Category Archives: P1UPM Part1

Pt 1 Exercise 1.4 Look at what you see – not what you imagine

Using A4 or A3 paper, lay an image upside down and, using ink, watercolour, gouache or acrylic, make a 10-minute copy of your image. Do this again with another image. This time make a 20-minute copy.

I’ve done this technique with drawing before, it worked a treat, as an exercise to prove to yourself that you can draw accurately its a good one. However I can get a closer likeness with the damned thing up the right way. The Renner picture has a certain appeal, the shadows under the hat around the eyes the random nature of the ink the crookedness of the nose, Mr Oliver is suffering from the effects of me looking at the gap at the edge of the paper, when the sheet I used has come in wider than the photo I’ve copied from. Its recognisable as him, but possibly not in a very flattering way…


Pt 1 Exercise 1.3 Quick and focused

Use A3 paper for this exercise; cartridge is fine but HP watercolour paper is even better. Select five of your found images. Now use your brush as you would a pencil. A long thin brush is useful for this. Get a plate or palette and have any combination of water-based paint and a large vessel of water at the ready. Now, looking at the images and NOT the paper, paint what you see. Time yourself for one minute. Overlap the images as you go and work quickly. Do this three times on three different pieces of paper. Make brief notes on the outcome



My 5 photos. In the order they where painted.



This as an exercise is odd at this point. I’ve been going to a life studies opportunity for a few years now, the sessions all start with warm up sketches, these are 30 seconds to 5 mins before we move on to anything longer. They free you up and remind you to look for the weight in a position and the important lines that inform the shape. So doing it after you’ve started the work seems a bit counter intuitive to me.

However, as a result of lifestudies, each of my 5 photos is recognisable in the 3 paintings, the only difference to what we do at life studies is the use of a brush over pencil, the continuous line (which is impossible when you use paint, a fine enough brush to see the detail of what you’ve painted, means not enough liquid to last a minute) or dip pen and ink and the use of different colours to separate the forms. I picked colours because they please me together, they are distinct from each other. However because of the lack of time between pictures to dry, the colours have blended somewhat, creating ambiguity between the shapes. In this its pleasing to view, I didn’t pick 5 related photos so there isn’t a link, however they seem to peak at the same point quite well with Jeremy Renner looking through.

I know my work frees up under time pressures, achieving this was a reason I started life studies in the first place, more time and I get bogged down in the detail. So I guess its nice to be reminded to free up every now and then.

Pt 1 Exercise 1.2 Black and white

Make five postcard-size black backgrounds and five postcard-size white backgrounds, using poster/acrylic paint on cartridge paper, watercolour paper or cardboard. When your backgrounds are completely dry, make paintings of one or more of your found images – one on a black surface and one on a white. Use the following materials, thinned only with water: • black ink • black acrylic paint • white gouache • white acrylic paint • grey acrylic or gouache. Don’t forget to make brief notes in your learning log when you’ve completed this exercise.



I’ve used acrylic paint, mostly because I don’t have white and black gouache and I know how thin watercolour can be which means extra layers, and colour shift as you paint.

I worked the white on black first which is why they aren’t as good as the black on white, I don’t believe its because one is better than the other, merely that practise makes perfect, or at the least a better picture than no practise. I picked portraits because they are easier to compare against the photo for accuracy which should make it easier to see any improvement in my technique and observation. Having said that, of the two Trumps, I prefer the first because I think as an image it stands out more. The second bearded cricketer (its cricket, I haven’t got a clue what his name is) is better and def more accurate, however I don’t have his skin tone correct I’m also concerned that the extra layer would take away from the delicacy I think the picture has. New really fine paint brushes are the only thing that made these possible, the images are recognisably similar to each other and their photographic origins.

Am I satisfied with them? the white on black has the complication of getting the white paint to show up whilst being smooth enough to work with that small, I’m using a sennelier at the moment because I’ve run out of Galeria and Liquitex heavy body white that are the two I normally use. The Sennelier is a looser paint, but its also thinner on the paper, further steps in this style would take purchasing more paints to experiment with, which is going to be an ongoing thing that generally occurs after payday and not for the next month, summer holiday has just finished, I have 2 kids who have bled me dry and September is my extended families birthday month from hell…

I’m happy to see improvement in the accuracy, I don’t think thats observation, more capability with the brush.

Pt 1 Project 1 Painting thin and small

Interesting exercise, varied backgrounds overlaid with equally varied media.DSC01824

3 random blobs of paint is easier if you read the instructions a couple of times first, as it was I used guache on wet paper with a flat brush so I can’t say I’m overly impressed with the result. I also did 2 strong colour backgrounds which weren’t in the instructions, but actually, the poppy in varnish over the strong purple is a favourite.


The varnish over pale watercolour was a waste of time and I can’t say I’m too fond of white over dark, mostly because working thin and fast doesn’t allow for an image that stands up to any distance.

thin colour over thin colour can work well


simple powerful details.  But part of the reason they work is I introduced more colour in areas to give depth.

Black acrylic or ink over works for me, I’ve got a track record of successes in this


hollowed out eyes, the line of the lip and pupils get attention.

