Category: Research & Reflection

Part 4, Project 6 The Face, Research Self Portrait

For this I had to research artists, self portraits. I was to begin by looking at historic examples such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and then use the reading list and other resources at my disposal to look at some self portrait styles that have emerged in contemporary art. Look at how contemporary artists approach tone, medium , pose, story, etc. in self portraiture.

Historic self portraits seemed to be more  a likeness of the artist as they appeared  at a given time, with their moods and changes through the years being seen within the pictures. Self Portraits becoming more prolific over the years. It is said Rembrandt produce numerous self portraits. Each one very detailed and showing how his life and looks had changed over time. The paintings all seem to show the same person as they age become more affluent and then head into old age.

Vincent Van Gogh was said to paint in his own likeness, the bold unmistakeable brushwork can be seen in most of his pictures. His use of colour, pattern and brushstrokes are in the style we are all aware of.

Moving on to contemporary art, I think self portraits seem to have moved in the same direction as art itself has moved and all styles are seen. Self portraits dont seem to need to look like the person, emotion can be the main criteria, style can be loose, abstract, or minimal. This self portrait of Leon Kossoff is thickly painted, limited pallet, low tone picture and was painted with very loose brushstrokes which rendered the picture unlike the artist himself. I am guessing if the painting was a reflection of the mood he was feeling, then Leon Kossoff was in very low spirits.

Next I looked at Francis Bacon and his Triptych painted after the death of his lover in his usual style showing unmistakable grotesque figures.The one of the right is supposed to be him, but looks nothing like him at all. His painting is said to depict life draining from the body and presumably the wrestle with life itself. His lover a gaping hole in his body as his life drains away. Painting style is abstract, brushwork look to be fine, pallet limited. Oil and sand.

Last and the most grotesque self portrait I could imagine is one of Marc Quinn, he literally makes a sculpture, using a mold and 10 pints of his own blood, repeating this every 5 years. There is a need for electricity to keep the sculpture frozen and portrays a time when he was substance dependent, the sculpture being dependent on power to keep its form.

From these examples we can see that self portraiture seems to have moved on. Contemporary self portrait doesnt need to look like the person being depicted, it can show the artists mood a or snapshot in their life and emotions.

Part 4, Project 6 The Face research

This research was to look at contemporary as well as historic artists who work on the face in different ways.  Use my research to inspire my own experiments. Look at the reading lists well as other sources and make notes on what I find in my learning log.

I was to look at the two different approaches of Graham Little and Elizabeth Peytons image Daniel who both used colour to draw the face in a painterly manner and make notes of what I found in my learning log.

Click to access gl-frieze-april-2015.pdf

I think  the similarity of Graham Little and Elizabeth Peytons  approach to the depiction of the face stops at the painterly colour and the fact both artist do use paint. Elizabeth Peytons David was actually painted with watercolour and synthetic polymer paint. However the paint was used more like the blocking of colour when using pastels. On the other hand Graham Little who uses Goache with coloured pencils, has a much finer technique giving an almost porcelain look to his figures the feature finely depicted rather like using oil.

I was asked to look at other artists who work on the face and I looked at many, too many for this Research. The face has been depicted in many medias and methods over the years, from abstract to photo realism, monotone, to full colour, and from detailed to loose in style. The artists I looked at mainly held my interest because they are a style I appreciate, or would like to emulate.

From the historic artists,  I chose two artist of the many I like, that have enough difference to be of interest:-

Leonardo Da Vinci:-

I have used him before and he is one of my all time heros, I love his detailed drawings, both delicate, full of detail, each mark placed is there for a reason, nothing more nothing less. I have a tendency to overwork and appreciate this style of detail and suggestion.

Edgar Degas

Again we have detail within the drawings but the studies seem to be less technical and more loose in fashion. This doesnt take away the beauty or the skill involved in depicting his subject. I really like Degas and can see why he wanted to be known as a realist, his paintings are real, from real life with enough detail to be removed from impressionism.‘Music-Hall-Singers’.html

For my contemporary choice, I went with three very different artists, two are well known but maybe not seen as politically correct in my choice, however I thing they both show a very different way of working.

Guy Denning

His works are lively and varied in mark width length and application, using Conte and Pastel in a loose but detailed way. His drawings make me feel like they are made with speed and great passion, they shout the emotion he is trying to portray. His found surfaces give a completion to his pictures in a way I find difficult to emulate.

