elements of the still life that can be seen if you look carefully; and these are items that would perhaps be seen on a Parisian cafe table. There is a wine glass in the middle of the top half of the composition where you can see the base, stem and bowl of the glass, although they are all at different angles. There is a lemon slice and shapes that resemble the knife cutting the lemon. The letters ‘Jou’ could be the title of a ‘Journal’ newspaper folded on the table. The white line across these letters look as though it could be a pipe, and there is a napkin folded to the right. The whole composition is held together with rope to give it an impression that Picasso intended this piece to be a glass table top with the still life items on top and the chair caning is in fact underneath the table top.

Contemporary Still Life

Charles Hardaker ~ still life with five objects
Charles Hardaker ~ still life with five objects, Oil.
Charles Hardaker ~ Still life with three objects
Charles Hardaker ~ still life with three objects, oil.

Still life is still a popular genre today. Many contemporary galleries display and sell very modern pieces of art that are of every day domestic objects, flowers, vases, fruit etc. I was drawn to this artist above because of his treatment of composition and the neutral colours. There is light and space within the composition which I like. The first one shows that the jug is on a table with the shadows and tones of paint without defining a definite line. The hanging objects give depth to the painting and gives the viewer that they are hanging behind the table on a wall. The texture of the painting I like as well with textured but at the same time soft brush marks.

Still life with table and enamel jug ~ Kate Strachan
Still life with table and enamel jug, Acrylic on canvas ~ Kate Strachan.

Another contemporary artist, Kate Strachan works in still life of domestic objects. I like this painting style very mush too due to the bold painting style with broader brush marks. This could be because she is working in acrylics rather than oils; oils blend more easily than acrylic. This particular piece reminds me of Cezanne’s still life paintings in terms of composition. The table is very much part of the painting and there are outlines defining the objects giving them depth.


Project ~ Colour Relationships

Research Point 3

Optical effects have been exploited by many artists to create movement and depict the effects of light. The Impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Neo- Impressionists – in particular the Pointillists, Seurat and Signac – made full use of the new understanding of the nature of human perception.” (OCA, Practice of Painting). The placement of colours next to each other would create an optical effect such as a yellow mark next to red or pink mark would optically create the colour orange from a distance. This is clear to see in the work of Seurat. ‘Bathers at Asnieres’ where looking closely tiny brush marks can be seen showing a whole range of individual colours that optically create a whole colour (optical mixing).

Bathers at Asnieres, 1884. George Seurat
Bathers at Asnieres, oil, 1884. George Seurat.
Detail from Seurat's - boys hat 'Bathers at Asnieres'
Detail from Seurat’s – boys hat ‘Bathers at Asnieres’.

In this picture you can see the warm tones of the boy’s flesh mixed up of tiny marks of red, oranges, blue hues (for shadows) and white. The orange hat is optically mixed with orange, blue and yellow hues and with these warm colours including his shorts these are complimentary colours against the blue of the water behind. The orange of the hat and the warm flesh tones make the blue intensify.

Detail from Seurat's 'Bathers at Asnieres'
Detail from Seurat’s ‘Bathers at Asnieres’. 1884.

This boat scene shows again the large range of colours painted next to each other including complimentary colours to create contrasts and movement within the painting. Blues, greens and burnt sienna crete the tone of the boat and the water while red, orange and blue colours crete the warm complimentary colours for the clothing and the flag in the boat and its reflection.


Optical Art ~ Bridget Riley

I’d seen Bridget Riley’s work before in the Tate, however it wasn’t the kind of work I was usually drawn to. Looking now though and after the exercises of gradient tones of black, grey and whites I noticed her work ‘ Hesitate’ which was a piece from her series of six paintings painted in 1964. ‘Hesitate’ represents a landscape in comparison to another piece based on the figure. I like the way this painting moves as you look at it, each time changing direction. This is cleverly created with the full circles and narrowing elipse shapes distorting gradually along with the graduated tones of black through mid greys to very light grey. It can be seen that the white background even looks slightly darker surrounding the lightest tone of silver grey. Next time I visit the Tate I shall have a closer look.

Bridget Riley 'Hesitate' 1964
Bridget Riley ‘Hesitate’ 1964.

Bridget Riley is an English artist born in 1931 and studied at

“Riley began to paint pure geometric abstract canvases in 1961. Her first works were painted in a black and white palette and were concerned with variations in shape rather than tone. This period of the artist’s op art practice is represented in Tate’s collection by Fall 1963 (Tate T00616).” (Tate, 2020)

Bridget Riley, artworks Tate

Project ~ Drawing and Painting Interiors

Research Point Four

Often referred to as ‘genre’ paintings, the Seventeenth-century Dutch painters focused on domestic interiors which became popular amongst the middle classes of the most affluent country in Europe. Often the painting consisted of women reading, writing, caring for the family and preparing food. They were perhaps mundane themes but were to convey harmony and spirituality of home life. Some of the paintings didn’t always include people but were about the space and focused in on some objects to reflect the people who lived in that space.

‘The Milk Maid’ Johannes Vermeer

'The Milk Maid' Johannes Vermeer 1658-1660 copy
‘The Milk Maid’ Johannes Vermeer 1658-1660.

I quite like this painting of Vermeer’s ‘Milk Maid’ painted 1658 ~ 1660; it gives us an idea of what it was like living in the Seventeenth Century. Preparing food in those days would have taken a lot longer than it does today where everything had to be prepared from scratch. Domestic activities such as these were perhaps a big part of the maid’s day and has become the subject for Vermeer’s painting.  I was first of all drawn in by the light on the light grey wall and they way the maid is taking great care in pouring the milk and I noticed how her sleeves are rolled up which doesn’t look very feminine. I noticed how the wall was extremely light especially being away from the window and the immediate area around the window is fairly dark. I wondered also what is she doing with the milk? She’s making a cheap bread porridge made from dry stale bread which was filling and made good use of food.

“… mature works by Vermeer, his “milkmaid” exudes a very earthy appeal, with her pushed-up sleeves (revealing pale skin normally covered), her ample form (similar to that of women in slightly earlier works by Rubens), and her faint smile. For a male viewer of the time (in this case, Vermeer’s patron Pieter van Ruijven), the hints of sexuality would have given the painting an element of fantasy as subtle as the shadows on the whitewashed walls.” (, 2020).
She does come across as ‘earthy’ to me and I like the way the whole painting seems to look this way. I like the golden top of her dress and the rich royal blue of her skirt. There are objects in the painting which give hints of what life was like for her such as the little box on the floor is a foot warmer which had coal inside it. I can imagine her sitting and resting her feet on it in a period when she could rest.

