Exercise 3.2 Monotypes

I started practicing the monotypes using my ink portraits from the previous exercise.  I found the process fun to first paint on glass over the original and then make a print.   I used glass because I had a piece for a palette.   I started with yellow for highlights and a darker colour for shadows and painted the shadows first.   It reminded me of colouring in a kids colouring book.   The prints have a dry brushed quality and flat with little depth.   I feel unsure about what needs extra paint once the print is done because they are consistently painted leaving me to touch all of it.  This is partly down to there being very little differences in value in the ink painting.  I try adding more to the shadow where the original had more and this didn’t help in most cases.   I tried removing paint from the eyes (on the glass) which I found helped create instant focus on the eyes and made the face feel like it was looking harder at me.   I then felt the yellow was not adding to the print and removed it leaving no paint.  I found using more solvent helped bleed colours and to lesson the brush strokes creating a sponged effect.   The less solvent meant more of the brush strokes remained visible.  It seems that the type of paper used for printing affects the result.   I’ve used mostly silver printing paper at 250gsm which comes out lighter than using thiner drawing paper at 100gsm which absorbs more paint.

Then I decided to try using a photo of someone else.  This lead me to try applying more solvent to the background to create pattern and less focus on the brushwork.  Then to use less solvent on the face to get sharper brushwork showing the facial features.   I found too much paint on the face resulted in loosing the features, even though it looked ok on the glass the print came out too dark.  Like Eleanor Moreton I used a large brush for the background with a darker value and a smaller brush with lighter value for the face and body.  I love some of the unintended effects for example where the paint had more solvent mixed in the background resulted in a sponged effect.  With sufficient paint and solvent the effect had a wet look with lines joining the dots, with less the effect became drier and dotty.    The sharpe brushed lines on the jacket came out lighter than expected but the lines create an interesting delicate pattern that is flat and feels like clothing.

I considered simplifying the face to features like Annie Kevans however this is harder than it looks.   I felt I needed to paint more of the wrinkles and facial lines than just the eyes nose and mouth.   The result feels more a caricature.   I think I needed the blue to be a lower value so that the eyes and mouth stand out more and the background a touch lighter.   I tried again and this time kept the background blank and most of the face, then using a pale red paint the shadows on the face.  This came out much better with greater likeness than many of the others.



Whilst doing this exercise I tried to drawing the portrait using marks similar to how I’d paint it and found it useful to get a feel for how I might do more sketches like this.  Although it did have more detail than was necessary.


Exercise 3.3 Removing paint

I tried removing paint using a soft rag with a bit of solvent from the eyes and mouth like Yuko Nasu however being on glass there was little trace of what was.   I did try a light touch and managed to get a swirl effect distorting the eye.   Certainly leaving eyes and other areas blank helped make them standout in print.

I used rough rag on the clothes resulting in streaks like a dry brush.  I used tissue paper to remove highlight on nose, eyes, cheeks and ear.   I used cotton buds along wrinkles and in the background, I used paint moving stick for hair giving a sharper line.  On the last I painted the whole area one colour then removed highlights with various items, like a rag, cotton bud, brush with varying amounts of solvent.    The result is striking and reminds me of the earlier work in assignment 1 where white was painted on dark ground.   Using different things to remove paint creates contrasting marks.  The vertical blurred wavy background helps bring the portrait forward.  The sharper curved lines of the clothes helps frame the portrait.


The following are some of the prints I rejected mostly because they didn’t have enough contrast or detail.

Exercise 3.4 Adding paint

I selected the last print with removed highlights to try  adding a layer of warm darker paint to create more definition and contrast.  Unfortunately I forgot to photograph the original print.   I liked the way the brush marks flowed in the neck and onto the jacket and also the way it flows around the eye drawing attention to it.    It feels soft and more like a print with a second print on top.

I selected the simplified painting (based on Annie Kevans) and tried to create greater likeness by defining the eyes and mouth stronger leaving the  rest of the face untouched.  Also adding more definition to the clothes by crossing against the original brush marks.  This feels less like a print.

