Part 5: Assignment 5 – revised assignment submission

Following feedback from my Tutor on my original assignment work (see summary of Tutor comments, I took some time to reflect on how I might better capture the essence of the assignment brief.

To this end, I looked back over the exercise work and focused on three ideas in particular for further exploration in the revised assignment: Exercise 5.2 – a walking narrative; Exercise 5.3 – corner of a room; and original assignment work with a found collage approach.

In Exercise 5.3, I had in effect produced a triptych of room corner studies in watercolour (see and I liked the idea of developing the triptych concept further.

For this revised assignment I produced three separate triptych works, starting with:

Triptych 1

Starting from a 90cm x 60cm stretched canvas I had previously covered with pale blue gesso:

World map on pale blue canvas

I added a cheap sticky-back map of the world onto which I sprayed adhesive to add texture (above) and overpainted again with thinned oil colour washes:

World map on canvas with thinned oil washes

Pushing further I added more vibrant Jackson Pollock-like thinned oil paint drips to overlay with random mark making and added texture:

World map on canvas with dripped thinned oils

This became my ground for recapturing some of the feeling, intention and images from Exercise 5.2. I chose nine images from my original ‘Balnain Circular’ to place against the wider context of the world map – now “my world within a world”, my journey, my garden ‘desert island’ narrative in an imagined new context:

My world within a world

Measuring and lining the finished canvas, I cut it into three sections forming Triptych 1:


Triptych 2

Taking my Exercise 5.3 corner room studies, I re-imagined them in thinned oil paint on three panels of 41cm x 61cm exterior plywood. I used size 8, 10 and 14 brushes and Liquin thinning medium for all my reworked assignment pieces.

The individual panels are:


Bedroom corner – morning


Bedroom corner – noon


Bedroom corner – night

The collection as a triptych – narrative inspired by time of day and quality of light:

Morning, noon and night
Noon, night and morning
Night, morning and noon

While I think that the three individual paintings stand alone quite well, in their own greenish, pinkish and blue/purplish renditions, I believe that together as a 3×3 arrangement (above) they come together pretty well compositionally as an interesting arrangement.

Triptych 3

Picking up on the found collage theme I began to explore in one of my original assignment pieces, I captured three separate images from TV as seen through and reflected back through our lounge window against a garden background. These were painted in thinned oils on three different grounds:

Waxed panel, rusted tin, water-stained panel

The individual panels were made from the top, bottom and inside of an old oil paint box, each panel measuring 30cm x 40cm.


‘Confrontation’ – TV image against garden backdrop on water-stained panel

The TV screen image is seen through a misty layer of thinned oil paint and the water-stained panel cracking shows through the oils in the background.


‘Escape’ – TV image against garden backdrop on rusted tin

The tin ground shows through the thinned oil paint in places, adding sparks of light into the background foliage, while a cut-to-size sheet of sticky-back clear polythene covers the TV screen to add depth and atmosphere.


‘Weatherman’ – TV image against garden backdrop on waxed panel

The waxed ground and cling-film TV screen adds texture and atmosphere to the image.

The collection as a triptych – narrative inspired by altered perspective:

three TV images against garden backdrop

Review of revised assignment 5

Fortunately, after heavy rain this afternoon turned out dry and so I was able to lay out my three triptychs in the only place I could – on the deck in the garden. A pair of steps, camera and nerves (at a height!) I made four, not three, different arrangements of my triptych collections:

‘3 x 3’ triptych collection arrangement 1
‘3 x 3’ triptych collection arrangement 2
‘3 x 3’ triptych collection arrangement 3
‘3 x 3’ triptych collection arrangement 4

As I couldn’t get high enough on the steps (without wobbling, or falling off) the pieces are all fairly close together – they might have benefitted from having some more space around each one? However, they are what they are and the main feature for me in all of the arrangements is the bedroom corner trilogy. That’s not to say that I don’t think the other two lack merit. Of these I think the TV trilogy stands out, while my continued ‘Balnain Circular’ world within a world journey still spirals (like jazz) in my mind.

So, I removed it from the arrangement and this image is my chosen more balanced arrangement of the ‘2 x 3’ triptych collection:

‘2 x 3’ triptych collection

All-in-all I believe I have revisited the assignment brief and my original attempts and brought something stronger to this revised assignment. I have used larger brushes and a variety of grounds, experimented with subject matter and a more relaxed, less detailed application of oil paint. I have scaled up original exercise work and sought new ways of expressing my ideas.

Underlying all of this work there remains my original fascination with the idea or concept of place and what it means to me from what I see around me – it’s about what I feel about things and while it may not be an accurate representation, it is a true reflection of what I perceive.

