Etiqueta: Frank Auerbach

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


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:



Part 4 The figure and the head

Part 4 The figure and the head

Assignment 4

1. Figure study using line – Seated model in an upright chair

Upon starting this course I was worried about working big, however now I find it liberating and comfortable working bigger – this drawing was a little bigger than A1.  The paper (in spanish) was called Pergamina – a textured vinyl type paper which creates a misty effect when used with charcoal. In this drawing I used coloured pencil and charcoal.


Self-Portrait Charcoal and coloured pencil on textured pergamina paper

This drawing was based on an earlier sketch I made of myself – also made in front of a very large mirror hung in my study/studio.  I had huge difficulties with my left leg and had to redraw it many times. I drew my right arm in two positions as I had to keep it moving to draw!

Of course the whole image is reversed by the mirror.

I was not entirely pleased with this drawing because of the amount of reworking and also because I re-read the assignment brief which asked to rediscover new ways to work with line – so I used experimental work that I made previously in the figure exercises in oil pastel and also an effect I encountered in Part 3 with pastel on newsprint previously painted over with acrylic gesso – the effect was almost like a fresco.



On this occasion I used a limited palette of soft pastels on newsprint pre-prepared – painted over with white acrylic gesso:


Self portrait – Soft pastel, collage and gesso on cartridge paper
Detail of self portrait

Whilst there are some inaccuracies in the scale and measurements of this study, my line work was fresher and I used a wide variety of colour, weight and style. I have managed to achieve an accurate rendering of my limbs and hands – including some skeletal landmarks.  I was much happier in this study than the first.

2. Figure study using tone – Reclining model

During this course and Part 4, I have been referring to an interesting book on drawing by Paul Thomas and Anita Taylor:

The charcoal drawing on the right was actually made by addition (not subtraction) but I also referred to a part of Experimental Drawing in which a drawing was made by the subtraction of charcoal. In the following drawing I wanted to achieve a similar effect to the RH drawing above but by subtraction. I therefore prepared the pergamina support the night before with a direct coating of compressed charcoal.

This then gave me a basis upon which I could achieve a figure study using tone. Highlights were taken out using a rubber and darker shadows by adding charcoal.

The pergamina support was not ideal for this medium but did allow for better subtraction of the charcoal.

Lighting was artificial and from a single source – in the evening without daylight.

There was also influence from studies made by Frank Auerbach – see self-portrait notes below for final drawing.

Reclining figure, Charcoal on pergamina paper

This is perhaps a style I could develop further and it did work well.  There are inaccuracies in the proportions, however I felt that the modelling using tone was good and model well placed within the sofa.

3. A portrait or self portrait combining line and tone

This final drawing is in fact an atmostpheric self-portrait using a single light source as called for in the brief. The influence was from the portraits and self-portraits made by Frank Auerbach:

Combining this with his looser line drawing portraits:

NPG 6611; Frank Auerbach by Frank Auerbach
Frank Auerbach – Self portrait, pencil and graphite

Before making my final drawing, I made some other Frank Auerbach style studies in my sketchbook:


Also some other sketches – the RH one blind:


Finally, I returned to a study by Frank Auerbach called ‘Head of Bruce Bernard’ – I made the following copy before embarking on my final drawing for Part 4:


For this drawing I chose the wonderful Strathmore charcoal drawing paper that I had used before with compressed charcoal to ensure that I could achieve a wide tonal contrast combined with expressive line.  The drawing was made up of several layers  built up, erased and then built up again until finally I had a sufficient level of texture, interesting background and basis upon which to finalise highlights and expressive line.

Final drawing: 

Self-portrait, Charcoal on Strathmore laid finish charcoal paper 95g, 45 x 30cm



Part 4 The figure and the head

Research point – Research artists self-portraits historic and contemporary

Rembrandt (1606-1669)

One of the most prolific self portrait artists ever – he made over 100 self portraits (although some are disputed and may have been copies by his students) 10% of his total work.  The portraits painted throughout his life up until his final year can be viewed as autobiographical and include fashions, and changes in his features as he aged.

Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh made over 30 self portraits in his lifetime. He could not afford models and used peasants as models and of course a mirror to make self portraits – one of the most famous being the one with his bandaged ear:

Self portrait with bandage 1889 Oil on canvas

In addition to these portraits he also made other styles of portraits using autobiographical objects of his life:

Tracy Emin (1963 – )

Tracy Emin’s controversial work which includes working blind is of interest to me as I do enjoy the freedom and surprising accuracy of working in this manner. Monoprints are new to me and perhaps something for me to explore as soon as possible.

Like Van Gogh, Tracy Emin also used autobiographical objects from her life:


Tracy Emin My Bed 1998 (Turner Prize nomination)


Frank Auerbach (1931 – )

Among the most inspirational artists for me is Frank Auerbach whose methods were very unorthodox and creative. I recently saw one of his building site paintings in Colombia. His self portraits and portraits in general interest me:

Highly creative and very different in approach. I will use his charcoal method in my submission for Assignment 4.