Paul Hedley

I love his work, especially his mixed media work. His style is real but loose. His  work is delicately made with detail very much suggested. The mood although not deployed in the energized way of  Guy Denning, is palpable. The gentler sexes face portrayed in a romantic and dreamy manner, with the softness of watercolour, the detail helped along by his use of mark and line. He gives me the feeling the painted are waiting in anticipation of the return of a love one, or the memory of a lost love. There is much less aggression with his application of his media, but nevertheless you can feel what his subjects are feeling.

Andre Kohn

I wanted to add Andre Kohn as his drawings are tonal and linear, expressive and gentle. He has a very mixed approach with his mark application but his drawings possess expression, without aggression. His paintings to me feel different from his drawings, but he seems to draw with paint, detail being hinted at, tone giving a suggestion of, texture giving life. His work to me covers various ways in which to depict his subjects faces.


Research Point compare Richard Hambletons brushstrokes, with David Haines New Balance Sneakers vs KFC Bucket.

They show totally different ways of how you can portray movement and energy. Richard Hambletons work has a vibrance and energy show by his mark making, there is no defined subject but a silhouette of the figure in action with various marks surrounding them. It feels like the subject has been covered in ink and as they rapidly move, bits of ink fly off indicating  their movement and speed.

David Haines on the other hand depicts movement and speed not with his mark making which is incredibly precise, detailed and smooth, but within the portrayal of his subject which is drawn in the act of movement. These two artists, are at the opposite side of the coin with their approach making the viewer see movement. One shows movement with the position and mark of his figure leading the mind into visualise the action, the other with an photorealism showing the viewer the exact act of movement.

Part 4, Project 4, Research Point

For this I was to look for historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying struture of the body.

I found two historic and 2 contemporary although 1 I found through a brilliant digital image of a head and skull. It was beautifully done.

First and foremost there is obviously Leonardo Da Vinci he went beyond the anatomical study made by artists who were trying to perfect a more lifelike portrayal of the human form. He entered the realm of scientific drawings of anatomy. His understanding of the way the human body worked are still admired today. His drawings are accurate and beautiful, documenting his scientific study into the workings of the human body. I feel this short paragraph doesnt do justice what is known about Leonardo Da Vinci, but this research is not about the depth of knowledge of one man, but to look at artists work on anatomical drawing.

Gerard De Lairesse was a Dutch painter, his anatomical paintings were used for anatomical illustration, but there are drawings that go far beyond just medical illustration. We can see from the link I have added,  anatomical drawings which contain a more normal everyday object like a book, or clothes, this for me drew my attention away from the gorey vision of the body, making me look at the art and not feel the horror of seeing a humans flesh stripped from the body.

My next artist is someone called Laura Ferguson a lady whos passion for drawing the inner human was born from her life long medical problem of curvature of the spine . I find these pictures more emotional, I am not sure whether its the method of portrayal or the fact you can albut feel the passion and the personal connection with her pieces of art.

My last artist is also a designer and photographer called Scott Eaton, whos is a digital artist and  focus is on anatomy, form and motion of the human. I was drawn to his digital image of a skull when researching the topic of anatomical  drawing. I had never heard of him, nor did I know the skull I was looking at was a digital sculpture. However I found it remarkable work. He website contains amazing anatomical drawings and his series of the body in motion photographs, are an interesting reference to the moving body. As a digital artist his field of work  may not strictly be of the type of art I was looking for, but his beautiful drawings of anatomy are part of his process and can be seen on his website.

Part 4, Research point effect of foreshortening

mum 2

For this Research I was to try lounging on a couch with a mirror facing me from the foot end, then draw my body as I saw it in the mirror. My feet should be huge in comparison with the rest of my body. This effect is called foreshortening I then had to find any images were an artist has used foreshortening to create a particular effect.

Jenny Saville is a good one for this as she uses foreshortening in her figure drawing which accentuates the flesh.  This can be seen well in this painting called Plan.

Also there is the Grid reference illustration published by Albrecht Durer where he depicts someone looking through a string grid and transferring what they see to a drawing surface which had a grid on.

Part 4, Research Point Contextual Research

For this I was to begin to acquaint myself with some the the views many ideas and arguments that surround this historic and at times divisive subject of the Nude.

Reflect and depict how the male and female nude has changed over the centuries.

