This is something I wrote about a few years ago, but I came across it when browsing through the archived blog posts from my old site. I thought it was worth sharing again, so I kept the original post intact, adding more things on at the end. It has been over four years since I wrote this:  I was studying at Duncan of Jordanstone, and still concentrating on painting. How time flies. can’t believe it!

April 13, 2010

I have been working on a new painting. It is a portrait of Paul. Derek, my tutor, gave me advice about how to make paintings look more like old masters work. The sitter is to be posed: preferably in a formal stance, or just as a subtle reference to an old master painting that I admire. I have been thinking about making a tribute to Vermeers Girl reading a Letter by an Open Window. I love Richters tribute to it. In fact, there have been several adaptations, but here are my favourites:


Johannes Vermeer, Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window, 1657


Gerhard Richter, Lesende, 1994


Tom Hunter, Woman reading a Possession Order, 1997

I wrote about the two paintings here in my contextual review at uni- mine was about the use of photography in paintings (Hopefully, that is what my dissertation will be about, too).  Anyway, referencing a famous pose such as this, or perhaps even a gesture with the hands, as in Van Eycks Arnolfini portrait, would be a powerful idea to bring forward, I think.

13th October, 2014

I didn’t end up writing about the use of photography in paintings for my dissertation: writing that essay was enough for me! I began to change direction after that, and start thinking less about representational painting and more about drawn/printed pattern. Quite a segue!

A few years after writing that essay (which went okay),  boooooom published an article featuring all kinds of ‘remakes’ of famous paintings, in the form of photography. So here are two more. I can’t believe the second one is a photograph!

Johann Watzke, Girl reading a letter by an open window,  2011

Wanda Martin, Girl reading a letter by an open window, 2011

The girl reads a secret love letter, as a symbolic basket of tempting fruit spills over on her bed and the window of her home is flung wide open. It has been summarised as “a woman’s longing to extend her domestic sphere” beyond the constraints of her home and society. (Vermeer, 1632–1675 (2000), Norbert Schneider)

Do you think that these tributes and remakes are successful? Which ones, and why?

25 June 2014

I have been looking at circular forms recently.

An enjoyable read about circles is The Discovery of The Circle by Bruno Munari, a seemingly out of print book now (I used the Duncan of Jordanstone library). I believe you can download it for kindle, though.

I admire the infinite, cyclical, and symbolic nature of circles, and how they are found everywhere in nature. From water and tree rings to atomic structures, to planets and gravitational forces… there is a lot to look at and think about.

Anyway, I had a quick visual search looking at circles, to put together some more inspiration…

Hole, Found Pebbles, Andy Goldsworthy

Untitled, Phenakistascope, c. 1833.

The Circle of Life, 3D Print, Mary Hale Visser

Mandala, Kevin Bewersdorf, Animated .gif

Human Eyeball Extreme Close Up, Suren Manvelyan

The Madonna of the Lilies, 1899, William-Adolphe Bouguereau

La Plume, Printed Poster, Alphonse Mucha

‘The Birth of Hercules’, painting on wooden birth bowl, from the circle of Giovanni Battista Franco, Florence, Italy, 1530-40.

Made in Paradise, Fashion, Ruven Afanador / Vogue Germany

4 June 2014

Using random destruction in art is no new concept, but applied to the coding of digital files, it can create fascinating results. The practice of messing with digital files in this way is known broadly as Glitch Art, and it has been around for quite a while, but has obviously surged in popularity in our current computer-rich age. I have attempted to get it to work before, but I was getting unreadable files, and didn’t have Notebook++ installed (this helps). But I managed! I present my first successful glitchy experiments:

glitch2 copy
GLITCH1 copy
deco1 copy

Want to try this? Simply open the image you want to manipulate in notepad and add/delete lines of the code. Don’t delete too much or it will get too corrupt and won’t be read as an image any more. Save, then open as an image again, and you should have a strangely fragmented, coloured, or collaged version of the original image. You can do it with audio and video recordings, too the same method pretty much applies. This video might be useful to anyone wanting to start using this technique.



ball (Small)
po (Small)

This one was made by inserting the words from a poem piece I have made, at random intervals throughout the code. There were only ten words added, and it changed it a great amount. I think I might play with this more, and check what the original, poem, and glitch piece all look like together, as a kind of triptych.

I love playing with digital- and I like that these images all started out as hand drawn or painted and ended up changed in a way that you just couldn’t have done without technology. It’s a subversion of the digital code, of course, which is very interesting conceptually. If you want to check out some more random glitch pictures, here is a nice Flickr image pool.

I have been having a lot of fun playing about with my new favourite printing technique, the watercolour monoprint. As I mentioned in my last post, I started with a ficitional landscape, which I then screen printed over in a rich black. I don’t like it too much, but might explore that method again with another drawing/idea. I then made some magical sphere blobs of swirling colour.

Watercolour Monoprint #1

I have been very preoccupied with circles recently. I am researching a whole new project. As these are visual experiments though, I wanted to try masking the plate to get a lovely crisp edge. Here is my first shot using vinyl to mask over my painting on the plate. I drew the fine cracked lines/circle on illustrator and put it through the Vinyl Cutter. I then made the green doily ones after I had the process down.

cracked1 (Small)
cracked2 (Small)
cracked3 (Small)
cracked4 (Small)

deco1 (Small)
deco2 (Small)
deco3 (Small)
deco4 (Small)

I took 4 prints of each- you can see how they have faded quite a lot, so I am going to experiment more, with different materials. More to come! : )

PS. Like the new website look? Had a little spring clean.

New ideas, thoughts, work… it takes time, for me at least. Can’t be forced… although targets are always good! I have been working with some of my friends towards a collaborative project- it is still in the tentative beginning stages, but just meeting up regularly and talking about our practice has been really beneficial.

Of course, working in the print studio is also a great motivator! I was introduced to Watercolour Monoprinting recently, which will be available soon as a wee course at DCA, if you want to learn how. It is so easy: essentially just painting with watercolour on a perspex plate, allowing to dry, then printing normally through a press with damp paper, reactivating the watercolour paint. You can take many prints from the same plate, too, which is different from regular monoprinting. They do get gradually softer, but it is a lovely effect to play with. It’s quite suited to my painting style, too.

Okay, here are some things I have been doing with watercolour monoprinting! Magical Spheres and Fictional Landscapes…   

Watercolour Monoprint #1
Watercolour Monoprint #2
Watercolour Monoprint with Screen Print

I’ve been doing a bit of research lately around my new project. This is the first time I’ve seriously researched outside of an institution, and it’s pretty tough not having the resources you take for granted whilst studying at at University. Namely the lovely vast library of specialist books (art related and everything else) and journals. I thought using the internet would be just as good, if not easier (less hassle leafing through physical books), but it turns out it is simply a distraction!

Thankfully, I still have access to fantastic resources at DCA. :D I came across an article in Art Review that talks about some topics related to what I’ve been thinking about.

 Things in fantasy often possess more qualities than things in real life. They operate more symbolically, or they can do impossible things: rings that make you disappear, for example.

All its objects are treated like fetishes: swords, books, thrones, cloaks and so on. … Exaggerated through sounds, light, cinematography and post production, its props acquire a sense of more-than-realness.

They feel more real than any real medieval sword propped up in a stately home or suit of armour in a museum. They are visually and sonically coaxed into a state of hyperreality.

-Sam Jacobs, Game of Thones, Art Review Summer 2013, issue 69, p.58.

Just something I’ve been thinking about with regards to my animations. And, on a seemingly unrelated note, here is a cool cabbage gif:

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