Part 3: Assignment 3 – Tutor feedback

Understanding Painting Media

Part 3 – Monotype portraits with paint

Summary of Tutor feedback

Learning points from tutor feedback:

  • Tutor agrees with my conclusion about what I have learnt from Part 3, summed up by: “learning to be willing to accept less than perfection (in my eyes), to distil my practice to more meaningful mark making and to embrace happy accidents when they occur.”
  • My selection of a series of three images for the assignment, while valid, doesn’t particularly work as a threesome, also some of the stronger works in the exercises compete strongly with the selected three for assignment – so maybe more thought needed in the selection process against course notes criteria.
  • Think carefully before making selections from this part of the course when it comes to submitting a portfolio of work for final assessment (maybe use A1 sheets with mounted multi-images counting as a single piece of work?). Also think about how to present much of the stronger pieces from this part of the course exercises as a unified single piece, such as loose leaf bound or as a book, or box. [Tutor has highlighted a shortlist of seven of the more successful exercise drawings for my consideration in pulling this together].
  • Look at the portrait work of Frank Auerbach for thick impasto paint treatment and that of Glenn Brown who simulates impasto with flat paint.
  • Exercise 3.1 20 x A4 ink studies – work well in grid format. Think about presenting these in a box format (like Marlene Dumas). Seek to develop these – e.g. larger more absorbent thicker watercolour paper, free and painterly approach and different scales and supports.
  • Exercise 3.2 Monotypes – good continuation from exercise 3.1, using a selection of ink studies as starting point. Experiments here are the highlight of the submission – fulfilling the exercise objectives, develop a painterly language, searching for broad areas like tone, contrast, composition and colour relationships – rather than detail.
  • Pieces that are enigmatic and expressive – check out Emil Nolde’s watercolours of people; also look at work of Georg Baselitz – contemporary German Neo-expressionism.
  • My monoprint work on canvas ground didn’t work that well – texture interferes and the pre-primed canvas is less absorbent.
  • When working directly with oil on paper should size the paper or apply gesso acrylic primer, or use print making papers suitable for oil-based inks.
  • Have a look at work of Chris Ofili as context for painting (nothing to do with monotype).
  • All of work in Exercise 3.2 is leading to a freer and more experimental application of paint in future studies.
  • Bear in mind that I can substitute assignment work with project work if preferred.
  • Exercise 3.3 five portrait monotypes – the series here works well (another contestant for submission for assessment or think about making them into a concertina sketchbook so that they can be viewed in a line or as a book (this could be submitted as a sketchbook avoiding making it count for the maximum 12 pieces for assessment).
  • Exercise 3.4 additional working into selected monotypes – trial print 1 not really working as well as rest – pushed beyond redemption, but still a part of the learning process.
  • Research – think about the painting medium I want to work on for the written project. Good use of technical notes (can be used for future work). Look again at work of Kim Baker (glazing techniques); Helen Frankenthaler (how to make oil bleed); and Annie Kevans, Yuko Nasu and Marlene Dumas (use of oil in a thin veiled way).
  • Learning log – Good reflection and criteria for making work and selection of best work. For monoprinting consider not trying to perfect the printmaking process (as I proposed), but rather consider this part of the course as a means towards developing paintings, alongside processes like drawing or collage, or photoresearch.
  • One of the most positive outcomes for me in this part of the course – my experimentation with subtraction and adding paint.

Pointers for Part 4:

  • Look at work of Sian Bowen – exploring the circular format in Nova Zembla via the Claude Glass.
  • Look at Helen Chadwick – circular forms are common in science research (i.e. cultivations are often done in circular Petri dishes).
  • Tondo – often easier to work within a circle drawn on a square & consider the negative space this offers (in larger and smaller areas); use a bowl or plate of different sizes to draw out circular formats and try out different supports, e.g. thin wood, canvas, board, etc.
  • If cutting out circular shape(s) aim for neatness/accuracy.
  • Experiment with found circular objects, e.g. biscuit tin lids (working on metal), paper plates, etc.
  • In context research, look at photography and use of window mounts in oval and circular form.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
24 March 2017


Part 3: Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits with paint


Now that you have more of a grasp of the monotype process, create three monotypes that encompass the techniques you feel work the best to create the kind of self-portrait or portrait images you want. Think about what you want to communicate with these images and how your use of paint will enable this.

