Assignment 5: Tutor feedback reflection

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

15 February 2017. What luck that I still have lots of time to prepare for assessment! While part of Assignment 5 was quite successful (see end of this post), it did not turn out to be a great idea to deviate from the study guide despite having felt it to be a good way to tackle Part 5 of the course. I learned lots from this assignment – and I am extremely glad I took the risky route, because otherwise it might have taken me ages to find out about the following (and at this point I want to kindly ask OCA to provide beginner students with more precise information to avoid them getting lost somewhere on the way):

  1. Stick to the study guide at all times unless the deviation is so thoroughly signposted/cross-referenced that it can be used by tutors and assessors with great ease: So, since I am always struggling to find enough time for OCA study (needing to do at least 15, sometimes 20 hours per week to finish a course within a year’s time), for me any deviating, no matter how useful it might appear, is going to be no option in the foreseeable future.
  2. Do all exercises in the sketchbook in a meticulously structured way: For me, until now, the sketchbook had been something for personal use only, to accompany the “real” work. I think now that I might be slow to understand, but it took me until writing this post to grasp that it is supposed to contain the real work. I will need to buy a new, larger sketchbook, because I often tend to produce larger size stuff, up to A1, when experimenting.
  3. Experimenting itself will have to come with more immediately written down thought directly relating to the experience gained when actually applying the paint: This is something I seem to have misunderstood until now. I know that I tend to use techniques not like tools taken from a toolbox, but as a wisp of intuition. This will have to change radically, or in my tutor’s words “If you can, go back to the initial work and reflect on what happened and how you felt the exercise went before extending your own evaluative written content about this exercise”. Not sure where spontaneity comes in here, but maybe this aspect files with “misunderstood” as well: I guess that applied spontaneity in its real sense builds on knowledge and technical ability, not the other way round.
  4. My sketchbook is well-annotated, but difficult to read: I had not realized that this would be necessary as I had assumed the notes were for my personal use only.
  5. Always use the Harvard referencing system, even in blog posts: No tutor has pointed out to me until just now that this is expected even in learning logs, not only for set pieces of writing such as essays: I will go through my posts and correct them.
  6. Paint, paint, paint, even if it is only tiny side notes: Making drawings and using photos is inadequate to produce the kind of information tutors and assessors will look for: I will try and put together a “travel set” to have in the car to use when I encounter spare time. This is often not more than literally minutes and I have not found a solution yet for travelling with wet paint without destroying some of the results. Also, the paper in all the sketchbooks I have is not really made for painting. Watercolours tend to soak both the front and back of a page and cause the paper to undulate in a most unfortunate way, while acrylics make pages stick together. I will have to ask my art supplier for advice.
  7. I do not seem to put enough information on my artist research into both sketchbook and blog, while also not taking enough personal information from the research I do: This is another difficult point. There is so much going on in my head that it becomes quite overwhelming at times, so that the researched information gets pushed to the side. Will have to switch my brain on more often …
  8. Only tackle the final painting after exhaustive experimentation: I do not know how I will cope with that, because I am never finished with experimenting. So-called finished paintings always tend to surprise me with new turns, e.g. in my illustration of Andersen’s tale (Lacher-Bryk, 2017a). My tutor points out the effect visible in the vase as something worth working with in an experimental series before attempting the final piece. However, I did not know before working on the final piece that I would encounter this effect. I hope that I may find a way to correspond to requirements here.
  9. Be careful not to overwork (“overexplain”) the final paintings: My tutor indicated that preparing by making lots of small paintings will help with avoiding overworking, while allowing to increase the risk-taking. I just hope that this will the case with me, it will need a lot of mental resetting.
  10. Explain more, e.g. why I choose a particular subject beyond finding it “interesting”: To me the introductory section I wrote for my self-evaluation seemed sufficient at the point, but this is not so. I need to “explain why I chose this subject against the project exercises for clarity”. I have to admit that at this point I am not sure what is expected of me, but I guess that I will need to add some project exercises whose results will then sort of prompt me to embark on the subject of shadows.

To summarize, there is still too little researched background, both in a theoretical and practical way, to my finished work despite an extensive, well-written learning log. While I write this I notice that my scientist’s mind, with some gritty resistance, seems to be making another step forward in understanding what is expected. I have to accept, quickly, that it is the process of creating, and not with any preformed goal in mind, which I need to be looking for, documenting every emerging aspect, based on and constantly related to the work of artists in the field (as my tutor says about my research on Abstract Expressionism: “I would make your point of reference here much clearer. Explain in more detail why and how it has been interesting for you. Explain in more detail how this references your interests in shadows and how you may wish to make abstract works from this and so on.”. I am extremely glad that I chose Understanding Painting Media for my next course, where I expect to find ample opportunity to do just that. My tutor suggested that I read widely around my subject of shadows in preparation for the next course. This sounds like a great idea and will clearly help me with structuring my imagination.