‘View of an Interior’ Samuel Van Hoogstraten

Samuel van Hoogstraten - 'View of an interior' 1627-1678 copy
Samuel van Hoogstraten – ‘View of an interior’ or ‘The Slippers’ 1627-1678

This interior painting intrigues me, firstly by the colours and then the light central to the painting which draws us in. I like the rich terracotta colour which sits well with the light green grey hue and the rich yellow ochre in the lit room. I like that even though there is no figure in the painting it is evident that there is activity. This painting almost has a voyeuristic feel to it as though we are standing in the nearest room waiting for someone to come through the open door. There are slippers by the door in the hall way where someone has just entered the room, so that person who ever it is is still in there. Perhaps they are paying their respects as it looks like a place of worship with the dressed table and candle. Although keys are still in the keyhole of the door so it may be a quick visit.

This painting displays great perspective through the separate areas of space and the light draws the viewer in. The perspective is created by the view angle as though the artist is standing and the pattern of the tiles distort as they go further away; it’s rather like Bridget Riley’s optical illusion work such as ‘Hesitate’.

‘The Orange Blind’ – Interior, c.1928, Francis Campbell Cadell

 'The Orange Blind' c.1928, by Francis Cadell
‘The Orange Blind’ – Interior, c.1928, by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

I first came across this interior painting while I was working on my ‘Drawing Skills’ unit and it has stuck in my mind for this module. I was drawn to this painting by the striking orange through the middle of the painting. The chandelier light interests me in the painting and the light across the foreground of the painting in comparison to the darker shades in the room. The figure is also very dark in her clothing and she’s sitting there patiently waiting. This inspires me more to look a chandeliers in paintings.

Henri Matisse Interiors

'Gold fish' 1912 ~ Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse ~ Les poissons rouges (Interior with a Goldfish Bowl), 1914 

‘Interior with a gold fish bowl’ has been one of my favourite paintings for many years. I love the use of colour in flat geometric shapes. The furniture is fairly chunky in the way Matisse has painted it, and I love the view of the Parisian roof tops from his apartment. Well I’m assuming it was Matisse’s home and indeed his gold fish. The Gold fish bowl on the table is the focal point which leads the eye to the window. I love the warmth of the pinks and yellows set against the deep blues of the interior and I like the way the balcony wrought iron divides the painting leading the eye through the window. Matisse did many window paintings; there is a comprehensive book on and a theme of goldfish paintings.

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard 'Dining Room on the Green' 1934~35
Pierre Bonnard ‘Dining Room on the Green’ 1934~35.

Pierre Bonnard painted over sixty dining room scene paintings which I’ve seen a few over the years visiting galleries and I am always drawn to his work because of the vibrant colours. Bonnard’s work is reminiscent of Gauguin’s in terms of the use of rich colour and the arrangement of objects and the perspective is quite naive. The composition is quite flat and broken up into separate spaces making the painting quite abstract. I really do enjoy this painting because of the vibrant complimentary colours and also the movement in the brush strokes.

Research Point 5

Linear perspective is how a view point of an object, building or an outdoor scene reduces in size and disappears into the distance as it goes further away from the viewer. Linear lines when they converge together at eye level or on the horizon line is known as the ‘vanishing point’. Researching linear perspective I came across a Khan video  ‘An introduction to Filippo Brunelleschi’s experiment regarding linear perspective, c. 1420, in front of the Baptistry in Florence’. It is said that Brunelleschi discovered the technique of linear perspective, however scholars discuss whether linear perspective was used in the  ancient world. 

Linear Perspective ~ Brunelleschi

It is good to see the sketch below in comparison to the actual photo of Santo Spirito, as you can see the linear lines as you look along the lines of the building as the disappear to the vanishing point.

Brunelleschi, elevation of Santo Spirito, 1434-83, Florence
Brunelleschi, elevation of Santo Spirito, 1434-83, Florence.
Brunelleschi, elevation of Santo Spirito, 1434-83 ~ Florence
Photo of Brunelleschi, elevation of Santo Spirito, 1434-83 ~ Florence.


Part 3 ~ Portrait and Figure

Research Point 1 ~ Artists self portraits

The first artists self portrait I’ve chosen belongs to Amedeo Modigliani (12-07-1884 ~ 24-01-1920) an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor famous for his style of elongated necks and faces. I’ve alway been an admirer of Modigliani’s work as I like the treatment of his figurative paintings with the bold composition and rich colours. I was initially drawn to this artist for his sculptures at the time when I was in my twenties. I liked the elongated faces carved in stone which resembled african masks which many artists during that period were influenced by. Modigliani’s passion for sculpture is carried through to his paintings where the posture and composition of the paintings take on a sculptural presence.

Modigliani has depicted himself as an artist in this self portrait as he holds his brushes and palette sitting as though in front of his easel. It was painted a year before his death and shows a calmness to his pose and hollow cheeks depicting his bad health. Modigliani suffered from Tuberculosis and eventually died from the illness. He was inspired by cezanne which can be seen with the outlines around the objects and subject. This portrait is a good example of his colour palette; he often used rich deep red and yellow ochre hues complimented with blue.

Modigliani - Self-portrait, 1919, oil on canvas
Self-Portrait, by Amedeo Modigliani, 1919. oil on canvas.

Frida Kahlo’s ‘self portrait in a velvet dress’ is my next choice as I like Frida Kahlo’s work. Frida was a Mexican born artist (1907-1954) who following a bus accident caused her life changing injuries that inspired her to paint. This portrait is her first serious piece of work and a more restful painting compared to her later works portraying pain and suffering. Frida’s intentions of this self portrait was to win back the love of her student boyfriend Alejandro Gumez Arias who had left her. Being inspired by Renaissance art at the time Frida painted it is reflected in her pose and regal feeling of the painting. The graceful hand and the deep red and purple hues resemble some of Parmigianino’s paintings. The long neck is quite similar to Modigliani’s portraits which is perhaps why I was drawn to it.

Frida Kahlo 'Self portrait in a velvet dress' 1926
Frida Kahlo ‘Self Portrait in a velvet dress’ 1926.  oils.

I looked at artists from an earlier period of the Seventeenth Century and I found I was drawn to this one as it looks quite contemporary due to it’s composition of a female painter in action rather than sitting and in a concentrated pose. Being a female subject too is unusual for this period as it was very rare for a female artist to be recognised for her skills and talent.  Artemisia Gentileschi was invited to London in 1638 by Charles I, to join her father Orazio Gentilieschi when this portrait was painted. Her self portrait shows her holding a brush in one hand and a palette in the other. The artist portrays herself as a beautiful woman, with dishevelled black hair and her figure twisting while she paints. There’s a skull or mask hanging from her neck which I’m drawn to as it doesn’t look very feminine. It’s very modern  I think for such an early period (painted in 1638-39). Initially this painting made me question whether the figure was actually female or a male artist dressed as a woman, mainly because there weren’t many female artists then but also because of her stance and the way her forearms are exposed and she’s really getting into her work. I like the colours and the textures of the background in comparison to the sheen of the dark green taffeta dress. Also the effect of chiaroscuro to highlight the artists fair skin and her emotion while she paints.

