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]