Artist: Joe Packer

I was recommended by Emma to look at this artist because his work is aesthetically similar to mine. His works seems to deal with abstract landscapes, be that landscapes of the mind, the memory or a place (or all three).

I have hardly been able to find any writing or any published books on his work. The most writing I have found is a piece of writing called ‘Joe Packer Joining and Continuing’ by Matthew Collings:

“At the house I grew up in,” Joe Packer says, “You could walk straight out of the back door into a wood… Childhood memories involve being in the enclosed, interior/exterior space of a wood. The filtering of light through trees and foliage.” He says his paintings are not of those places, but he thinks of them collectively as “some sort of landscape and somehow connected to places familiar to me where I grew up.”

^ It’s interesting that Packer says “interior/exterior space of a wood”, is this how I think about woodlands as well? I guess I think of there being an interior and exterior of the forests of lived perception that I am painting. Lol that name ‘forests of lived perception’ sounds so pretentious…

his recent pictures… seem to be about emanation, light radiating from a certain point, not quite the centre.

^ Packer produces this effect by building up layers of glosses and transparent paint – the same technique that Pip has mentioned to me before I think, ask Pip about the name of it.
This idea of a light source is interesting. I have never thought about a light source in my oil painting, but it does seem to be something I consider in my ink paintings. His mysterious input of a light source creates a thick atmosphere in the paintings.

his particular way of painting, as a process of finding or uncovering. Unearthing, digging up,

^ Exploring as he paints. Letting the process reveal the work to him.

Is a painter a designer? They might be. But in his case a design is not conceived and then executed. It is arrived at by trial and error, making and unmaking.

^ This is interesting because it demonstrates to me how different my process is from Packer’s. My process is one of preparation and design, planning and doing. For example, I will test background colours and pick one to use, and I will pick my colour palette necessary for the day I am painting outside – so I will design my colour palette based on observation and preparation.
This idea of design is even more evident when working on the structure. I design the structure, then make it, then go through a second design process of designing how the sculpture will sit in the painting.
I have a very conscious process!
I do have a process of trail and error like Packer. But my process of trail and error is not recorded on the canvas. This is important.
My ink paintings on the other hand, do record my process of trail and error. The transparency of the medium means everything is layered on top of each other.

Thinking about transparency and non-transparency: that is the main difference between my ink paintings and my oil paintings. The opaqueness of the oil painting marks makes the landscape look physical, like a real forest, it looks like real matter, or at least that’s what I’m trying to achieve.
The ink paintings on the other hand, have no concreteness to them. The marks are ephemeral, un attached to any ground. So the marks are producing an atmosphere in the ink paintings, they describe a space with airy gestures. Whilst the marks in the oil paintings are producing an experiential landscape that takes (abstract but) physical form.
This is interesting.

Images of his work from :

‘Darklingthrush Wood’
oil on canvas

^ On first glance this painting looks like a forest, like I’m looking across at the scene. However, the more I look at the painting, the weirder the shapes get, and I realise are there white mushroom/cloud like shapes floating in amongst what the tree trunks:

The process involved in the making of the painting is also evident, since some of the paint marks are transparent you can see the way Packer has layered the paint up.
I would love to see this painting, and his other works in person! Since his work is about the textures and colours of the medium.

‘The Valley of Blue Shadow’
Oil on Canvas
oil on canvas

^ This work is very opaque, and look how his work changes because of it! You can see patches of the work where the under-layer is peaking through, where opaque paint as been layered on top. The work is far more confrontational. The opaque layer of paint on top is like a wall, a barrier, or colour and sensations that hits you when you first look at the piece.

‘Hauntological Landscape’
oil on canvas
 ‘Black Wood’ 64x84cm, oil on canvas
‘Blue Meatus Landscape’62x78cm,oil on canvas,2014

^ Softer marks, they have a radiance to them.

‘Dusk Fingers’,30x26cm,oil on canvas, 2014
‘MouldHead’,60x50cm,oil on canvas,2014
     oil on canvas,91x61cm,2013

From looking at these images of his work, it appears that the more ephermeral and layered the paint is, the more I feel like I can step into the painting, like it is a window into an abstract world.
The paintings that have very opaque paint application, still might have depth to the images, but don’t feel like whole worlds that I can immerse myself in.
If I built in transparent and opaque layers into my paintings, would they feel more like whole worlds? Would they feel more subtle and ephemeral and therefore more worldly? Instead of feeling just like paintings that have depth, but are still blocking the viewer out somehow. (That last statement relates to a converstation I had with the visiting artist Hannah today; she thought my painting was blocking her out of the scene, and that it might be related to the opacity of the paint?).

