Jessica Cooper

Jessica Cooper is a Cornish artist, who lives and works in Cornwall. Her paintings are stark and simple. She concentrates on still life; often domestic objects such as cups or bowls of fruit. These objects are sparely painted on a white canvas, often placed unusually. She also paints so-called landscapes, frequently houses and walls, with solitary trees. her style could be called minimilist.

It has been said that her work is influenced by that of William Scott, the Irish painter of still-lifes who turned to the master of still life, the French painter Chardin. Scott is known for his figurative paintings of domestic objects, especially pots and pans, but also for his abstract works which were influenced by American artist Rothko. Below are a couple of images of his paintings, followed by two of Cooper’s for comparison.

Fig. 1.  Pears (1979)                      Fig. 2. Ochre Still Life (1958)

Fig. 3. Bowl of Pears                                             Fig. 4. The Birthday Mug

The painting Pears (see fig. 1) by Scott of pears figures two matt black fruit, placed in the lower third of the canvas, in different positions, the one on the right could be phallic and the one on the left is reminiscent of the female organs of reproduction, the uterus and cervix. Some of Scott’s work has been said to allude to the sexual relationship between male and female and this seems to be so in this work. In the upper half of the painting there are faintly drawn lines of three more friut. I have not seen this work in the flesh, so do not know how these images are made in the translucent sky -blue background. Although there is more than one fruit, and therefore there is a group, they are spaced in a way which does not connect them, except for the inferred sexual relationship between the two lower fruits. This is in contrast with Bowl of Pears by Cooper, (see fig. 3) which are contained within a bowl which occupies the whole space of the canvas. A white bowl, with little deference to the rules of perspective, contains several overlapping pears in subtle shades of greens and mauves. The grouping is evocative of a feeling of connection and containment, and there is a sense of dominance in the spatial positioning which may reflect the artist’s preoccupation with connection as opposed to isloation.

In contrast, Cooper’s The Birthday Mug (see fig. 4) is a single isolated image of a white patterned mug, with a bright red inside, visible because of the distorted elipse. It hangs without a supporting base in a white canvas. The only colours are grey, red and a blackish outline. It is orientated for a right-handed person to pick up, whether this is deliberate or subconcious, I do not know, but it is noticed when one compares the painting with that of Scott’s Ochre Still Life (see fig.2), in which the only vesselwith a handle, a saucepan, is orientated for a left handed person. To someone right-handed, this gives the work an awkwardness, makes one feel unbalanced, perhaps also because the overall compostion is of a disorganised grid, with some of the vessels just touching, but without overlapping. This and the lack of tonal depth makes the image two dimensional. Scott is not concerned with accuracy, and the painting vers towards abstraction, becoming a grid of rounded rectangles. The tension between figurative and abstract is palpable, and more pronounced than Cooper’s painting, which is strongly figurative and evocative of emotional response.

I went to Bath to the Edgar Modern Gallery which exhibits and sells Cooper’s work. I took the three photos below of her paintings.

Fig. 5. Echo
Fig. 6. Small White Hen in Dust Bowl


Fig. 7. Three Concepts.


I visited an exhibition “Kith and Kin” at Falmouth Art Gallery . In the second room at this exhibition there were works by members of the same families of artists, amongst which two paintings, one by Ben Nicholson and one by Kate Nicholson (daughter of Ben and Winifred Nicholson), struck me as having connection with the work of Cooper.

Upper right. Fig. 8. (1962) 1962-Still-Life

Upper left. Fig. 9. (1957) Leaf Jug

Lower. Fig. 10. Title and year not known

All three use a limited palette to portray a similar subject in line, with little attempt at depth of image. Ben Nicholson’s 1962- Still-Life is more abstract in style than the other two paintings, but all three have a sparcity of line and form.

The exhibition “Kith and Kin” was posing the question as to whether an approach to art and style is carried across generations and within families.



Figure 1. Scott, W. (1979). Pears  [Lithograph on paper] Available at: [Accessed 29 February 2016]

Figure 2. Scott, W. (1958) Ochre Still Life [oil on canvas] Available at : [Accessed 29 February 2016]

Figure 3. Cooper, J . (2012) Bowl of Pears [acrylic] Available at: %5BAccessed 29 February 2016]

Figure 4. Cooper, J. (2015) The Birthday Cup [Acrylic on canvas] Available at: %5BAccessed 29 February 2016].

Figure 5. Bailey, A. (2016) Cooper, J. (2015) Echo [Acrylic on canvas] [Photograph] In: Possession of The Author. Tiverton

Figure 6. Bailey, A. (2016) Cooper, J. (2015) Small White Hen in a Dust Bowl [Acrylic and pencil on canvas] [Photograph] In: Possession of The Author. Tiverton

Figure 7. Bailey, A. (2016) Cooper, J. (2015) Three Concepts [Acrylic on canvas] [Photograph] In: Possession of The Author. Tiverton

Figure 8. Nicholson, B. (1962) 1962-Still-Life [oil on canvas) Available at:[Accessed 1/March 2016]

Figure 9.  Bailey, A. (2016) Nicholson, K. (1957) Leaf Jug [oil on canvas] [Photograph] In: Possession of The Author. Tiverton

Figure 10. Cooper, J.  Title and year unknown. Available at:


Stolen, S. (2012) The Stour Gallery At:—current

Laity, P. (2013) ‘William Scott, the painter who made the everyday a masterpiece’. In: The Guardian [online] At: on 1 March 2016]

Green Thoughts Exhibition. Burton Gallery Bideford


Figure 1. Howard Hodgkin For  Alan 1 – V11 (2014)

Went to this exhibition on the way to Cornwall to see my son and daughter-in-law. I found it fascinating. I have no idea about the techniques Hodgkin employs. Must look up “carbonarum”.

