Part 4 review

Tondos both circular and oval encourage the viewer to focus on something as opposed to view and experience something.   The single edge continually brings the eye into the middle.

Looking back I find the AC on sofa the most interesting composition, contrast and subject.   The AC control is important to life indoors, it sits in a prominent place on the sofa for easy frequent access and its often played with by the kids.   Alternatively the idea of things which have been played with and left can tell a story about what had happened.   There are interesting shapes and patterns in the jumbled collection of shoes which could be improved with finding a better composition and contrast between shoes.

The success of the original AC on sofa is largely down to the surface which was a paper plate with a smooth surface.  The surface had little absorbency enabling me to remove and move paint around in a sculptural way.  Oil on canvas primed with gesso gets absorbed and harder to remove or move.  Varnish and glue can help reduce the absorbency of canvas however it changes the finish which seems softer and slightly blurred.

The use of impasto paint along side thinner paint can be an effective way to draw attention to the focus of the tondo.   For example, the toy on shelf painting’s bright thick painted mark came forward above the background and it had movement.  I don’t feel watercolour or ink alone is enough to create the impact I’d like for painting the interior.  However it could be used together with other media to bring something out like the toy lego above the blurred box side.   Oil seems to be less effective than acrylic for impasto paint partly because I’m expecting greater volume of paint and I don’t have a suitable medium to add to the oil paint.  I’ve successfully managed to create a soft subtle texture/finish with thick oil paint without much thinner to paint the mat below the sofa.   When mixed with liquin original I’ve found it goes thin and transparent although it does keep a hint of the brush marks.  Generally speaking the oil paint is stronger, brighter snd sharper when compared to acrylics (this maybe down to the quality of the acrylics).   I think its the ability to manipulate oil paint in a sculptural fashion on the surface which elevates it over other mediums.   However I need to remember to keep the brushes clean because the colours became muddy whilst painting the toothbrushes.

Other things to remember to look at are use of drawing mediums such as pastels in combination with the paints.













Exercise 4.4 Thicker paint

Flurries or sweeping impasto marks stand out and help drawn the eye when on thin paint, especially when the impasto paint is brighter and more saturated than the background.  Small strong impasto paint against pale wet-on-wet paint also creates an interesting contrast.  Care should be taken to minimise layering blue impasto acrylic and making the area too dark.    Liquin was mixed with oil to make the brush marks stand out but I’m wondering if there is another additive to give it more body without adding more paint in the same way a gel medium can be added to acrylic.

Iain Andrews uses impasto acrylic mixed with a medium on light background and I thought this could be applied to the toy on the shelf.  I applied the thick paint to the toy and part of the picture in the frame leaving the rest.   This made the toy stand out more and adds sense of movement or being used.  The colours being bright and strong help elevate against the pale background.   It was a mistake to add paint to the photo frame on the left because this distracts from the toy especially with the white in the frame and the dark paint.   The thicker impasto paint dried with lumps or bubbles, this could be down to the quality of my paint.

AC control on sofa had a coloured placemat in front made of material so I used thick oil to create a soft fuzzy area.   I tried not to make it too strong to distract but to provide a different texture.   The eye is drawn to this immediately after seeing the control box.   I like the texture but feel I still made it too strong with colour with the rest being black and white.

The shoe fasteners were interesting features so I added more of the same colour in a heavy stroke across the fasteners.   The extra paint made them too dark making the overall painting too heavy and unbalanced.  The texture is good when caught in the light showing a flow around the painting from shoe to shoe.   The larger size helps take in the many shoes and details which provides lots of visual interest.

The toy box was already working well and enhancing the visible toy with thick acrylic was a natural step and finishes off the painting.  The contrast of the thick acrylic with the blurred washed out coloured shapes works well.   It maybe beneficial to explore changing the composition. Whilst showing more of the lighter box side than the visible toy works well it may improve by adding a brick which sticks out more overlapping the side.

Hanging dresses show a great pattern which I felt I couldn’t improve with thicker paint.   I noticed I’d made the sides the darkest which seemed to add depth but equally I’d not added this depth between the dresses.  This was more because I’d ran out of time whilst painting rather than a conscious choice but I’d thought I could balance this by painting over the dark areas with the wardrobe doors which are a glossy cream.   I used acrylic with a gloss gel additive.   By painting over with the doors I see its lightened the painting, removed a lot of unnecessary painted parts of the dresses and brought out the patterned dresses.

The dummy was the only part I felt needed more to differentiate it and reflect its nature with transparent shiny surface.   I decided to add a layer of acrylic mixed with gloss additive resulting in a transparent glossy layer.  This helps bring the dummy forward slightly.  Not a dramatic change.

The paint brushes was made brighter through painting a layer of gloss acrylic across the middle of the handles stopping at the cup mouth.  This enhances the colour especially the red and yellow reflecting the fun nature of the brushes.  Note the blue becomes too dark.

The flip flops straps are the most interesting so I added acrylic to the straps to give a sharper texture.   This is a subtle change and maybe could have incorporated more detail.

Peppa pig gets a thicker layer of oil mixed with liquin to try and show more of the brush marks.  A large brush was used to swirl the paint around in the shape of the head and body.  This brightens the toy making it feel happier more alert  compared with before which felt more lonely and lost.   The brighter thicker paint for peppa now doesn’t fit so well with the background as the older version and I feel the less bright version had more character.   I then added a layer of resin which had gaps and this created an effect that it was covered by plastic that stuck to the toy where the resin receded.   This also meant the impasto brushmarks were lost but I found this plastic effect interesting perhaps relating to the fact that we have too much plastic in our homes.

Toothbrush was too dark so I painted over with oil + liquin.  This brightened it up and made it stand out.

Ceiling light has more to look at with the added painted ceiling around the hole and the bare wire twirling out of the hole.  The eye is now drawn to the wire rather than the bracket.   I left the bracket to make use of the bare surface and the hole because it was not the interesting part.  For me this is adding more visual activity on a fairly simple hole in the ceiling.

Exercise 4.3 fluid painting


Continuing with the toy theme and being obscured  I decided to paint a cuddly toy obscured by balloons.   I used a circular cake board covered in a patterned aluminium foil primed with clear acrylic gesso for the surface.    I wanted the colours to stay bright and thought a less absorbent surface would help.  It needed gesso to allow the paint to absorb a little so that it can be easily seen and being transparent meant a little of the aluminium shone through.   I practiced painting on paper and the back on the board with acrylic and acrylic ink and decided the acrylic ink had the brightest colours and was already fluid.  Gloss varnish was sprayed over the dried painting.

Whilst overall it is bright the colours are not as bright as I intended in particular the pink balloon.   It looks flat with a small tonal range.  The eye is drawn to the eyes of the cuddly toy then the balloons tied up end.   The toy looks squashed with the balloons looking like they are taking over.   I found no effect of the varnish on the painting which maybe because of the gesso diffusing the light and also the surface below was already shiny.   Maybe more interesting to paint another layer on top of the varnish.


Not satisfied did something different and painted a trophy sitting on a shelf with a pair of scissors in the top.   Oil mixed with solvent was used on white canvas board.   I’m not sure what ‘very fluid painting’ includes and the acrylic ink is more fluid than the oil but I did use very thin oil.    I like the colourful mix of colours and that it feels bright reflecting a strange mix of things on the shelf (trophy, scissors, screwdriver, crayons, glue).   Again I sprayed with the same acrylic varnish but no noticeable effect on the painting except it glistened a bit more where the varnish collected in the canvas indentations.

Exercise 4.2


I looked for areas of the apartment which had something interesting from a low view point so that I was taking the perspective of my son and daughter.   The wallet and its contents on the floor stood out clearly when viewed from low down because the white of the walls reflected off the floor creating these columns of dark and light.   Leaving more white paper brings out the items of interest on the floor which have darker tones and greater contrast.  I used coloured charcoal crayons which had a darker tone and allowed some blurring.    The circle offers a window into the kids world.   To make this a series I also zoomed in on a lone toy person lying down and a soft toy peaking out from behind a wall.  The last two focussing on toys are more fun with strong colour.    Coloured crayons were used in the last two and naturally encouraged me to draw with fine detail.    Composition of the figure is straight forward sitting well within the circle.  The other two in particular the wallet and its contents are close to the edges.   I chose the crop to get in as much as possible without being too far.   On reflection I think I could have moved down to bring the wallet and contents more central and cropping more of the wall.

The various toothbrushes and pastes offered another more colourful view again taken from  below the counter top.   The brushes and pastes are quite busy with lots of colour and things to look at.   I thought this perspective which obscures them would help but its still not clear.    Perhaps I needed to change the positions of the brushes to get them to stand out better alongside the pastes.

The dinner table is where everyone sits down to eat and this view is from my sons seat.  Again I was trying to use the light reflected from the window to bring out more of the seats and things on the table but I feel this was more about the structure of the room than anything specific within.   There is no focal point and I would be better bringing the fruit bowl into focus and fading or blurring the rest.    The colours where dark because of the light and so it was more about the structure and composition.  Should I have exaggerated the size of things within to give space between everything?  More importantly should I be including people and food and plates etc?

In all cases I think my intention is to show the space is lived in and used by a family.