Re-working a thought to be finished painting

< I have decided to re-visit this painting that I thought I had completed only last week!

I wrote about what was wrong with it here. But after being with the painting for a little longer, and talking about it with a friend, I realised I could adjust the structure lines which might resolve the issues with the dimensionality of the structure.

My intentions are to reconsider which lines need to sit ‘in front’ of the brushstrokes and which need to sit ‘behind’. I want to push the back of the structure further back, and bring the front of the structure further forward, to make the structure and therefore the whole painting appear as a three dimensional space.

This is where I’m up to so far:

I need to stop working on this painting now!
But I do think that reworking it has really improved the structure. The space in the painting feels more dimensional now, and I have minimised the effects of using a wide angle lens for the structure shape.
The finished painting:

Wide angle lens vs. normal lens

Going back to wide angle lens vs normal lens, I thought this image that Nuria sent me was relevant:

She sent me this footage of a church (the Tibidabo basilica in Barcelon, Spain). The angle and height of the church is great for comparing to my structure images and thinking about which lens is best.

Normal lens sculpture image over church photo.

^ It fits almost exactly. So the perspective of the sculpture with a normal lens is accurate.

Photo of structure taken with wide angle lens layered over the church image.

The wide angle lens distorts the top part of the roof, therefore the sculpture image doesn’t line up with the church.
The image of the sculpture is flattened and abstracted into lines, because it does follow perspective rules that match what the naked eye would see.

Now I know this, I want to do another large painting which uses an image of the sculpture that has a normal lens.

Comparing my oil painting to my ink paintings

It’s great to be able to have works of different mediums next to each other in the studio.

It shows how much stronger the oil painting is at creating a sense of space and depth. And how much dimensionally stronger the structure in the oil painting is, because the lines have been layered under and over marks to create a sense of depth.

It’s easier to compare these two paintings, because I think the ink painting better holds its own next to the oil painting.
This is because this ink painting has many layers to it, which means it has the same complexity to the oil painting.

Differences between the two:
– tone!
– oil painting very opaque, ink painting very transparent. Which produces very different effects of layering.

I have never compared one of my ink paintings with one of my oil paintings before, because I have not had an oil painting strong enough or large enough to do so in the past. I didn’t expect to be doing this but since their both on my wall it seems natural!

Comparing them is a good exercise in (finding the flaws and) defending the different mediums. Picking at what they do well, what they stand for, and why I am choosing to work in those mediums.
So far it seems when I compare them, both works appear weaker than before! HMM. I’m going to have to think.

Adding structure lines and the finished painting

To paint the structure onto the canvas I used the method I developed last academic year, which involves a few steps…
Firstly photographing the sculpture from the angle I want in the painting. This is a series of trial and error – taking multiple photos and picking one think will best suite the painting.
Then I trace the structure onto sheet of acetate with a marker pen and a ruler.
I then project this tracing into the painting and play around with how large the structure should be and where it should best fit on the canvas.
I could then repeat the tracing process to find an angle that better suits the painting, until I have a projection that matches what I want.

When deciding on the angle, size and position of the structure in the painting I took into account the shapes in the painting. Although the painting is an abstracted woodland, I think the painting has a ground, a (hidden) horizon, tree canopy and sky – It’s like I’m painting (constructing on the canvas with paint) a forest of my lived perception – I’ve started saying that recently:

So when I was deciding on where the structure would go in the painting, I realised it makes sense for the structure to be believable, therefore standing on the ground. This decision seemed meant to be because the roof of the structure then lined up with the ‘sky’ in the painting! Perfect:

I then started adding the lines to the painting, following the projection as a guide, using a thin brush and titanium white oil paint thinned slightly with white spirit to make the paint glide on smoother.
During the process I would turn the projection on and off regularly, and stand back from the painting lots. I was selecting which lines to include to create the illusion of depth, as if the brush marks are floating in front or behind the structure.

Stages of painting as a GIF.