In preparation for assessment I will now need to do the following:

  1. Assessors will be looking at my work in a way that is structured by the sequence of exercises as contained in the coursebook. In order to achieve this I will need to add to Part 5 posts cross-referencing and sub-heading information for easy access and use.
  2. Also I will need to add some more well-structured and documented preliminary experimentation, since there was too little of that in part of my assignment. It will have to fit in with a “development towards”.
  3. There will have to be an addition of more research and cross-referencing with contemporary artists, taking care to access a larger diversity of highest quality resources.
  4. Citations throughout my blog will need to be changed to fit the Harvard system.

15 February 2017. Having said all that I do not want to sound desperate. So, quoting from the many positive aspects in my tutor feedback:

“This is a great demonstration of creative activity and demonstrates clearly how an idea develops along the way.” (referring to the sequence of “A Shadow-only Painting” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017b).

“Your research is thorough, personally rigorous and the outcomes you have made demonstrated your creative and visual skills well. You have used paint loosely and haven’t been afraid to lose control, which is a big step in your development on this course […] The painting on acetate is bold and daring, so try to maintain this whenever you can.” (referring to “A Shadow On His Soul” (Lacher-Bryk, 2017c)).

“You have really developed a good personally driven research project here […] Overall you have done well and produced work that is personally driven, ambitious and wide ranging.”

Keeping this in mind I am off now to hopefully getting everything else right for assessment, following my tutor’s advice to “edit and pull out some pieces that leave the work teetering on the brink of your viewer’s interest”.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017a) Assignment 5, subject 3: Hans Christian Andersen “The Shadow”. An attempt at an illustration (including part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 2 February. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/02/02/assignment-5-subject-3-hans-christian-andersen-the-shadow-an-attempt-at-an-illustration-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017b) Assignment 5, subject 1: “A Shadows Only Painting” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 15 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/assignment-5-subject-1-a-shadows-only-painting-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017c) Assignment 5, subject 2: “A Shadow On His Soul” (including Part 5 project exercises) [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 21 January. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/assignment-5-subject-2-a-shadow-on-his-soul-including-part-5-project-exercises/ [Accessed 15 February 2017]

 

Assignment 4: Feedback reflection

Updated on 25 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

10 December 2016. Yesterday I had a wonderfully encouraging hangouts talk with my tutor to cover Part 4 of the course. My portfolio, unfortunately, was damaged during transport. The damage was not total, but I wonder how little care the horrendously expensive courier had for my parcel. Well, it cannot be helped and I just hope it will be returned with no additional damage.
Feedback from my tutor was so very positive and I think that in the last few months I might have found myself a little door leading to a new path of development.

The main points of attention for the rest of the course should ideally be the following:

  1. Since my work is much better when I am in front of a subject, my tutor suggested that I do as much on site work as possible. I will do so as often as possible.
  2. Technically there is a lot of space for development and for the first time I think that I might start having at my hands the ability to push myself a lot further.
  3. My sketchbook work is on a good way and I am advised to use it extensively throughout the remainder of the course.
  4. I am advised to consider the most successful pieces from Part 4 and try to carry the experience over to Part 5. The main successes were the painting done outdoors (Lacher-Bryk, 2016a)) and the view of our kitchen worktop (Lacher-Bryk, 2016b) as well as some of the painted sketches.
  5. It is very important to carefully look at the emotions felt in my work and reflect on their role for my personal development. It is necessary to avoid overworking or obliterating these emotions. I think that during much of my working time I am not yet fully aware of the emotions developing while painting and I will try and be much more alert in this respect. Some of the time I notice, though, that a development in this direction has set in.
  6. The method I used for conveying aerial perspective (volcanic landscape (Lacher-Bryk (2016c)) worked and I am advised to continue using it.
  7. At my stage of development there appears to be a problem with imaginary landscapes. My tutor pointed out to me that I am not yet confident enough to recreate a believable situation. Again I am advised to avoid overworking a painting, since it will turn illustrative.

In summary, in Part 5 I will try and experiment widely with a clear focus on my intentions for the assignment pieces. I think that I will need to come up with a reliable and easy to use system of recording outcomes and connecting them with an emerging pattern of mental exploration of my chosen subject.

