Category Archives: P1UPM Pt 4

Gallery visit – Gerhard Richter

Artist Rooms Gerhard Richter(28th July 2018)[Exhibition] John Hansard Gallery. 28th May-18th August 2018

This exhibition doesn’t contain as many paintings as I would like, the problem being that Richter has such a broad artistic vocabulary that it needs to encompass all his genres to be a good representation of the man.

As a result there was tapestry, squeegee painting, magnified paintings, photos of paintings magnified, photos, phots with paint on, pigment coated glass, blocks of coloured squares and a 30 minute video explaining his stained glass window at Cologne. There was also a room with facsimilies of the 48 heads.

Downstairs, the first pieces you see are 4 representational Persian rugs, that are patterned with a squeegee image almost like a folded ink blot picture. The friend I went with took issue with the fact that a Persian rug has to have an inbuilt imperfection, my counter to that is that maybe Richter already feels his work is imperfect given his attitude to painting photos? The initial pictures that the patterns were based on where different so the colour composite are not the same between works, in fact as I walked around the corner it took a while to work out that these where stitched pieces accuratly portraying his painted works, they aren’t small either. According to the booklet accompanying the exhibition, these represent 1 of his paintings split into 4, each quarter being used to create one full rug. Looking at them trying to see if there is meaning in the patterns and just amazed at the ability to get the colours to still look like queegee paintings.

The next room is a full squeegee painting and another smaller picture a portion of which was blown up in size and painted 4 fold larger than the original. The texture has been lost in the repetition (on purpose) as the original is quite impasto. While this links to the rugs and curates well as another explanation into Richter’s facination with replicates, it didn’t have the same impact as the abstraction visible in the actual squeegee painting on the wall 90degrees to its right.

Upstairs are 3 rooms, the first contained 3 abstract paintings, I was struck by silicate 880-4 as an enlarged microscopic view that had been softened by over brushing. The rythmic brush-strokes put me in mind of a vinyl record with their uniform marks and the light reflected like on an album. I would be interested to have seen how much paint was originall on the canvas before overbrushing. The repatition in the pattern seen so large had a soporific effect and I could have sat there for a long time.

I was less impressed with his pigment on glass pieces, the colour opposite sheets placed at right angles to reflect each other in a corner of the next room seemed to just be playing with colour, which as a lead in to the 4900 colours in the corner room seemed a bit cheesy.

The 4900 colours is almost reverential in the space at the Hansard gallery, the room is more than double height and the white background shows off the colours well given the huge amount of natural light and the view of the city from the huge window that takes out a full corner of the room. The video available to see on the floor below has Richter explaining that to him, it is difficult to read anything into the design, computer generated algorithm mixing the colours to make the pattern.

The 48 portraits are ambigous to say the least, originally painted for the German Pavillian at the 36th Venice Biennale in 1972 they show 3 sets of men as closed in head and start of shoulder portraits. They represent writers, musicians and scientists but where picked more for aesthetics over who they were, also, as they were put up 3 walls of a 4 walled room, it was noticeable they looked in and from the middle looked forward to you. They all still look like individuals though and there is inconsistancy in the softening so some of the eyes are clearer than others. I think my concerns where

it was like walking into a memorial of dead white men.

If Richter has such conflicting views on painting photos, how does he get around allowing photos of his paintings that are softened views of other photos? Which image has the greatest value to him? And bear in mind he allowed 4 sets of copies to be made…

I would like to see more of Richters paintings, he remains an enigma.

Ways of seeing – John Berger

Berger, J(1972)Ways of seeing, Penguin Books LTD, London

This book is about how biased art is, how elitist and how based on its own history and value over original meaning in context to original purpose.

1. Essay on value based on originality (Benjemin) over copy, on who values it, museums value within a specific criteria that ascertain originality and financial worth, whereas only a small percentage of the population ever walk into a gallery to see them, this all presupposes that we are viewing them in context, not on the telly, but within the surroundings they were painted for in whatever political/religious/class situation it was meant for.

2. Photo essay about use of female anatomy in modern adverts being the same as classical painting (presumably when they were selling the artist or themselves)

3.How women and men see themselves in the context of how others look at them, in the female case, as the self fulfilling profecy, the role of women in art as being observed.

4. Photo essay covering the previous chapter and the many roles of women, daughter, wife, mother, crone.

5. the value of the oil painting as as showing the ownership of the contents over good art transcending this to just show the human condition.

6. Photo essay of former chapter, metaphor, the happy pauper, the real emotion of the sitter etc.

7. The link between classical art imagery and modern advertising, which are promising love by showing a positive future over art showing what happened the day it was created  and as a show of this going forward.

The use of gender stereotypes throughout history and continuing on in this modern imagery, which is using art as a status symbol that shows wealth and a level of knowledge.