I found the first print with the sponge effect background more interesting and wanted to try creating more definition.   I maintained the dry brush work around the eyes and more to the hair to create the definition.   I also blended more paint into the neck.   The eyes draw the focus then the mouth which I left mostly untouched.   This is more intense with both a strong background and face.


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: http://www.kimbaker.co.uk/portfolio.php Accessed on:24/8/17

Edwards, Kim. (2014) Sizewell I. At: http://www.kimedwardsartist.com/photo_13550825.html Accessed on:24/8/17

Kevans, Annie. (2006) Shakira. At: http://www.anniekevans.com/girls?lightbox=dataItem-ijyuviy3  Accessed on:24/8/17

Moreton, Eleanor. (2014) Asent Friends: Nina.  At: https://eleanor-moreton.squarespace.com/new-page-24 Accessed on:24/8/17

Saatchi Art. (s.d) 0108 Painting by Yuko Nasu. At:https://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-0108/25573/1676080/view  Accessed on:24/8/17

Sharma, Alli. (2014) Ingrid 3.  At: http://www.allisharma.com/allisharma/Paintings.html#16 Accessed on:24/8/17

Painting on a 3D surface

I found a large wooden seed pod outside our flat and decided to paint a collection on its bumpy surface.   From earlier research,  Lee Edwards painting on oak used the surface detail as part of the painting and so I was looking for a collection which could make use of the wooden surface.   The stacked plates with the reflection on the floor and the collection of screws were two options I could try.  I decided on the plates and used acrylic to paint on the bumpy side of the pod, using the raised parts as plates.  The split from the cool plates to the warm reflection created a natural divide which fitted naturally to the inversion point on the pod.   When dry the acrylic was dark and dull which is perhaps not appropriate for reflecting the shiny plates.  Whilst it was fun to paint on the unusual surface the end result feels more decorative than anything meaningful which maybe because it’s not clear what it was.

Painting on a painted surface

What are the most appropriate ways to show the different tones in a painting? 
One of the challenges was starting with a thin wash of paint because it feels like it’s setting one of the tones still relatively light because the paper is white. Furthermore I felt I needed to continue with thin washes of paint which shows all brushwork both good and bad.
I thought the plates high contrast tonal variation would be most striking to paint. I started with side on view with a light watercolour ground for a black ink painting and second an darker orange ink ground for a coloured acrylic painting. Both cases didn’t work well, maybe because I was including too many plates and loosing control of the paint. They feel messy, no real focus, the sharp contrasts seem to have been lost. Another issue was the paper curled and made the painting difficult because it hadn’t been stretched. Possible ways to improve, focus on the top 3 bowls showing interesting marks, make the plates tones sharper, apply more paint to the ground for darker areas.

Next painting is gouache on a dark orange ink ground on stretched paper. This time I had a bit more fun and used pva to outline the plates then drip blue ink in between the plates. The composition was chosen to spiral the eye in from the large plates.   Overall this simpler composition and tonal choices provided structure and form.  

For the clothes I decided to Paint the background a darker blue acrylic mixed with pva to make the brushwork more visible.    The thin acrylic brush work on the pva ground worked well for the hat because the blue ground was visible through the stroke with enough contrast.  The dress appears light which is good but the contrast with the ripples is a bit weak.   I felt I needed to darken the background after painting the dress in order to make the dress seem brighter.   The idea of painting another collection on top appealed here so I thought the collection of toy animals painted with a dry brush would continue a similar style.  There’s a lot happening here and perhaps focussing on the top left hat is the most stricking.

Next I looked at utensils and some interesting shadows using ink and watercolour.  I found ink less forgiving on the lighter tones than watercolour.  The shadow was intended to be blurred using wet in wet but with less paint it was not as dark as I’d liked and applying another layer highlighted mistakes.  This meant the not so dark shadow set the tonal range from the background.   Despite the low tonal range the compositions helped where the shadows drew the eye into the utensil.   The addition of the serving spoon gave its’ painting a surprise boost with a better tonal range and focus.  The use of salt didn’t work out for creating featured highlights on the spoon surface.


