Parallel Project – anthroposcenery #1

This project is still bubbling under but I’ve strong feeling now that it will be built from everything that has gone before and incorporate ways of working that have come from using materials such as mirror film and the selective incorporation of collage. The assignment three pieces are pivotal, along with the project concerning narratives.

After today’s tutorial, I felt the emergence of a measure of coherence and found a new way of developing a rather unpromising A1 sketch I made yesterday.

I had begun this with a view to trying out a new medium – acrylic gloss gel – which apparently makes acrylics shiny and slippery, like oils, and permits a better kind of impasto work. I used a piece of A1 mounting card, prepped with transparent primer, as the base, then swept large swathes of the surface with soft pastel which I later painted into with plain water. Then, having discovered the attraction of tendrils made from blowing wet paint, I made tendrils.

I had nothing in mind for this beyond throwing (and blowing) some colour around to see what happened, and left it with little hope it would acquit itself in any useful way.

Today though, after discussing the parallel project in the tutorial and describing the feeling of internal tension that always precedes some kind of creative action, I felt a change in the flux of it.

Back to the original plan of trying out the gel, I made some strong marks across the card and saw how some marks were just plain gloss with no paint. Paying attention to that, I tried loading the flat brush with pigment on one side of the horizontal plane and gel on the other so that a stroke would be half and half. This led later to using a wet (plain water) brush to blend and spread the paint and found the result was a lot like the feel of painting on a canvas board. I ended by scraping across, up, and down with first a dry pebble, then a wet one.

The paint pulls off relatively easily while still wet and leaves a smooth transparency behind. When it’s almost dry, it comes off like grit – rough and scratchy. And out of nowhere there’s a piece of anthroposcenery which I’m going to leave alone because the other thing we discussed today was my tendency to refine everything and fill all the spaces. No refinement, no stolen gaps.

And I like card as a support rather than just the thing that supports the support.

14th July – I remembered I’d put masking tape round the edge over some of the initial layers but before the later ones to create a kind of window out of which some elements were escaping.

Second sketch.

A1 card with acrylic primer and some marks made with soft pastels, brushed with plain water. This is the beginning of a painting coming from a structure on Brighton seafront.

Plenty of extraneous intervention here in the form of a shadow creeping across it behind the sun. More soft pastel and water – the rust coloured verticals are set into the lower promenade and either come from or represent the West pier which I’ve watched being whittled down by tides and lack of investment for many years.

Swept this with a layer of gloss medium then, when it was dry, scraped T white mixed with acrylic gel medium across it. I’d begun to think of it as sea mist but then it became high tide. Not in the present day, but some time in the future if we don’t make some changes. Those posts also look like sticks of dynamite.

I want this darker, less sea-breezy-and-ice-cream, so I’ll leave it for now, maybe prowl round it later tonight in different light.

Payne’s grey over gloss varnish scraped with a pebble to make fractures. There’s a feeling now of rust, water, and ice.

I think my next experiment will be with stapling duck cotton to card and applying primer to shrink it, then working with that texture.

Acrylics diluted with gloss gel and water, and applied with a flat brush. It’s based on but doesn’t replicate, my photo of Adur recreation ground taken a couple of years ago. I’m going for a more painterly feel this time and I find canvas tends to steer me in that direction. That said, acrylics on canvas board make some really nice marks.

16th July.

Solar intervention!

This is a lot more dilute and less dilute acrylic, some of it washed into the canvas, some dropped or placed with a brush. I’m aware it’s beginning to look quite busy.

I’d taken a camouflage approach to the area just below the tree line but found it heavy. I’d also managed to make a circle of flower images in the middle which wasn’t what I wanted either.

There’s still a bunch of flowers in the centre but they’re muted with a yellow or Payne’s grey wash and then picked out a little with soft pastels. Definitely busy now! I need to sort out that vase effect. In the photo, they go all the way up to the top of the mound and right the way across the whole of the image below that – left to right and top to bottom. The photo is taken from a low angle so the height and spread is just the visual perspective in that place. The actual height is around knee to waist, and the spread is three or four metres either side.

Scrubbed it with bleach last night and discovered a) how indestructible acrylics and duck cotton are, and b) how interestingly muted the whole image now is, and how details made by the paint itself have emerged. That could possibly have been achieved with plain water though.

