Part 4 Project 2 ex 2 Research point

Try lounging on a couch with a mirror facing you from the foot end, then draw your body as you see it in the mirror. Your feet will be huge in comparison with the rest of your body. This effect is called foreshortening. Can you find any images where the artist has used foreshortening to create a particular effect?

B8 pencil in a A5 cartridge sketchbook

B8 pencil in a A5 cartridge sketchbook

I do not have a couch with a suitable mirror for this exercise to draw myself.  Instead I sketched my husband lying in bed while I sat on the floor at the foot of the bed.  Yes his feet are big because they are nearest to me.  His right hand is also bigger than his left because it is closer to me too.

Foreshortening creates an illusion of depth and space.  It is a technique used by many artists since the time of Italian Renaissance.  These days cartoons and animations use a lot of foreshortening characteristics in creation of dramatic action scenes.

Michelangelo’s paintings of the Sistine Chapel ceiling are excellent masterpieces of foreshortening.

Christ of Saint John of the Cross is a painting by Salvador Dalí in 1951 is another fine exemplar. The picture is belong to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow thumbnail of the picture can be seen here.  Of course we can’t miss Dali’s own Sistine Chapel ceiling at the Dali Theatre Museum.  The following picture is taken by Ian in 2014.

Dali's Sistine Chapel ceiling at Dali Theatre Museum by IK Haythornthwaite

Dali’s Sistine Chapel ceiling at Dali Theatre Museum by IK Haythornthwaite



Part 3, Project 5 Research Point

John Virtue (born 1947)

Virtue’s art is in the tradition of landscape painting and he cites John Constable (1776-1837), Jacob van Ruisdael (1628/9?-82) and Philips Koninck (1619-88) as major influences. Since 1978 Virtue has chosen to work exclusively in monochrome in an attempt to make representations of landscape that would be relevant to a contemporary audience. This is, in part, to prevent his work from replicating or pastiching the painting of the past. The artist’s decision to work only in black and white is part of an attempt to pare away what he sees as inessential in his practice. In addition to refusing to work with colour, he never makes direct transcriptions of his subjects, but rather uses the hundreds of drawings in his sketchbooks as a starting point for imagined or remembered landscapes.

Paradoxically, considering his long-term engagement with landscape painting, Virtue considers himself an abstract artist. His works trace a journey from pure mark-making back to the figurative, rather than the traditional path from representation to abstraction. This infuses his depictions, or more properly accumulated impressions, of landscape with a subjectivity more closely associated with Abstract Expressionism, the American movement of the 1940s and 1950s. He describes the paintings in this series as ‘an armature for the whole psychological area in me’ (quoted in Moorhouse, 2000, p.11), revealing his emotional commitment to his practice. Andrew Graham-Dixon has commented, ‘[Virtue’s] subject is nature, but it is also his own nature’ (Graham-Dixon, p.9). [ref 1]

Two images of his paintings in the UK Government Art collection can be seen through the links below.

Landscape No. 664, 2003, White acrylic, black ink, shellac and emulsion on canvas, 183.30 cm x 183.50cm,

Landscape No. 662, 2003, White acrylic, black ink, shellac and emulsion on canvas, 183.00 cm x 183.00cm

I like John Virtue’s black-and-white paintings may be because I myself preferred black-and-white.  John Virtue reminded me some Chinese ink wash landscape paintings, particular the modern ones.

Lin Fengmian (1900 – 1991).  Lin was a Chinese painter.  He learned painting from his father, a well known painter before went to Paris in 1917 studied western painting.  His techniques and inspiration come from Impressionism. [ref 2] (accessed 29-05-15)Reference

[1] Tate accessed 29-05-2015

[2] Christian Chu (1984). Twentieth Century Chinese Painting. Hong Kong: The Urban Council. 131.

Part 3, Project 3 ex 1 Research point

Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944) was one of the most influential pioneers of abstract modern art.  He spent most of his working life in abstract paintings.  He believed that total abstraction offered the possibility for profound, transcendental expression and that copying from nature only interfered with this process.   However, he regarded abstract painting demanded one know how to draw well.

The following Murnau, Dorfstrasse (Street in Murnau, A Village Street), 1908 is my all time favourite.  It’s influenced by Pointillism and Fauvism.  I particular like the confident blocks of bright colours even in shadows.