I loved the impressions in the paper from the printing and the layers of paint which allowed colours to show through. The is a sensitivity and delicacy about the use of paint, even when the strokes are big and free. The colours are beauitful.

I also bought a copy of the 2014 Jerwood Drawing Prize catalogue and will try to get to the exhibition in June. Sara Dudman’s drawing Megolith 11 is very powerful. I want to see it in its original form and hopefully talk to her about it at some point.


Figure 1. Hodgkin, H. (2014) For Alan 1 – V11 Available at: [Accessed 17/02/2016]



Part 1 Research – Expressing emotions

Re: Julie Brixey-Williams’ drawing locationotation at

I need to loosen up more in my approach to the concept of “drawing” as it seems my approach is too narrow. The work had little meaning or impact for me, until I knew how it was produced, and even then, the remoteness of the mechanism of its making gives it a quality of detachment, whilst the process feels contrived. I did not feel any emotion on looking at it. My “thinking brain” rather than my “feeling brain” became engaged in a consideration of the dancers who participated in making the work, and I wondered what, if anything, they felt whilst pirouetting. Did they feel like artists? Can they be considered as artists? If not what are they? Are they like the pen, the stick of charcoal etc.

I follow two local artists Debbie Locke and Sara Dudman who are working on a project “Flocking together”. This is a collaborative venture and entails webcam footage from sheep, the farmer, a webcam flying over a flock, a webcam attached to the sheep dog. the works are built up in layers using the webcam footage translated through a drawing machine, and drawings made by Sara directly from her observations of the animals, their behaviour and their interactions with their environment. The finished works are a composite of many different sources of data. I was going to say that the most meaningful contribution is that made by the artist Sara, who holds the paintbrush or the charcoal and makes the marks, but I think I am wrong. None of it would stand alone. It’s impact results from the process of its composition and all its composite parts.

Debbie Locke RWA and Sara Dudman:

Assignment 1

On my return to Hamburg, I produced my final piece, which I think follows the brief closely, and says something different about me as a person.

I have always been torn between the life of domesticity which demands time and effort and which I cannot forgo, and the other things I choose to persue, such as a career, and some expression of creativity. There have been times when I have been dedicated almost exclusively to one, to the detriment of the others and this is always a source of tension for me. I have quite fierce feminist views, which have grown from my observations of my mother’s life, as a mother of five children and a professional woman, and from my own experiences as a professional and mother. I chose to draw objects which encapsulate these conflicts, starting with a rather stiff pencil drawing which I did to get myself aquainted with the shapes, as much as anything.

Preparatory pencil drawing for assessment

As I drew I became aware of the feminised shape of the bottle of washing-up liquid, and I was outraged! It must be a deliberate marketing ploy, and feeds into alot of what I hate about the patriarchal society we live in. The charcoal drawing Kitchen Sink has more objects. The egg-cup/salt pot was a piece of pottery I made when I was still in recovery from my illness. It is deliberately off-kilter, saying something about my feeling of lack of stability at the time. It also ended up being too small for eggs! Forming the back edge of the arrangement is the edge of a bread-knife, which is a literal and metaphorical expression of the bad times I’ve been through.

Egg cups

Photograph of final piece for Assignment 1.

Assignment 1 Kitchen sink

As for the porcess of the drawing, I was happy to be using charcoal, and felt quite free with it. Because I was animated by the objects, I think my marks are quite confident and I hope convey some of the energy and anger which I felt I wanted to express. The brief is to try to put something personal and to convey something of your emotional state, and I have been on a journey to try to find a way to do this through my hands and eyes. There’s plenty going on inside my head, but expressing it visually on paper is a new endeavour for me. I like to work on quite large surfaces and to uses bold strokes, and I would like to develop this further. I do not want to feel constrained or constricted/restricted. Having said that, there is also something soothing and almost mesmerising about a more detailed approach, but I suffer from the critical voice when I see my hand wavering, or I make a small mark which looks wrong. I want to be free of the need for perfection.


South West Academician’s Exhibition 2016



Figure 1.

This exhibition was on display at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton in January. I visited with a question in mind: “How do these works represent movement, or stillness, to me?”

I looked at each work with this question in mind. This was prompted by my research into the artist Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, J M W Turner, Jessica Cooper, Arthur Melville, which is documented in other posts in this Part 3 of Drawing 1.

There were single works of 38 artists, hanging in the white-walled rooms of the ground floor. Of these I will discuss some, in relation to my question.

All the images shown are taken from an online source of the exhibition catalogue.

I have read and am beginning to recognise that movement depends upon the quickness with which the mark is made, whether it be a mark with paint or a brush. All these works are oil paintings, with only 2 watercolours. The other mechainsim for depicting movement appears to be the direction and manner of application of the mark. I hope that these principles will be illustrated in the following examples.

James Lester The Gull's Way

Figure 2.

The movement in the lower image, a painting by James Lester is created with sweeps of the brush and use of white highlights.

Jed Falby Clour and Curves


In the painting above by Jed Falby,  although the figure is supposed to be moving, from her posture, it feels as if she has been captured in a split second of stillness. I think this is because the lines are vertical and horizontal, the colours are mostly blocked and the brush strokes are in the main, linear.

Jonathon X Coudrille The Bread and the Wine


The absolute stillness in the painting by Jonothon X Coudrille is acheived by the smoothness in the application of the paint, so that there are no visible brush marks. In fact I wonder if a brush was used at all.

Peter Mallinson paints figutatively. In the work Acrobatic, I felt that although the subject was of a movement or pose which was dynamic, the painting itself is static. I think this might be because there are lines around all the edges of the figure and drapery which hold it in the space of the picture plane.

Peter Mallison Acrobatic


In contrast, the work by Wendy McBride After the Rain  has great movement in the use of the pastel application, which is varied in direction of strokes, with scratching out abd scraping.

