Painting Module 1


These paintings are all for my portfolio which I will submit on the 9th of January, 2018. Most of them are paintings of Rheidol valley, in mid-west Wales. All of the landscapes I have cycled to and explored on my own. Hope you enjoy!
All of the paintings I post will be available in fine art prints soon on Saatchiart. (I will post the link when I have my Saatchiart website set up).


The Townhouses at Borth

Townhouses at Borth
Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
May 2017.

In May 2017, my painting class went on a trip to the town Borth, a short bus ride from Aberystwyth. We spent 3 hours together drawing thumbnails and sketching so that we could later produce paintings. ‘Townhouses at Borth’ was my favourite painting that came out of this trip. I was mostly inspired by Mondrian for my first attempt at minimalist painting: his choice of bold primary colours, and his abstract composition, which I think is reflected in the outcome of my painting.


Stormy Sunset in Aberystwyth


Acrylic on A4 Gessoed board.
September 2017.

Before my second year started, I began looking at more abstract expressionist artists such as Clifford Still and Jackson Pollock. For this piece, I painted a board red and left it to dry overnight. The next day I added the first layer, suggesting reflection of the fiery sky through the base layer. I then painted a strip of yellow, to suggest the sunlight bursting through the sky. I really enjoyed painting this over the course of a few days and I feel it really demonstrates the atmosphere of the evening.


Rheidol river on an autumnal day

Rheidol river in the autumn sun

Acrylic on A4 Gessoed board.
October 2017.


Reflection of the autumnal trees in Rheidol river

Rheidol river reflecting the autumnal trees

Acrylic on A5 Gessoed board.
October 2017.

I feel ‘Rheidol river on an autumnal day’ is one of my more successful paintings. I enjoyed the process, the colour palette and think that the composition reflects the location. I decided to compose my painting from a colour study I mixed on location. I cycled 15 miles to Rheidol river falls, which marks the end of the cycle trail and is my favourite place to paint.
After covering the A4 board in gesso and leaving it to dry overnight, the next day I painted a base coat; a copy of my colour study. One of my favourite techniques is to scrape back the paint to create the effect of light shining through objects. For example, in this painting, I used this technique to paint the trees and the streams. I really enjoyed painting and analysing each layer as the landscape turned into a something somewhat abstract.

An essential part of my process involves working on multiple paintings in one session. This means that I can experiment and explore with different applications, colour and surfaces. This is what I did with this pair of paintings, and it meant that I could satisfy my want to create an abstract painting as well as a painting in a style I’m more comfortable with.

The A5 painting of the reflection of the autumnal woodland in the river is heavily inspired by Clifford Still and the abstract expressionist movement. The bright greens and oranges contrast starkly with the dark river edges, emphasising the subject as well as my interest in colour theory.


Rheidol Falls in the Winter 


Acrylic on Canvas,
November 2017.

This is another of my favourites from this Autumn/Winter collection. I was mostly inspired by Kyffin Williams and Matthew Snowden because of their fantastic painterly technique used in their landscapes. I made bold strokes for the rocks, trying not to mix the paint. For the river, I used an acrylic medium called modelling clay, so that I could achieve the desired effect,  replicating the rushing water after a downpour of rain. In this landscape, the trees were not my main subject, so they stand minimal in the background contrasted by the icy yet stormy winter sky. For the sky in this landscape, and in general, many of my other landscapes, I enjoy painting with my fingers. I feel that paintbrushes and palette knives create harsh strokes, which for me, is often not the mood I would like to create in the sky of my landscape paintings. Although each of these sections, or thirds, may seem separate, I somewhat like this outcome. For me, when I squint I see three distinct colours which abstractly represent a landscape or even a colour study from that day.
This was the first time I decided to paint on a portrait on a non-traditional sized canvas (not A3, A4, A5 etc.) and I really enjoyed it. I think in the future I would love to experiment more with this sort of canvas, particularly for abstract colour studies.


Rheidol River in the evening


A4 Gessoed Board, 
Acrylics, October 2017


Skyline of Rheidol 


A4 Gessoed board, 
Acrylics, October 2017

The two paintings above, ‘Rheidol river in the evening’ and ‘skyline of Rheidol’, I don’t like. For me, they are unsuccessful because they seem too fussy and fragmented. However, this doesn’t mean I despise them completely.

