Category Archives: Pt 2 – Close to Home

Assignment 2 – Demonstration of Colour, Tone, Composition and Technique

9 Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Brief for the assignment 

Your painting for this assignment should demonstrate your understanding of colour, tone, composition and the development of your technique in your chosen medium.

Set up a still life in the corner of a room or table. Alternatively, you may want to develop one of the sketches or exercises that you have done in this part of the course.

Choose your painting medium and decide on the format and scale of your painting. Work on treated paper, card or canvas (at least A3) in either portrait or landscape format. Choose the background colour that you will use.

Draw the main shapes with a brush paying particular attention to:

  • your viewpoint
  • the direction of the light source
  • highlights and shadow (tone)
  • the relationship between objects and the background
  • the mood you wish to convey

My Subject

1 - Original Sketch from Drawing in Paint

1 – Original Sketch from Drawing in Paint

I wanted to develop an earlier sketch, which I did note in an earlier exercise. The sketch was of the basket in which I keep my acrylics and the tubes of paint inside. In that particular sketch I had used line, I wasn’t sure I would use it in the finished painting but it was definitely something to think about.

There was a problem with developing this sketch though and that was I had drawn it in the day I had drawn shadows but I wasn’t particularly paying much attention to the light source direction and so I thought it may be wise to start a fresh but using the same subject.

Colour Studies and Development

3 - Rough Study Influenced by Glenn Brown

3 – Rough Study Influenced by Glenn Brown

I wanted to demonstrate my understanding of most of what I had learnt through this part of the course in this piece so this time I decided to paint some of the surroundings as well for perspective set up the subject again on the monks cloth and set several more random items at the side of it that I could consider putting in the assignment piece which included a glue-stick, a small striped box and the remote control for the air-conditioning.

Glenn Brown - Ride with the Devil Sympathy for the Poor

Glenn Brown  Ride with the Devil, Sympathy for the Poor

The weave of the basket gave me an idea, I had been looking through vitamin P2 and came across work by the artist Glenn Brown and liked the way he seemed to use layers of thick paint to give his paintings texture and sense of three dimension and thought that this could be something that might work in my assignment piece.

After my not so brilliant attempt at a colour study influenced by the artist (see figure 3) I realized that it was probably not an ideal technique for acrylic paint which is what I would be using for this assignment.

Grey City 2 - Ziga Kariz

Grey City 2 – Ziga Kariz

Another painting that really caught my eye was Grey City 2 by Ziga Kariz, not really because of the style of his painting but because of his choice of colour blue, I wasn’t sure if I had really been successful in what the brief of the Still life with colour used to evoke mood exercise and this was probably a chance to have another go at that at least in a study if not the final piece.

4 - Study Inflenced by Ziga Kariz Grey City 2

4 – Study Inflenced by Ziga Kariz Grey City 2

This led to my next drawing in watercolour in my mixed media sketchbook over two pages something I hadn’t yet tried out. The drawing was really rough and didn’t take me long to complete but what I did learn from it was that firstly, I would use be using mainly blue as ‘blue’ was the mood I wanted to depict in my painting. I saw the tubes of paint inside the basket as being trapped inside the basket and the tube in front as escaping but not yet free and that is what I wanted to put across.

Secondly I wanted to make use of line, I really thought that outline would be something worth experimenting with in this painting and the original drawing and the first two studies told me to stick with it.

6 - Acrylic Paint Colours Closest to Watercolours

6 – Acrylic Paint Colours Closest to Watercolours

The water colour study in my sketchbook was painted with a field set and only had one blue so I squeezed several blues out from watercolour tubes and painted squares of each colour. I tried to stick to colours as close to the Grey City painting as I like the mood they portrayed. The colours I thought I would be using at this stage were Ultramarine (which I ticked in the image on the right), mineral blue (not sure if they had this in acrylic colour) and Prussian blue (which is directly under ultramarine in the photo).



5 - Watercolour Developed From Sketchbook Study

5 – Watercolour Developed From Sketchbook Study

With the colours identified I went on to see how these colours would look in a painting by doing another watercolour study on A3 paper with the chosen hues. The result was that I tried ultramarine in a small part of the painting but then decided not to use it and to omit from the final piece.

At this stage I still wasn’t sure whether I would be including the other items from the still life composition in the final painting.

Working on the Final Painting

Materials used:

  • A1 Card
  • Acrylic Paint, Ivory Black, Titanium white, Primary Blue, Prussian Blue
  • Brushes, a range of brushes in different sizes both synthetic and hogs bristle
  • Medium Acrylic Gel

I chose to do the final painting on board as I had plenty of it left from backing my wwork for my Drawing 1 course formal assessment. In the last watercolour study I left a white border which I really liked plus there was a lot of white showing through from the background which helped depict the light reflecting off the paint tops and the basket and so unlike my last assignment and previous paintings for this one I decided to use a white background and so treated the card with gezzo and then a coat of white.

