Sketchbook work for Assignment 4 Re-worked

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Sketchbook work for Assignment 4 Re-worked

Posted in Mixed Media Exercises Re-worked | Leave a comment

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Preparing work for Formal Assessment

Formal Assessment Submission:

Firstly blog will be submitted as a large part of my work, containing all reports, research, photographs and videos of work completed throughout Mixed Media Level 2.

Parcel 1 will contain all final/large pieces of work, preliminary work, Tutor Reports and a Critical Review.

Parcel 2 will contain all sketchbooks for the course. Assessment submission below.

Sketchbooks for all assignments (Parcel 2):


Preliminary Work (Parcel 1):


A3 folder containing the following pieces of work:

Assignment 2: Found Image and Text:

Assignment 2: Using Found Words and Images:


Assignment 2: Word Painting: Exercises in materiality:

Assignment 2: Telling Your Story:

Assignment 4: Exercise Weaving:


Tutor reports 1-5:


Critical Review: Abstract Expressionism:


Final or large pieces of work for submission (total of 8, 3 submitted online):


Assignment 2: Final Painting – Telling Your Story, Autobiographical Book



Assignment 2: Exercise in materiality for Word Painting



Assignment 2: Final Painting – Word Painting



Assignment 4: Final Painting – Object Painting



Assignment 4: Final Painting – Fractured Image


Assignment 5: Large Piece: Diorama ‘Unspoken Journey’ Submitted via blog only

Video of ‘Unspoken Journey’.

Assignment 5: Larger Piece: Objects and Combines ‘Nature Combined’ (Submitted via blog only)

Video of ‘Nature Combined’


Assignment 5: Final Project – Life’s Tug-of-war (submitted via blog only)

Assignment 5: Final Project – Life’s Tug-of-war (submitted via blog only)

Video of ‘Life’s Tug-of-war’.

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Critical Review

Abstract Expressionism

‘What if everything we see limited us to the existence of physical objects? Wouldn’t this instill meaningless?’

A Critical Review


Laura Sharpe

The gap between reality and the reality of painting widens with the beginning of Abstract Expressionism; a group of artists who began to look deeper within themselves in order to answer of future art.

‘…the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act – rather than as a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze or ‘express’ an object actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event. The painter no longer approached his easel with an image in his mind; he went up to it with material in his hand to do something to that other piece of material in front of him. The image would be the result of that encounter.’ Stimulating words spoken by Harold Rosenberg who was the ‘unofficial’ spokesperson for the Abstract Expressionists.

The birth of the New York painters came about during the twentieth century following the close of the Second World War It seems only natural that when the physical world around you has been altered and devastated the artist eye turns away, why paint the environment which has affected the lives of so many in its path of devastation? What was once known as imagery has gone and connection alongside it, they looked for another answer to their world. Rotating their mind set and adapting to their surroundings, they began to look deep into themselves, acting, feeling, living using colour to explore this new way of creating. It seems only natural when what you have known disappears from around you to ask questions, to rediscover who you are and what is the purpose of your being? The Abstract Expressionists even began to question the existence of God and the pathway was a road to self-discovery, fuelling the use of abstract, colour and expression.

Without the restriction of objects, environment, rules and ways of creating socially acceptable art, isn’t it easier to explore the freedom of the mind?

Barnett Newman, one of the leading figures within the movement wrote: ‘We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a World War, and it was impossible at that time to paint the kind of paintings that we were doing – flowers, reclining nudes, and people playing the cello’.

So what were these artists trying to achieve with Abstract Expressionism?

A new and fresh expression predominately through the use of colour and movement, created with spontaneity and impulsion allowing the raw forms of the paint to become the paintings themselves.

“A painting is not a picture of an experience; it is an experience.” – Mark Rothko

Who were the major artists of this movement?

Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), Williem de Kooning (1904-1997), Franz Kline (1910-1962), Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and Clyfford Still (1904-1980). Together they broke away from the conventional approach to painting in both techniques and subject matter. Their concern stood with divulging their own personal psyches onto canvas using a spontaneous act underpinned by large physical actions which mirrors their monumental scale works.

Closely related to Abstract Expressionism is Colour Field painting and Action or gestural painting, although not to be confused with the movement of Abstract Expressionism itself as these are smaller branches within the movement.

‘The best works are often those with the fewest and simplest elements – pictures that are almost obvious, until you look at them a little more and things begin to happen.” – Clyfford Still

With no restrictions to how the artists would work, Jackson Pollock, perhaps the most famous and representative artist of Abstract Expressionism, developed a radical new technique, pouring, dripping and throwing thinned paint onto raw canvas laid on the ground rather than an easel. Pollock would use his hands and sticks defying the traditional artist instruments; the brush, stretcher and easel.

Applying paint liberally and literally by using his whole entire body, he worked close to the canvas, being part of the canvas and painting. Pollock created a variety of works all using the technique of Abstract Expressionism; his work has the look of freedom, showing high elements of movement, chaos and intrigue.

What does Abstract Expressionism look like?

We can look at a piece of art and describe it, but to fully be able to understand the meanings, influences, concepts and ideas we need to delve deeper into the paintings, from an Artists point of view this is what Abstract Expressionism looks like:

“Although the composition and function of color are two of the most important factors in determining the qualitative content of a painting, the reciprocal relation of color to color produces a phenomenon of a more mysterious order. This new phenomenon is psychological. A high sensitivity is necessary in order to expand color into the sphere of the surreal without losing creative ground. Color stimulates certain moods in us. It awakens joy or fear in accordance with its configuration. In fact, the whole world, as we experience it visually, comes to us through the mystic realm of color. Our entire being is nourished by it. This mystic quality of color should likewise find expression in a work of art.”  – Hans Hofmann.

“My canvases are not full because they are full of colors but because color makes the fullness. The fullness thereof is what I am involved in. It is interesting to me to notice how difficult it is for people to take the intense heat and blaze of my color. If my paintings were empty they could take them with ease.” – Barnett Newman.

“My concern is with the fullness that comes from emotion, not with its initial explosion, or its emotional fallout, or with the glow of its expenditure. The fact is, I am an intuitive painter, a direct painter…I present no dogma, no system, no demonstrations. I have no formal solutions…I work only out of high passion.”  – Barnett Newman.

Jackson Pollock

Pollock always struggled to master the traditional techniques of painting, later in his artist career he took an alternative route which allowed him to make the painting itself its own subject. Feeling energized by this he created some of his best works from 1947 to 1951:

Summertime: Number 9A 1948 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Image 1: ‘Summertime: Number 9A’ 1948 Jackson Pollock

Pollock expresses himself and his energy within this ‘Action Painting’. Even though the process of the technique allows the outcome to be completely momentary, it is interesting that when you view ‘Summertime’ a number of other more recognisable images can be seen, I see letters, numbers, figures and dancers, mixed with fast movements and never-ending changes.

Pollock expresses himself and his energy within this ‘Action Painting’. Even though the process of the technique allows the outcome to be completely momentary, it is interesting that when you view ‘Summertime’ a number of other more recognisable images can be seen, I see letters, numbers, figures and dancers, mixed with fast movements and never-ending changes.

Number 14 1951 by Jackson Pollock 1912-1956

Image 2: ‘Number 14’ 1951 Jackson Pollock

This particular painting of Pollock’s was created at the time he altered his colour palette, he began to work in darker colours, mainly black oils using them generously across his un-primed canvases. This particular series of paintings were referred to as his ‘Black Pouring’s’, unfortunately these paintings did not sell and triggered another change in his working methods to which he created more colourful pieces with a figurative subject which were more successful in the commercial world of art.

Again a number of images can be seen within ‘Number 14’, peacocks, mountains, rivers, African shapes and patterns. Even though this piece is very dark with strong contrast to the un-primed canvas, I see images which could be described as meditative.

‘I hardly ever stretch my canvas before painting; I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting.’

‘…the painting has a life of its own; I try to let it come through’.

Jackson Pollock.

Refreshing and a direct insight into Pollock’s way of working, colour, emotion, feeling, passion and working closely, almost in the painting itself seem to be the most important elements of this style. Could this explain why there is not a commonality of styles, a lack of clear focal point and inconsistency in subjects?

Of course, the work of Abstract Expressionists is personal to them, their thoughts, and feelings and overall how they choose to relate and adapt to their surroundings and being. Therefore this resulted in a variety of outcomes and inspirations within the expressive movement.

Not all followers of Pollock’s used his extreme methods of ‘action painting’ or believed in the impulsivity of his approach to the canvas, however taking influence from the speed of his creations and tools was Cy Twombly. Twombly was influenced by both Pollock and Abstract Expressionism; an artist of the next generation grew out of the roots of the abstract expressionist movement. Twombly moved across the 20th Century and into the 21st Century linked and linked to the movement by his expressive, gestural use of line and paint. Twombly was a large scale painter who uses graffiti style, calligraphy and scribble marks to create his art works.

Cy Twombly

In his early work, irregular chalk scribbles almost becoming letters seems to dominate his work, later moving towards smears and drips of colourful paint in the 1960s. Twombly would apply paint with a brush, brush handle and the tips of his fingers which is evident within his graphite scribbles of earlier paintings. From the middle of the 1970s, his lines frequently take the form of text introducing written language into the images, balanced against the painted elements. His words are clumsy, scrawls with doodles and unreadable scribbles. In the later years of his life Twomby created his ‘Bacchus’ series and these sit within the Tate Gallery. Large crimson swirls, painted with a brush tied to the end of long a pole, are in fashioned within Twomby’s famous swirling calligraphic style, expressing drunkenness and abandonment. The crimson representing the colour of wine and blood, the flow of blood secretes within the fast cascades of line down the canvas.

Untitled (Bacchus) 2008 by Cy Twombly 1928-2011

Image 3: ‘Untitled (Bacchus)’ Cy Twombly 2008


Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe


Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe


Image 5: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe

Whilst undertaking these pieces of work I became increasing free and expressive wanting to layer different mediums, exploring movements, shape and ignoring any sense of depth or illusion. 

Abstract Expressionism has influenced communities across the globe from the East to West and continued to capture artists of the next generation. This is evident in the influence on and by Jackson Pollock.

‘What if everything we see limited us to the existence of physical objects? Wouldn’t this instill meaningless?’

Triggered by the devastation of the Second World Ward, came a change in method and approach to the canvas. Therefore Pollock confirms within his work and methodology that, yes artists have been limited to the physical world, and if they adopted one single viewpoint of their environment and allowed this to influence them entirely in their depiction of art there is an element of meaninglessness.

That is not to say that the physical world does not have a positive impact on Art and particular movements, of course it does, it brings inspiration in itself, however Pollock proves we do not need to use this entirely and without it, we can look deeper.

The research and work undertaken within the Mixed Media course and in particular Abstract Expressionism and Mark Making has strengthened my own conviction and informed my approach to my art practice. It has allowed me to increase in confidence and make informed decisions enabling movement on the journey of physical approach and my canvas, but also to apply this evidence to the physical world approaching it with an open mind. Throughout the course I have used a variety of materials as well as the traditional mediums, making use of ‘unordinary’ tools such as wire, discarded wood and plastic bags. Looking deeper into the function of materials to support me in creating the physical objects and outcomes I require rather than dismissing these functionary and worthless objects. Bringing the concept of looking deeper by the abstract expressionists into the creating of contemporary art within the twentieth century.

‘Arte Povera’ is a movement that made an appearance within the 1960s, making use of daily materials such as papers, soil and other objects which were seen as worthless and bringing this into the use of art. You could say that Abstract Expressionism has given rise to many different routes within art and particularly opened doors for an exciting world of contemporary art. My final pieces within this course show particular use of ‘common’ objects and bring these to the for front of my thinking. Moving towards the context of Arte Povera, drawing on many physical sources around me and the concepts of the Abstract Expressionists underpin my work for Mixed Media Level 2.



  • Harold Rosenberg, 1952 ‘The World History of Art’ Page 834
  • Hugh Honour & John Fleming
  • Barnett Newman, 2012 ‘The Art Imperative: The Secret Power of Art’ Page 29
  • Phillip Romero
  • Jackson Pollock, 1947 ‘The World History of Art’ Page 835
  • Hugh Honour & John Fleming
  • Image 1: ‘Summertime: Number 9A’ 1948 Jackson Pollock
  • Image 2: ‘Number 14’ 1951 Jackson Pollock
  • Image 3: ‘Untitled (Bacchus)’ Cy Twombly 2008
  • Image 4: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Image 5: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Image 6: ‘Calligraphic Marks’ Laura Sharpe
  • Mark Rothko, ‘A painting as an Experience’
  • Clyfford Still ‘Art Now Magazine’
  • Hans Hofmann ‘International Journal of Research –GRANTHAALAYAH’ Page 1
  • Barnett Newman, ‘Barnett Newman’ Page 106
  • Ann Tempkin
  • Barnett Newman




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Final Reflections Assignment 5

Assignment 5 has been the most diverse section of the Mixed Media course as well as the most challenging. I feel the sections of the course moved forward onto the next exercise but unlike the other assignments they moved back and forth and allowed me to take elements of others and push these forward, rather than completely discarding the previous work. Due to this way of working I felt progression and it felt easier to work on the areas that have been highlighted to me in feedback.

First Exercise: Objects and Combines – ‘Nature Combined’

Initially, proving difficult to work around found images, working around an object seemed just as daunting. With a comfort zone of working with painting and flat pieces of work mixing the two appeared difficult at first. Allowing the painting to take the lead and hold a subject and information gave me a stepping stone in then working around an appropriate object for the exercise. Again with an interest in exploring contrast of environments and sounds and the tree as the main form, I decided to use parts of branches as the object, deciding on how to present these took some time. I wanted the response to the object to be informed and relevant. The tree is the essence of the piece and taking influence from Rauschenberg and his simple placements of his objects within his combines I wanted to ensure as the painting is complex in areas that the form and placement of the object remained simple. Placing the branches on the painting within the center allows the viewer to look around the painting and draw relevance onto the object at many different points.

Using manufactured string coloured in bright orange and yellow seemed the natural choice, the piece is based around the surrounds of the tree, a street, cars, sounds of passing traffic and building works. The harsh colour of the string twisting around the tree pulling it in different directions and restraining it allowed me to draw on the meaning of the painting and push this into the object, again it is significant.

I have learnt a lot in this painting about allowing sounds and noises to influence my hand, working from videos taken and listening carefully to the different levels of noise, making decisions around how this should be presented within a painting.

Combines has been placed within the section of multi-dimensional image. The object physically transforms the two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional one. The object allowed the painting to take further meaning and vice versa. Looking at ‘nature combined’ I am taken into another dimension of experience.

Second Exercise: Three dimensional tableau or diorama – ‘Unspoken Journey’

This exercise could have so many different 0utcomes given the research completed prior to undertaking this exercise. I did not want to create a story using objects/figures/other small elements as this would not have interested me. It took something deeper to be able to this piece; I had to think different again to anything I had created before.

I moved into a more personal space to become inspired for this exercise, I wanted to express a very personal experience and give the viewer an insight into a private world. Starting with drawing, mark making and then experiencing texture and colour, I allowed myself to become freer with this piece. Shape, line and marks seemed ok within the sketchbook; choosing colour for the pieces was difficult as there was no object influencing my decision as such. I decided to work with a bright palette, one of watercolour due to the qualities of watercolour and the changes in colour linking to emotions. But this was not the difficult part, it was the aspect of the three-dimensional composition which blocked me, how could I put this into a small diorama which was not just a box?

‘Unspoken journey’ based around changes, physically, emotionally and a private journey, I wanted the piece to be small and intimate, only to be seen through peering into the piece. I included the figure amongst the marks and textures, in a loose and free way; I did not want the diorama to become an obvious visual story with life drawings at different stages. The piece needed to convey movement, change and drawing on emotions. Allowing the viewer to experience the piece, unlike the figure diorama’s the viewer can interpret the piece how they want and take from it what they see and resonate with. Throughout the sketchbook work I looked at line, continuous line, I find this works well for expression within personal pieces and I wanted to take this and use it within my final piece. Wool and pen had been used within preliminary work, taking this a step further; wire seemed like a good choice; delicate, easily manipulated but strong enough to hold its form. The wire wrapped the outside of the paper cylinder, slowly moving into the story working with the figures and other elements inside. Suggesting movement and change, I enjoy looking at this piece; I feel it conveys my personal journey without falling into the trap of using obvious figurative elements or three-dimensional form.

A physical piece which appears private and guarded.

Third Project – Real and Illusory spaces and places – ‘Discarded’

This project was the most difficult of all, even though the finished piece appears the most simple of them all. With the enjoyment of working with the tree to produce a combine, I moved back to this. I have always enjoyed the work of Andy Goldsworthy and his approach to his work I allowed him to influence my choices, alongside other researched artists. Looking closer into the subject and the surroundings of the garden and the tree itself, surrounded by upheaval, changes, discarded materials and objects this seemed ample to allow me to create ‘Discarded’.

This piece involved creating, videoing and moving around the tree rather than painting, sketching or exploring composition. Within this piece I wanted to include a sense of restriction, suffocating and the pressure of the manmade work and materials on the natural world. In particular the different in natural wood in comparison to manufactured wood, as these were the objects around the tree. The meaning to the piece is to visual represent contrast in the two worlds in an alternative way, we see gardens every day which show this contrast, but looking in particular at the not so pretty – the discarded and the changes and effects this can have.

Pulling together discarded shed wood, I used materials from around the garden to wrap and tie these together; rags and plastic bags. Giving significance to the restriction of the wood and the tree. Due to the location of the tree and the size of the trunk this placed restrictions on how wide and large the wood wrap could be. I made a maquette to allow myself to visually see the form on a simple and small scale. The making of the maquette and the main piece was fun; I captured this making process on video. With each piece of wood I checked the looseness, pulling and twist to get the feeling of tightness and restricting, keeping in mind the significance of this to the project.

I continue to look at this piece as the weather and environment change around it; given the form and materials it won’t change as dramatically as the work of Goldsworthy, especially as manufactured materials have been incorporated. During this assignment almost every exercise has been a first for me and this provides a freedom which has proved interesting and successful in my personal development. Collectively this part of the course has produced a range of different outcomes, pushing me to provide ideas and develop these into combines, shaped forms and stories.


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Revisiting ‘Discarded’

After a short space of time I revisited my diorama ‘Discarded’.

Further rubble had been placed around the tree and the wood was less visible, constant changes. It will be interesting to leave this for a long period of time and watch how the garden and weather affect this piece.

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