Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – American Regionalism, Grant Wood

American Regionalism involved a style of realistic painting that started in the 1930s, becoming popular during the Great Depression. The most popular subjects of American Regionalism were rural and everyday situations. This movement was not inspired by a manifesto or particular agenda and was instead inspired by three artists, being Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood, and John Steuart Curry who were known as the “Regionalist Triumvirate.” They rejected abstract work, responding to cultural isolation that saw art as out of touch with the American spirit. They felt unsatisfied with American art as they felt it lacked style and a proper audience. Wood wrote a letter home saying “The art dealers and the critics want no part of American art. They think this country is too new for any culture and too crude and undeveloped to produce any artists. You have to be a Frenchman, take a French name, and paint like a Frenchman to gain recognition.”

Book – Formations of Identity: Society, Politics and Landscape, by Martin, Floyd and Yanoviak, Eileen (2016)

Whilst reading this book, I came across some information about Grant Wood which I felt was relevant as he was one of the three main artists who inspired American Regionalism.

Information I got from the book:

‘Grant Wood created a series of agricultural landscapes in the 1930s to portray his romantic vision of man’s relationship with cultivated land. He created paintings and prints to make the farm and the farmer a fantasy. The result of these mythic landscapes is Spring Turning, a representation of green hills painted in 1936. In the painting, the land has been divided into four fields for cultivation. In the lower field, a farmer drives a team of horses pulling a plow as he turns over the earth. He is dwarfed by the hills that surround him. Previous scholars have focused on the sexual nature of the rolling hills in Spring Turning—Wanda Corn, for example, sees the fertile body of a Mother Earth figure, while Tripp Evans sees the erotic contours of a man’s form.

What has not been previously examined, however, is that Spring Turning, and indeed all of Wood’s farm scenes, were responses to specific local and regional conflict: severe economic depression, agricultural catastrophes, political unrest, and anxiety about the farmer’s place in a country in crisis.Wiped clean of dirt and disorder and marked by a stylized geometry, these landscapes are highly constructed objects drawn from the artist’s memory, his attempts at myth-making, and his desire to control a world under threat. Wood’s work as an artist is closely associated with the figure of the mid-western farmer and the land he inhabited. Though the artist was himself a Midwesterner and the son of a farm family, his first subjects were simple Impressionist-style landscapes that rarely included farms.

Over time, Wood began to champion his favoured subjects—farmers and the land—and develop the style and approach to landscapes that communicate the almost mythic values and virtues that he saw in Midwesterners on the land. He was the son of a strict Protestant farmer who discouraged his artistic tendencies. Unlike his repressive father, Wood’s mother encouraged him in his interests, and he began drawing, painting, and designing jewellery in high school. After graduation, he attended design schools in Minneapolis and Chicago, supporting himself in his twenties and thirties as a designer and teacher and painting in his spare time.

Wood came to see his fellow Iowans and their landscape as topics worthy of his artistic attention only after his early experiments in Impressionist-style painting met with disappointment.4 Wood painted in this retardative mode for nearly twenty years in the early twentieth century, but this aspect of his work is little known now.

Although he worked mainly as an Impressionist in the 1920s, he experimented with other styles during this period as well. Wood’s work underwent a more significant change in style in 1928 when he encountered the work of Northern Renaissance artists in Germany. He had accepted a commission to design a stained-glass window for the Cedar Rapids Veterans Memorial. Although he had never worked in the medium before, he took on the project with enthusiasm, even traveling to Munich to oversee the production of the glass. The trip had a profound effect on him. While in Germany, he visited museums, where he found inspiration in portraits by artists such as Hans Memling. Their style and subjects influenced a new direction in his art. Upon his return to Cedar Rapids, he abandoned Impressionism in favour of the hard-edged styles he had experimented with.

‘Woman with Plants’  is a portrait of Wood’s mother in which he adopted Memling’s practice of setting his figures in landscapes painted from a high bird’s-eye perspective, with intricate details in the background. In addition, the work of the Northern Renaissance artists convinced Wood that local imagery—the landscapes and people of his native Iowa—was rich material for his art. This new focus on local subject matter aligned Wood with the movement called Regionalism. In the early 1930s, Regionalism, defined by art historian Matthew Baigell as “art created from local traditions,” was at the height of its popularity.

After the surge of interest from American artists in European art in the early twentieth century and into the 1920s, Regionalism represented a new inward focus in the country during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Rather than being influenced by avant-garde artists from Europe who experimented with innovative styles such as Cubism or Surrealism, Regionalist artists sought to portray the experiences of ordinary people in an easily readable visual style. They looked to the Midwest and the South for subject matter and narratives.