Exercise 4.1


The light fitting hole is painted with gouache on gold paper and made good use of negative space to show the form.   The gold shiny paper enhancing the contrast for the sharp metal holding strip across the dark blurred hole.  This metal strip takes focus and cuts across the hole off center which is balanced by the dark hole and blurred wires.  The circle felt a natural frame for this subject

The hanging baby dresses were unusual with their brightly coloured patterns and suggested the focus should be on these coloured patterns.  Watercolour helped me focus on the patterns with the bright colours.   The eye is drawn to the bright patterns, particularly the stripy red dress.   I felt the need to add shadows to give depth and show the edges and arms more clearly however I do wonder if shadows distracts rather than enhances in this case.

The mini arm chair with ac control worked well with the strong tonal contrast and composition where it sits comfortably on the paper plate.   I like that there is something within something i.e. the white control sat within the black seat on the sofa.  Using Mindy Lee’s (Lee, 2014) approach to paper plates I left some unpainted and kept the background thin and light with more paint for the chair.    This gives it character and shows the main control in the lounge is for the AC.

The flip flops fit appropriately in the oval shape with the wider part for the toe end.   The build up of watercolour worked well for showing the tones and colour of the shoe compared to the background.  The composition could have benefited from removing the dark object to the side so as to emphasis the shoes.   The eye is drawn to the shoes strap.

The shoe collection came out interesting with the composition filling the circular space and involving some interesting kids shoes.   They show how shoes are just thrown into and kept in the shoe cupboard.   The eye is drawn to the white shoe and then the pink circles of the trainers.   The composition has lots to look at which is important here to emphasis the jumbled collection of shoes in a tight box.    The composition may not be completely balanced and rotating the circle so that the white shoe is on the right helps.

The mushroom and dummy was an interesting composition, where they offset each other in the circle.   I liked the quality of the smooth dome, the see through dummy and colours.  The shadow below the mushroom helped but overall didn’t go far enough to make the blue in the foot of the mushroom brighter to show that it was lit up.  I find my eye is drawn first to the mushroom then to the dummy.

Peppa pig on a shelf is dream like, maybe even a bit lonely.   The smooth plastic lid meant the oil was easily moved on the surface and with excess solvent resulted in the paint being washed away leaving streaks.   Being see-through also means the background affects the look.   The roundness of the toy fits or mirrors the shape of the surface.   Composition is simple, makes the toy feel relatively small and alone on the shelf.  The unintended finger prints are from my son who managed to pick it up whilst wet.

Drawer of toys shows a toy sticking out the top, partially obscured by the top cover and drawer side.   This toy is contrasted with the coloured toys partially visible through the transparent drawer side.   Using wet in wet to paint the drawer worked well for creating the frosted colourful drawer.    I decided to try this composition after seeing Bonnards Nude in the interior which made focus on the toy through the gap in the drawer.

Toothbrushes came out far too dark with no tonal range and looks like the light had been turned out.   This is partly because my brushes became too dirty with oil paint.   The composition helps put the focus on the toothbrush.  The oval shape helps bring the brush and the toothpaste together.

The toy on the edge of shelf is oil on paper plate.   The eye is drawn to the toy and face but I find the background is distracting even though it provides context.   The background has sharp high contrast areas drawing attention away from the toy.

Its important to identify the focus for the tondo, then bring out that which reflects the focus and little else.   Iain Andrews may have a technique to help whereby I blur all but the focus and use impasto paint with strong colour.  Painting part of paper plate, and use light wash to paint most of it, use darker stronger paint for part in focus helps.    The only exception maybe the shoes which involves lots of different things jumbled together in an interesting way.



The cloth was less successful and did not really look like anything.  The tones are not correct leading to only the centre line being a highlight.

The light fitting pendant worked well with gouache on rough paper.   Making use of the dry marks left from gouache drying in overlapping layers created the edges of the shade.  It is simple with the patterns of light being the most interesting area.  The cable draws intention but only briefly before looking at the shade.

The unmade bed didnt work out, not clear, maybe too complicated.   I was drawn to the pillow showing the place where a head rested sitting around the edge of the circle with the sheet pulled taught with ripples over the edge of the bed.    Perhaps I should have highlighted with tone the marks relating to where a head would have rested.   There isnt a strong focal point although the pillow is the most interesting.

The jar of used batteries works well on rusty brown ground.   Leaving a large area helps balance the crazy jumbled mess of the batteries although I’m not convinced its balanced.  The eye is drawn to the large battery at the top reflecting the light.

The pile of receipts shows a sharpe contrast of paper scrunched up against other flat receipts.   The eye is drawn to the scrunched up receipt on the side of the circle.  Dissecting lines break the circle with large areas largely untouched help balance out the scrunched up paper.  This makes me wonder if the lines dissect in the golden ratio and whether this is something appropriate to circular paintings.

The pot of used batteries was painted in acrylic on paper with a light brown ground.   The brown ground made them look old and rusty.   Showing only some of the batteries by not painting the pots label created a little room to breath and balance the battery collection. Unfortunately only some of the batteries look like batteries.  The pots reflection and label is more a distraction without adding to the picture.