Artemisia Gentileschi – Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638-39)

I visited the ‘Van Gogh and Britain’ exhibition last summer, 2019 at Tate Britain, which was very good. The exhibition explained he suffered with depression and mental illness which became more significant in his later famous paintings.

The self portrait (below) I studied for some time stood in front of it and I felt I was starting to know what he really looked like. He looks very serious and stern in this rich portrait of deep colours. He was representing himself as a modern hard working man. This particular portrait looks traditional in painting style compared to his other bright brash colourful paintings such as the next one below. Van Gogh made thirty-five self portraits in his life time.

Van Gogh - Self Portrait with Felt Hat
Van Gogh – Self Portrait with Felt Hat. Oil, 1886~1887.

The portrait below is perhaps more representational to how most people know Van Gogh’s style with a mix of vibrant brush strokes that can be defined easily in his painterly manner.

Van Gogh - Self Portrait
Van Gogh, ‘Self Portrait’, Oil on canvas. 1887. Van Gogh Museum.

Gauguin’s self portrait shows himself in front of a highly decorative wall paper and a portrait of Emile Bernard (painted by Van Gogh). Gauguin is portraying himself as a hero from a Victor Hugo’s novel ‘Les Miserables’ as he had pulled him self away from normal society and into a quiet life in the south of France; he saw himself as a bit of a hero and an individual person. He was in touch with Van Gogh and Emile Bernard who both lived in the north of France. Gauguin described this self portrait in a letter to Van Gogh as an abstract because of it’s composition and colours. It was also thought of as abstract at that time because it was seen as unfinished and was painted with brash bold colours.

Self Portrait of Emile Bernard, 1887. Gauguin
Self Portrait with Emile Bernard  (Les Miserables) ~ Gauguin, 1887.
Vincent Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers, Guaguin, 1888
Vincent Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers ~ Paul Gauguin. 1888.

Above is a portrait of Vincent Van Gogh painting his sunflowers in the South of France, painted by Gauguin. I like this very much because of the colours and composition and also it tells a story and shows us Van Gogh painting the flowers which have become so famous.

Van Gogh had an idea inspired by the Japanese wood block artists who exchanged their prints, and so he and his group of artists exchanged their self portraits. Artists often felt isolated in their studios and this was a good way of connecting. (2020)


Contemporary artist Jenny Saville’s work, I’ve always admired, for it’s honesty. I like her application of paint with layers of heavy paint to portray the human flesh in it’s real sense. Saville’s work isn’t about producing pretty or beautiful pieces of work; her work focuses on the real figure highlighting blemishes and the not so perfect overweight figures including herself. Jenny Saville’s work is questioning the pressures of beauty in society. The portrait below ‘Bottom’ I saw at the Saatchi  Gallery a very long time ago and I remember noticing how the marks of the bra and nickers imprinted into the flesh were created by the paint being dug into and scraped away to reveal the brown tone underneath. Saville’s palette I like as well which is fresh with white, pinks and pale purple hues.

Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville 'Propped' 1992
‘Propped’ by Jenny Saville, 1992. Oil.


Research Point 2

Fauvism is a movement that inspires me in terms of the use of colour and being able to express feeling and mood. It takes away the pressure to create a realistic likeness in a portrait and more about conveying a mood or atmosphere. Below are paintings by Henri Matisse  who I like for the abstract in his compositions and the bright colours.

Henri Matisse - Woman with the Hat, Paris - 1904-5
Henri Matisse – Woman with the Hat, Paris – 1904-5. Oil
Portrait of Madame Matisse (Matisse's wife) 1913
Portrait of Madame Matisse (Matisse’s wife) 1913.
Screen Shot 2020-03-26 at 15.17.34
Open Window, Collioure ~ Henri Matisse

I know this painting isn’t a portrait but I do like it for it’s naive painterly qualities and the complimentary colours although some do clash and vibrate.

Andre Durain

André Derain - Woman in a Chemise
André Derain – Woman in a Chemise

Andre Derain was a sculptor and painter and co-founder of Fauvism with Henri Matisse. ‘Woman in a Chemise’ is a good example of paintings created in the Fauvism movement. The blocks of colour are separated across the canvas along with the complimentary colours of blue, orange and yellow ochre. I like the stance of this figure which is quite alluring as she stares out at the viewer and in her pose. The proportions of the figure are out such as the size of her left hand, but we are able to get the mood and atmosphere from this painting.

Pablo Picasso ‘ The Blue period’

Picasso’s ‘Blue Period’ lasted from 1901 ~ 1904 where he was in a state of depression following the suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas and he was also desolate. These circumstances influenced Picasso’s work as he painted subdued figures in deep blue, black and grey tones. After the Blue Period came Picasso’s Rose Period and then followed by the Cubism movement.

I think it is evident in the composition of ‘The Old Guitarist’ already Picasso’s style for Cubism in development .

The Old Guitarist ~ Pable Picasso (1903-1904)
The Old Guitarist ~ Pablo Picasso. 1903 ~ 1904.
Woman Ironing ~ Pablo Picasso - 1904
Woman Ironing ~ Pablo Picasso – 1904.

‘Woman Ironing’ I remember seeing at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2006) an at the time I liked the gentleness of the tired looking figure. This is another work during Picasso’s Blue Period. It’s very similar in composition to ‘The Old Guitarist’ in the position of the figures heads, both hung low in depression and angular backs representing the heaviness they are both carrying.


Research Point 3

The first painting I’m choosing is David Hockney’s ‘Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy’ because it is the most striking interior painting that has stuck in my mind since I was very young. I’ve always liked it’s simplicity although at the same time it is very realistic. Hockney often painted imaginary couples or painted his friends but then giving them in the subject of the painting different names. Hockney has painted his friends dress designer Ossie Clark and the fabric designer Celia Birtwell as ‘Mr & Mrs Clark’. Hockney was their best man at their wedding and painted this double portrait in their Notting Hill home.

I like the balustrade through the window being the initial focal point which draws the viewer into the room and into the gaze of Mr & Mrs Clark.  Also it is a good reflection of that period capturing the fashion in clothing and decor of the late 60s and early 70s.

Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy
‘Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy’  ~ David Hockney.

Very different in contrast to David Hockney’s interior painting is Matisse’s ‘Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Background’ 1925, which I like because of the heavy pattern and the painterly qualities. The female figure is extremely angular and is sitting like a statue against the patterned background. During that period many travelled to various countries including Africa, India and Europe and brought back artefacts that influenced the artists. Matisse has painted a design from a decorative rug or tapestry and the figure could be influenced by a carving. I like the randomly placed bowl of lemons as well in front of the figure.

Decorative figure on an ornamental background ~ Matisse 1925
Decorative figure on an ornamental background ~ Matisse. 1925.


Part 4 ~ Looking Out

Project ~ From inside looking out

Gwen John is one of the suggested artists to look at who I hadn’t heard of before. My initial impression is that her paintings look quite gloomy with muted tones of greys, blues and ochre. They look lonely as many of the paintings don’t have a figure and even the ones with a figure present gives the impression of loneliness. I picked this image ‘A Corner of the Artist’s Room in Paris (with Open Window)’ as I liked the table in front of the window but also found an article in the Independent Culture Arts section about the artist and the significance of this room.

