Category Archives: P1UPM Part 2

Pt 2 Exercise 2.1 Unusual painting media

Make paintings of any of the collections you’ve collated using three (or more) of these materials. All of these media have been used by contemporary artists:

• coffee (e.g. Paul Westcombe)

• Coca Cola (e.g. Marcel Dzama)

• Marmite on a white plate

• jam

• nail varnish (e.g. Nadia Hebson)

• make-up (e.g. Karen Black)

• food colouring

• chocolate sauce (e.g. Paul McCarthy)

• resin

• ice (e.g. Liz Ballard, Francis Alÿs)

• Humbrol enamel paints (e.g. Geraldine Swayne, Genieve Figgis, George Shaw)

• egg tempera (e.g. Andrew Wyeth)

• sand

• graphite

• marble dust (e.g. Antoni Tàpies)

• icing

• household paint (e.g. Gary Hume)

• ink drawn with a stick or the wooden end of a paintbrush.

The thing about experimental mediums (and there are a couple) the thing that makes me incredibly nervous about them is the not knowing how they will cope with time. If someone is prepared to give me something (anything, a coffee, iced bun, couple of notes) for my pictures, I should be able to give them the confident reply that they will last on a wall. It’s still going to be visible after a few rotations of the sun that has the potential to bleach the life out of it.

The other major thing is that if you aren’t careful, the medium becomes the point, an affectation or more important than the picture content itself. As does its then further degredation.

I’m more keen that whatever picture I make to reflect the moment/person/place to actually not degrade faster than the memory itself. Picture making appears to be my memory aid of the things that are important to me, and as it turns out, my world is quite small and tightly limited around the area I live in and the restrictions of work and being a parent. I am aware that there is a point in the future when those restrictions will be loosened and the pictures will be the crystallised memory as I have the freedom and money to move further afield to create those things I want to paint. Maybe I choose them to paint because I know they won’t always be around in this form/age? It will be interesting to see if I’m still choosing to paint the same things in 5 years time, which is about how long I figure it’s going (less if I am focused enough) to take to get my studying  through to the full degree…

Useful tips

1. At the moment keep these paintings quite small, A4 or equivalent at the most. This will help you to gain control of the media you use in a limited space.

Good, just experimenting with my nail varnish brought me out in a rash. I need to buy canvas, gesso and as it turns out a lot of white oil paint, using OPI and No.7 colours I like is an expensive option on top, they are also designed to dry quickly so would be an excellent opportunity to ruin paint brushes.

Also the bottles are tiny. the number of tubs the same colour to block a larger picture would be astronomically expensive.

Lipstick next. Now this would have to be photo’d (issues with authenticity given the non existence of the original) or immediately distanced behind glass to protect the image. The point of the picture seems lost.

I like marmite. Its sticky as hell, the way to make it runny would be to heat it which would make it smell more. Someone in this house would complain. Marmite is a no.

Humbrel. I did want to try this, My husband has an extensive history in model aeroplanes, he works in the industry with a lot larger ones now, but back through the mists of time, before the 6ft ones with engines and really good insurance that make our attic look like an aerodrome, Airfix had its part and I know he has the paints. Don’t actually know where they are and I’ve finished this exercise now and he’s off the continent till tomorrow anyway. Also, again, small pots, uber cost.

Cola is weak, I’d have to buy soda stream syrup concentrate to get it nearly dark enough to see the image. I can create a delicate image with water colour I’m not sure I see the point in making a painting wasps will love and potentially half the viewers won’t be able to see. Coke’s a no too.

2. You might also want to use paper/card/a paper plate/metal/found packaging/doilies as a surface to make the paintings onto.

I like painting on found papers, this exercise asks for a picture of a collection, and only in a4. this element feels like a next step over an exercise thing. (Tutor note, look at the sketchbook for this part)

3. If you use Humbrol enamel paints, you can dilute them with turps or the thinners that are made to go with them. You can paint them onto canvas, board, card or paper, or onto ‘oil-primed’ paper.

4. Photocopying objects can be a useful way of making them more manageable to depict. These painting materials may be messy so you might have to document them with photographs and then print the photograph out to create a physical record. The photograph might then become the piece of work.

Authenticity alert! We are talking about a photo of a painting of the collection, thats another step removed before we even get onto the option of prints of the photo?!? Why would I choose to create a picture working on this theory? Why not just make it out of something that means the real picture I’ve created exists and a print is just a second generation image and is closer to the real thing. thats not me trying to replicate perfectly whatever I’m painting, I’m not into photorealism, that just smacks of showing of what you can do over personalising the image to reflect some of the artist in anything other than the pose or focus of the picture. (turns out I’m more opinionated than I thought I was).


The 3 collections I picked show themselves in different ways, the disorder of the cookware in the cupboard is the most honest of the three, its how the stuff is stored, handily in a white cupboard. The nail varnish are ordered to emphasise foreground and hide the scale of the objects, the ink-pots are all the same make so allow a more formal array where the difference is the colour.

