Images of artwork from library research & reworking experiment cont.


I mentioned a number of artists in my sketchbook, but here I wanted to keep a visual record of the artists that made the biggest impression on me. By viewing them together I can see the main theme is abstraction and the suggestion of a larger picture. By that I mean the patterns and shapes in all three paintings looks as if they are a small section of a larger pattern/ experience/ texture. Gross and Yi’s work suggest this because they both have no fixed point, no clear start or finish to the pattern. It is even and therefore has no apparent ending (regardless of where the canvas finishes). Abt’s piece Leve suggests a ‘larger picture’ because it appears that the subject is a zoomed-in view of a bigger, more intricate web of lines. I think it’s the smooth textures that suggest this macro view.

I want to incorporate this idea into my work; the idea of my paintings being only a small part of a big forest, or a greater experience. The experience of walking through a forest, that is greater than what’s on the canvas.

Experimenting with colour is the way forward for this idea. Focusing on layering washes of colour and the technique I have been using perviously – ink drawing.

IMG_0069 This layering has partly been inspired by this experiment that I am reworking. I have now done a sheer wash of gesso all over the piece, then added more ink on top with a pipette. This cloudy layerings of lines creates a new dimension to the piece that I want to explore.

Why add colour? and artist Howard Hodgkins

I have been talking about using colour throughout this project. Before my motive has always been because I want to capture the atmosphere of landscapes.

Looking through the book ‘Howard Hodgkins Absent Friends’ published by the National Portrait Gallery for their 2017 exhibition, I realise that colour has the potential to be used for more than to capture the colour and light in a landscape. (Note it’s interesting here that I say colour & light as if they are inseparable – idea that I think I promote a lot in my work – perhaps something to investigate?)

“Everything is locked into place, and a strange stillness is pervasive.”

P.13 talking about painting Memoirs. 

“Whether relying on descriptive elements or entirely compromised of autonomous painterly gestures, his work must be about something. It must possess meaning in the unequivocal sense that each painting has to refer to something beyond its pictured image or surface characteristics.”


Perhaps colour will bring this meaning into my work, since all my previous experiments I have been capturing the landscape with purpose being to push the technique. Is that enough? Or could I find something more with colour?





Layered on top, underneath. Colour lying underneath – washes, texture of brushes, think subtle layers with thick dark ink drawings on top.

“In a later interview, which took place in 1981, he [Hodgkins] stated, “They’re much more about myself now, or incidents which have personally involved me.’ Memory and emotion are central concerns, and the reasons are evident. We attempt constantly to fathom the significance of the world we inhabit. We do so by interpreting its visual characteristics.”


“the reality of things is not entirely – if at all – a matter simply of how they seem… appearance alone is an unreliable servant. To grasp the world and its occupants in a fuller and more complete way, we must reach beyond the merely apparent..”

P.14 – 15

For Hodgkin’s memory was his way of reaching beyond appearance.


Reading the essay by Paul Moorhouse at the beginning of the book sparked some ideas that I think have been growing for a while. Hodgkin’s work stuck with me since seeing his retrospective last year. Although his work and ideas are different to my practice, his work has been in my mind throughout this project.

I wanted to write out some lines from the essay that I think are important, but not quite sure why yet. I want them to be easily accessible here so I can read them again in the future.

This idea of layers, of colour and monotone, is really interesting. I want to explore this. I have some pictures in my head of work I want to make, but first I think I need to look at more visual inspiration, so that I have both visuals and theory to work with, and think about going forward.

Completed experiment and moving forward


I continued with the same combination of mediums for this piece; ink with brush and pipette, white pastel drawn on and sometimes smudged. I used paper with less texture for this experiment which I don’t think worked as well. Paper with more texture gives pieces a more ‘painterly’ feel, with more prominent brushstrokes and texture.

What worked well

Marks made with the pipette in washed down ink are very effective at giving the impression of branches. The chalk created nice texture to the trunks and works well as a highlight. It also adds depth by highlighting branches at the forefront of the image.

