Contextual Research CPS Painting Research Studio Practice Term 2

Contextual post – Laurence Stephen Lowry, film on Netflix

Laurence Stephen Lowry also known as L.S Lowry or Laurie, was a British artist who did paintings and drawings based around his hometown, Pendlebury in Lancashire and surrounding areas of Salford. He is famous for his industrial landscape paintings which feature human figures resembling “matchstick men” but a lack of lighting, weather conditions and shadows of the figure led to a lot of bad reviews from critics about his work.

I have decided to research L.S Lowry as I find his style of painting architecture very captivating yet also very simplistic, almost like a children’s book illustration. The limited uses of colour is fitting since he lived in an area which was very industrial so I like his realistic portrayal of the place he was capturing.

Netflix film: Mrs Lowry & Son:

This film focusing on Lowry and his relationship with his mother and painting came out in 2019 and had a duration of 1 hour and 31 minutes. It was directed by Adrian Noble and its description was “British painter L.S Lowry tries to pursue his passion for art while living with a bitter and bedridden mother who takes a dim view of his vocation”.

The film focused a lot on how Lowry’s mother resented him and his father for the way her life ended up since his father got into a lot of debt and they both weren’t successful businessmen. It was clear that this affected Lowry a lot as it was his ambition to pay off his fathers debts and make his mother happy.

In the film it was clear that Lowry’s mother had an issue with his painting and wanted him to be a successful businessman rather than following in his fathers footsteps and becoming a debt collector. Many times she refers to Lowry’s art as a “hobby” and says that he doesn’t have artistic attributes and so will never be an artist, which he disagreed with since he went to art school for several years.

The film mentioned an art critic’s (Mr Denby) opinion of Lowry’s painting ‘Coming from the Mill’ which caused further vexation with his mother. The painting was made in 1930 and is oil on canvas with dimensions of 42cm by 52cm. It features an industrial scene with many figures walking in different directions presumably after work from the title of the piece.

From the paper, his mother read the critics opinion which was; “An ugly painting. The painting by Mr L.S Lowry, ‘Coming from the Mill’, is confusing and appears to have been painted by a child. The figures, if we may call them figures, are nothing but smudges, ridiculous marionettes suspended in a squalid industrial scene. If this is Mr Lowry’s vision of the Lancashire landscape and its people, I feel very sorry for him. It is a most unsatisfactory picture, and an insult to the people of Lancashire.”

Throughout the film, there was a lot of things Lowry says that explains his reasons for painting, processes used and insight into how it makes him feel. I found this interesting as it allowed me to see his viewpoint and it was captured with a lot of emotion.

This is a painting which Lowry’s mother’s neighbour liked which influenced her to like it too. This painting was created for his mother as a “gift of the past” which he painted from his memory of being on the beach in Lytham with his mother when he was 7 years old. His mother liked ir so much that she paid 2 shillings for his work to be entered into an amateur artist competition but it didn’t win. However, Lowry also entered the painting ‘Coming from the Mill’ without telling his mother which someone wanted to buy for £20, this caused his mum to have a bad reaction as her favourite wasn’t chosen. Then she told Lowry that she didn’t like any of his paintings which made him destroy a lot of his work. Then he revealed that every painting he ever did was for his mother. everything he does is for her, for love.

His mother died in 1939 and later that year he got his first exhibition in London. He was offered several British honours including an OBE and a knighthood but turned them all down saying “there seemed little point…once mother was dead.”

Quotations from the film:

“I paint what I see, I paint how I feel, I am a man who paints. Nothing more, nothing less. Every picture I paint begins the same way – begins the same colour (white) Flake White.”

“I paint to fill in the time, I paint for something to do. I’m not fit for anything else. Night after night, I sit up here in the attic. Nothing in the house stirs. The smell of turpentine, the hiss of the gas jet, Outside, one solitary star watches over me. This is my world. I’m safe here. Alone. I paint, and I paint. A smudge here with my finger, a stroke of the brush there. I see light and atmosphere in the bleakest of places, a railway arch, a stone viaduct. There’s a beauty in everything. A man just has to open his eyes and look. Observe everything. Life. What does that make me? Am I an artist? What would you call yourself Laurie?”

