Form, Frame, Fracture

Task 2

This second research task is intended to build on what I discovered in Task 1, Take Two Influences.  In this task I have specific conceptual or process boundaries.

Using these words extend my work from the previous task or start a new piece of research.  The sequence of words must be chosen in advance.

How to Chose the Word Sequence?

Does it matter?

If so, in what way will it affect what I chose to do?  Will it constrain me in an unacceptable way?

If I think about it, I am making a decision based on a preconceived direction, which isn’t the brief.

I decided to follow The Dice Man, which could be argued as weakness and a reluctance to take control, or creative and allowing my unconscious mind to lead me on a path to discovery.

6 – Fracture, Form, Frame

Reflecting on Task 1 and What I have Learnt Since

My approach to Take Two Influences was too simplistic.  That said, for a first task, working alone and no experience of how to go about a research project, I muddled through.  Whenever I doubt myself, feel I am out of my depth or don’t understand, I allow my inner voice to tell me that there are those wiser than me who believe I can do it, or I wouldn’t be here.  My role, at least for the first few weeks, is to soak up everything I can, read, research, visit, view, without any thought as to what to do with the information and certainly not to analyse.

So what have I learnt so far?

I have created 95 boards on Pinterest and selected over 1600 examples of the work of those 95 artists, that are either representative of their work, images I particularly like, or give an insight into the artist and their working practice.  Not all works are titled or have sizes.  At this stage it is more important to broaden my horizon and just become aware of a wide range of artists.  This has been driven by comments from other students, course material, newspaper articles, radio and TV programmes.  At a later date, when I understand more specifically what I am aiming for, I will deepen the research, but for now it feels like finding jewels everyday.  Today it was the exquisite paper cuts of Timoku Shioyasu, courtesy of Sharon.

I have understood the importance of reading widely when it comes to critical opinion, and being familiar with where the critic is coming from.  ‘Read widely and maintain a healthy scepticism.’

When I don’t understand something to just keep going and hope that ‘the penny will drop’.

I have acquired a strategy for accessing specific types of creativity, which has given me the confidence to believe that ideas will start to flow.

I have learnt that it is necessary to practise every day until being a creative runs through my core.

The Creative Process

The idea of having a structured approach to my work is what I am here to learn.  It is not what I am used to doing, but my practice, is flawed, because I have no process whereby I can repeat, or necessarily move forward.  Which on one hand, makes for a simpler life, but on the other, cannot be articulated, and as I am discovering, what you say about your work is as important as the work itself.

My first line of thought, before determining the word order, related to an incident at school.  I went to one of the first comprehensives in the country.  It wasn’t uncommon for the police to arrive at the school.  On this particular day, a boy in the form below me had stolen some Thunderbird toys, the police turned up to question him, and while he was running away he tried to cross the frozen pool and fell through the ice.  Surprisingly, I even had a painting, that with minor enhancement would have complied with the brief perfectly.  A simple solution, but not the point.



I then looked at the word definitions supplied by Angela, because that was where I was being guided.

What stood out?


  • the act of breaking; state of being broken.  Mental breakdown.
  • a break, breach, or split. The breakdown of a relationship.
  • the characteristic appearance of a broken surface, as of a mineral. Texture.


  • external appearance of a clearly defined area, as distinguished from colour or material;   Again texture.
  • the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result, as in literary or musical composition: a unique form for the novel.  Composition.
  • Fine Arts –    the organization, placement, or relationship of basic elements, as lines and colours in a painting or volumes and voids in a sculpture, so as to produce a coherent image; the formal structure of a work of art.  Composition.
  • Philosophy – the structure, pattern, organization, or essential nature of anything.
  • Linguistics – the shape or pattern of a word or other construction (distinguished from substance).


  • to form or make, as by fitting and uniting parts together; construct.
  • Usually, frames. ( used with a plural verb ) the framework for a pair of eyeglasses.  To see, or maybe, not see.
  • a particular state, as of the mind: an unhappy frame of mind.
  • Nautical – any of a number of transverse, rib-like members for supporting and stiffening the shell of each side of a hull.  The possibility for theme or pattern.
  • Printing . the workbench of a compositor, consisting of a cabinet, cupboards, bins, and drawers, and having flat and sloping work surfaces on top.  Enclosed letters.


I spoke to Rosi (MA2).  Very reassured by her approach.  She mentioned that she had been told to do what she enjoyed.  That sounded like a good piece of guidance.

Reading Sharon’s journal for Task 1, I loved her images and thought I would check out the artists she mentioned, none of whom I am familiar with.  I was absolutely blown away by the exquisitely delicate work of Japanese artist Tomoko Shioyasu’s paper cuts.