As an aside, an absolutely lovely thing about painting in a conservatory studio with the doors open is that outside comes in and shares the space. There are butterflies, bees (large, small, flies masquerading as), hoverflies, tiny dots I can’t identify, and two days ago – a hedgehog! No dragonflies as yet but the odd damsel has popped in and needed guidance to pop out again. Painting with yellows in particular attracts hoverers although they quickly register it as fake and useless to them.

There isn’t much of an anthroposcenic nature in this piece but I have an idea …

These are cut-outs of a silhouette taken from my own shadow on a path. The black one is plain paper, painted with acrylic to stiffen it a little, the other two are photopaper. They look like people in space suits so now the landscape looks like some version of an exploration story. NASA has said that the Jezero crater where the Mars rover, Perseverance, is sited, has the topography of a river delta which was probably formed by water coming down from the mountains. It would have been a lake and the surrounding land wet enough for life. Perhaps these two are looking at that. Alternatively, they could be visitors to our planet, discovering a desert full of vegetation and flowers in one of its brief cycles of fertility. The Anthropocene may be a story of more than one planet.

The silhouettes are loose; they can move just as the shadows move across the painting.

This post is subject to ongoing additions and edits until this last piece is judged complete or I’ve been advised in the pending tutorial to leave it alone!

A couple of moves and then some folds change the image – one is looking down to the left, the other is focused on something in his/her hands – an instrument perhaps? I think I need to add some sound to this.

Made in Filmora10 with audio via NASA’s free to use library in educational and personal contexts. The sounds are of the wheels of Perseverance and the first ever recorded on Mars.

Post tutorial

I ‘misted’ the A1 painting with aquacryl in medium 3 to see how it fared. I’m not used to either medium so it was worth a go as the idea of a mist had come up in our discussion.

Somewhat unskilled and probably not a suitable surface but it makes an interesting cloud.

Video incorporating the modified painting.

References and artists to look up:


This is the kind of soundscape I would play over and over until I could almost anticipate each hum or whistle. It’s Radio Three Slow Radio material although I’m not sure how flattered Hegarty would feel about that. The performance has all the hallmarks of a solo artist, especially one using electronics rather than conventional instruments; the layering of sounds (Ed Sheeran has a set of peddles which allow him to record parts of his delivery then loop them to build a composite sound), the movement around the array much as sound artists like Delia Derbyshire did at the BBC’s radiophonic workshop, the addition of extraneous sounds in the manner of Foley artists – Hegarty claps small items together at different positions in the studio and throws tiny objects (I’m imagining nuts) onto the floor periodically, and the somewhat staged layout of the instruments, some on the floor, others on a surface too low for Hegarty to stand straight while using them. The result is eerie and evocative with a sense that entities out of sight are registering their presence. Of course I’m influenced here by knowing the title – it’s a sĂ©ance and it’s for musical instruments – but the eeriness is also an inherent property.

I’m not sure it’s a performative piece; there doesn’t appear to be an audience and the projection of an image on the wall doesn’t change so I wonder if that’s a kind of mood-setter, a mental guide rope to keep Hegarty in his zone. It feels to be less about him, more about the sounds. Is there a score? Hegarty seems to know what comes next, what order everything is in, but he seems not to refer to anything while building the sounds. Perhaps it’s just very well rehearsed in that way some musicians have of rehearsing without killing off the sound.

Would a piece of fiction or a poem add to this or detract, I wonder? What I’ve seen of Hegarty’s writing is poetic in itself. In his contribution to Wolf Notes, Remembering Rain, he discusses the fluidity and impermanence of memory and draws on some sound neuroscience. I think he would like the direction this has taken with eye witness testimony and decisional capacity. ‘Psychogeography describes the effect of a geographical location on the emotions and behaviour of individuals’. Has Marxist/Dadaist/Surrealist roots and Debord (Marxist theorist) in 1955 “suggested playful and inventive ways of navigating the urban environment in order to examine its architecture and spaces.” I must admit ‘playful’ is not a concept I’d ever associated with Marxism! Pending Pending Pending

Photoreference collection (mostly own photos)

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