Part 4: Assignment 4 – Tutor feedback

Understanding Painting Media

Part 4 – The tondo: domestic interior

Summary of Tutor feedback

Learning points from tutor feedback:

  • Interactive aspect of Assignment piece – being able to handle and open it like a book – is quite an original take on this assignment, but need to think more about the kind of cover material used.
  • Context research could have fed more directly into my own development and work produced.
  • Still more use of sketchbook needed: e.g. painterly quick work, drawing with a brush; experimenting with collage (torn rather than cut) in sketchbook work – exploring themes with painting in mind.
  • Continue with preference to work broadly with large brushes and thin layers of paint – build on painting skills.
  • Experiment with incorporating painting with brush into monoprint work (Part 3)
  • Compositional placement of objects and cropping techniques show a good understanding of aiming for balance – could take this further, e.g. segmenting/cropping/deconstructing work even further.
  • Controlled handling of paint in this assignment (tight, constrained) is perhaps a step backwards from my handling of paint in the Part 3 monotype work (broad brush, painterly).
  • Elements of my course work show intriguing juxtapositions between the serious and the trivial (themes) – mixing cultural references – and this could be expanded as progress with course.
  • Evidence of thinking about my colour palette in terms of appropriateness for subject matter.
  • Use of found/appropriated formats and supports interesting and in the main connects support with subject matter quite well – but, be careful not to overdo this, in my tutor’s words “be careful not to fall into a souvenir trap”. However, there is still scope to experiment with this approach, for example working on glass was quite successful.
  • Pencil drawings on paper plates can be seen more as preparation sketches for painting rather than as pencil sketches in their own right – they appear as “finicky’ and not adding much to my painting journey.
  • Beginning to get closer to finding a personal voice in my work.

Pointers for Part 5:

  • Look at the work of Robert Delaunay and Howard Hodgkin in relation to including/painting over the frame.
  • Continue to explore how examples from art history can inform and contribute to fresh ways of looking.
  • I have made statements about my own intentions and vision for developing my painting – painterly/gestural/broad brush approach to painting – and I need to hold onto these – keep reminding myself of my own objectives throughout the coursework and assignment.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
9 May 2017

Part 4: Tondo revisited

Following some initial feedback from my tutor I prepared another five circular tondos. These were all based on segments of the work I had already produced – but this time applying thinned oil paint more broadly and gesturally.

I decided to work on three larger and two smaller tondo surfaces:

Elephant & statue in thinned oil paint on 27.5cm diameter foam board tondo

Different colour scheme from my original tondo painted on a ceramic dinner plate – mainly browns, yellows and blues with a touch of orange – painted using a size 8 short flat and a size 10 filbert brushes.


Statue of ‘Victory’ alongside kitchen boiler flue, in thinned oil paint on 28cm diameter 250gsm Bristol Board tondo

Different colour scheme from my original tondo of this subject painted on a small oval card practice piece – this time painted much larger and mainly using blues and browns with white – again painted with size 8 short flat and size 10 filbert brushes.


Boots & basket in thinned oil paint on 33cm diameter 250gsm oil painting paper tondo

Focused in on my original ‘boots & basket’ scene and changed the colour scheme slightly – mainly blues, reds, yellow ochre, browns, pain’s grey, ivory black and white – this time painted with a size 10 filbert brush.


Small section of porch barometer in thinned oil paint on 9.5cm diameter hardboard tondo

Almost like a spy-glass look into a part of the porch barometer in the background of my Assignment piece – this time using thinned red/white mix, pain’s grey and gold and blue relief paste.


Egyptian head in thinned oil paint on 9.5cm diameter glass tondo

The Egyptian head from my cut off piece of football tondo – painted on both sides using thinned yellow, red and blue oils, with touches of white and gold relief paste.


I pushed myself with this exercise in revisiting painting in the ‘tondo’ experience. In all I produced these five pieces in around one day in total – fast and dirty! – well my hands are extremely smudgy (maybe I should start wearing gloves?)

I am relatively pleased with how these extra pieces turned out and have learnt a good lesson in the process – don’t necessarily follow the course notes too literally! Better to use your own judgement, experiment and paint what and how it feels right for you. These five pieces are painted in a much broader and more gestural style – less fussy – and I would say, more like how I do like to paint. Maybe I’m beginning to ‘hear my voice’?