References:

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016a) Part 4, project 4, exercise 1: Painting outside – painting a landscape outside [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 20 November. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/part-4-project-4-exercise-1-painting-outside-painting-a-landscape-outside/ [Accessed 10 December 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016b) Part 4, project 5, exercise 1: Working from drawings and photographs – painting from a working drawing [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 24 November. Available at:https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/part-4-project-5-exercise-1-working-from-drawings-and-photographs-painting-from-a-working-drawing/ [Accessed 10 December 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016c) Part 4, project 2, exercise 2: Perspective – aerial perspective [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 10 November. Available at:https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/part-4-project-2-exercise-2-perspective-aerial-perspective/ [Accessed 10 December 2016]

Assignment 3: Feedback reflection

4 October 2016. After having received an incredibly quick, accurate and warm feedback from my tutor I feel very much strengthened and encouraged to continue on my road by keeping the general direction, but using the brakes more often to give myself the time to do much more well-thought-out and documented experimentation at sketchbook level and beyond. This is exactly what I know already and wrote down at several points in my blog, but the putting into reality has been made very difficult by the ever-increasing pressure we experience in everyday life with our son. But another very important point: My tutor told me not to worry about leaving things unfinished. This is something I did not realise before – I had thought that an exercise needed a presentable outcome, but it appears that this is not the case. This will of course make experimenting a lot freer. I feel that Part 4 of the course “Looking Out” will provide me with ample opportunity to enter a new task by setting the scene with lots of different quick painted sketches. My tutor suggested using either good quality acrylic paint or watercolours for this and I will try and adapt my inkpen thumbnails to painting. I know that I will need to loosen up and discard any finished paintings in my head to allow these processes to occur at all. We’ll see whether I will be able to let go in this way.

Now to the individual remarks and suggestions:

  1. It is true that sometimes I have a problem placing correctly and scaling down a subject to the size paper I choose. This occurs more rarely now, but may happen if I do the primary sketch of a larger-scale work very quickly, even if my sketchbook setup worked well. I will pay particular attention to this problem in the part of the course to follow.
  2. The sketchbook paintings following my research on thermographic imaging felt quite liberating for me and I will use the technique again in the next part of the course, especially where the task is the creation of a certain mood.
  3. I love combining drawing/painting and text and will follow my tutor’s suggestion to try and produce some work in that manner.
  4. I will expand on my iridescence experiments, both coloured and monochrome, to incorporate at a later point in the course, in Part 5 at the latest (for which I have already chosen a subject, where iridescence could play an important role).
  5. My tutor emphasized that I must separate with care my approaches as a caricaturist and as a painter. I will keep as a reminder my own failed attempt at combining the two!
  6. Preparatory work should occur in series and quick succession to avoid a picture in my head to dictate the outcome. My tutor suggests to first of all write a description of an  experience, then to decide whether it would be figurative and only then to make a large number of very simple sketches without a finished piece in mind at all. This is to open up a more abstract approach to working that “suggests rather than explains the image to the viewer”. I think that I know exactly what I would need to do and I can only hope that my mind and hand are ready to take this next step.
  7. My sketchbook will from now on be a purely painted, fluid, rapid one, I promise.
  8. Regarding the learning log I will try and incorporate research on the intentions different artists have.
  9. I am very much aware that my writing style does become quite personal at times, but under the given circumstances there is no way around it. This is why I take the risk to continue doing so while keeping in mind the requirements of an academic writing style. Sometimes I also feel that it may be necessary to incorporate an emotional aspect into the text accompanying the development of a work, because only then it may become possible to interpret my intentions. I will, however, be rigorous when writing up my account for formal assessment.
  10. In the next part I will continue exploring the properties of transparent layering and its influence on the transportation of the properties of light.

The artist research suggested in the feedback will be reported on in separate posts.

Assignment 3: Lady in Pool

Updated on 12 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

20 August 2016. A few days ago we were given a day off to spend at the local spa and sauna. The totally relaxed lady we found floating in the pool was so impressive that I found I had to try and make her the subject of my Assignment 3. Although she would probably not count as a true portrait with her face half hidden because of the extreme viewing angle, I just had to take the risk.

08 September 2016. The lady reminded me a lot of the work by Jenny Saville and in preparation I had a look at a large number of Saville’s paintings. Her wonderful delicate handling of skin tones is something to remember, although I know that my own approach is somewhat rougher and I do not want to avoid it on account of trying to copy someone else’s style. Also today I did some intense research on the science of painting pool water. There was a very detailed tutorial (at the time of updating this post the tutorial had unfortunately been taken off the web for copyright reasons and is available only if bought from the author (Mural Joe, n.d.).

15 September 2016. Today I started on the assignment by making a preliminary sketch in order to position the lady correctly, since foreshortening was very strong in her case. As in the exercises preceding this assignment I decided to avoid referring to any photos, in order to see whether my knowledge about human anatomy and memory imprint of the floating lady would be sufficient to produce a hopefully believable form (Fig. 1).

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Figure 1. Sketchbook – positioning the lady in the pool

Next I prepared an A2 canvas carton with a watery mix of blue and turquise (Fig. 2).