I have tried to approach this revision in a less literal way – only time, and assessment, will tell if I have succeeded or not.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
26 July 2017




Part 5 Essay – Revised

Following feedback from my Tutor, I have revised my essay as follows:

part-5-essay-of-the-medium-of-oil-paint REVISED

[some of the links don’t appear to work, still trying to work out why], so –

To download a .docx file, click on the link below and save it to your desktop:

part-5-essay-of-the-medium-of-oil-paint REVISED

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
18 July 2017

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Tutor feedback

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Tutor feedback                      

Understanding Painting Media

Part 5 – The paper museum

Summary of Tutor feedback

Learning points from tutor feedback:

  • Good technical potential shown in some of the preparatory work, e.g. Exercise 5.1 – looser painting and conceptually good (an outcome from Part 4).
  • However, my work for Part 5 overall was perhaps overly influenced by my research and reading – all becoming a bit ‘concept heavy’ in places (e.g. Exercise 5.2 and the Assignment) and evidence again of reverting back to tightening up, becoming too descriptive and detailed – overly literal in what I am seeing in front of me.
  • But some potential in developing a walking narrative as seen through a few of the 5.2 pieces, particularly in use of ink and watercolour.
  • 5.3 submission positive, although perhaps again the painting is over thought.
  • 5.4 – use of recycled supports is useful, but integration of text with painting needs further thought.
  • Recommended to review Assignment 5 and perhaps build on one of the exercise themes and redo or expand the assignment.
  • Assignment 5, as submitted, is lacking cohesion in terms of technical and compositionally disparate studies – more like media experiments than a sound exploration on theme (‘palm tree’ series, conceptually garden as imagined place).
  • I need to drop the ‘tight descriptive painting’ and work on a much larger body of work with testing a new support. Also evidence of dropping back into silhouetted and flat graphic handling of the painting surface – the exact opposite of what I am hoping to achieve by handling paint fluidly and intuitively.
  • The found collage approach has mileage to develop further (portrait within image)
  • Positive directions can be found in further experiments in working plein air and the idea of a walk exploring narrative, time and places.
  • Need to revise Part 5 essay, removing some of the images and expanding a bit on how working plein air can capture a sense of place through painting.
  • Wider context research is fairly sound. However, need to watch that I allow my practice to catch up with the theory and best advice is to spend time consolidating my painting practice as a primary goal.

Last thoughts

I think in hindsight, and being hard on myself, I was becoming tired and lazy in my painting practice for this part of the course – lesson learned.

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
18 July 2017

Part 5 Essay


Before you go any further in Part Five, give some thought to the piece of written work that you’ll submit as part of Assignment Five. This will be a research project into the historical and contemporary use of a specific painting medium. You should write around 500 words and illustrate your essay appropriately. For this written project, choose a painting medium that you enjoy and have used during this course and look at one historical and one contemporary artist who uses the same medium.

For example, if you were to choose watercolour, you might look at J.M.W. Turner and Emma Talbot and investigate the different ways they use watercolour and why you find these appealing and effective. Reflect on the influences these artists have had on your work and ways in which you might continue to use the medium in your work.

part-5-essay-of-the-medium-of-oil-paint [.pdf file]

To download a .docx file, click on the link below and save it to your desktop:

Part 5 Essay of the medium of oil paint

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
28 June 2017

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment


For your final assignment on this course, you’ll produce a group of paintings, drawings or other images that describe aspects of your environment. The number of images will differ from student to student, depending on the nature of your work: discuss this with your tutor.

Your final work might include a combination of any of the media and materials you’ve already used. Here are some ideas:
• using pieces of pottery or things you find in your garden
• pin rubbish out onto a piece of cardboard or paper so that it lies as flat as possible and looks a little like a Victorian etymological display
• ink tonal sketches of the town, village, city, countryside where you live
• a ‘journey’ around your room.
• your pets or the animals in your neighbourhood (look at David Hockney, Elizabeth Blackadder and Stella Vine)
• painting something from the TV (e.g. Natalie Dowse).

You could start by making a quick photo/drawing/painting of:
• faded bits of wallpaper or patches where the sun has faded the surface
• under your bed
• writing in steam on the bathroom window
• shadows/light photos
• houses in your neighbourhood lit up at night (e.g. Barry Sykes)
• a photo of you each day as soon as you wake up
• a fly on the windowsill (can you paint the sound?)
• the view from your window
• the food you eat
• a streetlamp going on or off
• changing light or the way light hits a wall/ornament inside or outside your house
• found images in your house: photographs, the paintings or pictures on your wall, etc.
• rubbings of the textures around your environment. (You could then make paintings of the rubbings. This is one of the techniques that Hayley Field uses, along with documenting the changes in light of her studio.)

