Part 1. Exercise 2.

Key points:-

  • acrylic washes – love them (and I hadn’t used them before)!  Especially over acrylic background – there’s a fluidity to them and they can be washed over to remove unwanted marks
  • using black backgrounds – requires THOUGHT! Need to have a plan, what does the white mean on the black, is it the positive or the negative?
  • it is possible to REALLY water down ink/paint and still leave exactly the right quality of marks.  Need to remember to PUT ON LESS PAINT – try and work in translucent layers – this is a challenge I need to explore
  • try to leave lines out of images if it is delineating something – it creates an unwanted naive cartoon-like effect.
  • Using filbert brushes works better for me as I have to be more gestural and less linear

These were my first four and it shows – they are somewhat rigid and clumsy.  I’m applying too much paint/ink and not thinking enough about what effect I want to achieve with each piece of work – I’ve forgotten to have an intention each time I paint. I also wondered after completing four images, whether the image itself wasn’t suiting this particular exercise (and me) so I chose a new image to work with for the next four.


grey gouache
grey gouache


black quink washes

This next set of paintings were based on the image below – an image I REALLY enjoyed painting and want to come back to.  There is great energy in the image – I particularly found the cheek area powerful – it reminded me of Dumas’ work.  I was particularly pleased with the first piece on white – I felt as though I took a step towards  understanding how Cathy Lomax and Annie Kevans paint.  I managed to use pale enough washes, kept enough of the white showing and was sparing enough with my marks for it to hold together well.  In fact, this is the image I feel is the most successful for this exercise. The final piece shows me starting to really think about what I want to achieve painting white on black. The first white on black below looks as though the faces are masks and that is because I have been too heavy handed with the paint, and I haven’t given thought to how I want to represent the tones with the white.

This is certainly an image I would like to take further – I would like to attempt painting it massively oversized – say 2m wide and trying to still use the same type of painting as the black acrylic wash piece below.  I can’t imagine how it would work as I wonder whether the subtlety would become naivety on a large scale.  I would have to use a suitably scaled up brush – maybe even a DIY brush.


black acrylic washes
Indian Ink
white gouache washes
white acrylic washes

The two pieces below were an attempt to be almost abstract and minimal with my marks.  I feel the white on black has more power to it as the type of mark making on the clothing of the woman works well and is more unexpected than the more linear black on white.


black quink
white acrylic

The two are disappointing – I was looking at the work of Marlene Dumas and wanted to try painting the medium onto wet paper.  I have lost the tonal quality of the first as there is little of the true black background left and the second image has become cartoon-like with my overly heavy use of the black to define the eyes and nose.  It is interesting by contrast to the successful image above (first of the two head image).  Comparing the two I see how important the nature of the type of line is – how much weight is put behind it, how defined is it?  I can see where I’ve gone wrong with the final piece here by acknowledging what went right on the piece above.


white acrylic washes – paper was sprayed and rubbed several times during the process
sprayed paper and then applied ink washes.

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