Wood’s 1930 painting American Gothic encapsulates the aesthetic and cultural goals of the Regionalists, and it was the first of Wood’s paintings to receive national attention. The painting depicts an Iowa farmer and a woman who may be his wife or his daughter. American Gothic was then, and is still today, an enigmatic painting: Is it a tongue-in-cheek but affectionate portrait of staid Midwesterners? Is it, perhaps, an indictment of repressive mid-western values? Historian R. Tripp Evans contends that it is the intriguing ambivalence at the heart of the work that holds the key to its appeal.’

In 1930, American Gothic won third prize at a competition at the Art Institute of Chicago. It remains in the collection of that institution today, and it is among the best-known American paintings in the world. After the success of American Gothic, Wood invested many of his character studies with a decided satirical edge.

Information I got from video above:

“American regionalism or American scene painting as it sometimes called is a naturalist style of painting and art that was popular in the first half of the 20th century. The artists of the movement will depict scenes of typical American life and landscape painted in a naturalistic descriptive style. American scene is an umbrella term for the rural American regionalism and the urban and politically oriented social realism. After World War One many United States artists rejected the modern trend stemming from the armoury show in part as a reaction to the war. Oftentimes when we see war we will see far more conservative movements following that war and then things will develop. From there we get to the next war we end up with the same thing a little more conservative and then redevelopment once again and we see the same thing but around World War One as we do around World War Two so instead they adopt an academic realism in depicting urban and rural scenes. Much of the American scene painting conveys a nationalism in romanticism of everyday American life, they’re trying to create something that reflects the American life of everywhere between New York oftentimes and as an anti-modernist style and reaction against the modern European style, this American regionalism was seen as an attempt to define a uniquely American style of art. As soon as we’ve seen the armoury show in precisionism and surrealism and the Americans are starting to get involved in all these movements, all these basically modern movements we see this reaction so we’re pushing back to a more conservative and more realist movement in this case. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just one of these cycles that we see in our history and it doesn’t mean that we can sit there and look at history and go I can predict what’s coming next as that’s foolish . There’s always something that you wouldn’t expect at the time but it does give us a general idea so if you’re looking at a painting you can kind of start to date it based on realism versus abstractions.” – what is said in the video above.

How American Regionalism is inspiring my project:

I was encouraged to research into American Regionalism by my peers during my crit as my work has a great portrayal of real life, you can tell the areas that I have focused on if you have been there before, Leicester is easily identifiable in my work. I found it very interesting to look into this style as I have heard of it before but didn’t know too much information about it. In particular, I find the buildings behind the figures in Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ very similar to some of the architecture I am focusing on in my project, with a sense of realism yet still being abstract.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Piet Mondrian

Piet Mondrian was an artist who focused on still lifes and landscapes at the start of his artistic journey and later on started to create more abstract work focusing a lot on shape and lines. He also experimented with symbolism, pointillism and cubism. The first world war made Piet reduce his uses of colour and shapes which was the beginning of his nonobjective Neoplastic style. He became one of the founders of a group called De Stijl which involved the simplification and abstraction of architecture and graphic/industrial design. He did an exhibition with this group but withdrew from it when they tried to reintroduce some elements that had been removed prior such as diagonal shapes.

Information I got from video above:

Piet Mondrian was one of the great pioneers of abstract painting. He was a man with two conflicting traits to his temperament that had a great influence on his painting, one was a sense of feeling for rhythm which was reflected in his interest in music and particularly Jazz and this seemed to reflect his positive side of his nature. The other was his love of order and balance. These two conflicting qualities flowed throughout the development of his work but eventually he found resolution in his later abstract paintings.

His father was a qualified drawing teacher and became headmaster of the local Christian School. At the age of 16, he left school to start studying painting and drawing and passed his lower certificate examination in 1889 which allowed him to teach at his father’s primary school. In his free time, he painted landscapes in a rather traditional fashion.

In 1892, Mondrian moved to Amsterdam and entered the Reich’s Academy. He left three years later and earned his living making copies of famous paintings. In 1897, he became a member of Saint Lucas the artists Association for students of the right Academy and for the next few years continued working by painting copies of museum paintings and producing scientific drawings found during this. He started to exhibit his own landscape paintings which were much influenced by The Hague school her group of Dutch artists who took their inspiration from the idealised and naturalistic painting of the French barbies and movement of the 1830s and 1840s, but he had little success selling these paintings.

In 1905, he saw an exhibition of the early work of Vincent van Gogh in Amsterdam which had a profound effect on him, influencing him to choose bold colour and more vibrant brushwork. He was also inspired from an early age in his career by the fascination for trees and seemed to be attracted to the problem of the ways branches, twigs, sky, and foliage interact with each other. He enjoyed the rhythmic structure they represented and how that could be represented on a canvas during this time he exhibited a lot of work but despite developing a reputation for evening landscape paintings he still sold very little. In 1908, he visited homburg where he met several Avant Garde artists including the Dutch artist young tarup. These artists were very interesting divisionism which put simply means the application of colour in small separate blocks like pointillism painting.

