Monthly Archives: October 2013

Research Point: Mark Rothko and the Seagram Murals

Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk into a Russian Jewish family in 1903.  In 1913 he emigrated with his family to Portland Oregon, USA.  Painting was his life and he became a leading figure in the New York School – a group of modernist painters which came to prominence during the 1940s.  His career as an artist spanned 50 years and although his early work was figurative he became known for his elemental abstract paintings paired down to large balanced shapes – often rectangular – with depths and a sense of floating in layers.  His early abstracts were often composed of light, bright colours on a grand scale – he wanted them to be seen close-up so that the viewer could become absorbed and feel, as if, within them. Continue reading

Project: Transparent and opaque. Exercise: Opaque colour mixing

For this exercise we are asked to use the same colours as in the previous transparent wash exercises and this time attempt to recreate the shades by gradually lightening the colour using white. Compare the opaque mix to the transparent wash.  Continue reading

Project: Transparent and Opaque. Exercise: Overlaying washes

20131025-151202.jpgFollowing on from the previous exercise, I made up the same mix of Pyrrole Orange and overlaid it on a dry Crimson wash.  It is difficult to see in the photos but it is subtly different to the previous wet-in-wet washes. Continue reading

Project: Transparent and opaque. Exercise: Tonally graded wash

20131022-165748.jpgI decided to use acrylic paints for this exercise.  I first tried out some washes using Crimson on acrylic paper.  The paper was quite smooth with a linen finish.  I used my biggest flat brush which is about 3 cm wide and I tilted the paper on a board towards me slightly to encourage the wash to run downwards.   Continue reading

Life drawing classes at Camden Arts Centre

I am thoroughly enjoying the weekly life drawing class at Camden Arts Centre.  The course is structured – with emphasis on a different aspect of drawing each week – the group is small and our teacher is very supportive. This is far different to classes I have experienced before and I feel for the first time that I’m beginning to make some progress.  A few weeks ago we focused on line – the 5 minute warm-up exercises were aimed at loosening up and letting go of pre-conceived ideas – it was great fun and a good way to free up.  


Continuous line drawing

Continue reading

Project: Basic paint application. Exercise: Painting with pastels

20131018-172049.jpgFor this exercise I used Daler Rowney square pastels which are somewhere between hard and soft and some Schmincke pastels which are soft and come in an array of beautiful, saturated colours.  They are wonderful for great sweeps of colour and you can get some finer detail too by using the edges but they are difficult to control and crumble very easily. I tried out painterly ways of using the pastels – smudging, blending, scumbling one colour on top of another and combining colours by making small pointillist style marks. Continue reading

Project: Basic paint application. Exercise: Applying paint without brushes

What fun!  I had a rummage around the garage and kitchen drawers to find some interesting implements to try.  As the exercise suggested, I found using oils were better for applying layers of paint as the acrylics dried too quickly.  I experimented with applying paint using different items and also pressing various textured surfaces into paint.  Here are some of my results:-


Rubber ‘comb’ using oil paint

Continue reading

Project: Basic paint application. Exercise: Getting to know your brushes

I experimented with a range of brushes of varying sizes including:- rounds, flats, filberts, a long thin rigger brush and a fan brush. The brushes were made from both synthetic and natural hair. I had both soft brushes used for watery acrylics and watercolour paints and stiffer ones for use with oils and acrylics. I used acrylic paint and experimented mixing it to varying consistencies ranging from very watery to straight from the tube.

20131011-162709.jpg Continue reading