The mediums I chose, Coffee, emulsion, graphite and ink with a stick (chopstick) chosen because I have them/they are really cheap. Also, 2 of them have longevity I can hang a hat on (graphite, ink). Coffee plays such a big part in my life that curiosity made me try it and all the results show it produces an ethereal sepia which has a lovely shine to it, which gives it another dimension (still not sure on how it takes to UV degradation without sticking it on a wall in direct sunlight for a season. I’m going to have to test).

Emulsion is something I’ve used a lot over the years, I get stuck with a lot of the decorating, partially because I don’t need masking tape. But I have used it to create a mural (daughters first bedroom, nothing complex), so I know it is a reasonable substance and these days, the range of colours available is broad. I picked primaries, black and white tester pots from Homebase tested with water and the reaction is similar to a gouache (see nail varnish bottles, effective used wet on wet), however, used neat looks strong and has the effect of making the ink-pot version look like a pop art picture which is why I didn’t paint in the shadows. The pans are stainless steel, there isn’t really a benefit to using the emulsion for this image.


The ink-pots I find most successful in the emulsion (the colour differentiates the pots form each other in away the mono-colour pictures can’t achieve). And the coffee, the lack of information as to what the picture is is softened by the shadows helping to explain something of the shape we don’t know. The graphite version  failed to achieve the clarity in the jar edge for me to be satisfied, Doing it again but mixing drawing with the aqua pencil and graphite wash could fix it, that would be a next step.

Pans don’t benefit from colour, its more stark and interesting in mono. The graphite has worked well for this, ink n stick is also effective, coffee is in its own little vintage world again.

However the nail varnish works the least for me in the coffee, the others work better because there is a more noticeable different between the bottles.





Pt 2 Research

Sharp S(2017) Fred Wilson teaches us how to pay attention. [online in Hyperallergenic 14th February 2017] available here. [accessed 23rd September 2017]

Lisa Milroy. 2017. Lisa Milroy. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 September 2017].

Paul Westcombe. 2017. Used Paper Coffee Cups. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 September 2017].[24th September 2017].

This part starts off more theoretical and I’ve ordered the book from Amazon uk instead of .com so I’m actually doing the book review for this part before the book for the previous part has made it over the pond.

I’ve chosen Walter Benjamin because Freud makes me mad. As a starting point to a conversation in a pub I can see he still has his merits but thats it. I’d rather the referencing was from someone who came after him, reviewed his ideas and came up with something that reflects where we are at now over a view from Freud’s era using less incendiary language. Rewrite freud call it rewritten Freud leaving out some of the unnecessary penis referencing and I’ll read it.

The book will get a separate post. (

Fred Wilson’s work has a great impact for me even though his creation is in the curation over the actual items on display. The act of re-organising a museums contents away from the dominant local historical recollection to show an alternative and more uncomfortable history is thought provoking. His reorganisation showed the past of people who had been overlooked through objects that where not prized and as a result cared for in the way some objects were. This is an exhibition I would have liked to have seen.

Lisa Milroy’s displays of objects that seem to represent a point in time, (shoes 1988) shoes ordered into pairs and neatly placed into formation, ladies shoes, pointed and heeled, decorated and colourful or shiny and black. painted in oils with highlights and shadows to represent actual presence. For the regular uniformity of the shoes within the picture, I would have thought each pair would be directly under Milroy’s nose to paint instead of all laid out, this would work better with perspective. varying in size up to a couple of metres, the impact of these on a wall must be quite marked. Painted on a white background there is a serene feel to the work which must help with the size not making the space the picture is in as overpowering. They are a show of femininity within an everyday object. There is no way of knowing if they are her shoes, if they represent something she aspires to or resents or if it is just a collection of shoes. just another of her collections of objects.

Lisa has done a series of collections that are vastly different to each other. each series contains multiple pictures of a placed collection (door handles, lightbulbs) some contain a random messy painting that I think says more than the others. the informal display is more personal to me it appeals to the way the world is over how it gets presented.

I picked these two artists because their choice of collection/ curation seemed linked. Lisa’s collections of non offensive items talk of an era, a style of what was available in the 80’s. I wonder at what those pictures would look like now if they where to be repainted. Wilson changes the nature of that which we view, as much as the objects show a history, he shows us an alternative history that may not reflect the one we where brought up with. They both record a very real history through objects which I find intriguing.

I asked to be sent a picture of 3 things from someones workspace that are tools to do your employment, or you have around you to help remind you who you are or why you do the job. I’ve had 2 responses so far and I want this to grow into a series that is a catalogue of what people feel is important to them. I am not responsible for the object choice or display, only the recoding of it and in specifying the content overall. I like working in series, an idea generally has more than 1 conclusion on paper for me these days.

Paul Westcombe draws onto used coffee cups. It looks like a habit that hasn’t been thrown away over time rather than a concerted effort to create a collection. His densely packed images some coloured in strongly some more subtly some not at all. To me they represent a brain dump in pen that utilises something that was going to end up in the bin. Some of the imagery is disconcerting, holes in peoples faces, disconnected body parts. However I like the idea of using something you wouldn’t necessarily associate with art. I work in a school and we use anything and everything so I thought I would try painting on paper plates.