The first painting of the two, ‘Rheidol river in the evening’ was created at a time when I believed I couldn’t paint. I was struggling to overcome the anxiety of attempting more and more paintings and none of them would satisfy me. Although it’s difficult to stand up and try again, these two paintings meant that I could get my anxiety out – and the next few paintings I produced more painterly, abstract and experimental. I stopped trying to look at landscapes in separate parts and rather, as a whole which differs across the painting in tone and shape. As you can see, this first painting was painted on top of multiple times, but each time I was too fussy with the palette knife, marking outlines rather than impressions.

The second painting of the two I like more than the first, partly because when I wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, I didn’t paint over it, and partly because I like the neutral tones, although they are not very accurate. But the fact that I noticed these tones were too contrasting (a comment my tutor also made) helped me realize how important tone is in a landscape, and how tiny, it is often, the differences between one tree in the foreground and the sky in the background. When the tone is accurate across a painting, I don’t notice it is, because it’s too accurate.

After reflecting on these paintings a month or so later, I can see my process develop over the semester. After these two, In our module workshops, I was attempting still life paintings in an abstract way.


Still Life Painting 1


A4 Gessoed Board, 
Acrylics, October 2017


Still Life Painting 2


A3 Gessoed Board,
Acrylics, November 2017


Still Life Painting 3


A4 Gessoed Board, 
Acrylics, November 2017

These three still life paintings are abstracts completed in under two hours in our module workshops. In these paintings, I explore techniques, light and colour. The first painting was an experiment about light. That day, the light in the art school looked particularly cold, which is why I used a cold yellow (Lemon Yellow Windsor and Newton Acrylics). The subject was a green cup and it struck me because there were no other bright colours on the still life that my tutor had set up. I used a large brush and watched the minimalistic painting appear. It was an unusual process, one with no intention.

For my second still life painting, I began to get too fussy at the start. I had forgotten about a coloured ground and the board was mostly white with blue plastic jugs and cups painted clumsily onto it. The point of the task was to explore palette knife techniques, and I had been too focused on trying to paint in a repetitive manner I wasn’t used to, instead of exploring what a palette knife could actually do. I told my tutor, “I don’t like it, and can’t get it to look how I want it to,” so, she replied with “make a visual poem” – two words that make an incredibly abstract phrase – and she turned my painting upside-down as she said it. Now, this challenged me. So I created a colour palette and represented light with a very unusual almost graffiti-like style. After, when we walked around the class to look at everyone’s amazing and different interpretations and experimentations with palette knives, I wasn’t afraid to show my painting on an easel, I was remarkably proud.
During my battle with the second still life painting, as usual, I had another painting on-the-go and that was my still life painting three. I decided to take a similar approach to the first still life painting and focused on one object and how the light affected it. The object was a bauble, very Christmassy, and actually is included in my second still life painting (if you turn it upside-down).


Rheidol River Bridge (late Autumn)


Acrylic on A4 gessoed board.
November 2017.


Rheidol River (late Autumn)


Acrylic on A3 gessoed board.
November 2017.

For these two paintings of Rheidol in late autumn, I decided to emulate the style I used in my painting ‘Rheidol River on an Autumnal day’. I cycled out to my location and produced colour studies of the landscapes. It really surprised me how much purple I saw in the leaves of the fall trees which meant that mixing colours was an interesting process. For both of these paintings, I painted a simple sky with a big brush and my finger. Then I marked out the different areas of colour but these marks aren’t in the typical tree shape, just an area. After marking out the colour depths and the river I began to build up the paint and scrape it off to create branches and lines that I believe add more shape to the painting. This is my favourite method of painting trees because I feel it means that the trees really become a part of the landscape, rather than the trees looking as if they have been placed on top.


Rheidol Valley River floods


Acrylic on a Square Canvas Board.
November 2017.

For this study, I layered up the paint for the water and the grass with a palette knife to demonstrate that the water and the greenery are on the same level, intercepting it. For the sky and the background, I used my fingers to get an overall smooth finish. I really like how the hills in the far right fade into the background and how these hills contrast with the imposing hill in the foreground.


Rheidol Valley River floods Mini


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
November 2017.

Rheidol Valley farmlands


Acrylic on A5 thin canvas.
November 2017.

Rheidol Valley Evening Dusk


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
November 2017.

