Part 2, Colour Relationships, Successive Contrast



For this exercise, I was to find or paint a large area of a bright colour, it could be a bright red jumper, piece of coloured paper, or a square of painted pigment. Stare at it for 30 seconds. Next close my eyes and wait until an after image appears. I chose a bright red biscuit tin, the after colour was very vivid and a blue green I believe this is due to the tiring of our colour the colour receptor for red within our eye. We have three which are approximately red, blue and green. When staring at the red it tires its corresponding receptor meaning that when seeing the after image the red receptor isn’t working as well so the after-image colour is affected.

Next, I had to paint a large square of colour and stare at this and then look at a white surface. I used a lime/yellow which produced a beautiful shade of Pink/Blue. It is a fascinating subject which I will have to look at further.




Part 2, Colour relationships, Exploring Contrasts


This exercise was about exploring contrasts, to begin with I had to choose any colour (A) then mix a series of several colours that are close in the spectrum to my chosen colour (A). Once mixed paint a series of small squares in colour (A) and surround it with one on chosen colours from the spectrum. I chose yellow and as can be seen from the series of colours above the yellow hue altered according to the surrounding colour. It’s at is brightest when surrounded by orange.

Next, I was to try mixing a colour and its complementary. Paint a small square of the brightest of the pair and paint the complementary colour around it, I also had to adjust the tone in order they were the same by adding white. Here you can see the complimentary colours strengthen each other.

Finally, I had to paint complementary colours and infill with grey or beige, as I had painted this exercise on neutral grey background I used beige.  This exercise was to show how the neutral colour was affected by its surroundings. I tried various colours plus white and light grey. It is fascinating how colours interact with one another.

In hindsight if I do further tests I will try them on a lighter ground it was difficult to get the colours strong enough to show the affect well. I have seen this exercise done before and the different look to the hue can be remarkable. When I have more time, I will try out some more in my sketch book as I have enjoyed the exercise.

Colours used in this exercise were Titanium White, Payne’s Grey, Yellow Light, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red, Raw Sienna, Brilliant Purple and Sap Green.

Part 2, Project Still Life, Exercise Still Life with flowers

uni flower 06102017


For this exercise, I was to set up a still life with flowers that can remain in place for a day or two, keeping the arrangement simple. Notice the outlines around and between things – the negative shapes – and try to create interesting and varied spaces and intervals between the objects in my arrangement. I sat with the arrangement around eye level. I didn’t concentrate on foreshortening, keeping the flowers relatively the same size, instead I used the vases to create the depth. Poor light in the area meant I had to add lighting and manipulated the beams in order not to put too heavy shadow within the painting. The flowers were large but delicate blooms so I didn’t want to make the shadow the focal point. To begin I set up the arrangement and found one of my £3 blooms of less than a day had a bruised stem and I had to cut it. This led to me having one bloom much shorter than was expected so I had to make do and mend as they say. For once the first arrangement was exactly how I wanted, how did that happen, it usually takes me several attempts! I made one larger coloured pencil sketch to test colour and then a series of small sketches to make sure the arrangement was as I wanted.  I didn’t like the background that I had to set my arrangement on and decided some artistic licence may be best. Eventually after several watercolour sketches I decided to go with pastel green for the wall and blue for the shelf.




I wanted the painting to be simple so as not to dominate the three blooms. These were big bold delicate flowers and there was nothing wild about them they were bred for their beauty and dominance and I wanted to show this within the painting.

I have for a long time loved watercolour painting of flowers, my interest began when I first bought The Frampton Flora a documentation of Botanical paintings found in the attic of Frampton Court. Since I have been in awe of several contemporary artists, to name a few, Anna Mason, Billy Showell, Dianne Sutherland, Ann Swan, and Siriol Sherlock. With the start of this course I now realise the talent of many earlier artists who worked with botanical art like Maria Sibylla Merian a Botanical Illustrator, Naturalist.

botanical plate

This work of hers was produced using black chalk, bodycolour and watercolour it shows the details and delicate work she was capable of. (Unknown, 2017)


