Assignment 1 – Reflection on tutor’s feedback

I had today a skype call (tutorial) with my tutor and I found it very helpful to interact with my tutor in this way. I reflected on the formative report she sent me beforehand (draft) and this was base for our discussion and her support. She highlighted in her report several topics that at times also went beyond level 1 content (see below topics for discussion)

Overall comments from my tutor:

‘You do the extra mile beyond what is expected. This first submission shows great motivation, diligence and thoughtfulness. Although sticking with representational subject matter may feel restrictive, creative responses to think outside the box are certainly possible.’
=>  ‘A very strong assignment approach by balancing technical aspects of painting with aspects like composition and subject matter’

=> Excellent preparatory work in watercolor and line, well researched through glazing
=> Tonal study preparatory work shows good handling of tone through drawing media and building up glazes
=> I got some very good results in acrylic with use of reds that livens up the palette and semi-transparency works
=> I achieved some beautiful effects with my contextual transparent/oqaque green-red painting (To predict how color behave, are best blended as primary learning outcome)
=> At times it seemed that I jumped to later exercises, e.g. the tonal scale that I used for project 3 (tonal study on colored ground)
=> All three tonal studies on various ground good to compare, my tutor tends to see the dark ground study as most successful

I found the citation from my tutor quite inspiring: humble subjects (like my ‘pebbles’ piece) can make great painting: ‘If you can draw a pebble or rock you can paint a mountain’ (John Ruskin in ‘Elements of Drawing’).

Other examples of humble subjects are the ‘apples‘ of Paul Cezanne and the chinese paintings of the chinese monk Mu Ch’I (also known as Fa-Chang, 13th century) see at: => an ultimate simplistic approach to painting

I also like the perspective on paint-ing as  way to explore planes rather than lines.

It was good to receive a feedback not only on the assignment as such but also on the projects of part 1.


Topics for discussion with my tutor:

  • Is working through technical issues and sticking to more representational subject a compromise for me?
    => What is it about abstraction: elements of transfer into a visual language / interpretation / finding a meaning in the world around me through visual articulation / abstract marks that works with other dimensions e.g. distance for a different perception of things / not necessarily an abstract painting in the sense of American abstract expressionism
    => A mere representational or hyper realistic painting like a photograph or highly rendered details seem to me rather dull and dead. But perhaps this is a pre-conceived idea.
  • Phenomenology: Was topic in my personal project for D1 that I want to continue working on / Perception either through the artist’s visual interpretation or through involvement of the viewer (mind, experience, sensations). Questions that interest me are: can my experienced sensation (e.g. on site) be visualized in a way that the viewer could relate to it? How could I embed in my work non-visual elements (tactile, auditory sensations)?
    => I felt intrigued by te work of Alois Lichtsteiner (click here)  and his perspective leaned on Merleau-Ponty that seeing and perception can not be achieved – a pure illusion. For him it is a liminal experience between representation and the presentation of a pictorial image that triggers perceptions.
    My tutor suggested in addition to my current interest in Merleau-Ponty the book from Jacques Derrida’s Memoir of the Blind’. I understand clearly that this more philosophical background should be considered as an holistic approach for my longterm artistic development. It surely goes beyond level 1 expectations with the focus on understanding the basics.
  • What is Painting (compared to drawing, illustration)?
    => I like that it about ‘exploring planes’ in space compared to drawing that is more about exploring space through mark making
    => Perception: Visual interpretation – for me it is an ambiguous act through abstraction and simplification
    => Outlines: for me outlines are a way of simplification and creation of a tangible world through placing objects into a pattern, shape, boarder / also a way of delineation / a way of illustration
    => Question: How paint can add to this in a unique way? A starting point for me was the definition in one of recent gallery visits (click here) Considering paint-ing as paint on a surface – made with intention. Are there other perspectives?
  • Glazing as painting: Is drawing the foundation and painting to make it colorful? What would the paint add additionally to the work?
    => I have the feeling that this is too limited perhaps too easy? Is this mixed media?
  • Exploration of painting beyond representation and illusionism -> My tutor highlighted my research of Nancy Eckels and her exploration of texture (rubbing paint into the surface – a more intimate act of visualization)
  • Creativity: to push for later parts, especially for assignment 5 (as it is still level 1)
  • Limited palette and soft opacity may be attractive to me? (see also Michael Borremans )
    => I researched Borremans in D1 as there a limited palette was more intriguing to me
  • Sublime:  What is this to me? I referred to sublime in my assignment work to sublime as a concept, taking some hints from the Tate site, see
    => It is for me a humble view on nature, observing nuances, visualization the greatness, transferring into a powerful work that can attract the attention of the viewer / at times can be exaggerated slightly if there is purpose / can be done on small or at times better at large scale, oversized, overwhelming / at times also to trigger an inner view / Could I combine this with a phenomenological approach? Can experiences and sensation deliver on the sublime concept?
  • Illustration: Something I learned in D1 and highlighted by my tutor / too illustrate means to make markings for the sake of ‘illustrating’ the subject, like outlines. For me the connotation of ‘to illustrate’ means not looking deeper into the essence of the subject, without a emotional response and without discernment
    => My tutor links this to further studies of Aesthetics theories – more appropriate to level 2 but good to reflect now on it. I already feel inspired to look beyond and to reach next level.
  • Differentiation of painting: My tutor encouraged me to formulate my own position on drawing/painting/illustration, and what I want from painting that is different from drawing.


Technical aspects for me to consider:

  • Mixed media: glazing to acrylics
    => Use watercolor and add acrylics to create body (interesting approach)
    => Acrylics and using acrylic medium like Clear Tar Gel to create gloss: see Andrew Haire at:
  • Non brush / alternatives:
    – Oil paint on unsized canvas: see Helen Frankenthaler at: 
    – Oil drawings: see Anthony Gormley at:
    – Use of fingers (I like the more intimate approach of modelling and at times the sculpting appeal. I found this quite intriguing during some of my D1 experiences, also in the context of Frank Auerbach’s drawing approach.
    – Use of a kind of mono print: Decalcomania Max Ernst (one instructional video available from:
    Decalcomania: a method in which diluted paint is pressed onto a surface with an object that distributes it unevenly. Decalc (peeling off) and mania (the hand that pulls it off)
  • Soft Pastels (see Edgar Degas’s use of pastels in his oil paintings to create texture) and
  • Wax pastels (Wax resist with waterbased media) – I enjoyed this in the past in combination with watercolor. I found acrylic paint can be at times too opaque for that.
  • Based on my initial experiences my tutor informed my to avoid white spirit at all! Pre-wetting of surface helps flow.
    More to see at:
  • Context of project 2 – exercise 4: always able to use oil glazes over acrylic ground
  • Context of project 3: fresh application of paint often preferential to over-working paint Turning picture upside down or sideways to help judging compositional balance


Context suggested by my tutor for further research:


Further questions:

  • Struggling with learning log and sketchbook use. Where to place and annotate clippings, found images, visual analysis?
    => My tutor suggested not to worry too much at this stage. As I am anyway mediate printed materials, images (from exhibition folders or else) through my own visual thinking process and into my own visual language.
  • Trying to work through PoP1 in a meaningful based on my learnings from D1 (e.g. related to my last personal project, limited palette, intimate approach to surface etc.)
    => Not problem in following through aesthetic questions that inform perception and use D1 visual materials as a starting point for further exploration throughout for current course units. For me it is also to see the different units as part of my journey and not as separate elements. This will continue in deciding eventually on my pathway (painting, drawing, fine art). As mentioned by my tutor I am always trying to see what I do in a more holistic context, not only researches but also works that I am doing.

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