It was useful for me to approach the exhibition in this way, with a question in mind, particularly as the exhibition was not “themed” but a show case of some the SWA artists.


South West Academy of Fine and Applied Art. Academicians’ Exhibition 2016 Catalogue Available at:










Edward Burra

A British artist born in 1905, who died in 1976. He suffered with severe rheumatoid arthritis all his life, and this may be a reason why he worked mostly in watercolour.

He was born in London, into a wealthy family, and lived most of his life in Rye in Sussex, although he travelled and many of his works are set in places he visited, especially Harlem and Marseille, where he spent many hours in bars and cafe’s observing the lives and mores of the people who frequented them.

This painting of Harlem street life is an example. (see fig.1)

Harlem 1934 Edward Burra 1905-1976 Purchased 1939
Fig. 1. Harlem (1934) 

Unlike many English artists of his time, he was fascinated by the lives of people who lived in the less prosperous, underpriveleged quarters and whose existence was precarious, and edgy. His compositions, always drawn from memory (he never sketched in situ), incorporated material from the ideas of other artists, and from films and magazines. They contained subversive elements, dark and sinister aspects and hinted at the potential for malice and evil in society. He was not a slave to perspective or proportions, and his pictures were often very busy and full of action and intrigue.

His watercolours are characterised by the use of vibrant colour, applied thickly in several coats, almost like oil paint. He never used washes, and apparently used spit instead of water to wet his paint.

In the 1930’s he flirted with Surrealism, although he didn’t consider his work to belong to that genre. He admired the German Neue Sachlichkeit artists George Grotz and Otto Dix. Burra’s Gouache and ink wash painting of 1934, Dancing Skeletons (see fig. 2) is typical for this period. It is fanciful in the use of unrealistic colours (the pink and blue skeletons).

Dancing Skeletons 1934 Edward Burra 1905-1976 Purchased 1939
Fig. 2. Dancing Skeletons (1934)

Another watercolour, Birdmen and Pots 1946, (Fig. 3) illustrates the influence of surrealist painter Max Ernst. Typically, he draws on a mixed variety of sources, both “high” and “low” art and skillfully combines them. The work has a mythical feel to it, as if illustrating a well known story, but there is no hint of it’s source in the title. The vivid colours are actually from a limited palette of yellows and reds, with slashes of the complementary colours purple and green. There are repetitions of motifs, the bird beak and elipses and circles which serve to hold the composition together.

Birdmen and pots

Fig. 3. Birdmen and Pots (1946).

He painted landscapes throughout his life, but once again, was not interested in the depiction of romaticised views, but incorporated more sinister imagery, sometimes fanciful and cartoon images with hints of humour.(fig. 4 & 5)

burra_pickingquarrel 1968

Fig. 4. Picking a Quarrel (1968)

Valley and River, Northumberland 1972 Edward Burra 1905-1976 Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1973
Fig. 5. Valley and River, Northumberland (1972)

Edward Burra died at 71, when his childhood doctors had predicted that he wouldn’t survie past 21. Many of his works are in private collections, or are rarely on display in galleries because of the fragility of watercolours to damage by sunlight.


Figure 1. Burra, E. Harlem (1932). [watercolour] At: (Accessed on 22/01/2016)

Figure 2. Burra, E. Dancing Skeletons (1934). [watercolour] At: (Accessed 22/01/2016)

Figure 3. Burra, E. Birdmen and Pots (1946).[watercolour] At: (Accessed 22/01/2016)

Figure 4. Burra, E. Picking a Quarrel (1938). At:
landscape/ (Accessed 22/01/2016)

Figure 5. Burra, E. Valley and River, Northumberland (1972).[watercolour] At: (Accessed 22/01/2016)


The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists.”Burra, Edward” The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists. Ed Ian Chilvers.
Oxford University Press 2009 Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University

Arts Council of Great Britain and the authors. 1985.”Edward Burra Hayward Gallery”. London. Arts Council of Great Britain



Gallery Visit: Kurt Jackson “Place” Victoria Art Gallery, Bath

I visited this exhibition “Place: Kurt Jackson.” (Victoria Art  Gallery, 2015) on December 30th 2015, just before it closed. The weather was awful, dark, grey and raining hard. Even the Bath stone was grey.

The works were hung in two rooms, the second larger than the first, which was a sort of anteroom and gave an immediate impression of the style, scale and colour of what was to come.

The first room was devoted to a series of paintings of Glastonbury Festival. For the most part the canvases are large and the media mixed, with oil, acrylic and what looked like ink. There are splashes of colour all over the lower four fifths of the works, although some were browner, because the artist used Glastonbury mud as a base colour. The open sky and almost flat horizons helped to emphasise the feeling of a huge spralling space. There were many disorganised coloured triangles – tents. The overall effect is of vibrancy, movement and abandon. The marks made by the brushes, and pens (if that’s what they were) are loose, rapidly made, daubings of colours, squiggles of lines, scartchings.

Glastonbury tents to the tor 2015

Figure 1. Glastonbury tents to the tor 2015, mixed media on wood panel 60 x 60cm

Each of the works in the main room arises from the writing of one of the 32 people Jackson approached for a piece about a place of personal importance. The people vary in profession, and their writing varies from scientific, to nostalgic, to descriptive. The scale of the pieces varies from postcard size to large canvases, and there are a small number of sculpted objects.

The first thing to hit me was colour. Bright, zinging yellows and greens, and again, a liberal and undisciplined use of the materials, busy patterns, splashes, a lot of spray paint, splatters, scraffito. Paint is allowed to dribble and drip. Black paint is used against the vivid greens and spring yellows to convey the light and dark in a spring wood.