I found these quotes really interesting and it related to my project through capturing the atmosphere of Leicester through studies of the buildings, though I haven’t considered incorporating figures into my work this is something I could try out at some point.

Overall, the film was very interesting and featured a lot of information and quotes which are really helpful in allowing me to identify some of the ways I can approach my studies of Leicester.

Information I got from video above:

In 1938 Daisy jewel persuaded the director of the LeFevre Gallery in new Bond Street London to show some of Lowry’s paintings. In early 1939, attracting many reviews in the national press his mother was not impressed but the Tate Gallery was, and they bought dwellings Ordsall Lane for £15.00 but they didn’t display for 20 years which Lowry took personally believing that they didn’t really want the painting. His mother died in October 1939 and Lowry painted the bedroom in Pendlebury in memory of the long hours he spent looking after her. After she died, Lowry lost all interest and continuing to paint was his only Salvation. Lowry was 52 when his mother died and for the next nine years he stayed in the house alone. He had no wife, but he did adopt several young female companions who he mentored and paid to go through art college. He referred to them collectively as Anne. A young girl called Carol Lowry of no relation was one of these girls. She had written to him in 1957 saying she had an interest in art and since she shared a surname would he offer her advice. He took her to gallery’s and paid for her education throughout college. Years later Carrol said he always behaved immaculately; he was always invariably extremely circumspect in his behaviour towards her. In the 1940s, he became an official war artist as he drew the ruined shelves of bombed outbuildings and was strongly affected emotionally. These paintings sold for as much as £60.00 each. You could see from his pictures how his own loneliness is reflected in his paintings but by 1948 he was earning good money as a painter, so he moved to a new house to the more affluent village of Mottram in Longdendale near Manchester. He began collecting works by other artists that he admired particularly the pre-Raphaelite painter daunting Gabriel Rossetti. In 1951 he confessed to a psychiatrist friend how he would stare for hours at empty houses with empty windows standing in isolation on derelict streets. He saw in those desolate buildings an image of himself.

How Lowry’s work inspires me in my project:

As Lowry focused on painting scenes where he lives, I felt I could easily relate to him as my project is focused on Leicester, the place I have grew up in and lived my whole life. I find his processes and colour palettes very simple yet effective and they easily demonstrate his difficult relationship with his mother, I can see how he felt isolated and alone through his paintings with a lot of the figures not interacting with each other. I find the ways he paints buildings very effective as they have a lot of detail yet are simple at the same time, reminding me of children’s book illustrations or small cartoons. This combination of realism and playful characters is something I have been exploring in my work as I feel it can really bring out the qualities of a place, even subtlety. I find the ways people reacted to his art over the years very interesting in a sense that I feel sorry for him with his passion being looked down on by strangers and even those close to him. I feel that I have been judged by people in the past for taking an artistic education rather than academic but I can’t comprehend what it must have been like back in Lowry’s experiences. I feel that his work truly captures what industrialism was like and I am going to continue to use Lowry’s work as inspiration throughout my project.

Websites used:

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 10 – Research and developments

From my tutorial with Tom last week, I did research into the artists who were mentioned to try and develop my work.

Anselm Kiefer:

Anselm Kiefer is a German artist who uses a range of materials in his work including clay, ash and straw. He often focuses on making work that represents key historical themes. He works at a large scale which sometimes could be viewed as confrontational to represent the darkness of his culture. His work also includes signatures of key historical figures within the pieces to link things together which I find very interesting.

Painting Term 1

Painting week 9 – Continuing developing ideas

Mixed media collage
full view of collage

I made a long collage incorporating a range of materials including photocopies of drawings, card, paints, inks, oil pastels, tissue papers, pens and a range of patterned papers to build up an abstract experimental collage. I really like the ways that certain colours work together and how there is flow in the piece in a range of ways. I feel that the use of line is very strong and would like to do another piece which is less random and is more a view of a complete landscape with differebt perspectives like in chinese scrolls as I feel that this would be really effective.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 8 – Crit

Full view of studio

During week 8 I was supposed to have my crit but due to technological difficulties on Blackboard Collaborate, I wasn’t able to attend the meeting for very long. This was a shame and so I made sure to talk to my tutor Tom so I knew if I was heading in the right direction. During my conversation with Tom, he said that he felt I was heading in the right direction and gave me some artists that he felt would be relevant to my work which I appreciated. He said that he liked my small board paintings and wanted to see me work outside of the typical A paper sizes as he felt this could be limiting for me.