I like repeating motifs so some of these are more than 1 copy. 4 poppies, 3 pairs of portraits. Portraits because I like to keep trying to get the things right and the poppies is an image I know I can paint quickly so I can get an idea of the effect it has in multiple mediums. The blue gouache over varnish is kind of pleasing, the shimmer under or through the image is a nice effect. Likewise the matt gouache over acrylic which has a dull shine gives a different effect visible from an angle or in direct light. So which ones could I take forward? I’ve started playing with thin colour under images in my handbag sketchbook, but I’m using thinned acrylic ink over watercolour or gouache, mostly because I prefer my image to stick when I work over it which is something I’ve discovered over the last couple of years. It keeps the colours I’m using stronger.



Pt1 Research point

Artwork: painting. 2017. Brian Alfred. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 July 2017].

Tate. 2017. Gary Hume. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 July 2017].

Anne Kevans. 2017. Home page. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 29 July 2017].

303 Gallery: Fabiola Alondra. 2017. 303 Gallery: Tim Gardner. [ONLINE] Available
at: [Accessed 12 August 2017].
Saatchi online. 2017. Alli Sharma[n.d]. Room at the top[oil on canvas]. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 August 2017].
Saatchi online. 2017. Peter Doig Orange sunset. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 16 August 2017].
National Galleries Scotland. 2017. Peter Doig Milky way. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 16 August 2017].
Denis Castellas. 2017. Painting/ selected works. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 21 August 2017].

I’ve treated myself to a canon photo printer to start off this course (our Epson a4 printer doesn’t handle small pictures on small paper very well), I’ve got stacks of images locked away in my photo gallery that I’ve taken over the years, because of either the memory of the time or the look of the place or whatever – has caught my eye. It means I can also have a direct printout of the work I’m trying to learn from straight in my sketchbook as I go. I don’t have permission to show these pictures from the artists so for this course my sketchbook work is not all going to go on the learning log. However I am referencing from the off so if you want to see where I have gained my research from, its all in the post.

Brian Alfred

Brian Alfred as an artist has a very graphic style, to me it seems unexpressive and as much as some of his chosen views are not simple, they are reduced down till they have much of the original detail removed and whilst still complex are at their most simple version of the (probably recognisable) view.

My problem recreating this style is in getting the paint thick enough for a flat block of colour. I use galeria acrylics because of cost and a good lightfast rating that means they are what I use on walls for murals,

however they aren’t particularly thick as a paint, it means going over an area of paper time and again to get the style. Liquitex thick body paint is better for this, however then I’m stuck with more body instead of the smooth finish I think this needs. The jazz singer as a sketchbook piece isn’t large enough to do it justice, and this isn’t teh style I want to work it up in, so I picked a couple of poppies. I outlined the important information with fineliner then painted the photo to see how it would work, then painted it larger and I can’t say I was happy with the finished image, at 50cm sq it has the impact of scale, but lacks the punch of depth that tone can offer. the second version I under pinned with paynes grey and of the 2 paintings, its the one I prefer. I also changed the colour of the background to something more in keeping colour-wise  to the poppies and greenery, which is more in keeping with Alfred’s palette.


Anne Kevans

Annes work is loose oils, its much more expressive and instant that Alfred’s. The skill is much more obvious in the not overworked paintings.

I can see that continued practice in this style will improve my accuracy, but I’m still happier with a checked pencil sketch under before painting.

It seems to light and fluffy though. multiple oil sketches later…

Tim Gardner

The website I looked at for Gardner’s work had oil paintings and watercolours of his work, oils for the larger. The images appear to be personal photos of fun times and holidays, worked up as paintings. The skill is obvious, the thing about watercolours are that mistakes show, so either you have a technique that includes lots of mistakes so another isn’t so surprising, or you paint it right the first time. I’ve put 1 watercolour of a boat in St Ives harbour in the sketchbook and I’ve painted a larger view of some boats in oils. I can do it and it will be a pleasing picture, however it lacks personality in all but the choice of the image. also I could just as easily blow up the photo and stick that on a wall. (the many boat oil is a work in progress, it gets a couple of hours every couple of days, its taking forever, I don’t have patience to work at this speed).

Alli Sharma

Sharma’s work (that I looked at) was based on stills from B movies, the brushstrokes quick and informed, also not so many of them, The work is completed in loose oils and black over white. The impact of the simplicity is good, I can’t account for accuracy which is something I still feel I should be striving for, which is why my found images have been famous faces, the fact I don’t feel I’ve rendered them correctly or in as few lines as possible is just intensely annoying. However, repetition should get my observing skills better with a paintbrush, because I sure as hell know I could make them accurate with a pencil.

Part of the problem this week is distance, my studio space is shuffled around so my husband can get the end wall insulated and clad which means the rest of the space is cramped and a tripping hazard for the duration. When the work is all done, I’ll be able to achieve 3 metres from the easel easily and regularly without watching my footing and I’ll have more space to lay stuff to dry.


Peter Doig

Doig’s work is an inspiration in colour, pattern is secondary to this, so I know I failed when I created a muted subtle view of the beach at St Agnes in the sketchbook. After looking at it for a while I caved and got a dip pen and ink out to work into the image, I prefer it now, but its still not a style I enjoy.

Second attempt was a larger night view, the colours where stronger from the off. However its lacking pretty much everything and I’m not enjoying it.

Dennis Castellas

Dennis’s work appeals with his use of a single colour background then placed light brushwork to give detail to an area of focus. parts within this can then be seen to be worked stronger and this is why I’ve picked his work to look at. I’ve enjoyed using colour in a way I haven’t tried before, I can’t get away from lots of brushstrokes, I’m not creating an accuracy in the image without overworking to correct, I am liking the effect though. I’ll try more like this.