Wytham bird song and spring greens

Figure 2. Wytham birdsong and spring greens. 2013, oil on canvas 92 x 92cm


Kurt Jackson Bathampton Wood, tree squeak and weak sunlight

Figure 3 Bathampton wood tree sqeak and weak sunlight. July 2015, mixed media on paper, 56 x 61cm

A painting of a group of houses and a winding lane interested me because of its more muted palette and softer feel. The subject created a sense of safety, familiarity. The gestures of the paint were more controlled and contained.

Smell of peat smoke, cold wind blowing offshore. Gearranan black houses

Figure 4. Smell of peat smoke, cold wind blowing offshore. Gearrannan black houses. March 2013, mixed media on paper 57x62cm.

The largest canvases were of open landscapes. Imposing places, no people, perhaps a lone bird.

Kurt Jackson Across to England from Penarth Head

Figure 5. Across to England from Penarth Head. Copper and ochre seas. 2014, mixed media on canvas 183 x 183cm

In the foreground there is gravel taken from the area, and a rubbing of the words of warning taken from an information posting.

Kurt jackson A peregrine screams from the cliff tops behind me

Figure 6. A peregrine screams from the cliff tops behind me

The foreground of this work was enhanced by the sticking of periwinkle shells to the canvas. Again, the use of found material, taken from the place.

Many of the paintings have the artist’s words written in graphite, as a sort of reminder, or contextual trigger. The simple ‘collage’ titled Erme, dusk, a collection of objects found in the place and assembled on a piece of driftwood, is, for me, touching and elegant in its simplicity and directness.

Erme, dusk.

Figure 7. Erme, dusk. 2013, mixed media and collage on driftwood 22 x 35cm.


Images 1 – 7 from online catalogue

Accessed 02/01/2016


Victoria Art Gallery. (2015). Place: Kurt Jackson. [Exhibition]. Bath. [Visited 30/12/15]



John Sell Cotman

John Sell Cotman was an English marine and landscape painter, etcher, illustrator, author and a leading member of the Norwich school of artists. He was born on May 16 1782 and died on July 24 1842.

He is considered to be one of the world’s greatest watercolourists and most gifted of English landscape painters.

Laurence Binyon, a curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum considered Cotman to the equal of his contempory J. W. Turner. He wrote that his ‘genius’ went unrecognised because ‘his finest watercolours’ were not only in private hands, but were essentially private works that had never contributed to his contempory or later reputation (Binyon 1897, cited in Coombs 2012:120). In spite of this he came to be considered alongside Turner and Girtin to be a leading member of the English watercolour school. His work has been influential upon artists such as Paul Nash, Eric Ravilious, John Piper.

Binyon published an influential critique of the work of Cotman in The Studio in which he argued that Cotman’s finest works were his drawings, rather than his finished paintings. He made a link between Cotman’s work and the ancient art of watercolour from the Chinese and Japanese tradition. This placed Cotman outside the period of his own times and recognised his appeal to the modern aesthetic.

Caernarfon, with its magnificent castle, was a favourite tourist spot at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and popular with many artists. Whereas older artists such as Thomas Hearne (see fig. 1.) and Paul Sandby included detail and incident, Cotman has concentrated on the effect of the light and the mystery of the landscape (see fig. 2).


Fig. 1.  Sir George Beaumont and Joseph Farington Painting a Waterfall (1777)


Carnarvon 1800 by John Sell Cotman 1782-1842
Fig. 2. Carnarvon (1800) 


Llangollen 1801 by John Sell Cotman 1782-1842
Fig. 3. Llangollen (1801) 

The colour in Llangollen (fig.3) has faded quite a lot, as have many of his other works. The indigo blue is particularly vulnerable to light and many of his paintings have become brownish in tone, which is far from how they were in their original state.  The work is a product of Cotman’s first formative tour to Wales in 1800. With its powerful tonal contrasts and sombre colouring it shows the influence ofThomas Girtin.

I was able to view The Village of Jedburgh, near Roxburgh  (see fig. 4) a watercolour of Thomas Girtin whilst visiting the Printing and Drawing Room in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburg. The colours are also faded in this work, but it is illustrative of the similarities in the approaches of the two artists.

The village of Jedburgh, Roxburgh

Fig. 4. The Village of Jedburgh, near Roxburgh (1880)

The two images below, the first by Cotman (see fig. 5) and the second by John Piper (fig.6), illustrate the influence of Cotman’s work upon Piper.

Doorway of the Refectory, Rievaulx Abbey 1803 by John Sell Cotman 1782-1842
Fig 5. Doorway of the Refectory, Rievaulx Abbey (1803)


The Dairy, Fawley Court 1940 by John Piper 1903-1992
Fig 6. The Dairy, Fawley Court  (1940) 

It was in 1805, on the third of a series of visits to North Yorkshire, that Cotman made the famous sequence of watercolour studies on the river Greta near Rokeby on the Yorkshire-Durham border. The wooded slopes and winding paths close to the river in Rokeby Park are what Laurence Binyon described as ‘the most perfect examples of pure watercolour ever made in Europe’ (Binyon 1931:132).

On the Greta circa 1805 by John Sell Cotman 1782-1842
Fig. 7. On the Greta (c.1805) 

Cotman uses pure, translucent wash layers and minimum shadow. He defines shape with the crisp edges of his washes rather than with outline. In 1805 Cotman wrote to a patron that his ‘chief study’ that summer had been ‘colouring from nature’, and that his sketches were ‘close copies of that ficle Dame’.

A View on the Greta or the Tees 1805 by John Sell Cotman 1782-1842
Fig. 8. A View on the Greta or the Tees (1805) 

Crambe Beck bridge, near Kirkham, Yorkshire

Fig. 9. Crambe Beck Bridge, near Kirkham, Yorkshire (1805)

It is the simple composition of this watercolour Crambe Beck bridge, near Kirkham, Yorkshire (fig.9) that makes it such a powerful image. The delicacy of the washes that envelop the arches of the viaduct capture the fall of sunlight on the scene. The fragile wooden fence glimpsed between the arches serve to emphasise their domination of the scene.

