Reviewing my work for Part 2


The brief for this review says that many artists are concerned that everything has been done already and worry that making new work is therefore impossible.  But in his introduction to Painting: Documents of Contemporary Art, Terry Myers quotes Eugene Delacroix: “what moves men of genius, or rather, what inspires their work, is their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is still not enough”.  He goes on to list some of themany ground-breaking developments in art since then, as well as many deaths and re-births of painting in the face of other, newer forms of expression.

So I am convinced we can all find new ways to present our ideas, make our work unique and personal.  I’ve read other students’ Part 2 – UPM blogs and found their work to be very different from each other’s and from mine.  I’ve felt envious of their ideas, but realise my own work reflects my motivations and the context in which I am working…still, I wish I’d thought of painting on a hat!


The brief in the introduction to Part 2 of the course suggested some everyday objects to collect and I followed this in lieu of any other inspiration, never having been a great collector of stuff.  My collections, although they were of ordinary objects, took on a life and character of their own as I observed, drew and painted them during my work on the exercises.  So I became much more aware of the visual potential in the everyday, and I can see this has fed into the way I’ve depicted my collections and expressed my responses to them.  

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – Materials, techniques, observational skills,

The materials I used, such as ice (for painting and as a support), pomegranate juice, coffee and other kitchen stores, marble dust, pva, fabric, newspaper, metal, cardboard and fabric as well as more traditional media and supports (inks of various types, acrylics, gouache, watercolour, gesso, paper, canvas) gave me lots of scope for experimenting with new techniques during Part 2, informed by research into the materials and plenty of trial and error.  Unusual tools – turkey baster, grater, twigs have contributed to my experimentation.

I experimented with many new compositional ideas, such as the circular painting on fabric; painting on melting shards of ice; painting on a multi-part 3d surface (matchbox!); through to my abstract composition in a large scale line painting, and on to paintings composed on top of other paintings.

Quality of outcome – Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a

coherent manner with discernment.

Some of the work was quickly made, like the paintings with ice and on ice.  Working so quickly intensified my concentration, and generated work that is mostly fresh and unpretentious, but which captured my ideas about the subject.  For example the lusciously colourful forms of cotton reels, and the gaiety and touching humanity of the display of socks – both painted quickly in bright, gooey watercolour ice lollies.  Such techniques work well to express a joy in the present, whereas other techniques might be better suited to more contemplative, introspective ideas.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

Imaginary worlds emerged in some of my pieces for the exercises.  I depicted socks, cotton reels, scissors, with a life and character that I created by playing with colour, composition, form, line, perspective and making them seem to defy gravity.

I’m concerned I haven’t done any sketchbook work outside of the exercises, and that even that is sparse.  I should have used my sketchbook much more to develop my ideas and to play, then I’d be able to refer to and interact with the sketchbook when developing paintings.  Instead I worked out ideas in my head for days, or rushed straight into the work.  Will aim to remedy this for Part 3.  Even though the exercises are experimental, there’s plenty of scope for sketchbook work to contribute to composition ideas, familiarisation with subject, for example by making continuous line drawings of the subject.

Context – Reflection, research (learning logs).

My contextual research has been broader and deeper.  I’ve looked at the work of a range of artists working with unusual materials, those suggested by the course manual and others.   In response to my tutor’s suggestions I’ve looked at the work of Juliette Blightman, Craig Donald and Maria Theresa Keown for ideas on arrangement and display of work;  Elsheimer, Vermeer and Melita Denaro for an appreciation of small formats; Mona Hatoum and Paula Rego; Muybridge, Duchamp, Francis Bacon and Idris Khan on depicting movement in the human figure.  I’ve visited the Abstract Expressionists exhibition at the RA, London and as a result researched the work of Arshile Gorky in depth, and adopted some of his ideas and techniques in my own work, as well as linking these to some of the work of Joan Miro and Paul Klee.

I’ve looked at some contemporary artists paint on metal, especially growing in appreciation of Geraldine Swayne and Geniève Figgis; I wonder if I can make monoprints on copper in Part 3 – should be possible.

 My reading has become wider as I’ve started to explore (and write about) suggested texts by Walter Benjamin, Freud, Terry Myers Documents of Contemporary Art, Art and Today, Artsy Magazine.


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