COLLABORATIVE REFLECTION: Documenting in our Collaborative Book

We met up as a group today and discussed our original timetable and how to progress over the next few weeks. The original plan was to work with creating a new animation using what we’ve learnt and make a large collaborative drawing, but we got all of the work we have produced together, and didn’t realise quite how much work we have already made. We were delighted to learn that we had been enjoying this collaboration so much that we hadn’t really stepped back and looked and reflected on what we had done. Today, we decided that we will put the two animations we have already made into one video as a final animation and instead of making a large drawing, we will display 3 of the best A1 pieces we have created.

We worked on our collaborative book today and brought it up to date with documentation.




After that we wrote some written reflection and formulated an action plan up to the assessment point on the 18th March. This included mashing together our animations, reflecting, finishing documenting and creating our book and then finally, working on our final presentation to be presented to all the other collaborative groups.


Finally, we decided it would be beneficial to consolidate and conclude our book by writing about how this collaboration has influenced our own individual practice. 


We each wrote a small paragraph about what we had learnt and will take away from this experience and we were delighted that every one of us had written about a positive experience whilst working in a collaborative group. We have worked really hard and want to enjoy celebrating what we have made and portraying that in a presentation rather than stressing out about making new things. Our work has a lot of potential and direction and that is enough for us. We are proud of ourselves and each other for what we have managed to achieve in such a short space of time working around other commitments.


REFLECTION: Painting onto a variety of grounds

On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has definitely aided my learning and expanded my knowledge as an artist. Below I have highlighted the successes and failures of working with six different grounds. I have also noted my thoughts and potential uses for the grounds that haven’t been successful for this project work.

Burnt Umber – Dark Brown 

Dark Brown is definitely the one of the most successful grounds for this kind of painting. It was incredibly effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. It was easier to paint and focusing on the highlights allowed me to create a far more successful image than if I was simply working on white.


Mid Tone Ground

A mid-tone ground worked quite well, but it didn’t allow for a dark feeling painting. It is quite unsuccessful really and does not heighten the feeling of loneliness as much as a darker tone ground. Also, I found myself using the ground to guide the highlights in the image which I feel made the image look quite flat and I don’t feel there is enough contrast between the figures and the surrounding here. I am incredibly surprised by how much a ground beneath a painting actually affects the outcome in the end.


Red Textured Ground

This textured ground made it very difficult to paint the straight edges of the buildings and figures within the outcome. However, I feel quite an interesting effect has been created here. To me the red ground made the scene look almost apocalyptic which isn’t exactly the feeling I was trying to create, so in that respect it is unsuccessful, but using a textured ground was a valuable insight into effects that can be created with grounds and demonstrated to me what my tutor meant by making more work for yourself when painting on an uneven ground.


Cadmium Yellow Ground

The cadmium yellow ground did weird and wonderful things to my painting. I like the effect it created and the yellow highlights peaking through as if the sun is shining, but it does produce a positive feeling so is unsuccessful in aiding the portrayal of loneliness in the city. In the future, if I am thinking about light or painting sun light, I will consider using a cadmium yellow ground.


Dark Brown Textured Ground

Textured  grounds could definitely be interesting to explore and would undoubtedly benefit an abstract piece of work, but in this painting, even though I like the effect created, it was difficult to paint any straight edges because of all the lumps and bumps. I kind of feel that the attention is detracted from the subject a little bit by the interesting textures and palette knife work highlighting the surface.


Black Emulsion Ground

The black emulsion ground is also incredibly successful. It is between this ground and the dark brown as to which one has worked best.  Again, It was effortless to create shadows because I didn’t have to paint the dark areas, I just used the ground to guide me. I would say this is so successful because the highlights and white figures really stand out and the darkest areas are black so there is a lot of contrast within the work.


On reflection, painting on a variety of grounds has undoubtedly been a valuable exercise. I have learnt first hand, how the colour or texture of a ground can affect that final outcome. I have also learnt the importance of choosing the correct ground to work with and how some grounds can make the painting you are producing easier to paint or vice versa. It is important to consider how the ground that you choose could affect the mood of the piece as here some of the grounds have helped heighten a dark mood and loneliness and others haven’t. The textures grounds definitely made it more difficult to paint figuratively but could be incredibly useful and valid for abstract works. Now that I have experimented with grounds, I will produce a large piece on a dark ground to add to its success and highlight my findings from these explorations.

