Mes: mayo 2018

Part 5 – The personal project

In the cemetery

The local cemetery located in the centre of the town was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2010, and has been restored as much as was possible.  It includes some antique tombs with wonderful architecture and was of interest to me as a part of the urban life of Rancagua. (Not much activity there as everyone is resting!)

I made a slow drawing:


and then a couple of faster sketches:



I returned to Leon Kossoff for my final drawing of the cemetery. I used the effect of his Arnold Circus series as my guide:

Rancagua Cemetery – charcoal and pastel on grey tinted Fabriano Tiziano paper 160g/m2 – 65x50cm

Like most cemetaries – even in London – there is a curious mixture of styles and in this view I have included tombs of many shapes and sizes.

In this drawing the mark making was not varied enough and I did not use tone effectively – even though in Kossoffs Arnold Circus series there is also a lack of tonal rendering! Because of the nature of the forms – tombs – described in this drawing my linework was very rigid.  In Kossoffs series there are buildings but none are drawn with straight lines.

His lines are broken, rapidly drawn, made up of a combination of line work with layers of lines not just one firm line – in some of his drawings it is like he has carefully laid the structure using lines/marks and an autumnal wind has swept them up to reveal a more energetic, more abstract version. In his catalogue of London Landscapes there are 25 drawings of Arnold Circus – all around 65x50cm in size – and I am sure that he made many more.

On the day that I was drawing in the cemetery there was an absence of wind and people and the sun was blazing with a temperature of around 27degC. The light was strong – nearly overhead and so not much change in tone/shadows on the grey stone buildings and monuments.

I need to lay a better foundation of pastel before applying the final marks if this style is to work for me.

Part 5 – The personal project

Part 5 – The personal project

Early research and experimentation

I started this part by brainstorming ideas for the Urban Landscape:


From this very busy and too overwhelming chart, I made another more specific one:


I heaviliy studied the catalogue of Leon Kossoff’s London Landscapes and was intrigued by his frantically scribbled drawings and Gouache paintings – I stuck some in my sketchbook:


and then made a larger copy of one of his drawings of Arnold Circus…


I used smooth paper to allow me to blend the pastel and to make marks with the charcoal with as least amount of grain as possible. Using a slightly bigger scale showed me just how skilled Kossoff is – the amount of mark making and range of mark making needs to increase considerably.  I did not achieve this in this piece of work but gained a sense of what is required.

Studying further I came across Dennis Creffield who went to the same evening classes as Leon Kossoff and Frank Auerbach – their teacher was David Bomberg, whose famous charcoal drawing of St Pauls rising from the ashes of bombed out London – his use of charcoal (burnt wood) significant – was obviously a strong influence on both Dennis Creffield, and much later John Virtue, in their drawings/paintings.

The following pages from my sketchbook show copies of Creffields drawings/paintings:



I particularly liked these drawings as they allowed me much more freedom in mark making and representing forms in a more abstract way.

Going back to Kossoff, I experimented a little with gouache and used the following as a basis for this investigation



I used gouache, soft pastel and charcoal.  Kossoff made many versions of this scene all around 70 x 90cm, my version is just A5. I did however make the following observations:

  • He has typically used a high viewpoint
  • All his versions were made in gouache with one in oil
  • He makes use of contrasting/complementary colours
  • He uses several layers of colour to build up his base for the image and then uses heavy dark gestural linework or dabs of paint to complete the painting.

I did not continue with this line of investigation as I saw it as more painting than drawing. I hope to get the chance to explore this again in POP1.

At this stage I also explored the use of collage on its own and building it up more with graphite and pastel:


Local marketplace, Rancagua

I sketched in my local marketplace and then worked from photographs in pencil and gouache:


and pastel:


I liked the colours which reminded me of one of Frank Auerbach’s paintings which I then copied in oil pastel on mylar:


The effect of oil pastel on mylar was interesting but difficult to control and maintain clean. It is something that I will try and take further in the future.

Finally with David Bomberg and John Virtue in mind, I made a black and white sketch of the scene using charcoal on gessoed newspaper:




  • Leon Kossoff, London Landscapes – Catalogue
  • Frank Auerbach, Speaking and Painting by Catherine Lampert

You tube videos:

  • BBC Four, British art at war – David Bomberg
  • Leon Kossoff, London Landscapes trailer
  • John Virtue, London paintings and sea paintings


Part 5 – The personal project

Artist´s Statement

Combine line, space and form to create depth, movement and atmosphere in the urban landscape exploring a wide range of media to include graphite, charcoal, pastel, ink, markers, crayons, water-based paints, and collage.

The final work will be a series of up to 5 urban landscapes in a chosen media or use of mixed media.

My interest during the course has been with the use of line in an expressive way and in a wide range of media. My work for Part 3 outdoors – the urban landscape – was an element of the course which I enjoyed, and this is the area of my work that I wish to develop further in Part 5.

During the course I have been criticised for overusing line – compensating for a lack of tone to create form, and for lacking tonal contrast in my work. Another weakness has been in my poor use of sketchbooks and coherent pathway to my final drawings.
I start Part 5 full of ideas and will build upon my strengths, practice and work on my weaknesses, and harness the power of influences from a wide range of inspirational artists such as: Gerhart Richter, Julie Mehretu, Leon Kossoff, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach, Dennis Creffield and John Virtue among others.

