Part 2: Exercise 2.1 – Unusual painting media


Make paintings of any of the collections you’ve collated using three (or more) of these materials. All of these media have been used by contemporary artists:
• coffee (e.g. Paul Westcombe)
• Coca Cola (e.g. Marcel Dzama)
• Marmite on a white plate
• jam
• nail varnish (e.g. Nadia Hebson)
• make-up (e.g. Karen Black)
• food colouring
• chocolate sauce (e.g. Paul McCarthy)
• resin
• ice (e.g. Liz Ballard, Francis Alÿs)
• Humbrol enamel paints (e.g. Geraldine Swayne, Genieve Figgis, George Shaw)
• egg tempera (e.g. Andrew Wyeth)
• sand
• graphite
• marble dust (e.g. Antoni Tàpies)
• icing
• household paint (e.g. Gary Hume)
• ink drawn with a stick or the wooden end of a paintbrush.

Useful tips
1. At the moment keep these paintings quite small, A4 or equivalent at the most. This will help you to gain control of the media you use in a limited space.
2. You might also want to use paper/card/a paper plate/metal/found packaging/doilies as a surface to make the paintings onto.
3. If you use Humbrol enamel paints, you can dilute them with turps or the thinners that are made to go with them. You can paint them onto canvas, board, card or paper, or onto ‘oil-primed’ paper.
4. Photocopying objects can be a useful way of making them more manageable to depict.

These painting materials may be messy so you might have to document them with photographs and then print the photograph out to create a physical record. The
photograph might then become the piece of work.


For this exercise I chose 14 curated collections from which to select my final 5 exercise ideas. Of these, 3 collections are individual collections of materials, and 2 are combinations of four separate collections. Some of the remaining curated collections will be used in future exercises in this part of the course.

Individual collections

Oil paint tubes collection on palette

For this idea I photographed a collection of my oil paint tubes and transferred the composition onto the cardboard back of a disposal paper palette. Leaving a single paper palette sheet glued on top of the cardboard backing I coated it with black gesso and drew in my oil paint tubes with a polychromos white pencil.

I tried out my original idea (from Sketchbook) to use Spectrum Noir pens, but soon found that the colours did not stand out against the black gesso background, so changed to Djeco Gel pens and POSCA markers to create my painted interpretation of the oil paint tubes collection.

One surprising effect achieved by accident was the random ‘distressing’ of the oil tubes on applying the media in areas on the palette where the glue had not fixed the paper palette to the cardboard backing. I feel I could almost squeeze the tubes!

White on white crockery collection

The photograph I took of this collection of crockery, cutting board and iPad charging socket/cable distinctly showed up the stark light/dark areas of the composition. To represent this in a painting/drawing, I chose to use graphite powder on a white gessoed A4 sheet of canvas paper. In order to manage the graphite powder I used a paper stub and finger to move the powder about. There are a few smudgy sections that I found hard to correct, even with putty rubber, so I reverted to trying to lift some of the white highlights (particularly on the wire) with a white watercolour pencil – not really successful.

Computer inks for recycling collection

On an almost-A4 sized piece of sheet metal I chose to represent the used computer ink cartridge collection. My selected media for this was a PITT black artist pen to outline the cartridges and then Humbrol enamel paint to pick out the substance.

I maybe got a wee bit carried away with my ideas on recycling and decided to paste some ink cartridge ‘political’ statement on four of the cartridges.

Combined collections

Watches collection on postcard collection

The postcards were collected by my father during his RAF service during the 2nd World War. He spent time in Italy as a radio operator and the collection contains scenes of Milan and Syracuse on Sicily. I discovered these in a bureau drawer handed down to me and which now sits in our living room. Having laid the postcards out in a grid on the kitchen table to photograph them I decided to combine this collection with my photograph of a family collection of watches. My late father’s watch is the one in the centre with the strap fully extended. The fob-watch at the bottom belonged to my mother’s father and the other four watches are my own bought over a number of years (I haven’t worn a watch for about 20 years or so as I have developed a sense of time that suits my daily life style without the need to constantly be looking at a watch).

The watches were painted on top of the postcard collection using Pebéo Cerne Relief tubes and Djeco Gel pens to create the framework outline. Within the raised outline of the watches I then used a mixture of coffee and dark soy sauce to apply a wash of brown colour applied wet over dry as separate applications to provide the leather effect to the watch straps.

My feeling of this combined curated collection relates to the passage of time – from my father’s collected postcard images from the war years to the watches all stopped at different times. The brown/sepia colouring also adds an aura of melancholy.

Gloves collection on hats collection – on a hat – top

Thinking about how best to display my hats collection and gloves collection, I picked up an old cap in a charity shop which I then covered with plaster molding material to give it a harder surface and gessoed it in white. The photograph of my curated hats collection was printed out, cut up and pasted onto the new hard surface of the cap.

The gloves were painted over the hats using nail varnish and pottery glaze (I had tried using T-Shirt graffiti pens as I indicated in my sketchbook of ideas, but found this to be ineffective). The glove outlines were picked out using indian red PITT ink pen and the whole composition was finished off by combining washes of dark soy sauce/coffee and pottery glaze colours in between the hats and gloves.

The following images show this ‘wearable collection’ (not sure I would have the nerve to wear this cap outside!) in different viewpoints – front, back, left and right – to give a better idea of the final shape and look.

Gloves collection on hats collection – on a hat – front
Gloves collection on hats collection – on a hat – back
Gloves collection on hats collection – on a hat – left
Gloves collection on hats collection – on a hat – right

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
19 November 2016


Part 2: Sketchbook for Exercise 2.1 – Unusual painting media

Please click on each image to enlarge it and to open it in a new browser tab. You should also be able to zoom in (+) to read the text better and zoom out (-) of each image.


Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 1

Selection of media and colours

Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 2
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 3

Ideas for collections for painting

Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 4
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 5
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 6
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 7
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 8
Part 2 Exercise 2.1 Sketchbook, page 9

Stuart Brownlee – 512319
9 November 2016