I’ve read this book 3 times now over the last 4 years, and it is as depressingly tough to take in as the first time.

I have to be making art for individuals, however it will only ever be an individual who frequents places of art, this limits my audience without  accounting social media.

Any portrayal of a human has connotations of the previous use of humans in many situations throughout history, I have to choose which of these histories to tap into and western traditional isn’t looking good.

I’m sure I’ll have a reread before my education is over.



UPM Pt 4 Review

Following on from my review at the end of the last part, my tutor suggested I paint from the shoulder, so as an aside to the exercises I have completed a series of portraits standing at the easel. They use one colour painted in varying degrees of thin  and have varying degrees of success in their completion. They represent some revisited photos from last summer and some new ones as the person intrigues me or are of the moment. The best portrait was one of the first and is the most simply unfinished (right in the middle, it has my overly confident teenager with a vulnerability she doesn’t let on to often), and at the end of the course I will frame it and put it on the wall. I asked my daughter to sit for 30 minutes on the basis that I’d try a couple of attempts in the time.


They have accumulated on the wall, none of them taking as long as portraits have previously.

I will bind them into a book to accompany my coursework, they represent my continued growth in visual awareness.

The sketchbook work for this part has been much more playful, looking at the work of Helen Frankenthal led to an attempt to leave questions on the paper and unfinished solutions in a way I haven’t tried before, the work at the end of the exercises is completely different from the start and the research pages looking at Mark Fairnington which is much more closed in and tight as a method of working.

This lead from the sketchbook to the finished exercises and in the case of 4.3 back to the sketchbook is a clear path I hope is easy to follow.

I really enjoyed exercise 4.3, I realise it isn’t a view of my home, it started out as that but developed into the interest in the item (the lucky cat) having read Bachelard’s Poetics of space and looking at the miniature in a position of height, or the opposite and enlarging from a position below.

The fun of creating for exercise 4.1 producing pictures in 4.4 that changed meaning on looking at them has been an interesting experience, I think the feel of a highly textured painting is an experience that shouldn’t be passed up, however, it wouldn’t mix with the varnish exercise for me as the shine of a smooth flat plain is a satisfying thing with a feeling of luxury to it that the rough painting can’t get near.

Working thin appeals much more than it used to as well, spending my spare time creating thin portraits has given me a confidence in oil paint I never used to have and my ability to produce a painting I am content with in a much shorter time is as a result of this practised confidence in my painted line.

Looking at the poetics of space made me question my content and the angle I look at it and Helen’s pictures, my use of paint and colour. Mark Fairnington’s eyes had an effect I didn’t even realise till I reflected at the end of 4.3. and aesthetics by Tailiaferro makes me think about the validity in my work, who makes it valid? If it works, why does it work?

However, my restrictions on drying space mean for the assignment I will be working in acrylics, partially because I may finish with lacquer in which case this will also affect the surface I choose, smooth over rough etc. The final piece will be created in the studio after initial sketches and photos from in the house, this is because I’ve already replaced the lounge rug with one not sullied by pigment or painting mediums and I have no intention of doing that again for a couple of years.

It does feel like this is a part apart from my technique, if it helps me to accept a more abstract less detailed piece of my work then it has had an effect, it should make future sketchbook work more fluid and experimental.

UPM PT4 Ex. 4.4

Using the paintings you made in Exercise 4.1, look at the scene you painted and add thicker paint to these thinly painted works. Leave areas of the thinly painted work visible. What effects have you created by applying areas of thicker paint?

I’ve tried thickening paint with mediums, I have some Golden light molding paste, and Galeria mineral texture gel, but after experimenting in the sketchbook, I wasn’t happy with the effect.


The texture was too rough and seemed more suited to working under the paint to prepare the surface. even after colouring the molding paste before applying it, all I ended up with was an unmanageable too stiff butter icing consistency.

My solution has been to work with Liquitex heavy bodied acrylics, the brush strokes remain in the paint and show direction.


The next problem is the nature of the paintings I created in 4.1, they are abstract notions of inside so adding in the detail of the items/places takes away from the items.

This is certainly true of the above piece, adding the thick paint hasn’t helped in any way, not even by putting the paint on in as experimental way as possible, using fingers and stippled brush and playing with the paint that way.

This has lost the mystery, the added lines pin in the opening drawer but putting black over it would be covering up the strength in the crack.

This is the smaller version of the previous and I feel it works better, however, you can’t see the thicker paint on the photo. I only added it to the crackas a physyical thing which I think adds to it as a question and I didn’t think covering up the ochre would help.

In the same vein as the drawer, the 2 versions are either or. The smaller version I painted the box thickly, this makes the image less ambiguous but brings the box forward in a three dimensional way that works for me, it means there is more of an inside to think about whereas the larger with the inside and shadow emphasised works in a more menacing way, whats in the box?