In 1911 Piet Mondrian exhibited work in Paris and saw the Cubist paintings of Picasso for the first time. He moved to Paris and almost married his friend Greta but changed his mind at the last minute. Some of his paintings were sent to the Gallery Dash Term in Berlin but sales were very limited. Trees were still an important source of inspiration, but Mondrian’s ideas were developing as he incorporated negative space, making the shapes between the branches become as important as the branches themselves. The shapes and lines used were organised into a structure which is not a tree, but the spirit of a tree and these paintings had neutral titles. By the end of 1913, his subject matter began to move away from the heavy reliance on trees and objects to more spiritual interpretations of the world.

After the chaos of the First World War, Mondrian wanted abstract art influenced in part by Cubism and suprematism and designed to endear to the strict rules of composition. The idea was to strip out all naturalism and all other essentials from the painting to attain the universal truths outlined by this. This saw all representations of reality disappear from his paintings, with his main aim being to express the relationships between colours and shapes rather than objects in his paintings.

In 1919, he painted his first neoplastic composition. When talking about the painting, he said “I have now made a painting that pleases me more than any of my previous work, it has been a long quest”. These paintings colours were inspired by Matisse, especially regarding their placement as some come forward and others recede based upon context. In the 1950s, Mondrian began to experiment with cutting out coloured squares in paper and putting them on his wall. He was seeking to create balance and harmony with colour and line and believed this could be achieved even if there was discord between them. The studio became a huge talking point and in 1925, more people visited his studio and showed an interest in purchasing his paintings. He did his experimental diamond paintings this year too.

In 1929, his abstract paintings were beginning to sell, and his painting was becoming more radical. By 1931, colour was beginning to disappear from his work to be dominated by White Plains and black lines which differed in width. He repeated designs, which became known as his double line paintings which sold quite well within USA. In Germany, the reaction was quite different under Hitler’s regime, his painting was declared degenerate and examples were included in the infamous degenerate art exhibition of 1937 held in Munich. Under Hitler’s cultural policy degenerate art was seen as an insult to the German feeling and included all modernist painting and of course any work by artists of Jewish or Bolshevik origin.

Piet Mondrian loved rhythm as he took an interest in music and also loved balance. These conflicting traits are showed throughout the development of his work but he came to a solution in his most abstract works which demonstrate a rhythm as well as a balance.

In his earlier works, Mondrian focused a lot on realism. I like that he worked on materials such as cardboard as this is easy to find and most likely allowed him to add more texture to his works. This painting looks as though Mondrian used a palette knife as he captured a lot of texture. I like that he captured a scene of everyday life as I feel this relates to my work yet I also feel very inspired by his later, more abstract art which I am incorporating into my own work.

Piet Mondrian’s abstract works moved away from representing objects and instead demonstrated his spiritual views of the world.

This is one of Piet Mondrian’s still life pieces which has an interesting use of bold lines. The composition and colours used work well and the contrast draw the eyes to the image. The elements of texture applied is interesting and I feel this adds to the painting. Mondrian was inspired by Paul Cézanne’s method of breaking down compositions with colour. As Mondrian was loose with the paint, this seemed a lot different to his previous works yet he still used similar colours so it linked in some ways.

This painting was a further abstraction of the painting above and made a lot of the objects rather difficult to identify as they had a lot less detail and were more solid shapes. Again, the use of line is very strong in creating contrasts and the warm colours used work well together yet contrast with the dark lines around the objects. The works during this period of abstraction focused on a central motif (in this work being the ginger pot) and the rest of the paintings surrounding these central motifs having a lot of symmetry. In these paintings Mondrian was trying to maintain balance and order which he continued to do even in his later pieces which were even more abstract.

This painting demonstrated Mondrian’s fascination with Cubist paintings created by Pablo Picasso and George Braque. In the process of creating this painting, he broke down his subject, a tree, into interlocking lines and planes of colour and used colours that were very commonly used in Cubist paintings. However Mondrian made his subject very difficult to identify and made an interesting choice to make the scaffolding fade at the edges of the canvas.

This painting was created at a time when Piet Mondrian was aiming for even more abstraction in his work by moving away from subjects he enjoyed working with including architecture and nature. ‘Composition’ was the last painting Mondrian created where you can see that he was inspired by an actual source, in this case being a church. A strip frame was created for this painting as he didn’t want the depth that came with traditional frames.

