Assignment 4


I have started on this assignment looking at a few artists whose work and ideas I have some affinity with. I intend to pursue a few visual ideas from my last assignment, considering the urban landscape and the figure and hopefully develop ideas from a brief trip to London where should be doing some sketching and taking photos.


Chowhurry, a practicing doctor but also studied in a drawing class at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for many years. Working often from the figure and urban landscapes, he is not a slave to the subject but uses it as a point of departure and creates something out of his own vision. While initially working from observation, Chowhurry often completes his paintings months later in his studio. He takes lots of photos of urban environments, the textured layers of old billboards, sides of buses etc and while his paintings are different or separate from his photos, they reflect the rich textures and layered forms of urban life.


Teaches at PAFA, was heavily influenced by the Old Masters. Primarily interested in
the figure, by it’s self or placed in semi abstract landscapes or other environments.
Again, often starting from observation but taking the images into a more imaginative
realm. Film and music are also a source for ideas. He talks about taking big
risks and making messes and being in dialogue with the work.


A contemporary American painter whose work sits within the French tradition
premier coup meaning, ‘all at once’. He generally, trys to complete a painting in
one stretch and as a result the work has much vitality. A lot of gestural marks
coupled with larger, calmer areas of bright colour. His work is very much looking
at the visible world but he is not imitating or copying its appearance. From Brewster’s artist statement on his website he says, ‘the evolution of my artistic approach has been a constant destruction and rebuilding of infrastructures drawing more and more into realms of emotion, mood and poetry detached from naturalistic representation and surface appearance’.


This is a Youtube video I watched recently from an exhibition of the same name held at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, April, 2014 curated by Scott Noel. It show-cased the work of four generations working in the lineage of observational painting from Dickenson to recent graduates. Noel stated at the time, ‘The hope is that the show makes a convincing case, that a space is preserved in contemporary art for just this practice – this search for poetry in a direct and unmediated experience of looking’.

All the work revealed a mastery of the medium and the ability to communicate with the language of paint. Most of the artists work directly from observation or nature and memory/imagination, but not exclusively.There were a few artists, working within the figurative tradition not included in the exhibition such as Vincent Desiderio and Justine Mortimor as they draw more heavily on historical, photo and video sources. Someone from the OCA Fine Art Facebook page mentioned Desiderio who has a few videos up on Youtube. Haven’t had time to explore yet but seems worth bookmarking.

Below, are a few works by other artists relating to the current themes that are an interesting point of reference.


Developed as a result of a few days in London exploring the urban environment and the figure in the environment as a source of visual interest and inspiration for ideas for work. Went to Tate Britain with intentions of seeing the Hockney show but thwarted by the mass of people who booked ahead of me. Nearest I got was seeing a publication, a huge book, an edition of maybe only 10 which included most of his work over the decades. Got to meet another Israeli couple in the coffee bar who came over for the exhibition and Eric Clapton’s final tour! Also went to the Ben Uri gallery and saw some work by German Immigrant artists. Thinking on about displacement, identity, further notes in the sketchbook.


I have included below a lot of images, probably too many, and some quite similar to each other, but trying to show evolution of work in progress. A lot of this work no longer exists as it was rubbed out, superceded or deleted. Some of the worked up pieces I was disappointed with and am trying to revisit in a different way.

These first few images originated from observations from streets in Jerusalem and London. I was interested in creating a mood or atmosphere through colour and loose gestural drawing.

Below, image 53, was developed further, working in oils, but was becoming too pictureque and boring and lost the vitality of the earlier work. With image 54, tried to make the colour more subtle and in image 55, cropped the image for a more interesting composition, played with the colour further which reflects more the interesting light one finds in late afternoon Jerusalem.

I started cropping sections of images to see how much I could simplify and yet still retain the essence or experience of the environment.



This rough colour sketch is an impression after wandering through a section of Camden market, purposely abstract in trying to capture the atmosphere of the place. Relatively small, I’d like to make an enlarged version but not sure I can keep the same looseness unless it evolves into something else.

Above are crops from some images from the previous assignment. They remind me of the intricate maze of streets and alleys of the Old City in Jerusalem. I would like to explore further, go back and do some more sketching in the Old City. I like the idea of working with a limited colour palete and possibly explore in collage or mono print.