The painted thin oil painting with more detail benefits from the more complete addition of colour, it makes the piece more impressionist and raw with the form showing through from the earlier exercise.


UPM Pt4 Ex. 4.3

Exercise 4.3 Make a very fluid painting of any subject on the list. Once this has dried, paint or spray with gloss varnish or nail varnish. Use any size, any surface, any media. What effects can you create by applying varnish? Make some notes in your learning log.

This exercise continued on from the last in my sketchbook with pencil crayon sketches of orchids and their oriental simplicity and the use of a bookcase, with a different bookshelf drawn from below, this is a bookcase in the lounge, next to a standard lamp. The shelf (one of 8) has a Chinese lucky cat, the motor is broken so the arm doesn’t swing any more, however I like it’s sparkly kitch-ness IMG_3051

So that became the focus of this exercise. What if it was only a small aspect on the paper? lets stick it in the dark, lets stick it in a dimly lit corner and make it less than.

What if the paper was really big? I haven’t painted in the books from the shelf, mostly because they would shrink the cat again, deminish its luck back to 6″ whereas, on a 1m wide disc, its potentially 6′ tall and we are peering into just its eye (Farnington mis-appropriated?)

Getting a shine on watercolour paper was always going to be a challenge, working in oils and then oiling it poses the problem of time, the amount of medium required would never dry in any relevant timescale for this project and varnishing isn’t supposed to happen before 6 months is up anyway. Also, I’d have to use oil paint specific products over oil paint, whereas acrylic is much more forgiving and has more options.

The larger picture is as a result painted in thin acrylic ink, although as the request is thin, I wonder at my decision to thin it further it leads to a diluted image that is perhaps less there or immediate than stronger colours. I have some Galeria gloss varnish in so I painted 2 coats of that on,


This produced a sheen, without a shine and was unsatisfactory, I tried yachting varnish from the garage, but as it was oak stained, it turned my colours an unpalatable orange and would have obliterated the image. I went to Halfords and bought a can of lacquer which I was expecting to be some shellac derivative but happily is acrylic… The tester in the sketchbook showed one of the problems the yachting varnish had which is down to absorbency of paper, however I figured the already applied Galeria would act as an isolating coat.

2 coats later and the cat has a good shine, visible over the not paper’s texture. The only way to improve on this would be to go with a full resin coating, which would work well for the oriental theme of the contents, but brings us back to the content.

I appreciate the values of scale, a large picture has more of an effect on a space, my decision not to suggest a size by including anything other than the cat, I don’t feel is limiting, however I think steps moving forward for this exercise would be to create a series and play with colours and patterns, to this effect I mocked up some photocopies in the book.

The red and green stuck to each other while drying thus the lightly foxed look, The 3 colured images where varnished and now have a not unpleaselnt thin-ness to them, the last is a collage  with paperchase wrapping paper, as the pattern is in keeping with the cat I don’t think it takes away from the imagery and could be explored further.

I think it could be very interesting to create a whole series based on different views of this ornament, different sizes down to actual size up to the metre, maybe an exploration into how lucky the cat can be?


UPM Pt 4 Exercise 4.1 & 4.2

Make a circular viewfinder. You can either:

• Take a photograph of something inside your house and place the viewfinder on top of the image. OR

• Make a card viewfinder that you can hold up to an area you want to paint in your house and work from this. Make a series of five circular paintings using thinned-down paint. You could use watercolour, gouache, acrylic or turps-diluted oil paint for this. 


Now take photographs of your paintings and leave them to dry for Exercise 4.4.

My inspiration has been the unknown ‘in’ of the house. This has been heavily influenced by both Helen Frankenthaler use of paint and Gaston Bachelard’s chapter in The Poetics of Space. Sketchbook work formalised the lines and explored the spaces, with the colours experimented and copied outside the book onto the round papers to finish the exercise.

The thin quality I was looking for in these needed to show the unpredictability of paint to help replicate Frankenthaler’s technic which allows for error in its abstraction, so watercolour was my preferred paint.

this wasn’t possible for all the pictures as I chose to paint on large pizza bases from Sainsbury’s which have a sheen the watercolour paint couldn’t tack onto, for this picture I used acrylic ink, which wet on wet DSC07297DSC07287can have the same qualities, all be it with more permanence. I did complete a thin oil sketch, mostly because there is going to be a second part to this process, so seeing what happens after that may make the picture more satisfactory as its certainly not finished as it is.


It is however more reminiscent of the image of the crocodile at Mottisfont.

Make a series of three circular pencil drawings, using coloured pencils, of a scene in your house. Choose from the list above, or something different. Any size, any surface.