Information I got from video above:

‘It can sometimes be hard to appreciate these shuffling colourful squares and these intersecting black lines. Mondrian’s paintings all blend as if each of them were unique yet identical at the same time. This style was only one step in Mondrian’s quite linear artistic progression. He was born in 1872 and will begin painting landscapes just like many other Dutch artists. Then he adopts unconventional techniques, for example, most Dutch landscapes displayed the famous Netherlands Sky in its puffy clouds, but Mondrian put the horizon line extremely high, not leaving much space for any clouds. He then explored many different movements such as impressionism as seen in ‘Willow Grove impression of light and shadows’ made in 1905. He also explores post impressionism as seen an ‘evening red tree’ completed in 1910 in which we can clearly see the influence coming from Van Gogh. He had a service space which will preface the importance of primary colours in his later work but in 1911 an art movement will heavily influence him; he discovers through Picasso and black Cubism and will move to Paris to further his career. In 1911 he paints a first version of still life with ginger pot and then the following year reinterprets the painting in a cubist style. The intersecting black lines first made their appearance only almost starting to move away from representation which we can see by comparing his older tree paintings with ‘the great tree’ painted in 1911. Only one year later he will again make one step closer to abstraction with another representation of a tree ‘flowering Apple tree’.

He will continue to make abstract paintings in Paris until 1914 when during a visit in the Netherlands, World War One begins not allowing Mondrian to go back to France. Mondrian defines neoplasticism, he will write as a pure representation of the human mind or it will express itself in an aesthetically purified way abstract form the new plastic idea cannot therefore take the form of a natural or concrete representation. The new plastic idea will ignore the particulars of appearance that is natural form in colour. On the contrary it should find its expression in the abstraction of form and colour in the straight line and the clearly defined primary colours. This will be the birth of the Mondrian we know of today with the colours in the geometry. But it’s only the 1920s that Mondrian will start painting the iconic compositions which will also evolve with time. The first compositions usually had more colours and shapes and sometimes the black lines wouldn’t even reach the edge of the canvas. With time though, Mondrian purified his work, stripping away more and more elements. His compositions started to include less colours but sometimes more lines making his work seem more minimalistic or simplified. Finally in 1938, with the rise of fascism in Europe Mondrian moves to London and in 1940 decides to move to New York City. This will be the last step in modern artistic evolution even though he’s 68 when he moves to New York he is captivated by the energy this city has the busy streets the booming culture and especially in jazz. Music will animate him, the black lines in his compositions will be replaced by colourful lines overlapping each other. The last painting Mondrian completes is called ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie’, a representation of the grid like streets of New York; the lines are vivid and unlike any other Mondrian paintings. They are continuously interrupted by colour, the lines are not continuous anymore, they are extremely busy almost as if they had a certain rhythm to them. Mondrian wanted to create universal art that through his harmony and simplicity could appeal to any individual no matter their background. By simplifying what he painted, Mondrian broke down his subjects to their core of lines, shapes and colours and arranged them to create balance. You may admire Mondrian’s work or maybe you don’t see what’s so interesting about his horizontal and vertical lines but what’s less debatable is how fascinating Mondrian’s quest for purification is. You may not like his individual artworks, but Mondrian’s work is interesting to analyse as it’s the work of a lifetime from the post-impressionist tree to the cubist branches all the way to the streets of New York. Multi artistic progress is a work of art.’

How Piet Mondrian’s work is inspiring me in my project:

I decided to research Piet Mondrian as my work includes a lot of solid colours and dark outlines, it is very graphic which relates to his work. I feel that I could create pieces which are very simplistic in shapes and colour palettes but I don’t want to use fully opaque colours as I still want a sense of realism in my work. I like the contrasts that Piet Mondrian manages to capture in his work, both the more detailed pieces and the more simplistic square pieces and I am hoping to incorporate some of his colour palettes into my work as they work well and could help me incorporate some successful colour palettes into my compositions. Although I like the black outlines, I don’t want to use a black outline in all of my pieces as I feel it will be too distracting from the architecture so i will choose colours which are more subtle if I incorporate any harsh lines but I love the ways the different elements of Piet Mondrian’s paintings flow together.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – Pop Art

As my work is quite illustrative and cartoonish I was advised to do some research into Pop Art to give some reasonings behind that which make it more appropriate.

Pop art started in the mid-1950s in Britain and late 1950s in America, reaching its peak in the 1960s. It started as a revolt against the most popular approaches to art/culture and traditional views on what art should be. Artists believed that the stuff they were learning at schools and in museums has no relevance to their everyday lives. They found inspiration from sources such as movies, advertisements, packaging, music, and books.
Critics were horrified with artists using such ‘low’ subject matter and their uncritical treatment of it. Pop Art both took art into new areas of subject matter and developed new ways of presenting it in art and be one of the first manifestations of postmodernism.

Differences between British and American Pop Art:
– British Pop artists were inspired by American Culture from a distance while American Pop artists were inspired by their personal experiences with the Culture.

-American Pop Art was very representational and used hard edges/distinct forms after Abstract Expressionism. They wanted to move away from personal feelings/symbolism that came with Abstract Expressionism and instead used impersonal/mundane imagery in their work.

-British Pop Art was more academic in its approach to Pop Art. Using a lot of irony/parody, it focused on the ways that American imagery was used for manipulation and what the imagery represented. The 1950s Group ‘The Independent Group (IG)’ is seen as the precursor of British Pop Art.