You can see in this GIF that I would add lines and then remove them again. I kept taking breaks from the painting so I could get a fresh perspective on the painting. Adding or removing one tiny line can make such a difference to the believability of the structure and the illusion of depth so I took my time painting.

The finished painting

What works

I think that it does feel like your standing inside a structure and looking up! It is the first time I have painted the structure from an angle that should make you feel inside the structure, and I think it demonstrates potential.

Lining up the structure with the ‘ground’ and the opening revealing the ‘sky’. This really helps to create the feeling of vertical space.

Smaller brush marks at the top of the painting, where I want the brush strokes to appear further away, also works really well to create the feeling of height.

What doesn’t work

I used a wide angle lens to photograph the structure, which means that the structure legs around the outside of the image have a much more extreme angle, sticking outwards, than you would see with the naked eye or a normal camera lens:

Looking at these two images side by side, I think the normal lens is actually better than the wide angle image (which I used for the painting). The wide angle lens distorts the shape to the point where the structure loses its dimensionality and the ceiling looks completely flat.
The normal lens, on the other hand, is more accurate to the naked eye and so the image of the structure is easier for the brain to construct with the illusion of depth.

I did not consider how a wide angle image would affect the believability of the structure in the painting! I used a wide angle lens image because wide angle captures more of the structure in an image, and makes the ceiling look smaller ie. further away, which are all good things. But the structure I think looks like it is tipping backwards in the finished painting, and not standing on a horizontal surface. This is a major issue!
Is it just me that thinks it looks like it’s tipping? I’m going to ask around and see!

There is a lot of ‘ground’ in the painting which means the ceiling of the structure is cropped out a little more than I think would be best. This is something I’ll have to try out to confirm. But I do think it would work for the painting to have less ground in it, and be more focused on looking up, at the canopy and the sky.
To do this I will have to look up more when I’m painting outside! And fill less of the bottom of the canvas with impressions of the woodland floor.


It’s really exciting to see the finished painting next to the ink painting I started with and the sculpture! This process is very meditative, what I mean by that is the process of ink drawings, a sculpture and the painting process is a meditative process which enables me to think conceptually and take things forward. Doing as a method of thinking, that’s what I feel like I’m doing.

With all the things I think could be better I still think this painting is great, and I can’t wait to exhibit it along with the sculpture at UNA’s exhibition next week. That’ll be a good chance to get others opinions.

I do think that the painting itself has something that is not quite right. The structure lines aren’t as successful as they normally are, the lines don’t have enough dimension, they seem a bit too abstract. So…

What next?

Another big painting! I want to do one which refines my process with all that I have learnt from this painting. I didn’t expect to do another big painting so soon, but I think it is worth while.

This next painting will improve on the plein air process (improvements which I discussed in a previous blog post). And I will improve on the structure painting process – using a normal lens image projected onto the canvas, and thinking again about where best to position the structure so the height and believability of the structure are as strong as possible.

Artist: Amy Sillman

Looking through the book:
Smith, V. & Sillman, Amy, 2019. Amy Sillman, London: Lund Humphries.

Sillman mentions the thin line in her work between drawing and painting. Sometimes it is hard to find distinction between the two.
Sillman works a lot in ink, then in these big colour canvases as do I. Her material uses and technique was the reason I was drawn to her work.


^ The mass of lines on the right top interests me. It looks like a mass of vines, and there is something – a person? a limb? emerging out of it.
Layers of paint producing a structure that things can go in and out of.
It is like that mass of paint is someones inner experience recorded through paint, and outside of that is another landscape. The viewer is the onlooker.
I am suddenly thinking about the edges of my recorded experiences. If you zoomed out of my paintings what would you see? Digital mock up idea:

^ My inner experience: painting that surrounds me on all sides… like an instillation…
Outside of that it is….. just the landscape again.

She produced ‘a stop-motion animation that recorded the live manipulation of ink drawings and cutouts.’ Called Triscuits (2010). P.45
What if I did a stop motion thing with ink in which you are shown around the structure space?
I watched Sillman’s video. It’s playful. The use of text popping up as a monologue is interesting.
I want to try this.
A very playful act.