Working with Grounds

After undertaking a grounds workshop and learning that the colour and texture underneath the paint affects the outcome, I want to experiment with working on different grounds.  I usually just paint onto a white surface but recently I have been working with darker colours and I learnt that working on a dark surface like black emulsion or brown could dull the colours I’m using and give my images more dimension.

I have produced six grounds to work with: black emulsion, burnt umber, a mid tone beige colour, a cadmium yellow  ground and two textured grounds, one red and one brown.



In the workshop, we talked about how grounds can make painting easier for you, and that it can also make it harder. I predict that the textured grounds are going to make painting more difficult for me but they undoubtedly will produce an interesting effect and created texture within my painting that I produce on top.



I am really interested and excited to work with these grounds and to see how they affect my outcomes, I plan to paint images portraying loneliness in the city, in monochrome and sepia tones on all six and observe how the grounds effect the colours and if the surfaces and textures create a desirable or undesirable outcome.

Painting Workshop: Session 1: Underpainting

Today, I attended a painting workshop with James Green. I was asked to bring a drawing, a photograph and an object, all relating to my city project. I didn’t know what to expect and was excited to see what we were doing with these items. When I arrived, I was asked to set up a still life using the things I had brought. I included my sketchbook, a photo I had taken highlighting the hidden loneliness of the city and some headphones. I was really stumped and couldn’t think of what object I was going to take so I put in my headphones and started listening to music, it dawned on me that people wear headphones on the streets and on public transport to avoid the loneliness around them so they seemed like an appropriate item to bring along. I  arranged my things and set up my still life and started making a really lose, quick and basic 5 minute sketch of it.


After this we talked about the task of the work shop and what we aimed to do. We talked about underpainting and how it is important. This obviously linked in with the grounds workshop that I took part in last week. We looked at the work of Simon Ling and how the underpainting that you do can show through the final outcome. You can see the orange underpainting coming through the untitled piece I have included below by Simon Ling and I think this is a highly interesting effect. We talked about the fact that underpainting is not typically considered by art students and that it can completely change the feel, complexity and outcome of a painting.


The tutor showed us some of his work built upon the foundations of layers and layers of underpainting and the outcomes were incredibly inspiring, there looked to have been so much work put into the pieces and the under colours had created new colours on top. It really interests me that the under colours inform the top colours and can change the way a colour looks. He gave an example of a tube of yellow paint that he had used in two different places within his work, it was the same tube of paint, but one part was painted over a white underpainting and the other over a blue underpainting, the results were completely different. We discussed edging and how we could move the edge of a paintbrush back and fore across a page to create a straight line, I used this technique when rendering the corners of the book within my work below.

We were given that task of using only Green tones to create an underpainting of our Still life set ups.



Using only tones of Green we had to pick up on light and shadow and create a variety of tone within our underpaintings, ready to paint on top of them in the next session next week. We were only allowed to use five colours and no black was to be used to darken our greens. We used yellow and white to lighten the green and blue and red to darken it.



 It was really interesting painting the different tones and highlights all in one colour. We only had two hours to complete this workshop, and I didn’t quite finish my underpainting, so I will be working on it this week ready for next weeks session. I was happy with the result of my underpainting and I think I have a good tonal range within it, however I do think that the book looks a little flat in places and I rushed a little so some of the angles within the piece are a bit wrong, which is something I will work on. I am excited to see what this painting will look like next week when I start adding more colour on top. I wonder how the green will change the colours I use? Will it show through in places? There seems to be endless possibilities when layering paint and I am intrigued to explore this.

CONSTELLATION: Key Concepts: Sub-cultural Style: Cath Davies Session 2

Style is all about making a statement. Embedded within style is a knowledge of historical usage. As an art student, I have to have an understanding of the past to produce a meaning in the future. Its the same style, in order to revive or modify or create a new style, you have to gain a knowledge of previous looks.

Subcultures are crowds of people deliberately changing the meaning of objects. Subculture is simply an academic name for street style and explores how we can express ourselves through dress. Street style becomes a sub culture when you have a group of people doing the same together. For example, acting the same, dressing the same and listening to a particular genre of music. Subcultures are predominantly defined by look. A sub-culture having a name like goth or punk suggests many people with similar attributes, features and characteristics.