Exercise 2.2 large scale line painting

What makes a good line drawing? And on the larger a1+ size?

I begun drawing quick continuous pen drawings of various collections in my a5 sketch pad.  At this size I started to see that simple outlines of the objects in the collection were not enough.  By following more of the structure of the objects, for example, by breaking the outline for areas in shadow.   Perhaps the less an outline is explicitly visible the more the viewer needs to fill in and therefore create something more interesting.  The lines could also bring out patterns of interest.

Through drawing the patterns in the clothes collection I thought about rhythm and how this may help show movement.  It reminded me of the artist who painted each line in a breath in a form of meditation.  

In exercise 2.1 I poured emulsion from a spoon to draw outlines and decided to do this again because I like way it forces you to keep moving and not be so precise.   Also I’ve seen paintings by Lisa kranichfeld who painted nudes using a similar technique which had a sense of movement from the lines.    It seems she managed to do lines with varying thickness probably from controlling the speed of movement or flow of paint. 
 I liked to way the patterns were starting come out on the last clothes drawing so decided to take this to a larger sheet.  I first practiced on newspaper to get the rhythm then onto a sheet of watercolour paper.  

Overall I was not happy with this and didn’t have time on the day to start another so I thought I’d reflect before doing another.   The rhythm of the lines in the dress was not consistent, often broken and wavy.  Also I think I got the balance wrong and should have made the lines heavier below the dress and lighter on the dress because there is too much along the top of the painting compared to the bottom.    The zig zag patterns for the jumper worked to break up the dress well and give it shape without the need for an outline.   The hint of movement in the dress was too subtle although not sure how I would have made it more obvious.    Moving slowly on the right of the hat created thicker lines for the shadow but did mean I had less control in the faster part and also a broken rhythm, I think the hat could have looked so much better.

Unusual Painting Media

This is all about trying  out different unusual painting media.   I selected the following from the exercise list either because they are readily available or because I wanted to try them.   Jam, icing, coffee, coke, ink from the wooden end of a brush, household paint, enamel, ice, nail varnish.

Jam ( and peanut butter). Used jam to paint plates and also decided to include peanut butter for comparison.  The jam was not so easy to manipulate and control the shape and surface compared to peanut butter which allowed finer control.      Also tried pouring icing from an icing bag onto a black background.   Using the icing bag was like writing with a dripping pen with fine control.   This kind of media has in inherent short life span.


Coffee, made to the right strength, can be used effectively like watercolour and create washes which can be built up to be darker.  If watered down too much it becomes vary faint.  Pools of coffee dry out leaving a darker ridge around the edge.   Using a wet in wet technique for the reflection and wet in dry for the plate worked and draws attention to the plates and interest in the reflection.

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Coke on the other hand was too watery and gave a very faint stain on white paper.  Once dried it did leave a thicker but still faint sticky brown mark at the bottom of the painted mark.


Painting ink from the wooden end of a stick creates thin lines which start intense and gradually fade as the ink quickly runs out.  The lines are therefore consistently limited in length and intensity.   This does create a sense of rhythm, maybe even a meditative approach.  This made me think of an artist John Franzen who painted lines within a breath.

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Pouring paint to draw outlines is hard and requires the right consistency of paint, the right amount to pour to get a flow and the right vessel to pour from.  I found the household emulsion poured from a spoon worked well if a little difficult to control.  I did get some waves in the line created by a reduction in the flow.

