Take Two Influences

Initial Thoughts

Immediate idea Barbara Rae  and Dylan Thomas  .  My thought was based on the fact that I really like Rae’s landscape style, and that we had recently visited Thomas’s writing studio at Laugharne.

I quickly realised I knew very little about Thomas’s work and time didnt permit thorough research.

This then led me to familiarity.  Who painted in a wet, loose style?  Who’s work did I know well, who was not a painter?

I had recently been introduced to the work of Marlene Dumas, and again she featured at the OCA.  I watched the video of her at work in her studio several times.  There was a clue to her process but nothing more.  

 It would be enough.

For my other influence I decided on another poet/singer, Leonard Cohen, whose work I was very familiar with.  The day I met my husband I had just bought his latest album.  Both keen fans we have been to many concerts around the world, the latest and most memorable was last year in Lucca.

80 last month, I wanted to capture the man at his peak.  The intimacy of a performace in the style of Dumas.

My Process

First I selected an iconic image007, then set about familiarising myself.  My first work was a speedy watercolour (45x65cms) using indanthrene and scarlet lake, simply aiming for the essence and complexity that I might encounter.010

I felt I needed to be more certain of the image and I thought that charcoal, a medium I am not familiar with, might be good for darks and lights.

In an attempt to keep the work loose, I worked with the photo at a distance 003(45x65cms).

I felt this was too removed, so I repeated the exercise in charcoal (45x65cms), with the photo close to hand, much as Dumas would work004.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed working in this way.  I draw very little in my work.

Dumas works in ink, so I felt I needed to replicate her process.  I have never used ink.

Using cheap shiny paper (45x65cms)006, I played with the medium.  What fun!

Finally, I was ready to work on watercolour paper.  Dumas uses Arches 300lb.  I had to make do with Bockingford 140lb (38x56cms).  011


First of all, I enjoyed working to a specific task.  Just enough freedom to feel I was in control, but clearly following direction.

Loved the charcoal.  The harshness, the boldness, the focus on line and mark.

I needed an element of structure.  I felt uncomfortable without a guide to the image (charcoal for the watercolour and candle wax for the shiny paper).

Ink ‘slides’ more than watercolour.  To paint in the style of Dumas is certainly possible.  She works with the confidence and surety that comes with time.  I am at the stage of still needing to produce a recognisable image.  Perhaps that desire will fade with confidence in my own ability.

Week 2

Artist Reseach

N James – Interviews- Artists

James Aldridge

Focused on process.   Started with simple and natural, pared down, making beautiful paintings.  He didn’t find a way of marrying with his wider interest in natural history until later.

Each part of the painting is a reaction to what went before, mentally carrying on from a previous work.  The painting language expands in an intuitive way.  He felt his other interests were not worthy of art.  When it happened it brought a spark to open doors to everything else.  Something is learnt from each work and carried forward.

he starts with the groundwash, then foreground detail, then distance and finally the space.  As it progresses more engaged with the relationship of the elements.  A decision to break the rules is part of t he process, an internal narrative.

Elements, smoke, positives/negatives, animal images, skulls, represent many things.  Music plays whilst working.  initially influenced by heavy metal album covers.

He is interested in belief and how that is manifested.  Mandala, symmetry and symbolism are his graphical language. Circularity and scale (2×2.5m) help.

This is an interview conducted with James Aldridge by  Looking Sideways on 5 August 2013.  Of particular interest is the painting  Cold Mouth Prayer, commissioned specifically for the space by the Tate  http://wearelookingsideways.com/artists/james-aldridge

Christiane Baumgartner

Painstaking large format woodcuts

Gerhardt Richter was an influence.

The dynamics of speed/standstill in view and production.  She takes an image from a video shot in travel and creates a woodcut.  The foreground is faster than the background.  The line, speed,  grid allows for black/white.  Irony of analogue image from digital info.

The theme is usually the same the medium could be silkscreen, etching, lithography, drawing.

Series size determined before work starts.  Process can take a year.