7 - Drawing in Paint

7 – Drawing in Paint

When it came to painting in acrylic there was no mineral blue but primary blue mixed with a certain amount of white had the same hue, so that wasn’t a problem. I began the painting by drawing the main shapes with a dilute mix of primary blue. There were plenty of errors and I would soon find that the position of the tubes of paint  (and they were positioned, not just thrown in) made them unconvincing as tubes of paint so I had to think of how I would make their forms more visible.

8 Developing the Background

8 – Developing background and contents

On the second day I painted over the basket and this time repainted the basket with paint mixed with a medium gel, this helped to depict the texture of the woven basket.  Then I began to experiment by painting duplicates of the upright bottle in the centre to see if it improved the look of the contents on the inside of the basket. It made it worse, this time the contents looked to organised, to artificial and too overcrowded.

I continued to work on the cloth, shelf and basket so I could see the whole picture this helped me to decide on how to tackle the contents of the basket.

Contrary to what my colour studies told me I used more primary blue than any other colour. I found that by using a neutral primary blue and white mix and then going over it with white on a try brush using a scrumbling technique gave me better tones than using different colour mixes, it also ensured that I could get the exact colour that I wanted from the blue and white. I could then use layers of primary or Prussian blue for the darker areas where needed such as on the folds of the cloth.

Working on the contents of the basket again I decided that it was best to paint just a few of the upright tubes with the others laying down in the background. I painted the darker shapes first with a mix of primary and Prussian blue and then then highlighted with lighter mixes using white this gave me the outlines.

I could now see that the painting was developing into something completely different to what I had planned and I really liked the way it was coming along. The paint tubes gave the painting an almost three dimensional cartoon feel, with soft but bold shapes and so I carried on with this continuing the same kind of technique with the cloth. I then added more light to the folds of the cloth to make the folds look bolder the result of which reminded me of the hills in Grant Wood’s paintings.

Still Life with Remote Control

Still Life with Remote Control

I then painted in the tube of paint to the right and the remote control but then decided to paint it out. The reasons for me doing this were one that I could not get the perspective of the remote control right and two I saw no point painting the glue-stick and box on the other side so the best way to level out the still life was to remove everything other than the main subjects.


9 Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Finished Painting in Acrylic on Board

Lastly I worked on the shadows to the right of the subjects and for me this was the most difficult part. The reason for this was that in the painting I had exaggerated the light in order to give me bolder forms as well as to emphasize the mood of the painting. In the actual still life the shadows were quite short and fell just past the tube of paint to the right of the cloth but because I had  ‘stretched’ the light to the right of the basket I wanted to stick this by making the shadows longer as I did with my final piece for Assignment 5 for Drawing 1 where I found that  accentuating the shadows  made the mood stronger.

I painted the shadows with a mix of primary blue and black applied in thin glazes with a flat brush and shaped the shadow on the back wall so that it would depict the light being blocked out by both the cloth and the basket in a continuous shape. I think I managed to pull it off but I don’t know if it will be convincing to viewers as it is to me.

Things I like about the finished painting

It’s different to anything I have done before. I have never made use of line in a painting or drawing before and I like the way it turned out. It didn’t turn out as I expected but I was experimenting throughout the assignment from initial studies to the final piece, not just with line but also with colour and form. I feel that I have managed to evoke the mood that I intended to and the white boarder adds to this.

Things that I am not sure about

I am still in two minds to whether I should crop the painting as maybe I zoomed out a bit two much. If i had zoomed in more and painted the basket bigger like in the original sketch I could have spent more time on the detail and the subjects would probably look a lot looser. I’m still not sure whether there is enough shadow on the painting.


Drawing and Painting Interiors 3 – Simple Perspective in Interior Studies

3 - Finished Painting

Simple Perspective in Interior Studies – Finished Painting

Depicting perspective was always a task in which I had succeeded in my drawing course but not so much when it came to this exercise. I was sat at my table going through the drawings from the last exercise when I noticed there was a part of the living room which I hadn’t drawn and it was probably the best part of the apartment to paint for this exercise. The window to the Juliette balcony flanked by the bedroom and the bathroom door.

Materials used:

  • Acrylic paint, Primary Blue, White and Ivory Black
  • Paper, Canson Huile-Acrylic 24 x 33 cm
  • Brushes Small flat, Medium Flat, Medium Round and Detail

As the brief for the exercise said I started off drawing the lines with a detail brush in a watered down mix of primary blue. At this stage everything seemed perfect.

1 - Drawing in Paint

1 – Drawing in Paint

From there I went on to use washes in various strengths of primary blue to further define the positive and negative shapes. The painting was simple and at this stage everything looked perfectly in proportion.

2 - Using Washes to Describe Shapes

2 – Using Washes to Describe Shapes

I wanted this to be a painting with a limited palette so I could keep it simple and because I wanted to keep thinks simple when I came to painting the detail I opened the bathroom door so I wouldn’t have to mess about painting the molded panels in the door.