Arrange the finished prints in different ways and photograph them. Before you do this, have a look at the work of Annie Kevans, Yuko Nasu, Luc Tuymans, Eleanor Moreton and Chantal Joffe to see how their series of portraits work as a whole as well as individually.


From having believed I had learnt a fair bit during the exercises of this part of the course in relation to the monotype print process I suddenly felt quite challenged with the assignment – only 3 monotypes?

I decided to create some new portraits/self portraits and these can be found here:

I started attempting to turn these ink sketches into monotype prints, and kept going, trying to capture the chosen 3! I’m not so sure I achieved it, but here goes.

For all the prints, I used a 40x30cm glass plate to paint over the various ink sketches with oil paint thinned with Liquin:

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Oil paint not thinned enough resulting in paint becoming really sticky on the A4 card once pressed. Probably painted in too much of the image resulting in bleeding/muddying of the printed image.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 2” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

Similar to “Bobby 1” although the eyes are a lot more piercing. I made a bit of a mess around the edges, thus the coloured framing.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Bobby 3” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

A much simpler line print image achieved with thinner oil paint.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card) – second print from glass plate for ‘Bobby 3’

This second print reminds a bit of Tracy Emin’s sketchy/ghostly monoprints, as seen for example in her 2005 monoprint on paper, “Sexy Dolly”:

In: Downs, S. and Staff, T. (2007) Drawing now: between the lines of contemporary art. Edited by Downs. London: I. B. Tauris, p.98.
Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Happy Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

A much freer print showing facial joy, again achieved with thinner oil paint application on the glass plate.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted newsprint photograph

I came across an article in The National (Friday 3 February 2017, pp.26-27) about the Scottish artist Joan Eardley. It discussed her early years in Glasgow painting the children of Townhead, an area in the east-end of Glasgow. Townhead is where my wife was born and she remembers the tenement buildings where her family stayed before they were all pulled down to make room for the M8 Motorway running from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

The article contained an example of Eardley’s work which I cut out and pasted onto card and then used this to print an image of “Townhead Bobby” over the image of the two children in Eardley’s painting – you can just about make them out beneath the printed image from the glass plate.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby 2” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted image

I reworked “Townhead Bobby’ again printed over a clearer image of Eardley’s painting so that the children could be seen more clearly peering through the over-print. Available at: [Accessed: 15 February 2017].

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

I don’t know whether I pressed down too hard making this print, but the paper slid a bit over the glass, resulting in a fairly unrecognisable blobbiness to the paint. This could really only be rescued by the use of cotton buds to smear away some of the paint to leave a vaguely seen line drawing self portrait.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Nearly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed canvas sheet)

I had read somewhere that it might be a good idea to wet the surface of the material to print onto and then wipe the wetness off before applying it to painted glass plate. I tried this here with this trimmed canvas sheet and while it did accept the paint it also left crinkles across the canvas.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed Bristol Board paper)

I wet and dried the paper first and used masking tape to surround the area where the print would be made, in an attempt to try and keep the surrounds cleaner. The glass plate was fairly loaded with thinned oil paint. Probably more by luck than design I managed to peel off the printed image to reveal a reasonable representational image without further working required, although in removing the top length of masking tape the paper beneath tore away slightly.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Sharp Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card)

Self portrait seen through an imaginary window frame using only thinned Payne’s Grey and a reduced amount of mark making. A cotton bud was used to remove paint to create the frame and some other areas of the figure.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Stuart painting” (oil paint, liquin on A4 canvas sheet)

I used a rolled up cut-off of sponge padding to dip into the thinned oil paint and applied it to the glass plate. Once removed from the plate the print needed some attention to bring some clarity to certain areas, such as the arm, hand and paint brush and the facial features.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Swirly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Wet card, dried off and placed on top of loosely applied oil paint. Once removed I felt this did not need any further adding to and am quite pleased with the swirly painterly effect achieved. Without consciously trying, and in hindsight, I think I must have been influenced by the swirling, viscous painting of Cecily Brown. [see:].