^ The yellow scraping is like a screen. Like some semi transparent fabric half covering the scene that is behind. How would this kind of mark change my lived perspective landscapes?
I think Gerhard Richter does this a lot. I need to look at his work anyway.
The painting reminds me of a painting by Howard Hodgkins, this one:

Image result for howard hodgkins lines across canvas
Howard Hodgkin
Oil paint on wood

Both paintings use different materials and techniques that do something similar: separate the viewer from part of the painting by putting a ‘paint screen’ up.
It is an extremely material feature – the flatness of the canvas and the nature of the medium is celebrated.
But in contrast to this, the depth of the scene in the painting is made clear and then the viewer is denied access to. it
The juxtaposition of the flatness of the canvas and the depth of the image is pushed to an extreme here. This is very interesting.
A bit like the structures I paint? (But less extreme). The lines of the structure are both very flat and also create an illusion of depth and space.

Sillman’s work is more interesting to me as a formalist material inspiration, than some conceptual work as well.
I am reading bits of the essay in the book I have on her but nothing is interesting me, other than the notes I’ve made here.

I prefer Sillman’s looser work. The stuff where she hasn’t boxed in shapes, but where the marks feel more immediate and less thought through and re-worked.


I like the contrast between biiig blocks on the right with the gestural busy marks on the left. The right side of the painting is set and resolved and seperate from the human action that made it, whilst the left side immediate and busy and confusing and reminds me of the human act that created the marks.
The edge of the busy marks on the right as the edge of the woodland, either to the sky or to open landscape. This is an interesting idea.
This would introduce something new into my paintings.

From online:

She makes zines!:

In conclusion:

This book has surpised me! It has made me dig deep into my practice; the mediums I use, painting with a Greenberg formalist approach, and the flow into instillation work…

It is also nice to see work by a female!
Ideas formed whilst looking at Sillman’s work feel like I am going in the direction of instillation! That’s new. I am going with my flow of thinking, which seems to have a mind of its own sometimes.
Interesting to look at her work and find conclusions which don’t match Sillman’s own conceptual thoughts. I have taken the bits of her work seem relevant – the material qualities, and left the stuff I wasn’t interested in – the conceptual side to her work. I have been looking at her work and thinking about it as I see it, not as I read about it.

Looking at Sillman’s work has left me with things to think about going forward. Summary list of those things are:
– Zooming out of one’s painted lived experience, to see it’s surroundings. Which leads to instillation work of the painting and structure in the zoomed out landscape.
– Scraping residue action paint layer which builds a screen. How would this mark change my paintings?

The next oil painting

I primed a large canvas and took it to a new woodland that I haven’t painted a big canvas in yet! This space is wilder than the woodlands I have painted in before, the trees are denser and not as tall or mature. I started the painting at around 3.15pm and finished at 4.30pm. It slowly got darker and darker as I painted, with the sky getting a darker and darker grey. When I first put my things down the trees were wild yellows and oranges, but by the time I had finished, the colours were far cooler and more muted.
It was a very still day, with the sense of impending rain (that never came) and the onset of darkness.

It is the first time I have painted a large canvas in oils since June! So the process felt like returning to something so familiar and yet a little alien.

I changed something about my painting process this time round: I took the sculpture that I would be added into the painting at the end, with me into the woods. And used the sculpture as a prop to imagine the shape as large as the trees above. Before I began painting I used the sculpture to decide where it would sit in the landscape and in the painting. This was very helpful! And felt like my multi-medium process was going full circle.
I used a wide angle lens to photograph the structure as I imagined it; as tall as the trees:

These two images work very successfully! Other than the leaf on the left image, it really has the illusion of being a large structure! This was a useful thing to do before starting the painting. I had a clear idea of where the structure would sit in the landscape before I began.

This image didn’t work as well. Partly because the trees in the background are blurry. It would be better to use a wide angle camera where I have control over the aperture (instead of my phone camera).

This was the position of the structure in the above images, but from afar.

Part 1
Part 2

It’s so useful recording my process because it reveals how I paint, when a lot of what I do is subconscious.

I showed some people the video, and one person (who is also a painter) pointed out that I work in layers of one colour which reveals how I keep the colours on the canvas clean. She said oh you lay down one colour wherever it is needed, then change brushes and repeat?
It’s interesting because I have never thought much about that (or can’t remember ever thinking about that) but it’s true! And crucial to how I work outside.

