Part 1 and Assignment 1: Self-evaluation

9 and 10 May 2017.

Note. – I was unsure as to whether I was supposed to write separate self-evaluation posts for Part 1 and Assignment 1, but since the two are inseparable really, I decided to combine them here.

Overall it took me a little while to settle into this course, which is quite different from the two I did before (Drawing 1 and Practice of Painting). In my case it would probably have been better to start my degree path with a course like Understanding Painting Media (UPM), because it teaches beautifully the expected way of how to use sketchbooks and develop a project, two aspects I am struggling with. After the first months with UPM I feel, to my own surprise and joy, much more at home now with both sketchbook and project development. The experience is enjoyable, playful and relaxed. UPM is my favourite course so far and I think that this one is the one I learned the most from in a very short time.
Here is my appreciation of my development with reference to p. 5, 42 and 47 of the study guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015):

  • Demonstration of visual skills

Over several years now I have done a lot of continuous line drawing in my everyday sketchbook and elsewhere and I think that in this respect I have now developed a highly personal style (see e.g. Lacher-Bryk, 2017a). This skill has started to slowly become influential on my developing painting techniques, especially with the use of acrylic paint. I can do line drawings with paintbrushes quite successfully now, although the more painterly aspects of this skill need to be developed further.
My practical artist research, especially of Brian Alfred’s and Cecily Brown’s work and own derived experimentation allowed me to incorporate, with previously unknown confidence, the experience gained into my work for Assignment 1. This process has taught me some important initial requirements of how to approach the different aspects of a more complex project. Apart from the above this part of the course has given me, in a beautifully arranged way, the opportunity to get to become acquainted with some of the work of a considerable number of important contemporary artists and learn directly by engaging with it in a practical way, sometimes from surprising sources, which I would probably not have chosen for myself had I been presented with the opportunity (e.g. Jasper Joffe or Daniel Richter). Before I started this course I had never been sure of how to best accomplish this task, but now I feel in a good position to learn considerably. In a similar way my visual skills have sharpened. I am bolder, more creative and less afraid of “doing something wrong”. Years of drawing and painting in a figurative manner have given me some now relatively reliable knowledge of natural forms, which allows me to play with these forms to deliberately deviate from the original without having to give up the truth behind the changes any longer.

  • Quality of outcome

I am still keenly aware of the fact that I have had to relearn that one of the secrets of mastering the art of painting is in playing. This course has made this way of learning accessible to me once more. This means that I can start doing authentic things again, which I know from experience in a variety of other fields are the key to true communication with a viewer. Since I am by nature obsessively curious I do not think that I will ever be able to settle on a main area of interest, as there will always be a multitude of influences to consider and weigh against each other. This can be a very difficult task, but is also a chance to develop novel ways of seeing the world. This, however, also means that the quality of my work so far depends very much on how familiar I am with a subject, technique or material and whether I find a way of communicating my intention. In the past I found myself often struggling with tasks far too complex for my level of expertise. This course allows me to break down my subjects into manageable portions, so that I expect to be able to steadily increase the quality of my work. Along with this I noticed that my appreciation for the quality of work in the artists I come across has also increased and I feel more at home now with critically viewing and enjoying their particular contribution to the art world. My pieces for Assignment 1 I am very happy with in this respect. I think that the twenty paintings contain some of the best work I have made so far (Lacher-Bryk, 2017b).

  • Demonstration of creativity

Over the first two years with the OCA I have started to gain a different understanding of the meaning of the word creativity. Before that for me creativity was to have a ready-to-use idea in mind, which I then put into practice without further critical considerations. Now I am beginning to understand the difference in being creative while developing a project. I am more familiar now with the requirements set by the OCA in this respect and this allows me to come to more clearly appreciate the steps characteristic of creative processes. Over the first part of this course I felt that a self-sustaining development has set in and I hope that this is here to stay. In my experiementation, in particular with respect to practical artist research and painting response to their work I think that I made a large step forward, which I was able to carry over to planning and carrying out, in a consistent manner, the tasks for Assignment 1. In this respect I was glad to have taken with me from Assignment 5 of Practice of Painting my subject of shadows. This settling on an area of interest also helped me sharpen my view while not becoming overwhelmed by the creative possibilities open to me. I think that I am now relatively confident in selecting and using with (varying) success many different and creatively mixed painting and drawing media appropriate to the message I want to transport.

