Artists’ Practice

Marlene Dumas South African Born 1953

‘Rejects’ Tate Shot

i think I am still suffering from a belief that famous artists have a direct line to creative success.  Watching Dumas sift through her rejected portraits was an eye opener.  Images with eyes cut out with a second, completely unrelated portrait peeping through.  Images painted on the reverse.  Several attempts to get likenesses for Hockney and others.  How normal is that!  And yet I felt that somehow, it would be effortless.  Wake up to the real world of the professional artist!

Marlene Dumas retrospective, Tate Modern, London, Britain - 03 Feb 2015

‘A wall of botched and bockled faces’: Rejects, 1994-ongoing by Marlene Dumas on show at Tate Modern. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/REX

Youtube Marlene Dumas in her Studio Dec 17 2010.  Fascinating to watch her labouring on the floor with ink, paper and paper towels.

Youtube podcast ‘An Appetite for Painting ’11 Aug 2014.  She doesn’t like paint very much.  She wants to make marks.  Love for material meant that she did get back to the image.  She refers to the struggle between the figure, material, the physical, gestural.  Liked abstract expressionism, but couldn’t compete with Rauschenberg and De Kooning.

Youtube What the Art Dumas sits on a stool in her studio and suggest the viewer should paint six versions of the same portrait, should challenge them self.

I sense a hesitancy in the interviews (see my previous post on Marlene Dumas) and the videos.  She is one of the most successful living women artists, and yet you feel she almost doesn’t believe it, and yet really does.  It is difficult to tell.  I found her work when looking for successful watercolour artists, a role model.  I enjoy watching her technique, the normality of her struggle and she inspires me to believe I am on the right track with regard to my sensitivity, but I do not really relate to her canvas work.ARTIST DOSSIER: Marlene Dumas's Works Fiercely Prized by Collectors

Marlene Dumas, “The Visitor,” 1995, sold for a record $6.3 million at Sotheby’s London in July 2008.  (Sotheby’s)

Alex Katz

Martin Clarke interviews Katz for Tate Shots.

Born in Brooklyn in 1927.   Had an exhibition at Tate St Ives in 2012, Give Me Tomorrow.  His basis is abstract but he makes the work look realistic. Composition is the moving parts, which he references Watteau and Rembrandt, then creates a contemporary work, moving away from content.  The work of Bonnard and Monet focus on arrangement.

Educated at Cooper Union in modern art and Bauhaus, at time that Jackson Pollock was was becoming recognised.  His focus is on the surface.  His process is to paint an oil sketch of his sitter on Masonite board, taking around an hour and a half.  He then draws a small pencil/charcoal sketch.  The sitter returns to make corrections.  He then blows up the drawing into a ‘cartoon’, sometimes using a projector, and then transfers to a huge  canvas 12×7 feet, via ‘pouncing’, a renaissance technique involving powdered pigment pushed through tiny perforations, to create the composition on the canvas.  He pre-mixes colours, organises his brushes then paints for 6-7 hours.

In the 50s he made cutouts, first from wood then aluminium, usually heads.  He frequently collaborated, was interested in the effemeral fashion world.

He influenced David Salle, Peter Halley, Richard Prince, and younger artists Peter Doig, Julian Opie, Liam Gillick, Elizabeth Peyton, Barb Januszkiewicz, Johan Andersson and Brian Alfred.

(images: Todd Eberle for Architectural Digest)

Known for his figurative work, I am particularly interested in his departure to huge floral images.  They follow his flat painting style, which gives them a decorative feel.  My interest is in the fact that this type of subject is acceptable to the art world, which seems to demand so much more.

Emily Ball MA Born 1968

Emily can be seen painting during a John Skinner masterclass, her style and energy owe much to John’s teaching.


I have attended a couple of Emily’s classes and have enormous respect for teaching ability, what she has achieved at Seawhites in West Sussex and the energy and authenticity of her work.  I have taken her first book, Drawing and Painting People, a Fresh Approach, as my stepping stone into a world of contemporary painting that is accessible to me.  The following painters are all referenced in her book.

Taken from Emily’s web site the following eloquently describes why I consider her work to be so appropriate to what I am trying to achieve.

‘Swim the Body Electric -The final chapter – March 2014

Emily Ball - Swim the Body Electric

Found on

The intensity of my engagement with the subject of the pool and swimmers continued and came to a conclusion in March 2014.