I painted the walls blue and because of this I painted over the chair with a dark wash in a smaller brush leaving the blue to show through which not only made it look like the chair was reflecting the blue of the walls but it helped give it a wooden grainy feel. I then painted the door frames door and curtains in a grey mix adding detail in black.

3 - Finished Painting

3 – Finished Painting

Thoughts on the final painting

In the finished painting the perspective looks fine but the chair does look somewhat out of proportion, I’m not sure why because when I drew it in paint everything looks spot on. Because of this the doors look shorter than what they actually are, or at least the door on the leftto the bedroom.

Drawing and Painting Interiors 2 – Quick Sketches Around the House

Look around an interior space that you know well and spend time in – your kitchen, study, shed, greenhouse or garage would be all good subjects. You’re not looking for interesting objects to arrange as you did for the still life exercises, you’re finding an area to draw and paint as it is. Don’t spend more than an hour on this exercise.

Because my apartment is basically only two rooms with  not many interesting angles to draw I did this exercise in two parts. The first part was in the work place where I wasn’t looking to make sketches to develop but simply practise sketching with pen and watercolour in my new Folio A5 mixed media sketchbook (which I found a lot nicer than Moleskine)and to develop my interior drawing skils. I made three of these sketches that took about 25-30 minutes each, two at the ECC language centre where I work in the evenings and 1 at school where I chose to draw the teacher as well as she refused to move.

The ECC perspective on the ecc sketches were perfect but the perspective on the school office drawing was well out, the wlls were quite plain in colour but I tried to depict the perspective by the pen line along the wall, unfortunately I got that wrong and it couldn’t be edited.

1 - Pen and Watercolour Sketch at ECC

1 – Pen and Watercolour Sketch at ECC

2 - Pen and watercolour Sketch at School

2 – Pen and watercolour Sketch at School

3 - Pen and Watercolour Sketch of ECC Corridor

3 – Pen and Watercolour Sketch of ECC Corridor

The second part of this exercise I did at home in my apartment starting in  the bedroom drawing the door to the balcony from the bed. On this first drawing I made my usual mistake of making the drawing too large and therefore only drawing a fraction of what i could see.


4 - 1st Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

4 – 1st Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

5 - 1st Pencil Sketch Notes

5 – 1st Pencil Sketch Notes

6 - 2nd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment - Notes

6 – 2nd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment – Notes

The second drawing was much better and I quite would have been  good sketch to be developed, unfortunately painting in the bedroom would be very messy as there isn’t enough room to swing a cat.

6 - 2nd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

6 – 2nd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

From there I went on to draw part of my living room, this I drew from a laying a seated position on my sofa which is where I usually view all my apartment from. The perspective was ok to say it was quite a quick drawing but I didn’t really fancy painting as it would have been a bit too technical for me at this stage with all the molded doors.

7 - 3rd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

7 – 3rd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

8 - 3rd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment - Notes

8 – 3rd Pencil Sketch in my Apartment – Notes

9 - 4th Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

9 – 4th Pencil Sketch in my Apartment

The next sketch was of just part of the apartment, the bathroom door, the perspective was well out but it at this stage I thought it was the best sketch to develop into a painting for the nest exercise.

10 - 4th Pencil Sketch Notes

10 – 4th Pencil Sketch Notes

11 - 5th Sketch

11 – 5th Sketch

The last sketch was of the corner of my apartment with the fan this would make a great painting later on but at this stage again too technical.

Drawing and Painting Interiors 1 : Research Point, Genre Painters

Research the work of the Dutch realist genre painters and choose two or three paintings that particularly appeal to you. Find out what you can about the artist and their intentions. Look at the devices employed to draw the viewer into the experience of the occupants of the room.

The first artist that I thought of when I hit this research point was Vermeer, then I realised I had that I had recently come into possession of book , Vermeer and the Delft School by Walter Liedtke. Chapter 5, Genre Painting in Delft after 1650 may help me to identify some of other Dutch realist genre painters.

Delft is is a city in the Central West of the  Netherlands. located in the province of South Holland, it is situated north of Rotterdam and south of the The Hague. The Delft school is a category of mid-seventeenth golden age painting named after the city of Delft which it used as its base, the school is best known for its genre paintings.

Genre Paintings

Genre paintings are visual documents recording scenes and events in every day life, These works contain scenes of markets, streets, taverns and interiors. Probably the most well known Dutch realistic genre painters is Johannes Vermeer who painted almost all his paintings in two smallish rooms at his home in Delft. Due to the incredible detail in Vermeer’s paintings and the perspective of the rooms and the proportions of the objects depicted in the paintings some art historians and artists including David Hockney, who wrote the book ‘secret Knowledge have argued that the artist had to have used optics like a camera obscura to complete his paintings.