A much admired watercolour Greta Bridge (fig. 10), painted in the same year and now housed in the British Museumis considered one of the greatest examples of English classical watercolour technique, with its boldness and sureness of hand.


Greta bridge BM

Fig. 10. Greta bridge. (1805)

Two years later in 1807 he painted another bridge, this time in Wales,with a compositionally strong horizontal axis.

Road to capel Curig, North Wales 1807

Fig. 11. Road to Capel Curig (1807)

His use of flat geometrical planes is seen here, in his treatment of the river water, and the tonal contrast due to the sunlight falling on the river throw the mountain ridges into sharp relief.

Later his style became much bolder as he uses paint thickened with flour or rice. A repeting motif in the 1830s was the dark prescence of the mountain of Calder Idris (fig. 12), painted from memory, when he travelled in Wales decades earlier. This series of paintings have a brooding quality, using a predominantly blue palette and simplified composition.

Cader idris; View on a Mountainside

Fig. 12. Calder Idris; A View on a Mountainside (1830s)

Another beautiful painting with similar colours and technique is Mountain Tarn (fig. 13), below.

A Mountain Tarn 1830-35

Fig. 13. A Mountain Tarn (1830-35).

Some of the advances in technique arose for the availability of wove paper from the 1790’s, following which manufacturers provided increasingly stronger paper, with surfaces prepared with different levels of sizing and finish to alter their absorbency. To some extent this is apparent in this most beautiful work Study of Sea and Gulls painted in 1832 by Cotman (fig. 14). The paint is applied boldly, leaving areas of white paper for the sky, while the small white gulls have either been ‘scaped out’ or ‘lifted out’.

Study of Sea and Gulls

Fig. 14. Study of Sea and Gulls. (1832)


Figure 1. Hearne, T, (1777) Sir George Beaumont and Joseph Farington Painting a waterfall. {watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02.2016]

Figure 2. Cotman, J. S, (1800) Canarvon. [Graphite, watercolour and gum arabic on paper] Available at: [Accessed on  10/02/2016]

Figure 3. Cotman, J. S, (1801) Llangollen. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 4. Girtin, T, (1880) The Village of Jedburgh, near Roxburgh. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 5. Cotman, J. S, (1803). Doorway of the Refectory, Rievaulx Abbey. [watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 6. Piper, J. (1940).The Dairy, Fawley Court [watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 7. Cotman, J. S, (c. 1805). On the Greta [watercolour] Avaiable: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 8. Cotman, J. S, (1805) A View on the Greta or the trees  [Graphite and watercolour on paper] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 9. Cotman, J. S, (1805) Crambe Beck Bridge, near Kirkham Yorkshire [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed 10/02/2016]

Figure 10. Cotman, J. S,(1805) Greta Bridge [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 10/02.2016]

Figure 11. Cotman, J. S, (1807) Road to Capel Curig [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 12. Cotman, J. S, (1830) Calder Idris; A View on a Mountainside [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 10/02/2016]

Figure 13. Cotman, J. S, (1830-35) Mountain Tarn [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 14. Cotman, J.S, (1832) Study of Sea and Gulls [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 10/02/2016]


Coombs, K. (2012) British Watercolours 1750 – 1950 London: V&A Publishing

Arts Council of Great Britain (1982) John Sell Cotman 1782 – 1842 London: Herbert Press Limited

Lyles, A. and Hamlyn, R (1997) British Watercolours from the Oppé Collection with a Selection of Drawings and Oil Sketches, exhibition catalogue. London: Tate Publishing

Eric Ravilious

Eric Ravilious was an Engilsh painter, designer, book illustrator and engraver. He lived from 22 July 1903 to 2nd September 1942, and for many years after his premature death, he was regarded as a quintissentially English painter, whose work was considered decorative rather than serious.

A student of the Royal College of Art, he was influenced by the tutelage of Paul Nash who was engaged part-time in 1925. Nash started wood engraving in 1919, when the practice was entering a revival, in demand from publishers of books and magazines. Ravilious followed in 1923 and used Nash’s technique of cutting a white line into solid areas of black, but he also incorporated tonal areas using small strokes, as used by German engravers in the sixteenth century. In her book The England of Ravilious, Freda Constable finds a superficial similarity in the work of the two artists, in terms of subjects (downland, empty rooms and complex man-made forms), but she contrasts Nash’s engagement with the mystical with Ravilious’ tendancy to distance himself from his subject and concentrate on portraying a “naturalistic truth” (Constable. 1982).

Ravilious acheived the suggestion of colour in black and white work through his precision and technical control, which embued his abstract designs and small country scenes with energy and sparkle, as seen in the depiction below of a Sussex Church.

Untitled (Sussex Church) !925, wood engraving


Fig. 1.Untitled (1925)

Illustration for Almanack 1929

Fig. 2. Almanack. (1929)

Ravilious learned about texture and the portrayal of depth through his engraving work. He transposed the techniques using line, flecks, scratches and dots to his paintings, and was able to retain the reflection of light off the paper by avoiding overpainting. Whatever subject he painted, he was keenly aware of the value of shape and texture. This is seen in Interior at Furlongs (fig. 3) where he uses cross hatching and stippling and a restricted palette. The picture is equally about the landscape outside as it is about the empty room, and the landscape is framed by the window and doorway, which draws the attention of the viewer, as does the red of the curtains and gold frame of the window; the only bright colour in the painting.

Interior at Furlongs

Fig. 3. Interior at Furlongs (1939)

Ravilious became a designer for Wedgewood between 1936 and 1940, when he was appointed a War Artist. His work included designs for commemorative wares, and also incorporated patterns for dinner and tea ware, lemonade sets and nurseryware. Because of War time restrictions on the produce of decorated ware, many of his designs were not put into production in any quantities until the l950’s.