For a bit of fun, here is an image of my palette for this revisiting – messy, and probably says a fair bit about the way I work!

Part 4 tondo revisited palette

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
27 April 2017

Part 4: Assignment 4 – a circular or oval painting


Make a circular or oval painting of an area in your house, either from life or from a photograph. Refer to the work you produced in the exercises to choose a subject and composition that works well. Use heavyweight paper, card or board as a surface to paint onto.

Again, you’ll find it helpful to cut out a circular shape to frame your image so you know how you’ll paint it on the circle. Think about the following while you’re planning your painting.

• How would you like the painting to look?
• What it is about the image that appeals to you and how can you represent this visually?
• What types of brushes will you use to create your painting?
• What textures/density/hues will you use?
• Will you use gloss?
• Thin/thick paint?
• Will you paint a coloured or a white ground?


For this assignment I decided to return to a practice piece that resonated with me. I wanted to expand the original idea and image to create a larger interpretation of our front porch jumble!

Boots & basket in front porch (thinned oil paint on black gessoed card – 10cm diameter)

I made a quick sketch of the scene using pencil and InkTense block ink and water brush:

Assignment 4 – idea sketch


Assignment 4 – porch scene – thinned oil paint

Using a 30.5×40.6cm canvas board I prepared an acrylic wash as a background for my tondo. The light comes in through glass window on the left of the scene and for this larger picture of stuff I included walking sticks, the top shelf, with the boots sitting on newspaper, the basket, blankets, and the barometer. This was painted with oil paint thinned with Reeves Painting Medium using a size 1 and a size 4 round brush. The colours used were Cerulean Blue and Ultramarine; Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber and Yellow Ochre; Brilliant Red and Medium Yellow; along with Titanium White, Lamp Black and Payne’s Grey.


Assignment 4 – porch scene, with painted overlay

I wasn’t very happy with the way my acrylic brush strokes had petered out at the top and bottom of the canvas board and I had thought of cutting them off. However, I wanted to experiment with something a bit more unusual to add another dimension to this image of a domestic interior. So, using a cut-to-size piece of white foam board, I overlaid the canvas board image and added painted extensions to the barometer, the boot laces and the blankets – hanging, dripping and overflowing the picture.


Assignment 4 – porch scene, with painted overlay – bound and opened

Like a book, telling a story, I used Gorilla Tape to attach the foam board to the canvas board. Let’s open the book and see what’s inside.

Assignment 4 – porch scene, with painted overlay – bound and closed

This is my closed book on my front porch adventure.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
25 April 2017

Part 4: Review of Part 4 Exercises

I have reviewed my work for Part 4 prior to completing the Assignment.


In Part Four you’ve chosen a medium to work with in greater depth. In your learning log reflect on the frustrations, successes and failures you’ve encountered. Keep and document your ‘failures’ – they may have qualities you don’t yet see. Whilst reflecting on the work you’ve made for Part Four, consider how you’d like to develop this in Part Five. You can continue with your chosen medium in Part Five, start again with a new one, or combine it with another medium. Note down in your learning log what you feel are the qualities of the medium/media you’ve chosen and how you hope to exploit these qualities.

Turn back to the end of Part One and use the ideas there to help you think about how you can link your work on Part Four to the assessment criteria.


Thinned oil paint was my medium of choice for the Part 4 exercises. I mostly used Liquin for this, although also tried Reeves Painting Medium, which took longer to dry. However, both did achieve a mix of thinned oil paint that I found worked well. I had painted with thin oil paint in Part 3, but usually in my own practice I favour thicker, impasto like oil and acrylic applications of paint.

Another new departure for me was to seriously use tondo circles and ovals as surfaces for my work, I had tried out both previously a couple of times. Having prepared two viewfinders – circle and oval –

Circular and oval viewfinders

I then set about seeking out suitable domestic interior areas around the house.

Before starting on the exercises, I made five sketches of subjects that interested me and experimented with applying thinned oil paint – – these included kitchen dresser shelf with china (on oval white gessoed thick card), guitars and bookshelf (on oval black gessoed thick card), stern and cabin of model boat (on clear circle of PVC), kitchen statue (on small oval white gessoed thick card), and porch shelf with boots and basket (on oval black gessoed card).

