Chance Landscape with Figures #2

118.5cm x 167.9cm, ink and pencil on card

Following from Chance Landscape #1, there’s a lot of changes I want to make, along with some critique that I received, so this is the latest development. Above all I wanted to enlarge the scale, because for landscape I feel that bigger is better, because it immerses you so much more. I’m drawing inspiration from Julie Mehretu‘s drawings and paintings where she implies space, instead of representing it, by placing shapes in such a way that suggest movement and therefore an environment to move in. There’s nothing to suggest it’s an environment because it’s made of abstract shapes or “characters”, but it still has a sense of depth and void. That is the quality I want this piece to have, and I’m implementing that with a larger scale and more layers to push some of the figures into the distance.

Sticking with the idea of chance I wanted to leave the process fairly open to external influence. One thing which has happened so far is my dusty footprints getting all over it while I was making the grid, and I was about to wipe them off when I realised that the pattern made by my feet was actually chance based too, but unlike the rest of the process, offered a truthful insight into the human process, as well as the dictation of chance.

I’m going to keep the grid on the piece instead of erasing it after so I drew it in white pencil. While the chaos can spawn ordered constructs, the restrained nature of the grid can also spawn organic, loose shapes. There’s a lot of tensions going on in this piece, so I’m trying to push that quality.

There’s only two layers on it at the moment, so there’s a lot more to go, but I’m too bothered about spending a fair while on this, as I tend to learn more during a process than in hindsight.

Chance Landscape with Figures

Ink and pencil on card

I’m looking at the idea of chance at the moment – an idea I’ve been playing with a while behind the scenes, and the idea of creating an image with the seemingly random and erratic values which come up when you toss a coin or roll a dice etc. These pieces aim to reveal the patterns and invisible forces at work in our everyday lives, and in turn suggest that this chaos can be worked into something beautiful, at the same time as largely surrendering control.

For this one I made a grid, by rolling a value for both the x and y axis to determine how many squares there would be in the grid.

I then chose a number integral actions that i could dictate with chance, namely the dilution of the ink and edge of the card that was touching the floor, resulting in drips in different directions.

The consistency was dictated by a 4 sided dice, ranging from neat ink to 1:3 ratio of ink/water. The drips were dictated the same way. I then worked from top left downwards until I filled the paper. This process served to map out the random results of the force of chance.

Afterwards I used a white pencil to select the most developed areas and use the information already provided to create a figure I would have never been able to create with my own imagination, but one that is still fundamentally an accident.

This project is really exciting for me and I think I can do a lot with it, looking forward to seeing where this’ll take me.

Salt Crystals

Haven’t posted in a loooong time, but after seeing a really cool crystal based exhibition in the Tate Britain, I tried to grow some salt crystals! I succeeded but not exactly as exciting as I thought…

Copper sulphate would be amazing to play around with, but not sure how on earth I could do that…

I’m starting my Fine Art course at Loughborough on the 28th so naturally my blog will be a lot more active then, I’m looking forward to it!

Project Recap/Run Through and Backlight Experiments

My “centre” is light, and I’ve decided that looking more closely at the projects I’ve been working through this year. As I engaged with more topics, and techniques, and research, I noticed a pattern. I would either start with a topic which was loosely related to light, or I would slowly peel away from my topic to revisit light in some way. So, rather fittingly, my Final Major Project is in a way, the first project where I actually know my “centre”, my “thing”. It’s a summary of everything I’ve done in the past year and how it’s shaped me as an art student.

Perhaps my biggest tangent I’ve been on, a fascination which effectively spanned 3 projects, is “The Sublime”. This is something which I have only really discovered this year, with the help of numerous books and artists more knowledgeable than me, and it’s been a crucial stepping stone to realising my integral fascination with light itself, which is really a more fundamental aspect of the sublime, at least for me.

What I mean by that is that all the stimuli I’ve witnessed which I would describe as “sublime” focus heavily on light, so really its the light I’m fascinated in, not necessarily the grandeur or the size or the overwhelming feeling of insignificance. And I suppose that’s a relief, because I always thought my approach to art was a bit subtler than the big, powerful, exaggerated images from Romantic times.

So in an effort to simplify it and strip it down, something which I consistently find to be the hardest thing to do in art, I’m focusing on light. And that’s it. I’ve been out taking a ludicrous amount of photos, capturing different lights at different times, then going back to the studio and seeing how I can capture it with paint. As it usually does for me, my paintings started off crude and gradually became more “lyrical” (my tutors words, not mine, but I like it) and eventually I started to develop my own gesture, using under-painting and stripping away layers of paint. It was round about this time that I thought that the classic “sublime” concept of the sun, power, and overwhelming sensation needed tweaking so I wrote this statement to summarise my plan:

I am trying to represent the power of nature, but not the obvious sublime power of the sun, wind, and light. I want to visualise the hidden, silent resilience, which resides in all aspects of nature. A sublime light we can’t necessarily see.