Tomoko Shioyasu


This video gives a little insight into how this humble artist works,  when asked what she does with the fragile work when it is finished, she explained that she roles it up and with her mother at one end and herself at the other, she wheels it on top of her bicycle to the local community centre!

Japanese Artists

If someone of this ability was unknown to me, perhaps there were other Japanese artists that might be of interest.

On Wiki I selected Modern Japanese Artists.  Looking for anyone I may be interested in, I chose to look at the work of a number of artists :

kenzo Okada, Kurado Seiki, Kume Kelichiro, Tama Kiyohara, Itchiku Kubota, Shusaka Arakawa, Koji Ishikawa and Pinkman.

The muted colours and apparently torn edges of abstract expressionist, Kenzo Okada stood out for me. Kenzo Okada

Title unknown, selected for Okada’s use of colour.  I am surprised that this work is a painting and not torn paper, like a similar toned collage I produced on an abstraction course at the St Ives School of Painting last year.  008


Homage to Sandra Blow, a collage produced on the course, and whose studio we visited, and plan to stay at next year.

At Sandra Blow’s studio.

Kenzo Okada

Title unknown, selected for Okada’s  use of over-painting,

Okada’s work is described as a strong Japanese sensibility and feeling for form.

By double clicking on the above image I got ‘transported’ to WikiArt Abstract Expressionism, another find that I must explore later.


Detail from Venus

I frequently use tissue paper- detail from Men & Women


A piece I created on a textile course at City Lit, London, paper, threads and rose petals are stitched with ‘muslin’ overlay.

003 004Will You? a soon to be revisited painting and detail showing the torn edges.


Order Out Of Chaos

Elaine Lokhandvala – Order Out of Chaos.  Elaine is currently texturing her watercolours using sand.

Terry Setch

Detail from an encaustic work by Terry Setch

I then looked at ways of making texture and line.


The first image (top left) uses colour soaked torn watercolour paper, the red dried flat and the blue pinned to the wall.

The second uses melted wax and netting with ink.007 Detail

The third, has burnt edges.

The forth is torn from an old painting.

The fifth is water sprayed ink and watercolour with melted wax reheated with a hair dryer and fine lines drawn with thread dipped in ink.

The last image is ink and thread under wax with thread dipped in ink fine lines.

Nothing particularly excited me until I saw005

a piece of paint soaked watercolour paper blown up to reveal its delicacy.   How to scale up?006

 Thoughts during the making process

Didn’t want to work in silence, but nothing too modern, so Chopin in background.

Working with such a personal image added a different dynamic.  The photo is about me, with my mother as observer.

I started by increasing the size of the original photo, seen to the right of the child’s head on the large white sheet, until the image was barely discernible.



Replicating the original image didn’t work for me, with my mother the distant observer, so I tried a number of formats before arriving at this balance.  Where was the truth in this?


I normally work without a plan.  I might have a photo or vase of flowers as a starting point, they may end up as the focus of the work, an inspiration, or not feature at all.  I do not set out with a point on the horizon that I am aiming for.

This piece was different.  I knew where I thought I wanted to be.  How to get there?  It felt like standing on my head!

I approached the work in the same way I normally do, by wetting the paper in a reasonably random way.  Whilst this structured approach was good in one way, in that it helped me focus, for me, it inhibited the creativity, because my head was so full of purpose.


As it was a black and white photo, I decided to keep the work monochrome.  I mixed a grey/blue using Indigo (non staining, so that I could remove, if the facial details were wrong) and Alizarin Crimson.

By the end of the first 3 hours I had the outline and something interesting had happened.  Some jagged lines had appeared at the bottom of the sheet, which were hugely symbolic.  I had also decided to tear round the shape of my mother’s head to create the beautiful torn edge I had achieved during experimenting.  This would need to be glued on later, and succeeded in creating a further aspect of dominance.


Close up of the torn shape, edging my mother’s hair.

The photo was from the early 50’s, and my mother was quite glamorous, with a film star look about her, certainly compared to other mums.  I wanted to capture this feeling, as well as my relationship with her, and her with me.


The final piece, Fracture, Form, Frame.

3 hours later and it is time to present to the group again.  I felt the work lacked contrast and needed more work.  The group had other ideas.  I was blown away by there response.  Thank you guys!


An image that emerged during the enlargement phase that I shall work on going forward.


My unconscious mind keeps me on the right track and I should trust it more.

There was a very close, unconscious link to the first task, Take Two Influences, where I had been looking at  the work of Marlene Dumas.  The large scale (30 x 22 inches) monochrome portrait.


The process of producing the work was surprisingly tiring.  Emotion is exhausting.



Author: susanmilleruk

Watercolour painter living, working and loving Hastings and St Leonards on Sea. MA in Fine Art.

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