The next few images are of work that includes figures, mostly unresolved, using colour in an expressionistic way. The figures were people I had originally observed on the streets and the images could be incorporated into larger, more comprehensive compositions.

Images 79 – 83 were derived from observing people at a busy train station I was passing through on route to the airport home. I took a mass of photos, most, pretty boring, not worth working up as compositions, a sea of anonymous people eating or engaged with their cell phones. I later took a few more photos of mainly individual figures at some distance. The image resolution was poor and the images fuzzy but the figures, cropped and taken out of context show more interest. I painted a couple of these figures in gouache at a small scale and want to paint a few more and see if this is worth pursuing on not.


Working on a couple of paintings derived, again, from wandering around near Camden market, London, (see image 41). There is always the dichotomy in places like this between the affluence of the tourists and trendy ones who hang out there and those who live in the area, maybe on the streets, who have fallen between the cracks, who merge into the background and we tend to ignore.

I took a photo of a couple of guys sitting next to a graffiti painted wall and from a distance it almost seemed as if they were part of the painted image. The second of the paintings, with the walking figure, I am working in impasto on a heavily textured ground. Both images are not fully resolved yet.


I have spent a fair amount of time on this assignment despite being distracted by home renovations. I was originally going to work from one abstract image from the previous assignment but lost some motivation for this. The time spent in the sketch book proved valuable after sketching from observation and developing ideas.

I probably should have concentrated more in one area, as I have a number of works which are interesting but still at sketch or in progress stage. The work which is more complete is not as interesting. The technical aspect of not being able to manipulate the oil paint as I would like is still frustrating but guess I need to push through. Working on 3 or 4 images at once helps, as I can move on if I get stuck on one painting or while waiting for the paint to dry.

Reading that many artists re-visit their work or spend weeks or months on it is interesting, alternatively, completing work in a defined time, as exampled by David Brewster, mentioned above, may also lead to work with more vitality. I remember a previous artist tutor saying that we are in charge or control of the painting and we shouldn’t give up on something too soon when it doesn’t appear to be working.

I have listened to a few podcast interviews of artists talking about their practice, (see links below). Observations such as those from Stuart Shils I find quite helpful, such as “define what is important, everything doesn’t have to be worked up to the same degree” and “don’t have fixed ideas of what ‘finished’ is or should be”.


I feel that I don’t want to spend too much time trying to write an eloquent or definitive statement as I’m still experimenting and defining themes that I gravitate toward, even though I have some obvious interests. I can write what I can define for now.

The observed world, be it my urban or the natural landscape is often the starting point for inspiration, also the figure, on it’s own or in a landscape, the conflict of
opposites, the sense of belonging and of alienation.

From initial studies I sometimes explore digitally, colour and composition, looking for something to emerge that has the potential for development as a painting or mixed media work. I try not to be too rigid with a fixed outcome in mind but allow the play of the materials, process and ideas to inform the final results.


Image 1: Untitled, Mashiul Chowdhury
Image 2: Form in Forest, Martin Campos
Image 3: Figure in Landscape, Martin Campos
Image 4: Voltage Range Overlap, David Brewster
Image 5: Powerlines, David Brewster
Image 6: Italy, Stuart Shils
Image 7: Recent Oil, Stuart Shils
Image 8: Swing Landscape, Stuart Davis
Image 9: Townsquare, Stuart Davis
Image 10: Community, Jacob Lawrence
Image 11: Jamaica,NY, Jacob Lawrence
Image 12: City Landscape, Ken Tutjamnong
Image 13: City Landscape, Ken Tutjamnong
Image 14: Things Behind the Pines, Ken Kewley
Image 15: Hyperallergic, Sangram Majumdar
Image 16: Figures, Nicolas De Staël
Image 17: Les Muscians, Nicolas De Staël
Image 18: Self Portrait, Carolyn Pyfrom
Image 19: Life Study, Miles Richmond
Image 20: Grand Central Station, Jenifer Pochinski
Image 21: In the Field, Janice Nowinski

Mashiul Chowdhury, Learning from the Figure
Martin Campos, Painting the Human Trace
KenTutjamnong, The Love of Painting
From Edwin Dickenson to the Perceptual Painters. Observation & Invention


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s