Part 2 – Project 3 – Research – Home – Alternative Perspectives

My difficulty starting to look at different artists was I was not clear what “contemporary” really means.

Anthony Green

anthony green anthony green 2 anthony green 3

Anthony Green’s work is described as polygonal forms and over the years these have become more and more complex.  Some of them remind me of the phase of Hockney’s work where he was taking series of digital prints (Polaroid ) when laid together formed an overall image with juxtaposing – lines not matching.



There is a sense of stretching the space with both these kinds of work. Also changing the alignment of the planes so that looking is a greater challenge and you tend to notice more because of it.

Phillip Pearlstein

phillip pearlstein  phillip pearlstein 2

Most of Pearlstein’s paintings are considered from an overhead view and interestingly as above the whole figure is not always included.   Again this means that you have to do more work in order to interpret what you are seeing.

I find them engaging and reminiscent of Jenny Saville’s work where she depicts the body in very stark and often unattractive ways.

download (2)  download (1)

She uses extreme angles looking from below the figure which emphasises the enormity of the flesh.

Edward Hopper



So I went back as far as Edward Hopper because he had such a distinct way of creating time and place in his paintings.   They depict the lonely mostly individuals in urban and rural settings in the USA 30- 50s.  The mood is often sombre and restrained, life, place etc hinted at often through windows. His most well known works are in oils although he painted beautiful watercolours.   I also liked this drawing which reminded me of Vuillard – my favourite 19-20th century interiors painter.

Ivon Hitchens


This was labelled as Hitchens last painting.   Although in oils his works whether interiors or landscapes always had a very spontaneous feel to them.   He was working through to the 70s. His paintings tend to be bright, warm, homely and inclusive.    Hitchens was able to render the simplest still life full of energy and colour.

Patrick Caufield

Braque Curtain 2005 by Patrick Caulfield 1936-2005

Caufield most often worked on interiors using strong blocks of colours and also line.   Some cite his work as photo realism.    He was able to create very strong compositions often using very few tones or colours as is this painting above. Working from the 50s until his death in early 2000s he seemed to be the fashion and then beyond the fashionable sticking with his style throughout his long career.

Carole Rabe



In an interview Carole Rabe talked about her trying to depict presence in interiors without painting figures.    I picked her because it was quite difficult to find a painter who currently paints in a “traditional” style but contemporary settings. I find her work very evocative of current comfortable middle-class American life.   Light pouring through windows, it always seems to be summer.

David Hockney


Walking Past Two Chairs 1984-6 by David Hockney born 1937


I like the multi-dimensional aspect of this phase of Hockney’s work.   This phase of work dates from his Californian life from the 80s.   Again the light is relevant through the colours and sharp shadows.   Also the indicate multi-level living with high ceilings and big windows.   They are positive, upbeat and very indicative of the lifestyle of time and place.

Jonas Wood



Everything from modernism to pop-art is cited when discussing the work of Jonas Wood.   Also working in the West Coast of America.    They feel very contemporary and often include current architectural styles.    His very precise blocks of colour and shape in some ways recall the work of Caufield .   He is also painting his own environment.






Part 2 – Positive & Negative Space

Garry Hume


Hume uses the drama of the positive and negative shapes to fill and over run the canvas. I like the way that although the figure is one colour by laying over the flowered background it still looks like it is striding towards the viewer.

Fiona Rae

Untitled (grey and brown) 1991 by Fiona Rae born 1963

This is a much more complex arrangement of layers of positive on top of negative where the former positive became part of the negative space as the painting builds towards the foreground.   You can almost see the different objects/shapes as if painted on distinct clear layers and then laid over each other.    Something that would be interesting to try.

Gillian Ayres


Ayres builds bold almost cut out shapes of paint on top of the ground and with the careful choice of colours which help to allow some to recede slightly whilst other “flowers” come to the fore.

Howard Hodgkins


Again by careful but similar colours the artist has created a landscape/scene with relatively few marks and colours.   The greatest achievement is that the painting still draws the eye into the distance.