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Figure 2. Prepared background

23 September 2016. I noticed how my recent use of acrylic paper had let me forget about the qualities of canvas and the preparation of the background I wanted took me a long time. The smoothness of paper is something I have come to like, since it allows the production of fine detail with ease, while the roughness of the canvas I use leaves, at least at my level of expertise, more than a fair share of the outcome to coincidence.
On the finished background I quickly painted my lady as I remembered her without further reference to other work or photos. I also tried to see her from my caricaturist’s viewpoint, which proved extremely useful in the construction of a loosely painted first layer. My main goal was the creation of a form unusual enough to allow it not to be easily forgotten and in analysing this form to both find and emphasize, if necessary by exaggeration, the innate rhythm in the sequence of arms, breasts, thighs and feet, while trying to take great care in designing a pool atmosphere, whose orderly shapes and cool colours would make a hopefully interesting contrast to the lady’s well-rounded forms (Fig. 3).

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Figure 3. Developing painting – intermediate stage (1)

This painting is another one in which I found an intense communication to develop while working. A small change to one detail – and it was small changes throughout – would instantly cause my eye to focus on something else requiring adjustment in answer to the former. This experience is joyful and satisfying and, at least to my feeling, probably one of the most essential parts of a working painting (Fig. 4):

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Figure 4. Developing painting – intermediate stage (2)

Here comes the final result. It took me a while to decide, observing it under different lighting conditions, but I have come to the conclusion that I should leave it as it is. I might change my mind before I send my portfolio to my tutor, but for the moment I am very happy as it is (Fig. 5):

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Figure 5. Finished painting

For self-assessment please see separate post!

References:

Mural Joe (n.d.) How To Paint Waves Bundle [online]. Mural Joe, Flagstaff. Available at: http://learn.muraljoe.com/downloads/how-to-paint-waves-bundle/ [Accessed 12 March 2017]

Part 3, project 2, exercise 4: Looking at faces – conveying character

Updated on 11 March 2017 (Harvard referencing and changes to content).

17 August 2016. This exercise should be my home territory as a caricaturist, but I do not want to take the obvious route here. A normal caricature does not usually aim at conveying character by a careful choice of painting materials and techniques. Most people working in this field tend to develop a recognizable style with an unchanging set of methods, many stay with watercolours and/or ink as I have done for a while now (Lacher-Bryk, 2017) or opt for computer-aided drawing. The latter are now often preferred by the media, because they tend to look neat and clean and the reproducing of colour is more straightforward. I think that this is not my way, I feel uncomfortable with the computer between me and my developing work. But also, one of my main goals in studying with the OCA is to acquire the skills required to create large scale satirical paintings. This is a field of painting with a short history and only few artists, where William Hogarth (1697-1764, UK) is my favourite for his keen talent of observation and courage to tackle controversial subjects at his time in history (see e.g. “The Humours of an Election”, c. 1755). I have not been able to find many comparable approaches. Throughout the history of painting most works labelled satirical are not what I am planning to do, since – very likely for the good reason of the painter wanting to keep his head on his neck – the satire is usually hidden behind symbols almost impossible to interpret correctly by the everyday viewer without professional guidance. In contemporary art of Germany and Austria we have now a relatively young tradition of high quality satirical painting. My absolute favourites from Austria are Horst Haitzinger (*1939) and Gerhard Haderer (*1951, see e.g. Karikaturmuseum Krems (2016)), and Ernst Kahl (Galerie Richter, n.d.)) from Germany for their talent and wonderful intelligence. The Salzburg Museum der Moderne has just opened an exhibition on satirical drawings over the last 200 years (Salzburg Museum der Moderne, 2016). Hopefully I will find the time to go and see it.

So, what is in the task of “conveying character”? It most certainly is not about capturing some fleeting expression on a face, but about carefully studying the character of a person and pick an expression which reveals that part of a character I need to convey the message of my painting. If the painting is a portrait only without surroundings to help the viewer interpret the facial expression, it is important to be quite familiar with the personality and habits of the portrayed person. This is the reason why most portrait caricaturists pick world famous persons as their subjects and which is what I need to do here for the same reason.

18 August 2016. A few days ago I made a caricature of Donald Trump, whose campaign has been given me a constant headache (Fig. 1):

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Figure 1. Donald Trump

His personality and intentions are an utter mystery to me and so I decided that I would stay with the subject for this exercise. Looking at his life, the least one can say about him is that he is a colourful character, which translates into “schillernde Persönlichkeit” in German, an expression well suited to transport a marked ambivalence. “Schillernd” means “iridescent” and this connects directly with mother-of-pearl. What I would like to try out in this portrait exercise is to find a way to capture this pearly iridescence with paint and see whether this, together with creating a likeness, can be interpreted by a viewer in the intended way.

Next I had a look at hints on how to paint iridescence. What I found was, to summarize, that this goal is futile, since iridescence is a structural property (Remsen, 2013). I should have known better, since in my museum work I came across this subject more than once, but in this exercise I am not after a technique allowing me to imitate iridescence by buying pearl effect paint, mixing in mica (Art Apprentice Online, 2011) and such like. My aim is to create an impression close enough to allow viewers a correct interpretation of my intentions. My first exercise was thus one aimed at analysing the systematics behind iridescence. To this end I looked for photographs of Paua (abalone, Haliotis iris) shells and a scientific explanation for their properties (Tan et al., 2004): The nacre is made up of stacks of thin crystalline calcium carbonate platelets, on which interference and diffraction occur to produce the rainbow-like unfolding of the spectrum.

