Category: Research

Part 3, Research Point 2, Observing the human figure.

For this I had to go on the internet and find some portraits, that convey a distinctive mood or atmosphere rather than simply a physical likeness. Look at Picasso’s blue paintings with their mood of surreal sadness or the dark earth colours of Van Gogh’s early paintings of peasants seated around a fire in their poor, meagre surroundings. Look at the strong tonal contrast in Rembrandt’s portraits and the formidably restricted palette with which he seemed to convey the very essence of a persons mood and personality. By contrast, consider the gaiety or the disturbing, nightmarish quality of the portraits and figure paintings of the Fauve painters and the German Expressionists.

Picasso’s blue period was believe to have been influenced by the death of someone close though it is said there are other influences supporting his artistic path. These paintings show scenes of hardship. Blue is a cold colour and its lack of the warmer light makes you think of the night when all our problems seem much worse.

I love The Tragedy which is set on a beach stripped of warmth and fun by its sombre colours, the adult couple stand with downturned heads and solemn faces, so we know something bad has happened . The child possibly not quite understanding the strength of the problem offers a crumb of comfort as they rest their hand on the male figure.

I like The Tragedy it reminds me of my very young daughter comforting me after a robbery. She didnt totally understand why I was upset, but suggested we went to the beach to enjoy ourselves which she felt would make everything better.


pc pictures


With Van Gogh I was to look at the earlier paintings of Peasants sat around the fire in their poor surroundings. I like the painting below and the limited palette used. The dark earth colours give greater emphasis to the difficult life of the Peasant. Even the light of the fire wasnt given dominance and is dull in appearance, removing the usual comfort and warmth it can give. Looking at the paintings and drawings of his Peasants I can see the flatness attributed to him. Having said that he produced some amazing studies and there were many of them. the Peasant woman in the field drawn below is one of my favourites it looks effortless in its application, the woman shows how well he could draw figures. I admit people are not my favourite things to draw, so I can sympathise with him and admire how he overcame his difficulty.

van gogh peasant fire
Painting of a peasant woman by a fireplace

peasant-woman-lifting potatoes van gogh

Peasant woman in a field


Rembrandt used light in a different way, his dramatic use of tonal contrast give a power to the picture. He portrays the light in such a way it showcases the mood of his subject. I love his self portraits and have looked at them earlier in the course, but for this research I chose the picture he did of Christ. The Light falls on the impaled figure in such a way the viewer is shown without mistake the agony being endured by the curvature of the body. Christs agony is also shown on the face which some feel was modelled on an earlier self portrait.



Rembrandts painting of Christ


In contrast to the sombre colours and symbolic surroundings, is the painting of Matisse by Andre Derain which shows a bright impressionistic style. Painted at the time he and Matisse were working together their style was named Fauves by a critic meaning wild beasts. Certainly the paint-strokes have a wildness about their application. In this picture I can see how the colours used give the impression of the warm evening sunshine as friends smoked and discussed the important moments of the day. It makes you realise how brushstroke, colour and light can also tell a story without the need for any props. The loose paintwork most certainly add to the feel of the picture. If you look at this painting from a distance it really does take shape the broad strokes of colour mingle very like the pointillists work.


Andre Derain portrait of Matisse


To finish I thought I would add a contemporary artist I admire Arabella Dorman
The powerful emotion evoked by her work is amazing. I love how the subject is prominent the background is kept very simple just enough work to show the viewer the man is injured and strapped to what looks like a stretcher. The tragedy of war shown in the blood on the man’s clothes his pain and suffering shown by his arm placement. In this day and age we have various ways in which the bloodiness of war can be seen, television, magazines, newspapers photographs we are over whelmed with the visual images of the injured. To some point we have been so bombarded with those images we don’t see them anymore. A picture like Cross-Fire has an artistry about it, there is something that draws you to this piece of art, a beauty, but by drawing in the viewer we then see the horror it holds. We are reminded this man may be injured but, he is in a position of being helped and attended, he has hope, has help, has life. Cross Fire has the ability to bring us the horror this man has been through but the hope he must now have, this has been achieved not only by the simplicity of colour used, but also the clever portrayal of the subject and the use of negative space which draws the eye very quickly to its main message.

