Friday, January 30, 2009

Project 5 : Semi-Abstract Figure Composition

If you haven't already fallen asleep with this you will be glad to know that this here is the final proposed Project in my Course Plan which will try to combine all that I expect to cover in the coming year:

PROJECT 5 : Semi-Abstract Figure Composition.

This final, extended, project will bring together all my experiments and findings from previous focussed studies and projects to create a series of paintings that expresses figures in a semi-abstract manner. The intention is to establish this way of painting as my own and produce sufficient work to a high quality which will form the basis of my next solo exhibition.

Theoretic Study: Looking at the work of artists such as William Scott, Richard Diebenkorn, Roger Hilton, Keith Vaughan, and also contemporary artists, such as Jacqueline Watt, who developed their figurative painting in a semi-abstract manner.

Time Allocation: 20 weeks

Outcomes: Sketchbook drawings;
Composition and colour studies;
10 finished paintings, or more.
Project Commentaries;
Theoretic Study findings.

You will see that this is the longest period of work at 20 weeks when i hope to simply be producing at least one painting per week.

Next week I will start to post up some of the work I have been engaged in for Project 1, Painting 1.
Have a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine and calm yourselves down - this is going to get a lot more interesting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Project 4 : Feelings and Emotions

This is the penultimate proposed project of my Course Plan:

PROJECT 4: Feelings and Emotion.

In this project my aim is to consider and explore the expression of feelings and emotion through use of colour. This is intended to be a more specific exploration of how to describe these factors in an abstract manner.
Many artists I have come to know (through the internet) create wonderful abstract work by opening up to the way they are feeling. This, I believe, involves, allowing and encouraging free expression from the subconscious. Whatever it is I want to give myself the same freedom to explore this way of painting.
This subject is therefore somewhat vague at the moment but I expect, as I progress, to clarify my thoughts and develop a worthy project.

Theoretic Study: Research the subject and identify artists who specifically express their feelings and emotions in painting.

Time Allocation: 6 weeks.

Outcomes: Colour studies;
4 paintings, or more;
Theoretic Study findings.

Nearly there - just one more proposed Project, then we're on to actual paintings, so hang on in there, the pain will, I hope, be worth it in the end :o)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Project 3 : Abstract Painting

This is the third proposed project as set out in the Course Plan:

PROJECT 3 : Abstract Painting.

In this project my aim is to further explore abstract painting and build upon my interest in the subject and the work done for Chapter 3 of Painting 2, and Chapter 10 of Painting 3 (Chapter 2: Finding Your Way) both titled “Abstraction and Abstract Painting”.
I am particularly interested in American Abstract Expressionism and coming to an understanding of the terms “free abstract”, or non-objective (also non-figurative) painting and “colour field“.

Theoretic Study: Research Abstract Expressionism in America studying the work of artists such as Jackson Pollock, Helen Frankenthaler, Marc Rothko, and others, and British artists such as Gillian Ayers, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, to discover more about painting from the sub-conscious.

Time Allocation: 6 weeks.

Outcomes: Sketchbook drawings;
Compositional and colour studies;
4 paintings, or more;
Project Commentaries;
Theoretic Study findings.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Project 2: Single and Combined Figures

Its a pity I haven't quite got to posting some images yet but you will just have to be patient!

The next four postings will describe in more detail what I have proposed (as the individual parts of the Course Plan) for each project, starting with a reprise of the type of work I have been creating over the past couple of years. The OCA hasn't seen any of this yet so it seemed like a good place to start.

PROJECT 2: Single and Combined Figures

The purpose of this project is to establish a consistent and quality approach to expressive figure painting without attempting to impose any abstraction.
Much of the work I have been engaged in on my own account has led me towards this form of personal expression. There is a need for me to consolidate this manner and improve my painting technique.

Figure subjects will be derived from a range of possible sources including:
Existing sketchbooks;
Life drawings;
New sketches made from live performances (theatre, dance, music);
Film and TV; and from

Figure paintings will be both in the singular and combined with others.
I want to start off from this existing base and show development and progress as the subsequent projects are tackled.
Theoretic Study: To study the figurative imagery and use of colour of particular artists whose work I admire, such as Chiam Soutine, Egon Schiele, Modigliani, Emile Nolde and the other German Expressionists (Macke and Kirchner) , and relate these to more contemporary artists.

Time Allocation: 6 weeks.
Outcomes: Sketchbook drawings;
Compositional and colour studies;
4 paintings;
Project commentaries;
Study thesis.

Since making this Project Statement I have decided to work to the theme "Dance", of which I intend to make a series of paintings from the pencil sketches I made in my sketchbook of Scottish Ballet's Sleeping Beauty (see previous posting) [and in fact, have already happily made a satisfactory start].

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Project 1: Course Plan and Programme

I appreciate this is coming to you by drip-feed but the limitations of Blogger determine that.
Anyway, you wouldn't want it all in one go - what would you do tomorrow night with nothing on the telly and nothing to look forward to? :o)

The second part of Project 1 was to devise a Course Plan setting out each intended stage with space for each Tutorial. The Course allows for 12 half-hour sessions with the Tutor and I am determined not to over-run and have to pay for additional tutorials. How un-professional would that be? How sore would that be?