In a first attempt at copying part of the shell I noticed a regular succession of colours despite the seemingly random “waves” (Fig. 2-3):

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Figure 2. Sketchbook – examining the properties of Paua iridescence
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Figure 3. A first attempt at imitating colour succession

The Paua pattern is however far too strong to be used in a portrait. So I went to look up  materials such as artificial iridescent fabrics, all of which work by applying the principles of thin layer interference and diffraction (not to be confused with the sheen in silk, which is made by using two different colours in weaving) (Fig. 4 below) In all of them the spectrum of colours is identical and follows the folds in a predictable manner. I chose a one of these for comparison and then tried to apply the principles on a printout of Donald Trump’s face, using watercolour pencils (Fig. 4):

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Figure 4. Sketchbook – Iridescence in fabric and the visible spectrum

The colour sequence was as follows: White in direct reflection, then with a fold bending away from the vertical first violet, followed by blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Following this principle I first identified on a printed photo the parts of Trump’s face perpendicular to my line of view and coloured them white because of the direct reflection from these areas. With increasing angle between my line of view and part of the face I changed the colours in rainbow-fashion to end up with dark red. I am not sure, whether my interpretation is correct in all places, but it gives the face the appearance I am after (Fig. 5):

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Figure 5. Sketchbook – Applying the principles of iridescence to Donald Trump’s face

With the above drawing as a reference I decided to try and paint Trump’s portrait with a pearly appearance. Since the above colours are still far too bright for my intentions, I needed to find out first whether a layer of fresh acrylic painting medium would make a good surface for paint to float on.

21 August 2016. The experiments with the acrylic medium went a lot better than thought and so the finished painting is forming in my mind. I am going to paint the portrait in the shape of an actual pearl in situ, while still in its mussel. A pearl forms to coat and render harmless any noxious objects inside a mussel and so the ambiguous analogy with the Republican Party as the mussel and Trump as its pearl seems rather nice.

Here are my experiments with the acrylic medium: On a white background layer I put a rather thick layer of acrylic medium, on which I first “floated” streaks of paint (two bottom images). Since these were still too bright, I diluted them down to near transparent and in a new field mixed the streaks carefully with the painting medium laid down in circles, one with a thin film of medium (top left), one with a thick layer (top right). This way I produced an effect near enough a pearly sheen without the aid of iridescent paint. What my scanner unfortunately fails to reproduce is the shimmering surface in the top righthand image (Fig. 6):

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Figure 6. Sketchbook – Using acrylic painting medium to “float” paint

With the above results in mind I prepared my canvas, an 80 x 40 cm painting carton. This I covered with a cloudy background layer mixed loosely of Paynes grey and a yellow-pink mussel flesh colour. When dry I added a layer of white off centre, where the pearl was going to sit (Fig. 7).

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Figure 7. Prepared background

On the white I loosely sketched Trump’s face with dilute paint, then started the experiment with floating paint on the acrylic medium (Fig. 8). Since the adding of paint to the acrylic medium is something which has to be watched closely and corrected while drying, I decided that I would work my way forward in small steps rather than painting the face in one go. At first I was far too hesitant and this is obvious on the forehead and the area around the eyes. It was far more difficult to achieve a pearly sheen that way and also I had not anticipated that the flowing effect would not be as smooth on the canvas as it had been on the paper in my sketchbook. When I had developed some more confidence, it was easier to float the paint, but then it became difficult to control the colours. I ended up with the brightness I had set out to avoid. Only with some more experience, on Trump’s hair, the effect started to show. Then however the acrylic medium began to form bubbles for no obvious reason (top righthand corner).

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Figure 8. Painting Donald Trump’s face using the “floating” technique

Here is a side view of the face to give an idea of the shiny surface (Fig. 9):

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Figure 9. Side view of painting in progress

23 August 2016. I left this layer to dry completely, then covered the whole drawing plus the rest of the “pearl” with a very dilute mix of acrylic medium and the set of colours used to paint the face.

24 August 2016. The covering with dilute mixes of acrylic medium and paint I repeated about five times. Then I changed the background of the painting to resemble roughly the view out of a half-open giant clam. Here is the finished painting and some details (Fig. 10-13):

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Figure 10. Finished painting
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Figure 11. Detail of the inside of Trump’s shell

I am quite happy about the pearl-like quality of the portrait, although the person would very likely not be recognizable as Donald Trump any more, and the contrast to the normal background painting. It was very difficult to take a photo representing the real colours on the pearl. When taking the photos of the following details I changed the exposure in order to allow the structure of the paint to show up:

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Figure 12. Detail of Trump’s face (1)
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Figure 13. Detail of Trump’s face (2)

I am not sure what to think of the result. On the one hand the process of developing the idea and technique was great fun and the finished painting was better than I had feared at the start. On the other hand the message I originally want to transport is intimately connected with an instant recognition of the portrayed person, a goal which became less important while painting. But then again it could apply to no one in particular, because the facial expression I was after, one of barely hidden contempt, is very much there.