After visiting Rheidol river and falls a number of times, I decided to paint some minimalist colour studies of the landscape. I wanted to concentrate on the blocks of colour, without using too many colours. The first ‘mini’ is a landscape of the floods, painted using a fan brush. I like the texture a fan brush creates and have used them more than ever in this project.
The second ‘mini’ is a colour study from early autumn, including a range of greens that demonstrate the difference from the farmland to the foresty hills. I found the neutral sky compliments the bright earthy greens creating a minimalist and almost objective painting of the landscape.
The third ‘mini’ is a colour study of the autumnal landscape at dusk, the light green showing where the sun’s rays hit the hilltops, and the purple sky representing the end of the sunset.



Aberystwyth Seafront Reflections in the sea from 10th December (Midday)


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
January 2018.

This exploration of colour is a study of the landscape from the 10th of December when it snowed in Aberystwyth. The right-hand side is the beach covered in snow and the left-hand side of the painting is a colour reflection of the landscape in the sea.


Aberystwyth Seafront Reflections in the sea from 10th December (Evening)


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
January 2018.

This exploration of colour is a study of the landscape from the same day but in the evening. The town’s lights reflect warm yellow in the snowy icy landscape.


Snow on top of Constitution Hill


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board.
December 2017.

This painting is also from the 10th of December. It is a view of the horizon from the top of constitution hill. I really enjoyed using the icy neutral tones in this painting. Although the painting has many different paintings underneath, the thick texture for me adds something to the overall impression of the landscape as the composition is so simple.


Snow on Constitution Hill Aberystwyth


Acrylic on A4 gessoed canvas.
December 2017.

This is another painting of the view of the sea from Constitution Hill. You can visit my Photography portfolio to see where I got my composition inspiration from for these two paintings. For this painting, I used the process I normally use to paint trees. I first created a layer of dark marks, representing the stone and grass on the cliff-face. Thereafter, going over the paint with lighter colours, building up the texture of the snow and scraping back the paint to reveal shrubs and grass on the hill.


Rheidol Valley cycle track


Acrylic on A4 gessoed board.
January 2018.

For this painting, I referred back to some of my winter cycles through Rheidol. See more at Rheidol Photography. However, I used some new suggestive style of brushmarks, completely opposite to what I’m used to painting. For these sort of brush-strokes, I keep the brush dry and attempt to use as little paint as possible. Generally, the brushes I use are flathead brushes and fan brushes, since they have two contrasting edges.

Although the photo I was inspired by for this painting had trees in the foreground, I liked the minimalist atmosphere the painting has, so I decided to stop. One really important thing I have learnt from this module is that from painting so much, you learn more and more about where to stop with a painting. I believe this is really important because however, we imagine our painting to turn out, it never appears exactly how one imagines, therefore, knowing when to stop is vital. If I add too many layers of paint I think the painting comes off as fussy, too little and I often think the painting is underdeveloped and not unique.


Hilltops on the Road from Congleton to Aberystwyth


Acrylic on A5 canvas.
January 2018.


View of Rheidol Valley from Aberystwyth


Acrylic on square canvas,
January 2018.

For me, these next two paintings demonstrate a transition in style. I like to think these two paintings are almost an extended development of my minimalist minis from Autumn. These two paintings, although minimalist, feature more obvious brush strokes, some of them dry, and some of them bold, wet with paint. For these two paintings, I used a fan brush to paint the hills and my finger and a flat-head brush to paint the sky. I also think my ability to handle tone with colour has improved and is evident here, the subtly of difference in tone creates a relaxing atmosphere pleasing to my eye. These two canvas paintings are probably some of my favourites from this module.


Rheidol Valley at sunset


Acrylic on A5 gessoed board,
December 2017.

Although these paintings are not in chronological order, I wanted to place this painting last as I believe it is the most typical type of painting that I can produce. Bold brush marks with plenty of wet paint loaded onto the brush, and a striking contrast of tone due to the fact that this painting is a painting of a sunset projecting the light across the hills in the valley. This is also one of my favourite views when cycling back to Aberystwyth, and I always stop to turn around and have a look at how the landscape has changed. To me, this painting sums up the lively colours of Rheidol and the form of the valley and how it beautifully catches the light as the sun sets.


Thank you for reading my Painting 1 modules analysis! I really enjoyed this module and hope to be taking another Painting module next semester to further my skills and analysis of paint. Hope you enjoy the rest of my blog.

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