Part Two – Assignment 2: ‘Interior Illumination’


To demonstrate my understanding of colour, tone, composition and the development of my technique in my chosen medium. I will build on my learnings so far in this course and consider viewpoint, perspectives, tonal values, contrast, relationships and mood/atmosphere.

Finished Paintings ‘Interior Illumination‘:

Painting 1:

Oil on acrylic ground on canvas mix (60 x 80 cm)

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - Painting 1

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – Painting 1

Painting 2:

Oil on acrylic ground on canvas mix (80 x 60 cm)

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - Painting 2

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – Painting 2

Initial thoughts 

Before starting my actual work I brainstormed on some Initial thoughts and ideas that came across my mind during part 1 & 2:

  • Luminosity: How to depict light? Only in contrast to shadow as there is saying there is no light without shadow and what is also core of the ‘chiaroscuro‘ style? Can there be light perception beyond tonal value contrast? Thinking about the exaggerating aspects of complementary colours and the context of light installations by e.g. James Turell?
  • Blurred vision: the physiological phenomena of the peripheral and foveal blur of the human eye and seeing. Where one have a clear and sharp vision in the center of the sight with blurred edges towards the periphery, or towards closer and more far away objects. Perhaps also beyond this? Where peripheral vision can add new dimensional of visual perception as wonderfully demonstrated in some experiment by Emily Knight, Arthur Shapiro & Zhong-Lin Lu: “Peripheral vision is not just a blurry version of foveal vision” (Knight, 2008).
    Contextual works are from Gerhard Richter, with a blur across the entire painting as perceived in out of focus camera images (with aperture or movement) And there are many other artists who build on that idea.
  • Optical mixing:  Many works and concepts are base on Chevrel’s concepts and visualised by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. An approach that builds on the distance of the observer to the painting in is a common approach in printmaking and web design working with size of dots, their proximity and the distribution of limited amount of colours to generate high range of colour perfection (see CMYK in print)
  • Illusions (Hess, 2016): Like Chevreuls’ illusion of perception of tonal and colour contrasts and the blurred vision illusions are based on physiological phenomena of the human visual system.
    Poggendorf Illusions (also called screening): a straight oblique lines is perception as being interrupted and moved,
    – Watercolor Illusion:
     a white area is perceived infused by a colour when the edge of that area is marked with an inner and parallel to that that outer lines (e.g. inner orange, outer violet -> the entire white area is perceived as orange),
    – Kinetic sensation
     :of movement (as in some works by Bridget Riley),
    – Craik-O’Brien-Cornsweet Illusion : the visual perception of areas on both sides of an edge is different in value and /or hue, covering the edges both areas appear of the same value and/or hue – an amazing visual effect that seems to be based on learned experiences of the human brain
  • Edges: hard, soft, blurred, distorted (context: Alex Kanevsky or Ann Gale), Or in context of above mentioned Craik-O’Brien-Cornsweet illusion.
  • Reflections & glossy surfaces: (see my flower paintings with a mirror – click here), lacquer and resin as technique to show through a window  (my own experiments – click here, and Philippe Saxer
  • Ambiguous lines and planes: context Jonas Wood, Toba Khedoori – see my research on interior – click here
  • The void:: I explored especially in my flower paintings  – click here
  • Loose strokes & expressive : something I started doing with drawing in paint on project 2 – click here, and my works in gouache in project 3 and  project 4). Context : Jacco Hinke
  • Transparent and opaque interplay: what I explored intensively in part 1 – click here
  • Visual perception in distance: different close up view and distance (Agnes Martin) Something I truly admire
  • Embodiment: (of objects, act of painting): a topic that I explored in my personal project of Drawing 1 and one of my main interest. Although not explored so much with painting (besides the large scale work in transparent and opaque – click here and as a further exploration of technique:
  • Additive and subtracting techniques (Charline Von Heyl ( A more bodily engaging form of painting resp. drawing and attractive to me
  • Process painting: visual effects as a result of paint application. Context: Ian Davenport (see my gallery visit – click here)
  • other insight from fellow students on FB group: Chuck Close
    => “Close’s method of painting is always indexical, an incremental process whereby associative colours and shapes build up a pictorial syntax and a recognisable figurative whole. Warm colours are set against cold, circles against squares and the organising principles of the grid are constantly broken by minute areas of expressive abstraction.” (
  • Layering: showing process of painting in context of Jenny Saville. Not yet explored – to do.
  • Format: less common formats e.g. round and oval etc (tondo, feedback in the critiques forum from a fellow student on my project 2 painting – click here
  • Scale: full body involvement of intimate painting? I worked in part 2 mainly on small scale (around 40 x 30 cm) so the question would what will change at large scale?