Gwen John was a Welsh artist who studied at the Slade School of Art, London and then went to Paris where she met the famous artist and sculptor Auguste Rodin. Gwen John became his model and soon fell in love with the sculptor. As their affair started to decline Gwen took solitude in her room as it was the place where she felt her self.

Gwen John wrote to Rodin “My room is so delicious after a whole day outside, it seems to me that I am not myself except in my room.” (Hubbard S,, 2009).

Gwen John 'A corner of artists room in Paris ~ 1907-1909
Gwen John ‘A corner of artists room in Paris ~ 1907-1909

Raoul Dufy ‘s bright and brash paintings are full of energetic brush strokes and calligraphic lines portraying lively scenes. They are very similar to the works of Matisse, where the use of vibrating colour fill the canvas of abstract shapes and pattern. There are similarities in that Dufy also experienced the Fauvism movement and this can be seen in his paintings. The Fauvist artists liked to express feeling through bright clashing colour and drawn brush stokes.

Raoul Dufy ~ Interior with open window (1928)
Raoul Dufy ~ Interior with open window (1928)
Raoul Dufy 'Le Champ de blé' (the wheatfield) 1929
Raoul Dufy ‘Le Champ de blé’ (The Wheatfield) (1929)
Raoul Dufy
Raoul Dufy

Edward Hopper’s paintings are interesting to me as they portray a sense of stillness and calm. There is a sense of loneliness in his paintings because of the empty streets of buildings and even if there are a couple of people or just the one there is still that feeling of isolation. Seems quite appropriate looking at Hoppers paintings in this period of Covid-19 lockdown and isolation. I like the flatness of the colour blocks creating the inside of rooms and the composition structure to Hoppers paintings.

Edward Hopper 'Room in Brooklyn' 1932
Edward Hopper ‘Room in Brooklyn’ 1932

Learning the nature of oil painting

I set out to learn to paint with oils during this course and started exploring with them in part 3 ~ Portrait & Figure. I love the way the oils stay moist for a few days so I can return to my work and continue and add other hues to the paint already laid. My tutor Ilsa explained how the oils remain ‘open’ for longer periods of time making it easier to add other hues to the painting. I’m pleased with how I was able to paint my self portrait adding subtle hues to my complexion to make changes in the overall colour. The portrait is very neutral as flesh tones and I kept the background neutral as well.

So now working on the landscapes and looking out I intend to use brighter colours in oil. I’ve just completed the ‘Inside looking out’ exercise and I found that I like drawing into the oil paint already laid to create texture and depth. Also I like using the diluent to make washes for the ground and then to apply thicker paint picking up some of the wash.

I like the work of Twombly due to his loose brush stokes and how it is a mixture of painting and drawing techniques with scribbles, repetitive lines and wording scribed into the paint and also drawn into the paint in pencil.

“Twombly is said to have influenced younger artists such as Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Clemente, and Julian Schnabel. His paintings are predominantly large-scale, freely-scribbled, calligraphic and graffiti-like works on solid fields of mostly grey, tan, or off-white colours. His later paintings and works on paper shifted toward “romantic symbolism”, and their titles can be interpreted visually through shapes and forms and words. Twombly often quoted poets such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Rainer Maria Rilke and John Keats, as well as classical myths and allegories in his works. Examples of this are his Apollo and The Artist and a series of eight drawings consisting solely of inscriptions of the word “VIRGIL”. (Tate, 2020).

Twombly belonged to the generation of American artists Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg. Robert Rauschenberg’s work I enjoyed looking at about fifteen years ago; the pieces of work with found objects from thrift shops.

CY Twombly 'Autumn' 1993–5
CY Twombly ‘Autumn’ 1993–5
CY Twombly 'Wilder Shores of Love' 1985
CY Twombly ‘Wilder Shores of Love’ 1985
CY Twombly 'Hero & Leandro'
CY Twombly ‘Hero & Leandro’

These pieces of work above are particularly beautiful and there’s almost a Turner or Monet quality to the second one.


Project ~ Expressive Landscape Research


Research point 1

Salvador Dali

Cynes reflechis en elephants ~ Dali, 1937
Cygnes reflechis en elephants ~ Salvador Dali, 1937

Salvador Dali painted many landscapes with lakes, sea and the Catalan landscape. Dali is famous for his use of double images using reflections and objects that morph progressively into other shapes across the canvas. In his 1935 essay ‘The Conquest of the Irrational’ he explained his process of ‘Paranoia-critical method’ where it was a method of spontaneous irrational understanding of critical association and imagination. Firstly in this painting swans can be seen on the lake with leafless trees in the background. The reflection in the lake displays the reflection of the swans however they resemble elephants, the neck of the swan becomes the elephant’s trunk and the swans body, the elephant’s ears. Dali’s landscape here surrounds the subject of the swans.

Max Ernst

The Barbarians ~ Max Ernst 1937
The Barbarians ~ Max Ernst 1937

I’m not very familiar with the work of Max Ernst. I associate him with the DADA movement. I was drawn to this piece of work firstly because of the rich turquoise blue and the bird imagery. “Between 1919 and 1920, Max Ernst was one of the most enthusiastic leaders of the Dada movement in Cologne. Before long, he attracted the attention of André Breton, who in 1921 organized an exhibition in Paris of Ernst’s collages. By 1922, Ernst had moved to the French capital, and never again worked in his native country. In 1924, in Paris, the thirty-three-year-old artist became one of the founding members of the Surrealist group.” (Met Museum, 2020).

It is thought that these strange patterned birds are  “…creatures as expressions of Ernst’s fearful anticipation of the impending devastation in Europe during World War II.” They seem to exude an anxiety and confusion in the composition of the humanistic birds and their stances. They are depicted in a landscape of green with hills in the background.

De Chirico

'Bathers with Red Cloth in the Landscape', by Giorgio De Chirico ~ 1945
‘Bathers with Red Cloth in the Landscape’ ~ Giorgio De Chirico. 1945
The Song of Love by Giorgio De Chirico, 1914
The Song of Love by Giorgio De Chirico, 1914

De Chirico was an Italian artist and writer born in Greece.  “…In the years before World War I, he founded the scuola metafisica art movement, which profoundly influenced the surrealists. His most well-known works often feature Roman arcades, long shadows, mannequins, trains, and illogical perspective. His imagery reflects his affinity for the philosophy of Nietzsche and for the mythology of his birthplace.” [Tate, 2020].

De Chirico was inspired by the classical Greek art which can be seen in many of his paintings with greek classical statues and figures set in a surrealist landscape. He became an art critic of modern art studying traditional painting techniques with neoclassical and neo-Baroque influence. He often revisited metaphysical themes from his earlier work. Metaphysical painting was a movement started by italian artists Carlo Carra and De Chirico. De Chirico’s work included italian architecture with complimentary colours of orange, red and green hues and contrasting light.