Now I didn’t think about who I was painting on the plate over the fact I had a found photo I thought would look interesting in circular form, however, the irony of painting Nigella Lawson on a food container is not lost on me, however I haven’t really found the impetus to push this line of research any further…

External to this as a member of Salisbury Plain arts I am taking part in an exploration through art of the collections at Arundell House within the cathedral grounds, I am sketching areas and items that represent an aspect of the many interesting items carefully placed around the building and curated in their own way. I’ll hopefully post back in a couple of months with my final solution.




On the Concept of History. By Walter Benjamin.

Benjamin W(1974) On the concept of History: Gesammelten Schriften I:2. Suhrkamp Verlag. Frankfurt am Main, 1974 [viewed online] [accessed 23rd September 2017]

Derrida, J(1967)The exorbitant: question of method & The engraving and the ambiguities of formalism In:Art in theory 1900-2000, Harrison, C. Wood, P. Oxford: Art in theory 1900-2000. pp. 944-949

I Tale of a fake puppet that is controlled by a human to explain that the illusion is the inevitable culmination of society and its history

II Our requirements for happiness are linked to the time we are in, the people we interact with and therefore the history shaping it, over looking to the future. Again, this is inevitable

III A chronicle of events would have to detail all of the events, notable or not on top of an account of previous events to be accurate, the person recording would have to not distinguish between facts (this is kind of the point Derrida tried to make, in deconstruction, although he was mostly talking to the reader).

IV Marxists always bring it back to a class struggle ie acquisition of things that allow for spiritual effect. I think this is about the recording of all history, ie whist William the conquerer won the battle, Joe from Salisbury lost his family in the battle and that is as important as Harold getting it in the eye (not that current thinking says he did).

V We don’t record the ‘whole’ of history so actually we haven’t got an accurate picture of it. We don’t account for all of it when historians look however philosophers do because they make the allowance for the rest of history that makes up the moment being studied.

VI This one is tougher. I think its about taking a specific point in history and forgetting the bit that came after it so you are only dealing with the thoughts and emotions of that moment, not the sure knowledge they all die in the end with hopes unfulfilled.

VII Yes, this is about remembering only in the moment and the difficulty of not automatically siding with the winner when you view history because thats who won. and how depressing it is to actually go back and side with the losers. This is a good argument for the return of cultural artefacts from previous parts of history (although I’ve always wondered at what year you say stop).

VIII Again, another paragraph I’m feeling my way around. Emergency situation is I think  events that emerge over a catastrophe, and that we cannot plan for a future without understanding that our history is open for debate.

IX This uses an analogy of an Angel watching a point of history unable to stop the future events, which is the point of the paragraph, that because of history, the future is already written, only we can’t see it (the angel has its back turned to history so it can only see the past).

X Rules written by monks in their own way are not much changed over the centuries. Politicians fail  to grow beyond these rules so don’t realise that history is holding us back as we don’t rewrite the rules based on today.

XI we are ruled because we want stuff. In basic terms. Unless we do as we are told, we won’t be socially acceptable which means we will earn less. The basic worker who owns nothing but the hands to make money will never earn enough to gain the trappings he wants. Example is the rise of the german workforce accepting the political views they were offered because it was on the back of progress in technology which meant future and jobs and trappings… Another example siting Fourier(pre 1848) progress as occurring at the exploitation of nature” – and the worker. that a balanced and fair spread of labour throughout the land has the same chance of happening as pigs flying (its much more eloquent and just as unlikely).

XII Historical cognition- actual understanding of our history. owned by the revolted masses, looks to its past to see its future instead of saying we want the opposite for our children lets make that happen!

XIII This paragraph centres on our understanding of social progress and how it isn’t based on progression of thought and understanding but a never-ending continuation to human perfection. without end. Criticising this concept has to also become a criticism of the basis for recognising social progress.

XIV History is always viewed from a point in time which twists what is seen as important and reported on (Robespierre, Roman antiquity).

XV History is owned by those using it, revolutionaries compare themselves to history with none of the facts and then create history

XVI You cannot look at history from a specific point of time without recognising that there is a future beyond where you are

XVII A historian has to view a point in history as a thing experienced in its entirety a distance apart from its future, the recording of this brings history alive for others.

XVIII The downplaying of human existence as the last few minutes on a clock that includes everything down to the creation of our orbiting planet. Which I don’t think Benjamin is too keen on.


Whilst you can be aware of these points, I’m not sure you can view all art with the herculean strength of mind to take it into account. Also we are only aware of certain points in history anyway so as humans and artists we can’t possibly know all sides and lead ups to the point you are looking at. Looking at the accumulated objects that make up the research aspect to Pt 2 of PoP 1 UPM, the work of Fred Wilson stands out in the re-curation of the museum, a re-evaluation of history giving the objects another emotion for the audience that they haven’t had since they were held by their original owners.