Part 2, project 4, exercise 2: Drawing and painting interiors – simple perspective in interior studies

Updated on 3 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

23 June 2016. As planned during the last exercise I chose the garage view on our barbecue and the cupboard behind it and produced an elongated drawing with a dark green mix of brown and blue-green acrylic modulated with white and black. Since there were nearly two weeks between the start and the end of this exercise, with lots of doctors’ and hospital appointments and one of my oldest friends, from Iceland, staying for nearly a week, I did not completely immerse into this task. Still I am not unhappy with it. The view is quite complex with lots of shelves and so I was glad to have chosen a quasi monochrome option. What I really like in the finished drawing is the way the barbecue both shines and stands out from the rest of the room despite having been drawn with nothing but bold strokes. I could have spent a lot more time on this exercise, but I think that the main layout, shapes and proportions are fine, and also I will need the next days to concentrate on Assignment 2 to avoid having to ask for an extension. Here is the sequence (Fig. 1-3:

I think that I managed to indicate clearly the direction of the light source (daylight coming in from an invisible door just to the right of the cupboard). What I noticed just now, when putting the photos in this blog, was that the shadow cast by the wheel of the barbecue at the back is not believable. It looks as if it did not touch the floor. Also two weak shadows cast by the garden hose on the floor are missing, but they would be important to define floor space. Maybe I will come back to this drawing/painting when preparing for assessment next year.

By the way, when having had a preparatory look at the blogs of fellow OCA students doing this exercise I admired the beautiful solution found by fellow student Stuart Brownlee (2014). Trying not to be envious :o).


Brownlee, S. (2014) Part 2 – Exercise 15: simple perspective in interior studies [blog] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 3 March 2017]

Part 1, project 2, exercise 4: Monochrome studies

Updated on 19 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

6 March, 2016. I am not sure why, but I found it very hard to make sense of the instructions to this exercise. Looking at the respective work of some of my student colleagues did not help either: In both paintings the ground can be a wash and in both I paint over that with a predominantly opaque layer. In both sheets, opaque and transparent paint need to work together. The only difference I can see is that in one case it is the background, which remains transparent if I choose this approach, in the other it is the tree. In particular I am unsure what to make of the sentences “Mix up a light grey and apply this to the shapes formed by branches … Modulate this grey as you move away … “. I guess that this instruction is meant to apply to both paintings, but if I paint over either the positive or negative representation of the tree, it will mean to cover up the only real difference between the two. Since I understood the goal of this exercise to compare opaque and transparent approaches to painting a tree, I decided to – for the moment – ignore the above instruction and wait for tutor feedback. I got ready choosing two sheets of acrylic paper and mixing a dark wintery colour by combining primary magenta, gold ochre and bluegreen, with white or water to be added where required.

7 March, 2016. Finished the two paintings today, having decided to paint the apricot tree in our garden, which is getting ready to grow its buds.
Here are the results. On top is the “positive” tree, which I decided to paint with relative coarse brush strokes on top of the light grey opaque ground in order to make visible the bark characteristic of this species (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. “Positive” tree: solid mix on top of opaque light grey ground

The dark wash prepared for the second part of the exercise I had to produce in two layers, otherwise it would not have been dark enough to compare to the solid colour in the first painting. I quite liked the brush strokes and decided to set them diagonally in order to emphasize the relative direction of growth of the tree (Fig. 2). Despite the help of charcoal it was not easy to reproduce the negative spaces correctly and I had to literally talk myself through the exercise. In a few places I painted over a twig, but most of it seems more or less correct.

Figure 2. “Negative” tree: negative spaces painted with solid mix of light grey on dark semitransparent wash

I am unhappy with both paintings for the coarse approach to the subject, but again it may have been me misinterpreting the instructions.
Asked to assess the strengths and limitations of each technique I would – cautiously – assume that painting a positive object on a prepared ground will produce a more realistic feeling of space (object in front of background). The greater transparency of a background wash will most likely produce a more credible feeling of air, while a completely opaque background will suggest a dull day, probably in stifling weather. Also, I found that an object as complex as a tree is by far easier to paint positively. However, I like the effect produced by painting the negative spaces better. Probably due to my lack of practice in doing so the tree is more alive and seems to physically make contact with the air surrounding it. Since both paintings are silhouettes only, I am so far not able to compare the respective strengths of the two approaches regarding credible representations of trees.

What I also learned in this exercise was to be wary using acrylic paper. The “professional” paper I had bought rolls up in the most unfashionable way and is almost impossible to reshape. I had therefore to place a glass plate over the sheets in order to take the required photos and unfortunately could not get rid of all the reflections. Also, the colour is not quite correct and the brush strokes are hard to see. I will retake the photos if I am instructed to have another go at this exercise.

Part 1, project 1, exercise 2: Applying paint without brushes

Updated on 18 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

19 February, 2016. Today I finally made myself throw away a lot of the ugly old paintings and drawings I had kept for ages for fear of losing touch with my past. Some of them are on wonderful 600g watercolour paper and I knew that I did want to make use of that. So I made a pile of selected paintings and, to make sure I would not be able to keep them after all, went over them with a layer of white acrylic paint. This paint I put on using a small foam roller, so as to avoid leaving brush marks.

For this exercise I prepared two A2 sheets, one for a monochrome experiment and one for putting on multiple colours. Each I divided in two. One half of each sheet received a dilute coloured wash – monochrome on the first, multicoloured on the second. These I let become dry before starting the experiment described in the study guide.

The following tools were used, plus fingers, a plastic ruler and a rag:

Figure 2. Tools used

22 February, 2016. Yesterday I continued working on the exercise. First I used the monochrome sheet to explore the marks produced by the above tools, from top to bottom the palette knife, notched trowel, sponge (2 rows) and rag, wooden skewer, 2 stainless steel balls, plastic ruler, and finally fingers on the bottom left, and a nailbrush on the bottom right.

Figure 3. Monochrome exercise

With these in mind I went on to my multicoloured A2 sheet, having decided that it should become something like a painting using all of the above. This is the chaotic result, which I call “Spirit Contemplating Fenland Sunset” ;o).

Figure 4. Multicoloured exercise

While painting I tried to observe very closely the interaction of paint and tools and to think carefully about the respective effects, including comparing white and coloured background. Thick layers of acrylic paint will stay pliable for many hours, allowing them to be worked on without the need to proceed too quickly. Sometimes it is interesting, however, to allow a layer to become partially dry before continuing to work on it. This is especially important, if I need to produce fine lines e.g. with my nailbrush. Details regarding the tools used see below:

Figure 5. Tools used: notched trowel, palette knife, fingers, wooden skewer and tube of paint
Figure 6. Tools used: notched trowel, fingers and sponge
Figure 7. Tools used: palette knife, tube of paint, wooden skewer, nailbrush, fingers, sponge and rag
Figure 8. Tools used: notched trowel, nailbrush, sponge and rag, palette knife, fingers and wooden skewer

I will use the above results as add-on reference when planning new paintings throughout the course.