John Bergers Ways of Seeing was meant to be a good place to start. I looked at all four programs. He made some good points about the way nudes were looked at and what was being nude means rather than being naked.He talked about the nudes of European paintings and  how women are seen. He questions what is the nude, and feel being naked is when you are unclothed and yourself, to be a nude you have to be seen as an object. (Berger, 1972)

So far we can see the nude was depicted as way back as 28,000BC in the form of a little stone figure of a nude woman with no facial features. There is debate as to her being a symbol of fertility, the thing is we will probably never know. there were several figures of nude women found but to date no nude men, so this does give the fertility argument some credence as does her oversized breasts and bottom. She is know as the Venus of Willendorf.

We also  see  the nudes in cave paintings/carvings, both male and female figures are seen here, depicting  human sexuality and fertility.  There is a strong sense that these drawing were much more likely  to do with fertility as the art in itself is not sensual more a mark of a deed or symbol.

There is an excellent video by Tate. Tate unlock art- A Brief History of Art Undressed  and a really good written piece posted by Dundee University by Ellen Graves.

It is interesting to hear about the Greek nudes in ancient times who were a Military might and like to show off their power with their nude statues. Male nudes were based on important  and admired Gods like Apollo, female nudes on Venus the Goddess who represented things like  love, desire and fertility and beauty. Some of the statues are indeed beautiful, I have seen many first hand on travels to Greece, their bodies lacking in human blemishes are carved with a beauty and symmetry that humans would strive to be like. They had the perfect body. Having said all of that beautiful or not there are some statues that would make a lady blush. This depiction of power by the nude continued until Christianity decided that female nudity was  communicating of sin.

This didnt stop the nude being painted, this problem was overcome by painting scenes from the bible like Adam and Eve and their removal from Eden. Bottecelli got around this in 1483-85 by basing his painting Birth of Venus on the beautifully elegant statues of Venus from an old Roman statue of her, which was a copy of the Greek version.

It is odd to think living in this day and age it was the male who was used as models for nude art, not the women and there were rules on how nudes look. The passive sensual nude was acceptable, but the more realistic women with a confrontational look not.

The 17th century although still based on mythology or religion we began to see a more realistic form of nude art, which can be seen in the paintings of Ruebens. His women look like, well women, not the perfect bodies from earlier paintings produced from the early classic statues.–a23736-b206510/peter-paul-rubens-nudes-prints.htm

In the 18th Century it was thought that it had become the norm to paint female nudes from women themselves rather than men and the progression of their use marched on until in the 19th Century we began to see the type of nudes that we have become more accustomed to such as Olympia by Eduoard Manet.

She was more like the pictures we see today a more realistic confrontational nude. In its time it had to be guarded it cause huge reactions from the public, who were not enamored by the way she was portrayed.

Although more explicit I like Degas Nudes, yes they can be explicit but I like the way his nudes are placed in every day situations. Naturally naked such has washing themselves in the bath, drying themselves etc. They feel more like an exploration and celebration of the human body than exploitative.–a44-b206510/edgar-degas-nudes-posters.htm

In Contemporary art we have thrown caution to the wind and nude art is treading a line between art and pornography, I have come across mildly pornographic art showing masturbation and nude art such as Jenny Savilles that exaggerate  the grotesque, she paints nudes in a forms of mutilation and exaggeration that shock and frankly I find not very nice to look at. Having said that she gets her emotions into her work and I can see why she is famous in her field.

I think even today John Bergers definition of a nude is accurate. I also feel he has a point in the nude female is for the pleasure of man. I am not so sure that can be applied to the nude man in the same way.

Berger, J. (1972). John Bergers Ways of Seeing. Retrieved from Youtube: Last accessed 1st Jun 2016

Ellen Graves. (2003). Life Study: The Nude in Art – a Brief History. Available: Last accessed 3rd Jun 2016.

Tate. (2014). A Brief History of Art Undressed. Available: Last accessed 3rd Jun 2016.

Whittaker, A. (date not known). Prehistoric Cave Art. Retrieved from Ancient Wisdom:

Zucker, D. B. (2016, June 1). Botticelli Birth of Venus. Retrieved from Khan Academy:

Zygmont, D. B. (Date Unknown). Khan Academy, Prehistoric Art in Europe and West Asia. Retrieved from Khan Academy:

In the 18th century a definition of the nude was introduced to stop artist breaking any religious law

Part 4, The figure and face, Research point.