In this session, we discussed the fact that when analysing subcultures we are analysing the characteristics of a street style. It is not enough just to describe the look within a street style. We must analyse the meanings within the look. Why were the items worn? What were the statements being made?


We were given documentation to read and make notes on relating to sub culture and the analysis of street style. Below are the notes made on the subjects and key ideas within the text given to me.

Woodward suggests that all identity statements, who we are, are often expressed visually. She maintains Identity is marked by difference. By choosing a look, you’re saying you’re not like everyone else. This got me thinking about how differences are shown between people. Visually we are always enacting according to social systems. There are social rules we adopt. For example, There were men in the room in this session, but none of them were wearing dresses, we don’t even think about adopting these rules. We just follow the rules of being a man and being a woman. Look goes somewhat to distinguishing sex. The dress is stereo typically tied to being a woman and a suit and facial hair, a man. We don’t questions this, it’s just adopted. We talked about noticing the fact that when someone breaks that rule, it becomes a cause for concern. Most of art and design is about questioning and exposing rules. Exposing the things that we just take for granted. What is considered normal and what happens if you challenge the norm, is something art and design practitioners question all the time. Rules are given to us, we either fit them or we don’t.

Symbolic Marking (woodward 2002) marks difference through visual language. Its a visual language ans set of meanings that differentiate or suggest difference, Who is included and who is excluded. You get a sense of us and them from symbolic marking. It is at the heart of racism, sexism, homophobia etc. If you are judging someone, you are making a statement that says you are not like me. It is also to do with lifestyle, music etc. Not only visual. There are examples of where bands for example have contributed to street style.

We talked about how this related to analysing street style. We will consider how difference is manifested visually. We will look at how identities are constructed. Identities are made, not natural. We will look at identities in relation to what they are not. Everyone makes decisions on their look, like how to wear your hair and dress. As an art and design student, we always expose construction, how was it made, how was it put together? why? Construction occurs in Binary Opposition – you make a decision and you discard  another. I am going to dress like a punk not a mod.

b boy

The Old Skool B-Boy is a hip hop look characterised by a music genre and lifestyle. Considering the notion that if you went out dressed as an old skool B-Boy in 1985 you are saying that you’re into hip hop.

The Characteristics of the look include a Run DMC t-shirt, adidas trainers with the laces taken out and a Goose down jacket. A visual statement is being made and therefore there is evidence of symbolic  marking. There are rules embedded in the street style Old skool B-Boy and every style. If you weren’t part of this Hip Hop look then you wouldn’t know the rules.

Sports wear – Particular Brand – ADIDAS. Subculture is all about “cool” what’s in and what isn’t in. Here, you have to wear adidas to be part of the hip hop crew. Old Skool B-Boys claimed this brand. Meanings are inherent in Branding. Brands have trends according to age groups and are often influenced by celebrity style and fashion.

Gold Jewellery – Thick chains and Bling. Hip Hop artists coined the name Bling. Detail is highly important in sub cultural style, how you do up laces is making a statement for example. Hip Hop old Skool B-Boys wore no laces in their adidas trainers. Here there is a conversation going on within the style. They have taken sportswear out of its sporting context. This is a huge statement, they are wearing the trainers to look cool. “i’m not going running in these trainers like everyone else” – marking difference. The laces are taken out because they are not being used for their original function.

Another thing Old Skool B-Boys did in 1985 was wear Volkswagen logos around their neck as necklaces. These would have been stolen off of cars. Again, a statement, the badge shows the brand of the car, wearing this brand as a necklace changes the function of it. Stealing the badges was a statement about what they couldn’t afford. Listing characteristics, looking at original meanings and variations of this style would help me analyse it. I would need more than one image to prove this look if I was writing a case study on it.

This encouraged me to think about how the function of items changes and how influences from old looks return. The Mid 80s Hip Hop look is coming back now, we are in an 80s rebirth currently and there are many examples of this. There is an idea of then and now in terms of sub cultures. Looks that started on the street end up on the high street.