For the series of exercises, I made a total of nine sketches of different small, focused areas of interest around the house, including bedroom shoe rack, corner wall ornaments (2), model boat, music recording equipment, bedroom wardrobe, tool cupboard, clock and bureau, statue and stove.

For the painted renditions, I chose a variety of surfaces – paper plates, cut off piece of old football, ceramic plate, old kitchen clock, vinyl LP record, and canvas board.

Happy with

1. Using canvas board as a surface:

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting with varnish

and adding varnish on top of dried thinned oil paint.

2. Adding thicker paint onto thinned to lift the image, e.g.:

Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – Egyptian wall sculpture, jug, Egyptian scroll and bookshelf on cut off piece of football – thick and thin
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – Shoe rack and book shelves with hung painting on paper plate – thick and thin

3. Experimenting with ‘off the wall’ surfaces such as vinyl LP record and old clock:

Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – music recording equipment painted on old vinyl LP record – thick and thin
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – ornamental boat on shelf painted on clock surface – thick and thin, a wee bit wonky!

Not so happy with

1. Thinned oil paint on cut off old football:

Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – Egyptian wall sculpture, jug, Egyptian scroll and bookshelf on cut off piece of football

very flat and uninspiring result.

2. Using paper plates as a surface generally:

Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – Shoe rack and book shelves with hung painting on paper plate

flat and dull.

3. Using unprimed paper plate in particular, due to the waxiness of the surface:

Part 4: Exercise 4.2 – Bedroom wardrobe with clothes and stuff (drawn on unprimed paper plate)

sharper image but more difficult to apply.

How do I think my work in Part 4 stands up to the course assessment criteria?

Demonstration of visual skills: materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills:

I think that I managed to identify and capture interesting compositions of domestic interior scenes from around my house, utilising a range of perspectives and approaches. The thinning of the oil paint worked pretty well overall and it was fun to apply it to the various surfaces. However, some of the results of applied thinned paint turned out quite dull and flat depending on the surface used (cut off old ball, paper plates), and it was only with thicker applications of medium that the images sprung to life. Coloured pencil is not something I use very much so it was interesting to test myself with the three circular drawings on paper plates and I am quite pleased with the results.

Quality of outcome: content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas:

It is interesting how everyday scenes and objects can become the subject of quirky, focused snapshots of domestic interiors that we take for granted. I enjoyed this aspect of the exercises and can see how the use of tondo (circles and ovals) can act as an intriguing window into specific scenes.

Demonstration of creativity: imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice:

While more traditional surfaces such as canvas board and plates worked well, I found that experimenting with surfaces such as old vinyl LP record, old wall clock and cut off piece of an old football were more challenging and added an extra dimension to the resulting painted scene. Experimentation is certainly one element that I can see emerging into my work as part of this course. I also like to think that my work here has been imaginatively constructed and hangs together as a series of unusual domestic interiors.

Context: reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs and essay):

My online learning log contains images and textual commentary of my Part 4 work [no password required]. Also available on the learning log are images from my sketchbook as well as my research notes into artists known for their work in the Tondo format and depiction of Domestic Interiors.

Artists that have influenced me in this part of the course are: Michelangelo, Parmigianino, Titian, Caravaggio, Mindy Lee, Frans Hals, Fragonard, Robert Delaunay, Escher, Dali, Edefalk, Rostovsky, Mark Fairnington, Iain Andrews, Henry Acloque, S.E. Hall, Virginia Verran, Harald Kroner, John Currin, Harold Gilman, Richard Diebenkorn, Philip Guston, Catherine Murphy, Wayne Thiebaud, William Kentridge, Albert Oehlen, Kate Gottgens.

In my research ideas for tondo painting I mentioned trying to create a piece along the lines of Parmigianino’s ‘Self portrait in a convex mirror’. While not painting a self portrait, I did manage to capture some of the sense of the convex format in using the cut off piece of old football on which to depict a domestic interior scene.

Of my other research ideas, I did manage to make use of a variety of surface grounds, layering of paint and some storytelling. However, there is not much sign of abstraction or surrealism and certainly nothing I managed to produce came close to the “visceral, thickly-painted, edible-looking paintings’’ of Mindy Lee’s ‘John’s Overfaced (Bellini)’ – maybe another time?

