Part 5 review

What is my personal voice and my motivation? 

I am certainly learning and developing and will continue to do so.  I am motivated by drama and the ephemeral moments in nature and man made.

3 words to describe my practice:

Developing, Drama, Ephemeral

What might I continue and develop? What ideas or images need further research and development?

  • I found mixing sight and touch helpful in creating greater depth and meaning and would like to develop this and also consider adding other senses (sound , smell , taste).
  • Is it mostly about finding the right contrast to bring out the drama and feeling with the right intensity or can I create the drama in other ways?
  • Continue and develop use of enamel and oil on aluminium
  • Look at how and when I can use monoprints in my work
  • Continue and develop use of directional impasto coloured paint
  • Continue to and develop use of luminosity and the various ways of achieving it
  • Sketch as much as possible



Urban Sketching

I joined an Urban Sketching meetup group today at the lunar new year fair in Victoria Park for the first time.   The group meetup at a location and sketch and share their work.  This turned out to be quiet a challenge because the fair was bursting with people.  I slowly walked through the flower market section and found interesting stalls to stop and sketch.  The problem then was being able to focus on the painted whilst lots of people watch you and stop to look and also bump into you.   I feel the people watching and I was on edge, I had to really focus and block the distractions out.   This also made me rush slightly and not wait for the water to come through the brush.

The place besides people is full of colourful flowers where each stall specialises in something like Narcissus flower or orchid.   I therefore felt watercolour would be most appropriate.

Adding pen outlines to the colour helped add interesting sharp details in the messy colour.

Seeing others work at the end showed how needed to spend more time on one sketch after a warm up sketch and focus on more detail.   I liked the idea of drawing people and leaving them with no colour whilst colouring in the background.   It gave it a graphic or comic quality.   Mine lacked depth in comparison and interestingly the people where the darkest part.   Some did much better job at the tarpaulin which I muddied.

Practice more sketches with pen or charcoal.   Slow down on second sketch and maybe spend an hour to get detail.   Look at what elements could be left white even though they may not be white, i.e. foreground or background.

Research Part Five

Artist Tanya Wood

Creates intricate pencil drawings which makes use of white space to enhance the viewing of the drawing.  For example the semi detached (Woods, 2013) feels like you are looking through a window with only what you see in the glass, drawn off centre,  the rest left white.   Theres clearly a reflection of the room super imposed on the view of the opposite house outside.   I often notice a reflection super imposed in our lounge window of two views because its a corner window.   However in Tanyas picture the reflection is of the inside against the outside made possible because theres strong sunlight shining on the inside room compared to the outside house in shadow.

Her detailed drawings of the platform edge show texture which breaks down from fully drawn with colour to just outlines.  This reminds me of a creepy crawly drawing described in a magazine (Whitton, 2017) where you capture whats interesting in detail and the rest fades away with less detail.   It also means the composition is a little organic as you add detail until you are happy.   Could I use this technique whilst drawing my environment and not worry about composition too much.

Tanya also created some interesting displays of her work where she included the perforated edge of paper next to the drawing of the perforated edge.  There were drawings of train passengers seen through the train windows displayed with custom white boxes on a table.   This seemed to reflect the experience of viewing the train as it passes by and you look through the windows.  I should note the experience which is important to see how the display can support.

At the same time I don’t like the detail in the way it seems to be a perfect copy.  Although I feel its well balanced by the white space.

I tried sketching the grass next to a paved area at sunset and could see the big shadows for the tufty blades of grass.   The grass is clumpy with gaps.


Artist Archie Franks

I like the monster munch with moon painting (Franks, 2016) which makes a monster out of the crisp packet.  Its humorous.  The packet and crisps come alive with the sharp impasto paint.   There are sharp short marks on the crisps and  with longer marks used on the packet.  The background is thinner with very long marks.  It feels animated and alive.   The moon is broken, possibly reflecting off something and contrasted with the sharp crisp packet.  Theres an blog which gives insight into Archies’ studio (Hamlett Dobbins, s.d) which shows how thick the impasto paint is, and what medium he uses, and the amount of paint he mixes, how big the pictures are and things which influence him such as horror movies.  I’d like to try out some of these points to recreate how he would paint my environment.    In particular I’ve seen some palm roots which look like the trees guts coming out.  He obviously uses more imagination to bring the crisp packet to life and the horror movies influence his style.   I dont like the way they get very dark although it is hard to view online and see subtleties in the paint.

In the absence of oil impasto medium (on order) I tried painting some roots with acrylic mixed with gel with a brush and a cake bag to squeeze the paint out in strips.   I think there may not have been enough paint, it became to peaky and sharp and couldnt get a more rounded finish.


Artist Tim Stoner

I like his charcoal sketches which use thick charcoal lines and two tones where he most likely uses chalk for light tone and charcoal for dark on paper.  They are very simple using simple shapes.

I applied this to sketch the corner of our flat where a reflection of the outside of the flat is reflected on the outside view.   Being able to emphasis the lines and angles and block in the light areas felt natural.    Theres something interesting about seeing the outside inside and also the view.


His paintings are on the large scale almost life size views on the world which must make an impact when viewed in person.   I like how they continue the style of the sketches with charcoal and smaller paintings on panel and paper.  They look like they have been shaded in with pastels or chalk in many layers.   The outlines are often visible.  He seems to captured in late afternoon or early morning light causing silhouettes with little features visible and long shadows.

There are some interesting tree shapes in the gardens like the palm tree (Stoner, 2015)  where he simplifies to basic shapes like a cartoon.  Although its not recommended to sit below because the leaves are very heavy and do fall off.

I’m not sure I like the way he sometimes turns the painting into angular geometric shapes.