I am going to take his points on board and make sure that I get it all updated in the correct manner.

My Statement draft:

For my project I am focusing on architecture in rural areas and exploring the ways that different uses of colour, detail and textures can affect imagery. I have taken different approaches to this project by working on a range of surfaces including paper, mdf board, card, and cardboard. I have also worked at a range of scales to see how this changes the outcome. I have enjoyed looking at a range of artists, both contemporary and traditional whose approaches to the way they work with materials has led me to make many informed decisions. Frank Auerbach’s work was helpful in allowing me to expand my uses of abstract colour and work that is based on uses of line. Amy Shackleton is a contemporary artist who focuses on the combinations of nature and architecture which has a lot of detail in areas yet is simple in other areas which I feel I have incorporated into my work in interesting ways. I particularly enjoyed the collage workshop as this allowed me to be abstract in a simplistic way which seemed more advanced than it was. I decided to make more collages going forward to generate ideas and approach collage using different techniques. I felt that my board paintings were becoming too limiting as I was being very precise working at such a small scale and so making larger paintings allowed me to make use of my studio space and have more freedom. I especially like the uses of mark makings and textures on the larger pieces and this is something I would like to continue in this project. I have worked in both an A4 sketchbook and an A3 sketchbook during this project to explore scale and how much detail is necessary in my work. A key aspect of my project is using colours other than blue for the sky which I feel is important as most people just associate blue with the sky even though there is a lot more to that if you take the time to look. I would like to combine some collages with painting to take it further and show how I have experimented to reach a conclusion. I feel like I need to get the right balance between detailed areas and simplicity and would like to continue my uses of subtleties such as washes of colour in areas that add contrast. 

Painting Term 1

Painting week 7 – Cardboard paintings and collages

In week 7, I decided to work onto cardboard to expand the materials I was working with and to see if I could incorporate more textures into my work as there are lots of textures in different environments and I feel that this is what my work is lacking. I also did more collages using the left over paper from the workshop in week 2 as I really liked the outcome of that collage and it could help me to try out more collage techniques such as ripping instead of cutting and different scales.

Cardboard puzzle painting:

Card board section painting

I took cardboard of different sizes that weren’t completely straight and applied a base coat of white onto them. I then started to paint a whole painting onto them so each section fitted together nicely. I took inspiration from the wood paintings that I did in the second workshop as they looked like they fitted together in areas even though they weren’t of the same perspective as each other. I liked the uses of different colours of each wooden board so I did the same for these cardboard paintings but made sure each one flowed into the next by having a small amount of the other colours from surrounding panels onto them. I added lots of detail to certain areas but then made other areas simple as this is an element I really enjoyed in my other work and I wanted to show a connection to help me create a body of work which I have clearly made informed decisions about. I feel the overall pieces are effective individually and work really well as a collection.

Progress picture

This is a photo of the piece as I was over half way done. I didn’t take a photo at the beginning unfortunately, but I feel that this demonstrates my thought process and how I was making sure to do pieces of card board that fitted together in a precise order to ensure they flowed together nicely. I made the top piece purely sky as I felt this would create a nice contrast and bring the piece together. I combined the different colours of the sky on this piece to again show the flow.

Zoom in 1

I decided to make the end piece mostly black and white to provide a contrast and add an area of simplicity to contrast with the brickwork that was added. Though the bricks aren’t uniform and perfect, I feel that this portrays how materials in environments, particularly man made ones can become worn over time.

Zoom in 2

This is a zoomed in image of the card board puzzle piece to show the details and the textures of the pieces. Though these took me a quite long time, I did paint them standing up using Ruth’s feedback from my tutorial which allowed some of my brushstrokes to be quite loose and add a sketchy element that I really liked.

