top of page

I sit in Edinburgh Airport, awaiting my bus back to Dundee. I return from Italy, where I saw my family and brought my boyfriend to meet my Nonna for the first time. I feel tired (I slept really badly last night due to a blocked nose) yet relaxed (I spent a lot of time in the sun). I have been to Italy a lot before, but I made it my mission this time (albeit in an relatively short timespan) to come back with some nice reference images this time. I came back with a few bangers, though the scenery (and surprisingly warm weather for this time of year) can take the credit for that.

Some pictures were more for documentary's sake, capturing my parents and boyfriend on holiday together for the first time.

Others were taken from the car, trying to capture the jaw dropping landscapes which pass us by as we drive from one place to another, but which we aren't able to stop for.

Though some of those definitely good shots, the ones taken from the ground were generally more successful as I had more control over the composition (I deserve a little credit then, I suppose).

In parallel to this, I had been looking at the work of Therese Oulton. For one, I love her abstract pieces for how raw and textural they are. But I also admire her aerial landscapes for how she captures changes in elevation even though the compositions are relatively flat.

It was particularly the latter from which I wanted to take inspiration, in regards to the subject. Though the former definitely informs how Oulton makes the landscape look so textural. I've always been enamored by the views from aeroplanes, but capturing them with a camera is always a bit underwhelming. Oulton's work does a good job at depicting the experience of flying over these landscapes.

Though I forgot to take my camera onto the plane (I took a few pictures on my iPad which were okay but not great reference images), some of the pictures I took in Italy could nearly be aerial photography so I'm pretty happy to use them as reference images for this kind of project.

This Summer or next semester, I would love to work on a really large piece based off these images as I've really wanted to work on a larger scale. I could also picture them working as diptych/triptychs.

Updated: Apr 25, 2022

I attended the life drawing classes again this semester and really enjoyed myself. I didn't go to as many, but I really feel like I'm progressing. There's something very rewarding about them, since you are given time limits - a nice shake-up from the relatively loose schedule of the studio. This time, I attended the untutored ones, which allowed me to do more long poses, since the model usually asks what lengths everyone wants. The sessions were really empty this semester, so you got to have a more conversational/interactive time with them too.

I primarily experimented with two mediums this semester. The first were oil sticks, which are a greasier version of oil pastels. I enjoyed how they essentially allowed me to paint without having to get out the whole gear. The finish you get is almost sculptural and they allow for a nice range of tones. I first utilised them directly on paper, though I then started priming the paper as it absorbed the oil too quickly, stopping me from scraping the pigment away. I used them with white spirit and linseed oil, which was great for the longer poses and to stretch the tonal range.

The only issue I had with them was that you don't have exact control over where you laid down pigment and they didn't allow for much detail. For the second half of the semester, I switched back to charcoal which you can far better control. Though I noticed that you have to be far more gentle with them if you want a variety of tone since you an easily apply it very dark/wipe it all away.

In general, I think the tonal range in these pieces is my strongsuit. The main part I’d like to improve on though is the foreshortening. In many pieces, limbs are shrunken or stretched out.

This practice also made me realise how I am sometimes not concentrated enough while drawing. My stronger drawings tend to be when I’m more focused, since I notice more subtle details. This may sound obvious, but it’s something I hadn’t realised until I managed to enter that headspace during some of these sessions. Though this also needs to be balanced by a more intuitive general apprehension of the drawing, as I also sometimes get too bogged down by the details which can lead to the aforementioned foreshortening.

I’m really happy with my life drawings this semester. Though they don’t directly relate to the rest of my practice, they’re really useful at training my eye, playing with materials and informing how I record my observations. They also give energy to my workflow and provide great structure to my studies. I wish to attend them more regularly next year, as I think they’ll provide a nice change of pace from the dissertation/degree show work.

In my open tutorial with Janice a few weeks ago, we discussed how I might practice painting with thicker strokes. This is something I have been struggling with, which is why I approached her with the topic. In her view, the thinner application of paint is part of my style and isn’t something I should let go of, but she agreed that it could be worth pushing myself the other way so as to expand my painting vocabulary.

She recommended working on a smaller scale with only thick brushes so as to force myself to utilise thick paint. I like this approach as it essentially tricks me into doing something I’m inclined not to. And I’ve notice that with the larger painting I’m working on right now, it’s a lot easier to have thick strokes when working on a small area (the dogs fur, for example).

Since I’m not using smaller brushes, this also means I can’t go back in to blend and correct Janice therefore recommended working on something simple and easily recognisable - a still life. I’ve wanted to work on a still life for a while anyway now, since I’ve not done it since high school and I remember it being very good at playing with texture. At the time, I was working in acrylic which I find easier to use thickly as well, though I ultimately find the drying time and inability to reactive the paint really frustrating.

I've been looking at Cezanne's still lives. I love how bold the strokes are and how he intensifies the contrast. I particularly like the ones that are more zoomed in, as they feel more intimate, as if you could grab them.

Here's the composition I came up with. I placed the fruit inside a tote bag, I'm looking forward to painting the folds!

In the same manner as my paintings of my terrariums, I think it would be nice to have a mise en abîme of another artwork. I like the idea of one artwork giving a nod to another one. I’m booked into to work on some new hand built vessels (I tried throwing and got too discouraged to keep it up), so I think it would be nice to utilise them in the composition. I don't think I will have that done on time for this one though, so I'll use that idea for another piece. It could also be nice in the future to work on broader compositions too, to see how that changes how the impact of the image.

bottom of page