Conclusions: too many aspect to be tackles in the scope and time frame of this assignment. Surely to keep in my repertoire as elements for further exploration and to get some guidance from my tutor on.

Preparatory Work

Searching for a subject: I rejected on my works so far on still life in project 2 (click here) and project 3 (click here). I elaborated the theme of mirror, reflections and glossy surfaces, at times some looser brush strokes and was intrigued but also been challenged by pure interior subjects. Latter mainly because of the at times quite formal aspects of perspectival tasks of line. I felt more at ease with mundane objects now (context: Giorgio Morandi). While searching through my home I felt intrigued by the various aspects of light and illumination. Something I partly investigated on in project 2 ‘Flowers’ (single light) and project 3 (lamp light).

Subject search :

As I worked nearly day and night now on this assignment I experienced intensively the light impact and its changing influence on the world around me and how I perceive objects in their lightness and colours. So I ended up with some possible set up for my assignment. Objects placed consciously. Glass of water (day) and glass of red wine (evening) as stimuli for possible narratives. Books form my reading list (J. Pallasmaa ‘The Eyes of the Skin‘, R Howells & J Negreiros  ‘Visual culture‘ and a textbook)

Sketchbook A4:

REMARK: I should have placed here images from my sketchbook work. I totally forgot to take them and shipped my assignment incl this one sketchbook already to my tutor. So she will see  🙂

I will amend the post after receiving back my sketchbook. Sorry to those reading my blog and missing them.

Photos taken after my sketchbook investigation:

Below photos are the result of my sketchbook journey, not the start. As I experienced before I learn and discover more doing sketching than taken pictures. I don’t know the exact reason why but I assume it is because of my level of engagement. Actually I find more interesting viewpoints with this approach of exploration of space, line, and planes. I was fascinated by the four coloured stripes of the bed linen in complementaries: red – green and yellow-violet

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - scenery

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – scenery


Tonal studies:

Scene 1 ‘Day time illumination‘:

For this did take some pictures as I used paper copies of them for deeper investigation of tonal values and colour exploration in my sketchbook. Here are the few, starting with ink and wash and continued on paper copies of it with tonal scale of seven in acrylic. I explored two different scenario – one lighter (high key) and one darker (low key) with more focus on light contrast. The purpose was to achieve max perception of direct light perception through the window.

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - sketchbook 1

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – sketchbook 1

At this stage I was wondering how colour can now bring one additional dimension to the scene – as colour can exaggerate contrasts further. I got the feeling how painting (color contrasts and exploration of planes) can get me into another dimension compared to drawing (exploration of mark making and tonal values)

I preferred the view with the lower lamp line at same height as the lower lines of the windows. I felt that this would possibly bring an additional element of interest referring to Jonas Wood Hallway‘ painting with the ambiguity of lines crossing different planes of depth

Scene 2  ‘Night time illumination‘:

REMARK : Same approach as above, no images – reasons mentioned.


During project 3 I got a slight idea about how to evaluate tonal values and colours. Now facing a darker evening scene with the one light source in front of me I was really challenged with the fact that my lowest value (white) on the seven value is still darker compared with the lowest values and colour in front of me. So how can I evaluate it now correctly. As before I placed my tonal value scale just on the object itself and got illuminated by the same light what worked so far. But how to do if I cannot get there? At the end I stopped placing this little paper with my values and colours on the objects and compared them with my naked eye only.

Lesson learned: Relationship of values and colours to each other is more important than chasing an objective colour.
Assignment 2_Interior Illumination_Stefan513593_Page_3a


Contextual Research

With my subject settled and my first sketchbook studies completed I started to contextualised my possible approach further. Based on my initial thoughts.

Context for painting 1 ‘Day Time Illumination‘:

I was intrigued on how other artists refers to Old Masters painting and got inspirited by their use of colour (Bridget Riley, Ian Davenport) and who ended up with their own works of pure abstractions. As my intention was not to move towards an attracted painting in the scope of this exercise (would this be possible ?) still felt some attraction to the work by Raphael ‘The Alba Madonna‘:

The artist has a simple colour palette of orange-ochre, brown, blue, slightly violet, and a red-purple as a colour highlight. The format is a tondo, reminds me of the human eye itself. I could see some colours in this work that resonates with my chosen subject: a cool daylight (white-blue), a warm inside (orange-ochre-brown) and some colour highlights (bed linen, books)

Other artist that kept my attraction of depicting light alongside abstract paint marks:


Context for painting 1 ‘NightTime Illumination‘:

Similar to my day light illumination painting I looked up an Old Masters painting and came across one from Maratta (or Maratti):

  • Carlo Maratta  (1625-1713)
    -‘Holy Night
    Oil on canvas (99 x 75 cm)
    > Mostly in chiaroscuro with brown black and yellow-orange. What is intriguing is the blue-violet coat of Santa Maria that is in the transition of the dark background and the yellow-orange lit ‘inside’ area. The colour really adds an element to the painting that I understand in the frame of the ‘watercolour illusion’ and concept of complementary colours that the light area gets even brighter by that.