Crossfire A D

Cross-Fire 2014, Afghanistan


National Art Gallery 2017, Pablo Picassos The Tragedy Metamorphosis of a Painting, 26 March 2018

Pablo Picasso 2009, Pablo Picasso’s Blue Period – 1901 to 1904, 26th March 2018

Van Gogh Museum Unknown, Collection 3rd April 2018

The Met Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History 2000-2018 Peasant Woman Cooking by a Fireplace, 3rd April 2018

Simon Abrams 2011 Rembrandts Crucifixion 1631 3rd April 2018

National Art Gallerry Unknown Henry Matisse/Andre Derain 4th April 2018

Wikiart Unknown Portrait of Matisse

4th April 2018

Arabella Dorman Fine Art and Portraiture Unknown

4th April 2018




Part 3, Portrait and Figure Research point 1


For this I was to choose 5 or 6 artists who whom painted self-portraits and try to cover a broad time span and different painting techniques’. I was then to look at the portraits and make notes covering aspects of how do they portray themselves as the artist or? Is there a purpose to the self-portrait? What impression are they trying to convey? What impression is portrayed? Then if possible compare their portrait with one of the sitter painted by another artist.



This is a beautiful self-portrait in Silver Point showing a 13-year-old boy. He was said to be a precocious boy and this shows through in this self-portrait. He looks very self-assured a serious individual and gives me the impression this is what he was trying to portray. There is a touch of arrogance about him.


durer self portrat




Leonardo da Vinci portrait Man in Red Chalk I love this drawing not a painting, but drawing is the basis of good painting and I feel he is the master. I don’t know the purpose of it the picture and some experts argue it isn’t he, but if it is he has portrayed a wise elderly man with status who looks to be deep in thought. His flowing locks are almost biblical. Maybe he was trying to depict his wisdom. The painting by Raphael of Plato was said to be based on a likeness of Leonardo da Vinci and I must agree there are similarities in appearance and portrayal and I can understand why Raphael used the likeness to show a man of wisdom and philosophy.


Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait Raphael’s Portrait of Plato

The watercolour self-portrait by Mary Cassatt depicts the painter, she painted women in the many rolls they played within her time. I think the purpose of this painting is to show women at work, and that is how it appears to me. She shows a strong woman who enjoys the work she does. There is a confidence in her stance and she seems to be sending the message, you can do what you put your mind to. The second portrait of Cassatt I have chosen is one by Degas they were supposed to be friends for many years painting together. This painting shows a woman deep in thought holding some pictures and was supposed to be painted in the way Degas saw her, demanding, curious and elegant. I think it shows her as a strong and intelligent woman, and yes there is an elegance about her.


Self Portrait Cassatt portrait by Degas

L S LOWRY 1936


My appreciation of Lowrys work has grown since starting the course with OCA so I couldn’t write about self-portraits without a mention of this talented man. What did he want to show of himself in his portrait, he saw himself as a lonely man and yes to me this is how the picture looks. A soulful man just one of the many in the crowd. His flat cap and coat depicting an everyday sort of person. He could be a local worker in the nearby mill. I would say he must of seen himself this way and was a man who didn’t let his position in life take him too far away from his beginnings. Olwyn Bowey shows a slightly different man, she painted the sketch in two sittings and I think she has portrayed a more interesting figure, the sense of humour she saw when painting him shines through in the near smile he has. She also shows a more distinguished man you would say had some standing but not without Grace. I think although this is impressionistic she has captured what I believe to be the spirit of Lowry. It is said he dared the artist to brighten up the picture which is why there is a splash of red. Something I have noticed in his depiction of the grimy mills of the North, he has a splash of colour lifting the viewers spirits from the depth of despair within the mood of his subject. I live near these streets and the greyness on a wet day is complete and can lower ones spirits, colour is needed to heighten ones mood and let the viewer see there is still something to be enjoyed no matter how bleak life can be.


Self Portrait Portrait of Lowry by Olwyn Bowey



A surrealist painter I find his self-portrait amusing, he depicts himself with a soft face almost like a mask supported by crutches and a slice of bacon supposed to be a symbol of the breakfast he ate. Painted not as a painter but his features are unmistakable the eye brows and moustache are very prominent characteristics of the artist. Not sure of his purpose in painting this but it does remind me of his melting clocks and has a theatrical look about it. Equally entertaining is the doubly reversible portrait by Richard Meric. This is painted in the paranoia-critical method developed by Dali and shows a picture within a picture when viewed from various angles. It was drawn out of respect for the artist and has that theatrical look Dali had about him.