References:

Art Apprentice Online (2011) Acrylic Painting Techniques – Mixing Iridescent Acrylic Colors [online]. Art Apprentice Online. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BQXRPDMdMc [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Galerie Richter (n.d.) Ernst Kahl [online]. Galerie Richter, Lütjenburg. Available at: http://www.galerie-richter.de/ernst_kahl/ernst_kahl.html [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Hogarth, W. (c.1755) Humours of an Election [engraving print on paper] [online]. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1157957/the-humours-of-an-election-print-hogarth-william/ [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Karikaturmuseum Krems (2016) Gerhard Haderer. Think Big! [online]. Karikaturmuseum, Krems. Available at: http://www.karikaturmuseum.at/de/ausstellungen/gerhard-haderer [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Political Caricatures [image gallery] [online]. Andrea Lacher-Bryk, Hallein. Available at: http://boesekarikaturen.jimdo.com/political-caricatures/ [Accessed 11 March 2017]

Remsen, S. (2013) Structural Colour: Why You Can’t Paint Iridescence [blog] [online]. Prospecting Patterns, Boston. Available at: https://prospectingpatterns.wordpress.com/2013/01/21/structural-color/ [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Salzburg Museum der Moderne (2016) Bildwitz und Zeitkritik [online]. Salzburg Museum der Moderne. Available at: http://www.museumdermoderne.at/de/ausstellungen/aktuell/details/mdm/bildwitz-und-zeitkritik/ [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Tan, T.L., Wong, D. and Lee, P. (2004) Iridescence of a shell of mollusk Haliotis Glabra [online]. Optics Express, Vol. 12, Issue 20, pp. 4847-4854. Available at: https://www.osapublishing.org/oe/fulltext.cfm?uri=oe-12-20-4847&id=81312 [Accessed 17 August 2016]

Assignment 2: Reflection on tutor feedback

Updated on 4 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

21 July 2016. Such wonderful feedback, with eerily to the point comments and suggestions for development. Many thanks!

Although I think I may have said so before at one point or another in the course of both Drawing and Painting 1 ;o), I am finally beginning to understand now where we need to go as students. My tutor put this in her feedback as having to place myself as a developing artist in context with 21st century art trends and working artists. I find this concept very hard to incorporate into my own small art world (although it is exactly what I would be expected to do in my natural science work!), because, and this comes with a very uncomfortable and familiar feeling of inadequacy, I do not see myself as an artist yet. I get the strange feeling that my work is not good enough to allow any sort of comparative analysis, since I am still struggling with the basic techniques, but I understand now that the task comprises something more expansive, nothing less than a perpetual analysis and sharpening of what I want to be in and to the world. I started doing this with my political cartoons several years ago, but necessarily from a much more distant viewpoint. Here on the other hand the goal is to connect with my soul and hence the instructions to take risks in a large way. My soul does not sit on the sofa with me and has never done for fear of getting hurt. It has been hiding for a lifetime and it makes me feel very vulnerable having to go and look for it. I envy the grace with which some artists solve this universal dilemma for themselves and this is where I will start following the advice given by my tutor to extend my research on contemporary art.

Regarding feedback to the individual exercises my tutor’s suggestions make me feel that I am not only allowed, but rather required to sort of step out of myself. In that context I remind myself to be more aware of and treat with care impulses and inspiration that emerge from internal communication. This sounds very exciting in theory, while in practice many of these are of a precarious, fleeting kind, crossing my mind in the most inconvenient, bland everyday situations, where it is impossible to internalize even an afterglow before it is overwritten. It is these situations of course where sketchbooks come into their own and I will try and follow more closely my tutor’s advice to note down every such impulse to save it from passing into oblivion.

I know that I will have to be a lot more rigorous with my referencing. Living in Austria with no access to English language library books and precious little time to visit galleries and exhibitions it is dangerously convenient to rely on internet sources, especially if cross-referencing is required. I have the set book Vitamin P and in a previous post I stated that not a lot of energy seems to flow from the book to me. Maybe it is time to sit down again and have another look at it.

Also, as I noticed myself, I have not yet quite made the transition from drawing to painting. I will have to start being much more liberal with my brushes and paint, and whatever materials and techniques come in handy. At the same time I am advised to look more closely at and emulate rather than illustrate what I see. I am not quite sure here yet what I am required to do, since the definitions make a muddle in my head, but at the moment I interpret this as having to take what there is, in reality, and experiment with that, rather than start painting with a fixed idea of what I want it to look like. I have emailed my tutor for advice and hope to get there eventually.