Johannes Vermeer - The Music Lesson

Johannes Vermeer – The Music Lesson 1662-1663

If Vermeer was the first genre painter I thought of then the painting above was definitely going to be the first genre painting that came into my head. Who knows what the artists intention was here when he painted ‘the Music Lesson’ (Vermeer and the Deft School, pg160).  Maybe this every day scene tells a story of how the wealthy spend their time in Delft, the rich rug, the marble floor and the harpsichord tell us the owner of the house (if we didn’t know it was Vermeer) wasn’t poor; or maybe it tells a different story a story of a music student in love with her teacher or vice versa, we think she’s concentrating on the keys while the reflection in the mirror tells a different story.

There are several devices that Vermeer uses to draw us into the experience of the occupants of the room here and the mirror is just one of them. If the detail of the room doesn’t suck you in straight away, you start to notice things like the way the  characters are stood at one side of the harpsichord as though they are trying to escape the sun’s glare through the window. One device that he uses, maybe not to suck you into the occupants experience but to definitely suck you into that room is perspective and how he uses the proportions of the table, jug and other items to set up a perfect linear perspective with a foreground, middle and background. The proportions at which he has painted the table and jug allow them to be seen as though they are in the foreground.

As you look at the painting, you can’t help but let your eyes follow the floor and walls along the left of the room and he has achieved this by giving you a clear path to walk along  by shifting the furniture and the occupants to the right hand side of the room and then shifted your gaze towards the windows by pointing the chair and the jug towards them.

Johannes Vermeer - Young Woman with a Wineglass 1959-60

Johannes Vermeer – Young Woman with a Wineglass 1959-60

Several of his paintings such as ‘Young Woman with a wineglass’ (page 159) employ the gaze of the sitter looking in the direction of the viewer to pull you into the experience of the viewer in the room. And for me, that particular painting says ‘look at me, I’m having my first glass of wine, aren’t I naughty’, but would the gaze of the young woman be enough. This ‘comparatively conventional composition…with its emphasis upon perspective allowed him to place figures and objects at a certain distance from the viewer and thus to describe them more summarily as components in a visual field’



Peter de Hooch - Card Players in a Sunlit Room

Peter de Hooch – Card Players in a Sunlit Room

Born in Rotterdam, Peter de Hooch was a contemporary of Johannes Vermeer at the Delft Guild of St. Luke with their paintings sharing similar themes and styles. However, before switching his focus to domestic scenes his earlier paintings mostly composed of scenes of soldiers and peasants in stables and taverns. As well as being accurate records of everyday life at the time his paintings also functioning as well-ordered morality tales.

In the painting ‘Card Players in a Sunlit Room’ de Hooch uses the same conventional composition as can be seen in Vermeer’s ‘Young Woman with a Wineglass’ where there is a background, the woman walking towards the door and everything outside, a middle-ground, the card players and everything from them to the door and a foreground, the space between the viewer and the card players of which the viewer too becomes a part of. You get a sense that he’s keeping the viewer at bay, not letting you know exactly what the group are up to, what game they are playing or what cards they are holding while keeping but feeding you just enough information to keep you enthralled.

It has been said, I don’t know who said it, but it was mentioned in Tim’s Vermeer, that Vermeer painted with light and indeed there is a documentary by Joe Krakora titled ‘Vermeer: Master of Light’. Looking at works by both de Hooch and Vermeer it seems they share a similar mastery of light but it was Vermeer’s work in particular that reminded me of the works by two 20th century artists who also took full advantage of the light in their paintings.

Edward Hopper

Light plays an important part of Edward Hopper’s paintings and when you look at Hopper’s paintings at the side of Vermeer’s the influence is very clear but they both use light in different ways.

Vermeer paints a warm calming light while Hopper paints an uncomfortable glare that shines through mostly bare windows indicating the hardships of lonely city life. His genre paintings are usually of interesting characters posed in simple compositions in usually off-angled almost empty apartments or hotel rooms. As the viewer he has left it as your job to workout the relationship between the occupants of the room.

Edward Hopper - Hotel by a Railroad

Edward Hopper – Hotel by a Railroad

David Hockney

David Hockney, (born July 9, 1937, Bradford, Yorkshire, England), English painter, draftsman, printmaker, photographer, and stage designer whose works are characterized by economy of technique, a preoccupation with light, and a frank, mundane realism derived from Pop art and photography. –

David Hockney - George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

David Hockney – George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

Where as Hopper’s interiors mostly seem to be at off-angles, Hockney’s interiors, and exteriors for that matter are full on with the edge of the canvas level with the horizontal walls, like as in George Lawson and Wayne Sleep above. However, unlike Vermeer and Hopper’s painting we don’t seem to be invited in to Hockney’s paintings only allowed to view from the sidelines at exceptionally still figures.