I really admire Emily for what she has achieved both as a painter and a business woman.  Not only has she broken new ground in subject, form and colour, she has introduce a whole new generation to a new approach to painting.

054I‘m Not Sleeping 1 &

Too Hot taken from Emily’s first book.


John Skinner, English,  Born 1953,  Educated at Goldsmiths

John studied with John Epstein.

Enrico’s video of John in action energetically painting and reflecting on one of his large canvases.

oute de blanc vêtue, la belle juge souhaite bonne chance à l’équipe des nageuses synchronisées  huile sur toile  160cm x 300cm 2010

 John shares his philosophy and passion for painting in his masterclasses at Seawhites in Sussex and elsewhere.  He enables artists to fully engage with their materials and their sensibilities to the subject they are working from.  He encourages positive risks, which is clearly evidenced in the work of his pupil. Emily Ball.
Girl and Phone  Oil on Board  68cm x 68cm  2004-5 Features on the cover of Emily’s book.
I am interested in John’s work because of his use of colour, his contemporary images and his ability to inspire others to greatness.

Rose Wylie MA, English , Born 1934

Wylie won the John Moores Prize in 2014, after several years of trying.  She painted dark lines to represent the windows of Moores gallery and added striking figures.

John Moores Painting Prize 2014 winner Rose Wylie with her work PV Windows and Floorboards – photo by Gavin Trafford

She has lived in Sittingbourn, Kent for the last 40 years where she has her studio in the garden.  She only paints when moved to, starting around 11am, painting what she can see.  She will select an image for the look of the clothes and colour, and not for any political or royal connotation.  There is no table or comfortable chair.  She draws extensively at the dining table.

Artist Rose Wylie in her studio, February 2012

Brian Sewell does not share Parker’s delight in Wylie’s work.   Writing in the Evening Standard in 2013 about the BP sponsored Walk Through British Art exhibition at Tate Britain  ‘One whole room, as big as that devoted to Henry Moore (an exception to the strict chronology), is wasted in throwing a BP Spotlight on Rose Wylie, a mad old bat in second infancy, an ancient Maid of Kent whose scribbles, scrawls and daubs are, according to the BP nonsense pamphlet, “energetic and compelling images … inspired by her voracious appetite for visual culture”. What blethering, what twaddle. Deplorable rubbish, fit not even for the Tate’s outstation in Margate..’–exhibition-review-8618294.html

Artist, Rose Wylie pictured in her studio at her home in Kent.

Last updated at 12:01AM, August 23 2011

She takes her inspiration from literature, forming her paintings into book formation, which allows for new combinations.  She is quite unforgiving with her canvases, collaging, adding, subtracting, objectifying her paintings. She references to painters like Matisse.

My interest in her work stems from Emily Ball’s book, Drawing and Painting People, a Fresh Approach.  I have attended a couple of Emily’s classes and have a high regard for her teaching and the direction she is taking her students.  Emily interviews Rose for her book, and it is Emily’s interest, together with the interest of a number of artists that I respect and her recent success winning the John Moores’ Art Prize, that  has led me to investigate her work more rigorously.  I appreciate her modernity in a world that moves so fast, her quirkiness and trail-blazing for the older woman, giving me hope for what I can achieve in my third age, her complete disregard for the convention of the canvas, her intelligence and her ability to articulate her work, her complete and utter belief in the validity of what she is creating.  What I am still to fully understand is where she is coming from and why that is so relevant today.

Roy Oxlade Ph D RCA English 1924 -2014

Married to Rose Wylie.  Educated at Goldsmiths and Borough, where David Bomberg was his tutor, he wrote his thesis on Bomberg, Bomberg at the Borough: An Approach to Drawing.

Green Painting, 2007

‘Painting is like a room of the imagination.  A canvas is a jumble of art history I related to.  Entirely abstract forms place too many restrictions on dialogue, so I have put in some other stuff, characters, actors, tables, pots colours, figures, faces.’  1

‘When cat-walk art has finally imploded, perhaps there can be a fresh and essentially evaluative look at metaphorical modernism.  That could initiate a continuation of representational painting.’

I don’t understand him and I can find little about him, but I am attracted to his work, which whilst similar to Rose’s, is less naive and more thought provoking.

1. wikipaedia, Wall St Journal International 2013


Author: susanmilleruk

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

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