I decided to use watercolour as a medium, for me it shows translucent nature of flowers better than any other medium. The blooms I feel were done relatively well and I liked the flow of the paint and the colour. What I don’t like are the vases I feel the lack of stem on the nearest flower and the size of the heads made the picture a little top heavy, if it hadn’t been for the shadow it would have looked very top heavy and I am not sure why I didn’t notice this before I started the painting. I think instead of drawing the vases at a slight angle, I should have gone with the larger drawing I made foreshortening the vases and flowers as they taper off to the rear.  The background which I thought would be the most difficult, turned out better than I thought and doesn’t take the eye away from the subject.

Colours used were from Winsor & Newton Payne’s Grey, Opera Rose, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Winsor Blue (Green), Cerulean Blue, Winsor Violet, Hookers and Olive Green. The outline of the picture was drawn in pencil and erased as I went along. The paint applied in thin glazes. To produce the detail on the petals I either remove areas of colour glaze with a damp brush before the paint dried, or added with a dry brush.


If I was to paint the picture again I would make sure my blooms were not damaged giving a longer stem and perhaps use a little artistic licence and enlarge the vases a little also using a little foreshortening to balance up the whole picture.


Below is a photograph taken of the arrangement.




Unknown, 2017. Botanical Art and Artists. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 7 October 2017].


Part 2. Project Still Life, Exercise Still life with natural objects.

fruit picture 2



For this exercise, I had to assemble a group of natural objects. Which could be either highly coloured or structured. I was to use my sketchbook to help locate an interesting point of view.

The colours used were Titanium White, Paynes Grey, Cadmium Red, Light Blue Permanent, Yellow Light Hansa, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow.

I wanted to try something different and had to fight my instinct to paint in my usual way. I wasn’t sure which way to go and tried a few sketches to get my subject and the position. After a few compositions, my choice was the Oranges and Lemons on the Mantle. Limited palette is my thing and I love the hints of colour within a picture, so tried two colour attempts. One acrylic with ink tint I don’t think I had the skill and I need to practice. This led to a monotone painting and then colour tint but I couldn’t get the image I wanted, so changed my idea and decided to go with a more summer feel and attempt some texture and light. I also wanted to have a go at using bold brushstrokes. I usually use fine brushwork but wanted a go at a more fluid less detailed stroke, well half my brain did.  The end picture wasn’t great but it was better than I expected, details were added but I wasn’t too precious about applying the paint and tried a credit card to give me a rough texture along with an old rough tea towel. I can’t say I went all Monet but for me I relaxed my style and felt I had achieved a likeness that wasn’t too tight in application. I do need to try and stay neater in my brushwork, often in paintings seen by the masters of art each brushstroke looks like a mark made with precision, mine feel more like a toddler’s first attempt at paint.

First I prepared the background with a rough application of paint and then drew the picture with a paintbrush. I used some dry brushwork and thick paint, dabbing it on with brush and cloth to start my background, this was allowed to dry. The fruit then had an application of Titanium White because I wanted to try and push the brightness of the fruit forward and draw the eye to their form. I love Turners late work and his use of colour and light and was trying to capture the way the light fell on the fruit which was lit from the side and front this giving a concentration of light stronger in the centre of the picture.

Photograph of setup


From the photograph of the Mantle it can be seen my background had a large pinch of artistic licence. The wall was too dowdy, fruit remind me of bright summer days. so I added a touch of blue and brightened with white to try and give that light we all love in the summer. I also cut the size of the Mantle and painted wall below.

Texture was added again on top of the first two layers of paint to the wall top and bottom of the picture and then a credit card used to scrape Titanium White, Light Blue, Raw and Burnt Sienna. I felt whilst this may not be to the standard of those proficient in using acrylic it was acceptable for the exercise. The Mantle and fruit were painted with more care but still they were a lot looser than I would normally paint and a bigger brush used for all but the tiniest detail.


I realise with learning to use paint I have a very long way to go. Do I feel this differs from my first attempt at Still Life, yes I do it was much more experimental in application and I am getting used to using the paint. In the future I would like to have a go at mixed media but need to have control of the acrylic paint. Also I would like to try the limited pallet again in future so will have a practice.