Johannes Vermeer - The Music Lesson

Johannes Vermeer – The Music Lesson

Edward Hopper - Hotel by a Railroad

Edward Hopper – Hotel by a Railroad

David Hockney - George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75

David Hockney – George Lawson and Wayne Sleep 1972-75






What is clear though is that Vermeer, Hopper and Hockney’s paintings above when laid next to each other look like distant cousins, showing similarities particularly  the way they have used light and used it to illuminate faces. Although the type of light they use is different it plays a key part in the atmosphere as well as the overall meaning of the painting and with Hockney’s the light highlights the relationship between the occupants of the room. Although the two figures are obviously posing in inanimate poses there is still a lot going on the form of light and colour as the sunlight shines through both the bedroom and living room windows and illuminates the walls in an array of colours.
















Colour Relationships 5: Still Life with Colour used to Evoke Mood

Finished Piece in Sepia

Finished Piece in Sepia

For this exercise paint your still life in any way that you choose. Make decisions an advance about the range of colours that you will use. You are aiming to create a mood or atmosphere in your use of colour and handling paint.

The idea for this exercise started with the last study in complimentary colours. Experimenting with the background made the painting look quite creepy and looking at it I couldn’t help thinking of a Tim Burton movies so with that in mind I tried to build on that for this exercise hoping to evoke a sinister mood to the painting.

For some reason I couldn’t imagine this still life in any other colour but Sepia and so I edited a photo of the previous still life in Photoshop so that I could try and work out for myself, without looking on Google which colours would make Sepia.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought, I could see a lot of different hues in the Sepia photo and so I decided to experiment with some colours, these were:

  1. White + Payne’s Grey + Rose
  2. White + Payne’s Grey + Yellow Ochre
  3. White + Payne’s Grey + Orange
  4. White + Payne’s Grey + Copper
1 Finding Sepia

1 Finding Sepia

Of all the colours the copper mix looked best and so I decided to start the still life composition to see how well the colours looked together. I used the same big brush technique as in the previous exercise barring the spines of the rambutan. Eve though the three colours looked great together in my experiment they didn’t look that great on paper the Payne’s gray looked too blueish and it was obvious it needed swapping for black. I was also going through the copper at an alarming rate as it was only a small tube  then I realised that the copper was very similar to Burnt Umber and so I swapped again.

2 Still ife in Sepia

2 Still Life in Sepia

The finished piece looked great, you could see it was a Sepia painting but it didn’t look how I expected it to, I asked my girlfriend how she felt when she looked at it and her reply was ‘sad and cold’ these weren’t the moods I were going for but at least the painting was getting some kind of emotional reaction.

At this stage I thought it wouldn’t hurt to experiment further and so I kept experimenting hoping to find the result I had been hoping for. I began by making a very thin mix of Burnt Sienna and white and applied it over the top of the painting with a scrumbling technique to try and give the painting an aged look.

I then applied made a light mix and a dark mix of the same colours then run the edges of a another sheet of paper through them and and then applied the paint to the painting in very thin vertical lines to give it an old movie flicker effect then added a few more white specs and flicks with a thin detail brush.


3 Still ife in Sepia - Trying to be Sinister

3 Still ife in Sepia – Trying to be Sinister

I’m not sure what mood this painting evokes but if nothing else it does look like the scene from an old movie or a cine-cam clip from an horror movie or at least I hope it does.

I am satisfied with the way this painting turned out , the photo above doesn’t do it justice there is actually a lot more colour to it,. I Think that this style would really suit a portrait and so I hope to put it to use a bit later on in this course.

Still Life with Complimentary Colours

Still Life with Complimentary Colours

3 Still ife in Sepia - Trying to be Sinister

Colour used to evoke mood







Looking at the paintings side by side the composition is almost identical but the effects that I have created in both are completely different. In the first study, Still Life with Complimentary colours the subjects are very three dimensional but yet due to the limited palette of two complimentary colours the subjects look to have an over-exaggerated sense of form as if they are made from Plasticine, the background seems to emphasize this.

In this last exercise my intention was to build on the qualities that already existed in the previous painting and to try and evoke mood by realizing what I imagined the finished painting to be like. The effects used in this new painting were very different, unlike the first study in this last study I managed to create a sense of distance, like the composition is in the background and the movie clip lines/flicker effects are in the foreground. I think going over the painting with the mix of white and burnt Sienna with the scrumbling technique I mentioned earlier to tone down the composition and then painting definite horizontal lines over the top created this distance effect. It probably doesn’t look as sinister as what I expected with the still life but I can imagine this effect would work really well with a Sepia self portrait or scary doll on a trike.

Colour Relationships 4 – Still Life with Complimentary Colours

Make a colour study of your still life using only a narrow range of colours. This will require great concentration and discipline in observation and interpretation. Make the most of using colour in an inventive way.

Still Life with Complimentary Colours

Still Life with Complimentary Colours

I should have probably used my Chromium green with primary red for this exercise but I decided to mix my own green from primary yellow and primary blue. Some would call that cheating as even though I did make a nice dark green out of the two colours some of the lighter tones looked blueish with others a yellowy green.