SELF PORTRAIT “Doubly reversible portrait of Salvador Dali”

Galler, T., 1964-65. Olwyn Bowey Portrait Sketch of L.S. Lowry. [Online]
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[Accessed 22nd March 2018].

Gallery, N. P., unknown. The Portraits-Mary Cassatt Self-Portrait. [Online]
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Kaleidoscope, A., 2015-2018. [Online]
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[Accessed 20 March 2018].

Kwatnoski, E., 2014. The Best of Friends, the Best of Collaborators—Degas/Cassatt at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. [Online]
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[Accessed 2018 March 2018].

Sparavigna, A. C., 2004. An image processing of a Raphael’s portrait of Leonardo -Dipartimento di Fisica, Politecnico di Torino. [Online]
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[Accessed 16th March 2018].

Strasnick, S., 2014. Degas and Cassatt: The Untold Story of Their Artistic Friendship. [Online]
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[Accessed 21st Mar 2018].

Unknown, 2011. Leonardo Da Vinci Self Portrait. [Online]
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[Accessed 16th March 2018].

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[Accessed 20 MARCH 2018].

Wade, D., 2018. A rare L.S. Lowry self-portrait exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1976. [Online]
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[Accessed 22 March 2018]., A., 2008. Salvador Dali, Doubly Reversible Portrait. [Online]
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[Accessed 2018 March 2018].


Part 2, Research 5, Linear Perspective

For this research, I was to go on the internet and research the basics of linear perspective. Make some notes in my learning log.

I covered this in Drawing 1 and found it very interesting. We see perspective in many areas of life and it can be seen simply by holding up a viewfinder. I was drawing trees and found it very useful in assessing the different heights as I find a whole scene overwhelming and the heights can go a little wrong without something to guide me.

Photographs are also good way of seeing perspective as can be seen by the converging lines in the photograph below. You can see clearly the lines of cobbles converging and the linear aspects of the buildings as they move towards the horizon. Depending on the subject, and position of your object drawn the focal point can be on or off the paper.


Linear Perspective is about the linear aspects within your drawing which recede to your focal point, and the point on the horizon line where the imaginary lines meet. Well they don’t actually meet but appear to as the subject moves towards the horizon. This shows the size of your subject as it is seen within your picture and its size as it moves from the fore. We also see the distance apart of any parallel lines such as is seen with pavements, hedges etc, as they converge towards the horizon.

The diagram below shows one point perspective and here we draw a horizon line this is depending on what type of drawing you are doing, where your eyeline is, or where you want the horizon and focal point to be. Drawing a box is the easiest way to portray Linear Perspective which I have shown in the diagram I have drawn below.

one point persp

Although these are not the best drawings you can see the three-dimensional aspect of the boxes. The top right a correct drawing, I have just not coloured the base of the box and whilst it is now finished in my sketchbook, I left this view and didn’t correct it, as is shows how confusing perspective is.

As can be seen from above all these have one point of contact on the horizon.


Two-point perspective has its uses such as drawing the corner of a building which has an area of interest receding from view on both sides. It uses the same rules as one point, only there are 2 points on the horizon your lines are directed to. You can see this in the diagrams below. Again these drawings show the different focal points on the horizon depending on how you are viewing your subject, which could be, below, in line or above looking down at the subject.

2 point perspec

Three point perspective is slightly different and not used as much though it could be handy when looking up or down at a tall building such as chuch spire. You can see the central point is place centre line of the box/building and depending on where you focas is your lines recede towards the focal point. This one I found the most difficult to get my head around as it confused my brain, which isnt difficult.


#3 point try 2


Fussell, M., 2011-2017. The Virtual – One Point Perspective. [Online]
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[Accessed 29 December 2017].

Fussell, M., 2011-2017. The Virtual – Two Point Perspective. [Online]
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[Accessed 29 December 2017].

Fussell, M., 2011-2017. The Virtual – Three Point Perspective. [Online]
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[Accessed 29 December 2017].



Part 2 Research Point 4 Dutch Realist Genre Painting

With the decline of religious painting and prosperity allowing the middle classes the affluence to furnish their properties with paintings it brought about a whole new era of work. Paintings of Portraits, Still Life, Landscapes and Genre Painting were for sale, Genre Painting was a depiction of everyday life. This research was about taking a look at two or three paintings that appeal to me and study the intentions of the artist, look at how the painter drew the viewer into the experience of the occupants of the room. Well one of my choices The Courtyard of a House by Pieter de Hooch wasn’t strictly a room but it still told a story. My second choice was by Johannes Vermeer The Love Letter.