Still Life and Illustration are my thing so I enjoyed this exercise.

Part 2, Project Still Life Drawing in Paint

final image 07092017

Final Painted Sketch

Above two pictures of stages of the painting.


Work towards the final painting.


Photograph of actual area painted.


For this exercise I was to look around my house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there I could adjust it if needed but choose objects that are not too complex. I had to study the objects and look at the hard lines and angles. Notice flowing lines of fabric, shiny areas, wood grain etc.  Make drawings that explore the linear aspects then chose a support format and scale.

I did several sketches and decided to go with the painting above because of the lines, squares and rectangles.  I didn’t want to concentrate on colour but on shape so I decided to keep the bulk of the painting in pastel and use the lamp and cat as contrast. In that respect, I think the painting worked, however I know what I am looking at so that may be in part due to my knowledge with regards to the brief. I didn’t do the background as I wanted, it had less texture than I had wanted, but the texture  brought the background too far forward, so I learnt the benefit of my rag not only put texture into the paint but also removed paint I didn’t want.  I tried to rescue it a little and scratched lines into the paint to reveal the underpainting.

The painting was to be drawn in fine paint and lines retained until the infill of colour when the lines could if wanted be strengthened.

I started the painting with a pale blue and light pink brown wash. Then proceeded to draw with a blue grey line. I did eventually alter the colour of some lines and the width, but the original drawn paintwork can be seen throughout the painting.  The geometric shapes reminded me of the recent Still Life research I had just done where Matisse did an abstract version of De Heems original painting called The Dessert. I found this inspired me to look at the geometric shapes within this still life. I liked being able to see the original painted lines for some reason they did add to the picture. Although this painting wasn’t abstracted like the cubist work, it did bring to mind the work by George Braque’s work with his lines and shapes.

All in all the background gave the impression of foliage but was on the verge of being overworked. Where the curtains are probably my favourite point and with just a few lines and no real blending worked well, I was surprised at how with just a few brushstrokes the fold could look so impressive. In future I will try and not overwork areas and look at how less brushstrokes can achieve more.


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]
Available at:

Jr, A. K. W., 2017. Dutch Paintings of the Seventeenth Century. [Online]
Available at:

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]
Available at:

Unknown, 2013. Acquavella Galleries. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21st August 2017].

Unknown, 2017. Dessert Still Life. [Online]
Available at:

Unknown, 2017. Dutch Painting 17th Century. [Online]
Available at:

Unknown, 2017. Pieter Claesz. [Online]
Available at:

Unknown, 2017. THE VERMEER NEWSLETTER. [Online]
Available at:

Unknown, unknown. Giorgio Morandi. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21st August 2017].

unknown, unknown. Marianne Boesky Gallery. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 21st August 2017].

Part 2, Close to home, Complementary colours




For this exercise, I was to draw a circle divide it into 12 parts and and mix the colours from Chevreuls colour circle or wheel beginning with primary re, red-orange and so on.

Next I had to consider the twelve colours from Chevreuls colour circle and lay each colour next to its opposite or complementary on a grey ground. Try to match the darker tone to the lighter by adding white. Then I had to make mixtures of each pair of complementary colours and describe the resulting colour.

One thing that I have notice was I didn’t seem to be able to match tones as easy on a grey ground I found this very difficult as can be seen its easier when I look at the colour wheel which does emphasis Chevruels view that adjacent colours can alter the tone. I do a lot of work in black and white and found it really disturbing that I find it so hard to do with colour on a grey.

As can be seen with the mix of the pair of complementary colours I managed to get the tone a little better, hopefully a learning curve and not letting the grey ground influence my tone. When mixing complementary colours in relatively even amounts the colours in the main went to a version of brown, well nearly all, blue and orange was more a grey because of the lack of red pigment and the yellow purple to green beige in relation to the amount of red in the purple. I have noticed Complementary colours are just that and complement one another, enhancing each other’s visual appearance.