Pencil crayon is a medium I know I can achieve a photo realistic finish with, however, the last review with my tutor led to a request to observe my pictures in process and do less, I can understand this, as a result trying to stop and not overwork has been my watchword for this part of the course.


These 4 tondos represent 2 different pencil crayons with different qualities, Derwent Inktense and Faber Castell Polychromos, the Derwents are an aquerelle that become bolder upon wetting and the Polychromos as a waxy crayon you can blend with spirits need to be pressed hard into the paper to get a strong effect.

I can’t say I’ve gotten on with the Inktense before this exercise, but actually, for the less complete finish I’ve achieved, the bolder colours work better. I’m just not sure I see pencil crayons as my final piece option, especially not in a painting course…



Aesthetics – Charles Tailiaferro

Taliaferro, C., 2011. Aesthetics: A beginner’s Guide. 1st ed. London, Great Britain: Oneworld Publications.

This was a recommendation from my tutor in feedback for part 2 UPM.

1 – What is Beauty?

Discusses Plato’s view of beauty as a universal goal. There was one form of beautiful that by liking or loving created its value and we should aspire to the next run of beauty as long as we are capable of lust before we get too old. Also, we only like/love those attributes which we don’t possess. This was countered by Ross’ view that “one which identifies beauty with the power of producing a certain sort of experience which we are familiar with under such names as aesthetic enjoyment or aesthetic thrill.” which stops something being automatically beautiful.

Also Frankfurt and his explanation of parental love being separate from the values of our children, we love them as our children with an understanding they are not more beautiful than others, and their value overall is not greater or existent on our love for them. So, love can be a force in itself that is separate from beauty.

Hume proposed the first recorded theory of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, Murdoch links love to a spiritual good in which there is an inherent beauty “in the warmth and light of the sun.”

the chapter ends  with Sircello “Loving beauty is of the utmost importance.”

2 – What is a work of art?

Discusses Plato’s ideas of works of art, ie the ship-builder as an artist with technical skill etc, then a poet, although this required more than apprenticeship in a single skill as it discussed other skills with some knowledge within it.

This all hinges on the object or picture eliciting an aesthetic response due to mimesis ie its recollection to something that we can recognise.

Tolstoy explained it as the artist ‘infecting’ the observer with an emotion they had lived through so that they too could feel it. You would have to be really confident in abstract art to guarantee that your infection is correct to the germ.

The next view of art was that if the artist said it was art then it was, Du Champs urinal is the key here. Although the definition of artist is someone who says they are one is a bit lame…

Art to convey an emotional response which is Tolstoy’s explanation over Dickie’s which is that it is art if the art-world says it is. Danto clarified it further as the art became art history and the observer had to have a knowledge of the symbles to decifer the signs in the art to understand them.

3- Art and Meaning

Do you look at art wholly by understanding how the artist wanted their work to be understood? This isn’t possible given the lack of writing accompanying every picture.

Brings us around to deconstruction theory and the history of the viewer looking at the work with their views rather than those of the artist, CS Lewis’s point about whether we look at art and let our views affect it over letting the picture slowly inform us is a good one.

4 – What Makes Good Art?

This chapter is really interesting in that its good to see a lot of the theories I’ve previously read about in other courses, come together into the same short (in comparison) piece of writing.

If the art produces a message that is not the same as the artist states is in the work, has the work failed? Apocalypse now has an anti war message that is overshadowed, however its still a good film. If the work has a backstory we are uncomfortable with does it invalidate the ‘worth’ of the art? Chinese view of copied art having as high a value as the original because of the value of the original, western view on forgeries as un-authentic (Benjamin) and lacking in aura. If the message the work has is one that makes us uncomfortable (Bacon) or we disagree with (Gauguin and his underage relationships with the girls he painted), again is it not good art? Value in this sense is emotive over financial.


5 – The location, ownership and dangers of works of art.

About ownership if changes have occurred to the work, also based on the fact that anyone could have made it/composed it/ written it, so working on that theory should the person who made it have any authority over it? the meaning of art if seen outside its intended location. Also, restoration, decay seen as classical or romantic, classical in that it shows the original intention, can be partially fixed and surrounding information showing it as it was originally intended, over the romantic view where the passage of time is shown as in all things must end etc.

Censorship discussed in this chapter, both  in that the artist wanted (their work to disappear or only be used for one occasion) versus society censoring work because in current times attitudes have changed and the work should not be created or historical works value as societies views have changed. I was watching something yesterday (genuinely can’t remember what) positing that art is holding feminism back because its so sexist. I still maintain there will be no issue with sexism when we stop feeling it’s necessary to study Freud.

6 – Cross Culture Aesthetics.

A look at the term aesthetics from a Chinese and Japanese view, submerging yourself as a creator in a subject enough to create without forcing as a means to create good art.

Rounds out the book well.

This is a good advert for spending the time creating lots to get the distance from your work.