Sub cultures must exhibit a distinctive enough shape and structure to make them distinctive enough. They must be different from the parent culture, different from mainstream fashion. My work at the end of these sessions should prove there are different values and uses of material artifacts within looks. Where the sub culture hang out and where the subculture was born is all valuable to analysis.  The hip hop subculture is inherently Black and grew up in the black communities of New York. Songs are about urban deprivation and race themes emerge within this genre. Disadvantaged black youth in an America that favours white people. You cannot analyse Hip Hop without analysing race. An example of this is the fact that Grunge is inherently white as a sub culture. When looking at sub culture, we are looking at what statements are being made about the people. The Hip  Hop B-Boys wanted to make a statement about the fact that they shouldn’t be singled out from the whites for being Black. Within this look, there are meanings relating to race and they consciously chose a brand (adidas) that was traditionally worn by white people.


Possession of  Objects. What makes a style is the activity of stylisation and the active organisation of objects. (Hau Clance Jefferson 1975). The active organisation of objects is the notion of construction that I mentioned previously. Through this construction, new meanings emerge. Things are being brought together in new and distinctive ways and ensemble. Within style, people are changing the meanings of things.

In conclusion, the three key concepts that I will have to look at when analysing and producing my case study are: symbolic marking,  the differences of a subculture from the mainstream and having a distinctive enough shape, and the stylisation within the street style and how they have actively organised objects within their look.

PAINT WORKSHOP: “Working with Grounds”

In this workshop, I explored and made notes on the use of grounds in painting. It is a subject that until now I wasn’t particularly knowledgeable of. I was aware that different coloured grounds were used under paint but it was interesting to learn, that we use grounds in painting for a vast variety of reasons.

Painting a coloured ground onto a piece before you produce the painting changes the colour of the paint applied and as a result changes the outcome of the work. For example, to achieve the maximum luminosity of colour and to create a vibrant outcome, you would paint a white ground to work on. Impressionists introduced the idea of working on a white ground as they desired extremely bright colourful  characteristics within their work. I learnt that working with mid-tone grounds can be beneficial for darker paintings and make the colours you apply look duller and more subdued. An artist that sprung to the mind of the tutor that uses mid tone and dark grounds to work on was Rembrandt. Rembrandt is famous for creating  a lot of depth in the backgrounds of his art. This is down to the use of many thin glazes and painting on many thin grounds to build up a dark background that you feel you are looking deep into. To me, the background of Rembrandt’s work looked as if he had made his own Black and worked with it. It was intriguing to find out that this wasn’t the case and that so much effort had gone in to working into a part of the painting that many of us don’t consider to be as important.


Rembrandt, Hendrickje Bathing in a River, 1654

Using a ground, changes the colour of the glazes you apply. Green was the last colour to be produced/manufactured and was extremely hard to get hold of. Artists cleverly used a Blue ground and painted a yellow on top to create the green tones that they desired within their paintings. In this workshop, another thing I learnt was that using a Cadmium yellow ground does extremely odd things to the colours you apply on top. Painting a cadmium yellow ground is traditionally something you don’t do, but for some artists the outcome is a preferred and desirable effect. Many artists work with a tinted ground, usually a white base with a hint of colour added to it.

Interestingly, I found it fascinating that you could use two different grounds on one canvas or panel. For example if you were painting a landscape you may want to use a mid-tone ground for the foreground and a blue ground for the sky area.

As well as to achieve certain colour outcomes, I found out that grounds are also used to control the absorbency of the surface of a board or a canvas. Gesso grounds are highly absorbant, they absorb oil colour incredibly well and almost make it look like watercolour.  Gesso ground is only to be used with Oil paint, all other grounds can take oil paint too as long as they are fully dry. People use specific materials that have man-made surfaces because they desire the fact that it has no absorbance, a quality you may use if you liked the paint to stay wet and move around on the surface a lot. When painting, the surface has to have some sort of texture. Canvas has a texture, working on different surfaces changes the mark that is made.

I was informed that grounds do not have to be a flat surface, you can use textured grounds and make them up yourself. For example, glue and sawdust. You may want to work on a ground that contains brush marks or sand to achieve a certain result from working with a particular texture. Acrylic grounds dry incredibly quickly, which is both an advantage of them and a disadvantage. Obviously you can work on top of them quickly, but if you don’t like them later on you cannot just take them away. Gesso ground have a lot of preparation to them and dry incredibly slowly. How you apply a ground is highly important, for example, the brush you use has an effect on the surface of the ground. The ground is also different depending on how it is applied, it would be a completely different surface if you applied it with a palette knife. The way you use the materials affects the ground too, long brushstrokes would give a vastly different result to stippling.