After studying the paintings and doing some research I realised these like the Early Still Life painting were not just random affairs. Careful placement of items, geometric shapes and a story for the viewer were carefully planned and executed.

Johannes Vermeer The Love Letter tells the story of the love of a couple who are apart, the letter being from her love.  I first chose this as one of my paintings because I like the secret look we are getting of a private moment.  We are viewing the scene from a dimly lit room, a clever way of making the viewer look beyond the darkness into the lit area. For our convenience, the curtain is held back allowing us a peek of a beautiful private moment. To emphasize the depth of field the eye follows the geometric tiles on the floor. I did wonder at the subtle nature of the painting and its reference to the letter being a love letter, but took the title of the painting for granted. It was only after research I learnt about the symbolistic nature of items included in the scene which tell a story rather like the Still Life Paintings I studied earlier.

First the lady has a musical instrument on her lap this was known as a symbol of love, then the story continues, paintings were often used within paintings and carried a meaning. The paintings behind the women show a ship on a rough sea and a lone figure. The sea was used as the symbol of love and passion the ship being the lover.  I have read several meanings associated with the lone figure but there is an absence of her lover and I think, to me it shows a love that maybe a secret one, where there can only be stolen moments. Maybe a love of a man she can’t have. The slippers and brush are said to be symbols of a love that is not blessed by marriage, though once again there are variations on the meaning. All in all it makes me feel the lady is in love with a man she can’t have.

Vermeer Love Letter

The second painting The Courtyard of a House in Delft by Pieter de Hooch I like not for the story it tells but for the way in which he dealt with the space and depth of field, it was said he used pins and string to create the different depth of field. Looking at the courtyard we see a difference in affluence the left side we see a more affluent scene and we feel a need to peek through the house to a street beyond. This is cleverly done by using light and angles, inside the muted light accents the leading angles of the floor and the doorways which all travel to an arch and beyond to the bright street behind. To the right of the picture we have an area which again has been given great depth with the leading lines within the brickwork, wooden bunker and walls. I love this side of the courtyard with the plant growing out of a bed and the broom laying on the floor giving interest to the fore of the picture. There is just enough information to make the mind want to tell a story. The painting shows how he has use the angles of the scene to show depth of field. I love this less aesthetic scene to the courtyard, showing a little of the life behind the facia often seen within the home, it encourages the imagination to construct a story.

As we progress through time there is no doubt painting has had its boundaries pushed and artists don’t just stop at the visual but also the tactile works of art. We will find the application of paint is used in numerous ways. The story told in each painting is cleverly portrayed giving just enough information to interest the viewer and like the cliff hangers in modern day tv, there is enough about the story untold to spark our interest and imagination showing how the occupants in the pictures story unfolds.

courtyard in delft


18th Century

Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin and the La Fontaine I chose this one for its similarity to the above paintings. I believe he was influence by Vermeer. The depth to the picture was shown not only by clever use of light but also with the tiled flooring leading to an open door behind. The open door makes us want to look beyond the main focus of the picture to the view behind  where we see another woman and a young child. How intriguing what is the story.

la fontaine (the water cistern)

19th Centuary

Sir David Wilkie – The Blind Fiddler 1806 – is my painter of choice for the 19th Century his is a little different in there are no leading lines in the fore, but we have objects placed before the subjects who are the centre of the painting. It’s a lovely scene with each of the listeners showing their different characters bathed in light looking like the centre of the stage. The enormous number of objects within this picture could be overwhelming, but they are so subtle in their portrayal, they remain unobtrusive. The detail is amazing and what looks like a chalked animal done by a child is shown on the door of the cupboard. In this picture, we can see the clever shaft of light showing through the doorway to the rear giving the painting depth. It is such a cleverly done painting and the pleasure or displeasure shows within the faces and actions. It again tells a story but doesn’t answer the questions.  The elderly couple look as if the music is intruding on some deep thoughts, worry, tiredness, memories of the past who knows. A snippet of a story a nugget to wet the appetite enough to draw in the viewer and spark the imagination. This out of all the pictures is my favourite.

