Tutorial with Stewart Geddes


I really enjoyed my tutorial.  I felt that Stewart understood where I was coming from with my practice and was able to articulate it for me.  He has validated what I am doing and where I am going, which has given me the permission and confidence to start believing in myself.  Thank you so much for that Stewart.

Initial Impression of my work from my web site

Transparency, fluidity, colour as expressive, autonomous properties.  Ambiguity of size and space, macro/micro, referencing nature or maybe not.

History of Colour

The Greeks and Romans had a perception of colour.

Newton identified light wave lengths and reflection.

Johannes Goethe identified that the viewers subjectivity and life experience were an essential part of communicating directly with the viewer.

In the 19th century Michel Chevreul, a colour scientist to the textile industry, developed ‘The Theory of Simultaneous Contrast’, which was fundamental to the Impressionists and post Impressionists.  A downloadable version of Georges Roque’s work on Chevreul  http://www.colour.org.uk/%5C/Chevreuls%20Law%20F1%20web%20good.pdf

In the 20th century Johannes Itten teaching at the Bauhaus wrote The Elements of Colour.  His teaching was to influence Josef Albers, who wrote The Interaction of Colour.  http://monoskop.org/images/4/46/Itten_Johannes_The_Elements_of_Color.pdf

Albers taught at the Black Mountain College in the US from 1933 to 1949, teaching Cy Twombly and Robert Rauschenberg.  http://www.g-e-s-t-a-l-t.org/MEDIA/PDF/Interaction-of-Color.pdf

More recently Scottish artist David Batchelor has written Chromophobia.  https://approachestopainting.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/163577202-chromophobia-david-batchelor.pdf

Artists to Consider

Sam Francis, abstract expressionist www.samfrancisfoundation.org

Sam Francis


Click to access SFCR_PaintMethod_Essay.pdf

Helen Frankenthaler

Albert Irvin

John Hoyland – watch ‘6 Days in September’  http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p025lrcy/arena-six-days-in-september

Paul Tonkin – watch ‘The Rules of Abstraction’ by Matthew Collings  Paul Tonkin


Mali Morris

Richard Diebenkorn – current RA exhibition, which I have seen and really related to.

Claude Monet Waterlilies at the Marmottan in Paris, which I have also seen.  Embedded image permalink

Stewart compared Monet to a jazz musician where they invent around a theme.


Stewart determined that the handling, the ‘invitation into the space’  and the physical process are what is important to me.  The surface, the decol edge.  My work needs to be bigger, maybe A0.  This may be too expensive in watercolour and perhaps I need to consider Lascaux acrylics mixed with acrylic medium and water to give the translucency I need.

He mention Emil Nolde and his forbidden works produced during the Nazi occupation which reference flowers, and also the late Turner paintings.  He recommended Imagination and Reality by Gowing

He also suggested I look at the work of Dennis Creffield and the essays of Roy Oxlade, Art and Instinct.


We discussed why I was looking at the work of Oxlade and my starting point of Emily Ball and her book, Painting and drawing People, a Fresh Approach.

http://www.johnskinner.me.uk/index.php?page=girl-and-phone the cover of Emily’s book.

We talked about Albert Irvin, who I have been researching and I am aware that Stewart has interviewed.  Sadly Bert died last week at the age of 92.

Angel by Albert Irvin (2003). The artist used a floor squeegee as a kind of huge palette knife, pushing solid bars of colour across his canvases.

Angel by Albert Irvin (2003). The artist used a floor squeegee as a kind of huge palette knife, pushing solid bars of colour across his canvases. Photograph: Advanced Graphics


Stewart also described how Irvin painted flat, elevating the canvas on industrial paint cans.

We talked about the sensuality of Marlene Dumas’ work, her inventive use of paint and the ambiguity she introduces through references to porn and sensitivity.

I need to look at the work and practice of Cecily Brown, not for the subject matter, but for her approach, her brush marks and her energy. 

Skulldiver IV, 2006-07. Oil on linen, 216 x 226 cm. All images, courtesy Gagosian, New York/Los Angeles/London/Moscow/Rome. © Cecily Brown.

Stewart suggested I continue with my practice of using a photo as a starting point and then working with the materials, but I need to make it more so and more informed, locating my own visual identity and maximising my potential.  I can’t force the subject to happen I can only tease it out.


1  Scale up

2  Focus on materiality rather than painting to produce a work

3  Consider acrylics possibly from a cost perspective as much as scalability

4  Research unorthodox processes, Hoyland and Tonkin and others

5  Immersive surface.  Consider is it wonderment at nature or my emotional response to the subject.  Consider my past as an emotional response.

Author: susanmilleruk

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

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