Category Archives: Study Visits

Assignment 3 – A Self Portrait – Research

For this assignment I chose to paint a self portrait, living alone that seemed to be the best bet. The painting was going to be in acrylics on a canvas panel, I wasn’t going to start using oils this far into the course especially on an assignment piece.

To begin with I began some self portrait studies in the medium I had started to like so much, water soluble oil pastels, these can be used wet or dry so I could do some experimenting with them here.

1 - A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

1 – A Nod to A Scanner Darkly

With the first study I wanted to continue playing around with line like I had in Assignment 2. I began by drawing in the outlines in pencil then drawing over strong outlines with a Pentel brush pen before adding detail and tone in water soluble oil pastels, wet for the face and dry for the clothes. I chose my background wisely with light shining in from a window (at school) and a bright orange picture board. I liked the way the light reflected off my head and used this in the study by leaving that part of my head oil pastel free with the line determining the outline of my head.

Up until now apart from the Conveying Character exercise I hadn’t really included any background in a portrait painting. Would I paint one in the final piece? I’m not sure where this would take me but hopefully the following research would help me to determine that. From here I went on to look at self portraits where the artists used line.

Self Portrait with Line

van Gogh - Self Portrait 1989 - Detail

van Gogh – Self Portrait 1989 – Detail

My search for self-portraits with line took me in a different direction, while I was actually looking for famous self-portraits or portraits that had some kind of outline I came across artists who had created whole paintings using line, such as Vincent van Gogh.

In Self-Portrait 1989 (left) van Gogh uses thick brushstrokes to create a serious weathered look to his face and to depict hair and facial hair. The line he uses for the background is equally important, it turns a plain background into a significant part of this painting.


Nikos Gyftakis - Self-portrait 1 - oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis – Self-portrait 1 – oil pastel on canvas

Nikos Gyftakis, a 33 year old Greek artist, produces some amazing portrait and self-portrait oil paintings where he uses swirls of line to depict depth and contortions in the faces. A number of his portraits include background which he has also used the thick swirls of paint to distort, leaving the viewer to make their own mind up to what is actually in the background.

Self Portrait 1 (right) includes no background whatsoever and the entire canvas is filled up with the face and hands. I love this piece but I have to question, is this technique feasible with acrylic in the short time I have for this assignment? and would it be easy enough to replicate on a smaller canvas?


3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

The next study was a result of this research. Using the same medium I drew myself this time using my hat as a prop using swirls of colour. I kmew I couldn’t replicate the technique perfectly with this medium but I could get some idea as to what the piece would look like in a painting medium such as acrylic or oils.






More Self-Portrait Studies

2 - Fauvism Inspired

3 – Fauvism Inspired

Moving away from the window I set myself down so that I had the brightly coloured picture board behind me. Inspired by the research into fauvism in the earlier portrait reserach  I used quite a limited palette of fairly bright colours and carrying on with more experimentation into using line in my portrait I used only vertical line to complete the picture apart from the check on the shirt.

I really liked the way this turned out, it reminded me of not just the fauve painters’ portraits but with the texture of the paper it kind of reminded me of the pointillist portraits as well.



Fauvist Portraits

André Derain - Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

André Derain – Portrait of Henri Matisse 1905

Researching fauvism I came across the painters I had researched in the earlier research point such as Henri Matisse as well as some new ones. One fauvist portrait I really liked and in a style that would probably suit the study above was a  André Derain’s Portrait of Henri Matisse (1905). I later found out that Derain was the joint founder of Fauvism along side Matisse. His technique in this painting was very crude with what seemed to be a large flat brush and yet parts of the painting could have also been done with a knife. A keyword that I added into my search that took me to an artist that i had never heard of before, palette knife painter Francoise Neilly.



Untitled by Francoise Nielly

Untitled by Francoise Nielly

I love French palette knife painter Francoise Neilly’s  amazing use of colour and how she uses it not just to depict light and shade but all the features of the face. While searching for a video of her painting I came across another artist named Voka who paints similar portraits but mostly with brushes. The name he uses for his genre of art is spontaneous realism, I’m not sure whether Francoise Neilly would agree it seems like her paintings well thought out.