The Blind Fiddler 1806 by Sir David Wilkie 1785-1841

20th Centuary

David Hockney -Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy 1970- and his very noticeable style shows even with the absence of content, depth of field can be shown by the placement of items within the picture. The table and contents are the only lead into the centre of the picture, the people and cat being the main subjects, beyond the people the window and balcony lead to the outside. Without the door surround reflecting the outdoor light, this picture would have been in danger of looking very flat.  Again we see the light and a window/door are being used to show the depth.



21st Centuary

Susan Ryder- Karen Hambro – is my choice here, her paintings are very impressionistic, bright and full of colour. There within the painting is a glimpse of a special moment and although I don’t know of any symbols to tell the story, we feel from the posture and mood of the lady painted, this is a special day. As with earlier paintings the light is used to create depth within the room, furniture leading the eye towards a door which again  gives great depth to the picture.

susan ryder


Looking at Genre through time we may see a difference in paint application and method, but the basics are to create a fore, middle and background to the picture creating depth. It can be done by introducing leading lines, or placing the main object between the fore detail and the rear. Doors give great depth within the pictures and intrigue, light also is a major influence on giving depth and focal point. Put together they draw the viewer into the picture by walking the eye through the scene engaging them within the story that the painter is telling.


(Unknown, 2011)

(Unknown, 2011) (Unknown, Unknown)

(Levendig, 2011)

(Gallery, 2017)

(TATE, 2016)

Part 2, Colour relationships Research Point 3

For this research, I was to look at the Optical effects in art which have been exploited by many artists to create movement and depict the effects of light. The impressionists, Post Impressionists and Neo Impressionists in particular the Pointillists, Seurat and Signac, made full use of the new understanding of the nature of human perception. I was to find out about these artist aims and study their pictures to see how they achieved effects such as optical mixing. Look also at the work of Bridget Riley or the Op artists making notes in my learning log.

Optical art covers a broad area of art, as art itself is about optical manipulation. Colour used in a certain way placed adjacent to each other can alter the perception of the colour, the pointillists used this, then we have artists who use realism to convince they eye of the viewer they are looking through a private window of reality. Op art which was being experimented with in the 1960s is about geometric shapes and lines which fool the eye into seeing the picture undulate and move.

Neo-Impressionism or pointillism is a technique where small marks of pure colour are applied to a support and instead of mixing the colours on the page or palette it is left for the eye to mix and create the object or picture.  Georges Seurat is one of the original developers of this technique and was influenced by Chevruel and his colour theories. The paintings by Seurat remind me of Newsprint, the dots per inch giving the apearance of a black and white picture with all the varying tones given by altering the amount of dots there are.  When using colour not only can you adjust colour by dot or mark application you can also fool the eye with the colour it sees. For example if tiny dots of blue and yellow are placed adjacent to each other, colour mixing within the eye happens and we see green.




The Channel at Gravelines, Evening. Georges Seurat.

Bridget Riley and the Op Artists work gives the viewer a greater visual experience. Their work can create the illusion of movement, I suffer Migraine and when in the throes of having one, they can give me the feeling of nausea. I can’t help but look at them though as they hold a fascination with a need to know how they cause the illusion. The Blaze by Bridget Riley is one such picture, I was ill when I first looked at this and felt rather sick.


Blaze 1964 by Bridget Riley born 1931



The Blaze by Bridget Riley


This research has been very interesting, I find the way the eye and brain can be tricked into viewing the way an image is seen fascinating and can only admire the tremendous knowledge artists have gained in regard to the effects of colour and mark manipulation when producing their art.


Adam Butler, C. V. C. S. S., 1994. The Art Book. In: The Art Book. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Tate, n.d. Bridget Riley – Blaze. [Online]
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Uknown, 2017. The Art Story- Op Art. [Online]
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Uknown, Unknown. Neo-Impressionism. [Online]
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unknown, unknown. The Complete Works of Georges Seurat. [Online]
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Part 2, Research point 2,

For this research, I was to look at the work of some of the 17th Century Dutch still life and flower painters. Make notes on paintings that I especially admire and find out more about the techniques that were employed at the time. Then research at least 1 painting that has iconographic significance. Which of the objects depicted carry particular meaning and what was that meaning?

Then explore the development of still life through the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For example, look at how traditional still life subjects were dealt with in some early Cubist painting by Braque and Picasso, investigate how some contemporary artists are interpreting this genre.