Even though a ground is usually considered to be painted on and remain underneath the paint on top, I realised in this workshop that you can still have some of the ground showing in your final result if you desire.

We talked about the endless possibilities of grounds, you could paint a ground and draw into it with a sharp object or nail to produce a ghost image as a guide for your painting. You could also use chalk which would create a more smudgy effect when paint was applied on top. It is completely acceptable to stick things into acrylic grounds like newspaper and photographs as long as the material isn’t organic. You can work with oil paint on acrylic grounds but not the other way round.

In terms of my project, the tutor and I talked about possibilities within my hidden loneliness theme and how I could apply my newly found knowledge of grounds. Working with Black emulsion or layers of dark or mid tone colours like Rembrandt did could be an interesting pathway to explore and something I will consider. I was encouraged to think about the fact that taking away paint off a piece, can be as interesting as putting it on and therefore revealing under painting. Working on dark surfaces or fabrics could be interesting to explore within my city work.

We moved on to consider the fact that Canvas in itself is a ground, even though you haven’t specifically done anything to it, you have decided to work on it. Brown Linen canvas would give you a different outcome to a white one. The choice of something can be a ground, the surface of timber is technically a ground.

I was fascinated when the tutor mentioned that grounds can make your work easier and that it could help you along. And example of an artist that makes the work harder for himself is Julian Schnabel. He uses broken crockery as a ground to work on, the bumpy surface must be difficult to paint on, but he is setting himself up a very interesting outcome. He produces a completely opposite ground to that of traditional portrait painting, he takes risks within his work and they have obviously paid off. Creating difficulties by making a ground such as crockery can make for a more absorbing, charismatic and overall successful piece of artwork.



Work by Juian Schabel

Anselm Kiefer is an example of an artist that replicates real surfaces when producing grounds. Tar and bitumen are prominent materials within his work. However, they are slow liquids so his work can move and in exhibitions of his you may literally see bits falling off his paintings or parts that already have below them. People accept that Kiefer’s work has a sense of impermanence.


From this workshop, I have learnt that working with grounds is all about experimentation. I have gained a knowledge on the reasons we use grounds, the key reasons are to achieve certain colour effects, to create surface or texture and to control absorbency when making paintings. I found this workshop incredibly interesting and inspiring. I will definitely be experimenting with the use of grounds and will think a lot more about the surface I am working on and choose it appropriately. I am already looking forward to the workshop next week where I will be researching painting mediums and glazes, the stage of painting after producing a ground.

Field Collaboration: Drawing Session 2

We wanted to progress in this group collaborative drawing session. This time, we wanted to produce collaborative drawings with a twist of our own artistic backgrounds within them. We all brought our own materials to the session, with focus on what we would use on our course. As a fine artist, I brought paint, charcoal, sketching pens, brushes, palette knives and oil pastels and tracing paper. The textiles girls brought fabric, and tissue paper, thread and various cottons, buttons, beads, needles and embroidery kits. Our illustrator brought along black fine liners and our graphics guy preferred to work in Biro. For this session, the ceramicist brought along watercolours and drawing materials she uses in her sketchbook but will be experimenting with clay and glaze on the paper in the future.


We started by sticking on surfaces like tissue paper and tracing paper, adding paint washes and backgrounds and drawing on top of them.



I really liked the effect of ink and fine liner on tracing paper with water. The drawing styles and ideas of others are starting to inspire my own practice.



After finishing one drawing, we reflected on it, talked about what we liked and dislikes, things we would like to add or develop and moved on to another one. We felt really inspired by each other and wanted to take advantage of this.




This was a highly successful drawing session, the use of mixed media and materials was a great idea, it brought all of our disciplines together and the outcome is definitely an improvement on the last session. We are all looking forward to  creating an animation with our drawing next time and eventually working on an even larger scale.

I am really pleased with how well we are all collaborating and really enjoying producing the work. It is a very valuable experience seeing how the others think and draw and learning from one another.