I looked on the web for amateur artists and students’ work painted in the style of Francoise Neilly and they hadn’t quite managed to pull it off, this made me want to take up the challenge. With the right pose, the right colours and props this style of painting would create a good atmosphere.

3 - Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

4 – Experimenting with Line and Mixed Techniques

I had an idea for my next study but I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. My idea was to complete a self portrait with the dry medium (water soluble oil pastels) and then to work in verticle strips of the portrait with a watercolour brush to see what kind of an effect the water blended pastels had against the dry. A friend said that it looked like water running down a pain of glass but to me something about this painting reminded me of Gerhard Richter’s portraits with the strips of distortions across the face. Although I liked this effect I wasn’t sure how I was going to recreate it with acrylics and so I carried on with my search for portraits using different colour techniques.




Pointillist Portraits

There’s no doubt about it, pointillism is a very time consuming technique I have done a couple of paintings myself using a very crude technique and they took weeks to complete the simplest of paintings so attempting to use it here would slow me right down.

Georges Lemmen - Self-Portrait 1890

Georges Lemmen – Self-Portrait 1890

However, the oil pastel on the mixed media paper I was using left white spots and did remind me of pointillism and so there was no harm in taking a look at some of the self portraits and portraits by artists using this technique. One of the strongest of these Self Portraits, other than Vincent van Gogh’s 1887 Self-Portrait was this painting by Georges Lemmen where he seems to use layers and layers of dots that are close knit rather than spaced out like the works of Georges Seurat. This seemed to be a quicker, less time consuming method.




Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Self-Portrait by Chuck Close 2002-2003

Chuck Close

My research into pointillist self portraits took me to a self portrait by an American Artist called Chuck Close, who actyally suffers from face blindness. When I enlarged the image I realised that it wasn’t a pointillist painting at all but what seemed to be a distorted photo-realist painting.

I was lucky to find a photo of Chuck Close at work, In the photo he was working from a photo of himself on a very large canvas and what he seemed to be doing was adding flesh tones into squares that were already painted with an array of colour and swirls to get this distorted effect that looks like he his behind a pane of patterned glass.


From the research above I concluded that I wouldn’t be painting a background in this self-portrait for assignment 3 but I would be relying on a strong technique to give the painting strength.

I really liked the paintings by Francoise Neilly and I wanted to have a go at something similar myself I just wasn’t sure if:

  • Using this technique or at least something similar would demonstrate the skills and knowledge that I have acquired through this part of the course.
  • Using a knife with acrylics would create the same affects as a knife with oil paint. Maybe I could use both a knife and a wide brush.


3 - Peaky Blinder

2 – Peaky Blinder

I also loved the technique used by Nikos Gyftakis and the way my self-portrait inspired by his paintings turned out. Out of all the new artists I have found so far he was my favourite. The problem as with Francoise Neilly’s technique how possible would it be to create something similar with acrylics.

What I decided to do was to go into this assignment attempting to create a self portrait inspired by Gyftakis paintings butI would have a back up plan just in case it wasn’t working out. Neilly would be my back up plan.




Queen Sirikit Gallery – Best Art Thesis 2015

The Queen’s Gallery has continuously taken a role in providing an opportunity for young artists to exhibit their works. Year 2015 marks the 7th year that The Queen’s Gallery presents “The Best Art Thesis Exhibition” displaying the best thesis works of arts that are well selected by professors and instructors from renowned art institute. With the total of 121 art pieces including sculptures and paintings, each institution had selected 2 outstanding works of arts from master degree students and 3 outstanding works of arts from bachelor degree students who have been developing skills and identities throughout their college years, in order to publicize their talents, to open their visions and to offer experiences in terms of becoming professional artists.

The Exhibition

(unfortunately the photos for this exhibition were left in my tablet that I recently forgot in a Taxi, the driver of which would not answer his phone)

I was very fortunate to visit the gallery at a time when they were exhibiting over 121 of the best art students’ art thesis of 2015 and it was very inspiring. Learning painting myself now, I could see how the students had employed the techniques and the mediums that they had explored in their art degrees.

Pen and Sepia Ink

Pen and Sepia Ink

There were sections for watercolour, acrylic, oil, mixed meda and sculptor, the paintings in all sections were very impressive and looked very, very professional. In the mixed media section there were even paintings painted in rubber sap from the rubber tree which was a sepia colour. This inspired the self portrait to the left in pen and sepia ink.