The painting process

Priming the canvas with blue acyrlic + gesso, dried before going outside.
The implications
There weren’t enough of these blues in the landscape to warrant the bottom of the canvas being this colour.
This is the first time ever(!!) that I have done one of these paintings in autumn. So I need to adjust my background colour to suite! An off white/grey or warm colour would be better. Blue fitted for spring and summer, but it won’t do for autumn! At least not on the day I was painting. Perhaps I need to do some background colour tests in my sketchbook in acrylics.

I had no Liquin, a medium I have used in the past to speed up the drying time of layers, and reduce the drag of marks put down. It is especially used near the end of a painting when there is a lot of paint on the canvas already and I don’t want top layers of colours mixing with anything underneath.
I just completely forgot I normally use it until halfway through painting!
The implications:
– I put down thicker layers of paint at the end than I have previously done. I couldn’t rely on Liquin to keep layers from mixing, so I was applying lots of paint (rip my bank account) and thickly, to add layers of pure colour.
– The finished painting has so much texture. From where I was putting down paint that hadn’t been thinned at all.
– The paint layers mixed more than usual. Looking back to my previous large oil painting, the colour definition in that work is better than here. The layers of colour have mixed less and so there is more depth in layers of paint.
In this most recent painting, I applied paint without any medium quite soon onto the canvas, so I felt I was battling with the paint in the second half of the painting process. If I had had Liquin, I could have thinned the earlier layers a little or thinned the top layers a little, or both! So that the paint wouldn’t drag as much.

I ran out of Lemon Yellow half way through!
The implications:
There were so many autumnal colours in the leaves, which needed lemon yellow to make them pop! Running out of this meant the autumnal leaf colours are more muted than I would have liked.
It is not super detrimental to the finished painting. I captured the warmer colours in the landscape with Cadmium Yellow. And when I was done with the painting, the light had faded so much that some of the bright lemon yellow colours were no longer present in the landscape anyway. But still. It would have made a difference to have.
This is purely down to me not checking if I needed any new materials before painting. I’ll know better next time.

I applied colour from dull to bright.

The finished plein air painting

What works

The colours feel autumnal. You can tell it’s a different season to the last paintings I have done! Which is exciting.

Using smaller brush marks to finish the top of the canvas. Even without the structure lines added the top of the canvas where the brush marks are smaller does feel like looking into the distance. YAY!
I made the decision when I was painting for the big brushstrokes to go underneath the structure – so really far away, and the smaller ones to mark the distance. So far it works.
It’s going to be interesting to see how adding the structure works.

The size and general method as per! I love painting outside, I love doing these works and refining them. They bring surprises and the result is so cheerful and takes me somewhere.

What doesn’t work

The texture of the paint is a little distracting? It reminds the viewer of how the mark was made, and gives the mark lots of energy and immediacy – as if the final paint marks had just been put down. Is this immediacy a good thing? It might distract from the viewer finding the depth in the piece. Because the viewer is reminded that the canvas is a flat surface when what I am trying to create is DEPTH.

The layer beneath the ‘top’ layer. The layer of paint applied before it started to get really thick doesn’t have enough depth! I think I am a bit out of practice at doing these paintings and it shows.
THE PROBLEM was that applied too thick paint too fast. I should have blocked in thinner paint for longer. This would have given the painting more depth and less confusion.
It’s going to be interesting when I paint in the structure lines, working all of that out.

Applying colour from dull to light removes depth at the ‘back’ of the painting. Because what creates depth is contrast, I now realise.
Contrast in:
texture – thickness, direction of mark
colour – bright or dull
tone – light or dark
In this painting the marks at the back have no textural variation (because they all need to be thinned down), no colour variation (because I made them all dull), and no tonal variation (that was wrong of me).
I don’t think the colours at the back of the painting need to be all dull. Although it makes sense for most of them to be.
In my next painting I will make sure the marks at the back (and in the whole painting tbh) have more tonal variety, which will create depth when nothing else can.

What next

Add the structure lines in. Using a photograph of the structure and a projector.

I have learnt that the next painting I do I will:
– make sure I have all the colours I want!
– have picked a different background colour
– use Liquin when needed so I am battling with paint less
– thin the paint down for longer in the painting process, either with turps or Liquin, so I am battling with the paint less in the second half

The main way I can learn from these is by painting more of them!

