Yuko Nasu

Yuko Nasu was born in 1974, in Hiroshima, Japan, and lives and works in London. Nasu studied visual design at Kyoto City University of Art until 1997, and relocated to London in 2005, where she attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Nasu is most well known for her portraits made using oil paint, they have an eery quality, providing just a glimpse or suggestion of that person. Nasu uses an array of colour in her work, and diluted oils, painting imagined persons, which often have distorted facial features, and sweeping blurred faces.

In response to Nasu ‘s work instead of using ‘imagined’ people I decided to invent my own people by creating one face from lots of different aspects of my friend’s faces. Here is the photographic collage below.

Once I created the final images using a photo editing program, I then set out by sketching the invented faces onto water colour paper using pencil.

Once I had the outline of the faces sketched, I first began by painting in the different skin tones. They aren’t a true representation of each persons skin tone but still indicative of the slightly different tones and hues. Using acrylic paint and acrylic binder I added in very minimal shadow and highlighted the features of each person using brightly coloured paints. I decided to keep the outline of the face only, minus any hair and finished the painting with an outline in thin black acrylic. I like the final image, with the usual face shape and striking features. I can still see each person in the individual portraits.

Collection Painting

This assignment required a collection painting, A1 or A2 in size on a black or dark coloured background. I struggled to decide on what to present for this collection painting, and first toyed with depicting the contents of my handbag, and instead of arranging the collection before photographing I would just tip the handbag upside down and work on however the objects fell. However after a few attempts the resulting images just didn’t look appealing to me. I did however enjoy painting the collection of utensils from Painting on a painted surface so thought I would return back to the kitchen! I particularly enjoyed the bright bold colours in some of the kitchen utensils and settled on this selection of fruit and vegetables, which has a huge range of colour. I also tried to shine a dramatic light on the collection as directed in the assignment criteria but found this didn’t result in a very striking image. Instead, as it was midday and extremely sunny I photographed the collection outside which meant that some of the items have a particular light and shine on their surface as well as strong contrast and shadow.

I struggled to locate watercolour paper A1 in size so had to use A2. Due to my previously failed attempt at using masking tape to create a border and fix the paper to a surface in Painting on a painted surface I decided to paint the background free hand by using a mix of black ink and white acrylic paint. I then sketched the collection depicting areas for shadow and other details. Once the collection was mapped out on the background I set about adding in the darkest points of the shadows behind the fruit and vegetables. Once this was situated I then started building layers using slightly watered down white acrylic paint. I used this method in my previous collection painting and found it worked well. By building layers of white acrylic paint on the lightest points I was able to start creating light and shadow before adding colour and detail.

I’m happy with the overall image and feel it bears a resemblance to the original image. I’m particularly pleased with the apple and the orange in the foreground. I thought it would be particularly difficult to depict the apple due to the array of colours found on its surface, but by building in different layers of colour, and really trying to look at what I was painting I think it was quite successful. As with the orange, I added a wash of yellow acrylic paint to finish the image, which really contributes to the vibrancy of the orange, kissed by the midday sun. I’m not particular pleased with the outcome of the orange pepper or the cauliflower. The original sketch of the orange pepper I think was a little off and so when I was attempting to paint in the light and shadow I found it particularly difficult. The original cauliflower is also incredible detailed with the many ridges and florets, and without a very thin paint brush I felt inept at being able to truly depict the detail. If I were to invest in some more paint brushes and also spend some more time on this painting I would like to add in the true detail of the cauliflower, attempt to re-work the orange pepper and also add in the detail of the orange’s puckered surface.

Painting on a painted surface

For this exercise I was tasked with painting collections on painted surfaces. I decided to depict an assortment of kitchen utensils on a black background, as well as a collection of books on an imagined mint background, and cutlery on an imagined lilac background.

I started out by using masking tape to fix the A4 watercolour paper to my work surface and then painted in the background. Unfortunately the masking tape wasn’t very effective as you can see, these aren’t the neat edges I originally wanted!

Painting the above collection of books was particularly challenging due to the high level of detail on the book covers. There is only a slight shadow from the edges of the books so most of my time was spent trying to represent a true likeness of the book covers. For some of the larger font I did attempt to paint them in directly, however for the smaller lettering I only provided an indication of the text. I’m happy with the overall image, although find the background a little too bright, I think it would be more effective if it was a slightly more muted mint green.

This next collection is an assortment of various utensils from a kitchen drawer. I really like the different colours, shapes and shadows, the items are almost luminous on the black background.

I used black ink for the background of this painting, and sketched out the composition before painting. This took a few attempts as there are so many items I initially struggled to get the sizing right and fit them all onto the page. Before adding in any colour I used a slightly watered down acrylic white paint to add in the shapes, building up the white acrylic paint for bolder colour. I then painted over each item injecting colour, and then adding in light and shadow.

For the final composition I used a selection of cutlery. To add more interest to this piece, the cutlery at home is quite a mix and not all uniform so you can see in the arrangement there is slightly different detail in each item. I purposefully laid out the cutlery in this geometric patter, to accentuate the fine lines and shapes.