Even if you don’t use images from these quick drawings/paintings in your final collection they may affect the way you work and you may return to these methods in other projects. The broader the range of materials you use, the greater the choice you have for selecting the perfect combination of media to communicate your ideas in the most articulate and self-aware way possible.

Here are some ways in which you might choose to depict your subject matter:
• any painting media already used on this course – or a new one
• photographs
• drawings
• monotype
• layering paintings into drawings
• film on your phone
• coloured pencils
• silverpoint drawing
• rubbings
• monoprint.

Use one of the range of surfaces listed in earlier exercises and assignments. Or use envelopes that come through your letterbox or paper/newspaper/packaging you have in your house. You’ll need to edit and curate your work to produce your final assignment collection. Think about:
• How do the images work together? Do they tell a story?
• Does one look out of place? Why? What, if anything, should go in its place?
• How do you want the collection of images to look – harmonious, barely there, striking, overwhelming, subtle, discordant, child-like, complex, tonally similar?

Pretend you haven’t created the objects but have been told to ‘curate’ them, i.e. give them some sort of coherent context. You might want to try this a few times to see how works in a collection can gain very different meanings when presented in different ways. Photograph each presentation and make some brief notes in your learning log. You might want to try a few locations for presenting your final selection. Try to steer clear of using props or anything too ‘twee’. Maybe find a wall or walls in your house where you can group your paintings – your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, sitting room or loo.

Assignment inspiration

The reading, thinking and the work produced during the course of Part 5 has, for me, come to some kind of distillation in the assignment. Wandering and wondering has inspired me to attempt to grasp what I feel now about my own local environment and express that feeling as a single simple motif – what is it, a plant, a weed, a tree, an imagined non-place?

My ‘garden’ desert island is not remote, nor is it populated – it is instead an imagined place, a dream-like condensing of images and ideas. It is, as Peter Davidson proposes in his 2005 The idea of North, “… the idea that place is composed both of physical geography and of essence or idea.” (p.30).

I have attempted to lay hold of what ‘my place’ means to me – a retreat, a safe place, even an idea of paradise.

So, my motif, both image and idea, relies on a generic representation of nature based on the many shapes and forms of the plants, trees and weeds that have populated my work in the exercises, gelled with an idea or essence of what ‘my place’ means to me.

I have used a variety of found objects – packaging, pottery and wood – and techniques – monotype, rubbing – and thinned oil paint to create the pieces.

Finished paintings

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [wood block ink study & coloured ink on index card]
I made a wood-block cut of the image on a found piece of wooden decking (see below) and before painting it with oils I tried out a ink block print (see above). But, surprise, the only image transferred to paper was the black lines of the raised sections of the decking – not really what I was after. You can still see the black ink lines though in the piece completed with coloured inks.

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [carved wood block – oil on offset of decking board]
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment – hand-made press for monotype prints

I made this from an old found screw press that was used for squeezing fruit in a metal container. I adapted the screw mechanism to fit on a frame using pieces of scrap MDF board and a length of copper pipe – reasonably successful, but probably rubbing over the paper on the glass plate is just as, if not more, productive. I used the press for my ink block print and for the two monotypes below.

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [monotype print 1 – oil on A4 250gsm Bristol Board]
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [monotype print 2 – oil on A4 250gsm Bristol Board]
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [Amazon packaging 1 – oil on 20 x 19cm packaging offcut]
This fantasy image includes a small interpretation from one of my sketch ideas – the TV image seen as a reflection through a window – thinking about my garden ‘desert island’.

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [Amazon packaging 2 – oil on 26 x 15.5cm packaging offcut]
‘Rate this packaging’ – how has it come to this? I’m in my place, my space – leave me alone.

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [rubbing – graphite powder on Bristol Board, sealed in clear plastic and trimmed to shape]
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [Garden pottery – oil on piece of broken jardiniere]
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” [found 30 x 22cm oval wooden plaque – oil on wood with beads, shells and stones]
The found oval plaque was hidden in a tree in the garden, forgotten about. It originally had inlays of different kinds of wood within the design, but year’s of weathering has seen most of this fall away. I used the found plaque to make the rubbing with graphite powder, used it as template for all the other pieces in this ‘garden’ collection, and finally brought new life back to the neglected plaque by dressing it up in the image above.

Curated collection

Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” – curated collection 1
Part 5: Assignment 5 – Depicting your environment “My garden ‘desert island'” – curated collection 2

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
27 June 2017