The links to Exercises 1 to 4 are here:

Exercise 4.1:

Exercise 4.2:

Exercise 4.3:

Exercise 4.4:

The link to my Research notes for Part 4 are here:

Looking forward:

I plan to continue with oil paint in Part 5 of the course and I want to experiment more with mixing thinned and thicker applications of oil paint to achieve different textures, mark making and painterly effects.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
24 April 2017

Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – adding thicker paint


Using the paintings you made in Exercise 4.1, look at the scene you painted and add thicker paint to these thinly painted works. Leave areas of the thinly painted work visible. What effects have you created by applying areas of thicker paint?


For this exercise I thought about adding impasto oil paint to add texture and raise areas above the surface. However, I decided to experiment with different media – relief paste and nail varnish. I did also use touches of thicker/thinned oil paint (is there such a thing?)

Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – Shoe rack and book shelves with hung painting on paper plate
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – Shoe rack and book shelves with hung painting on paper plate – thick and thin

Adding gold, blue and green relief paste and brown, yellow and red nail varnish picked up the image on a plate to become a more sizzling version of one of my domestic interiors – particularly the ‘golden road’ in the picture on the wall.


Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – Egyptian wall sculpture, jug, Egyptian scroll and bookshelf on cut off piece of football
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – Egyptian wall sculpture, jug, Egyptian scroll and bookshelf on cut off piece of football – thick and thin

OK, photographed on a slightly different background, but nonetheless the addition of relief paste and nail varnish has definitely lifted the colours.


Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – corner shelf with ornaments above book shelves and wooden chest on ceramic plate
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – corner shelf with ornaments above book shelves and wooden chest on ceramic plate – thick and thin

Judicious use of relief paste and nail varnish has brought this image to life – the gold relief paste has a lot to do with this I think.


Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – ornamental boat on shelf painted on clock surface
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – ornamental boat on shelf painted on clock surface – thick and thin

Lift off! or rather ‘sail off’ with confidence – brighter, picked out colours again using oil paint, relief paste and coloured nail varnish.

Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – ornamental boat on shelf painted on clock surface – thick and thin, a wee bit wonky!

Feeling a wee bit queasy – well look at the horizon and not the clock! I rather like this angle and the beauty of painting on the clock is that the image can be viewed in a number of ways.


Part 4: Exercise 4.1 – music recording equipment painted on old vinyl LP record
Part 4: Exercise 4.4 – music recording equipment painted on old vinyl LP record – thick and thin

Restrained addition of thicker media on top of thinly applied oil paint. Again telling a story, but now with some striking highlights.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
20 April 2017

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – a fluid painting


Make a very fluid painting of any subject on the list. Once this has dried, paint or spray with gloss varnish or nail varnish. Use any size, any surface, any media. What effects can you create by applying varnish? Make some notes in your learning log.


I selected to make a painting of a corner of our living room at home. In this specific corner is the source of our main form of heating – a wood burning stove. The charcoal sketch of my painting idea can be found here.

For the painting itself I wanted to continue to experiment with thinned oil paint, although this time I used Reeves painting medium instead of Liquin to see what difference there might be.

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting, first pass

Using a 20x30cm canvas board I prepared a ground of warm brownish acrylic onto which I drew an appropriately sized oval. I contemplated using a grid system to transfer my sketch drawing to the canvas board within the oval format, but instead projected a photograph of the sketch onto the board, mostly to save time. The image was sketched into the oval using an HB pencil prior to painting.

The first thing I noticed was that the painting medium used with the oil paint took a fair bit longer to dry than the Liquin I had been using in the previous exercises.

However, after a couple of days it was dry enough to run a second pass over the painted image:

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting, second pass

In this application of thinned paint I mainly picked out highlights and shadows and to provide additional small detail.

Once dry, the last stage was to add touches of varnish to the image. For this I used a combination of coloured nail varnish and clear picture varnish:

Part 4: Exercise 4.3 – fluid painting with varnish

I think that the addition of the varnish, and in particular the coloured nail varnish brings the image to life a bit more – the blue nail varnish on the stove kind of ‘sings’, and I like it. It’s not what it looks like in reality, but it makes me smile!

Finally, the door handle of the stove in the bottom left corner is maybe tempting you to open the door – do you want to let the fire out?

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
18 April 2017