Out if the three compositions this is my favourite. I particularly like the lilac painted background underneath the metallic cutlery. I also enjoyed painting just using black and white acrylic and working hard to add in the light and shadow. I decide to use a deeper purple to depict the shadow underneath the cutlery, which I think works well.

Painting on a 3D surface

For this assignment I was tasked to paint a collection of objects onto a 3D object. Having previously experimented with painting on a cardboard box (Cathy Lomax), pieces of wood (Lee Edwards), and a tin can and glass jar (Paul Westcombe), I decided to revisit painting on another differently sized glass jar. This time I used an old vegan mayonnaise jar, which was shorter and rounder than the glass jar I had used previously. I measured the circumference of the jar and thought it would make a good surface to paint my collection of paint brushes on.

I began by using masking tape to create neat edges at the top and bottom, and painting the base colour using black acrylic paint. I had soaked the jar in washing up liquid to remove the label but there was still some glue adhesive left on the surface. Luckily once the acrylic paint was applied, this sticky issue was no longer a problem.

I found trying to paint such fine detail on a small rounded surface quite tricky. I attempted to paint the brush handles in straight lines, but this was not always possible. I also slightly underestimated the space required to fit all of the brushes so unfortunately had to miss off 5 or 6 of the paint brushes. Due to the linear nature of the painting though and the subject matter it’s not noticeable. As I had painted the black background, the transparent nature of painting on glass was lost, but I think it’s a good representation of the original photographed collection.

Peter Bonde

Peter Bonde was born in 1958, and is a Danish Visual Artist. Bonde graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Art (1976-82). He was a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Arts’s painting school from 1996 to 2005. Bonde’s work spans over three decades, and he has used a range of materials and mediums such as collage, using perishable materials, painting on canvas with photographic print, and video screen installations.

Bonde’s most recent works are created using oil paint on mirror-foil. Bonde experiments with the use of paint on this specially created mirror surface which encapsulates both the brush strokes of Bonde as well as the viewer themselves. You can see in the images above the reflections of the camera and tripod in the images. The paintings feel very luminous and ethereal.

Using silver metallic card I cut into squares and started painting using a filbert brush, gesturally, using a limited colour palette with white paint. I really like the final images, and how they are all different yet still interconnect in their own series. I’d like to experiment with this some more using different sized silver mirrored card, and different colour palettes and brush strokes.

Large-scale line painting

For this exercise I used a large sheet of A2 water colour paper, and I chose to paint the collection of utensils using black ink, and a small flat paint brush. I didn’t particularly enjoy this line drawing exercise as I wanted to add in light and shadow. I did however, attempt to paint directly onto the surface without sketching out the image beforehand.

Looking at the resulting painting however, I can see where some of the utensils aren’t placed correctly on the page and are somewhat out of scale. It was a good exercise though in realising the importance for me to be able to sketch before painting. I’m glad I chose the blank ink on with back ground to depict the utensils, there are lots of interesting straight lines and shapes in the cutlery, and the monochromatic image is quite striking.

Lene Bladbjerg

Lene Bladbjerg was born in 1974 in Denmark, Bladbjerg grew up in Belgium, Brussels, and now lives and works in London. Bladbjerg attended the Kent Institute of Art and Design, Rochester, England in 1995, and later graduated from the London College of Printing with a Degree in Graphic and Media Design in 2000. Bladbjerg uses a variety of mediums and materials including, painting, drawing, and screen prints. For the purpose of this blog post I will be exploring her work on metallic surfaces entitled ‘Butterflies’.

Silky Hairstreak butterfly, 2020
Material, Surface: Metal
Height: 17.5 Centimetres; Width: 12.5 Centimetres; Depth: 4 Centimetres

Bladbjerg uses stanley knife blades grouped to appear as butterfly wings and painted using acrylic paint. In response to this work I recreated my own butterfly wings, using metallic card, cut with a stately knife blade into different shapes. I then used a filbert painting brush and a selection fo acrylic paint to adorn the shapes, arranging them together to form a butterfly shape.

I don’t think the final image looks very butterfly-like, however I do really like the symmetry , as well as the acrylic paint atop the gold metallic card, the layers of shapes and the overall image together, it feels both modern and vintage. I intend to work on this idea some more to produce different cut shapes, colour palettes and themes and build a collection. I think the resulting image is really quite beautiful. I’d also like to continue to experiment with recreating an ink blot style technique on gold card with acrylic paint.

Unusual Painting Media

For this exercise I used a range of different painting media to depict a selection of photographs I took earlier, of collections found in the home. The paintings were made on A4 water colour paper, using nail polish, make-up, coffee and black ink.

The first example was created using lip gloss and eye shadow from a make-up kit. First I began sketching roughly where the shoes would sit on the page and smaller details I wanted to pick out with the makeup. I started by applying lip gloss with the small applicator brush provided, like glue on top of the shoe sketches, and then stickling thick eyeshadow on top, a little like colour chalk or pastels, the result is quite a blurry, soft image. I found it quite difficult to build in any tone/shadow due to the materials I was using so it is quite a flat image.