“Vassily Kandinsky, 1908, Murnau, Dorfstrasse” by Wassily Kandinsky –,_1908,_Murnau,_Dorfstrasse_%28A_Village_Street%29,_oil_on_cardboard,_later_mounted_on_wood_panel,_48_x_69.5_cm,_The_Merzbacher_collection,_Switzerland.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –,_1908,_Murnau,_Dorfstrasse.jpg#/media/File:Vassily_Kandinsky,_1908,_Murnau,_Dorfstrasse.jpg (assessed 22-05-15)

Peter Doig (b 1959) British painter born in Edinburgh.  In 1993, Doig won the first prize at the John Moores exhibition with his painting Blotter.  Blotter (1993) oil on canvas, 249 x 199 cm, National Museum Liverpool collection.  Image can be seen at (accessed 22-05-15)

An interview accompanied his recent exhibition gave some insight of influence to his works and more images of his recent works.


Kandinsky first enrolled himself in an art school when he was 30 after given up a promising career in laws and economics.  Doig was 20.

They both lived in various countries and thus influenced by difference cultures.  Kandinsky Russian folk arts and Doig Trinidadian.

Kandinsky’s landscapes were in his early artistic career but had shown some degree of abstraction.  Doig’s landscapes are somewhat abstract and dreamy.

They both taught in Germany, Kandinsky at Bauhaus school of art and architecture, Doig at the Fine Arts Academy in Dusseldorf.


Kandinsky’s landscapes were influenced by pointillism and Fauvism with blocks of thick paints.  Doig’s dreamy landscapes often used very thin paints, almost just strains.

Kandinsky’s landscapes were recognisable places.  Some of Doig’s were like dreamland.

Part 3, Project 2 Research Point

Albrecht Durer (1471 – 1528) a German painter, printmake and theorist from Nuremberg, one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance.  This is reinforced by his theoretical treatise which involve principles of mathematics, perceptive and ideal proportions.  Nuremberg was a prosperous and independent city with close trading relationships with Italy.  Between 1494 and 1495 Durer made his first trip to Venice.  He made watercolour sketches as he travelled over the Alps, these are the first pure landscapes ever produced in Western art.

Durer is often considered the father of modern watercolour painting.  He mastered sophisticated watercolour painting techniques.

Landscape with an Alpine Pool, c 1495/6, Drawing, British Museum (accessed 12-05-15)

This is generally agreed that this landscape drawing is one of the most sensitive of Durer’s portrayals of nature.


Claude Gellee was born in the Duchy of Lorrain (1604/5 – 1682).  He left around 1612 for Germany then Rome, where he became a studio assistant to the landscapist Agostino Tassi.  He sketched in the Roman countryside.  Ideas from the drawings he made were integrated into oil paintings finished in the studio.  Claude was influenced by other northern painters such as Elsheimer, Annibale Carracci and Domenichion.  In his turn Claude exerted considerable influence on landscape artistes of the 18th and 19th centuries.  JMW Turner was especially indebted to Claude.  In the Turner Bequest he directed that two of his works should hang with two of Claude’s in the National Gallery.

John Constable had stated, “It has been said that Lorraine is the best landscape artist in the world and this is well deserved praise.  His main attribute is the mixing of splendour with quietude, colour with freshness, shadow and light.”  Indeed shadow and light is the most important

Landscape near Rome with a view of Ponte Molle, Birmingham Museums Trust, (accessed on 12-05-15)


Landscape with Saint Peter Baptising the Eunuch, National Museum Wales (accessed 12–5-15)

L.S. Lowry (1887 – 1976).  He was a rent collector before becoming a painter.  In 1916, LS Lowry missed his train from Salford where he lived into Manchester.  “It would be about four o’clock and perhaps there was some peculiar condition of the atmosphere or something.  But as I got to the top of the steps I saw the Acme Mill; a great square red block with the cottages running in rows right up to it – and suddenly I knew what I had to paint.”  His ambition was to put the industrial scene on the map, because nobody had done it – nobody had done it seriously.”