David Hockney


By creating this huge block of trees disappearing into the distance as well as the outlines of the trees nearer Hockney achieves central status in the picture.   This is further emphasised by the positive and negative shapes achieved with the grass and roads as they diverge from the foreground.   Additionally the stark dark negative shapes of the squat shrubs (vines) to the right emphasis once again the immense height of the trees themselves.

Michael Craig-Martin


This very graphic style with its artistic references achieves complex shapes and spaces built one on top of the other without necessary reference to scale or a horizontal surface. Nevertheless the objects are readable in relation to each other and the painting as a whole.The limited colour palette helps to achieve this harmony.

Patrick Caufield

Still Life Ingredients 1976 by Patrick Caulfield 1936-2005

Again a rather graphic example this time using positive and negative space  with colours as well as line to create presence.

Part 2 – Project 3 – Exercise 3 – Material Difference


I became a bit confused between Exercise 2 and 3 of this project in deciding how to go about developing a composition.

These first two sketches are from my sitting room where there is much more light and variety of objects of differing values and colours.


As I mentioned I had been reading about Bonnard and was particularly struck by one of the compositions which was longer and looking down on the subject.


Although not in itself containing particularly interesting objects this is one of the most intimate  views.   Therefore worked on cutting down and looking from above so that I could isolate the subject more specifically. I was surprised how difficult I find this process from different points of view.   We are used to taking in a scene and scanning it not concentrating on particular points of view and therefore it is a challenge to cut out all the extraneous “stuff” when looking.


I came down to the view above slicing through the view and taking in my neighbour’s sunflowers outside the window.   This says particular time – early autumn and place to me.


How I Worked the Drawing

I have never attempted such a large interior – this is an A1 sheet and my first challenge was getting used to the scale and thinking about what materials I wanted to use.

Somehow I was daunted by the white sheet of paper and covered the drawing area with an ochre ink wash.  I realise that I have never actively thought about working on different grounds so this was a first for me.

The next challenge was to pin this down to time of the day.   The light comes directly in during the morning so this is when I decided to place/time the drawing.

I had worked during the earlier part of this part of the course with multi-media materials and as  it is up to us to decide what to use I went for this option.

First big mistake – I had thought about doing the drawing with coloured pencils but when I started to work on a piece this size I thought it would take me far too long to complete the exercise. So I went for oil pastels and coloured pencils.   Unfortunately they do not work as the best of friends if you lay down the oil pastels first – the surface became very slimy and unworkable.

Panic! – Should I start again or do something drastic?   I did something drastic – used some white gouache to block in the main “light” tone areas.   Second big mistake.

Day 2 – Spent quite a lot of time trying to get rid – scraping back both the excess oil pastels and the gouache.   This was possible in some areas but not others.


Spent a lot of time trying to get the tonal values across the whole drawing correct but found this was very elusive.

The area I feel that I couldn’t resolve because of the decisions made on the first day are the curtains on the left of the composition.   In real life they are not textural like in the photograph but just messy.

Using the oil pastels works in some areas and not in others as do the coloured pencils.


I did my now usual thing of cropping the final image – taken out the curtains on the left.  In some ways I think this makes a better composition all round but regret loosing the hint of the table and its warm light.

My Neighbour’s Sunflowers – Conclusions

  • Still not disciplined enough with myself to stop and think about making a plan of action when undertaking a piece of work
  • I like work that is less fussy than the work I produce
  • I need to learn more about the materials that I use and definitely for the next assignments do more tryouts before committing myself to a final piece
  • I really hate the sunflowers – they look too false and formulaic- although in a way they are.
  • I need to learn more about aspects of foreground and background.   It was interesting in reading that it is said that Bonnard was democratic in his compositions – everything was equally important.
  • The coloured ground really works and brings a warmth to the whole piece
  • Finding a composition is a complex task which takes practice – it does not come naturally to me
  • I am still finding it hard to follow the instructions in the exercises – I get carried away and then when I go back to them I often find I have misinterpreted what was wanted
  • Working at larger sized pieces needs different skills that I am not used to and needs to be practised

I thought I would do a final Bonnard action – he worked on pieces of canvas without making decisions about the final size of the work and often worked on more than one image on one piece of canvas.   So I have  cropped again:-


The sunflowers look even worse in this but I like the chair, cushion and reflection on the curtain.