The human figure clothed or not is arguable the most common subject throughout art history and view different depictions of other people and myself can be among other things sensual, amusing, disconcerting. Without intending to we might see ourselves in some of these images, our reactions and emotions working in the space between viewer and image. As I work through this part of the course I have to jot down my thoughts on this. Look at the reading list and study contemporary as well as historic figure drawings for inspiration.

I don’t think I am really that fond of the naked human body as a sexual art form, I understand the need to study the body but I find it can be portrayed with elegance. The most beautiful drawings of the human form I have seen are the delicate silverpoint drawings, not only by the old masters but also contemporary artists, the delicate media seems to give a romance to the drawings.

Due to circumstances I can’t sign up to life drawing classes one being  the time of year meaning  the classes are ending and also I work at the time they are being held, so I will have to be inventive and persuasive for this part. I found an online source and was able to life draw from the models of the New Masters Academy, which worked well, they have various timed sessions which you can hone your skills on, I did most from the 1 and 2 min versions.

After working through part 4, I could see from the art I researched, the emotions and actions of those portrayed that we all share. I have to admire the techniques of artists and their ability to show emotion with mark and expression. Figure study has never really entered my art in any shape or form, however I can see why it is an important skill to gain. There is no forgiveness in the drawing of humans, they have to be accurate in their portrayal and everyone is unique.

I have looked at loads of artists, in fact there have been that many I have started to collate them all in my sketchbook, which is an ongoing exercise due to PC problems. I have come away from part 4, with a whole new list of artists I admire. I like the nudes of Degar who are painted doing everyday tasks, which I am sure we can all associate ourselves with. Mark Adlingtons almost faceless nudes show an artistic depiction, and seem to portray the insecurities I have and I am sure most of us have, about our own bodies. Jenny Saville with her distortion and extreme foreshortening, although grotesque, shows the humour and revoltion I feel about parts of my body. Then there are the drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci which allow us to see his interest in how the body ticks, having been an animal nurse at one time I can understand his inquisitiveness. Finally Guy Denning shows powerful emotions with his figure drawings, they are palpable. I have recently lost my father and went through a roller coaster of very strong emotions afterwards, I don’t like looking at these drawings but have total admiration for his artwork.

These are just a handful of artist I have researched and felt some emotional likeness to along the way. Part 4 has been a very interesting journey.



Project 5, Townscapes, Research Point

For this research I had to look at John Virtues work and other artists working with Urban landscapes who give me inspiration.

I have looked at John Virtue a few times now and surprisingly really like his work. When I first looked I didn’t really see and felt it was abstract art in black and white. It isn’t his work is incredibly clever, his use of tone and mark are amazing, they look random in application, but watching him work he places them with great thought. I have tried to emulate him and it isn’t easy.  He applys his paint with brushes, rags, and spray. His London series are large paintings which have followed many sketches of the area. Each time I study them I see something different. His work is full of movement and life and even though I wasn’t as keen on his wave series, as I thought they lacked the content of his Land and Townscapes, they too have an energy which is inspiring.

There are several artists that inspire me but for this exercise I chose 2, one Edward Wesson. I love his line and wash work, which is full of movement. His expert use of media give life to his pictures, but the main reason I picked him out, was his use of mark making within his painting, they add contrast and tone to compliment his delicate colour washes. I noticed within some of his paintings the main subject is placed within the Golden Mean. I don’t know if it a natural positioning of his subject or a planned positioning, and I couldn’t for the purpose of this exercise find the answer. I like his clarity within the Mean, then softening across the picture to just an impression.

Churches InThe Strand

My second artist is called  George Butler a war illustrator and artist. His drawings are produced in situ and are a snapshot of a moment. Its odd I have chosen another pen and wash artist, as it is not a media I have used. I find him inspiring due to his fantastic ability to draw on site capturing the moment. I know how skillful this is and don’t have the ability to draw this way. If I was to walk around with a drawing board and a cup of water balanced on its top, it would end up a soggy mess. His drawings are full of movement and of the moment. A snapshot in time. I personally didn’t find them as moving as other war artists work, but there is a quality and clarity about them which makes the viewers eye search the detail knowing this was someones past.  I love his little Marrakesh Market scenes.