17th Century  was known as the Golden Age it was a time when the Netherlands was recovering from the ravages of war with Spain, a time when their National pride helped develop their artistic heritage. Still life although not thought of on the same level as other genre was becoming very popular. The more affluent were able to furnish their houses and the need for art grew. Artwork was also created smaller to increase affordability. Still life was more than just subject painting it had meaning and stimulated the thoughts. Vanitas painting was a form of still life it was about beauty and how this can fade over time. One of my favourite still life artists of this time is Pieter Claesz  his Vanitas paintings are really powerful.  I feel this is showing the end, the end of time as the watch lays like it has had its last tic toc, the glass on the side empty seems to say its pleasure has gone. The skull showing all that remains of life. We may not see things in the same way, but we all see the meaning. It is so beautifully painted. The brushstrokes look delicate and I would love to see it in the flesh so to speak.


peiter Claesz

Having looked at the 17th Century flower painters I enjoy the work by the artist called Jan Davidsz De Heem  his work moved away from the almost sterile statuesque style, to one which showed movement and was inclusive of fauna, although as can be seen by the bouquet shown below- one of my favourites- he still followed a loose triangle in shape. I love the way some of the bouquet spills over the lip of the table giving a depth to the picture. The blooms placed together may not be in bloom at the same time and were unlikely to have been painted direct from the vase, it is more likely they were painted from sketches either drawn earlier or from bought, borrowed images.  The other thing I like about this painting are the insects that appear within the bouquet, every time I look I see another.

Not only is this arrangement far more natural in the flower placement, there seems to be a meaning within the picture, the expensive blooms of tulips, which could in some cases cost more than a man’s yearly wage, appear throughout, within the same bouquet are grasses and pea pods. It makes you think that it doesn’t matter how beautiful or how much something is worth, we are all going to suffer the same fate and experiences. I wonder if this is the reason for the insects seen crawling in and out of the flowers.


flower d

The Dessert Still Life by De Heem below is part of one of his more elaborate pieces, these were known as Pronkstilleven. The beautiful centre pieces and enormous amount of expensive food on the table, is thought provoking when you think of the cost. I must admit this may be a good picture to show his Pronkstilleven work, but I really want to pick up the balanced dish and place it where it is more secure, it is set in such a precarious manner, or could this be to show the precarious balance of good fortune. The light is cleverly managed not only shown coming through what looks like a window, which can be seen on the bottles, but there is light coming from behind the viewer.



Looking forward through the centuries still life painters continue to paint still life but the need for the almost photorealistic restricted painting and storytelling has not been the route for all, but still life through time has often been a pictorial message.  Many centuries after the Dessert Still Life was painted by De Heem , Matisse was inspired enough by the painting to produce an abstract version of his own, where he highlighted the geometric shapes within De Heems original painting. Out of the corner of my eye I am always expecting to see a set of old type scales for some reason.



The Matisse painting above reminds me of the cubism practiced by Georges Braque and his geometric approach to still life. I find his paintings confuse my mind rather like the little toys I had as a child where you had to move around the squares until you moved them in order to create the picture.

His painting Picture Candlestick and Black Fish 1943, shown below is one such picture I find this so confusing and melancholic, and there is that Lemon making its appearance again as in many a still life.



I think the 20th Century has gone the way of other genre of art, in that anything goes and is accepted. All thoughts of Still Life being a lower form of art seem to be fading and we have moved into the 20th Century with no holes bared. The master of minimalist painting must be Giorgi Morandi a favourite of mine, his pots painted in hue and tone producing a pleasant restful feel. I love this one below where one blue and white striped pot stands out among the other objects inline.



We also have still life appearing in Pop Art, as in the picture below by Roy Lichtenstein,



and sculptures like, that of  Hans Op de Beecks Peacock 2015. It is a series of 2 Vanitas mixed media sculptures made from pigmented plaster and wood. It follows the hallmark still life of the 17th Century Dutch painters with the vanity of the Peacock, the skull showing end of life,  as do unlit candles,  in the picture of the sculpture below  there are some modern aspects within the artwork like the ashtray and drinks can.


One of my favourite genres of artwork is still life and I have found this research fascinating, I have only just touched the surface, but even within my limited research it does show how important to artists this genre is. It can show a snapshot of time, hold a hidden meaning and the feelings of the artists who make still life. I for one don’t feel it is a lesser form of art, for me it is every bit equal to any other genre, it is a snapshot of history, mans’ thoughts and beliefs within that moment.

