Practice of painting coursework ~ Part 5

Project ~ Different ways of applying paint

I’ve been looking forward to this part and trying out many different ways of applying paint and materials and to gain confidence with freeing myself up to new ways of painting. I’ve started gathering papers, cards and imagery as well as grasses I’ve picked on walks to possibly include in abstract landscapes for my assignment pieces, obviously will see what develops and what I like.

Ref - Suzy Fasht
Page from my sketch book ~ Suzy Fasht.
Suzy Fasht ref
Page from my sketchbook ~ Suzy Fasht.

Exercise ~ Impasto

For this exercise I chose to paint lemons and limes as good shapes and vibrant colours. After recent work of careful blending and being representational I found this way of working freeing and I enjoyed very much. It was very much seeing how the paint can be manipulated and as the introduction says seeing”… the physical manipulation of the paint and the presence of the artist.”

Lemons bristle brush
Simple still life of lemons and a lime using a bristle brush not blending the paint. A4 acrylics on paper.

I used a bristle brush and square brush in the first painting trying my best not to blend the colours. It was good fun to lay down the colours in various marks in spontaneous moving positions to create the form of the fruit.

Lemons palette knife a
Simple still life of lemons and a lime using a palette knife not blending the paint. A4 acrylics on paper.

I like the freeness of using the palette knife as paint can be laid on in sweeps to create shapes and then the point to add smaller amounts of paint in smaller areas, I found at this stage I was drawing into the paint withe the point. I like being able to lay the paint on thickly an also thiner layers for the underneath colours to show through, which creates body and interest.

Lemons palette knife and sgrafitio
Simple still life of lemons and a lime using a palette knife and scratching (sgrafitto). A4 acrylics on paper.

I used the palette knife again for this one and used the end of a paint brush to scratch and draw into the forms of the fruit. creates an interesting image and textures of paint.

Lemons scratching
Lemons and a lime using all tools and not blending the paint and scratching drawing into the paint. A4 acrylics on paper.
Lemons & limes all tools
Lemons and limes using a bristle brush, palette knife and end of brush for drawing into the paint. A3 acrylics on card.

I then chose to work an A3 piece of card and include more fruit and used all the tools, square brush, bristle brush, palette knife and the end of a paint brush. I think though because I was looking at a larger composition the looseness of applying the paint has tightened up. I like the texture of the background where I’ve used subtle layers of light yellow, white and grey using a palette knife.

These techniques would have worked well with some of my previous work such as in the foreground of my aerial perspective landscape. Using more textured paint marks and sgrafitto could have helped with more definition in the front detail of the painting. Also the hard landscape where I painted from a photo of Lanzarote sea landscape. More layered textures would help with the detail of the landscape.

Exercise ~ Dripping, dribbling and spattering

I watched some videos of Jackson Pollock’s work and other artists showing how Jackson Pollock would have applied the paint. So I diluted some acrylic paint starting with grey as a base splatting and dribbling colour, thinking that other colours would be a good comparison to stand out. I let the grey paint dry first so that the later added colours could stand away from the grey and then merge with the newly added colours. Even though I have an appreciation of Pollock’s work and find the effects interesting to look at, I personally find working this way not rewarding, which has made me realise I like to make representational work. However I think I can use some of these techniques of dribbling and splattering in my work to create interesting textures and liveliness of the paint. I used yoghurt pots, big brushes, screw driver and pipettes to apply the paint working on a much smaller scale to Pollock! Pictures below show my progression through these experiments.



The first grey splats and dribble I applied with a small pot, large brush and screw driver.



Application of Pthalo turquoise, I like the colour combination which is vibrating with one another. I then allowed these to dry before adding other colours, I like the translucency of the yellow and orange marks. I drew into the puddles of wet paint with the screw driver as well.






Introduction of deep red and orange mixing together is interesting and I like the way the grey can be seen underneath it. I moved the paper around as well to get the drips moving which was interest to watch.



I would exploit some of these techniques in backgrounds of water or landscapes to add interest and somehow make the painting look alive. These effects could also be used for detail in areas of a painting by masking off in a more controlled way.

Peter Doig uses these techniques in some of his landscape paintings, particularly the splats like he used in ‘White Canoe’.

Project ~ Adding other materials

Exercise ~Preparing a textured ground

I’ve recently been inspired by the road side verges as I drive by on country roads. They appear very dry with grasses and wild flowers and can really only be seen from the car as driving by as there is often no foot path. There appears to be a layered effect with the flowers in the foreground and the distant dry looking fields fading away behind. With this in mind I decided to use a title of ‘The Verge’ to prepare a textured ground and to paint. I started collected grasses and making sketches of wild flowers but without going into too much detail.

Roadside flowers sketch a
The verge roadside flowers sketch from memory.
Roadside flowers sketch b
The verge roadside flowers sketch from memory.

POP ~ PRoject using other materials ~ The Verge

I’m using card board for these experiments for extra texture and also saving on costs of expensive paper and canvases. I like the texture of the tissue which can be moved into desired shapes and pattern creating depth to the landscape or a hint of distant fields.

I like the muted colours of this painting as well ~ it’s made a pale blurred depiction of the wild flowers. I’ve tried to also create an aerial perspective with the muted grey green hues on the horizon, while keeping the flowers in the foreground moving and feathery.

I wasn’t sure about using crushed egg shells at first but it’s worked well giving the feel of stones and a dry landscape for the grasses and flowers in contrast. I like being able to see the torn bits of paper as well; even though covered with paint they can still be seen giving interest to the painting.

Road side flowers a

Road side flowers b
Layers of scrunched tissue, torn painted paper, textured medium and egg shells.
Road side flowers c
When the first layer of material was dry I applied the gesso and then started painting over the textured ground with fresh pale colours.
Road side flowers d
Added detail of flowers which I’ve kept sketchy as they would be seen while driving by. They almost become a blur.
Road side flowers e
Detail from the road side flower painting.

Other experiments ~ Coastline textures

I was inspired by this piece of torn paper which was from old painting experiments I’d kept. It looks like see texture and so I tried other material to create a feeling of a coast line. I used a collage of the torn paper, bubble wrap, scrunched tissue, modelling paste and poly filler. I then used gesso to cover the material except for the patterned torn paper. The bubble wrap creates an interesting feel like a frothy sea and I’ve shaped it as though waves and the torn paper could depict stones or rocks.

Coast a

Coast b

Coast c
Following the application of gesso I then painted onto the ground using drips of acrylic paint and thick paint on a bristle brush.
Caost detail a
Detail of the ground and textured medium and modelling paste with newly applied paint.
Coast detail b
Detail of finished painting and textures showing the drips of blue diluted paint.

By using drips of very diluted blue paint on the textures has created the illusion of moisture and movement of water. I’m pleased with these textures and it’s exciting to see what feelings can be portrayed.

Exercise ~ Mixing Materials into paint

I’ve been using old small canvases for this exercise and using scrunched up tissue, layered papers and acrylic paint to layer with. I added textured medium and drew into these layers and then painted more heavily in places to to paint with impasto. I like the different textures and I found that I was adding bit by bit trying another technique to add to the one before.

Mixing materials into paint b
Layered tissue, torn patterned paper and layered acrylic paint on canvas. 125 x 180mm.
Mixing materials into paint a
Layered paint and tissue effects on canvas.
Mixing materials into paint c
further layered paint scratched into and detail drawn with a fine brush of road side grasses.
road side flowers mixing material a
Further layers of textured medium and more painting.
road side flowers mixing material b
I added some more textured medium here and scratched into to create more texture.
road side flowers mixing material c
Detail ~ I added some more texture with impasto created with spatula and more brush work.

I’m pleased with the overall effect of this little canvas and will look forward to using these techniques further. I like the way pigment has been picked up by the spatula while drawing through the fresh paint and mixing the colours side by side and also how the paint sits on top of the dried brush strokes which have dried.

Olive tree and wooden shutters

For this experiment I started with a photo of an olive tree and found images of shutters then started to place onto the card board. I wasn’t really thinking of a particular composition but to only really experiment with how I could include collage with paint and draw into at the same time. It all seemed to happen all at once; moving bits around, sticking, painting and drawing into the paint with a pencil. I found old bits of silk died fabric which I included as well. I still have CY Twombly in mind for his style of painting and started to draw sketchily into the painting shutters and road side flowers. Also I have the thoughts of Suzy Fasht’s work as inspiration which I mentioned earlier, where she draws into the paint and plaster layers.

Olive tree and shutter a
Layered torn images of windows and shutters on card and acrylic paint.
Olive tree and shutter b
Detail of brush strokes onto the card which I kept the brush fairly dry.
Olive tree and shutter c
Detail of paper and brush stoke textures.
Olive tree and shutter d
The addition of the olive tree images with torn edges to add to the ruggedness.
Olive tree and shutter e
Impasto olive tree in pot detail and palette knife textures with torn layered papers which create the effect of broken paving.
Olive tree and shutter f
Detail of textured medium and torn textured paper.
Olive tree and shutter g
Detail showing pencil drawing and the fabric collage.
Olive tree and shutter h
Details showing mixing materials into paint.

I really like mixing these materials into the paint and painting at the same time and bringing other elements into the composition along the way.


