Reflection Assignment 4

The tondo got me looking for simple compositions with interesting contrasts of tones and objects reflecting the nature of working in circular frames.  In the exercise I painted the ac control in oil on a smooth  paper plate where removing paint was just as important as adding paint.    This lead me to focus on oil and smooth surfaces to enable me to sculpt.  Despite this being what attracted me to it I also wondered if there was a better medium to represent it.   My research into atmosphere created by artists such as Marlene Dumas led me to trying watercolour to produce some atmospheric 3D representations.   However when compared to the original it still didn’t have the impact.   I couldn’t see how I would combine watercolour with impasto paint, they just seemed too far apart.  This helped me focus more on oil and acrylic.

The glowing fuzzy feeling from the sofa painted with layers of acrylic was a nice quality  considered for the final tondo because it created a soft warm feeling you get when relaxing at home.   I found this initial experiment to be too dark which is why I didn’t progress it.

The eye is drawn to the control and moves freely around and down and slows around the base of the sofa and the mat.   The control sits prominently on top in a relaxed manor.   Form and structure is implied by the brush direction.     I was able to use a large brush to move the paint around and respond to the tactile feeling of the sofa and ac control as well as how it looks.   The sofa looks a little stretched and squashed perhaps more than intended.   Despite using bright colours the overall feeling is muted.

The tondo does reflect many of the intended qualities such as a AC control which is relaxing on the sofa and also draws your attention.   I did miss making the buttons explicit and more obvious like a child would play with it although I wasn’t sure it would help and it was not essential.   The mat below the sofa is soft and doesn’t distract from the main focus even though I used thick impasto paint.   The colours seem to tie it all together unlike the earlier attempt at trying complementary colours which didn’t enhance the contrast as intended.    There is a level of depth to the sofa where the back is less sharp through heavier strokes and the AC control and base of the sofa seem more in focus and closer through lighter thicker marks.

I still had difficulty deciding on the final tondo because the qualities of the painting were not all that clear and did not form a clear story or idea.   I was under the belief oil would be the right medium to use but for various reasons I keep returning to the familiar acrylic.   I do need to try finding an additive for oil which supports impasto work in a similar fashion to acrylic gel.

With the intention to use impasto paint and add and remove paint I felt that applying the blind drawing I’d learnt in the previous assignment would help with depth and relevant qualities.    Given it is such a simple object it did help to add more features which is not easily seen when looking.

Experimenting with watercolour was helpful to compare against the work in oil and acrylic.   I can see its possible to paint blurred out of focus areas and sharper in focus areas to add depth and draw the focus.   I haven’t yet worked out how to control the atmosphere and will be an ongoing area to research.

Oil on enamel provides a mat against gloss contrast where the oil stands out over the gloss and felt like it was working despite the colour problem.   Adding a layer of resin on top can create interesting depth where in this case shadows were cast by the layer of white oil onto the layer below.   I also considered creating a layer of resin to make it feel like it was covered in plastic like that on the peppa pig tondo.   I didn’t include in the final because I thought it would obscure the brushwork on the sofa.

Iain Andrews use of impasto paint influenced how I painted the sofa and AC control and the background.    Whilst my final tondo seems balanced the bright paint in the sofa is not as bright as I’d hoped.  Returning to Iain Andrews technique I realise that maybe the dark parts of the sofa should have been formed from a dark thin wash rather than thick paint.   I therefore need to return to this technique look at how I can make the paint appear brighter.  Also he responded more to the way the paint dried which leads to more unpredictable results and could help my process.

I should continue looking more into atmosphere and emotion and how both Marlene Dumas and Turner carry this out given how it seems to play a part throughout my work so far.




Assignment 4 Tondo

The contrast of the the AC control against the sofa is why I think the initial tondo and idea stands out.   This is important because it reflects a love hate relationship between the AC’s necessity and its frustrating manual control.

I started sketching the AC on sofa with different compositions and found the original face on view still appears to be the best because the others do not provide the impact or opportunity.    Except perhaps a low view from below the arm looking up  which creates an interesting zig-zag.     A blind sketch using charcoal enabled me to differentiate and focus on what I could feel with one hand.  This I thought I could translate into a movement or removal of paint.   At the same time I also returned to the shoes in the cupboard and painted a different arrangement in acrylic on paper.    I liked trying to use thick impasto paint to paint the flip flop and shoe hoops which add movement.   I also sketched toys left around the apartment .   I still felt the AC on sofa to be the most interesting so I progressed.

Relaxing indoors.  Acrylic on canvas.


This seemingly simple assignment proved challenging mostly because I was unable to articulate how I wanted it to look and therefore what would be the best medium.    I knew there are key contrasts between the sofa and ac control to express the sense of feelings from touch and using it.    I ended up experimenting with different mediums and looking at different artists.    My final tondo ended up using acrylic even though I intended to use oils.