What didn’t work 

Too much chalk applied to the trunks, meaning there is too strong lines of chalky white in the image and not much elsewhere. It’s distracting and flattens the image. Being more sparse would suggest more and bring greater tonal balance. Too much grey, not enough black and white. This is partly because of the paper. The ink runs down it easily and absorbs the ink quickly. This means, especially in the lower half of the painting, the ink builds up and loses contrast.

What next? 

IMG_0068 I have begun to rework this experiment. I wasn’t happy with it so instead of starting again, I want to keep adding and taking away Buildings layers and playing with what works and what doesn’t.

I have started with a wash of white gesso over areas that are overdone. It’s lifted untouched areas off the page already.

I could do another wash to build up opaqueness in some areas, then work with more ink and pastel on top.. or colour..?




I also want to start experimenting with colour. At the start of this project I was intent on looking at colour and light, and how intensity of light affected the atmosphere of a scene. Perhaps I can return to this?

To begin this movement towards working in colour I want to do some research into artists that use colour in their work, and the theory behind it. The artist Mal Levittoux who I’ve already looked at is very relevant but I need to look at more examples.

Techniques for including colour so far:

  • Washes of colour – in acrylic? gouache? oils?
  • Linear work in coloured pastels. Could also smudge pastels for softer finish.

Artist Bae Bien U

My recent experiments reminded me of Bien U’s photographic work of trees and forests. It was the monochromatic filter and the misty background that is similar to my current experiments.

It’s been interesting in my most recent ink experiments trying to capture a sense of height and ‘loftiness’ to the treetops. Looking at these photographic works and the different camera angles used will help me figure out which angles would work for me when taking photos for reference and selecting compositions.

bae bien u



Completed Experiments


This is the first experiment I completed in ink, bleach and pastel. I am not too happy with outcome but I needed a piece to test the medium with. The problem I think is I was too controlled. Although my brushstrokes are fairly random and fast, the movement of the brushstrokes itself if too constrained. I was too heavy with these brushstrokes in ink, and the white pastel which meant I ended up fighting against what I had already put down to create something better.

The shading and texture on the main tree works well, it’s the trees and branches that surround it that is the issue.

At first I thought to just leave the piece and move on. But since having a talk with my tutor I am considering re-working the piece soon. Now that I have a clearer idea of what works and how to get what I want from the materials.

Perhaps washes of colour or white, to cover marks and build up layers. Letting parts show through, like the main tree, and others cover to build on top or leave blank.. hmm.


This second experiment is much more successful. I was careful not to apply too much too fast. Pausing between layers and making conscious decisions about each mark. I also used some new techniques, like using a pipette to drip and mark the page with ink. And dry brushing bleach onto the page, then adding ink which bleeds into areas the page has bleach.

This approach gives the medium more control, and allows me to describe less and give more of an impression.

The sense of height has also been captured well here, perhaps because there is less detail and ink at the top of the page.

I want to do another experiment in the same mediums, pushing this technique further, and pushing the limits of impression and abstraction.

Step by step Experiment


I want to document the process of my next experiment. This is so I can look back once it’s finished and review what layers work and which I could have changed. Since these current pieces are so focused on layers, this documentation of each layer works well.





Water and ink wash. With paper towels put on top when the wash is still wet.

I wanted to get rid of the stark white background, since the sky in the photograph isn’t white.

I added the paper towel textures because I wanted to create imperfections and impressions of where the trees would sit on top.







Putting ink on wet bleach in areas where the foliage is dense. What I found worked best is not adding too much bleach at once, so bits of the paper have been left. Then when you add the ink, it doesn’t bleed into all areas, just some, creating the impression of dense branches:


Next I added white pastel, to highlights on branches, and tree trunks I wanted to stay pale.











So far I like the half finished look of the piece. The fact that nothing is too detailed and specific makes the piece more interesting than my last experiment, which tried too hard to give too much away. There is a fine line between over working and underworking a painting.