The collection of books was overly complicated.  I had focussed on the most complex collection of books on the shelf thinking this would work better in the circle.   I could try simplifying down to simple shapes like the top book without shadows.



Artist research part 4


Roxy Walsh (Walsh, 2007) uses small tondos to paint symbols or motifs which she exhibits along side large scale paintings of the same symbol.   I can imagine the small tondos get the viewer to pause and take a closer look before continuing to look at the collection of paintings as a whole and the larger pieces.

Mark Fairnington’s eye paintings (Fairnington, 2006) get you to take a closer look with the extreme detail and realism of the eye and fur.   This could be taken as using a telescope to look closely at the animal.

Iain Andrews paints religious subjects, abstract paintings of figures, with strong impasto expressive marks (Andrews, 2007).   He paints a blurred often layered background, then strong thick impasto painted marks to represent the figures.   These painted marks are sharp in contrast and may have raw paint mixed on the brush creating bright streaks of paint.

Henny Acloque (Saatchi Art, s.d) painted a series of old style landscapes of the countryside with some abstract mark within the scene.   The abstract mark immediately takes the focus, like graffiti or a cartoon over a traditional painting.   The marks obscure parts of the landscape.   The landscape is painted roughly with appropriate marks to show the landscape.   Its not totally clear why the artist chose to use circular and oval shapes for some but not all in the particular series.  

Plate paintings by Mindy Lee (Lee, 2014) are more interesting if a little disgusting.  They are a collection of paintings of a woman (Venus I guess) with the guts of the body flowing out.    The colours are a subdued and slightly earthly.   Very thin acrylic is used for parts with stronger heavier detailed work drawing attention e.g. to the feet.   Often much of the plate is left white making the plate more of a feature including its rim.   Although the plate is supposed to be aluminium so I’m guessing there is a layer of paint as a ground. The paint is also mixed with a medium to make it thick, transparent and glossy to paint the guts.   Often she removes the paint to reveal parts of the woman.   The angle used to view the woman is also interesting when its from above or below.

Virginia Verran’s (Verran, 2012)  paintings feel technical or scientific with drawing and painting over layered.   The drawings in pen add a sense of technical thought or description of the world with language and symbols. The colours of black and red seem to add meaning to the visual language.

David Manley painted various viruses such as yellow fever (Manley, 2013) on tondos and its like looking down a microscope.  The tondo is in this case an natural choice to frame the subject.

Domestic interior

Charlie Day and his wife Tori both paint the interior, Charlie simplifies the scene, capturing the character but without the need for realism, whereas Tori uses a more realistic style to paint objects which are setup and framed like a portrait.  The objects are displayed to show them off whereas Charlie paints as is in situ.  Charlie painted a pillow (Day, s.d) where someone once slept.   Background is painted smooth and dark and the pillow heavy and dented where someone had laid.   The pillow must have been old or of material which keeps its shape.  He uses thick paint in places to highlight the pillow along side other pillows on the bed.  Tori painted a used toilet roll (Day, 2015) sat alone on a shiny surface.   She also uses impasto paint to paint the object.

Jacqueline Utley’s Lace meeting room (Utley, 2017) captures the whole room from ceiling lights to floor rugs and gives space to show this context for the people within.

Annabel Dover (Dover, s.d) paints small paintings of her own photos and images taken from Anne Franks wall.   Those from Ann Franks appear old and delicate with very thin paint on a pale brown ground.    Those from her photos appear new and clear.

Nude in an interior (Bonnard, 1935) is a glimpse of a nude woman in a room.   Most of the painting is of the room with bright heavily patterned walls and floor from the 1930s.  The woman is in another room seen through a partially open door.  This makes me try to look closer to see what the woman is doing, it obscures most of her, you can see she is stood facing with her hand holding up her hair and head turned to the side.   The colours of the walls and floor are vivid, saturated and heavy making the nude feel lighter.


Bonnard, Pierre (1935) Nude in an interior. At: Accessed on:23/10/17

Day, Charlie (s.d) Where Once You Slept. At: Accessed on:12/10/17

Day, Tori (2015) Finished. At: Accessed on:12/10/17

Dover, Annabel (s.d) National Velvet. At: Accessed on 23/10/17

Fairnington, Mark (2006) Tyger Tyger. At: Accessed on:11/10/17

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

Manley, David (2013) Yellow Fever. At: Accessed on:11/10/17

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

Saatchi Art. (s.d) 10 by Henny Acloque. At: Accessed on:11/10/17

Utley, Jacqueline (2017) Lace meeting room. At: Accessed on:12/10/17

Verran, Virginia (2012) Bolus-space-Bonner-space.  At: Accessed on:11/10/17

Walsh, Roxy (2007) Felix Culpa at Bast’Art, Bratislava. At: Accessed on:11/10/17