Pottery Mug 1937

Fig. 4a. Wedgewood Coronation Mug


Fig. 4b. Wedgewood Bowl

He was appointed as Official War Artist by Kenneth Clark during World War 2, but his paintings from this period do not portray the brutality or carnage of the war, concentrating rather on the landscapes within which the weaponry is contained, or on sanitized scenes of the weaponary of war (see fig 5 and 6).

Picture 1751
Fig. 5. Runway Perspective (1942)

Gun 1941

Fig. 6. Firing a 9.2 Gun (1941).

Michael Prodger, of The Guardian, reviewed Alan Powers’ book (2013), Eric Ravilious: Artist and Designer, which stresses that Ravilious was a member of a series of a long tradition of artists and printmakers, including William Blake, Samuel Palmer and John Sell Cotman. These artists of the early 20th century made watercolour a distictively British medium. Cotman in particular was very influential with his sense of pattern in nature, and his avoidance of the loose, wet style of watercolour painting that was popular in the late nineteenth century (see another research post John Sell Cotman).

Alan Powers, wrote of a number of books on Ravilious, and also curated the first retrospctive of Ravilious’ work, in 2003 at the Imperial War Museum. In his book Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities (2003) he examines Ravilious’ scope as a designer, illustrator and watercolourist. He quotes Laurence Binyon who described Ravilious’ technique of under-painting and elaborate superimposed washes and stipples, as a new method (Binyon 1944, cited in Powers, 2003:33), but draws the links between the late nineteenth century artists such as John Sell Cotman and Francis Towne and the modernist trend of approaching painting in terms of design.

There is a dream-like quality in the well-known series of watercolours of the Sussex Downs. These are stylised versions of familiar landscapes, not overly sentimentalised, but none-the-less portraying an idealised view. Not to say that the influence of man upon the landscape is omitted, rather the opposite, there is generally reference to man’s activities, which gives the works a domstic feel in some instances.


Fig 7. Downs in Winter ( 1934).

Although this image (fig. 7) is austere, the mood is one of serenity, acheived through the soft light of the winter sun, low in the sky, and the calm rolling movement of the hills. The roller in the foreground acts as a reminder of the long agricultural history attached to the land. In defiance of convention, he often painted facing the sun, ‘which produced a flattening of space and a different perception of colour’ (Powers, 2015:80).

In his watercolour, The Long Man of Wilmington; The Wilmington Giant, (fig.8) he successfully combines two- and three- dimensional images, painting in the traditional landscape manner, but with the picture plane right up against the picture surface.

The Wilmington Giant

Fig. 8. The Long Man of Wilmington: The Wilmington Giant (1939).

Ravilious also used interiors as subjects, but these did not include people. In the painting below, his skill as a designer is seen in the patterned wallpaper and floor coverings, and the curves of the iron bedstead, but the perspective is distrorted, creating an oppressive mood overall.

A Farmhouse Bedroom

Fig. 9. A Farmhouse Bedroom (1930s)

Edward Bawden and Ravilious were two of a group of artists who became known as the artists of Bardfield. They were both taught by Paul Nash. Their watercolour style still has no acknowledged name. Powers discusses this, quoting Richard  Seddon, who called it ‘textured watercolour’. (Seddon 1943, cited in Powers, 2015:78) Powers suggests it owes its modernist roots primarily to Cezanne’s way of building up a painting, whether in oil or watercolour, with clearly structured strokes. Ravilious also acclaimed the work of Derain (see fig. 11) and Dunoyer de Segonzac (see fig. 10).

(c) DACS/ADAGP; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Fig. 10. The Lockgate (1918) 
(c) DACS/ADAGP; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Fig. 11. The Church at Vers (1912)




Figure 1. Ravilious, E. Untitled [wood engraving] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 2. Ravilious, E. (1929) Almanack 1929. With twelve designs engraved on wood by Eric Ravilious, London, Lanston Monotype Corporation. Available at: &bih=610&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiisq-FudvKAhUEMhoKHb4oAyIQsAQIJA#imgrc=i_ymHqJkuuA0ZM%3A [Accessed on 14/02.2016]

Figure 3. Ravilious, E. (1939) Interior at Furlongs [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figures 4a & 4b. Wedgewood designs. Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 5. Ravilious, E. (1942) Runway Perspective [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 6. Ravilious, E. (1942) Firing a 9.2 Gun. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 7. Ravilious, E. (1934) Downs in Winter. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 8. Ravilious, E. (1939) The Long Man of Wilmington; The Wilmington Giant. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 9. Ravilious, E. (1930s) A Farmhouse Bedroom. [Watercolour] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 10. Dunoyer de Segonzac, A. (1918) The Lockgate. [Oil on canvas] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]

Figure 11. Derain, A. (1912)  The Church at Vers. [oil on canvas] Available at: [Accessed on 14/02/2016]



Russell, J. (2009) Ravilious in Pictures: Sussex and the Downs. Norwich Maidstone Press

Powers, A. (2003) Eric Ravilious: Imagined Realities. Philip Wilson Publishers 2012 (paperback edition).

Constable, F. (1982) The England of Eric Ravilious. Lund Humphries 2003 (paperback edition)

Powers, A.,2015. Eric Ravilious. In: G. Suanders and M. Yorke, ed. 2015. Bawden, Ravilious and the Artists of Great Bardfield. London, V&A Publishing. Chap. 3.

Assignment 2

Assignment 2

After all the work and different projects and exercises it has been difficult to decide what to focus upon for this assignment.

However, I have become more aware of what I consider to be my relative strengths and weaknesses. I have also, through my research, learnt a great deal about other artists and their approaches to the areas of creativity explored in this section of the course.