The Independent Group (IG):

The Independent Group (IG) was a group of young artists, writers and critics who met at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London to challenge the dominant modernist culture at that time, to make it more inclusive of popular culture. It was created in the 1950s. It was responsible for the formulation, discussion, and dissemination of many of the basic ideas of British pop art and of much other new British art in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1953 the Independent Group did an exhibition called ‘Parallel of Art and Life’ and in 1956 another exhibition called ‘This is Tomorrow.’ This exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London was the group demonstrating their interest in popular and commercial culture. The critic Lawrence Alloway said ‘movies, science fiction, advertising, pop music. We felt none of the dislike of commercial culture standard among most intellectuals, but accepted it as fact, discussed it in detail, and consumed it enthusiastically’. ‘This is Tomorrow’ involved a series of environments and a juke box played continuously.

Information I got from video above – ‘Pop Art is one of the most significant art movements of the 20th century. In London in 1952, a group of young avantgarde artists, writers and architects including Scottish artists Eduardo Paolozzi formed the independent group. This group wanted to challenge the art world and was interested in the relationship between popular culture and the visual arts. Paolozzi led the charge giving an important presentation in which he showed advertising, comic strips, and assorted graphic images from American magazines. Inspired by these images, the group wanted to create art that was inclusive, and which had mass appeal. Many members of the group had already begun to create collages using some of these images. The art created often combined different themes such as war and popular advertisements like coca cola which led to a range of different works being created. Some were  inspired by comic books and cartoons with works in the 1960s including screen prints of Mickey Mouse and Popeye. Andy Warhol’s name became synonymous with pop art. In the early 1960s, Warhol embarked on a series of portraits of stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Jackie Kennedy using photographic cell screen printing to create celebrity portraits enabling him to reproduce recognisable images or radio in public like publicity shots or tabloid photographs. He often repeated the image multiple times as both celebration and critique of contemporary culture.  Temporary artists influenced by Pop Art and sometimes referred to as new pop include Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst who often celebrated banality using mechanical processes is to create their work and repetition within it but the legacy of Pop Art and its themes of repetition, daily objects, and mass media lives on beyond dark with endless offshoots and commercial designs appearing in contemporary society. This the greatest sign of their success that they took from popular culture to create that and know that the art they created has been reclaimed by popular culture once more.’

Information I got from video above: ‘In the 1950s, artists started making art inspired by Hollywood movies, advertising, pop music and comic books. There are two types of public pop art, one made in America about America and Pop Art made in Britain about America. Pop artists in America made art about what it was like to live the American dream. Andy Warhol began his career in advertising before realising that he could screen print pictures of soup cans and other products onto canvases and sell them in the same way advertisers sell real supercars. He wore a silver wig at the Linda silver factory in New York and hung out with creative kids like Gerard Malanga, Nico, Lou Reed and Edie Sedgwick who also had silver hair. He said in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes, he liked family, he liked money and he made art about both. Roy Lichtenstein painted the world as a comic strip, a painting called ‘quiet’ imitated the industrial techniques of mass production in the same way as mechanical reproduction had imitated the techniques of artists. This is known as parody. Oldenburg blew up everyday objects to monumental proportions to question what constitutes an iconic image in a modern society which embraces disposable mass-produced items. After the Second World War Great Britain looked drab, clearly having lasting effects from all that happened. However, America looked very cheerful after the Second World War. Artists in Britain began making art by using Americas vibrant and aspirational conduit culture which was witty yet ironic. A collage by Richard Hamilton confronts the mass advertising coming to Britain from America. Peter Blake painted pinup girls and wrestlers wearing American jeans and holding a magazine all about Elvis Presley to show the influence American culture is having on Britain. Not everyone liked Pop Art, the art historian Greenberg said it was superficial. Andy Warhol agreed and responded by saying he was a deeply superficial person. In fact, he would find new subject matter in mass production and  developed new ways of presenting it like comic strips and screen prints. Andy Warhol explained that once you got Pop Art, you could never see a site in the same way again and you could never see America the same way again.’

Ways Pop Art is influencing my work:

I am more so influenced by the graphic styles and uses of colour in Pop Art rather than the subject matter or comic styles that often came along with it. I feel that using colour schemes that certain pop artists have used in their work could help me to develop my work even further, generating more ideas which could allow me to get a better final result or colour scheme.

Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual Post – George Shaw

George Shaw is an artist who paints realistic rural scenes in England. The combinations of architecture, graffiti and litter give his paintings a very relatable feel, with a lot of people knowing what it is like to live in those sorts of areas. A lot of his paintings have a very creepy and dark vibe, which is his intention as he likes taking cliches of the sublime and epiphany and putting them into unexpected places. His work has been viewed as very sentimental, which Shaw doesn’t want to take as a negative quality as he looks for the things he likes or doesn’t like about people in art. He was nominated for the Turner prize in 2011 and his works are shown in several London based areas.

