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.

Exercise 3.1 ink portraits

The first set of portraits were each painted within 10 minutes because I’d not correctly read the point about painting within a minute.  Hence the difference in detail with the subsequent set where I stopped after a minute.

With more time I was able to look at the whole head and consider details such as beard and background.  Often the face got messy with overlapping brush work that didn’t add to the painting.   The contrast of the dark dry brush for the beard and light wash for shadow created simple detail which balanced the glasses and hair (top left of most interesting).   The interesting shadows of the glasses around the eyes on the middle bottom portrait is also different in the way it was done and stands out as interesting.  I think it is because of the subtle varying strengths in value of overlapping circles which  relate/connect the form of the head with the form of the glasses.  I did this on the top right portrait however I think it was lost with the hair and glasses standing out more with messy heavy brush work.  The connection is assumed and not so noticeable in other portraits which maybe something to explore.

With less time I started to get less precise and more gestural often finding ink blurring with excessive water on the paper.  It was harder to switch between water, ink/water mix and just ink with the same brush and changing brushes during such short time didn’t seem a good use of time.

The ones which stood out showed greater facial expression or had interesting ink bleeds or interesting face shape or just effective simple brush work.  The top left had a very simple profile with the glasses giving a strong glare from the eyes.  Top right resulted in a haunting distorted face with the bleeding from the eyes and devoid of expression.  By focussing on blurring the eyes area with water perhaps distracted/conflicted wth providing focus on the eyes which naturally draw attention.  Bottom left the strong glasses start to bleed into the face down the side of the nose.  The sharper eyes and glasses again drawn the attention  (it seems better where I’ve applied water).     Middle bottom has interesting shape for the face down the left which feels more caricature but it draws attention to a face profile whilst being front facing.  The bottom right feels angry in expression from the eyes, right eye in particular.


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