The work of certain artists has held my attention: Sara Dudman, Sabine Moritz, Ivon Hitchens. Is there a common thread in the approach of these artists? Sara Dudman’s work “Flocking Together” captures the movement and collective life of a flock of sheep, the farmer and his dog. It is alive with movement and appears deceptively simple. There is also simplicity in the work of Sabine Moritz in “Lobeda” and in the interiors by Ivon Hitchens “The Red Curtain” and “Boy with an Interior”. I have become aware however, that I cannot replicate or create such economy of line and shape at this stage of my development, partly because the course asks for accuracy and “tightness” and partly because I am learning that it is very difficult to acheive without a solid foundation.

Field-cam. Farmer Feeding Sheep. Debbie Locke and Sara Dudman 2014. Gesso, gouche, ink, graphite and charcoal on paper.
Sabine Moritz 1991/92 Lobeda 92 Pencil and ink

As far as the projects and exercises go, I see a progression in my ability, in terms of some greater familiarity with some of the media, a somewhat better understanding of the difference between line and tone, and how to acheive depth using these different techniques. I am aware, however, that the depiction of depth using line is not my strength, as I do not have confidence in drawing lines, and have not developed a technique which  conveys the complexity of subjects without “over-drawing”.

I have improved in my ability to convey perspective more accurately, but it takes me a long time and many attempts to do so. This was particularly apparent in the work on interiors, but I believe that the exercises and my reading and practice have helped. I think I am better at drawing elipses and simple cubic shapes, and have tried to reduce more complex shapes to simple basic shapes (for example chairs and cubes).

I have experimented with different media, learning some basic skills with soft and hard pastels, and oil pastels, wax resist, watercolour washes, and the use of ink and pens. I have deliberately worked in pencil when I am more comfortable with charcoal, in order to try to extend my skills. I have also used Conte crayons, watercolour and coloured pencils and wax crayons. I know that I have masses more to learn with all these media, but given my initial starting point, I have made significant progress.

The following considerations have influenced me in my choice of subject for the Assignment.


Interior studies became limited whilst my flat was being re-decorated.

The light has been poor in the last two weeks.


I have an inkling that the debate about ‘what is beauty?’ is spralling and unwieldy. I understand that art does not have to be about capturing beauty, but I am challenged by finding an area of interest which does not incorporate some effort to do so.

I am not attracted to works that appear to make no appeal to the emotions of the viewer, although I am aware that what stirs an emotional response in one person may hold no resonance for another. Nor am I attracted by gushing sentimentality. I am beginning to think that the artist has to acheive a very delicate balance between involvement with the subject and detachment from it, in order to allow the viewer to form a personal response, rather than being flooded with the projections of the artist.

At my early stage, most of the effort is in developing the technical skills necessary to portray anything. I have approached each of the exercises in this fashion, without having much spare energy  to devote to other considerations. But when it came to the decision about choice of subject for the assignment I had to crapple with it, as the field was thrown open more widely.

Consideration of Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of technical and visual skills.

I have certainly progressed in these aspects, and believe that my work across Part 2 demonstrates this. I have become aware of the concept of negative space and how attention to this can aid in the accuarcy of a drawing. The range of materials I have used has certainly increased, although I have a lot to learn about the media. I have learnt about design and composition through the research I have undertaken, but am constrained in its application by the limit to my technical skills.

Quality of outcome.

Some of these are more wooly concepts which I find difficult to quantify. Content is fairly strongly dictated by the course book. Presentation of work in a coherent manner is something I probably need to improve upon, but is better than it was. I am still a novice in blogging and in the keeping of a sketchbook, but I think that as I have moved through Part 2 I am becoming more proficient. I do not have the time to decorate my sketchbooks or attempt to make them into works of art in themselves. If I am asked to provide more writing on conceptualisation, and communication of ideas, I will struggle to be original. Thus far my energy and effort is largely taken up by the learning of techniques, and whilst I enjoy looking at and thinking about the work of others, it is difficult for me to apply the same analysis to my inexpert work..

Demonstration of creativity.

I am in very early stages of all these aspects of the process, and am not sure that there is much to see by way of progress. I think I have been most imaginative whilst drawing the sheep and pigs, even though the results are figurative. I wanted to show something of the relational aspects inherent in the animals, and looked for evidence of this whilst sketching and photographing them. As far a a personal voice goes, I know what I like it the work of others, but cannot say that I have any firm feeling for a voice of my own. I know what appeals to me and what I shy away from, but this is generally because I find some aspects easier than others, and I am trying not to allow this to dictate what I do.

Context reflection.

I have certainly engaged with research, although at this stage I have mostly been opening my eyes and mind and trying to understand the breadth and depth of things, which is a massive challenge. Critical thinking must follow from a better understanding of the subject, and I am reluctatnt to jump in with too many opinions before I have a better foundation. It may be that I will need to take more risks with this. Any critique of my own efforts has primarily concentrated on the accuracy of portrayal and my attempts to master the media, although I have worked at producing more interesting compositions, and can sometimes see what makes for a better result.

Finished Assignment “Autum Bench”.

This subject is interesting to me on several levels. I like the connection to the natural world and the underlying idea of growth and yield, even ‘the fruits of one’s labours’. In a way the subject is a metaphor for the work I have done in Part 2.

I have consistently found the depiction of natural objects and images easier and more enjoyable than of man-made objects, and in this assignment I have played to my strengths in the choice of a natural still life.

The present season lends itself to the subjects also, and this is probably my favorite season, because of the warm tones I see around me everywhere. I have enjoyed choosing a warm colour palette and mixing the colours. A few years ago, I travelled in Franken, a region of Germany, in October , where there were carts piled high with pumkins along the roads. I found it romantic. I am keen to live  more sustainably, and sourced the squash, pumpkin and beetroots from a local producer , and the quince and medlar came from trees in the garden.