So, here is the Course Plan in summary form:

Course Plan: Summary

Project 1: Creation of Course Plan,
First Tutorial: Consider Project 1 and agree Course Plan.
Discuss Project 2.

Project 2: Single and Combined Figures.
Aims: To explore compositions with single figures and groups.
To consider appropriate painting methods and how to improve them.
Outcomes: Sketchbook and colour studies;
4, or more, medium-sized paintings.
Second Tutorial: Consider work done for Project 2.
Agree topic for Extended Written Project.
Discuss Project 3.

Project 3: Abstract Painting.
Aims: To explore and learn more about abstract painting.
To explore the terms “free abstract” and “colour field“.
Outcomes: Sketchbook and colour studies;
4, or more, medium-sized paintings.
Third Tutorial: Consider work done for Project 3.
Discuss Project 4.

Project 4: Feelings and Emotions.
: To explore a range of feelings and emotions and how they can be represented in paint.
Outcomes: Sketchbook and colour studies.
4, or more, small to medium-sized paintings.
Fourth Tutorial: Consider work done for Project 4.
Discuss Extended Written project and approve.
Discuss Project 5.

Project 5: Semi-abstract Figure Compositions.
Aims: To combine the use of figures with abstract imagery.
Outcomes: To create a series of 10 , or more, small, medium, and large paintings.
Fifth Tutorial: Consider work done for Project 5.
Summarise achievements of Course.

Course Programme: Attached is a proposed timeline schedule of the Course Plan.

I hope you can read this as I am unable to upload the Excel file. The main points to note are that I have made ample allowance for some holidays in the sun, and the red dots indicate submission date in January next year for assessment, followed by actual date of that Assessment in March.

The First Tutorial has, of course, come and gone and I'm pleased to report that the tutor agrees with what I propose.

Tomorrow (or soon thereafter you will see the details of each Project as proposed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Project 1: Course Aims and Outcomes

The first project (Project 1) in this OCA Painting 3: Advanced Course was to complete my Student Profile, then set out a series of general intentions for the Course (Course Aims and Outcomes), followed by an all-encompassing Course Plan. This would include a description of each Project with supporting Theoretical Studies, and a time-schedule or Programme showing when these projects would take place and where Tutorials would fit in.

Over the next few days I will post up each of these elements in turn (apart from the Student Profile as you already know me!) as submitted for, and given, approval :

1.01 Course Aims and Outcomes

My intention with this course is to devise a series of projects which will develop the work I have already been engaged in over the past few years and help me reach a higher, more professional standard.
I want to generate the same sort of response contemporary Scottish artists like
Jacqueline.Watt, Christopher.Wood, and Gail.Harvey have in me when I view their work, only using figures as a starting point rather than landscape. To achieve this, Projects will build towards a personal semi-abstract language based on figure compositions. I also intend to explore more deeply the expression of emotions in my painting.

While my Extended Written Project will investigate this idea of expressing feelings and emotions through painting, my final painting projects will contrive to bring this theoretical knowledge together with the practical work.

  • I aim to continue the development of my figurative painting;
  • I aim to do this in a dynamic, semi-abstract manner;
  • I aim to explore the emotional interaction between figures using bold and expressive colouring;
  • I aim to complete this course within 1 year;
  • I aim to submit my work for assessment.


  • I want to develop a strong personal painting style;
  • I want to improve my painting technique and become more confident in achieving a good quality end result;
  • I want to develop further my own critical thoughts about painting;
  • I want to produce a series of quality paintings suitable for exhibition;
  • I want to develop a more professional work ethic.

Next installment: Tomorrow you will see my Course Plan.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Beginnings

Oils on board, 45x61cm: "Touched by a Dark Angel".

This artblog will follow the journey I am attempting to make from my present expressive figuration (above) to figurative semi-abstraction (as yet unknown). This is the direction I have set myself to fulfil an inner need.

The project comes about from my unsuccessful attempt in October last year to become an Artist Member of the Paisley Art Institute (PAI). The experience showed me many things that I needed to learn and correct, such as:
1. The need to limit the scope of my image-making and focus on one subject or theme, rather than the diverse many I presently distract myself with;
2. The need to become more consistent in the quality of my painting;
3. The need to develop a more professional work ethic;
4. The need to simplify the presentation of my artwork with consistent framing.

I therefore decided, at that time, to impose a tighter, more focussed regime by implementing these objectives (and give myself a year to do so) with the intention of getting into the position that I could once again make application to the PAI with a much improved chance of success - if I still wanted to!

In November last year I also, co-incidently, sent for the final year course material for a distance-learning art course with the OpenCollegeoftheArts (OCA) which had already been paid for (by my previous employer) and had been outstanding for more than three years. This came through early December and surprisingly fit exactly with my proposed intentions. The course, titled ‘Painting 3: Advanced’ sets out to turn “self-motivated students” into “independent artists”. This is exactly what I had been proposing for myself and so I intend to use the course to my own advantage by accepting the discipline it imposes.

The principal feature of the course is that students ‘design’ their own series of projects which will lead them to their ultimate goal, establishing their own time-schedule or programme in the process.
In the coming days I will start by describing this programme of work and how I propose to complete it.

You are invited to accompany me on this journey and offer what observations and advice you can give.