Next I chose to paint a pile of socks using nail polish. Luckily I have quite selection of different colour nail polish already, although it was difficult to find the correct colour for all of the items. I particularly liked using the glittery nail polish to pick out some of the details in the socks. I didn’t paint outside, but after a while I had to open the windows as the fumes from the nail polish was quite strong! I struggled to depict the fine details found on some of the socks due to the thickness of the nail polish brush, but still attempted to add small amounts of detail where possible.

Next I chose to use coffee to paint a small collection of clothing. I quite like the arrangement, bold yellow against stripes and denim, although the colour is lost in the painting medium. Painting with coffee felt similar to painting with watercolour. I set up 4 solutions of coffee with varying strength. First I began by applying a light wash over the entire image, and then slowly building up shadow and contrast using stronger coffee solutions. I tried to depict the slight shadow found on the striped top, but I was a little impatient and you can see it’s blurred with the painted stripes as it wasn’t quite dry enough. Other than that I’m quite pleased with how the whole image has turned out.

Lastly, I used black ink and the wooden end of a paint brush to depict this arrangement of white objects. I sketched out the arrangement to begin with before painting, as there is a lot going on in the arrangement and I wanted to be able to sketch where the items would sit on the page before committing to ink on paper. I’m happy with the overall image, and think using the black ink for this particular collection worked well as there are lots of lines and shapes to pick out with the ink. Painting with the wooden end of the brush was quite a different feel to applying with a paint brush as I had to dip the end in the ink multiple times just to make even small marks, so the result is quite edgy and rough.

Lisa Milroy

Lisa Milroy was born in 1959, in Vancouver. Milroy is a Canadian artist well known for her still life paintings of everyday objects placed in various lines and patterns. Milroy’s work spans decades from the 1980’s to present day, comprising of a wide range of works including paintings, prints, drawing and animation. For the purpose of this blog post, I will be looking more closely at her paintings of collections.

Shoes, 1987
oil on canvas
80 x 112 in

Above is one of Milroy’s earlier works from the 1980’s depicting a collection of shoes. I attempted a response to Milroy’s painted collection by grouping, photographing and then painting my own collection of shoes. I decided to use some brown paper packaging which was actually used to package a new pair of shoes I recently purchased and received by post. The brown surface reflects the background colour of the carpet, and I used acrylic to paint the shoes.

Another one of Milroy’s collection includes her painting of plates, below is one of Milroy’s smaller groupings, completed in the 1990s.

Untitled (Plates), 1992
Oil on Canvas
76.2 x 101.6 cm. (30 x 40 in.)

I responded by again photographing my own small collection of plates, and on this occasion decided to use acrylic paint on watercolour paper.

I found the whole process quite challenging, especially to get the shadowing right, as well as include the very fine details in some of the plates. For the ivory/gold plates I did not copy the detailing exactly, but created a pattern remnant of the original. Whilst painting the black and white plate I had to abandon my paintbrush all together in order to imitate the line patterns of the bowl as I didn’t have a paintbrush thin enough, the fine tip pen however worked really well. I’m least pleased with the red polka dot bowl as the polka dots are not round/oval shaped as photographed, I found it extremely difficult to get this right, and went over with both white and red paint to try and tidy up my attempt. I do struggle to work in fine detail though so this was good practice.

Tabitha Moses

Tabitha Moses is a visual artist, currently living and working in Liverpool, England. Moses’ work is often connected with people and groups of people. Her most recent work ‘Investment’, is connected with her own experience of infertility and IVF treatment and is presented through embroidered hospital gowns and photographic portraits. For the purpose of this blog post I will be looking at her work on collections in particular her project entitled ‘Desi Man’.

Desi Man
2005 – 11
packaging materials from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, box frames, pins

dimensions variable 

‘Desi Man’ took place between 2005-2011, in a range of locations across Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. Moses collected a variety of images and photographs of men working as shop keepers, shoe makers, farmers and slaughter house workers. The images are pinned on the surface, a lot like butterflies and insects in natural world collections, and are grouped by identifying factors such as beards, moustaches or headgear.

Desi Man
2005 – 11
packaging materials from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, box frames, pins

dimensions variable 

I thought about who might I be able to collect various images for, appearing on different surfaces, in a stylised way, and immediately thought of the Queen. As her iconic face can be found in a vast array of collections, stamps, coins, notes, memorabilia, such as mugs, and commemorative plates (of which I knew my mother was likely to have some). So I recreated my own collection below.

I think the collection came out well, the cushion dominates the frame, leaving the stamps and coins seemingly quite obsolete, although I think it still adds to the composition, especially with the colour of the 1st class stamp popping through. I especially like the retro feel of the blue tea towel with black and white image of the Queen gazing off into the distance. Each mug also represents an important point in the Queen’s life, with the pound coins and bank note bringing together the overwhelming influence the Queen has on the United Kingdom. The Queen and her image is found in lots of different materials and objects, reflecting her ever present reign.