I’ve tried painting our plaza using oil on canvas.   I used oil thinned down with linseed oil and thinner to paint the scene very roughly.   I then used a knife to scrape away the highlights.  This gave a sharpness to the rough painting.    The silhouettes of people and parasols and sharp edges follow his approach which focusses on shape.   Perhaps the scraping of paint lends itself to more simple angular shapes.    I also understands he layers thin white washes for the highlights so I need to discover which is appropriate and how they combine or if they are not combined.


Suggested reading

The Poetics of Space (Bachelard, 1994) provided a strange source for inspiration from the suggested reading.  It is a difficult book to read and absorb because it is highly philosophical and I doubt I really absorbed what he was trying to say.  However I’ve taken hints about contrasts of inside and outside and the experience of the small or miniature.   About childhood places where you can hide and daydream.   Its about how the space influences the experience of those living there and expressing it.    With my environment the inside is small but it is a refuge and holds your personal things from the hustle of the city.  The outside calm and relaxing sometimes too quiet.   Life during the day is mostly the people who look after the residential area and provide services.    Other interesting thoughts from the book is what a child would draw when asked to draw their home.    They would draw whats important to them often highlighting something on the outside and inside.   This is unlikely to be in proportion but is important detail.   This got me thinking about the meaning of painting detail and usually I associate detail with finer realistic details but now it could be adding something important which is visually unrealistic.

After reading James Putnam’s book (Putnam, 2001) I can see there are potentially lots to consider in the displaying of artwork.  I found it hard to see how I would apply this because it is mostly relating to the display of collections however this assignment would result in a collection of paintings.    The basic point being I can make use of the way museums display work or store work to give the appropriate viewer experience.   For example if I were to paint life size replicas of the things I see in my environment I might display them on the floor roped off with a viewing platform and labels.  This would make them look important and protected.   Whilst I don’t like the works of the naturalists such as John James Audubo and to some extent the detail of tanya woods I can see this reflects a detailed account of the artefacts.   There is an element of controlling the way the viewer sees the art.  Tanya  was able to do this in viewing people on the train through windows as they pass you on the platform (Wood, 2014).



Bachelard, G., Jolas, M. and Stilgoe, J. (1994). The poetics of space.

Franks, Archie (2016) Monster munch with moon At: Accessed on 11/1/18

Hamlett Dobbins. (s.d) archie franks. At: (Accessed on 11/1/18)

Putnam, J. (2001). Art and artifact. New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson.

Stoner, Tim (2015) Palm At: Accessed on 11/1/18

Whitton, Judi (2017) Creepy-crawly drawing In: The Artist Dec 2017  p.49.

Wood, Tanya (2013) Semi-detached 4St. C At: Accessed on 11/1/18

Wood, Tanya (2014) Neither here nor there boxed At: Accessed on 11/1/18

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.




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.













Narrative, Emotion and Atmosphere

Through tutor feedback I thought I’d start focussed research into visual narrative, emotion and atmosphere in terms of how they are conveyed in painting.

Looking at The Kiss (Dumas, 2003) I can see intimacy and love with everything going into the kiss.  Composition puts the face centre stage in profile view with the kiss happening to the bottom.   The kiss is expressing more love or devotion than simply greeting someone with the orientation and the facial expression (wrinkles on forehead, eyebrows, neck veins, smooth facial skin with no muscles showing).   Colours are warm but muted showing that only a hint of colour is necessary to convey the emotion.   There is softness in the kiss expressed through softening the edge near the lips compared to the sharper profile of the face.  What they are kissing is unclear and could be the ground rather than the skin of someone else.   Dark tone next to the almost white face draws attention to the bottom of the painting leading to the kiss.   There is almost no tonal variation across the rest of the painting.   It seems most is a very thin application of paint with thicker application showing brush marks along the profile edge.  The softer parts being just a smudge of thin paint, the sharper being thicker paint.    A few dry brush marks.  The size is 40x50cm which is perhaps more intimate size although still large for a head.

George Shaw paints detailed landscapes of Coventry suburbia in England where he grew up.   Coming up for air (Shaw, 2017) is a great example of an English estate with graffiti on the wall of the house.   I can relate to this and many of his paintings because they capture these icons of life growing up.  This like many are taken at dusk with the soft glow you get from the sky diffusing the setting sun which is at odds with the dark and oppressive view.   He uses Humbrol enamels which must add a shine to the surface (unable to see online) which again must elevate the soft glow and appear striking against the dark dull subject.   The orientation reaffirms the landscape and the size is just over a meter wide which creates presence on such scale and makes it easier to experience the painting.  Composition is interesting where the house is center stage and takes up most of the painting giving it an over powering feeling.

Chiaroscuro is a term to describe painting dark and light high contrasting paintings to show drama and atmosphere.  Often paintings of people shown under bright spotlights show this and artists such as rembrandt cozens used this in their work.

Turner is a master at creating atmosphere in his landscapes which usually involve sky and water.   I started exploring his technique via a book about his watercolour technique (Moorby et al,  2015) with examples.   I tried to apply the technique on a sketch from out of the window.   I felt encouraged by how simple but effective this  can be to quickly capture the moment and atmosphere.

What about my perspective is important which I’d like to translate into my work?  Is it my feelings about being in Hong Kong e.g. different, eye opening, intense, on edge, unsettled?  Is it about me being a father e.g. playing, caring, leading?



Dumas, Marlene (2003) The Kiss. At: Accessed on 2/11/17

Moorby, Nicola & Warrell, Ian (2015) How to Paint like Turner.  London:Tate Publishing

Shaw, George (2017) Coming up for air. At: Accessed on 2/11/17

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