Assignment 5 – Reflections.

It’s been a struggle trying to get an ideal composition and render the image I have in my mind’s eye, the way I see the seed heads in nature and to incorporate their unique characteristics. It wasn’t intentional but I have ended up having the honesty on the bottom left and the poppies on the top right. The stem of the honesty cutting at a diagonal, seems to divide the study in two. This became evident after putting in colour. It does not feel balanced.

I used a water based medium to get fluid blending and back runs of colours and tone. This can’t be achieved by dry media. The inks are vibrant, just like the colours of the honesty flowers. Unfortunately different colours have different density and some colours do not run. The result has been patchy. The trials in small a sketch book version seemed different. I haven’t put any outlines on the poppy seed heads. The honesty have a dark wire like frame holding them on to the stem. I have tried not to make these appear as hard outlines in all of them. Their colour depends on the light falling on them.

I want to depict convincing papery thin cases of the honesty seeds, which are a contrast to the spherical poppy seed heads. The honesty cases are not transparent, but seem to light up if they are caught in sunlight. I have lost some of the sharp edges of the “crown” on the poppy seed head during the application of ink. The gesso on the stem of the honesty did not come out as I had expected. It has spread unevenly and not given the sharp line I need for the stem.

The vibrant magenta and green in the negative space was meant to give an impression of a plants in the backdrop and a contrast to the colours of the seed heads. Also some honesty seed cases have patches of fading magenta on them.


Assignment five option 2

Reflect on what you have learnt throughout working this project.
Review all drawings and evaluate them in terms of technical skill, truthful observation and interpretation.

To help me decide on a composition, I looked at my line drawing which I liked. The way the honesty and poppy seeds mixed together.


In the tonal drawing, I seem to loose the focus of what I want to convey as it looks too busy.


Focus of my drawing : I want to convey how I see the seed heads in a border in the garden -bright glowing delicate, honesty seed heads and beautiful spherical structure of the poppy seed heads
Format would have to be portrait to get height.

A few more sketches to work out how best to show the seed heads.





I prefer the final sketch for my composition. The honesty seed head is not directly next to the poppy. I want show just a few honesty and poppy seeds heads so I can put in enough detail which attracts me to them.
Materials and techniques: wax resist or gesso with ink wash or watercolour. The gesso is better for a sharper result for the thin stems.


The colours.
I wanted to include a magenta and green in the study. These are the colours of the honesty flowers , plant and the seeds when they are fresh. I got this idea at a visit in Giverny, where Monet’s garden lots of honesty plants.


When the seeds dry, they turn an ochre colour which light up with sunlight. The poppy seeds appear to have a powdery layer of light blue. The fresh seed heads are a light teal blue. As a contrast to the honesty, I decided to depict the poppy in teal.


These are Diamene inks.
My first attempt did not work out. I had intended to use gesso on the stems and honesty. The seeds in the honesty were too dark and yellow was too strong.


This is the final study. It’s on 300gsm A3 paper. The mood or feeling I would like to convey : tail end of summer, looking forward to spring and start of the cycle new plants, seeds… .

Following my tutor’s comments, i tried a different composition based on my line drawing. This one is in watercolours. I want to leave the drawing fresh and light.


Torn paper collage

Remit: take composition into further abstraction by developing the looking closer study through collage.

This is on an A2 cartridge paper. I have used yellow and light blue tissue paper, news papers, acrylic painted cartridge paper and oil pastel. While placing the newspaper, some words jumped out at me so I left a couple in style of Tom Phillips.
The ‘rim’ at the bottom is yellow tissue on blue, and it’s giving a greenish tint.
I kept to the same composition as the study for looking closer. I made the bright coloured strips much smaller so there is just a hint. I did this as I wanted the arches lot more simple and the depth to show.
As I had done a few collages before starting on this assignment, it helped me prepare for this one in terms of materials. it took me a while to work out which colours to use. The advantage is tearing different paper and placing them around working out colour combinations and composition. To change something you can easily place a layer of different paper. The difficulty is cutting the paper to the exact shape required and glueing it in the correct place. Once you have the paper cut you can build up the collage very quickly. Using different texture of paper and mixed media, you can achieve a variety of textures, depth, tonal values and shapes. It’s not easy to get as much detail as a drawing or painting. Collage work helps me appreciate the importance of shapes and colours.

Looking closer

Remit : large sheet of paper, locate an area from tonal drawing that has interesting detail and tonal contrast.
Magnify everything. Analyse colour and tonal variation. Use colour more expressively and intuitively, exaggerate. Move towards abstraction. Juxtaposition of certain colours to produce tonal values.
The little ‘windows’ on the poppy seed head fascinate me as they look like vaulted ceilings. I have decided to include part of that with an actual honesty seed.
Here is a close up, near enough as it gets out of focus if I get any closer

A few sketches to work out composition and colour.




I was inspired by this painting by Sir Terry Frost and wanted to include bright strips of colour.


Sketches with colour. I decided to use soft pastels with some wax resist for texture. I like the combination of orange and blue. I want to use other colours to give an impression of reflections from stained glass.



The blue on orange gives a better tonal contrast. I do not like the use of black.
I started off with the middle area and got stuck on which colours to use for the “crown” of the poppy seed head. The use of pink/green seem to make it too busy.


I decided to keep to the same orange and blue. The top area, where the dark honesty seed is supposed to be, I carried on with the similar value as the darkest area in the poppy seed head.
This is on an A2 size medium grain paper.


Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny – American Impressionism Exhibition

Visited this ‘museum’ in Giverny last weekend. As it’s name, the museum focuses on all different forms of Impressionism, its origins, geographical diversity, history and development in other streams. Currently there is an exhibition of American Impressionism ( A New Vision) at this museum. There was a lively colony of American artists who travelled to France at the end of the 19th century to take in latest developments in art, especially impressionism. 80 original paintings are exhibited by American impressionists such as Mary Cassat, John Singer Sargent, James Mc Neill Whistler, Theodore Robinson. Artists like Childe Hassam, Chase and Tarbell inspired by the new way of rendering light effects took the impressionist technics back home to feature seascapes, countryside , depicting picnics, walks, etc., in bright colours, giving the illusion of an ideal world.
I had never heard of Childe Hassam before. His painting, Poppies, Isle of Shoal, caught my eye because of the lively brush strokes, including short diagonal strokes in the sky giving it movement and the way he painted the poppies in vibrant colour. I liked several other of his paintings.


There was a line of 12 small paintings of haystacks called Studies of an Autumn Day, 1891 by John Leslie Breck. Each has a totally different sky, direction of shadows, some without a cast shadow. I could feel the intensity of the sunlight in some. Green and blue marks on some of the hay stacks made them lively. It was a very intriguing exercise just sitting in front of them, jumping from one to the other and looking at the differences. what made one dull and the other more alive.

Next to these studies, there is a huge painting by Claude Monet, “Haystacks, Snow Effect” 1891. it has bits of snow thawing. bright orange markings next to blue on the left of a haystack in the foreground, enrich the solid forms and cast shadows and makes it atmospheric. Its given me ideas on how to use complementary colours.
Haystacks, snow effect
After driving through the countryside and seeing the sun on the wheat fields, Monet’s painting with a network of brightly coloured brushstrokes ‘Prairie a Giverny’ felt I could stroke the grass.
Prairie a Giverny

I also saw some paintings by Blanche Hochede-Monet. I didn’t know she painted and learnt from our guide, that though Monet did not teach her, he used to criticise her a lot! She used to paint with Monet, mostly of the garden. I found her paintings subdued and less vivid.

We dropped by Hotel Gaudy where artists used to stay on their visit to MoneT. They have left a studio there with easels and paints of tubes dating back nearly a century ago as if the artists have just popped out for a bit.

A quote I like by Will Low “Giverny, a greatest charm lies in the atmospheric conditions over the lowlands, where the moisture from the rivers imprisoned through the night by the valleys bordering hills dissolve before the sun and bathe the landscape in an iridescent flood of vaporous hues”

Exhibition based on South Downs and Vanishing point at the Towner

Annual Schools Exhibition – Our South Downs.
Just been to see this brilliant exhibition at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne with such a wide variety of work in different media presented by school children. I was fascinated to see different pieces of work based on South Downs, including ceramics and it has made me more aware of the use of collage and mixed media. I was particularly interested in a piece inspired by artist Tom Phillips, so I looked up more of his work.
Seeing an original painting (not a giclee print) by Harold Mockford, Chalk pit in the Downs, was a good experience. I could see the different textures, brush marks and the actual colours – not having to rely on limitations of a photograph. His interpretation of the pit and use of black next to chalky white, opens up imagination and leads you to deep inner vision.
the artist; (c) Harold Mockford; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
I also saw another exhibition at the Towner : Vanishing Point by UK artists -Matthew Clark, Chris Bird and Ash Nehru of United Visual Artists (UVA).
Inspired by sketches of Leon Battista Alberti, Leonardo Da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, UVA put in an installation that sends lines of light by a laser device from a single point, an arbitrary vanishing point, into space , creating different volumes, divisions and rooms to be explored by the audience. A fascination with the physical presence of light is embedded in their work and they have explored different ways of creating a structure from light. Vanishing Point employs perspective as both a tool and visual outcome to reshape, redefine and represent a space. Standing on a white line and looking at lines of light coming out from the vanishing point was fascinating. It’s made me even more aware of perspective and the importance of marking down a VP for future landscape drawings.
Leon Battista Alberti defined the canvas of a painting to be a window, with everything behind it as pictorial space. The use of perspective by UVA is an interpretation of Alberti’s window where, through projection planes, this pictorial space intersects with the real space. Although the perspective that UVA draw is an artificial one, the light makes it attractive and has an enormous impact on a space or surface. Durer and Leonardo used perspective as a cutting edge technology, relying on mathematics and rules to construct images.

Introducing colour

This is a study in pure colour. I started off with a few shapes and then worked my way round. It’s on a A3 medium grain paper in oil pastels.



I enjoyed doing this and looking at the result. I haven’t put in any tonal values or negative shapes. Just the poppy and honesty seed heads. It looks bright, contrary to the actual colours. I picked pink and blue as I see these colours on the poppy seed head. The honesty has many different colourings, predominantly pale ochre with violet markings and a very dark violet rim. This drawing reminds me of the prints of Dutch wax fabric.
LookIng at the sketches so far, the circles and patterns remind me of Wassily Kandinsky’s ‘Concentric circles’ and intersecting lines. I also looked at Sir Terry Frost’s various paintings for inspiration for colour combinations.

Some studies in my sketchbook.
Art bars: these worked well


Inktense pencils. Able to get sharp lines, details. Difficult to work on large areas.


Soft pastels
I liked the texture I was able to get for the poppy seed head.


I tried out a study with graphite, art bars and soft pastels. It did not work out as I had in my minds eye. The honesty seed heads look too yellow. The green negative shapes do not work. I like the texture I got for the poppy seed heads, especially the small one of the left. This is on an A3 cartridge paper.

I looked at it and tried to see what changes I could make tp improve it. I decided to make the honesty seeds lighter, some of them removed. I coloured over the green areas and re-defined some parts. It’s a bit better, but still need to improve on the colour scheme and composition.