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Ghostly Stuart 2” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card) – second print from glass plate for ‘Swirly Stuart’

A second printing onto the same glass plate as “Swirly Stuart” produced my second ghostly self portrait, with the remaining paint on the glass just about leaving a recognisable image on the card.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

I had used left-over oil paint to cover the A4 card and then added a rolling of brown over the top. The printed image of my line drawn portrait on the glass plate was very nearly invisible so I decided to scribe or scrape away brown paint with a dental prod to reveal the image.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 2” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

Same technique as before but used cotton buds to draw over the image once printed.

Reflection on Assignment 3

“The intermediate status of a monoprint, between drawing, painting and print-making, is made poignant by this instantaneous capturing of a moment in time, in which fluid or sticky materials leave a unique trace on paper, one that cannot be repeated.” In: Petherbridge, D. (2010) The primacy of drawing: histories and theories of practice. 2nd edn. New Haven: Yale University Press, p.142.

“A monotype is essentially ONE of a kind: mono is a Latin word which means ONE and type means kind. Therefore, a monotype is one printed image which does not have any form of matrix. On the other hand, a monoprint has some form of basic matrix.

The process of creating a monoprint or a monotype is the same, but when doing monotypes, the artist works on a clean and unetched plate; with monoprints, however, there is always a pattern or part of an image which is constantly repeated in each print. Artists often use etched plates or some kind of pattern such as lace, leaves, fabric or even rubber gaskets, to add texture. In this case, having a repeated pattern, we have a mono print.” 
Available at: [Accessed: 7 February 2017].

In trying to make a selection of three monotype prints from the sixteen created I laid them all out and took a photograph of two arrangements:


From these I chose the following three prints for the assignment submission:



I could have chosen a series of prints of either “Bobby” or “Stuart” images, but instead decided on these three prints for different reasons:

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Sharp Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card)

“Sharp Stuart” because I like the simplicity of the image, both in the technique of thinly applied monochrome paint and selective removal of paint and also the narrative of the image looking off into the distance through an imagined window. I think that this is my most successful attempt at a monotype print.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Townhead Bobby” (oil paint, liquin on trimmed card) – printed on top of pasted newsprint photograph

“Townhead Bobby” because I enjoyed the process of overprinting the pasted on newsprint and the narrative connection made between Eardly’s painting and my wife’s early years living in Townhead. She is not aware of being one of the children Eardley painted, but her memories of tenement living and childhood games in the back courts are as vivid now as they were when she was a child.

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Scraped Stuart 1” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

“Scraped Stuart 1” because the technique of scraping/removing paint saved this print from being a non-print. There is something ‘Burnsian’ about the image, despite the fact that to my knowledge the Scottish bard Robert Burns didn’t wear glasses!

Having selected these three as my chosen assignment monotype prints with paint, I have to admit that of all the prints created, my overall single favourite is

Assignment 3 – Monotype portraits – “Swirly Stuart” (oil paint, liquin on A4 card)

because I like the expressiveness and freedom of its swirlyness!

Artists who have influenced me throughout this assignment are numerous, including:

Loosely applied paint

Natalie Dowse; Marlene Dumas; Kim Baker; Chantal Joffe; Alli Sharma; Geraldine Swayne; Annie Kevans; and Cecily Brown.

Monotype prints

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione; William Blake; Edgar Degas; Henri Matisse; Camille Pissarro; Maurice Prendergast; Jasper Johns; Kim Edwards; and Tracy Emin.

In moving forward with monotype printing I would consider using a more robust printing method than the application of a baren. I think the pressure applied by the hand press method resulted in quite varying degrees of success. A ‘proper’ printing press for monotypes would provide a more uniform and consistent result I feel.

I can also see merit is using the monotype print as a way of developing a narrative series of painterly prints exploring certain themes or objects, along the lines of the loosely painted works by artists such as those mentioned above.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
16 February 2017