Paul Nash

'Totes Meer' 1941 ~ Paul Nash
‘Totes Meer’ 1941 ~ Paul Nash

Initially Paul Nash’s painting ‘Totes Meer’ looks like a rough choppy sea and a beach, but then I notice a wheel and then the crashed warplanes emerge with the wings jagging out from the landscape. The atmosphere Nash has created is eery and the emotion is sad. Thoughts of war come to mind and the millions of lives lost. Paul Nash is a British war artist who made a massive range of paintings depicting the ghostly scenes of war. ‘Totes Meer’ (german meaning for dead sea) is one of Nash’s most famous paintings. I like the layered images of the wings that have created the seascape.

Graham Sutherland

'Western Hills' 1941 ~ Graham Sutherland
‘Western Hills’ 1941 ~ Graham Sutherland
Devastation ~ An East End Street, 1941 ~ Graham Sutherland
Devastation ~ An East End Street, 1941 ~ Graham Sutherland

Following studying at Goldsmith’s College of Art Graham Sutherland became an official second world war artist, and later had a museum dedicated to his work at Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire.

‘Devastation ~ An East End Street’  shows a street in the docklands area of the east end of London during the blitz. Sutherland has depicted a depressing scary dark scene full of dark atmosphere with his choice of colours using Crayon, gouache, ink, graphite and watercolour. It’s intriguing the atmosphere he has captured with the charcoal for the night sky and watercolour and gouache in yellow ochre to show some light in contrast. There are no figures in this scene which tells the viewer the abandonment and sheer loss of life during the war.

In comparison the picture above ‘Western Hills’ with a rock formation in the sunlight could be sunrise. The atmosphere here gives a sense of hope with the energy from the morning sun and the vibrant warm colours. I like these paintings very much for the textures, pattern and atmosphere they exude.

Emil Nolde

Emil Nolde landscape a

Emil Nolde Landscape b

Emil Nolde Landscape c

Emil Nolde was a German Expressionist artist who painted a diverse prolific body of work. I hadn’t heard of Emil Nolde before and so just looking now I’m introduced to a an artist who’s use of clashing, vibrating colours I like. The broad brush strokes I like as well which are very spontaneous looking and alive. The paintings are filled with abstract shapes and brash colours with dabs and sketchy brush strokes almost look like they’ve been painted in a frenzy. His figurative paintings are very naive in style as well as his religious paintings. Nolde became inspired by the native style of art following a visit to the south seas in 1913-1914. Nolde had a solo exhibition at the Galerie Ernst Arnold in Dreden and joined the Brücke group in 1906-7 but mainly worked alone. Sadly he was “Declared a ‘degenerate’ artist by the Nazis, who in 1937 removed all his works from German museums and in 1941 forbade him to paint, though he continued to make watercolours at Seebüll in secret. Died at Seebüll.” (Tate, 2020)

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt has been one of my favourite artists for many years, mainly for his figures and compositions of women. Klimt’s paintings of women aren’t just portraits but compositions of abstract shapes of pattern of fabrics, jewels, mosaic and gilded with gold leaf. Klimt was inspired by the Byzantine art and this can be seen in some of his paintings. Klimt’s work belonged to the Art Nouveau period and the Symbolist movement. ‘Gold Fish’ below is a good example of Klimt’s figurative paintings showing three females and a gold fish submerged in water with flowing weeds and pattern in Nouveau style. Originally called ‘To my Detractors’ and on the advice of his friends he renamed it ‘Gold Fish’ was painted in response to the art critics who attacked Klimt’s Faculty Paintings (Philosophy, Medicine and Jurisprudence).  Controversial at the time it is clear to see the red haired figure deliberately looking out of the canvas provocatively pointing her bottom cheekily out to the viewer. Klimt’s Faculty Paintings were described as pornographic and perverted, perhaps due to his reputation at the time.

'Gold Fish' ~ Gustav Klimt 1901-02
‘Gold Fish’ ~ Gustav Klimt, 1901-02
Malcestine on Lake Garda ~ Klimt 1913
‘Malcesine on Lake Garda’ ~ Gustav Klimt 1913

A large proportion of Klimt’s work are landscapes. They are mostly square in composition and no existing drawings to support the landscapes, as he always painted outside and then finished the paintings back in his studio in Vienna. Klimt’s landscapes appear tranquil and motionless with impressionistic style brush strokes. His earlier landscape works were rather sombre with tall slender trees described as “metaphors of a man’s noble solitude,” (Fliedl, 2003). Following the turn of the century his landscapes blossomed with colour presenting flower beds and gardens made up of small decorative circles of paint creating a composition of colourful pattern.

'Apple Tree I' Klimt 1912
‘Apple Tree 1’ Klimt, 1912
The Tree of Life ~ Gustav Klimt 1905
‘The Tree of Life’ Gustav Klimt, 1905

‘The Tree of Life’ is a great example of Klimt’s Symbolist work and is part of the Stoclet Frieze situated in the Stoclet Place, Brussels. This is perhaps one of Klimt’s most famous works of art from his gold period using ornate decorative pattern, gold leaf and paint. The tree is the most prominent part of the design displaying mythical symbolism. The swirling branches represent the complexity of life and man’s desire for growth and success. The tree breaks through the frieze reaching for the sky while being rooted to earth at the bottom. There is a black bird sitting in the middle of the tree symbolising mortality; black birds are often used as a symbol of death and is in this frieze as a reminder that every living thing has a beginning and an end.

Gustave Moreau

Perseus and Andromeda ~ Gustave Moreau 1970
Perseus and Andromeda ~ Gustave Moreau, 1870

Gustave Moreau was a very important figure in the French Symbolist movement in the late nineteenth century. French Symbolism was initially a literary movement around 1840 ~ 1920 which made its way into art and theatre.  Moreau’s work was inspired by biblical and mythological figures, and the Italian Renaissance. He was inspired by the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci which I think can be seen in his drawing style of the figures in his paintings. Moreau’s classical drawing style together with his mythical inspiration including animals as well as humans and architectural monuments into his compositions created a unique style of art.

Hesiod and the Muse ~ Moreau 1891
Hesiod and the Muse ~ Moreau 1891

I particularly like ‘Hesiod and the Muse’ because of the classical figures and the striking angle with turquoise deep blue wings set against the pinky red robe. The painting is beautiful in the calmness of the figures who look like they are playing music. I love how the eye is drawn up towards the Greek temple at the top of the mountain behind. Moreau has included parrots flying in the bottom right of the painting, or perhaps they are exotic insects. Also there is a golden shining star above in the sky which possibly could be the north star.

The Muse in this work is portrayed as an angle although muses are inspirational goddesses of literature, science and art. They are thought to be the source of knowledge in poetry and myths that are related to ancient Greek culture. Hesiod was a greek poet who is regarded as the first written poet in the Western tradition establishing Greek religious customs.