  • Context

I think that starting the course with a both theoretical and practical research project including a large number of artists was an incredibly efficient way to set the scene (Lacher-Bryk, 2017c). Now I am much better equipped for doing my own preliminary research, although I am aware that without the help of the OCA I would not yet be able to find the most important artists working today. I think that with respect to artist research it is always possible to do more, but to me it is an important first step to learn how to appreciate and use the invaluable contributions artists make for their respective work. For the first time I think that I successfully managed to incorporate techniques and ideas developed by other artists into my own assignment work (Lacher-Bryk, 2017b).
I also find that I have always intuitively incorporated ideas from my previous experiences, especially from my work as biologist and exhibition planner, as well as, and this in a largely subconscious manner, from my experience in fighting for our son, who is the victim of a massive hospital error.
My everyday life is highly demanding timewise and so I have to be very efficient at planning and carrying out my projects. This means that at least for the foreseeable future I cannot afford to let a project take its own pace, which may also have its advantanges. At times, for example, I need to spend several days in various hospitals together with my son. While this puts a halt to a continuous working process, it also helps me to step back from the work I have done and reappreciate it on returning from a completely different task. This helps me also to gain access to a set of possibly colliding viewpoints from which to observe and critically evaluate. What I do miss as compared to my previous two courses is some exchange with fellow students. As there do not seem to be many studying this course at the moment, my tutor contact is my invaluable resource for contextual concerns.


Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017a) Everyday sketchbook: little May update [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 4 May. Available from: [Accessed 10 May 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017b) Assignment 1: Twenty 15×15 cm Shadows [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 9 May. Available from:×15-cm-shadows/ [Accessed 10 May 2017]

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017c) Part 1: Own experimentation supplementing introductory research point [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 9 May. Available from: [Accessed 10 May 2017]

Open College of the Arts (2015) Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media. Open College of the Arts, Barnsley.


Part 1: Own experimentation supplementing introductory research point

1 May 2017. Here comes a series of work done as part of the research point introducing Part 1 of the course. The theoretical work and selection of painters to examine is found in my previous post (Lacher-Bryk, 2017).

Inka Essenhigh

I was interested in finding out more about her technique of composition and was intrigued by the two paintings “Stubborn Tree Spirit” (printout in Fig. 1 below) and “Snow” (printout in Fig. 2 below). The former appears to enclose a very gentle but strong kind of living energy between the trees providing a scaffolding. The energy radiates from the tree spirit to the trees and back, because the dark backs of the trees suggest nighttime. Beautiful choice of colour. I believe that oils would be a much better choice to produce such detailed paintings because of their long drying time. It was very difficult to preserve the right amount of moisture in my acrylics. Will have to trey out oils soon.

Figure 1. Sketchbook: examining Inka Essenhigh’s “Stubborn Tree Spirit”

Despite a similar style and feeling of a very much alive and aware plantlife, “Snow” has a completely different distribution of energy. All of it pulls away from the centre. The wind literally sucks the air from the background and both persons and trees in the foreground appear to need all their strength to resist the pull. The fence to the left and right of the path increases this directional impression. Interestingly, the young tree and person along the righthand fence seem completely unimpressed. Maybe I am overinterpreting or there is a deeper meaning to this. Again I feel that I will need to put oils on my list.

Figure 2. Sketchbook: examining Inka Essenhigh’s “Snow”

Brian Alfred

Brian Alfred’s approach remains quite alien to me. The composition of bridge and moon (Fig. 3, left, below) is fascinating because of the chosen view and colour, but I would rather let a computer produce a painting like that. It is very sterile, lacking any coincidental effects. This is why I tried to reproduce it using an acrylic background and dilute black and white ink. I quite liked how the black ink was repelled by the acrylic paint in some places but not others, and how it was possible to modulate this repulsion by rereatedly going over the places. I think that after a while the acrylic layer becomes more porous and allows some of the ink through. What I think I will never want to do is  slick portraiture. While I appreciate that it is not easy to maintain a likeness while reducing the facial characteristics to an absolute minimum, this reduction takes away a personality, which is what I want to investigate in the first place. It was thus very difficult to remain interested in the portrait I tried to do here (Fig. 3, bottom right) .

Figure 3. Sketchbook: Brian Alfred, left side: bridge and moon – top – original, bottom own version, right side: top – Obama, bottom: own version of a person of influence in our life

Mimei Thompson

I am very much attracted by the sensitivity and subtle humour in Thompson’s paintings. Her series of caves are produced by a superficially very simple technique, which, using the best available flat paintbrushes and very carefully prepared sets of paint, must be a great joy to use. My own first attempt was very rough, but I would very much like to come back to this technique and see what else I can do with it (Fig. 4 below).

Figure 4. Sketchbook – Mimei Thompson’s cave painting (top) and own awkward attempt (bottom)

I was very happy to find an extension to the above technique, applied to an ape’s face. This painting looks to attractive to me, because Thompson was keenly aware of the possibilities her technique opened up regarding the translation of the characteristic facial structures present in a ape. What a beautiful idea and great observational skills to be able to produce the painting below (Fig. 5). My own attempt was quite crude as I tried to think of a suitable animal face quickly. The snake’s head I produced with a single brushstroke, which was a very pleasing experience, but the remaining body was less successful.

Figure 5. Sketchbook: Mimei Thompson’s ape (top) and own creation, snake of sorts (bottom)

Chuck Close

Until I had a first detailed look at Close’s work it was easy to overlook his great expertise and immense stamina when producing his famous self-protraits and portraits, especially considering his lasting severe condition. It was surprisingly difficult to get to grips with a comparison between halftone printing and the black and white technique Close devised for himself. Only after a while, a few failed attempts and with more patience than the tiny squares below would suggest I started enjoying the technique and its meditative qualities (Fig. 6).


Figure 6. Sketchbook: examining Chuck Close’s “printing” technique used in his self-portrait as compared with halftone printing

Ever since I had first seen Close’s intriguing portraits I had wanted to find out more about the background to them. It took me hours including a number of misplaced squares and difficulties mixing the correct tonal values, but I still have not grasped the whole system. Some of Close’s squares go from darker to lighter hues, others from light to dark, some have them mixed and not two are alike, even if they have exactly the same function in the same part of the face. Some squares appear to have been painted over, some are rectangles of varying lengths to accomodate features requiring a line, e.g. creases eyelids, shadowed parts, and quite a few have unique features added. But overall, when stepping back from it, the system of squares collapses into an unbelievably accurate, wonderfully sensitive portrait (Fig. 7). Quite envious.

Figure 7. Sketchbook: Chuck Close’s technique applied to a clour portrait (top) and own attempt at reproducing some of the squares (bottom)

Tim Gardner

Gardner’s watercolour skills are great to see and quite impossible to copy. I had several attempts at imitating the patterns of light and shadow on the background dune in this wonderful runner in the desert (Fig. 8), but I gave up in the end. I have relatively good watercolour skills, but I have never tried to copy a watercolour painting before. So, at times one needs to be grateful to see how others combine skill, expertise and a little bit of coincidence to create something unique. What better thing is there in the world than something that cannot be copied, by me at least? ;o)

Figure 8. Sketchbook: Tim Gardner’s “Bhoadie running on dunes in Africa” (top) and one of own horrible attempts at reproducing them (bottom)

Another painting by Gardner which I decided not to copy, but for completely different reasons. The compositional background in “Brian in Bed” (Fig. 9 below) looks intriguing to me, because most of it appears to be made up of triangles. So I tried to first make a pencil sketch dividing up his painting into triangles where possible. Next I covered the paper with gloss medium, then I tried to turn the realistic painting into a cubist one, or such like. First of all I was immensely happy to realise that I seem to have found a way to imitate the surface of the paper Egon Schiele used for his famous gouache sketches, then I was relatively pleased with the overall outcome, composition and colour distribution.

Figure 9. Sketchbook: Tim Gardner’s “Brian in Bed” (top) and own interpretation in a cubist way (bottom)

José Toirac

I like Toirac’s loose style of painting a lot. It is something that is not too difficult for me to imitate. Pictures I often choose for the energy they radiate or redistribute inside the story they tell. “Con Fidel” in Fig. 1o below is a great example for such a painting. Superficially it is extremely simple in composition, but the position of the two people tells a whole story. Even with his back turned towards the observer, it it immediately clear that Castro is the boss, I don not even need to see his hand touching his opponent’s breast. I am fascinated at how the relative position of and communication between some eyebrows immediately establishes a hierarchy. My faint watercolour sketch of the scene below is something I am quite pleased with.

Figure 10. Sketchbook: Josè Toirac’s favourite subject (top) and own loose monochromous copy of its main ingredients (bottom)

Intriguing to see was what looks like a gold-plated triptych of Castro, again with back turned towards the observer, holding a speech. Again no mistake can be made as to who is in command of the situation, which extend far beyond, or better below, the lectern (Fig. 11). I have had a box of metal leaf in my painting cupboard for literally decades now and I thought that the time had come at last for it to be tried out. It requires to put a thin layer of gilder’s milk on the surface to be gilded. This layer becomes sticky after a while, when the metal leaf can be distributed on the surface and carefully pressed and smoothed down with a piece of cotton cloth. It was surprisingly straightforward to use on paper and looked quite impressive. I then divided the area into six sections, each of which received a coating of dilute paint (top row: black ink, turquoise watercolour, violet watercolour; bottom row: brown antique ink, none, white ink). Each section I then subdivided again and covered one half of each with gloss medium. When dry I drew on this with a medium size ink pen. It is difficult to see the beautiful metal sheen in the scanned image below, but this is definitely something I will want to learn more about..

Figure 11. Sketchbook: José Toirac’ s “Pantócrator” (top) and own interpretation (below)

Peter Doig

I had been looking forward a lot to testing whether I might be able to have a glimpse behind Doig’s unique and curious mix of painting techniques characteristic of “White Canoe” (Fig. 12). There was a lot of guesswork regarding the background and I was not quite sure about the sequence and number of layers. After having laid down the first rough scaffold provided by the larger trees it was surprisingly easy to find my way through the different patches of painting and to increasingly refine the individual areas. Since, however, the original paintings is more than 2 metres in size, I was only able to reproduce a very superficial and low resolution copy of the incredibly rich original landscape. Since I had anticipated that I would not be able to get anywhere close Doig’s composition I was pleasantly surprised at the result. I know that I am not (yet) able to place colour with such sleepwalking confidence in any painting of my own, but it feels great to learn how to think in these terms.

Figure 12. Sketchbook: Peter Doig’s “White Canoe” (top) and its Lacher-Bryk miniature copy (bottom)

Daniel Richter

I had not come across Richter before and was interested in trying to compare his approach with that of Doig. Both use different layers of a multitude of painting techniques in their compositions, which makes them dense and laden with energy. Instead of copying a part of his painting “Trevelfast” (Fig. 13), I decided that I would try and extend the bottom part of the painting somewhat- I noticed immediately that Richter uses a completely different painting technique. It is more playful, diffuse and mysterious. It feels more natural to me than Doig’s style for some reason I cannot understand yet, because I had always assumed the contrary. Maybe painting with dilute paint comes with greater ease to me because of the experience gained over two decades, while the deliberate application of undiluted paint is something I only started seriously a few years ago.

Figure 13. Sketchbook: “Trevelfast” painted by Daniel Richter (top) and a bottom extension by me (bottom)

Cecily Brown

2 May 2017. Watching Cecily brown explain her work in a wonderful interview (see Lacher-Bryk, 2017) I felt less intimidated by her choice of subject. By nature I tend to shy away from excesses, but with her own approach in mind I went ahead with creating my very own miniature version of “High Society” (Fig. 14). A great coincidence helped me plan the painting. I had already done my practical research on Jasper Joffe (for report see further down in this post) and had managed to forget the absorptive qualities of my sketchbook paper. The dilute paint soaked through to the other side and even further. It required only a glimpse to see that the pattern would allow me to produce a very loose and lively sketch of what I think might be part of an orgy, i.e. assorted naked bodies, a selection of fruit and other delicacies as well as a satyr. It was great fun to do and each line produced raised further associations, so I could have gone on and on.

Figure 14. Sketchbook: top: a photo of  a half-cleaned mixing tray to help develop ideas, bottom: my soak-through sketch in preparation for a Cecily Brown-like orgy.

With this sketch in place it was relatively straightforward to translate this into acrylic paint. My selection of colour is not perfect and the execution on a 12 x 10 cm square comparatively rough, but overall I was surprised that I had been able to paint in such a way at all (Fig. 15). I followed my intuition, but was also aware that while I painted a continuous stream of associations pulled me along. This was, I believe, the first time I was able to consciously see for myself how previous drawing and painting training can influence informed decision-making. A wonderful experience!

Figure 15. Sketchbook: Cecily Brown’s “High Society” (top) and orgy of own design (bottom)

Jasper Joffe

Although Joffe and his “messy” style of painting (Fig. 16) are not what I would readily adopt for my own, I am grateful to him for two reasons, first for providing me with a great background for starting a Cecily Brown painting (see section immediately above), and also for showing me how, from nothing to start with, a story may develop given an open mind and no set goal. It was incredibly easy to play with patterns, colour and writing and the little square I managed to produce (colours not totally convincing) also contains a personal story. I am not sure yet what I will be able to learn eventually from this experience, but I know that it is tremendously liberating. I need to remind myself to come back and do more of the kind.

Figure 16. Sketchbook: A messy painting by Jasper Joffe (top) and own response (bottom)

Although I had feared to tackle this kind of research at first, I think that this was by far the most enjoyable and rewarding exercise I have done since starting out with the OCA more than two years ago. I just hope that I will be able to reserve a firm place for this kind of experience in my mind and heart as I tend to fall back into old habits easily, especially as I have very little opportunity to meet and share experiences with fellow students.


Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Research Point: Painting Style – historical and contemporary painting [blog] [oline]. Andrea’s OCA blog: Understanding Painting Media, 25 April. Available from: [Accessed 1 May 2017]

Research Point: Painting Style – historical and contemporary painting

20 March 2017. It took me a while to grasp the concept underlying the very first parts of my new course, since the research points here are much more directly connected to the actual work required in the exercises to follow than in the previous courses. In order to achieve a maximum gain from my research activity I will try and follow consistently the points listed on pp. 31-32 in the study guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015), when combining theoretical and practical research:

  • How does it make you feel?
  • Do you like the work?
  • What does it remind you of?
  • What about the composition?
  • What style is the work in?
  • What colour palette has the artist used?
  • What is the subject?
  • What’s the significance of the title?
  • What’s the date?
  • What medium has the artist used?
  • What about the support?
  • Where is the work exhibited?

While most of the information (the last 8 points) will, most of the time, come with the painting anyway in print or online, composition and style may require some additional research and the first three points are highly personal. It is interesting that the OCA put the questions in this order. I will try and follow just this: let the work of art do its magic, then deal with the statistics, and not vice versa.

We are advised to research in detail at least one artist listed in one of six style categories on p. 36 of the study guide (Open College of the Arts, 2015). After having had a quick look at all of the artists I chose my subjects on impulse (and not just by liking!). Here is the result of my research. I am not quite sure if and how all of these relate to the tasks set for exercises 1.1 – 1.4 in Part 1 (“Using Found Images”) of the course, but the connection may evolve while experimenting. The works chosen I will print out and put in my new research sketchbook, which I started alongside the exercise sketchbook, where I hope the influence of the artist to become part of my own work:

Slick, flat paint

  • Gary Hume: bold, simple, colourful, flat, reduced palette (reminds me of Alex Katz)
  • Sarah Morris: geometrical, large size, sober (reminds me of Joseph Albers)
  • Ian Davenport: seen him before (Practice of painting, lines (reminds me of ….. woman painter line castle, think)
  • Inka Essenhigh: like Arik Brauer, mystic, elaborate, luminous (like the subject)
  • Jane Callister: abstract, colourful, landscapes, looks like poured paint (like the technique)
  • Brian Alfred: townscapes, geometrical, sober, political, looks like photos painted over

For me the cool, geometrical and sober approach is not what I am after, because it is not what I would naturally do, but maybe this is exactly what I will need to contemplate, so here come, as a contrast, Inka Essenhigh and Brian Alfred.

23 March 2017. On the Victoria Miro Gallery’s website (Victoria Miro Gallery, n.d.(a)) Inka Essenhigh‘s (*1969, USA) approach is described as follows: “With its pristine, high-gloss surfaces and accentuated colours Essenhigh’s work moves towards an almost sculptural three-dimensionality in its delineation of forms.” While I am not so much drawn to her earlier cartoonlike style, many of her more recent paintings radiate enormous energy and it was difficult to choose two favourite pieces.
In the end I went for “Snow” (2007) (Victoria Miro Gallery, n.d.(b)) and “Stubborn Tree Spirit” (2012) (Victoria Miro Gallery, n.d.(c)), both large size oil paintings on canvas. Their immediate appeal comes from the connection I feel between Essenhigh and Arik Brauer, as mentioned above. I love how in her hand seemingly mundane subjects show the eerie side of their existence, as if parallel worlds existed in one space. This allows the natural world to be not just populated by, but merged with, an all-encompassing spirit. Her attention to detail, meticulous composition (appearing to be derived from a diverse array of styles from the renaissance via Japanese woodblock printing to contemporary cartoons) and execution and use of high-gloss finishes all help to enhance the effect. Essenhigh’s style has been described as “pop surrealist” or “lowbrow”, which comes along with a humorous view on the chosen subjects (Schultz, 2014). This is maybe also why I feel an affinity, since my own approach is similar.

Brian Alfred (*1973, USA) appears to me to have a very technically minded approach to choosing his subjects, thus his combination of traditional and new media appears to reflect that well. On Sedition (n.d.) he is described to create “flattened and usually depopulated worlds of color reproduced in two dimensional bold patterns, often derived from found images.” When browsing his work on the Internet (see e.g. Artsy, n.d.,) this is exactly how his world feels. At the risk of sounding unfair and preoccupied, I have to admit that to me it appears as if Inka Essenhigh had drawn all the spirit from his world to use in her own. I feel a tremendous energy imbalance between the two here, but have not yet been able to pinpoint the source. There is one image I quite like, however, titled “Animation and DAF and MARFA/May 5 2015” (Alfred, n.d.). It appears that it is a screenshot taken from an animation created by Alfred, but I was unable to find that. To me this image is attractive for its wonderful composition, consisting from a low angle shot of an urban high-rise bridge with a full moon rising at eye level. I love the choice of colour and, as it is near dusk, the flattened appearance of the view is completely believable. As a contrast I chose a second work, which I thoroughly dislike, in order to make this the basis of a compare and contrast exercise. This was to be “Obama”, an acrylics portrait made in 2008. For me the feeling of energy depletion is at a maximum in this painting, Obama’s expression seems debilitatingly empty. Maybe I find out more when making a sketch of it.

19 April 2017.

Loose, thin paint

  • Mimei Thompson: playng with half-diluted oil paint to create eerily beautiful brushstrokes serving to create volume (reminds me of several of my own attempts)
  • Annie Kevans: loose, faint portraits of famous, ambiguous characters (ideas similar to my own, but for me too soft and straightforward in approach)
  • Cathy Lomax: portraiture in style similar to Annie Kevans, but choice romantic and in my opinion less well executed than the former
  • Eleanor Moreton: corresponds in my opinion to the category, reminds me in jumbled style and weird choice of clashing colours of many different painters, e.g. of Oskar Kokoschka’s paintings (but without his amazing energy)

Since I have come across Mimei Thompson‘s (*?, UK) work before and her technique and subtle approach at twisting colour and along with it reality remind me of my own intentions, I chose her from the list of loose-thin painters. I do not think, however, that her style is any of the two in the sense I thought was meant after having been pointed to the work of Luc Tuymans by my POP tutor. E.g. in her oil on canvas painting “Brambles” (Thompson, 2016a) I can guess at a relatively loosely painted background, but both middle and foreground are strongly pigmented and especially the brambles are worked out in great detail. Her cave paintings, though, e.g. “Cave Painting: Pearl” (Thompson, 2016b), appear to exhibit, at least in part, these qualities. I like how she used a mix of pastel colours, all very likely on the same flat and wide brush to create the beautiful pattern of rock colours, which reminds me of certain national parks in the west of the USA. What I think makes her go in the thin paint list is the beautiful brushstrokes one can create by carefully diluting, to a certain degree, a set of colours put next to each other on the palette.

I had a look at all four of the above artists, but apart from the wonderful paintings by Mimei Thompson I am not drawn to their work. They all seem to remain strangely vague, which can be a very good thing in a painting, but in my opinion the solution of leaving everything half-finished can backfire, if the technique is applied indiscriminately (which is what it feels to me). For my own work I want more volume and depth, both literally and figuratively. There are very likely many other artists painting thin and loosely, whose style and technique have a greater appeal to me and I will try and find some if time allows.

20 April 2017.


I have always admired the incredible patience and stamina in the adherence to the smallest detail, but want to feel something on top of the faithful reproduction, which serves to me as an indication that the painter’s intention was to investigate beyond the superficially obvious.

  • Chuck Close: using a variety of materials and media to investigate techniques and story-telling power of photo-realism, appeals to me because he confronts his dramatic personal history
  • Mark Fairnington: nature painter, highly realistic, beautiful, interesting for me to see from the biologist and museum person point of view, but too distant, my emotions were exactly the same when working in our museum depot, I can even smell the depot again
  • Robert Priseman: not sure whether this is the correct artist, but in my opinion his work is not photo-realistic. He moves among different styles, but his work seems to lack the photographic part of realism, so did not consider him
  • Tim Gardner: it appears that Gardner is mostly a watercolour painter, which allows him to combine a photorealistic effect with the loose watercolour quality, something with a great appeal to me. His paintings are complex, so I will try and select part of a piece that combines both.

In an impressively honest interview (Arts Et Culture, 2015) Chuck Close (*1940, USA) explains the intentions behind his first far larger than life-size self portrait. He says that he wants the viewer to be unable to scan the whole portrait in order for it to attract him/her to move very close and inspect the fine detail. Close used a grid for enlarging the image, a technique I thoroughly dislike, and filled the individual squares with dots taken from the greyscale, derived from the “halftone” printing technique (Christensson, 2014).
21 April 2017. His later work, however, employing an enhanced technique painting something like multicoloured “lenses” to replace the dots above, seems to be working a magical trick. The lenses seem highly unconnected when looking closely, but make perfect sense when viewed from a distance, and they radiate a weird emotional quality hard to describe (see e.g. Walker Art Center, 2017). I will try and reproduce part of one of those paintings and apply the technique to one of my found images.

Tim Gardner‘s (*1973, USA) style appears to be photorealistic only at first sight. If inspected more closely his paintings exhibit all the features typical of watercolour, very unlike the photorealism produced by some, whose work is practically indistinguishable from the original photo. Compositionwise Gardner’s paintings mostly look like snapshots, though carefully devised.
22 April 2017. Like others, however, he seems to have committed his work to a long-term trend of depicting persons isolated within their modern, detached environment. In contrast his subjects – mostly young males – do not seem to be depressed, but at ease and satisfied with their respective activities (303 Gallery, n.d.). I would have liked to investigate his technique more closely through my sketchbook, but the available resolutions together with my printer prevent this. Having said this I found “Untitled (Bhoadie running on dunes: Africa)” (Gardner, 1999) and selected that to try and copy the beautifully simple depiction of the sand dunes in the background.

Black and white

  • Raymond Pettibon: there was an exhibition on Pettibon in Salzburg recently, which I wrote a post on in POP (Lacher-Bryk, 2017). To me he is more of a drawing than painting artist, therefore omitted here
  • José Toirac: I like the energy in his black and white portraits, also the political statements, which I feel close to
  • Alli Sharma: again a portraitist like Kevans and Lomax above without, in my opinion, an extraordinary technique or style which would make her an attractive option to research
  • Gia Edzgveradze: regarding the black and white requirement like Pettibon he is more a drawing artist, so left out from this research despite his enormous versatility

José Toirac, born 1966 in Guantanamo, Cuba, does what may be expected from a Cuban artist. He takes photographic evidence from the political history of his country and reworks it in black and white paint, sometimes combined with techniques derviced from the advertising industry to add some exquisitely observed emotional quality. I was drawn to the less clearly worked-out “Untitled (con Fidel) (from Serie Gris)” (Toirac, 2004), which I will be trying to sketch for the interesting line of energetic while silent communication appearing to exist between the depicted persons despite their not exactly looking at each other.

Colour and pattern

  • Peter Doig: one of my favourite artists, see e.g. Lacher-Bryk (2016)
  • Édouard Vuillard: symbolist one hundred years before Doig, but connected in style, very bold and daring, but subjects very much those of the 19th century, to which I do not feel connected
  • Tal R: same age as Doig, born in Isreal, lives in Denmark, the appeal of his work to me changes from disbelief at the ugly rough carelessness of some work (especially that found on Pinterest) to fascination with several of the intricate patterns he creates, but overall I can feel no connection
  • Daniel Richter: same age as Doig and Tal R, for me he is right between Doig and Tal R in both the choice of subjects and use of colour, with great subtlety and and sure feeling for composition and pattern

There was no question which artist to choose first from this list. Peter Doig (*1959, UK) speaks to me in terms of genuine colour magic. His work is described as idiosyncratic, which does not say more than that Doig does things his own way and this is probably where his great appeal to me comes from. Contrary to so many of his contemporaries he seems oblivious to trends, walking between representation and abstraction (Sooke, 2008), very likely without the goal of meeting any expectations. I am going to try and find out more about his famous “White Canoe” (Doig, 1990/91), which is a surprisingly large 200 x 243 cm in size and whose composition appears to me ideal for an investigation of colour and pattern, because it is the one on top of the other.

Daniel Richter (*1962, Germany) belongs with the neo-expressionist/symbolist movement. On artnet (n.d.) he describes his approach in this way: “I don’t believe in technique. For me, painting is a form of thinking, and I keep control over the things required for this form of thinking.” This is something I am keenly interested in learning for myself. So in order to find out more about Richter, Doig and myself, I have chosen to examine Trevelfast (Richter, 2004), also a very large size painting (232 x 283 cm). To me his approach resembles Peter Doig’s in White Canoe, but with an additional ghostly emotional quality achieved by combining pure colour and patterns derived from these colours to create a vibrant, moving three-dimensional experience.


I don’t like messy and this is why I should probably have a go at just this. It will help me loosen up, relocate some of my planning from head to heart and most likely discover something completely new.

  • Denis Castellas: I have come across his work before, he includes many drawing elements into his paintings, which do not look messy to me. His compositions using line and tone are very cleverly and attractively arranged, great intuition
  • Cecily Brown: only superficially messy, enigmatic constructions weaving messages into complex environments, technique looks very attractive to me
  • Carole Benzaken: cannot find anything messy, but something on shadows, very attractive black and white work also, will come back to her for Assignment 1,
  • Elizabeth Peyton: I could not find any truly messy work on the internet. Again I find that she is one of an immensely large group of contemporary painters whose deliberately careless style and choice of subjects is very similar
  • Chantal Joffe: her subjects are mostly women and children and as with Peyton above I could not find any truly messy work on the internet. Choice of style and subjects resemble Peyton’s work
  • Jasper Joffe: appears to be, among other things, a satirical portraitist and this makes him interesting for me
  • Harry Pye: not my direction at all, deliberately childlike but not in the magical way. Like the way children learn to paint when made alike at school (except for a few co-productions with other painters). Why would he do it?

25 April 2017. It was difficult to select from this list, because with most of these artists I was unable to see the messy in their style. They seem to have mastered with great skill what to me seems incredibly difficult: to evoke an impression of random application of paint while maintaining control of a great composition. I am at a loss of how to fulfill the task of copying such complexity and will need to restrict the practical research to part of a painting.

Although the subjects at the centre of Cecily Bown‘s (*1969, UK) work (extremes and excesses in human life) are not akin to my own, I was intrigued at her ability to literally capture them between the edges of a canvas. For the above discrepancy it took me ages to settle on a painting. At first I went straight for “Teenage Wildlife” (Brown, 2003), because of its beautiful light and delicately woven patterns, but after a while of examining it the connection between subject and pattern seemed too obvious, so that I went to look for something else. Although incredibly complex to copy even in part I chose “High Society” (Brown, 1998) for its strange mix of seemingly representative elements, which it a second glance would dissolve into an abstract collection of colour, depending on which segment of the painting I chose to view – an effect, which Brown describes beautifully in an interview (Planet Magazine, 2013). In the end I selected a smallish square from the painting.

Jasper Joffe (*1975, UK) is someone, whose intentions appear so be very like mine at least at some points and therefore I think that I may have a somewhat easier access to interpreting some of his work as compared with e.g. Harry Pye. Since in the study guide he is listed in the “messy” category, however, I chose the messiest piece I could find. The work presented on his website does not come with any information, so I can only guess that it is a square gouache and/or watercolour painting on paper, a mix of colour, lines and writing (Joffe, n.d.), but I will try and reproduce at least some of it in my sketchbook. This work probably reflects his dual nature as a painter and writer, is very awkward to view at first sight and I am very curious to see what I will come up with once finished with the copying exercise.


Inka Essenhigh

Open College of the Arts (2015) Painting 1: Understanding Painting Media. Open College of the Arts, Barnsley, pp. 31-32.

Schultz, K. (2014) ‘Big Eyes’ and the Bigger Picture [blog] [online]. The Huffington Post, 29 December (updated 28 February 2015). Available at: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Victoria Miro Gallery (n.d.(a)) Inka Essenhigh. About the Artist [online]. Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Available at: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Victoria Miro Gallery (n.d.(b)) Inka Essenhigh. Survey: Selected Works. Snow [image collection] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Victoria Miro Gallery (n.d.(c)) Inka Essenhigh. Survey: Selected Works. Stubborn Tree Spirit [image collection] [online]. Available at: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Brian Alfred

Alfred, B. (n.d.) Animation and DAF and MARFA/May 5 2015 [online]. Brian Alfred, New York. Available from: %5BAccessed 23 March 2017]

Artsy (n.d.) Brian Alfred. Works [image collection] [online]. Artsy, New York. Available from: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

MutualArt (n.d.) Auctions. Brian Alfred. Obama, 2008 [online]. Available from: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

S[edition] (n.d.) Brian Alfred. Profile [online]. S[edition], London. Available from: [Accessed 23 March 2017]

Mimei Thompson

Thompson, M. (2016a) Brambles [oil on canvas] [online]. Thompson, London. Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2017]

Thompson, M. (2016b) Cave Painting: Pearl [oil on canvas] [online]. Thompson, London. Available from: [Accessed 18 April 2017]

Chuck Close

Arts Et Culture (2015) Chuck Close A Portrait in Progress (2015) [online]. Arts Et Culture. Available from: [Accessed 20 April 2017]

Christensson, P. (2014) Halftone [online]. TechTerms, 2 September. Available from: [Accessed 20 April 2017]

Walker Art Center (2017) Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005 [online]. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. Available from: [Accessed 21 April 2017]

Tim Gardner

303 Gallery (n.d.) Tim Gardner. Selected Works [online]. 303 Gallery, New York. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Gardner, T. (1999) Untitled (Bhoadie running on dunes: Africa) [watercolour on paper] [online]. 303 Gallery, New Yoek. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Raymond Pettibon

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2017) Own Artist Research: Raymond Pettibon [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 21 February. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

José Toirac

Toirac, J. (2004) Untitled (con Fidel) (from Serie Gris) [oil on canvas] [online]. [n.k.]. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Peter Doig

Lacher-Bryk, A. (2016) Artist Research: Peter Doig [blog] [online]. Andrea’s OCA Painting 1 blog, 2 November. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Doig, P. (1990/91) White Canoe [oil on canvas] [online]. Saatchi Gallery Collection, London. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Sooke, A. (2008) Peter Doig: Journey to Edge of Abstraction [online]. The Telegraph, London, 5 February. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Daniel Richter

artnet (n.d.) Daniel Richter [online]. Artnet, Berlin. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Richter, D. (2004) Trevelfast [oil on canvas] [online]. Available from: [Accessed 22 April 2017]

Cecily Brown

Brown, C. (1998) High Society [oil on linen] [online]. Saatchi Gallery Collection, London. Available from: [Accessed 25 April 2017]

Brown, C. (2003) Teenage Wildlife [oil on linen] [online]. Saatchi Gallery Collection, London. Available from: [Accessed 25 April 2017]

Planet Magazine (2013) Cecily Brown [online]. Planet Magazine. Available from: [Accessed 25 April 2017]

Jasper Joffe

Joffe, J. (n.d.) [no title] [n.k.] [online]. [n.k.]. Available from: [Accessed 24 April 2017]