Monotypes Artists Research

Yuko Nasu

0108 Oil and charcoal on canvas 35 x30″ (Saatchi Art, s.d).   This is a haunting distorted portrait.  You can see she has removed paint for the eyes and mouth with either a rag or brush.   I think the removing paint for these key features creates the haunting feeling.   Theres a figure of 8 movement in the brush work for the face which is not even adding to the distorting notion.  The eyes also sit unevenly.  The brushwork is often sweeping and clearly visible. The surface and paint supports this type of brushwork.  The eyes draw the focus in the middle of the 8.  Looks like the person is wearing a yellow scarf but I think the yellow is the ground and a darker brown was painted on top for the face.  It reminds me of a scarecrow.   Circles used in the distortion of parts of the face are common in her paintings.   Its interesting that she is able to distort and remove key features of the portrait yet keep the character.  There is a feeling its not completely finished with the edges of the portrait.     Look at what type of solvent I can use to remove paint on different surfaces in similar way.

Eleanor Moreton

Painted a series of famous dead heroes.   Nina (simone) 61x50cm oil on birch panel 2014 (Moreton, 2014). Paints simple marks to capture the key facial features particularly for the eyebrow and lips.   Paints the background dark leaving the face the colour and texture of the wood which is also dark.   The only colour used in the eyes and lips and earrings immediately capture the eye.   There’s a larger brush used for most and a small detail brush for lips and eyes.  It feels imposing and strong despite a thinly applied paint.   Whilst this is a portrait the crop includes upper body with the head taking a very small part of the surface.  The wood surface shows through on the body which adds texture with a direction along the body.

Kim Edwards

Painted a series on the Suffolk coast, producing atmospheric landscapes.   Sizewell I 2014 (Edwards, 2014), monotype.  Uses a limited palette.  More paint than the other artists. Feels oppressive. Strong skies with heavy cloud, a looming storm.  Very simple.   Theres movement in the way the brushwork crisscrosses the sky and beach suggesting wind.   The eye is drawn along the beach to the power station.   Breaking waves are clearly visible and may have been from removing paint before printing.   It seems a medium sized brush was used for most and possibly a small detail brush for the waves and power station.   Its not clear what was painted on after printing because the paint on the dark areas seems to be the same value although part of the sky seems more solid and less likely to be a result of printing.

Annie Kevans

Shakira (Kevans, 2006) painted as part of a series of girls.  Thinned oils on canvas, very effective expressive portraits.   Most of the body is painted with very pale colours and eyes, mouth and bra are painted strongly making them stand out.  They eyes are drawn to the bra and then up to the face.    A large brush is used to paint most of the body with a small brush used for the eyes, nose, mouth.    She is very efficient and economical with the brush marks.   Reminds me of simple marker pen drawings.

Kim Baker

Floral Landscape 150cm x 120cm oil on canvas 2017 (Baker, 2017)
Landscape view of a bunch of flowers shown in centre. Various colour flowers and green leaves painted with swirling brushwork. Dark background contrasted with the light coloured flowers makes them glow.  She uses a very large brush to paint the flowers loaded with multiple colours producing streaks of colour. Each is painted on top overlapping previous petals or leaves. Each stroke seems to flow back into the painting.  The background is painted with straight vertical strokes.

Alli Sharma

Ingrid 3 (A Kind of Loving), 2014, oil on canvas, 50x40cm (Sharma, 2014)

Portrait view of a movie actress who starred in a black and white movie.  The choice of black paint therefore seems appropriate to capture something from the past.   The eye is drawn to the profile of the woman by the sharp contrast and clean simple features (just below the middle).  The brush work is clearly important because every stroke is clearly visible.   Thinned oil paint is used, you can see where excessive solvent has run.   The oil has maintained the brushwork which suggests another medium was added and or the surface was treated to make it less absorbent.    The strokes have varying intensity, and movement.   Various brush sizes used with largest for background, hair and clothes and cheeks.  Smaller brush for marks on clothes and facial features.

Geraldine Swayne, David Blomberg, Marlene Dumas

Diego Velesquez, Edouard Manet,


Baker, Kim. (2017) Floral Landscape. At: Accessed on:24/8/17

Edwards, Kim. (2014) Sizewell I. At: Accessed on:24/8/17

Kevans, Annie. (2006) Shakira. At:  Accessed on:24/8/17

Moreton, Eleanor. (2014) Asent Friends: Nina.  At: Accessed on:24/8/17

Saatchi Art. (s.d) 0108 Painting by Yuko Nasu. At:  Accessed on:24/8/17

Sharma, Alli. (2014) Ingrid 3.  At: Accessed on:24/8/17

Reflection (on assignment 2)

Making my brushwork more evident seems to be important to me through this and the previous assignment.  Whilst I spent most of my time practicing with enamels on aluminium I ended up hardly using them in the final painting, partly because it did not show brushwork strongly.    It was the research into Claire Woods which brought me back to showing brushwork and working with oils instead.    I was hoping enamels would have an element of chance where the paint would still move and mix but this did not have sufficient impact.    Maybe I could have continued with enamels following a more natural style similar to those in my earlier research and used work by Geraldine Swayne as an influence.

I spent time sketching to see the overall composition and the form of the key elements. I’m not convinced the sketching helped me arrive at an effective composition however I do think it helped me see the form and structure of the utensils.    The composition immediately draws you into the spoon then the background takes you around in a clockwise motion.  Out of the tools I used to sketch (charcoal, pen, pencil, ink)  ink and brush  helped me quickly capture and get a feel for the composition.