Mini people in my sculptures…

After looking at Panini’s paintings I am wondering how this sculpture would change if I added little sculptures of people walking around the space? I initially made this digital mock up of what I imagine.
The little people would give the space a relation to something more real. But it might take away from the abstractness of the structure, because the shape then more clearly becomes the framework or ‘bones’/’skeleton’ of a building. (Those ‘words’ fit the sculpture so I’m testing out using them).

I made some very simple figure shapes out of clay to test the idea:

I positioned them standing in the space or walking around in it. Some of their heads are angled up as if they are looking up into the space.
I thought it was important that the shapes are engaging with the space – walking, looking around, standing with each other, to give the figures as much life and movement as possible from such simple shapes!

Using a wide angle camera is very useful for photographing the space with as much of the structure in frame as possible.

The sculpture immediately appears as a model. The abstract, weird feel of the shape is transformed into something familiar.
The structure looks like an architectural model. Without the mini people, the shape had no relative scale and so the structure size could have had any meaning.

Adding the people reduces the abstract qualities of the structure. There is less mystery.
But do the mini people add anything? They make me want to get my eyes down to the same level that they are at. I want to see the structure as they would. I am far more aware of the space between the figures heads and the top of the roof. This space becomes a more prominent feature of the sculpture, which is good. The height of the sculpture is emphasised.

I want to know what others opinions are on the little people. I can’t conclude what I think of them just yet. I will have to give it some thinking time…

Sculpture Process

After the ink drawings I wanted to see how the shape would sit in 3D. And also use the method of paper mache again for the second time. Refining my method to make a sculpture that is more complex and larger than anything I have made before.

The finished sculpture

Kasia said the finished white shape reminds her of bones. And Pip said to me my structures could seem to some like a ghost, ruin, a forgotten representation of religion and these holy buildings.
There are themes running through these comments! I want others opinions… Perhaps I could hold a group crit? After I do a big oil painting using the sculpture.

What works: (process & completed piece)

Minimising the amount of times I had to attach two pieces of wire together. I wanted to avoid this so that the piece would be as thin and un-clunky as possible. Because wrapping the wire together creates bumps and lumps in the linear design.
To avoid this I thought about building the structure as I would a continous line drawing – trying to build the shape without breaking the wire as much as possible. This method worked really well. The structure is sturdier than the last one and required less clunky wire attaching.

The size. The bigger the better! With this size you can begin the appreciate the model because it is large enough to and look up into the inside of the structure and appreciate it as if you were standing inside it.

What didn’t work: (process & completed piece)

Using thin wire to join two larger bits of wire together makes a very clunky end result.
The paper mache does a great job of smoothing out the joins, but it makes the wire look clumsier than the shapes in my paintings.
There is something interesting about the joins – something organic – Kasia said it reminds her of bones! I am intrigued to see how the sculpture would look if the joins were precise, and didn’t have these blobs.
Perhaps I could solder the wire together?

Sort of a point: the process is a very slow one! This sculpture took hours and hours to make. It is a very delicate, intricate process. But the result! I think is worth it :).


I want to make lil people to go inside the structure! Inspired by the artist Panini.

I also want to do a big oil painting and add the structure to it. Using the method I began last term of projecting an image of the structure onto the painting to use as a painting guide.

I am also going to be exhibiting the sculpture in King Street Galleries in the un/covered exhibition. I want to hear people’s opinions of the work when they are given no background info on me or my work!

Second ink painting write up

What works

Minimal FUSSING – Simpler shapes and marks. Work like the artist Ross Bleckner. He layers and layers but the end result has simple form, just the texture is multi-layered.

The positioning of the structure and the lines being more accurate.

Using the ink drawing to capture the atmosphere in the abstracted structures.

This ink drawing (as well as the one before it) helped me to figure out how I should design the structure in sculpture form.

Size and proportions of the paper. Fit the shape of the structure and allows for good length.

What doesn’t

The white dripping doesn’t make sense withe the gravity of the space. The white should be dripping out left and right and not just vertically down. This would make the paint drips looks like they are suspended in the middle of the structure!! Wouldn’t it be cool if I could achieve that. GASP. Next ink painting I’ll have to try that.


Another ink painting with the white drips making sense with the perspective!

To make a sculpture of the structure. I like this structure shape enough to make it in 3D and use it in a big oil painting.