This is just a quieter sublime in my opinion, a subtler one, and one which is a bit more appreciative of the smaller aspects of nature. Trees, rocks, small clearings and passages, not necessarily huge mountains and waterfalls and valleys stretching off into the distance. So this is where I am right now – looking at the smaller things, and the wonder they hold, and visualising the light I imagine to be within them. I’m refining my technique and experimenting with new ways to paint it, because either way you slice it it’s still a well worn path in painting, and I need to find a niche.


In an effort to find my own angle on a very well saturated part of the painting canon, I started playing around with how real, visible light could affect my paintings and change their effect on the viewer. Because of the way I painted the landscapes, using plain turpentine to dissolve away layers of paint, these thin areas let more light through, imbuing these areas with a vibrant glow. It’s an effect which would be, to my knowledge, impossible if not pretty damn difficult to represent with painting, because it illuminates how the layers overlap, and the brush strokes, and it tests the line between a painting and an installation. Ooo I just came up with that on the spot and I like that description.

More experiments needed!

Images below are of the “Sleepy Common” painting, and the titles refer to how I backlit it in that instance.

My God I think this could be my longest post. How is it this easy to write so much on WordPress and not in an essay…

“The Sublime” Project: Consolidation

As much for me as you, here’s every single outcome which came from this project, in order! I’ve already said most of what I need to sum it up, so this is just a visual summary kind of thing. It’s nice to have everything in one just to bring it together!

keywords: sublime, process, progress, development, summary, divine presence

Printmaking (A Departure from Film)

Spent most of today doing write-ups but I did manage to successfully make some backgrounds for my next oil paintings. I’ve noticed that all the photos which appeal to me as “sublime” all have interesting and unusual light. I think the light in a landscape is the most powerful way of making a sublime image – maybe because our association of light with a higher power (walking towards the light, heaven, halos, Gods of Sun and Moon).

So having found the common denominator, I’ve decided to do a few paintings with the light as the focal point and subject. Weather seems like good a unifying theme for these paintings as each type of weather has a characteristic light and often the weather is associated with a divine power/ Godly influence. My challenge to myself is to put across the presence of this higher power, and get that sense of awe and wonder which is integral to a “sublime” image.

SO, because of my experiment with monoprinting and my discovery of the wonderful textures involved, I have chosen to use an oil based ink as the grounding for my weather paintings, so that I can paint with oils on top of them when they’re dry. I have a feeling that this texture will work better with bad weather, but I have made some sunrise ones to see how that pans out too. I just love the rough, earthy texture which the ink press creates. Let’s see what happens…

keywords: printmaking, monoprint, ground, weather, sublime, texture, light

Mixed Media Conflict: A Bit of Everything

My most complex and layered piece of work, with layers of watercolour, turps, ink, bleach, oil paint, and gouache. I tried to apply each layer so it conflicted with the layer below, creating some really interesting results. It’s very satisfying to see a piece of work slowly build up and evolve with each layer.

keywords: mixed media, conflict, layers, bleach, ink, oil paint, interaction

Mixed Media Conflict Pieces: Bleach, Turpentine and Ink

Carrying on with the theme of material and chemical conflict, I’ve been trying to layer up the materials to create more interesting and deeper conflicts. For this experiment I built on the bleach pieces from last time, and put down a mixture of turps and bleach first. I put down the deadly, toxic mixture in offset concentric circles, and then when I put the ink down, I did circles in the other direction to get kind of “crossover” effect. This effect made me think of water ripples in a confined space, where the waves bounce off the edges and interfere with each other.

The presence of the turps seems to disrupt the bleaching process, creating some irregularities and textured areas. I think this all adds to a mood which emulates an old photograph, possibly a daguerreotype, where the marks are soft and colours subtly change. To get some more conflict and material interaction there, I did some water washes over the dark areas. This lifts some of the ink off and produces a rich, blue colour instead of a deadening black.

All in all pretty pleased with this effect – I think these three materials are a good combination for an atmospheric mixed media piece.

keywords: conflict, bleach, turps, ink, circles, waves, texture, interaction

‘Conflict’ Project: Bleach Experiments

For my project centred around the idea of conflict, I’m trying different ways of making materials interact. At the moment I’ve tried turps and water based paint, which has worked out well, and now I am trying another form of conflicting media: bleach.

The bleach eats away the dark colour of the Quink ink and creates a golden colour, which can be toned down depending on how much water you use. For this I’m using it neat. The first one was bleach on ink, experimenting with different strokes. The second was created by using a wash of a bleach and turps mixture (or as close as I could get due to them not mixing) and then ink on top. Both have very different effects, and the presence of the turps in the second one creates a truly conflicting piece, with all the elements on the page fighting against each other.

keywords: conflict, bleach, ink, turps, hydrophobia, experiment