Green, T., 2017. Modern Art Notes. [Online]
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Jr, A. K. W., 2017. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. [Online]
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Maslova-Levin, E., 2017. Looking into the core of a painting: how Henry Matisse opened up Jan Davidsz. de Heem’s “Table of Desserts. [Online]
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Unknown, 2013. Acquavella Galleries. [Online]
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Unknown, 2017. THE VERMEER NEWSLETTER. [Online]
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unknown, unknown. Marianne Boesky Gallery. [Online]
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Painting 1, Part 2, Research Michel Eugene Chevreul

I was to find out more about the colour theories of Michel-Eugene Chevreul and make notes on how particular artists have used Chevreuls theories to expand the possibilities of painting.

Michel-Eugene Chevreul was a French Chemist one of his achievements was the development of a type of candle to which he obtained a patent. It was said to become a the most popular candle in France.

Later in his career, he became director of dyeing at a tapestry works in Gobelin. In his first year as director he heard complaints in relation to tapestry colours being poor, which he found the cause to be optical.  He spent time investigating the mixing of colours and found colours had influence over one another when placed side by side. Also, he felt our optical effect  when looking at colours will also have some bearing on them and how we observe them. For instance, if we stare at blue square for a short time, then move our eyes to a white background we see a yellow square after image which within a short space of time fades from view, the reason for this is we have red, green, blue colour receptors within our eyes, and when one of the colour receptors is fatigued by over reception the complimentary colour can be observed in a ghost view.

Chevreul wrote a book on colour theory which in the 19th Century was widely used as the colour manual by artists, designers and decorators. It was influential with the work of Impressionists and their search for colour brilliance, experimenting with the juxtapose application of colour allowing the colour mix to be done by eye.

George Seurat the pointillist met Chevruel and experimented with his colour theories, his paintings show the play of light where dots of colour are applied to his support and leaving the eye to mix the tiny applications of colour forming an image.

Josef Albers artist and art educator was inspired by Chevruel’s findings, he published a book looking at colour phenomenon, which is said to have 150 colour plates in relation to the subject. He became a very influential art educator.

Then around the 1910 there was a movement developed called Simultanism by abstract artists Robert Delaunay and Sonia his wife . The word simultanism was taken from the theories in Chevruels book of colour theory, De la loi du contraste simultanée des couleurs. The Delaunay experimented with patches of abstract colour to create movement and light.


Chevruel and Albers were two artists to influence the Op and Kinetic artist Carlos Cruz-Diez with his use of colour and style of art. Some of his pieces, with their coloured juxtapose lines create visual affects causing the viewer to see changing colours as they move around to view the piece. The shapes within shapes seem to hover and alter, I must admit they have an odd effect on your eyes, I am not sure I would like to look at them when I have a Migraine.

I have just brushed the surface of this interesting topic, the enormous influence of Chevruel’s research not only effect those that read his studies, but those that studied the studiers. There is no doubt one colour does influence its neighbour and the subject is a very interesting one, but not all artists felt the research of Chevruel was the colour Bible. Monet for one who was said to be preoccupied with garden colours and its powerful contrasts, didn’t feel it was wise to be over reliant on Chevruel’s colour wheel. I think I will have to study the subject more to be able to come to a more educated view, but in this modern world I am sure most of us have seen in one way or another the way colours do have an effect over one another.


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Courthion, P. (2017, June 26). Georges Seurat. Retrieved from Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Unknown,  (2017, 6 27). Carlos Cruz-Diez. Retrieved from

Unknown. (2017, 6 27). Mastering colour: Franco-Venezuelan kinetic and op artist Carlos Cruz-Diez at Puerta Roja, Hong Kong. Retrieved from Art Radar:

Unknown (2017, 6 27). USING COLOUR. Retrieved from SMITHSONIAN LIBRARIES:

Physclips. (2017, June 23rd). Complementary colours, after-images, retinal fatigue, colour mixing and contrast sensitivity. Retrieved from Physclips.

Roque, G. (2017, JUNE 23). CHEVREUL’S COLOUR THEORY. Retrieved from CHEVRULS LAW F1 WEB:

Unknown. (2017, 6 27). Simultanism. Retrieved from Tate: