Practice of Painting Learning Log

Part One ~ What paint can do

Hello. I’ve been really looking forward to getting started with this course! I’ve just completed ‘Drawing Skills’ and found that in some cases I was painting more than drawing, but I guess that could be the natural progression of exploring with new mediums and techniques. I enjoyed using pastels recently and explored painting with them using water and baby lotion. It’ll be great to work through these exercises now as I have painted for many years and having worked through ‘Drawing Skills’ made me realise that I had become stuck in a rut. I’m hoping now to continue with what I have learned so far and to find new approaches and an open mind to painting.

Project ~ Basic paint application

Brushes and paints

An array of brushes ~ some of which are old and have had for years! We seem to get attached to our favourites and wear them out until the bristles have a mind of their own. They grow in character along with the water jars with residue of paint around the edges which become a work in them selves.

Oil Paints
Selection of oil paints.

Exercise ~ Getting to know your brushes

So for this exercise I picked out as many different sizes and shapes of brushes from my pots as possible and chose a cheerful yellow. This was actually a fun exercise and even though I know the mark these brushes make it was good to consciously play around with the marks and to note the brush that created them. This will be a good reference point in the future. Some of the brushes became actual images just by the mark they left like the fan brush replicated the grass heads of grasses in a field.  Below are the pages from my A3 sketchbook with details noted of the brushes used.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 1

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 2

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 3

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 4

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 5

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes 6

This fan brush works really well to create seed heads of grasses and quickly drawn brush marks make movement.

Landscape from memory (A4)

Landscape from memory using some of the marks created on the previous exercises. This is a very pretty field of opium poppies near Henley in the summer. I used the round 1/2″ brush and a 1/2″ flat square brush to create these marks. I liked the spontaneous approach. The second painting I prefer the cooler colours as they look fresher. The stippled marks also make me think of Seurat’s paintings.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes Landscape

Piece of fruit

I chose a banana because of the fun shape and tones of yellow. It was a challenge not to put in too much detail, how ever I enjoyed being free because of doing a simple painting while using 1/2″ round and flat square brushes. The light was coming in through the glass door behind the banana and so the shadow was in front and underneath the banana.

POP _ Part 1 ~ getting to know your brushes - fruit

Exercise ~ Applying Paint without brushes

For this exercise I started off by using the spatular and pallet knife. I’ve only painted a few times with a pallet knife and with this experimenting I’ve realised I like it! especially a certain part where the paint could resemble waves and water spray.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 1

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 1 detail

I used a math protractor and ruler as well, anything I could try that wouldn’t be ruined.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 2

Not intended to be a hand at first, but just happened while making marks with an emery board. Also used a wooden canvas stretcher.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 3

Playing with a looped piece of wire and loose paint; cling film and bubble wrap worked well as well, Will be interesting to see how I can use these techniques in paintings.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Applying paint without brushes 4

More cling film scrunched into wet paint and then left to dry and peeled off before too dry and gets stuck!, Also finger tips and dabbing and moving my fingers quickly creates some lovely spontaneous marks.

Exercise ~ Painting with Pastels

Painting with Pastels

Here I drew with pastels using the edge and side then blended with water to create a delicate wash, although it looks a bit messy I like the looseness.


Pastels on coloured paper drawing and blending with my fingers first, then washing over with water then drawing over with finer lines, creates a nice depth. the ones to the side have been blended with baby oil, which was quite effective to blend and dilute the pastels.

Oil Pastels

Oil pastels drawn and blended in together, layering over and over to create a sgraffito affect, then I worked with blending using turps and baby oil.

POP _ Part 1 ~ Painting with pastels

Blending and painting with soft pastels with my fingers. I enjoyed using these colours and blending techniques inspired by a New Forrest artist called Pete Gilbert.


Project ~ Transparent and Opaque

Tonally Graded Washes

Firstly I tried out a strong crimson wash and then applied a yellow wash from the other end which blended well and the intense colours are good.

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 9 wet on wet

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 8 wet on wet

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 5 wet on wet

Trying out the graduated washes together, one colour first and then the other both wet together blend together well, however they appear to look muddy compared to the washes where the second wash layer (overlaying washes) has gone on top of the dried first layer of was. It looks fresher and more translucent. Introducing the Pthalo blue doesn’t look so great with the orange doesn’t look so great, however works well with the Pthalo layer dried and the pink/orange applied on top as they haven’t mixed and gone muddy. (see below).

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 4 wet on wet

Overlaying washes

The following are washes overlaid on the first dry wash. I do like these as the colours are clearer and translucent giving a fresher feel. I think there is more control in producing an affect with the translucent layers on top of the dry washes. I can imagine using these techniques in landscape painting to create a fore-ground, mid-ground and show some distance in the composition..

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 3 wet on dry
More of a translucent feel where the second layer stands away from the first layer.


Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 6 wet on wet

Yellow wash on top of the crimson wash which was left to dry. The yellow looks more luminous on top of the crimson wash. You can see the quality of the colour layer in comparison to the other.

I’ve created some squares with the colours, the top row are wet washes done together and the bottom row are the first wash dried and the second wash on top.

Transparent and opaque - Tonally graded washes 1

I’m going to use these to create another wash overlay only on half of each so the difference can be seen.

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.

Exercise ~ Opaque Colour Mixing

As in the exercise brief I mixed white in with the diluted colour washes  matching them as closely as possible; and played around with some mark making and patterns to see how the opaque colours would work. The Pthalo blue and pink/red worked well as an opaque colours over a few of the colours. The opaque yellow wasn’t as affective. Adding the white especially to my choice of colours makes them look pastel in tone and not just opaque. Both the graduated washes and opaque colours can be used together to create depth and pattern including varying tones to create an interesting painting.

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 1

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 3

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 4

Transparent and opaque - Opaques washes and detail 2

I particularly like the two sheets above, the affect is very useful and I can see which ones I may use in the future. The way the washes show through the opaque tones with runs and movement in comparison to the opaques overlays is visually interesting.

Exercise ~ Monochrome studies

I chose to use Wedgewood grey as my light ground and Prussian blue for the dark colour. The dark colour goes on well to the light colour and is fairly easy to cover. The Wedgewood grey I diluted to go over the top of the dark ground which again went on fairly well and I liked the opaque nature of the paint. These techniques I can see working well in a landscape to depict perspective experimenting with foreground, mid ground and background. The background wash works well for atmosphere as well, it’s almost got a translucent look.

Transparent and opaque - Monochrome tree 2

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.


The Presentation of the Virgin Mary at the Temple by Jacopo Tintoretto

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 of the figures can be created only by painting the high-lit areas of the figures.


Transparent and opaque - Monochrome tree 1

Feeling inspired after this exercise for this first assignment to paint a landscape on a cold misty morning. Whilst driving early the other morning I noticed the low lying mist in the fields and the white haze surrounding the sun which was trying to burn through. These opaque and transparent exercises would work well to achieve the misty landscapes I saw. Will keep this in mind when I decide on my subject.

Exercise ~ Tonal study on white ground

For this exercise I selected an old book, decorative tin and a spotty jug (although I didn’t put in detail). Below are some of the sketches to explore the composition.

Tonal Studies Still life

Sketches for tonal studies

Sketches for tonal studies 2

I chose to work with earthy natural colours to add more interest, also compliments my chosen objects. For the tonal study on light ground I used cadmium yellow, white and a touch of crimson making a background wash, and I mixed a rich colour of burnt umber, crimson, white and cadmium yellow. I then used the same colours for the study on dark ground. I found the transparent washes worked well in both versions, perhaps more so with the light on dark ground tonal study. It was tricky at first to paint the light on dark ground as it was a case of reversing my mind to painting the highlights first to create the light areas and to really consciously leave parts of the dark background for the shadow areas of the painting.

Tonal Studies on light and dark ground
Tonal Studies on light and dark grounds ~ Acrylic washes.

Assignment 1

I’ve chosen to do a still life of a favourite ceramic sculpture that has  been in my lounge for 22 years since my 30th birthday. The sculpture is made of terracotta and glazed with matte underglazes which have been roughly painted on. It’s a comical piece with good organic structure and colour. The ceramicist was inspired by birds, rocks and gems which can be seen within the sculpture. I chose to use acrylics to try to replicate the matte colours and chose a light grey background for the turquoise blue green tones to stand out. I worked quite freely to keep a joyful vibe to compliment the humour of the sculpture. Using Wedgwood and white for the back ground and a pallet of  Phthalo turquoise, prussian blue, alizarin crimson, emerald green, burnt umber, cadmium yellow and white. I mixed these colours to achieve the tones of the sculpture and layered the terracotta tones in first then the blues on top. The finer detail I used burnt umber and prussian blue and a fine brush, dry on dry for the fine lines.

Below are a sequence of pictures of sketchbook and the painting in progress.

POP Assignment 1 a
Ceramic sculpture ~ terracotta finished in matte colours.
POP Assignment 1 b
Background washes of wedgwood and white.
POP Assignment 1 c
Terracotta washes.
POP Assignment 1 d
Introducing the phthalo under washes.

POP Assignment 1 e

POP Assignment 1 f

Choosing the composition I decided on a portrait format to position the sculpture enabling me to create the paint textures of the sculpture.

POP Assignment 1 g
There were two shadows cast from the two spotlights above which created an interesting shadow.
POP Assignment 1 i
Details of the head showing the finer marks and some of the texture.
POP Assignment 1 h
Detail of the lower part of the sculpture.

Feedback from Assignment One



Part Two ~ Close to Home

Project ~ Understanding Colour

“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 some of the impressionist artists such a Van Gogh, Seurat,

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.

Mixing Greys ~ Ana-chromatic Scale

Mixing the Mars Black and white gradually together to create a scale of greys was an interesting exercise, apart from being relaxing it was good to see how just a touch of either colour could change to a new tone. Finding the halfway grey was interesting as I did two scales and even though the mid grey turn out to be exactly the same. One of the mid greys looked light against the dark end of the scale in comparison and the other grey looked darker visually in comparison to the other mid grey when positioned by the lighter end. So the mid greys even the the same don’t look the same against other tones.

Mixing Greys Anachromatic scale

Ready for Primary, Secondary and Tertiary colour mixing. It’s been a long time since I’ve done exercises like this, consciously being aware of the primary colours and what can be achieved from them. I think over the years I’ve gotten used to creating palettes while I work. But having done these exercises it’s amazing to see how many colours and tones can be made, and the range is endless!

Primary & secondary col mixing 1
Mixing primary and secondary colours.
Primary and secondary colours 2
Primary colours and the start of Tertiary colours.

To make the purples and violet colours I added crimson and a touch of white. The blue and red mixed together were making muddy brown colours.

Broken or Tertiary Colours
Broken or Tertiary colours.

I love how these tertiary colours have evolved on the palette ever changing as different colours are added to make and endless range of colours. It’s amazing how many colours can be made from the primary colours and saves a fortune of buying ready made colours straight from the tube!. The only thin is you’d have to be ready to make a large amount of your created colour so you don’t get caught out and not be able to match it half way through. Keeping a not of the colours used in sketchbooks is a wise decision.

Exercise ~ Complimentary Colours

Complimentary Colours

This exercise was harder than I first thought it would be! I found that the colours in between the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green were tricky to make and I’d made them darker than they could be.

Complimentary colours chevreul

Here’s the exercise for creating twelve colours from Chevreul’s colour circle and then the opposite complimentary colours painting side by side. It appears to me that there is a pattern and the complimentary colours are a repeat of the chosen colours. Although this hasn’t been easy to do and I can see that they aren’t perfectly accurate if the repeat pattern is meant to be the case.


Project ~ Still Life