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


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Open College of the Arts (OCA) student currently studying Drawing 2

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