George Shaw’s paintings capture a British feeling, demonstrating the ways that we impact upon the world around us as well as the ways that the world shapes us.

People see George Shaw’s paintings as depicting a foreshadowing of Britain during lockdown as they never include people and portray quite eerie atmospheres. I feel that I could do something similar in my own work to demonstrate how lockdown has affected Leicester and the ways that people see their homes as prisons but this is something I will have to explore in my own time.

I find it fascinating that George Shaw takes everyday common landscapes and areas that we are all used to yet captures them in a hopeless way that makes you realise how the world around us can be daunting yet beautiful at the same time. The realism in the work makes the paintings look like photographs initially which is really impressive.

In this Youtube video, George Shaw talks about his work and how it has changed over the years, starting off as a way of capturing the sentimentality of his adolescence but more recently becoming the opposite of that, a confrontation of things rather than a relaxation into a comfortable situation. This development happened as he wanted to capture places without any signs or indications as to where they were located in a bid to essentially remove the history of the place and allow people to see it for what it is rather than what it has been in the past. This also demonstrates the fact that we go to places in our lifetimes and often have no awareness of the events that have happened there which I find really interesting.

Although George Shaw’s work evokes a bleak feeling in his audience, he personally doesn’t see it that way since he is simply acknowledging the end of something and it doesn’t necessarily have a negative implication/effect. During his time at the Royal College, he realised that he didn’t like that you had to understand a particular language to understand what his previous art was about and instead learned about making art that communicates a certain idea to people that you can have a conversation about to discuss personal opinions.

His work is a way of showing that life is short and you’re not here forever, the places around us that are run down and decaying in certain ways are a representation of himself in a way, and the viewer in others, all based upon personal circumstances. The paintings portray his journey out of this world.

Information I got from video above:

I came to look at the exhibition complete and thought it was quite sad that it would be taken down, I think I’m just beginning to like it, it’s just beginning to settle down in my mind so that’s normally how I experience life, but I just get into the party 10 minutes before closing time and then I’m faced with regret that I didn’t get on with it a little bit earlier. When it gets taken down on Monday, they get put in a box and then it goes on tour little bit like Bob Stewart, the work goes in the box and then reappears in the Lake District or Southampton or wherever without me. I mean I could drop dead tomorrow, and it would still go on without me. It goes way back into the 70s when I was a kid coming down from Coventry so it’s going to be quite interested in the next couple of years or so because that context of the National Gallery will fall away as I travel to places I’ve come to understand as the regions, but I just call it the rest of England that is not in London. George Shaw is a painter; he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2011 with a series of very detailed meticulous images of the council estate on which he was brought up in Coventry showing crumbling pavements and decrepit locked up garages and broken lamp posts and things very much to do with an environment that is manmade, but you don’t see any human figures. They’ve always got this kind of resonance of either things that have happened there or things that are going to happen there, they are narrative landscapes but painted in a very contemporary mode I think that subject of Englishness has been quite deep rooted in my work for many years but it’s not the Englishness of stately homes. I feel that most English people live in taking up on board I think what happened was me thinking about my time as a child and as an adolescent and the kind of world I lived in and then the kind of world at the National Gallery was showing to me. I wanted to bring the two worlds together, really kind of English realism with a very mythical magical narrative, the narratives of Ovid or the narratives of the Christian story’s and bring them altogether in a way in which they came together in my imagination in my head. The one place that marriage did take place was in the Woodland setting for how that I grew up which was a few square miles of Woodland on the edge of accounts of the study but I began to see similarities between that that simple Woodland and the Woodland of Pelini or the woodlanders Pusan or the Woodland of Titan even The Woodlands of constable may seem to be where people last themselves and found themselves where rituals of life are acted out very far away from the home, far away from civilisation, not too far that you couldn’t feel its effects and that’s what I began to explore.

How George Shaw’s work is influencing my project:

I decided to research George Shaw as he captures council estate scenes very well. Although his work is very realistic, I find that there are similarities in some of the housing/architecture where he grew up as there is in Leicester. There are a lot of council estates in Leicester that are similar which I find interesting. The vast amount of detail that George Shaw captures in his work demonstrates a high amount of skill but I am not a realistic artist. However, I like to incorporate a sense of realism into my work with which Shaw’s work could factor into. I am pulled in by the fact that you can tell what time of the day it is in Shaw’s paintings which again demonstrates a lot of skill, he definitely knows what he’s doing.

Artist Talks CPS

Artist Talk – Lee Maelzer

Lee Maelzer is a London based artist, she was born and studied in London. She left school at 13 and went to study or at Saint Martin’s College of Art and design, gaining a BA Hons first class later at the Royal Academy of arts and she obtained her Masters in Fine Art. Since 2005 she has exhibited in nine solo exhibitions and widely in Group exhibitions including one at Christy’s London. She also curated 7 exhibitions in London.