I feel more confident now with aluminium and I like its’ qualities such as light reflection and ease of applying or removing paint.   There is a feeling of greater potential with more to learn and I’m excited about using aluminium again.

The background shadows appear as strong as the objects casting them which adds an unintended conflict.  The painting of the spoon and chopsticks was slightly too controlled.   I think the way I painted the background is starting to reflect my personal voice because it captured a sense of energy and it felt good whilst painting.   Part of the difficulty has been with me focussing more on the technical and visual aspects throughout the work rather than on a message.    Whilst I have thought about a message (fitting into a different culture) represented by the choice and expression of utensils I’ve often used intuition or a feeling of what to paint and how. Having read Contemporary Drawing by M Davidson about intent I realise there is a lot to consider and that there is a lot going on when I paint and much of this is unconscious or perhaps slightly hidden from me.   Looking at this intent maybe useful moving forward both for researching artists and also my own work.

I have experimented with different content (fork spoon and chopstick) and arrangements to understand more about what I wanted to show.    Experimentation also included materials and I particularly liked the effect of ink and enamel on aluminium and how transparent gesso changed the aluminium to something more like canvas which is more absorbent.  I would have liked to have used some of this experimentation such as the gesso but following some small tests I felt each was taking away rather than adding to the painting.  This gave me a feeling I was stumbling a bit with what to do next.

Clare Woods approach with progressively thinner, more controlled painted marks appealed and formed my approach.   Whilst painting the background I felt the need to form a spiral to draw focus on the spoon and this fitting naturally with the shadow shapes.   I remember seeing this work well in many of Turners paintings of storms.   Another influence has been in the time aspect where I’ve broken the flow of thoughts and painting from the initial experimentation to the final painting and preparation by 10 months.  This may partly explain the change in direction as well as the later research into Clare Woods and Geraldine Swayne.


M Davidson (2011) Contemporary Drawing: Key concepts and techniques.


Assignment 2 Painting

My exploration of subject, media and techniques lead me to ideas which I wanted to try to use in the final painting.  The key ones being a contrasting view of a fork and spoon with chopsticks expressed using oil on aluminium.   Ideas about how they could relate to me personally were about fitting into a new culture.



Applying everything so far on a larger scale was both exciting and overwhelming.   I choose A1 size mainly because that was about the size of the aluminium sheet pre-cut and because I wanted to paint something big.



My intention was to show more of the brush work in a similar approach to Claire Woods and use oil paints.    I used a large household brush for the background and a brush one third the size for the utensils.  Oil mixed with solvent and refined linseed oil was used to reduce the consistency and make it slightly transparent.   This allowed me to be more gestural and less precise with sweeping brush work across the surface which I really enjoyed and would like to do more.    The fork highlights were wiped off whilst wet.   The result was striking and intense and after completing another smaller test I decided to leave it. Originally my intention was to apply a transparent gesso to blur the background further and make the utensils stand out but this combination didn’t seem as appropriate as when enamel had been the ground.    This was because I didn’t want to loose the brushwork which I felt took a step to expressing the culture and also I was expecting to create a relationship with smaller brushwork on the spoon.

At this point I’m wondering what I’m really trying to communicate and whether simply showing the fork/spoon next to chopsticks as I see them in the photos is meaningful.    I knew I didn’t have a strong message and was relying more on a natural expression of form and shadow to represent my intent.

Leftside: oil on gesso on enamel, right side oil on gesso on oil, both on aluminium
oil on gesso on enamel on aluminium

Next I used enamel to paint chopsticks because it was less expressive and more about being able to control the brush in such a long straight line.   Enamels where good for dragging and dripping and so I thought should work in favour.   The relationship with negative space was also important so I left highlights and painted the parts in shadow.    The difference in style with the long straight stands out and makes me question whether it fits in with the painting, perhaps it’s too representational compared to the background?   Is this a reflection of the challenge of fitting in with a culture?

Finally I painted the spoon in oils with the smaller brush and tried to paint only the highlights.   However I needed to paint the darker parts to bring the right tone for the spoon relative to the background.   This was moving away from what I liked about the work from Clare Woods however I was trying to get the reflection of the chopsticks into the spoon as well as the highlights.

Untitled Oil and enamel on aluminium 32″x26″

Overall it is a striking painting of the utensils with dramatic contrasting tones.  The brushwork helps direct the viewer through the painting.  The negative space relates well for the fork and chopstick holder but to a lesser extent with the chopsticks and spoon.   The straight on view allows you to easily see the shape of the utensils and compare.    The intense big brushwork of the shadows is perhaps more overpowering than the actual objects because they are painted with smaller less dramatic marks.    This view was not consciously intended and again moves away from what I observed in Claire Woods painting.      The intent is less clear in terms of the message I’m trying to communicate.  This is partly because I’ve been less clear on defining up front the idea and more focussed on the techniques and composition most appealing to me.

How to develop this is difficult when I’m not clear on the message however I could have taken my approach further and painted the chopsticks as realistic as possible to enhance the sense they all didn’t fit together.    I could try extending the fork approach to the spoon and chopstick and remove paint for highlights and then evaluate the need to paint any darker tones.   This later approach seems appropriate because it would remove the actual utensils leaving the shadows to take focus.   Alternatively look at the way the utensils are used e.g. chopsticks can be more precise compared to using a fork or spoon.   Also I needed to try harder to find other work and artists who have looked at this subject.

Artists who have influenced my work include Clare Woods with the fluid brushwork in oil.  Turner with his dramatic swirling stormy landscapes.


M Davidson (2011) Contemporary Drawing: Key concepts and techniques.