Exercise 4.1

I have taken the subject of ‘interior views’ as a chance to produce reflective work about my life. I want this section of the course to be an exploration of the banal – but a celebration of the extraordinary or beauty within it. The images I have chosen are presented as a conversation between myself and the viewer. They are scenes that encapsulate parts of ‘who I am’ or at least part of what my life is.  In this series I pose the question, ‘what is the crossover point between the mundane and the extraordinary?’, ‘Is it possible for the mundane to even exist or visa versa?’, ‘Is our experience of each of these states of being a matter of our own creation?’.  ‘To what extent does our perception colour our life experience?’.

In this group of images I have chosen the following:-

  • a close up of Luc Tuymans from an online film I was watching for part of my art research
  • a view of the inside of my local church when my children and I were attending the harvest festival – my daughter is in the choir at the front in the image
  • the inside of the toilet on a trip to the orthodontist.
  • my daughter reading in the car when we were waiting for my son to have his guitar lesson
  • my children in a viewing dome at the Sealife Centre

On the surface these images might be taken as a reflection on the repetitive or boring in daily life. However, my intention is to challenge that pre-conceived idea. Each of these moments represent something inspiring or beautiful, moments of love and gratitude.

I have used this exercise as an opportunity to experiment with different thinning mediums rather than producing all 5 images using turps. This is my first time using oil paints so I am keen to push my understanding as far as possible as I work.

I have also considered how I want to present these images as a collection (following on from my thoughts about the work of Charlie Day and also the way that collections of work have been presented by Cathy Lomax and Annabel Dover).  I kept the oval shape to create a unity to the group but changed the size and orientation to add interest.  On reflection I needed to have further considered the scale in relation to what I was communicating with the work.  The church scene was purposefully done on a small scale as a devotional image and the larger image of Tuymans done so because of the impact he has had on my work/creative mind.  The other size ovals were chosen to create a sense of cohesion within the group which, having done the work, now poses me the question of potency – and whether I have diluted the impact because of this less then thorough questioning on scale.


Thinner – zest-it.  Using this with the paint and on a cheaper paper meant the paper was very absorbent and the zest-it increased a matt finish.

application – separate areas of colour, similar size brushes. keeping it quite fluid, trying to really observe the colours in the photo

Painted on – Reeves oil painting paper.  This paper has proved to be ok to work on but as it was cheap probably better kept for ‘sketchbook’ painting experiments

Thoughts – The areas where the paint is pure colour there is an interesting tonal build-up.  However, the fluidity of my painting method has meant there are some ‘grubby’ areas within the paint.  I was not vigilant enough to ensure my brush and cleaner were kept as clean as possible – I noticed that the zest-it was starting to influence the quality of the colour that I was using because it had turned a murky opaque brown and, therefore, added dullness to any paint I mixed.  An obvious point but something I hadn’t realised would require such rigour given my inexperience with the medium.  Tonally I can see that this piece requires further work when the thicker layer is applied in the later exercise and the image needs sharpening up in some areas to provide a balance for the more fluid painterly qualities to work.


Thinner – liquid light gel. This made the paint easy to use and produced well blended paint that didn’t retain brush marks.

application – smaller brushes, tried to paint more accurately with this image, less fluidity.

Painted on – Daler Rowney, Georgian Oil Painting Paper.  This paper was easier to work with than the Reeves paper and I have, therefore, worked with this for the rest of the exercise.

Thoughts – This was an interesting challenge because of the nature of the subject…how to make a bathroom interesting?  So far it isn’t, but I am pleased with this layer as an undercoat.  It has created a reasonable structure for me to work over.  I am hoping to make use of texture with the thicker layer and varnish to create interest on the tiles/sink area.  I also want to tighten up the image in some areas to bring in more accuracy.


Thinner – Liquin fine detail.  I enjoyed using this thinner, it felt fluid and created nice qualities within the paint.  There is still texture left within the paint but it enabled me to do some wet-on-wet blending.  It also kept a good amount of body in the paint as opposed to using something like zest-it so the small areas of colour in the window have kept their shape and intensity.

application – With small brushes, paying attention to the tonal qualities and colour in the image rather than the detail.

Thoughts – It was an enjoyable experience to witness the shapes in the piece taking form as I built up the different colour areas.  I am particularly pleased with the church windows and the children in the choir area by the red curtain.  The foreground needs further through – Do I leave the shapes as ambiguous or do I paint in the boy’s face in fine detail to give the piece more context but also to bring in more tension between the different styles within the piece?  I am, therefore, choosing to leave this piece out in exercise 4 as my view is that it needs to be worked on in a different way than with impasto and thicker mediums.


Thinner – liquin. Another thinner that I enjoyed using.  It enabled me to create texture in the paint layers but also to blend more where I needed to.

application – painterly initially and then more detail was introduced in some areas.

Thoughts – I like the ambiguity of shapes and different brush marks in the more abstract shapes of her body.  I tried to concentrate again on tone rather than painting in detail. I then chose to add in small amounts of detail on the face and hands and to tighten up a few areas of the image.  This is another piece I am choosing to not paint on with thick paint.  there is something in the delicacy of this image that I want to leave and to return to when time has passed to see if there is anything further I am able to add.


Thinner – Gamsol. Another enjoyable medium to work with, preferred slightly to zest-it.  There seemed to be slightly more body to the paint but question whether that is really a reflection on the medium, perhaps more about the quantity of thinner to paint I used.

application – Very thin and fluid.  I was trying to get a feeling and energy across with this layer of painting rather than be concerned with detail and accuracy.  Having said that, I was very much engaged in the process, questioning how I was painting, trying to observe colour and tone and also thought about which colour palette to use (the strong blues in the original photos had inspired this choice).

Thoughts – I made the decision to stop at a very early stage with this painting. It is only one very thin layer on the canvas. This is the image I am most uncomfortable with because of its unfinished presentation.  However, I am trying to push my understanding of why that keeps arising for me.  In a way I am researching my own beliefs about my painting ability with this painting and will be interested to see how I take it further with the thicker layers.


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