Even though the beautiful photos of the paintings that I took were lost in my tablet in the taxi I was lucky to make the following sketch of one of the paintings at the exhibition and note the artists inspiration for the painting.

Sketch of a painting at the Best in Thesis 2015

Sketch of a painting at the Best in Thesis 2015

Apart from the watercolour paintings that were mostly of flowers and plants the paintings in other mediums were of some really interesting subjects, but my favourite paintings were by students from king Mongkut’s university of technology that were mostly of industrial subjects such as miners and foundry workers as well as surrealist paintings with characters made up of wires and nuts and bolts.

All-in-all it was a very inspiring exhibition just a crying shame that the photos were lost. All I could find on line were photos of the following paintings.


Kannikar Permkittikul - In Room

Kannikar Permkittikul – In Room

Nidtaya Sornpo - Beauty of Women

Nidtaya Sornpo – Beauty of Women

Somsak Junto - Untitled 2015

Somsak Junto – Untitled 2015


The 4th Asia Plus Art Exhibition at the Queen’s Gallery

I had passed the Queen’s Gallery literally thousands of times ( I used to work acroos the road) and never realised it was  actually a real art gallery. I used to think it was an art gallery styled gimmick to get money off tourists never entering thinking that they would charge the earth.

For the last two years i had been visiting the national gallery which as an appauling colection in its permanent exhibition to say they charge toutists 300 baht or somewhere near and the temporary exhibitions are not very often.

After reading tripadvisor and finding out it ws only 30 baht admission and it was allegedly even better than the museum of contemporary art i ventured down to see what was on.

the sign reàd the 4th Asia Plus Art Exhibition ‘Rhythm of Light and Colour’ 2nd October to 30th November, this is what I found on the internet.

Asia Plus Security PCL showcases the best 56 paintings from the 4th Asia Plus Art Contest under the theme of ‘Rhythm of Light and Colour’ – 6 award-winning works and 50 additional pieces that received notable praise at the contest. The theme of the annual art contest was picked to encourage younger generations of artists to be more imaginative and creative in the composition of their work.


There were 5 floors in total at the gallery, the first floor at last year’s winners on, I think as they had rosettes on and this contest was far from over.

winner from first leg of contest

Painting on First Floor

winner from first leg of contest

Painting on First Floor

winner from first leg of contest

painting on First Floor

On the second floor there was a collection of entries from the first lot of competiton. From what I could make out they had been given a choice of themes for their paintings and a guess I would say they were Surrealism, Abstract, Politics, Thai culture, Modern Culture/architecture and Landscape, I say this because these kept repeating themselves in the paintings as I walked around the gallery.

The third floor was closed and then on the 4th and 5th floor there were the next lot of competitors starting work on their submissions. It would have been good to have gone back while they were full steam to take a look at them using different techniques but time hasn’t allowed me to. I am hoping to go back and see the work that the next lot of artists produced.

The quality of work produced by these young Thai art students was excellent and very inspiring, I particularly like paintings of the traditional Thai houses. I am hoping to be able to get out and draw/paint some similar works over the duration of this course.

The National Gallery – Thawan Duchanee

Either artists have become uninterested in exhibiting their work at the national gallery or I have picked poor times to visit, the last time I visited the gallery, there had been nothing in the temporary exhibitions luckily I used that time for drawing statues. I thought I was destined to spend my student days in the permanent exhibition of royal paintings by unknown artists until I discovered the Queens Gallery which I will talk about in the next gallery visit.

Anyway, a fortnight ago I ventured over to the National Gallery to see if there was anything on that would introduce me to some new Thai or western artists and I noticed that the permanent gallery had expended by one room displaying work my two contemporary artists.

The paintings that really caught my eye work works by an artist named Thawan Duchanee, so I decided do some investigating into why his work had made it to the permanent exhibits with paintings of the royal family as neighbours.

Photo of Thawan Duchanee

Photo of Thawan Duchanee

I discovered that the distinguished national artist Thawan Duchanee recently died on 3rd September this year, 2014 at the age of 74. He was born on 24th September, 1939, in Chiang Rai, Thawan and studied at the Poh Chang Art and Craft College in Bangkok. From there he then studied at the Faculty of Painting, Sculpture and Graphic Art at Silpakorn University, where he was mentored by the late professor Silpa Bhirasri.