I have attempted drawings and acrylic painting of beetroots and squashes before, so was building upon past experiences, but I am quite unfamiliar with watercolour and have felt quite nervous of using it because it requires a different approach to acrylics. I decided to learn the techinque of wax resist, so bought some oil-based pastels and watched some online videos to get me acquainted to the technique. I also referred to “Warecolours Made Easy A complete beginners Guide”, by Miranda Fellows.

I am very fond of this painting by Renoir, which I came across in my research of still life. Not so much because of the composition, but because of the colours and the endearing echoes of shape in the miniture heads of children that he has painted in the right upper corner.

CH656432 Still Life with Melon and Tomatoes; Nature Morte au Melon et Tomates, c.1900 (oil on canvas) by Renoir, Pierre Auguste (1841-1919); 30x39.9 cm; Private Collection; ( Still Life with Melon and Tomatoes; Nature Morte au Melon et Tomates. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Oil on canvas. Painted circa 1900. 30 x 39.9cm.); Photo © Christie's Images; French, out of copyright
CH656432 Still Life with Melon and Tomatoes; Nature Morte au Melon et Tomates, c.1900 (oil on canvas) by Renoir, Pierre Auguste (1841-1919); 30×39.9 cm; Private Collection; ( Still Life with Melon and Tomatoes; Nature Morte au Melon et Tomates. Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919). Oil on canvas. Painted circa 1900. 30 x 39.9cm.); Photo © Christie’s Images; French, out of copyright

The composition in the photograph below is similar to the one I used in as much as the objects are placed linearly and overspill the edges of the picture plane.

Cherries. Mezzotint. Penny Mundy. Viewed at Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy. 2015.

Photographs of my compositional tests.

Squash, quince and medlar on bench
Pumpkin, squash, beetroot and fruits
Cut pumpkin, squash, beetroot and fruits

I wanted the objects to be drawn in an outside envirnment. if I had a garden shed, this would have been ideal, but the garden bench was good enough, and I used natural light. this was a problem, as there was only one day upon which there was a short spell of sunshine, and the rest of the outside work was done in grey, damp conditions, and finally from a photgraph indoors.

I tried many different arrangements of the fruits and vegetables I wanted to use, which I photographed. The final choice was made after consideration of the colours. The pumkin, with a slice removed, revealed a rich orange which is echoed in the stripes of the squash. The soft yellow tone of the squash is picked up in the tones of the quince, which also spreads into a more acid yellow. The movement of the purple beetroot, through the middle , with its tracing of the purple stems leading to the greens and the edge of the page, all enhance the composition.

Sketches of compositions

Thumbnails in pencil
Ink and pencil with oil pastel.
Graphite and watercolour.
Graphite and oil pastel
Small studies using watercour pencils, watercolour wash and oil pastels, experimenting with effects of wax resist.

I found that to capture the subtle changes in colour and tone of the maple leaf, it was more effective to lay down the basic shape and colours in oil pastel and then add a watercolour wash in different greens. In contrast, the smoother, glossier tones and colours of the quince were better depicted using watercolour first with the light addition of oil pastel to small areas. The speckled appearance of the medlar was captured with an oil pastel base and overlay of brown watercolour.



Autumn Bench. Mixed media.


I used watercolour paper, previously stretched, and made a light sketch outlining the shapes with the appropriate watercolour pencil. Then I mixed a warm tonal colour palette using Prussian Blue, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Umber and Chinese White with the addition of Payne’s Grey. When it came to making the purple for the beetroot, I used Cereulean Blue as it gave a brighter tone. I was aware that using the Chinese White would loose me the translucency of the watercolour, so I avioded it until the end of the painting.

The contrast between line and tone has been difficult for me throughout this course so far. However, I think that I have managed this better in this piece, by avoiding drawing outlines as far as possible, and by allowing the watercolour to form edges. This is best seen in the medlar friut, as shown in the close-up below.

Close-up of medlar fruit.

The beetroot stalks also show differences between line and tone, by capitalising on the properties of the different media, and leaving white paper spaces.

Close-up of green pumpkin.

Again, here the contrast between the flesh of the pumpkin and the pith and seeds is acheived in the same way with the watercolour, but with the addition of oil pastel and the wax resist technique.

Close-up of quince and beetroot leaves.

The quince was difficult to portray, as it has a uniformity of colour with only very subtle tonal shades which were hard to replicate. I used grey oil pastel, partly to give depth, but also to try to show the soft down which was still present on the fruit in patches. The form and texture of the beetroot leaves are well shown by using wet on wet watercolour, and in the case of the purplish leaves, wax resist with a magenta oil pastel.

Overall, I am pleased with my work. I am aware that the vibrancy of colours and contrats in colours is not replicated with the watercolours as I have used them, but I think the fluidity in the composition is enhanced by the flow in the media. My attempts with other coloured media earlier in the course were quite disappointing in respect of my ability to build up the colours so as not to have a lot of the paper showing through, and I wanted to avoid the same problem here.

My main criticism is of the context. The background is not shown in any detail, and whilst this gives precedence to the subjects of the composition, it does not really contextualise the arrangement. I find some consolation if I consider the simplicity of the work of Morandi, with its horizontal lines and simple block colours for background and foreground, but I have to concede that there is very little parallel between the styles or subjects. Another work which I like is the painting by Olwyn Bowey RA Sunflowers, which I saw at the Summer Exhibition this year.

Sunflowers Olwyn Bowey.

This painting is of the interior of a garden shed, or similar. The gourds are incidental to the main subject of the pot of sunflowers, and in fact provide the context by implying the season. This made me wish for a garden shed, although I would have been truly challenged by the detail, and the plants and vegetables would have been long dead before I had finished.


Fellows, M. (1995) Watercolours Made Easy: A Complete Beginner’s Guide. London; Parragon Book Service.