A bit messy – especially hate the left over gouache light shadows on the table. The gate is a bit wonky too!

Part 2 – Project 3 – Exercise 1 & 2 – Interior sketches and studies


Started with quick sketches around the rooms in the house.  Concentrated on line, shape, proportions etc rather than tone. Also was considering along the way what I would like to concentrate on drawing in greater depth.


Made notes as I went along considering the compositional possibilities of the particular view.   In some cases like the one above of part of my studio thought it would be too complex and confusing.


Then moved into the dining room and particularly liked the shapes of the chairs and how the different struts intersected.


Tried different viewpoints but thought this was getting back too much to still life rather than interior.   The view below has lost the interest of the chairs.


In some ways liked this one but too much like still life again.


As I took a longer view there was greater interest in the shadows coming through from the doorway of my studio.  Bit of an interior within an interior as the dining room itself has no natural light source which I thought might be a problem.

Further along I think this would be an interesting subject to tackle with all the different tones and shadows.


As I moved into the bedroom started using a charcoal pencil which I feel gives more definition to the objects and more structure all round.   Thought at one stage that I would like to concentrate on this view for the detailed study but again this room only has limited natural light.

If I went ahead with this I thought it would be better being a rather dark scene – it would have been better with a figure on the bed and full of mood.   In the end felt that it would not really work for showing the use of colour but it might be something I come back to in the future. Has a real feel of the “noir” and Sickert type of scene.


During the process of doing these drawings I was reading the Bonnard book (Metropolitan Museum 2009 – The Late Still Lifes and Interiors).  I thought both the scene above and particularly the one below with the dog on the bed were very evocative of the kind of interior he produced.


Learning Points

  • Initially I was hesitant about drawing interiors which I had not attempted in the past but gained more confidence the more I drew
  • Viewpoint is more important than I had realised and only by doing my own drawings did I start to become a bit discerning about how to tackle an interior
  • I am still very nervous about depicting the nuances of tone and light – I would like to have tackled the interior within the interior view from the dining room but felt it was too complex a composition to take on first time round
  • In some ways I am drawn to the simpler compositions but would like to learn how to make the complex more simple – i.e. how to draw out the essentials in a scene


Project 3 – At Home – Research Point


Pierre Bonnard – The Late Still Lifes & Interiors – Metropolitan Museum of Art 2009

I have spent quite a lot of time looking at and reading about Bonnard’s work and process.  Apart from his daily sketchbooks for which he almost always used pencil where  his references were made up of mark making (which for him implied colour).   Until this research I was not aware that his work was mainly done from memory .  Whereas Cezanne was “finding the right metaphor for his sensations” Bonnard was “finding the right metaphor for his memory of his observed experience.”

As noted previously Cezanne used all kinds of devices to create his still lifes and interiors- manipulating the plains of his objects so as to achieve dynamic compositions.  Bonnard on the other hand was interested particularly in two aspects of his compositions:-

  • light as it affects colour
  • colour as it translates light

I have picked out the image above, La Venus de Cyrene 1930, because of the his particular use of the shape of his final elongated canvas and severe direction of gaze namely from above into what might be considered a very ordinary subject matter.

Whilst I have been coming to conclusions about my own interior drawings I have realised that in order to achieve intimacy the artist needs to think very actively about how she wishes to influence the direction and therefore response of the viewers gaze.

With this recognition I have started to look much more carefully at the choices I am making but am finding this is only adding another layer of complication at the moment.


Another artist I have been looking at is Winifred Nicholson.   A great deal of her work consisted of looking from inside to outside often with plants and flowers in the foreground.   She often named the places like the above Window Sill Logano (1923).  This creates an interesting juxta-positioning between the importance of the both places, inside and outside.