Part 3, Project 3, Composition, Research, Contemporary artists who work in series with Landscape

For this I had to research contemporary artists who work in series with landscape and a range of viewpoints, then compare their approaches with those of earlier artists. For example I was given Tacita Dean blackboard series and Seurat Landscape with houses. This could turn into a very lengthy piece as there are various comparisons that can be made so I decide to compare the work of Tacita Dean blackboard series, John Virtue London series, Georges Suerat :Landscape With Houses and Paul Cezanne Mont Sainte-Victoire  series .

Subject: They all do landscape Series.

Approach: Tacita Deans works from imagination,  John Virtue studies his landscape and works from his drawings,  Georges Suerat  from what I have seen has done at least some from his drawings, Paul Cezanne worked from direct observation.

Chosen picture base: Tacita Dean works on blackboard,  John Virtue Canvas, Suerat Paper, Cezanne Canvas.

Colour: Tacita Dean single colour white, John Virtue single colour black, Suerats landscape with houses single colour black, In later life Cezanne worked trying to depict his subjects in the most accurate colours available.

Media: Tacita Dean works with chalk, John Virtue acrylic, black ink and Shellac, Suerate Conte Crayon, Cezanne Oil.

Style: Tacita Dean not sure what style but imaginative realism, John Virtue abstract, Suerat Impressionist,    Cezanne Impressionist.


Researched from below:

Art, J. V.-D. (2016, February 15). Paul Cezanne. Retrieved from The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Athenaeum, T. (2016, February 15). Paul Cezanne – Artworks. Retrieved from The Athenaeum:
Corwin, W. (2016, February 15). Tacita Dean. Retrieved from Frieze:
Gallery, M. G. (n.d.). Tacita Dean. Retrieved from
Gallery, T. N. (2016, February 15). Georges Suerat. Retrieved from The National Gallery:
Virtue, T. a. (2016, February 15). John Virtue. Retrieved from The National Gallery:


Part 3, Project 2, Exercise 3 Research Point.

I have to Research some historic and contemporary artists who work in series with the landscape. I looked at Monet, Cezanne, David Hockney, Peter Doig, John Virtue and Nicholas Herbert, these were the suggested artists for this point. This research highlighted the previous learning’s that artists are often inspired by, and return to, the same areas time and time again, gaining inspiration from new view points and lighting situations in the process.

Monet (Impressionist)

He is the first artist on my list I think he is the most well known by me the most obvious his series of Water Lilies in oil , showing them in various lighting conditions, from his garden at Giverny. It is said some of these paintings were done whilst he had cataracts and this series of Water Lilies is said to number around 250 in total.

Cezanne (Post-Impressionism)

Mont Sainte-Victoire and the surrounding countryside are the subject of a series of Cezanne paintings which were depicted in Oil and Watercolour. His paintings were done throughout his life, from various positions and lighting situations. It was believed he saw the mountain when traveling through the region by train and thought it beautiful, after which he began the series of paintings depicting Mont Sainte-Victoire.

David Hockney

In later life Hockney has taken to painting a series of Landscapes in the Wolds an area he has known from a child and an area he has personal connections to. They are depicted in exaggerated colour, bright, almost cubist, pop art, having a varied application with blocks dashes and dots. He has works created with Oil, Watercolour and on his ipad. He has also been known to paint several canvases, and when put together they create one scene.

Peter Doig

He has painted a number of landscapes which are inspired by Trinidad and its lush vegetation, but I am fascinated by the series of paintings not totally landscape but of communal living accommodation know as  L’Unite d’Habitation depicted through trees and just visible, this series of paintings was inspired by his visit there. With one of the painting (Home In The Ravine)  my eyes concentrated on  the trees, then after awhile I saw the building. I thought at first the trees were abstracted but it has made me look further at the shapes between there twigs and I can see how he came about their placement.

John Virtue

Introduce to John Virtue by my tutor and at first glance thought I wouldnt like his work, I do. He has recently worked a series of Landscapes of London,  his painting style is abstract, but his application however abstract creates a picture, the tone and mark, rather like we put words together with missing letters, give enough information for our brain to see the scenery almost hidden within the mark. He works in black and white mixed media,  using Ink, Acrylic and shellac and enjoys painting the area where he is living at the time.

Nicholas Herbert

Who has produce a series of abstract drawing depicting the Chiltern Hills. The pictures have energy and have a weird likable pattern to their application, with a small glimpse of a recognisable landscape. He works in Mixed Media: coloured pencil, acrylic, soluble crayon and graphite. This series was drawn from his personal experience of the Landscape of the Chiltern Hills.