Industrial Landscape 1955, Tate (accessed 12-05-15)

This is one of Lowry’s large scale landscape painting.  Although, it is an imaginary composition, elements of the view are recognisable as real places.  The image presents a generalised impression of the urban environment, dominated by smoking chimneys, factories, road, bridges and industrial wasteland.  As if to emphasise the human presence in this overwhelming, blackened city.  Yet it is not an ugly painting.  The depth of the scene draw the viewer into and wander about the world within.  Oddly, I found this painting actually with meditating quality.  Also with all the smoke, this is a very clear picture.

George Shaw and Sarah Woodfine – I have looked at both as suggested in the course material too.  I don’t find them particular interesting.

Edward Hopper (1882-1967) American painter

I had looked at Edward Hopper before and wasn’t impressed then.  I changed my view after looked at his works again recently suggested by my tutor.

Audio guides chips at the Whitney Museum of Modern Art are very informative and worth watching.  They discussed in-depth the connection between his drawings and related paintings.  It is fascinating to see how Hopper developed his ideas through drawings.  One thing I picked out from the chip is Hopper was a master of light.  How true it is.

There was also a related article “How Edward Hopper Storyboarded ‘Nighthawks’ by Robin Cembalest posted 07/25/13.

Sun in an Empty Room (1963) was one of his late work.  Sun light from the window casted strong shadows on the floor and walls of an empty room, devoid all decoration nor furnitures.   The mood of the picture is calm and sober.  Even half of the view outside the window, where the light source came from, was filled with total darkness.  I do admire the subtle tonal values in the mixed of casted shadows and reflected light.


Part 2, Project 6 Ex 2 Research point

Look at the image to the right and consider how you might work with unusual or multiple viewpoints. Find contemporary artists who focus on domestic interiors and analyse their choice of content, medium, format, etc. Consider how their work reflects its context in terms of era, fashion, mood, current issues, and so on.

I can’t see why should we be limited ourselves to contemporary artists.  For sure, we can still learn from old masters’ pieces!

Josep Vila Costa (1953 -) Spanish artist.  Website Most of his paintings are busy and fussy and quite traditional genre composition but interesting use of colours and brush works.

Richard Artschwager (1923 – 2013) was an American painter, illustrator and sculptor.  While known for stylistic independence, his work has associations with Pop Art, Conceptual art and Minimalism.

Interior I (1977), an etching and drypoint print on paper by Richard Artschwager from the Tate Collection.  Interior I plays with our expectations about particular types of media : it was based on a magazine photograph, but the exaggerated brush-strokes on the surface echo painterly gestures.  The room showed in an angle which gave a sense of three dimensionality.  That is more credit to the original reference photo than to the copier.  I like the strong lines and almost Impressionism handling of the very traditional medium.  However, it would be even better if there are some of tonal variation.

Duncan Grant (1885 – 1978) was a British painter and designer of textiles, pottery and theatre sets and costumes.  The Kitchen (1902), oil paint on canvas from the Tate Collection, was painted when Grant was 17.  The colours are earthly and limited yet rich and harmony.  The shadows are not all consistent and the perceptive are not all correct.  However, it showed his talent in young age.  It is encouraging to look at early works of any artists to see how far they had progressed.  Not all artists were born geniuses.  Early drawings of Vincent van Gogh were another good example.

Girl at the Piano (1940), Tate Collection

Girl at the Piano (1940), oil paint on canvas from the Tate Collection is a more matured work of Duncan Grant.

Patrick Caulfield (1936 – 2005) was a British painter and printmaker known for his bold canvases.  His figures were often flat interplaying with negative spaces.

Interior with a Picture (1985-6), Acrylic on canvas from the Tate Collection.  The image is a reinterpretation of an illustration of Meal by Candlelight by the German seventeenth century painter Gottfried von Wedig (1583-1641).  Patrick Caulfield’s investigation into the nature of pictorial representation was staged within a highly contrived but spatially logical composition. However, during the mid to late 1980s, as is evident in Interior with a Picture, the stabilising element of rational pictorial space was discarded, and varied textures and a uniformly warm palette were introduced.

The black descriptive line, which had been the primary means of defining form and space in earlier paintings, is used sparingly in Interior with a Picture.  For most of the picture Caulfield uses flat blocks of colour to suggest form and space.  Directly below this highly illusionistic passage of painting is an oval motif, perhaps a mirror frame, formed from three thick strands of acrylic paint squeezed from the paint tube onto the canvas. The dialogue between two-dimensional, naturalistic representation and three-dimensional reality is a common theme in Caulfield’s work during this period, and part of his wider exploration of the artifice of painting.