Adding to this Marc Chagall (The White Window 1955) could not it seems often be without his figures – the lovers – and exteriors were a wonderful fantastical world where often neither people or objects were grounded.


Patrick Heron – The Long Table with Fruit 1949 – stripped down it its essentials this view uses line, planes, blocks of colour and no tone or shadow.


Ivon Hitchens – Studio with Open Door 1942 


Another Hitchens – just because I love the fluency of his use of paint.  Without overdoing detail his use of line for suggestion of form or blocks of colour or brush strokes is enough.


Evidently the work of a well known Australian painter, Brett Whitely – My Armchair. So much going on both inside and being drawn to the warmth of the colours he uses to imply the outside landscape.   This is an interesting composition because his choice of colour and line draws the eye around the whole composition whilst the intimacy is achieved from the details brought with different techniques to the individual objects.

Learning points:-

  • Intimacy can be created with a variety of compositional elements and techniques
  • Become more discerning about making decisions in terms of these aspects when building my own work
  • Ask myself questions about what I am trying the achieve, how am I going to select? What do I want the viewer to notice? The whole scene or something in particular?
  • It is as much about what is left in as well as what is left out
  • Is it background or foreground or both?

Some Are Nights Others Stars – Towner Art Gallery – September 2016

Michael Armitage, Ruth Claxton, Tiffany Chung, Siobhan Hapaska, Isaac Julien

Some Are Nights Others Stars brings together a diverse selection of international artists whose works embody the contrasting experiences of displacement, loss and separation with the dynamic possibilities of movement, transformation and remembrance. Presented as an interrelated set of experiences, the exhibition weaves together concerns about land, architecture, progress, utopian dreams, inequality, trauma and resistance that refer as much to imagined futures as to the historical past.

Encompassing film, installation, sculpture, painting and drawing, this major exhibition occupies the unique architecture of Towner’s Ground Floor Gallery. Though the selected artists vary in approach, consistent within all the works is their critical engagement, emotional power and ability to create interweaving narratives that suggest multiple states and histories.

The title of the exhibition alludes to the poem Ashes by Serbian poet Vasco Popa that begins in loss and rallies against destructive forces and dehumanisation until we become the dreamer and the dreamt, ‘both stars and night’.

Some Are Nights Others Stars

Siobhan Hapaska – Intifada (Shaking Off)

Siobhan Hapaska Intifada 1


Intefada 2

Explanatory leaflet in Exhibition Diary.

The part that is not obvious is that each olive tree has some kind of motor around its truck and they are constantly gyrating.   Which means that the whole piece is moving all the time as the leaves are falling the straps that are attached to the trees and to the building are all vibrating. It is also quite noisy – I am not sure if it meant to sound like gunfire or not.

The whole piece feels monumental and inhabits the large space with great presence.  I was affected by both the ideas behind the piece and its actuality. The trees have literally been pulled up and their roots are in the air – the people are rootless without their land and their produce.


Sussex Open – Towner Gallery – Eastbourne

Annual exhibition selected by judging panel.

A few of the drawings and paintings I particularly liked and responded to.

Anny Evason

A pair of graphite drawings by Anny Evason.  Beautifully drawn showing the full diversity of marks available using just one medium.   As I am presently struggling with my own drawing I was awed by the expertise of these strong and evocative scenes.

“I make drawings as finished work, not just as preparation for something else. I find the process of drawing direct, spontaneous, fluid. The act itself is way of thinking. I aim for that elusive equilibrium between the mark and the iconography.”

Rachel Adams -  Cup of Possibility

Rachel Adams - First They Came


Rachel Adams – Cup of Possibility, First They Come, The Passenger.

I particularly like the use of flat colour and tonal blocks in these paintings. The way the paintings evoke memories, photographic reminiscences of her life.


Sheila Morrow – Hand Embroidery

This is actually deep red stitching taken from a 2 minute sketch.   I like the way the spontaneity of the drawing has stayed true in this hand worked piece.