For more expressive paint application in my intention to work in this scene rather broad and perhaps not with brushes:

and some other works by Alex Kanefsky.

Some other artist that I could refer to are Helen Frankenthaler (broad paint application for color planes), Antony Gormley (e.g. series ‘Large Works’, 1984 – 1986, drawing broadly in paint) and some works again of Kotscha Reist (combination of edges, planes, and at times drawn in paint)

Color studies:

In inspiration of my tonal values studies and some colour concepts of complementary colours and watercolour illusion: White light space with orange edges and enforce by a complementary blue-violet edge. More expressive paint application. A combination of drawn forms and painted planes. My sketchbook studies done in gouache.

Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - sketchbook 2

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – sketchbook 2

Painting process

Painting 1

Approach (all work done with various brushes)

  1. Preparation of stretched canvas mix with acrylic uni-primer
  2. Outlining in charcoal of main shapes
  3. Imprimatura of main colour of interior in orange (on seven values scale: value 3)
  4. Blocking in shadow area with darker colour (value = 5-6) and applying broad brush strokes
  5. Blocking in window area with titane white with blue violet (strong mixing down with zinc white)
  6. Blurring edges
  7. Adding some more details in the foreground, glass, books and colour stripes on the bed linen.
  8. Refining edges
Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - Painting 1 - progress

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – Painting 1 – progress

Painting 2

Approach (mainly done with palette knife):

  1. Preparation of stretched canvas mix with acrylic uni-primer
  2. Outlining in charcoal of main shapes
  3. Imprimatura with brush of main colour of interior in orange (on seven values scale: value 2) and grey (value 6) and black for lamp stand.
  4. Working with pre mixed colour across the tonal values and application on canvas with palette knife and creating forms and shadows (e.g. glass)
  5. Lamp edge in blue-violet and blocking in upper lamp area in light orange
  6. Changing lamp area and going back to white more more luminosity perception.
  7. Subtractive work with scrapping of paint to create marks and variations in colours.


Stefan513593 - Part 2 - Assignment 2 - Painting 2 - progress

Stefan513593 – Part 2 – Assignment 2 – Painting 2 – progress

At the later stage of the painting I felt reminded of some works by Joan Eardley.

Finished painting are at the top of this post.

Overall I think that I captured the idea of lumination comparing a day light and a night light scene.

Painting 1:
I referred for the first painting quite on Pascal Danz’ ‘Interior’ and not sure whether this is now too much of a copy. I am satisfied with the composition and the way I depicted the with blurred edges contours of shapes. The coloured stripes of the bed linen at the bottom left corner are adding an appealing point of interest that continues with the blue and red book.  What could I have done differently? Perhaps pushing more the limits of colour contrasts not only at the edges of the window. However, I kept a rather limited colour palette and a rather high key painting for a more serenity and calming atmosphere.

Painting 2:

I have the feeling that this painting is not quite resolved looking back at the contextual works by David Tress. I feel that I need more practice working with a palette knife and combinations of additive and subtractive paint application. Due to time constraints I had to finish the work in one session (besides letting the imprimatur drying first). Perhaps with the paint getting dry now I could work on an additional layer of paint for further ‘distortion’. However, I am not sure whether this would be beneficial of the subject matter. Looking at works by Alex Kanevsky I am wondering how to capture his unique visual style. For me more to explore and more time to spend on that.   Overall, I do think that I kept the atmosphere of the scene as well as my own emotions to it – and to the fact that I worked late night and on delayed timeline.


  • Relationship of values and colours to each other is more important than chasing an objective colour. Evaluating colours are a subjective endeavour that depends quite a lot on illumination. Now I understand better why colour contrasts were often used by artists  to be less dependent on the illumination of the observer.
  • Working with colours on a limited palette truly brings another dimension of contrast and highlights to a work compared with drawing.
  • Working without brushes makes my painting process a more intimate approach – similar to drawing.

Next time:

  • Take more time especially for the more additive – subtractive painting 2 ‘Night Time Illumination
  • Color and tonal values: Exploring different way of working with color contrast to enforce luminosity.
  • Exploring further painting approaches by Alex Kanevsky and possibly others on broad paint application and
  • Taking more time for assignments work and making with more paintings to learn better from first and following works.
  • Exploring other approaches of abstract paint application for a visual perception of reality as a combination of blurred edges and realistic values.



  • Howells, R.D. and Negreiros, J. (2011) Visual culture. 2nd edn. Cambridge, UK: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Pallasmaa, J. and Holl, S. (2005) The eyes of the skin – architecture and the senses. United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

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