Interior with a Picture (1985-6), Tate Collection

Caulfield’s paintings explore alternative ways of picturing the world. After Lunch (1975) was one of his earliest works to combine different styles of representation. In this case, what appears to be a photomural of the Château de Chillon hanging in a restaurant is depicted with high-focus realism, contrasting with the cartoon-like black-outlined imagery and fields of saturated colour of its surroundings. Caulfield deliberately makes the relationship between these varying representational methods uneasy and ambiguous, so that the picture appears more real than the everyday world around it.

There are some similarity between the two painting.

 Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864 – 1916) was a Danish painter.  He painted portraits and landscapes, but is best known for the interiors he painted of his house at Strandgade 30 in Copenhagen.  His palette was a harmonic tonality of gray, soft black to white, which he mastered as by few, accentuated by warmer colours. In his work, there was also a slight tension and mystery present while his paintings of buildings in Copenhagen and London were devoid of people, something that occurred in his landscape paintings. In many Hammershøi painted interiors by his wife Ida central state as a model, usually from the back imaged.  Hammershøi’s first works exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001, with their simplicity and showing the “banality of everyday life,” had a hit with the critics. 

Carl Larsson (1853 – 1919) was regarded as the most loved Sweden illustrator and painter, representative of the Arts and Craft Movement.  His house and family members were his favourite motifs.

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)

Matisse loved pattern, and pattern within pattern: not only the suave and decorative forms of his own compositions but also the reproduction of tapestries, embroideries, silks, striped awnings, curlicues, mottles, dots, and spots, the bright clutter of over-furnished rooms, within the painting.

My Room (1918) at the Beau-rivage, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Adolph Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel (December 8, 1815 – February 9, 1905) was a German artist noted for drawings, etchings, and paintings.  The Balcony Room (1845) is lovely with sensitive touch.


Part 2, Project 5 Research Point

We are asked to research on contemporary artists who include animals in their drawings; these can be imaginary as well as real creatures. 

Dogs and horses are by far the most popular animals in drawings and painting.

Lucian Freud had painted and drawn a lots of dogs.  Some people said his treatment to animals were kinder than to his human sitters.  I can’t agree with that more.  Freud’s principal interests centred on women and dogs; he owned a number of dogs over the years including his gangly pet whippet Pluto, a particular favourite.  Freud drew much inspiration from dogs, frequently including them in his art.  He said, “I am impressed by their lack of arrogance, their ready eagerness, their animal pragmatism”. They even impacted his portrayal of humans: “I’m really interested in people as animals…Part of my liking to work from them naked is for that reason…I like people to look as natural and as physically at ease as animals, as Pluto my whippet.”

David Hockney is another dog lover.  In his book Dog’s Day, he refereed to his two dachshunds, Stanley and Boodgie  “…These two dear little creatures are my friends. They are intelligent, loving, comical and often bored. They watch me work; I notice the warm shapes they make together, their sadness and their delights. And, being Hollywood dogs, they somehow seem to know that a picture is being made.”

Kevin Barry is an American illustrator.  He has shared some very beautiful drawings that are full of fun and humour in his blog Make of Lines .  He also very generously shared his process too from initial rough graphite sketch on paper; to added watercolour;  and finally with added digital.  The 12 Christmas drawing series is an good example.

Pablo Picasso (OK, he is not contemporary but I can’t resist to include him) loved bulls, horses and women in equal measures.  In 2014, I visited the (Le Peintre et L’arene art et tauromachie de Goya a Barcelo) an art and bullfighting exhibition at the Ceret Museum of Modern Art.  The exhibition covered a large number of artists and media and many styles, from very expressive Francis Bacon, a series of 40 beautiful classical prints by Fancisco de Goya y Lucientes, colourful aquarelle on paper by Fernando Laroche, Fauvsim Auguste Chabaud, cubism Juan Gris.  But by far the most striking works were by Picasso, extended every conceivable media and styles covering many etchings, 30 ceramic cups using a range of restricted colours, ink sketches on paper, linocuts.  However, there were common characteristics across all works of Picasso.  They were objects of simplicity, inventiveness and daring.  I love his ink sketches and linocuts the most.

Below is an image of one in a series of 26 ink drawings.