Leon Bakst

Leon Bakst a Jewish Russian is known for designing stage sets, costume design and illustration. Bakst started as an artist producing watercolours and exhibited with the Society of water colourists in 1890s. He designed costumes of Greek mythology for the Diaghilev’s Ballet. I like his illustrations in particular the costumes.

Bakst, Scenery illustration for the Ballet 'Scheherazade' 1910
Bakst, Scenery illustration for the Ballet ‘Scheherazade’ 1910.

Frida Khalo

Frida Khalo 'The Two Fridas' 1939
Frida Khalo ‘The Two Fridas’ 1939.

Frida Kahlo’s work spanned many periods or movements; naive art, surrealism, modern art, symbolism, primitivism and social realism. Frida’s work is very unusual and has deep personal meaning. Frida’s life was affected by great pain following a bus accident which fractured her spine, pelvis and broke her foot and leg. She also had polio as a child. Her work often portrays her pain through graphic illustration and symbolism using animals as metaphors. ‘The Two Fridas’ a self portrait was painted shortly after her divorce from Diego Rivera which shows two Fridas. In this painting she is processing the divorce by portraying the respected Frida who loved Diego and is wearing her native costume while the other ‘rejected’ Frida is wearing European dress. They are both connected by one artery to their exposed hearts. The European dressed Frida is shown as being in danger of bleeding to death. Frida Kahlo has become an iconic symbol and is very popular today.


Project ~ Painting outside

Research point 2

The ‘Golden Mean’ is also known as the ‘Golden Ratio’ which is a mathematical formula to create aesthetically pleasing design in architecture, design and composition in paintings. The golden mean is a proportion of a line or rectangle that is divided in two and one part is slightly bigger than the other. 

The Golden Mean 'Golden Ratio'
The Golden Ratio or Golden Mean.

The golden ratio is the ratio of approximately 1 to 1.618.

The Golden Spiral
The Golden Spiral based on the golden ratio.

The Golden Mean helps artists to create a composition that is well balanced aesthetically and the main subject is placed in the best possible position within the painting. Objects in still life are better seen in threes and a canvas or painting divided into three horizontally and vertically can help an artist where to place their subject within a composition. For example in a landscape or seascape the subject with the most interest would be placed on one of the the third lines, for example you may choose to paint more landscape 2/3rds and 1/3rd sky, or 2/3rds sky and 1/3rd land.

Below shows a good example of the golden ratio / golden circle within this famous portrait of the Monalisa.

The Golden Cirle and golden ratio example

Golden Mean example Seurat ~ 'The Bathers at Asnieres'
Golden Mean example Seurat ~ ‘The Bathers at Asnieres’


David Hockney’s Landscapes

I visited Hockney’s exhibition at the RA in 2012 ‘A bigger picture’ which focused on his homeland the Yorkshire landscape. I remember at the time being surprised at the amount of work he’s made. I like his modern style, and he comes across as being very down to earth and paints what he sees. Hockney’s interpretation of landscapes are freeing to me and not about making a precise representation of a view. The RA was full of his work. When he decided to do the exhibition it was originally meant to be in January 2011, but Hockney suggested it could be in 2012 as he would have more seasons to paint the landscape. He explained how spring and autumn have actions; they are the seasons where there are prominent changes in the landscape. (Hockney, RA. 2020).

Woldgate Woods ~ David Hockney 2006
‘Woldgate Woods’ ~ David Hockney, 2006
David Hockney's Landscapes
Some of David Hockney’s landscapes.


Part Five ~Personal Development Research

Research Point 1

Camille Pissarro’s work appears very soft and light with some movement. I like ‘Boulevard Monmartre’ as the flow of brush stokes move in a sweeping arc into the distance showing movement of the road and its occupants; horses and carriages and people walking. It’s impressionistic in style with the use of small brush strokes of individual colours that are not blended but laying next to each other, layer upon layer. The road Pissarro has treated lightly in terms of colour which gives the illusion of a sunny day. The painting is detailed with information, while being loose and not so detailed with the technique of the painting.

Boulevard Monmartre, Winter Morning, Camille Pissarro ~ detail
Boulevard Monmartre, Winter Morning, Camille Pissarro ~ detail.
Boulevard Monmartre, Winter Morning, Camille Pissarro
Boulevard Monmartre, Winter Morning, Camille Pissarro ~ detail.

The ‘Vegetable garden’ by Camille Pissarro (1878) I like also because of the light atmosphere he has achieved with colours and loose brush strokes. I like that the brush strokes can be seen and the movement of the paint. They create small irregular shapes that make interesting composition as your eye is lead through the painting.

'Vegetable garden' Camille Pissarro 1878
‘Vegetable garden’ Camille Pissarro 1878.
Detail of the vegetable garden ~ Camille Pissarro.
Detail of the vegetable garden ~ Camille Pissarro.

This is a beautiful painting; I love the light reflected through the chosen colours. the cream and yellow in contrast to the baby blue and salmon keep the painting light, calm and refreshing.


The pastel drawing below I like again due to its lightness and I like the sketchy style of the drawing. The artist is unknown but came up in a search for twentieth century pastel artists. I like that layers of the under drawing can be seen such as the sky has a taupe colour although that could be the original colour of the paper, being used as a mid tone.

The pale yellow shines out from the drawing against the light vibrant blue and then they’re calmed down by the taupe colours of the trees.

20th century pastel drawing Z unsigned artist unidentified
20th century pastel drawing ~ unsigned and artist unidentified.
20th century pastel drawing Z unsigned artist unidentified ~ detail


'Irises' Van Gogh, 1889
‘Irises’ Van Gogh, 1889.

The colours and the painting quality in this painting I’ve always liked. I like the flat areas of colour Van Gosh has painted to create the long curved leaves. I like that there is an outline surrounding the leaves perhaps this is a part of underpainting showing through. Van Gogh has laid down individual oblong shaped brush stokes of colour side by side to show the shapes and details of the flowers. The hues aren’t blended but from a distance the colours blend visually into the tones and shadows. The background and is made up of smaller brush strokes of lime, yellow and blue to create the back ground of marigolds behind the irises. The yellow and green compliment the bright blue irises well.

'Almond Blossom' Van Gogh 1890, detail
‘Almond Blossom’ Van Gogh 1890, detail

The picture above shows detail from ‘Almond Blossom’ by Van Gogh, showing very well the brush strokes he made. There are part top right where it can be seen Van Gogh has painted around the blossom and branches. There are drawn outlines surrounding the branches to create form as well as to show the detail of bark. The strokes are illustrative in painting style along with the flatness of hues it looks slightly abstract. I like that the flow of the paint made by the brushes can clearly be seen and I like the dusky hues of the turquoise and mint green.

'The Poppy Field' Claude Monet, 1873
‘The Poppy Field’ Claude Monet, 1873.