She practices as a painter but also explores collage and sculpture and videos. Her paintings are large as she likes them to take up large spaces. The uses of white in her work reflects a certain morbidity, abandonment but also a sense of light. When painting she likes to use a ground like greens or greys to take away the whiteness of the board before starting her piece and has a couple of pieces on the go at once , some of how work takes one to three months to complete.

In her childhood up to the age of 8 she spent time in Vancouver and during this time she went through a lot of hardship which has made her into the artist she is today.

She talked about how she likes to take photos for reference but only used for a short time the rest is from her imagination and in some cases dreams that she has had. She also only likes to use pictures she’s taken herself which is something I understand as it is always good to have your own perspective of a place or a person.

In her young adult life, she talks with period why she went through six years of addiction drugs and alcohol which made her work suffer but she bounced back afterwards. one of her residences was in Mexico where she saw lots of derelict buildings because of war not necessarily decay. She advised that people should do residencies if given the chance as it is a unique experience.

She is inspired by artists such as Goya, van Eyck contemporary artists such as Pia Hue, William Kentridge and Diane Abers.

as we’re restricted right now with covid, Lee is working at a small scale doing paintings taken from Facebook adverts why people are selling my items on marketplace this allows her to show modern life as the seller is using their home to photograph in an the scene is already set of their everyday life. due to the size of the large scale pieces she spoke about painting on panels rather than one large piece so that she can get through doorways and transport it easily.

she seems to feature sinks a lot in her work which could have a hidden meaning to her childhood.

She had opportunities to visit abandoned places like Hackney hospital where she was able to take photos to use as references she likes her paintings have a texture and has been known to add cotton then pull off to give line texture to her painting.

Lee has a large studio which she shares with another artist. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to have my own studio too and it would be good to have some company as you can go a bit crazy when you’re on your own.

Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting – Crit

Window explorations


In my project I am focusing on architecture in Leicester and how different factors affect elements such as windows and doors including age, personal preferences, and modernity. I have been working at quite a small scale using acrylic paints on paper and cardboard. Using acrylics has been effective as they dry quickly and are easy to layer. I have combined block colours with textured brushstrokes to give a worn look to my paintings. I have experimented with the colours I have used by making use of a colour wheel and doing different versions of the same painting to see how colours affect the overall outcome. I began primary research by going into different areas of Leicester to take photographs and do quick drawings of buildings and houses. I am hoping that my work demonstrates to the viewer that Leicester has a lot of history and that things are constantly changing architecturally as new needs need to be met. I made sure to do research into the history of architecture and architecture in Leicester to explain why certain decisions were made about different architectural elements. I felt intrigued by the fact that streets in Leicester, particularly housing, were originally designed to have the same style of features yet now as I walk around Leicester this has changed for several reasons. The changes, though sometimes subtle, take away from the history of the place and make it more modern. With the compositions and angles used in some of my work, I have created a feeling of claustrophobia which I feel could relate to the lockdown and is something I am hoping to investigate further. By using drastically different colour palettes, I manage to demonstrate different times of day which is important as features such as windows will have different reflections depending upon how much light there is. In my work I enjoy using bright colours with large areas of contrast as I feel this really draws the viewer in and it includes a lot of layering which I enjoy. In this project I have learned that it is important to consider colour palettes without rushing into them as colours used can easily affect the mood of the images, creating a different effect altogether. The strengths of my work is how confident and bold I’ve been with composition and shape but to improve, I need to move away from working in the sketchbook and use grid paper to create more accurate drawings. I have found it interesting to find influences that create films involving architecture rather than art including Sean Meadows as this generated more ideas involving council estates and ways to portray architecture in my work. I am hoping to continue to develop a body of work in the upcoming weeks making improvements on the areas I am lacking in.

Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting – Tutorial and Sketchbook work

I had a tutorial with my tutor which opened my eyes to different areas of research I can do to develop my work. To improve the accuracy of my work, I was advised to try using square paper so that the lines of my paintings and drawings were more straight. I felt this was a good idea and have ordered some. I am happy that the tutorial gave me a lot of ideas to go on and am looking forward to seeing how my project develops further.

During enhancement week, I continued to develop my primary research by foing nore drawings of buildings in Leicester and applying colour and texture in experimental ways. I enjoyed the paintings where I layered colours and was quite free with my brushstrokes as this created a very sketchy look which worked well with the blocks of colour used.

View from my garden

This is an interesting composition of housing I found in my backgarden which includes a small portion of my house on the right and the views of my neighbours houses in the rest of the view. I like the ways the colours used work together. I would have liked to use more interesting colour schemes but I wanted to build up a good amount of realistic paintings (in terms of colour) to show how I developed my work and the thought processes behind it.