Zoom in 3

I like the blue piece a lot as it is quite eye catching but I also like the bottom piece which is a lot more realistic. The brickwork on this piece took a long time but I feel it paid off and it isn’t too overpowering, more subtle which I like.

Zoom in 4

I felt this side of the piece were more abstract than the others and I didn’t add a lot of detail which I feel paid off, though maybe adding a bit more detail would help with the flow of things. I feel that I relied too much on black lines which I am going to try and avoid in the future as this could be seen as too overpowering.

Zoom in 5

The red section is definitely the most sketchy but I feel that this adds another texture which works well overall. I like that the texture of the cardboard shows through the paint as this adds another element that is very effective. I like that I added a bright yellow section and a pastel colour section as the different tones/colour palettes combine nicely so the work is abstract yet still quite realistic. Deciding not to add blue for the sky was an important decision as I am trying to capture the idea that the sky isn’t always blue.


I decided to do more collages like the one I made in the first workshop as I feel that this piece was really interesting and allowed me to create layers and uses of line that were effective. I wanted to explore making smaller collages to see the way that scale could affect the process or the final outcome. I also wanted to use different techniques in these collages than I did for the first collage, such as ripping the papers instead of cutting them and using 3d effects possibly to experiment fully.

Collage 1

This is the first collage I did which is approximately A3 sized. I used the same technique as my first collage by cutting the coloured paper but I made it a lot more simple. I like the way the colours and shapes work together to create really interesting pieces.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 6 – Sketchbook work and preparation

During enhancement week I took the opportunity to continue to build up work in my sketchbook with different compositions and proportions. I tried to capture different effects by using a range of colour combinations and uses of line/detail. I tried to make some more simple than others to see the ways that it could impact on my work, which also related to the artists I researched at the beginning of this project. I also decided to start working onto an A3 sketchbook rather than the A4 I had been working on to push my work and not limit myself.

Pink sketchbook painting

This is one of the first paintings I did in my sketchbook during week 2 which I decided to build up on more using a pink colour palette. I especially like the atmosphere of this piece and the way that it is still a captivating image with a pink sky rather than a blue sky. I again like how areas of the painting are really detailed while the other areas are fairly simple as it creates a nice balance.

Simple sketchbook painting

This is another painting I did but I decided to go for a more realistic colour scheme to see the ways that it impacted on the overall effect. I feel that I could work onto the sand area more to make it more realistic but I like the simplicity of this painting.

Bendy road painting

I decided to work on another previous painting to build up areas and add important details to make the painting look more effective overall. I like the way the yellow lines on the road contrast with the greys. This painting is simple yet intricate which I really like.

Beach painting

This is one of my favourite paintings as it has a lot of detail and is very realistic. I like the fact that the blue sky isn’t fully blue, it has a wash of another colour over the top which adds more to the painting. The individual brick marks took a long time but I feel they really work with the overall composition. I would like to make more paintings like this but on a larger scale so that I don’t limit myself. Doing it on a larger scale will also require less precision so I can be free with my application.

Boat view painting

This is a painting I did of boats in the sea with a view of buildings in the background. I really like the way the sea has a lot of movement and texture compared to the other areas. I decided to make this painting quite realistic as I didn’t want to push myself too soon. Again this painting is quite simple in most areas yet looks more complex overall when all the elements combine.

Town painting

This is a painting I did of a view of a town in St Ives which has a lot of detail and weird angles of buildings. I like that I did this painting quite detailed in comparison to the other paintings as this was important to do to generate a range of work. I like that the blue sky isn’t a typical blue and the fact that it has other tones in it to build up layers which I really enjoy in my project.

I also got told that I will be having a crit on the 27th November which I need to display my work in my studio and take a maximum of 8 pictures and make them into a blog post to do an online crit with three students from the class. I also have to write a 400 word statement about my work to give people an insight into my practise.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 5 – Large Scale Developments and Artist talk

From the feedback I got from Ruth last week, I decided to make some large scale pieces where I was free to use my whole body and didn’t limit myself by sketching things out in pen first but instead used the paint itself to plot in what I wanted to do and get my proportions right. I feel like it will be a good idea to explore both black and white pieces as well as colour to inform my work and make sure it is as interesting as possible. This will also help me create a body of work and show how I have developed my ideas by making informed decisions.

Large scale bubble wrap piece

This is a large scale bubble wrap painting I did to explore incorporating more textures into my work. I began with an A1 piece of paper which I decided to add sections of various sized bubble wrap to. I then used a palette knife and applied paint over the top. I like that I was quite free with the way I applied the paint and how it picked up on the textures of the bubble wrap. I wish I would have added more detail to certain areas but I feel the limited colour palette worked quite well.

Palette knife large painting

This is another painting I did using a purple and pink colour palette as an experiment with palette knives and a drippy background. I liked using bright colours for this piece as I feel that it relates nicely to the artists I researched during the first couple of weeks of this project. Using palette knives in different ways allowed me to create interesting layers and textures which was effective.

Oil pastel painting

This is another painting I did where I randomly applied autumnal colours of paint onto a sheet of A1 paper and then used white oil pastel over the top. I like how simple this one is and how the white lines are only clear in some areas as it means people take more time to look at it. I feel that I could continue to work into this with layers to create more contrast and areas of interest.

I also looked at my board paintings collectively and took photos of them in different arrangements where each painting linked to others in some way. I felt that the paintings looked really good together and gave me ideas of how to develop my work.

Arrangement of board paintings

This is one of the arrangements I came up with. I especially like the ways that some of the paintings seem to link up in terms of imagery slotting together at the right points as it makes it seem like it is a complex puzzle of the same area. I also like how certain paintings relate in terms of colour and technique. This also makes me consider how the different paintings are of different perspectives/angles of the same place and how they work together.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 4 – Studio work

During Week 4 of Painting, I continued to work onto the boards from last week, making sure to consider uses of colour and line to build up interesting pieces. I enjoyed working onto boards of different sizes and experimenting with the amounts of detail I added to see how the images would be affected. I did find that I was often being too critical and trying to make things perfect. To improve on this, I used a palette knife to create some small pieces to allow me to loosen up and stop being so precise.

Green board painting

This is a small rectangular board painting I did where I explored using the colour green as a main colour palette. I really like how abstract this painting is yet it still maintains a sense of realism. Adding details in specific areas created a nice contrast that I would like to explore further.

Green and grey board painting

This is a painting with a similar colour palette as the one above. I enjoyed making this painting very simple and feel that the colours work well together. I decided to not add every single detail of the buildings which is something I may consider doing more of in future. Overall I enjoy this painting but I would like to experiment with more adventurous colour palettes.

Square palette knife board painting

This is a small painting I did using a palette knife to explore texture and applying the paint in different ways to get effects that could allow me to develop my project. I like the colours I used and how it is quite messy. I would like to use palette knives on a larger scale piece to see what effect this has.

A4 purple board painting

This is a larger painting I did using a purple colour palette. Again, I like how simple this piece is and how there is a lot of contrast. I enjoy adding washes of transparent paint to areas to build up layered images that I liked in my sketchbook work. I would like to take my uses of colour further with more contrast used but I feel this painting is quite effective.

Large colourful board painting

This is another large painting I did onto board using a pink focused colour palette. I especially like how intricate this painting is and the way that each element works individually and together to create a striking piece. Using purple for the sky is interesting and makes me realise that often we don’t have to see the sky as blue, the fact that the sky changes colour during night, sunrise, sunset and due to the weather. I want to explore this further in my project.

Orange building section board painting

This is another small painting I did using an orange/brown focused colour palette. I like that I wasn’t particular with the way I applied the paint and wasn’t worried about everything being perfectly straight as this adds an interesting effect to the piece and makes it more relatable. I would add more white tones to the windows to make them more realistic and add brick pattern but I don’t want to overwork the piece.

Rectangular palette knife board painting

This is another small painting I did using the palette knives. I love how simplistic this painting is and the way that it focuses a lot on colour and texture rather than detail. I believe the colours used work really well and relate to other paintings I’ve done, creating a nice flow.