‘The Poppy Field’ painted by Claude Monet is created with many small tight brush marks. The poppies on the left in the grasses are created in a series of red blobs for the flowers and tiny dots of pure colour; green, grey, deep yellow and grey to give depth and movement to the grass. While on the right the grass looks longer as the brush strokes lead upwards and fade towards the background. The trees are very dark in colour, perhaps too dark for the distance. The paler tree being the tallest looks slightly out of proportion because of the brush technique and scale. However it does portray the sloping hill to the left leading into the grass meadow.

Paul Cézanne, Vue sur L’Estaque et Le Château d’If (1883–85)
Paul Cézanne, Vue sur L’Estaque et Le Château d’If, 1883–85.

I’ve aways admired this Cezanne painting because of the light sketchy brush strokes and the way they are drawn in the same direction for the foreground and trees. Then the brush strokes change direction for the sea being horizontal. The marks are long and narrow rather than being tiny blobs and because of this my eye is drawn up and into the middle of the painting to the cluster of buildings; and then further on up to the island out at se. I like how scribbles of paint can be seen blocking in areas of colour. The painting is warm especially with the terracotta buildings and gives a sense that the place is hot. I like this painting as well because it is a vertical format landscape giving impact to the scene while being framed by the sketchy trees.


Research Point 2

Abstract Expressionism

Tachism or ‘action painting’ is a spontaneous painting technique where the artist is moving while creating their art works. Jackson Pollock is a good example as an artist performing his action paintings, throwing paint across the canvas situated on the floor and dribbling fluid paint from sticks and even turkey basters. Jackson Pollock belonged to the Abstract Expressionist group of artists where their expression of emotions and artist presence was characterised by gestural brush marks and spontaneous application of paint onto the canvas. Abstract Expressionism was developed by American painters in the 1940s and 1950s such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko. Yves Klein was also associated with Abstract Expressionism although I believe he was also independent from the movement with his own way of working.

Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock discovered working on the floor away from the easel when he found he was having difficulty with a painting he was working on and so he decided to take it off the easel and place it on the floor, throwing paint over the piece he was unhappy with. (Khanacademy, 2020). I would say this could also be classed as ‘accidental painting’ as it was through this decision and action that he found a technique he liked and developed for the following five years.

Jackson Pollock
Jackson Pollock ~ Number 34, 1949.

Jackson Pollock used any paints that could be used for painting interior decors, such as gloss paint for radiators and garage doors. He was able to move around his canvases continually moving to apply the paint in gestural movements from the pots or brushes he was using. You can see from the movement of the paint on the canvases that he would have been almost dancing around the canvas working with a rhythm applying the paint. Khanacademy describes in the video that Pollock moved in a trance-like movement being able to step in and out of the canvas. Pollock painted by laying dribbles of colours juxtaposed throughout the canvas where there was no one place where the eye would settle. It can be seen in the picture below Pollock’s stance of dancing movement while painting.

Jackshon Pollock - studio
Jackson Pollock in his studio.


Willem de Kooning

Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-52, oil on canvas (MoMA)
Willem de Kooning, Woman I, 1950-52, oil on canvas (MoMA)

Above is an Abstract Expressionist painting of a single female figure painted by Willem de Kooning. De Kooning was a critically acclaimed abstract artist during the 1940s for his  abstract paintings. De Kooning had painted figurative paintings as well and decided to start painting women in colourful vibrant compositions in the 1950s. ‘Woman I’ looks aggressive in the marks made and harsh brush strokes etched across the canvas. It was described as being a challenge for de Kooning to make this canvas; for eighteen months he worked sanding down layers he’d painted the previous day and reworked the imagery over and over. Perhaps the aggressiveness showing through is his frustration working on the painting. I like the energy in this painting the way the paint has been manipulated and scratched into, especially the harsh teeth and the wonky eyes. The expression looks a bit hysterical. I like the colour shifts of the warm pale oranges and pink in comparison to the dark greens, blues and black. I like the occasional drips flowing down the canvas as well and the scratched away details in some areas around the face of the figure.

The painting below ‘Woman Singing ii’ is far more restful in colour and the paint has been applied in softer sweeping brush marks. Some features of the figures of the singers can be seen like the mouth and eye of the face on the left, and it looks as though their arms are in the air showing movement of the singer.

Willem de Kooning Women Singing II, 1966
‘Woman Singing ii’ ~ Willem de Kooning, 1966. (Tate)

Women Singing ii is one of three paintings de Kooning painted inspired by pop singers on tv. “They were based on pop singers the artist saw on television. The energetic style and vibrant colours are typical of De Kooning”s work of the 1960s. Interviewed by Sylvester a few years earlier, he spoke of the authority that he felt he had achieved in his painting. ”I have all my forces … I have a bigger feeling now of freedom. I am more convinced … of picking up the paint and the brush and drumming it out.” (Tate, 2020).

Hans Hartung

Hans Hartung was a German-French painter, known for his gestural abstract style. Looking at his work it looks like he did quite a few lithographic prints. I like some of the expressive compositions of lines in the form of moving sweeping marks. Some of the curved marks are darker and layered over the lighter tones of marks. The print below makes me think of a tornado with the form and movement of lines. Hartung created abstract work completely stripping out any figurative elements.

“Hartung saw an exhibition of international art in Dresden, which exposed him to cubism and other modern styles that had emerged in France. His encounters with works byGeorge Braque, Juan Gris, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso….” . (Guggenheim, 2020).

Hans Hartung ~ 18 limited edition print, 1953. (MOMA)
Hans Hartung ~ 18 limited edition print, 1953. (MOMA)
L10 Hans Hartung, 1957 (Tate)
L10 Hans Hartung, 1957 (Tate)


Franz Kline

'Orange and black wall' Franz Kline
‘Orange and Black Wall’ Franz Kline.

Franz Kline and American abstract expressionist artist is known for his large black and white paintings with extremely large dominating brush stokes across large canvases. “Influenced by his acquaintance with Willem de Kooning. Kline viewed his gestural painting not as an expression of his emotions but as a means to create a physical form and presence that could be felt by the viewer”. (, 2020).

Although Franz Kline was associated with the ‘action painters’ of the abstract expressionist group his work was very distinctive and he stood out independently in his own style.

A presence can certainly be seen and felt in his work as there is an energy coming from the canvas. I recall seeing Kline’s work in the Tate Modern and the work was very imposing in the room and I was drawn towards it.

Kline painted a series of very imposing works, known as the ‘wall paintings,’ and started to introduce colour to his black and white palette which I like.

'Meryon' Franz Kline, 1960–1
‘Meron’ Franz Kline, 1960–1


Suggested artists for me to look at from Ilsa (my tutor)
Hannah Woodman (b 1968, lives and works in Cornwall) a landscape painter – really lovely to see the variety of marks she uses within her compositions – thin lines to particular brush strokes
Tessa Coleman (NYAA), UK lives in Somerset. – beautiful drawing and painting. Look at her website for her drawings: Herbert (b 1955 British).
Landscapes in mixed media that create quiet, tangible feelings of open space with the least description of form possible.
Chiltern hills 20 x 15cm. 2016. Mixed media: graphite, colour pencil, soluble crayon, acrylic and pastel on white paper.