I picked some grasses while on a walk from a very dry field. I wanted to achieve a dry feel for this experiment and started again with a textured ground made up from scrunched tissue, torn card, modelling paste and crushed egg shells. I used gesso on top and then glued the grasses in place using gel medium. I also started painting with yellow ochre, white and burnt sienna onto the grasses as well. It was easier to get a good coverage by painting the grasses before layering and sticking into the painting.

Grasses a

Grasses b

I painted while sticking the grasses in places working around them and with them, I swayed them in one direction to depict a breeze. I think it’s come out fairly well and looks effective although I’m not sure I like it. I can see there could be opportunities to use other materials in paintings.

Grasses c

Grasses d
Detail of the painting with grasses showing layers of torn paper and textured paste.

Grasses e

Grasses f
I’ve kept the painting style loose for the textures to really show.

Project ~ Towards abstraction

Exercise ~ Abstraction from study of natural form

I took a poppy pod as inspiration for this exercise. There are so many poppies around at the moment in local fields. They are beautiful in flower with the huge floppy petals and then beautiful when all that remains is the poppy pod which is sculptural in form.

Poppy pod sketchbook

Poppy pod

Abstract poppy pod study
Poppy pod abstract, acrylic (A3)

This I’ve found challenging as I’ve always found it quite difficult to paint in abstraction. I seem to always have something representational at the outcome even if I’ve tried not to. While I was painting this I kept in mind to work with colours and shapes to break down the subject and also to keep it loose. I loved the colour of this poppy pod as it’s quite an unusual pale mauve blue compared to light brown that they usually are.

I was wondering whether to work with textures as in the previous exercises however I’ve interpreted this exercise to paint and draw what I see in term of shape and colour so I haven’t used any texture on this occasion. I think I’ll use more texture with my other poppy references.

Abstract poppy pod study b
Abstract poppy pod. Acrylic (A4).

In this study I looked more at the shapes and drew them overlapping to create an abstract composition and also depicting the colours as in the photo reference. Again it wasn’t about painting texture but more about using shapes to create an interesting composition.

While I was doing this I had cubism in mind and also Mondrian’s tree paintings. Mondrian’s abstract paintings of a trees are very far removed from a tree and I was thinking how could I break the image of this poppy further? Mondrian started off in his career painting traditional landscapes, however over time they did become more and more abstract where he stripped away all information leaving him with horizontal and vertical lines and even the colour was stripped back to basic primary colours. So I think that with abstraction it’s up to the artist how far they go in simplifying their work.

I worked further to abstract my poppies, and found it better to try to pull out some of the shapes and vibrant colours. I worked in oils for these and I now know it feels so much nicer to paint with oils.

Abstract poppy c

Abstract poppy a
My poppy picture references.
Poppy abstract oil
Poppy abstract in oil on paper, 210 x 297mm

I kept my brush strokes soft and gentle with a soft acrylic brush to reflect the delicate petals of the poppy and used the shapes and colours of parts of the flower to spread out across the composition. I started with layers of base colours with interesting speckles and then painted other shapes on top. Some of these details can be seen.

Poppy abrstract oil detail
Detail of the poppy abstract study in oil.

Exercise ~ Abstraction from man-made form

I chose my old cafetiere for this exercise due to its interesting shapes and colours. I focused in on the lid and lip of the glass as I like the curves and hues for this painting. I had already imagined  which part of the cafetiere to paint however I did some sketches as the spiral filter at the bottom is interesting as well.

Cafieterre sketches
Sketches for the man made object abstract.
Caffieterre abstract oil
Abstract cafetiere ~ oil on canvas board. (16 x 12″)
Cafeiterre abstract detail
Cafetiere detail.
Caffieterre detail b
Cafetiere detail, top.

I particularly like the top knob and the way it reflects into the lid. There are many colours with in the gold top. It’s not just bronze gold as you would first think, but has green tones and brown as well as warm dusky pinks. I like these hues sitting next to the grey tones of the glass lip. Some of the shapes are quite abstract like the rod in the middle of the cafetiere as the glass slightly distorts its shape. I used and few bristle brushes on canvas board to have some rigidity while I could paint quite briskly in various brush strokes. I wanted it to look painterly but at the same time remain clean with some flat blocks.

Following my tutorial with Ilsa, I decided to look at the middle space of this cafetiere painting. I understood that Ilsa advised me that I could make decisions of what to include and to take charge of these decisions. So l decided to paint ove some of the detail by the lip of the glass jug as it was fighting against the nice curve. I also repainted the rod of the cafetiere making it paler and narrower to push into the background slightly so the detail of the lid and the bronze metal below could stand out more. I’m more pleased with this outcome.

The Cafetiere re-worked.