Iain Andrews movement of thick bright impasto paint (Saatchi Art, 2007) inspired me to try to use it to draw attention to the control and sofa.   The almost pure bright colours stand out even though the background may also be bright.   It was important to keep the background thin and bright and reflect some of the colour seen in the control.   In addition keeping a uniform feel would support the tactile feel I got and also Iain’s thin uniform washes to contrast the flowing movement of the thick paint.   Acrylic is mixed with a matt gel and thinner and applied with a large brush to bring out the folds of soft leather.  A medium sized brush was used to sculpt the heavy hard balls felt in it’s base (Lee, 2014).   I then drag the control down to reflect the smooth display and then across for the sharp buttons with the large brush.   I add a gloss gel for the control to create a sheen.   The mat follows the same approach applied in other versions but with acrylic where the paint is applied with a medium sized brush softly in dabs to slow or halt the movement above.    The control sits in a reclined relaxed position and feels consistent in approach and part of the sofa.   The buttons are hinted through the direction of the stroke.     The sofa was intended to be dark relative to the control and I hoped the colours would appear brighter in similar way to Iain’s paint.

The Tondo shape gives opportunity to find a focus and put all effort into that rather than more of the context.  It can help provide a more natural frame around the focus as opposed to a more traditional frame such as the square and rectangle.    If the composition is without the necessary context it can mean there is no obvious right way up which allows you to view it in many different orientations.

I found it sometimes difficult to find something which fits into a circle or oval which has everything.  For example scenes with more than one thing to see such as the object and a reflection can be difficult to fit.   I can see that landscapes which require a more open experience would not work as well as they would in a more traditional rectangle.    It can be difficult to identify the correct way to orientate the tondo if there is insufficient context or indication which way up is without an appropriate anchor.

Influences have been mainly Iain Andrews use of impasto paint in a fluid way.   Also Mindy Lee (Lee, 2014) used acrylic in a sculptural way for detail.

To develop further I would practice using Iains technique to see what more I can use with brighter colours for the impasto and use of thin paint for the background and shadows.  I would also look at additives for oil to see if I could use oil instead.

Other painted tondos…

Simply painting the AC control with thick paint in oil over black ink for the sofa lacked impact especially when compared to the original.   The composition seemed compromised because nothing touched the side.

Looking at Morning Dew by Marlene Dumas (Glover, 2011) I thought that maybe I could get more from watercolour.   Using a small amount of watercolour and wet-on-wet I managed to get a more interesting representation with blurred light areas and stronger sharper areas.  This made it feel more 3D and this also made the control stand out more.  Again I still prefer the contrast of the original and the composition.   On another attempt I explore blurred around the edge moving to sharper in the middle of the tondo.   I found that including a print of my palm (white acrylic) as a base layer and top layer with watercolour for the shadows helps to bring out the texture of the sofa.   The pastels used on the mat standout with the different texture drawing attention.

Following this printing with white acrylic I try again using more coloured acrylic glazes to paint the sofa and a top glaze with black acrylic ink.   The result is a heavy textured glowing surface which gives the general form but lacks any definition and the control stands out rather well.  This gives a fuzzy cozy feeling of being sat on a sofa.  The control is sharp but perhaps not sharp enough in comparison.

Using the paper plate again I try sponging the background to create a soft uniform feel which reflects the tighter feeling than the loose material on the sofa.   I then paint the sofa with black oil and remove the highlights including the control.  This looks better but I find it all seems sharp and in focus (even the background).  I add a thick painted mark in acrylic for the control and move the paint for the buttons and screen.

When priming canvas with glue I get to move the paint easily on the surface like the paper plate but the final effect is all slightly blurred even where I’ve used thicker oil paint.   I should consider going back to this and adding another layer of oil to see if this is still true.

Black on white works but I wanted to know if there are better colour combinations.  Complementary colours should enhance each colour to show contrast so I look at red for love and green for hate.  I use green enamel to create a smooth glossy ground on which to paint the sofa red in oil and the mat in a similar green impasto to get a soft feeling which is not over powering.   Thinned down red paint appears darker than impasto so enabled me to change the tone a little.   Through curiosity I try painting the control over a layer of resin which adds greater depth.   The control appears somewhat normal against the red and a little lost because its size is relatively small compared to the sofa and tondo.   Its also looking a lot more like a monoprint from the previous assignment with the layering of single coloured prints.




Glover, Michael. (2011) ‘Great Works: Morning Dew 1997 (125cm x 70cm), Marlene Dumas‘ In: Independent [online]   At: Accessed on 27/11/17

Lee, Mindy (2014) Better Out Than In Venus  At: Accessed on:11/10/17

Saatchi Art. (2007) The Ecstasy of St.Teresa by Iain Andrews  At: Accessed on:11/10/17