I could have been a bit more inventive with the subjects I used for the still life maybe choosing subjects of all different colours and I regret not doing that instead of choosing subjects of similar colour properties like I did but I still feel satisfied with the end result.

Materials used:

  • Oil/Acrylic Paper 24 x 33 cm
  • Acrylic Paint: Primary Yellow, Primary Blue and Primary Red
  • Brushes: Small Filbert, Large Round and Large Flat

This was the first time using  small sheets of paper although it was only a study I still intended to use it not only to develop my understanding of colour relationships but to further develop my brush skills and painting on a small scale I decided, would help me to do that.

I begun with a very light wash of green mixed with white followed by a very light wash of red. As the green was mixed with a lot of white and went on unevenly the red wash settled around it creating a prime coat of light red and green, which reminded me of rhubarb.

Chosen Subjects

  • Mango x 2
  • Rambutan (gno) x 3
  • 2 slices of watermelon
  • Red Apple
  • Plate

Although the subjects I chose were mainly red and green there were other colours as well which were omitted by using only the complimentary colours these were, yellow, orange and light brown. For the grey details such as the bruising on the mangoes, the watermelon seeds and the dark stripes on the skin of the watermelon on the left of the plate I mixed the colours together and and allowed them to cancel each other out. This was also a technique I used for the darker parts of the rambutan, painting wet red over wet green to get the darker strands.

I also allowed the pigments to cancel each other out for the shadows although I made the result of this biased towards red in most places so that the green of the mango would really stand out.

Being Inventive

I find it hard to use my imagination when painting still lifes and to me there wasn’t really much I could do here to make this stand out all I know is that I was bored of using the same old round table with the plain backgrounds and so if I were try and get inventive wouldn’t this be the best place to start. I applied a light coat of white/red to the background with a scrumbling technique followed by fine drip like streaks then painted the shadows with a muddy green applied with the same scrumbling technique. It may not be genius but it makes the still life composition stand out,however it wouldn’t be until the next exercise Still Life with Colour used to Evoke Mood that the background would really come alive.



Colour Relationships 3 – Optical Effects Exploited by Different Artists

Optical effects have been exploited by many artists to create and depict effects of light. The impressionists, Post-Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists – in particular the Pointillists, Seurat and Signac – made full use of the new understanding of the nature of human perception. Find out what you can about these artists’ aims and study their pictures to see how they achieved effects such as optical mixing. Look at the work of Bridget Riley or the Op artists. Make notes in your learning log.

The Impressionists

I began by looking at the impressionists, with Claude Monet one of the best examples of artists who used optical effects to depict light. Looking through his paintings, most of which I knew from my time selling reproduction art but the one that made me stop to enlarge it was.A Woman with a Parasol 1975. The painting is of a Woman with a Parasol like in the painting I looked at in the earlier research point Chevreul’s Colour Theories,  Poppies at Argenteuil, 1873.

Claude Monet Woman with a Parasol 1875

Claude Monet Woman with a Parasol 1875

When I first looked at the painting I thought ‘wow he has painted the woman in some detail’ but when I enlarged it I could see that it wasn’t the case. Monet basically modeled the light by painting the sky first then with darker paint he depicted the folds of the woman’s dress, the blue of the sky still showing through portrays the light of the sky reflecting off the material of the dress above the folds. On the right hand side of the woman he uses white and other light colours to show light reflecting off her dress from behind helped by the shadow on the grass slightly to the left in front of her which he paints using darker hues and a greater use of blue than the rest of the grass. I particularly like the way he depicts the glow of the flowers by adding yellow under her arm.


The Pointillism technique developed by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac uses small distinctly coloured dots that are applied in patterns to form an image. This technique relies on the ability of the viewer’s eye and mind to blend the colour spots into a larger range of tones on canvas as to more traditional methods of painting that blend pigments on the palette.

After looking closely at a few paintings Seurat’s and Signac’s I began to examine two paintings that had familiar features, water, reflections and trees. The artists’ aims were clear in both paintings and in their own style using the same technique they both achieved them.

Signac’s painting below seems to use larger clumsier dots to form the painting, this I noticed and most of his other works. Unlike his other paintings The Tugboat Canal in Samois below wasn’t saturated with blue. Although Signac’s placement of dots is quite crude compared to Seurat’s he  carries of certain details in the painting very effectively. In the painting you can see how he has managed to depict the steam by using larger dots maybe pressing on harder to open up the brush, he uses darker hues at the bottom of the trail of steam this makes it look denser while the orange dots at the top of the steam makes it look like it is reflecting the evening sky, I say evening sky because of the orange glow and because the sun looks to be shining through the trees which means it would be low down. To paint the footpath he has used larger dots of a layer of small dots to illustrate how solid it is compared to the larger dots of the water.

Paul Signac - The Tugboat Canal in Samois

Paul Signac – The Tugboat Canal in Samois

He depicts the reflection of the barge on the water by using similar colours to the boat but using white dots to distort the reflection, which is a very different approach to how Georges Seurat painted the water in The Seine and la Grande Jatte  below. Here Seurat has painted the water by painting in lighter patches among a river of blue to depict either the break from the sail boat or the pull of the current in the water, either way it works well and he hasn’t had to paint a reflection of the boat in the water. In Signac’s paintings as I said earlier he saturates a lot of them with blue to depict shadow or an absence of light, In the painting below you can see that Seurat has done the same under the leaves of the tree in the foreground.

Georges Seurat - The Seine and la Grande Jatte - Springtime 1888

Georges Seurat – The Seine and la Grande Jatte – Springtime 1888

Bridget Riley

Op art is the kind of art that makes my eyes bleed so I really had to look for works of Bridget Riley’s that weren’t too…effective.

Bridget Riley Op Art

Bridget Riley Op Art

In Bridget Riley’s paintings she depicts irregular three dimensional surfaces as well as movement which she achieves by using warped lines or checks which are thinner or narrower in certain areas to create a sense of depth such as the painting above.

In the painting above she adds a white reflection to the black lines on the right of the image this forces the viewer to see the curves differently from the left. I can only describe it as circles of waves or half tubes which you would walk over to get to the middle, however because of the added reflection it creates an optical illusion of the peak of the wave being up at one side and down at the other.  I can only guess that her work is influenced by one of my favourite artists optical artists M. C. Escher.

Colour Relationships 2 – Successive Contrast

Successive Contrast

Successive Contrast

This is something that we encounter a lot but we don’t think about how it happens. The first part of the brief tells us to find or paint a large area of bright colour, stare at it for 30 seconds and then close your eyes and wait for an after image to appear. Because I chose red the after image that appeared was the complimentary colour green.

Successive Contrast - Flourescent Pink

Successive Contrast – Flourescent Pink

From there I painted an isolated square of my most vivid and intense pigment, which happened to be fluorescent pink, I did the same with this then after 30 seconds I shifted my gaze to a white space on the same paper, the after image that appeared was an intense turquoise, Its complimentary colour.

These effects are caused by the stimulation and exhaustion of the receptors in the retina. By Exhausting the receptors for red, for example, only the remaining combinations of colours that mix to produce blue green are seen when you turn from looking at red to looking at white.

White light, as Newton showed, is made up of all the colours of the spectrum. The human eye has full colour discrimination through the rod and cone cells. The rod cells in the Retina distinguish light and dark, while the three types of cone cells respond to red, green and violet which make up colours.



Colour Relationships 1 – Exploring Contrasts

1 Exploring Contrasts

1 Exploring Contrasts

Choose any colour you like (colour A), then mix a series of several colours that are close to colour A on the spectrum. From there paint a series of small squares of colour A, surrounding it each time with one of the colours you’ve mixed.

Following the brief’s instructions I chose red as colour A and then made various mixes similar to colour A then used colour A to paint a series of small squares then surrounded the small squares with the other colours that I mixed. I noticed how the surrounding colours altered how the centre square of red looked, in some squares looking more orange-red and others looking darker and even brownish.

From there I made a series of several small squares in yellow and several mixes of different tones of violet which I surrounded the centre squares. Each of the mixes had different amounts of white in so that I could try and equal the tonal value of the yellow centre square. Which I think I managed to match with the mix in the bottom left of the above image.

Matching the tonal value by adding white seems to tone down the yellow centre square but with the darker mixes of violet surrounding the yellow it seems to look the brightest.

2 Exploring Contrasts with medium Grey Centre

2 Exploring Contrasts with medium Grey Centre

Next I painted a square of violet leaving a space in the centre, next to it I did the same with yellow and underneath both of them I painted a white square, again leaving a space in the centre. From there I mixed a neutral grey and painted a small square of this colour in the centre of each.

Doing this I noticed that the neutral grey looked different with each of the surrounding colours. With the violet surround the grey looked the lightest then darker in the centre of the yellow surrounding square with the medium grey looking the darkest in the centre of the white square.

I was pushed for time with this project so I didn’t have much time to experiment further but I made a quick painting using some complimentary colours and a medium grey noticing how the tone of the grey altered against the different colours.

3 A Simple painting with Complimentary Colours

3 A Simple painting with Complimentary Colours


Still Life 4 – Still Life with Natural Objects

5 Finished Painting with Natural Forms

Finished Painting with Natural Forms

The brief for this exercise: Assemble a group of natural objects such as fruit or vegetables, more subtle coloured vegetables or highly structured objects that are almost monochrome such as shells, skulls, rock crystals or seed heads. If you chose to work with tertiary colours and subtle lines and tonal variations you could include an element that is highly coloured such as a red fabric background or a brightly coloured piece of fruit such as an apple, orange or  lemon. It’s best to chose simple forms rather than complex ones for this exercise, just two or three objects will give you enough subject matter.