Therese Oulton

She had a crisis of relevance, after ‘Lines of Flight’, (which she saw as prescient), during the 3 years she worked on the Territory series.  She considered stopping.  She questioned the notion of You.  You construct a You through your work.  Are you anything if you extract that?   Erase what you were, see if still there.  (How true!)

Decided on a different strategy, lots of hesitation, small moves back and forth, rejections.  A private struggle.  Isolated in her domestic studio, she used to walk to think.  She missed the artistic discourse.

She stores her work outside of her studio.  Slow to produce work.

Territory works are untitled, you need to look for clues for the subject.  The landscapes are dream like.

She describes her London base as an extraordinary conglomeration of incoherent spaces.  There are no images of London in her work, it doesnt feel like home to her.

Territory focuses on the material that gets overlooked whilst we are looking for a subject.  The damage we would rather not acknowledge, mining, scars on the earth’s surface.

She underwent profound changes during Territory, her intuitions were too literal, too romantic, too sharply focused.  She was conscious of bringing Romantism into the 21 Century.

All the detail is in the bottom third, then you are swept away, disorientating, like vertigo.  If you strip away everything, the sensation of what is left could be vertiginous.  Loss of self/patch of land, very much part of the landscape.  Reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich, no firm foothold, disappearing down a ravine.  Romantism was a reaction to Victorian loss of atmosphere (smog), to counter this they took trips over the Alps, but kept the blinds down so as not to see the savagery of the landscape.

Territory is the possibility of new ways of engaging with the landscape.  Photography sees no difference between fetid and snowy.

She is not disconnected with past work.  She was called an abstract artist.  She says she was never an abstract artist, but always engaged with the how of representation.  ‘Abstract’ is a defence against the reality of the work.  It is necessary to inject some disquiet.

Her recent struggle and her comment about disquiet really resonnate with me.



Week 1

Artist Research


Watched YouTube  – what a refreshing attitude to ideas, completely empty your head, beyond meditating, and wait for inspiration.

She considers modern work to be principally ideas.

Emotionally, music is the highest form of art.

She wants her work to appeal to other people.

She waits 3 days before making decisions about her work.

Pinterest  http://uk.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/agnes-bernice-martin/


Recommended in tutorial.  She has recently graduated from Chelsea.  http://www.rachelwilberforce.com/



Work is based on Michel Foucault’s 1967 Heterotopia, the space round the edges/what isnt said as related to the ‘landscape’.

Particularly interested in the abolition of slavery.  Great great great grandfather was William Wilberforce who was instrumental in the abolition of slavery 200 years ago.


Pinterest http://uk.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/rachel-wilberforce/

THERESE OULTON, English Born 1953

Recommended in tutorial.

Her work appears to encompass my current approach to covering up and reworking.


http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/paintings/therese-oulton-abstract-5348856-details.aspx  22 x 30 inches, oil on canvas.  Sold in 2010 for £1250

Pinterest. http://uk.pinterest.com/susanmilleruk/therese-oulton/

All artists updated to summary to help me place the m historically and by influence https://docs.google.com/a/oca-uk.com/spreadsheets/d/14ILGqTjirdtZ6UgUsJkmF21RrRP34mVlHaRXKGL-yTI/edit#gid=0

Chuck Close

Watched Big Think, artists in a Crisis.  Saw his exhibition at the White Cube.  Loved the simplicity/complexity of his work.

Marlene Dumas

Watched Studio and Sorte Milan 2012. Fascinating approach to watercolour on large scale paper.  Really resonated with me.

Sean Scully

Watched Power of Abstract Art.  The journey given, to be given.

I need to revisit these three artists when I am less bogged down with IT issues.

William Kentridge

Watch his charcoal animation process, reworking each shot on the same image.  Amazing process.


Reviewed all OCA staff.  Introduced to Hitsuzendō (筆禅道 “art of the brush”?), believed by Zen Buddhists to be a method of achieving samādhi (Japanese: samaai), which is a unification with the highest reality, which must breathe with the vitality of eternal experience.

Researched history of Pecha Kucha presentations.

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