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.



Research point 2

Fred Wilson – mining the museum was about changing a museums exhibit to highlight the history of african americans.   He highlighting issues by displaying contrasting items together often challenging the viewer to think about issues of racism.


Lisa Milroy – Life on the line 2009 Installation of various canvases in oil.

34_1_lFeels strange because its like I’m observing someones life in their home.   Each painting hangs down like a blind covering part of what’s behind.   The armchair makes it feel homely and everything being life-size makes it more real.   The subjects show that fashion and image is important and a beautiful relaxing place.   It could be the artists life hanging on the line.   The way the paintings are arranged encourages you to look at them and move around to see them.  I reminds me of a large noticeboard of pinned photos.

Painting a picture, 2000, oil on canvas 152 x 223 cm

536_1_lThis is a fun painting with bright simple paintings of various objects.   It reminds me of the first assignment and the idea of creating a series of paintings with some way to link them together.  The use of colour livens the everyday objects and the colour for each square is obviously chosen to relate to the object as well as the colours used.  The composition follows a consistent full frame without cropping and no background detail.

Earlier collections look at repeated patterns and carefully arrangements of objects such as shoes, lightbulbs plates and melons.  Melons 1986 oil on canvas 70×86″.


Paul Westcombe – creates very detailed drawings on objects such as coffee cups of cartoons inspired by someone bored and wanting to draw.

You’re hardly ever here and when you’re here you’re bored.  2008 coffee cup 13.5 x9cm


Lee Edwards – Fades to memory, oil on oak, 2011, 18x15x2cm


Reminds me of a sticker which didn’t fully come off when removed.  The way the artist has made use of the natural grain in the oak to support the idea of the portrait fading away.   The rings also draw the eye in to the face.

David Dipre.  Paints portraits in oils.   The Fresh Face is painted on an a used plastic bottle.  The fresh green colour may have inspired the work and the title.   Often he paints on objects as well as canvas, each time painting thick impasto style.


Reading Freud’s Family Romances (1909) looks at how children create dreams about what they would like their parents to be based on a comparison with others around.   They are critical of their own family and fantasise about a better life based on what they see in the society around them.     I guess you could look at these dreams and ask what is real and what is not in relation to their parents or how society has changed their view on their family.

Walter Benjamin’s Philosophy of History is difficult to comprehend but my understanding is that there are opposing views on history.  One which looks at objects at face value in terms of what it means relative to the present.   The other looks deeper at what it was like at that time, the feelings and emotions of those creating the object.