What I also have not realized in researching painting in all its facets is the requirement to immediately connect to works of art exploring or utilizing these effects, both historical and much more importantly contemporary as well as my own (and not only in painters, but practically any medium of interest). I do find, however, that these things start to come more naturally now, not in the desired intensity and conciseness yet, but they increasingly become part of the processes involved in each new exercise.

A very exciting note my tutor put in her comment was the idea of both making my work fit for the 21st century and travel into new and/or under-researched areas. This is something that has always had an extremely high appeal to me, and something I used to try and pursue in my job as a museum exhibition planner. This is also why I started the OCA course in the first place, because I felt that it is exactly this part of being an artist for which I am not fit yet technically and emotionally.

Although I have started using my sketchbooks in the required way and I am immensely enjoying the process – so much more spontaneous and somehow liberating than the writing of this log, I find that I barely have the time to do it, too. I may have to slow down the overall speed I am doing this course at. Which my tutor already considered when suggesting a submission date for Assignment 3 nearly a month later than my own set goal.
I have never before thought of actually painting in my sketchbooks, since I tend to need lots more space than A4 when working with paint, but I will take the advice and take my water brush filled with watercolours.

Something I have not noticed before is that my blog does not seem to be organised in a way that allows people to find their way round easily. Especially, there seems to be a muddle regarding the dates of my posts. On my computer, however, they are all presented in an archive sorted by months, one exercise after the other, since I make no changes to the sequence set by the study guide. I may have to look at the blog from another computer and see where the problem may arise.

I will intensify my research as suggested and present it in a more scientific way by supporting my results with published work. Also I will add, stepwise, to my relatively meagre collection of art books and magazines. Yesterday we went to my favourite art supply shop to stock up on canvasses and paint. Although there is a large selection of art books, most of them are very straightforward artist or technique based and not what I think I am supposed to be looking for. I will therefore use the links suggested by my tutor and start from there.

The suggested research will be covered, step by step, in separate posts to follow.

Assignment 1: Reflection on tutor feedback

Updated on 26 February 2017 (Harvard referencing).

28 April 2016, Yesterday I received the feedback from my tutor on my first painting assignment. It reflects very well where I see myself at this point of the course.

Going through the comments in sequence of appearance:

  1. Although I take great care to provide the best possible photos of my sketches and paintings, the warning at the beginning of the feedback letter made me aware of the limitations set by a blog-only submission. I do not know yet whether I will be able to send a portfolio every time, since I am based in Austria and it is either excruciatingly expensive or takes weeks to use a parcel service (the post office does not accept my portfolios addressed to the UK due to insurance restrictions), but I see that I want to be even more careful with my blog posts in the future. In particular I will add closeup images to allow my tutor to assess surface structures.
  2. I was very happy to read the line “You have made a promising start to the course”. Our everyday life took a nasty turn last year and I am struggling to keep up with the enormous additional effort to help our little son into a good future, while hoping to develop as a painter. I will keep this line in mind and hold on to to it, if things get difficult again.
  3. “… unexpected happy accidents …” and “What may be an ‘unsuitable material’ for one exercise may produce the best effects for another.”:
    Since I had not been sure about the degree of freedom for experimentation in this course I think that I can safely interpret the above as expectation to be as inventive as possible. I can see how the difference in experience I have in drawing as opposed to painting in acrylics has a major influence on the degree of creativity I am able to put on canvas. I am much more reluctant with paint and during the first part of Part 2 of the course I discovered some beginners’ mistakes using acrylics I have been making so far. For me this course is not only about coming to terms with “what paint can do”, but also “how to treat paint”.
  4. In the sense of the above I will try and include a number of different types of support in my experiments. Since my tutor was positive about my idea of painting on sandpaper with pastels or other media, I think that I will come back to it for the Part 2 still life with man-made objects, which will be my next exercise.
  5. “You should look for opportunities to use negative space …”: I am intrigued by the possibilities offered by negative space and still I keep forgetting about consciously making it part of my compositions. Since is not only negative space that gets lost repetitively in this way, I decided that I will place a large piece of flipchart paper on my studio wall with “negative space!”, “golden mean!” “complementary colours!”, and another few, so that I cannot fall back into my old habit of purely intuitive work. My tutor advised me to look at work by Edward Burra (Lacher-Bryk, 2016). As a watercolour painter I am used to painting around shapes with dark colours, but did not see this technique as making use of negative shape so far, since to me it was part of the whole process of interacting with a developing work and I had no name for it.
  6. I have already started making better use of my sketchbook in developing ideas. So far I often experimented on large sized sheets of paper, which might be seen as oversized sketchbooks, but of course this is difficult to follow if serving the purpose of illustrating a process of development. Most of my newspaper clippings and references to artist research have not made it into the sketchbook so far, because I think that I misinterpreted how to use the blog. Everything I thought useful went straight into a blog note. As I realise now this may be the reason why I keep losing the discoveries I made in the past. If time allows I will therefore try and have a sketchbook recording as well as a blog post.
  7. Regarding my split painting on white and coloured ground my tutor was not too keen about the idea. She suggested I redo the exercise as described in the study guide, so that a direct comparison of the whole arrangement becomes possible. Regarding her question, why I chose to have a monochrome painting on the dark ground and a coloured one on the white ground I would not know a valid answer except for an intutive decision when looking at the objects. Those on the monochrome side were, by coincidence, the simple shapes and strong tonal transitions, while the kitchen scales on the right provided some challenging shapes and forms. The former seemed more attractive to be depicted in shades of grey. If I find the time, I will repeat the exercise with a less demanding setup on two different grounds, although I quite liked the smooth transition between the techniques on the one support.
  8. Regarding the assignment piece (black tulip): I did not include my other sketches in the blog because they were both quite technical and not pleasing to look at due to getting the viewpoint wrong, while also I did not like the idea of having a break in the development of my idea. In the future I will however include all preliminary sketches. The photo I included in the blog both to give readers an idea of the original setup (something I do most of the time) and, in this case, as stated in the blog post, to have a backup: Tulips often wilt within the matter of hours. Due to my son’s condition I do not always know whether I will be able to finish a painting as intended. It took me a several days to complete it. In the meantime the bouquet had changed in colour and overall appearance – tulips tend to grow considerably after having been cut and then start hanging over the edge of the vase. In the future I will have to take more time to consider my choice of subject for aspects of durability.
    I mentioned in my post the research on paintings of tulips, but omitted the findings, because, as I stated in the blog, the ones I did find were nothing I wanted to paint (many were extremely badly carried out or gaudy or both) and so decided that I would like to see whether I would manage without referring to other artists. Not used research I will however also include in my blog from now on.
    The uniformly grey shadow area was intentional. The tonal variation in the shadow came mostly from folds in the cloth I had put under the vase and I had the impression that including this would draw the eye away from the message: I wanted it to serve as diametral contrast to my black tulip and coloured shadow, but I see now that by concentrating on an idea I forgot about the technical execution and thus got the tonal value wrong. The coloured shadow did not just have a yellow outline, but went from a green centre to red to yellow, so as to include all the colours in the bouquet itself. This was probably impossible to see on the blog photo. Since my tutor suggested that the idea of introducing a coloured shadow was worth pursuing, I will try and develop a line of thought from here.
  9. As mentioned in pt. 6 above I know I need to work at putting more emphasis on structured sketchbook work. I have no idea why the concept is so difficult to grasp for me, but I will get there eventually. I already draw on a daily basis in my small sketchbook. Due to time constraints the things I draw are probably difficult to use in course projects, but I keep coming back to them and some may be worth pursuing.
  10. I am happy that my learning log largely corresponds to what is expected from me. Again I will have to find a way of always having at hand the results I keep in my blog without having to produce a double diary. There simply is no time for that yet. Also, I know that a working knowledge of other artists’ approaches to a subject helps immensely with overcoming problems. My tutor suggested that I have a look at James Rosenquist’s painting ‘Untitled (Tulips)’ to support the idea (Lacher-Bryk, 2016). It is probably that I am on my own with the rare option of direct contact that I tend to want to solve problems my own way. In the near future I do not see too many chances to visit galleries, although I take every opportunity. This year I went to several already, but having to guess at the probable contents of an exhibition left me somewhat disillusioned at how to make the best use of the time I have.
  11. I will try and spend much time experimenting in Part 2. In this context my tutor pointed me to Josef Albers and his series ‘Homage to the Square’ (Lacher-Bryk, 2016). She suggested that I should repeat some of his studies in my sketchbook in order to gain deeper insight into colour theory. The suggestion made it clear to me that my experimentation on large sized formats may not be required at all. I will try and reduce the size, where possible, to include it in my sketchbook. Maybe here is where I can gain the time needed.
  12. And finally some more pointers for the next assignment:- apply results of experiments into final assignment painting
    – make a large number of preliminary studies from different viewpoints, look at
    range of ideas for composition and use of colour and tone, explore support –
    hopefully there will be enough time to do this in a serious way, I don’t want to rush
    them
    – develop a visual diary in my sketchbook – I know that many other students do this
    in a brilliant way, I just need to figure out a feasible strategy for myself

So, overall, most of what I need to change has to do with trying to approach my projects in a more structured and reflected way. Help!

References:

  1. Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Artist research: Edward Burra, James Rosenquist and Josef Albers [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 Blog. Available at: https://andreabrykocapainting1.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/artist-research-edward-burra-james-rosenquist-and-josef-albers/ [Accessed 26 February 2017]