Into Abstraction (part 5 research)

Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian, 'The Tree' 1913
Piet Mondrian, ‘The Tree’ 1913.

“In Mondrian’s own personal essays and his artist manifesto, he used the term Neo-Plasticism to describe his own painting style. The idea is that painting is stripped down to its bare essentials. Colour, line and form – the basic elements of painting – are used to convey absolute truths.” (The life of the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, 2020).

Piet Mondrian is a Dutch Modernist artist who moved to Paris and was inspired by the cubist artists Picasso and Braque. The video link below shows how Mondrian’s work progressed from the natural landscapes and on to his abstract paintings. The video shows how Mondrian would pull out line by line and break down the structure of a tree or landscape into a series of lines and squares and oblongs, and then onto breaking colour into its simplest form. Mondrian’s compositions of red, yellow and blue have become iconic over the recent decades and used in architecture, design and fashion.

Piet Mondrian, composition III, red, yellow, blue

Tessa Coleman
My tutor Ilsa recommended some artists for me to look at. I like Tessa Coleman’s work which looks fragmented into patterns of the landscape reminding me of the cubists paintings where the composition is broken into shapes and patterns. I like the flatness of her work which I think looks contemporary and creates a modern looking landscape. She has used areas of texture such as in the sky where it looks like layers of paint has been scraped off and another layer of paint. These layers create depth and interest in the painting.
'Charlotte's Mani Flowers Tessa Coleman
‘Charlotte’s Mani Flowers’ Tessa Coleman.


'Eggardon Hill' Tessa Coleman
‘Eggardon Hill’ Tessa Coleman.


Hannah Woodman

It’s refreshing for me to see new artists (new to me that is) and I love this free style of working with paint. Hannah’s work creates atmosphere in her landscapes using movement in the paint and the tones of colour. Her interest lies in the expanse of the landscape when she is alone with in it. The compositions look simple in the simplicity of her application of paint, charcoal and watercolour with no detail but the viewer can still feel and see the landscape Woodman is portraying.


Hannah Woodman ~ Hay Bales, Cornish Farm. 120 x 110cm. Oil on board
Hannah Woodman ~ Hay Bales, Cornish Farm. 120 x 110cm. Oil on board


Hannah Woodman ~ cornish landscape, Watercolour, oil and graphite
Hannah Woodman ~ Cornish landscape, Watercolour, oil and graphite.
Hannah Woodman ~ Dappled Shadows, Cornish Lane 2020
Hannah Woodman ~ Dappled Shadows, Cornish Lane 2020.




Bibliography for Part 1

Bibliography for Part 2 (2020). Finding of the Body of Saint Mark. [online] Available at:

Gleadell, C. (2020). This £4m candlelight painting has been discovered after 250 years of obscurity. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: (2020). 10 Facts You Don’t Know About Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone. [online] Available at:

The National Gallery, L. (2020). Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder | Flowers in a Glass Vase | NG6549 | National Gallery, London. [online]

Tate. (2020). Vanitas – Art Term (2020). Still Life with Mangoes, 1893 by Paul Gauguin. [online] Available at:

Anon, (2020). [online] Available at:

Anon, (2020). [online] Available at:

Tate. (2020). ‘Hesitate’, Bridget Riley, 1964 | Tate. [online] Available at: (2020). [online] Available at: (2020). View of an Interior, or The Slippers (traditional title, given in the 19th century) | Louvre Museum | Paris. [online] Available at:

Henri Matisse at the Met: The Mindset behind the Masterpiece

Woman Ironing


Bibliography for Part 3

Krystof D, Modigliani (2000) Taschen

Kettenman A, Kahlo (2003) Taschen

Royal Collection Trust, Google Arts and Culture, Self-portrait as the Allegory of Painting (La Pittura), 08-03-2020 <;

Dr. Steven Zucker, Dr. Beth Harris. Paul Gauguin, Self-Portrait with Portrait of Émile Bernard (Les misérables) <;


Nancy Spector, Pablo Picasso Woman Ironing (Las Repasseuse <;


Bibliography for Part 4

Hubbard S (2009) Greats Works: A corner of the artists room in Paris (With open window) 1907`1909, Gwen John (9-04-20) <; [08-04-2020]

Tate, Raoul Dufy <> [08-04-2020]

The lonely Palette, Hopper ~ Room in Brooklyn (1932), <; [08-04-2020]

Tate, CY Twombly Biography <; [20-04-20]

Met Museum, Max Ernst <; [04-05-20]

Tate, Paul Nash <; [11-05-2020]

National Gallery, Graham Sutherland, <; [11-05-2020]


Tate, Emil Nolde <; [11-05-2020]

Fliedl G, 2003, Klimt, Taschen, Italy.

Kettenman A, Kahlo (2003) Taschen


Bibliography for Part 5

Khanacademy, painting techniques of pollock, <; [07-06-2020]

Tate, Kooning – Woman Singing II, <; [07-06-2020]

Tate, Hans Hartung <; [07-06-2020]

Guggenheim, Hans Hartung, <(; [09-06-2020]

IamExpat. 2020. The Life Of The Dutch Artist Piet Mondrian. [online] Available at: <; [Accessed 4 July 2020].

Artnet, Sarah Gascoin, UK Looks to block sale of $20 million cezanne painting, <; [Accessed, 5 July 2020]

Woodman, H, <; [08-06-2020]

Coleman, T, <; [08-06-2020



links for me to be able to access easily for future reference)

Max Ernst:

De Chirico

Credit: Bathers with Red Cloth in the Landscape (Bagnanti con drappo rosso nel paesaggio), by Giorgio De Chirico, 1945, 20th century, oil canvas, 109 x 140 cm, Chirico, Giorgio de (1888-1978) / Casa Museo Giorgio De Chirico, Roma / Mondadori Portfolio/Archivio Alessandro Vasari/Alessandro Vasari / Bridgeman Images

Graham Sutherland

Emil Nolde

Gustav Klimt

Fliedl G, 2003, Klimt, Taschen, Italy.   (book)

Leon Bakst

The Golden Mean / Golden Ration / Golden Spiral

Using The Golden Ratio (AKA Golden Mean) To Improve Your Artworks

Most Memorable Golden Ratio Examples in Modern Art

Part Five:

Jackson Pollock

Willem de Kooning

Hans Hartung


Piet Mondrian


UK Looks to Block Sale of $20 Million Cézanne Painting

D Mannering, 1997,  The Master Works of the Impressionists, Parragon, UK.   (book)

Monet & Van Gogh

D Mannering, 1997,  The Master Works of the Impressionists, Parragon, UK.   (book)

Hannah Woodman

Tessa Coleman