Subjects for this exercise

I already had some objects for this exercise, leaves which I picked up at the beginning of the year from the park just outside the school where I work. While visiting England last month I picked up some more objects that I thought would go with them, baby pine cones attached to twigs from a walk around Newmillerdam near my hometown Wakefield, plus a large pine cone that my mother gave me which she brought from Italy.


  • 2 leaves
  • 1 large pine cone
  • 4 baby pine cones attached to a twig
  • A piece of Thai Buddhist monk robe material

Inspiration for painting leaves

Looking for new artists while studying the Drawing 1 – Drawing Skills course I came across Eliot Hodgkin who painted leaves, vegetables and other natural objects with Tempera, one of my favourite paintings by Eliot Hodgkin is this one Large Dead Leaf 2:

Large Dead Leaf 2 - Eliot Hodgkin

Large Dead Leaf 2 – Eliot Hodgkin

In this painting he manages to breathe life into the dead leaf and it’s twisted form becomes a ballet of light and shadow allowing you to see every detail, stalk, veins and surface texture. It’s a painting that inspired my leaf drawing with stipples and dots in the drawing course and will probably keep influencing my work with natural forms.


I started by making sketches of the subjects in my sketchbook and notes on the best composition and the best technique to use for the exercise. Decided that it would be better to tackle the leafs full on to see all their detail and colours and to do this a stippling technique would probably be the best technique to use for the chosen subjects.

1st Sketch in Charcoal

1st Sketch in Charcoal

1st Sketch in Charcoal - Notes

1st Sketch in Charcoal – Notes

2nd Sketch in Charcoal

2nd Sketch in Charcoal

2nd Sketch in Charcoal - Notes

2nd Sketch in Charcoal – Notes

3rd Sketch in Charcoal

3rd Sketch in Charcoal

3rd Sketch in Charcoal - Notes

3rd Sketch in Charcoal – Notes

After making three charcoal sketches to find the best composition I made a watercolour sketch to see which colours I would be using for the final piece. With the lamp shining on the composition I could see just how complex the objects that I chose were. I was half tempted to make a sketchy painting rather than detailed as I did well to depict the objects in both the charcoal sketches and the watercolour sketch below but the detail and the so many different colours that I could see in all the objects with the light shining on them the way it was it would have been a shame not to try and capture as much detail and colour that I could in the finished piece. Stippling was perfect for this painting, not just for the leaves and cones but for the white background as I could see several different colours through the light reflecting off the wall.

4th Sketch in Watercolour

4th Sketch in Watercolour

I made a note of the colours that I was confident I would be using, even though it was difficult to depict half of the colours in the watercolour sketch. These were:



  • Grey
  • Orange
  • Burnt Umber
  • Raw Sienna
  • Black
  • Light Blue
  • Chronium Oxide Green
4th Sketch in Watercolour - Notes

4th Sketch in Watercolour – Notes

The painting took four evenings to complete, 1 evening for each leaf, 1 for the background orange cloth and 1 for the pine cones which were the most difficult to paint. i started with grey on the leafs over an orange wash and then started to build up the colour from dark to light and and then back to dark for the shadows and darker tones such as for those in the veins of the leaves.

The process was pretty much the same for the large cone which shared similar hues and tones to the upright leaf but when it came to painting in the shadows for the centre of the cone the whole thing pretty much had to be painted again rethinking the process on how I was to get things just right. The cone was a pretty complex shape and the needles fit together life a jig saw and so finally I treat them as such painting in the darker tones ti give each of the needles a similar shape which I highlighted in white.

From there I painted white background, again with a stippling technique so I could depict the different colours I noticed with the light reflecting off the white surface then the  orange cloth which I didn’t want to spend too much time on as this was not the main focus. Finally I painted the twig of the smaller cones with various shades of green and white stippled over a dark reddish- brown undercoat and then for the small cones various tones of light grey and orange for applied the needles applied with a medium size filbert over dark reddish-brown undercoats.

5 Finished Painting with Natural Forms

5 Finished Painting with Natural Forms

Noticeable Progression

I am pretty pleased with the finished piece, I am not sure if the quality of this painting is better than my first still life, still life with flowers but I do seem to have loosened up, which is what I am hoping to do, as well as gained a lot more brush control.

Problems with painting natural objects

The biggest problems I encountered painting these subjects were, firstly, depicting the texture and secondly trying not to tighten up so they did indeed look like natural objects and not made objects. The stippling technique I used helped me to depict texture in the subjects but I am far from where I need to be with loosening up when I paint.

What I learnt from this exercise

Probably to have more props at hand and not to bight off more than I can chew working on complex forms and textures at this stage, however leaves were something I have wanted to paint for a while and so I am glad I got this chance to do so.