Altered painting from last week

When looking at this painting from last week, I realised that the blue sky didn’t look right with the colours used in the buildings and so I changed it to orange as I felt it looked better. It also helped to relate this piece to other paintings

Studio image

This is my studio space which I decided to add photocopies of my sketchbook work to show where I currently am with the project and to demonstrate my thoughts and work processes.


Having a discussion with Ruth allowed me to pick out areas I was enjoying in my work including the elements of detailed areas, the layering of colours and washes that added subtle areas contrasting with the completely abstract areas. I found that I was being too precise by focusing on small paintings and using pen to sketch out my paintings first and so I was encouraged to make my space more painterly by standing up to paint rather than sitting at the desk and limiting myself.

I rearranged the studio to allow me to have more space to work and decided to make more collages using the left over paper from the first workshop to allow me to generate more ideas. I want to create some large scale pieces so that I can easily build up a body of work that shows how I have progressed with ideas and overcome issues. I am thoroughly enjoying this project so far even though I am quite stressed with the coronavirus situation and lockdown possibility at the moment.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 3 – Workshop 2

During week 3 of Painting we did another workshop involving painting onto boards for quick explorations of our subject matter. We had a range of boards to work with which I felt was interesting to explore the ways that size could affect how much detail was added. I tried to do some quite realistic coloured pieces as well as some abstract pieces inspired by the artists I have been looking at. I only managed to get a couple of the paintings finished and so I took some boards home to work on for next week.

Board Painting

This is the first painting I did on a small square piece of board which features a section of an environment filled with buildings. This painting took a while due to the small details I decided to add but I like how abstract this is even though I used realistic colours.

Board Painting

This is another painting I did on a larger square piece of board of another composition of the same environment. I added some small brickwork which I feel is a captivating element. This painting is quite messy in areas which I will go back and fix at some point but I am really enjoying the process of painting onto board.

Board painting

This is the third painting I did onto a thin rectangular piece of board. I really like how the colours of this piece work together and the small details really add to the painting as I feel the rest of it is quite simple.

I will continue to make these paintings onto board pieces that I took home with me as I feel that they are very effective. I like the ways the different paint colours contrast yet work well together.

Painting Term 1

Painting Week 2 – Research and Collage Workshop

As my project is based on Cornwall which I went to a few weeks before uni started, I have a lot of imagery to work with including beach views and seaside scenery which I feel will allow me to explore my artistic practice and will allow me to go down many routes. I am focusing on this for my subject matter as lockdown was a very upsetting time and going to Cornwall was a happy time.

Cornwall photos:

During week 2 of Painting, I used the painted sheets of A1 paper I prepared last week to create a collage onto the large sheet of Fabriano paper in my studio space. I used ripping techniques, cutting techniques and layering techniques to create an interesting environment based on photos on my phone of rural areas. Filling the whole sheet was a struggle but I enjoyed the process very much. I still have a small amount of collage to complete which I am hoping to do next week but this shouldn’t take too much time.

Zoom in of Collage
Collage detail
Full view collage
Zoom in of Collage

I also continued research by doing some sketches of environments in my sketchbook from real life and from photographs to build up a range of compositions and styles to work from. I had a lot of photographs of rural areas from when I went to Cornwall a few weeks ago and I feel these are interesting enough to start to build up a variety of work to take in different directions. I did some of the sketches onto different painted backgrounds in the sketchbook and started to apply paint to some of them in different styles to inspire me.

Sketch onto coloured background

This is a quick sketch I did onto a pink coloured background I painted. I am hoping to make this page quite abstract to relate my work to the artists I have researched and build up a project with many opportunities.

Painted street sketchbook page

This is a painting I have started in my sketchbook in which I built up layers of paint as I wanted it to be quite transparent. I like how sketchy the pencil lines are beneath the paint and on top. This is quite a realistic piece.

Painted Sketchbook page

This is another painting in my sketchbook which features a beach view I saw in Cornwall. I found the small details very time consuming but it paid off overall.