My priority for Part 5 will therefore be to explore and practice the various approaches, styles and techniques of these artists working in the urban environment. Then utilise this research and practice to make sketches/drawings outdoors:

In the marketplace, bus station, cemetery, and main square (‘Plaza de los Heroes’) of my current home city – Rancagua, Chile.

These places are busy bustling places, but also include places with a link to the past and local history – the ‘Plaza de los Heroes’ an important battle site, and the more quiet, tranquil cemetery.

The work of Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff, Dennis Creffield and John Virtue all involved close observation of their subjects by sketchbook drawings in the street – sometimes hundreds of drawings as in the case of John Virtue’s series of London Paintings.

As in Part 3, I have an interest in the movement of people and traffic, change in the city and a sense of history/culture – I have already found by sketching in the street that photos cannot be used to achieve the mark-making that I want to represent movement of people and vehicles. I will therefore need to brave the street in the making of my final drawings. The area where I live is nearly always blessed with clear blue sky and bright sunlight – not the bustling fast moving, stormy clouds as in John Virtues or Constables landscapes – so I intend to eliminate the sky wherever possible or use the pale blue as a base colour to my work.

Intentionality was an area that I researched in my study of Margaret Davison’s book, Contemporary Drawing. I want to ensure that my final works for this Part also fully take into account intentional use of surface, mark, space, materials, scale and composition.


Study visit: Victoria Miro Gallery and Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair

Study visit: Victoria Miro Gallery and Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair

Victoria Miro – Jules de Balincourt Exhibition

I had never been to a commercial private gallery before, and also did not know that these galleries existed in Mayfair. This was therefore a first for me and an area that I shall visit in future.

This was my first time on a study visit and found the interaction with other students and also direct contact with a tutor – Hayley Lock – very helpful to me.


The paintings by Jules de Balincourt – were all painted in oil on smooth untextured panels. The paint was applied in thin transparent layers. His subject matter we were told is based on American news items but it seems in a very ambiguous and somewhat mysterious way.

All of the paintings included figures, many zombie like and on occasions of contrasting sizes – very small and giant – as in Big Little Monsters, 2017 and They Cast Long Shadows, 2017.

Jules de Balincourt, Cave Country, 2017. Oil on Panel

The use of colours in my opinion is based on the bright daylight of California, something I am more aware of – travelling around the world.  Artists often change their palette according to their location/local environment.  Balincourt’s paintings appear unfinished and he must have great courage to say – that’s enough for this painting – they are certainly not overworked paintings! Another aspect to mention is the format – there were three large paintings approx. 1.7×1.5m however many were a much smaller format down to 61x50cm.


Jules de Balincourt, Troubled Eden, 2017. Oil on panel (detail)

In the above detail of Troubled Eden – a disturbing title and mysterious painting – you can see the very thin layers of paint, scraped over with sandpaper or scourer.  The painting has some connection to catwalk models and a not so perfect paradise?

My favourite paintings from the show included If trees spoke and we listened and They cast long shadows:

They Cast Long Shadows 2017, Oil on panel

There is an effectiveness in his interplay of transparent and opaque paint, and his use of detail in the smaller figures and buildings contrasting with the larger figures that have an absence of detail.

I made my own version using collage and marker pens:


Gagosian – Glenn Brown Exhibition

This was a wildly different exhibition, much bigger with line drawings, large oil paintings and sculpture.  Each artwork was made to fit carefully chosen elaborate, antique frames.

I use pre-existing images to go into pre-existing frames. I don´t like a blank canvas or a blank sheet of paper – Glenn Brown

The whole exhibition works were completed in just one year – a massive undertaking and one when you see the level of detail in every drawing, and the research into the master paintings used as the basis for many of the works, is awe-inspiring.

The exhibition space smelt of oil paint – as some of the works were obviously not completed dry! I was interested in the drawings made with indian ink and acrylics on drafting film (mylar) – as this is a support that I have been experimenting with. Also whilst there is terrific depth to Brown´s paintings and drawings – they are all made on smooth, flat surfaces.

His combined use of thin lines to create what appears from afar as larger brushstrokes is impressive – he is in some cases achieving the same effect as for instance Frank Auerbach’s thick impastos using brushed thin lines on a flat smooth surface.  By contrast he then produces a series of sculptures that are built up of thick impasto brushstrokes of oil over acrylic paint.

To me there is obviously an element of digital manipulation in his drawings and oil paintings – particularly in the oils the backgrounds appear almost photographic, unreal even. His drawings in which he combines two or three different faces in one are another example.

I am a great fan of the work of Frank Auerbach – so this exhibition was interesting in that it showed a different artist’s method to achieve a similar effect but on a different support and completely different style of brushstroke. It also provided me with more ideas to develop my work on Mylar, in addition to complementing a new discovery from Japan – the work of Tawara Yusaku, who worked on a small scale using ink and built up what appears to be one larger brushstroke using a small brush with up to maybe 200 smaller energetic brushstrokes which he completes almost unconsciously and repetitively like a buddhist chant:

Tawara Yusaku

I have also been trying out his technique, of creating horizontal lines (I-chi) with a small No. 1 sable, indian ink and rapid, energetic brushstrokes – the upper example is with one charge of paint on the brush, the lower one using multiple charges of ink: