Part 1, exercise 1:1 – painting thin and small

The task here is to use, I think, of one image on different kinds of background using dilute paints or inks of various kinds, and also varnish. I had available acrylic, watercolour, gouache, ecoline inks, and both polymer and spray varnish, one gloss the other matte and made the backgrounds according to the instructions. This amounted to 14 surfaces though, not 20.

I chose a very simple shape from my stock of images, guessing that the effect of mixing the various media across surface and painted image was more important than the image itself. This is a screenshot of the Mars 2020 rover packed and ready to leave the clean room where it was built. In effect, it is a white-on-white box that fills the screen.


These are the fourteen A5 sections of Aquarelle HP watercolour paper. Individual photographs show more detail of the way the paint media interacted with the background surface but this angle reduces the effect of digital compensation – algorithms making it up – which tends to happen with blacks, and shows how some, bottom left ink on grey gouache for instance, deliver contrast through gloss effect and matte.

Others feel much less successful; rather dreary, scrubby apologies for themselves, but the one that stands out to me is an unexpected little jewel – third down, third across, this is ecoline black ink on polymer gloss varnish. I didn’t believe it would dry in place never mind adhere to its support but there it is. I like the irregularity of it, the sense of mass that doesn’t have to describe itself, and the abstraction it permits. Serendipity to me but likely a looked-for effect of the exercise.


Individual images.

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I have to own up to not finding this easy. When I worked at this size in the past it was with a pencil, an implement that has little inherent mobility either in its own structure or the medium it provides, so this was really really up a very different street from the larger works I have been doing in my previous modules, and I see there is more!

Time taken: approx 7 hours including write-up but not drying time.

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