Thawan also earned a doctorate degree in metaphysics and aesthetics from the Royal Academy of Visual Arts, Amsterdam, Holland, under scholarship of the ministry of education.

From 1964 to 1974 Thawan had a number of one man shows in France, the Netherlands and the U.S.A including Hawaii and various venues around Thailand, including Chiang Mai university and the British Council in Bangkok.

In 1982 and 1983 he was commissioned to paint murals for the Bank of Thailand and the Shell Company respectively before embarking on a study tour of the Mount Everest region in search of yaks and Buddhist art in several Nepalese villages.

Over the next thirty years he had numerous solo exhibitions around Asia, Europe and the U.S.A. as well as representing Thai Artists at many international events and art fairs including the “Art Beyond Borders” exhibition at the Museum of contemporary Art in Lisbon, Portugal.

In 2001 Duchanee was declared the Thai National Artist and that same year saw the Grand Opening of the artist’s residence and gallery the Black House Museum of Art in Chiang Mai attended by 1,000 artists from 23 countries across the globe.

Various media houses reported that Thawan Duchanee died of hepatitis although his 4 sons failed to reveal the cause of death. Interestingly enough I was reading ‘This is Modern Art’ by Matthew Collins in the book he talked about the myths of modern artists, maybe this is his.

Thawan Duchaneee - Farmer - 1976

Thawan Duchaneee – Farmer – 1976

Thawan Duchanee - Suwanna same - 1976

Thawan Duchanee – Suwanna same – 1976

Thawan Duchanee

Thawan Duchanee

Thawan Duchanee - Two Boats - 1963

Thawan Duchanee – Two Boats – 1963

The four paintings above are in the national gallery next to the older section of paintings of the royal family. The last of the four paintings is the earliest of the lot and since I can’t find a more descriptive biography telling me the reasons for his change of subjects I will draw my own conclusions from the subject in the paintings and the timeline of events on his website (a little gift from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing). The painting of ‘Two Boats’ above is dated 1963 so it was painted during his time at Silpakorn university so it may have even been part of his coursework.  The subject of the ‘Two Boats’ and the first painting ‘Farmer’ are not that far apart though as both depict Thai rural life.

The connection between ‘Farmer’ and ‘Suwanna Some’ is also present, both are figurative paintings and both depict the human form as muscular male figures. The first painting however seems to be a study for a mural of sorts as it reminds me of a stained glass window, the thin strips of grey that depict movement and rigid shapes in the painting look like the lead strips in a church window.

The paintings below were images i found from different sites on the internet mainly from his own site which seems to display work from his gallery and residence, the Black House Art Museum, Chiang Mai.

He developed his works in to a simple but unique style of painting that is strictly Asian but seems to take elements from art of different  parts of Asia most notably Chinese and Thai but there seems to be other Asian influences in there which is probably the result of study trip around the Mount Everest region of the Himalayas.

What I like about these more simpler works is that he manages to depict the beast’s anatomy and muscles with a few simple brush strokes and in some places even long continuous brush strokes that often resemble clouds adding to the mythical feel of the paintings.

Thawan Duchanee - Buffalo

Thawan Duchanee – Buffalo

Thawan Duchanee - Elephant

Thawan Duchanee – Elephant

Thawan Duchanee - Horse Real Name Unknown

Thawan Duchanee – Horse Real Name Unknown

Thawan Duchanee - Name Unknown

Thawan Duchanee – Name Unknown

It is difficult to tell which painting tools he uses as he seems to change throughout his career some of the later pieces look as though parts of them could have been painted with an airbrush.

Thawan Duchanee -Power of Land Series

Thawan Duchanee -Power of Land Series

Thawan Duchanee - Power of Land Series

Thawan Duchanee – Power of Land Series

Thawan Duchanee - Unknown

Thawan Duchanee – Unknown

Now and again I do find Thai artists that I get inspired by and Thawan Duchanee is one of them. I asked a few Thais what they new about him and what most of them seemed to say is that ‘He liked Black’, perhaps it will be a study visit to the Black House for me this winter.

Thawan Duchanee Tiger and Monkey

Thawan Duchanee Tiger and Monkey