Window explorations

These pages in my sketchbook demonstrate two different streets, the bottom one being Brazil Street. Again I like the simplicity of these paintings and how the colours of the brick backgrounds are quite muted. I feel that the pure black windows add a creepy vibe to my work and a nice contrast with the other areas.

Street view of houses

In these paintings I was focusing on the different styles of windows but I also like capturing the chimney silhouette in the sky. I feel that I need to work more on the sky element in the right painting to build up interesting layers as the sky isn’t just a bold colour.

More window explorations

These paintings aren’t yet finished but I am enjoying the simplicity of these paintings yet they still manage to capture the brushstrokes which I like. I am excited to see the final outcome of these paintings.

Window explorations near Norman Street

I feel that these paintings are really effective due to the layering and obvious brushstrokes which give them quite an old, worn appearance. I love the sketchiness of them and how they have developed from the previous block colour paintings.

Pink exploration

In this painting, I decided to use pinks for the colour scheme to try and give my paintings the same effect that they had last term. I like the fact that I have combined the block colour look with the sketchy obvious brushstrokes as this created a nice contrast.

DMU building colour exploration

In this painting, I used a blue colour palette and again combined the block colour effect with sketchy brushstroke areas as I feel it works well. I love how the different tones of blue work together.

Unfinished window explorations

Here are some more window explorations I have started to do in which I am trying to use more experimental colour schemes. I am looking forward to seeing how these come together.

Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting – Small scale cardboard paintings

I decided to do some small scale paintings on cardboard of the windows I sketched last week to make the differences more noticeable. I found this to be an easy process but I needed to apply several layers of paint to make them opaque enough.

Cardboard painting 1
Cardboard painting 2
Cardboard painting 3
Cardboard painting 4

View of work on my wall

Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting – More primary research, sketchbook work

During week 2 of my primary research, I walked up to the Leicester City ground and went down different streets capturing the differences of windows, some due to natural wear and others due to people’s specific preferences after they bought their houses. I did these quite simplistic and made a note of the colours so I could add paint to some of the drawings later. I also painted on the drawings from last week, both the photocopy of the detailed drawings and the more simplistic versions I left in my sketchbook.

Detailed view from my bedroom window 1
Simplistic view from my bedroom window 1
Detailed view from my bedroom window 2
Simplistic view from my bedroom window 2

I like both versions of these paintings for different reasons. I feel that the brickwork elements are a key factor in the historical aspects of Leicester architecture but I do see how the use of brickwork in this manner can be too overwhelming. I need to add more layers onto the first simplistic version but I like where it’s headed.

Sketchbook work:

Sketchbook page 1 – Brazil Street
Sketchbook page 2 –
Sketchbook page 3 –
Painting Studio Practice Term 2

Painting – Primary Visual Research and Tutorial

I started to do some sketches of architecture in Leicester beginning with the view from my bedroom as that gave some interesting angles and compositions which I liked. I like the idea of capturing different segments of buildings in areas rather than just one building as this could show how old architecture has collided with new architecture.

Drawing my bedroom view

This is the first drawing I did capturing my next door neighbours house. I added a lot of detailed brick work which took a while but I feel it really paid off. I believe this piece will look great when I add some colour and I’d like to explore different ways of portraying brickwork as there could be simplistic ways that are still very effective.

View from my bedroom window

This is another sketch of the view from my bedroom window from another angle so that I captured a view of the house I live in as well as houses in the background. I like the zoomed in area of the house as this could allow me to add a lot of detail when it comes to adding paints.

I would like to continue sketching views from my bedroom window as well as physically going to the different areas of Leicester and capturing different architecture. This will be easy since I have lived in Leicester my whole life and am very used to the area.


I had a tutorial with my tutors which allowed me to see that I was producing drawings that weren’t fully representing my full potential. It was made clear that the addition of detailed brickwork in the above drawings were ‘interesting motifs’ but took away from the drawing and the place as one of my tutors said I was drawing what I thought I saw rather than what I was actually seeing. I also realised that I need to start motivating myself to produce more work at a higher quality to allow myself to gain the best result at the end of this project.

After my tutorial, I went back to the drawings I had done and photocopied them so that I could explore the brickwork separately. I then erased the brickwork from the sketchbook drawings to leave a simplified drawing that I am planning on adding colour to next week. I feel that doing the simplified paintings in the sketchbook as well as working on the more detailed photocopies will allow me to see which is more effective and how I could proceed, possibly by combining elements of the two?

Simplified drawing 1
Simplified drawing 2

These were the simplified drawings which I am going to continue to work on. I am also going to work on the photocopies and do more drawings of Leicester from real life. I intend on creating some paintings in the upcoming weeks exploring how different places in Leicester have different features such as windows and doorways, even the quality of the bricks and how these differences can be quite subtle yet still make a big comparison.