Pouring acrylic onto aluminium can be done however I’m not so happy with the result.  The acrylic was mixed with a thinning medium and a little water until it seemed like it could be poured.  Two colours were mixed and poured from cups onto aluminium.  It may have been too thick because it didn’t spread much and held its shape.  I was able to control the pouring to get a good shape and once down I was able to use a spoon to further mix the paint, see the swirl for the spoon head.  When wet the surface was flat but when dry the paint sank where water dried out, creating a very uneven surface.  The colours also dried much darker.  An nice effect was when ink was added to the surface which had been scraped back to the aluminium.  The ink dried and allowed reflection to shine through and contrasted against the darker acrylic worked well.


I explored painting ink straight onto aluminium and found it very difficult to apply to the aluminium because it keeps pooling and moving away from where you want it.  Its also difficult to mix the colour and keep the consistency right so that it maximises the transparency.   I found painting in direct sunlight helped.


Ice was difficult to use because it soon becomes a surface of water.  For the time just after taking out of the freezer the ice can take some watercolour or ink, then after a short time I found you can press paper on and get a print with the colour forming patterns along ice break lines.  I tried filling half a straw with ice to create a long thin line but I didn’t get any obvious colour mixes.


Painting on pva reduces absorbency of the surface resulting a lighter brighter result where brushwork is more visible compared to working on paper.   This is true for acrylic, oil, watercolour and gouache.  The oil paint direct from tube was oily and created the sharpest contrast for the brush marks compared to using linseed oil or thinner which created a wash with a blurred brush mark.

Painting the collection of clothes worked out well with the light and dark acrylic rings looking like the hat and providing light and shade.  The heavy dark green brushwork of oils created a soft heavy feel in comparison to the hat and transparent material from nail varnish.  The nail varnish creating a light although shinny feel.  Its possible a layer of pva may reduce the shine.  Overall I was pleased with this result because it captured the contrasting clothes needed in the hot sunny outdoors and cold indoors for city life in Hong Kong.


Painting enamels is messy, smelly and harsh on the hands and brushes.   However its easy to paint onto the aluminium, can be glossy or matt and can be manipulated for some time on the surface.   I decided to use enamels to paint the collection of his and hers perfume. Having discovered the transparent reflective nature of ink I could see this being used for the glowing red perfume bottle and enamels for the rest leaving parts of the perfume top bare aluminium.   I was pleased with the result, the ink shows promise and delivers a warm glow when light is reflected.   The ink needed to be thinner to maximise the colour reflection although this was very difficult to control.   The enamels create a sharpness partly because of the gloss finish and partly because of the sharp edges which I left to form naturally.

The collection of pens and pencils was full of colour and seemed to have movement in the form of a spiral sweeping around.   I decided to try painting the pens on to the collection of mobiles and paper.   I first painting the mobiles to support the spiral from top left down and round to the right with the large ipad shape to attract the eye.   I also painted a course white around in the lower right with sand and gesso to contrast with the smooth reflective black glass surface.   The pens were painted in enamels and I moved the pain in the direction of the spiral movement.  The rough surface slows the movement down as intended but doesn’t work well overall.   Theres a lot going on, the focus is not clear and the movement is not as I intended.  I like the different colour mixes starting to happen on the smooth compared to rough surface.

The following painting of shoes compares a well used shoe with the foot marks on the sole next to a more delicate less well used shoe.   This contrast and the position of the pairs caught my eye.  I started with layers of coffee for both shoes, starting thin and building up the layers with more coffee.   I added some water colour to the souls of the well used shoes.   The outside of the well used shoes were shiny and well kept so I started with a layer of pva before using oils.   This was to prevent the oils from absorbing into the paper and creating a brighter glossy look.





Putting together items into interesting collections proved difficult either because the focus was not clear or the setup for the camera wasn’t good.   I decided to try to use contrasting themes like Fred Wilson did in his curation of objects in the museum.    For example his and hers perfume, asian and western utensils, photos of England and China, Clothes for the hot sunny outdoors and cold indoors, old and new shoes, safe toys and dangerous cleaning bottles, useful tools and playful tools.   Sometimes there was too many items in the collection to photo.   For example we have far too many shoes to display effectively so I selected shoes I found interesting and included some which had hardly been worn and some well used.