Category Archives: Mar ’15


Being Authentic, an Exploratory Journey

The end of year essay and I realise I haven’t written an essay since 1967!  Time to research how it is done.

2000 words by the end of May.

I started with degree planning, structuring and writing skills.  I have a lot of catching up to do.

Then the expectations of a Masters essay.

Which pointed me to this excellent resource.

This is all starting to feel quite scary, not the essay writing as such, but the scope of the reading round the subject.  2000 words is not arduous and could probably we physically written in a day or so.  What is coming through is that it would be easy to over research, go off at tangents, become subsumed in the essay, at the expense of producing art, which is after all the reason for the course.  I accept that everything I learn is feeding into my ultimate work, but it is so easy to get lost in the research, particularly as I am so enjoying the learnings.

In accordance with DMU’s guide, time to create some structure and assimilate What I know, What I don’t know and my initial response to what my Summary might be.

Initial Research

I started by googling ‘Being Authentic’.  This led to a number of articles:

Becoming More Authentic by James Park, which opened the door to a number of Existential and Absurd philosophers and the derivation of their views.

Brene Brown TED talk on Youtube – the Power of vulnerability.

On Being Authentic by Charles Guignon

Thinking in Action, Coaching the Artist Within by Eric Maisel

The 5 characteristics of authentic people.

Psychologist Brian Goldman and Michael Kernis, the unimpeded operation of one’s true or core self in ones daily enterprise.

Corporate trainer Mike Robbins – it allows us to connect deeply with others because it requires us to be transparent and vulnerable.  It liberates us from always trying to be perfect.

Self awareness is the cornerstone.

Creating an authentic Life – Polly Campbell

  • Be clear about what I care about
  • Be open, keep an open mind
  • Be introspective, share. It’s ok to feel scared and vulnerable.
  • Note when inauthentic. Explore fears and beliefs when insincere.
  • Trust intuition. Notice physical sensations when not genuine

Dr Thomas Oden Drew university – ‘anxiety and guilt prevent us living in the present.  Guilt is usually to do with the past, anxiety, the future.  Mastery of the present reduces guilt and anxiety.  Simply be yourself.  Be non judgmental.  Genuinely appreciate yourself.  Be in touch.  Be self-confident, secure.  Speak at a normal pace.  Don’t be defensive.  Talk positively and kindly about yourself.  Be benevolent about myself and others.

Reflection on initial search

By this time I had a reasonably clear definition from a broad spectrum of opinion and some insight into the origins of the phrase.

I needed to look deeper into a more academic perspective, so using Google Scholar I searched for ‘Authentic’ , ‘Creative’ and found Marina Claessen’s Mindfulness and Existential Therapy.

The Sensory Intention – Art, Motif and Motivation: A Comparative Approach – Yves Millet

Symbolist – Oxford University Press

Other sources

Notes of a Painter (1908) – Henri Matisse

The Spiritual in Art – Wassily Kandinsky

Drawing and Painting People a Fresh Approach – Emily Ball

Art & Instinct – Roy Oxlade

You tube videos of Rose Wylie and Gary Goodman.

Supporting information from the internet.

Reflections on constructing the essay

A daunting task.  The work is disjointed with constant interruptions for citations and footnotes.  I decided to write each page as a separate file so that I could control the word count.  It has taken 3 days to produce the first draft of 2077 words.

Doubt and self doubt is a constant problem.  Am I on the right track?  Is the subject matter appropriate?   Have I proved my questions?  Answered appropriately?  Should I be referencing history?  If I don’t it won’t really make sense.  Who knows?  I need to reread afresh tomorrow.  To map against Angela’s comments and any other supportive material I can.

Reflecting on the Outcome

After 10 days and 5 drafts I have finally arrived at a honed essay.  Have I achieved what I set out to?  Yes, I feel I presented a well constructed argument, reflecting a broad breadth of research and some answers to the question posed.  I this what was expected?  Not sure.  Hopefully there will be an opportunity to discuss with a tutor at some point.  An interesting exercise in academic writing.



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


Richard Diebenkorn

On entering the Diebenkorn exhibition at the RA I realised how much I have missed glorious, unashamed colour in recent exhibitions by Marlene Dumas and Anselm Kiefer.  That isn’t to say I didn’t really enjoy the Kiefer exhibition, I just find that colour, as used by Diebenkorn, Frankenthaler and others from the  Colour-field period, so uplifting after a long winter.

Adrian Searle writing in the Guardian

‘Each painting is like a diary of the act of painting.  Diebenkorn became a delicious colourist.’  ‘Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings occupy a sort of hinterland. They’re a beautiful distraction, paintings to lose your way inside. They’re not quite landscapes, not geometric abstractions and not exactly colour-field painting either. They belong to a time and place but have in them times and places all their own. They’re accumulations of incident within a larger scheme of things. You can see Diebenkorn thinking as he paints, getting lost, turning back, wandering off into the fields, finding the larger view.’

Sausalito - Richard Diebenkorn

Sausalito 1948-49

It is the journey, particularly visible in the Ocean Park work, that holds the viewer’s attention.  Lines and form, lost in the mist of time.  A place to stop and stare.

I agree with Searle that the exhibition could have included more work.

Martin Gayford in the Spectator writes ‘Diebenkorn’s first mature works, dating from the early 1950s, have a slightly familiar look to a British eye. It is hard, in the first room of the show, not to find the words ‘St Ives’.  A contemporary of Peter Lanyon and Patrick Heron, working in New Mexico rather than Penwith.’  ‘He made paintings filled with light and space, which also had a certain down-to-earth grittiness. For more than 20 years, from 1966 to ’86, he worked in Ocean Park, a district of southern Santa Monica abutting Venice Beach. This is a sort of Californian Brighton, a seaside town, slightly Bohemian and definitely relaxed.’

‘His art does survive the journey from the West Coast to the Thames, but a little goes a long way and only the best years are really worth savouring.’

Whilst wanting to see more of Diebenkorn’s work, I understand where Gayford is coming from.  The middle room focused on figurative work.   ‘He also produced Matisse-like nudes and a few still lifes — one a nicely angular study of a pair of scissors — but his heart didn’t really seem to be in either genre.’

Ocean Park #54

Ocean Park 54 – 1971

What went unmentioned by the critics were the gems of work painted on cigar boxes, encapsulating the magnificence of the larger works in miniature.  (an excellent article on Diebenkorn, not related to the RA exhibition.

These are particularly inspiring for me, as I grapple with the task of scaling up my work.