Thoughts: Project Direction: NATURE

As I work through my project, I am becoming more interested in creating work that has a connection to nature, or that contains nature within it. Initially, I started with the influence of John Piper and after researching his work discovered a connection to place that he was trying to achieve. He wanted to capture the personality of the rocks and the feeling of the grass etc. After working under his influence, I have experimented with portraying a connection to place, as he has, which has led me to collecting organic material from the place and using it in my art work, drawing with it and painting onto it.

I now feel that my project is moving towards the concept of a connection to nature and using nature itself as a surface to work on as well as a medium to mix into paint etc. I feel that incorporating nature into landscape paintings makes them more significant because you can see the organic material that you would usually find within the landscape on the board or the canvas. You can imagine being amongst the leaves and twigs in the landscape and this could mean the individual viewing the work has a more sensory and immersive experience of the painting.


An Introduction to Painting Performance: Lecture by Andre Stitt

This purpose of this lecture was to give us an insight and introduction into painting performance and performance art as a whole.

Paul Hurley – “I fall to pieces” – Experimentica, Cardiff Nov 2014


Human form with some sort of substance on the body. Creating a context. Many contain a narrative. The material is paint. What do all these signifiers mean? Interested in abstract movement. We are drawn to what happens to the material on the body. Personal experience of grief. There is sound. Many things are being put togetether in a live situation that we would not get from looking at a photograph. The music playing Is Patsy Klein. Is it a strange abstract dance? It is not rehersed and it is taking place in actual time. His eyes are closed, so he cannot see the viewers. Inspired by the loss of a friend, past lossed and future ones.

In this module, we are looking at a history of engagement between material substances and the human body. A kind of painting performance.

What is painting?

The practice of applying colour to a surface. The use of this activity in combination with drawing. Used to represent, document and express.

Painting as evidence – a document of the performance of painting

Painting as Process – event, performance

The focus shifts from the self contained and autonomous art towards emphasis on process and motion in art, the inclusion of the environment, as part of the artwork. Thought becomes form.

Post WWII – Painting becomes action

Jackson Pollock – 1912 -1955


When we look at pollock, we are drawn to the act of painting. The press document with photographs and reviews. A shift from painting as an object to a spectacle. Before, paintings had tended to conceal the fact that their works were the result of process. In the 1940s and 50s, it shifted to portraying a piece that embodies themselves into the work. It becomes about process more than the outcome.

Performance Art – An action, designed and executed by an artist that takes place in time and space with or without an audience.

Kristine Stiles, American academic – “Artists who began to use their bodies as material of visual art repreatedly expressed their goal to bring art practice closer to life”. “Process over product” – Experiencing the work immmediately in the moment, presenting the work in real time. “They sought to reengage the artist and spectator by reconnecting art to social and political events”

Ideas came out of action art and performance – Fluxus, Dadaism, Futurism etc.

The Gutai Group – Japan 1955

Holes 1954 by Shozo Shimamoto born 1928 PP5 PP6

Expressed aim: To create a new type of painting.

Saburo Murakami – Work being painted by throwing a ball dipped in paint – Draws out attention to process – using paint as a material.

Shozo Shimamoto – Throw painting 1958


Kazou Shiraga – Feet painting 1956


Using their body, testing the limits of the body. Painting is all about test and control. Here the body is being tested and controlled.

Georges Mathieu – demonstrating action painting in a department store. It is interesting to think about the locations that action art can be made. What does it mean to make art outside the gallery? Different spaces change the context.


William Green – deomonstrating “action” painting at the royal college of art in 1958.

There was a humour around gestural painting, William Green, A british man had only 5 minutes of fame. His work was documented by the media. Challenging what art can be and what it means to make art.

Tony Hancock – The rebel 1961 – almost becomes a parody in the press. Mocking what action painting represents. Tony Hancock was a major comedian at this time. Action painting under ridicule but becoming entertainment for others to look at those “silly artists”.


Afrons Schilling – Paris 1961 – What is original in performance art? Has it all been done? What can a material on the body actually mean? Nowadays. Damien hirst has done similar. These early works had as much to do with style as it does with embodiment.

Yves Klein – Anthropometry 1960 – Living Paintbrushes

PP11 PP12 PP13

This performance could be looked at as containing the objectification of naked women. It involved a male participant controlling the body of a naked woman and using her as a paint brush to paint with Klein Blue paint. Here, paint possibly has a relationship with bodily fluids.

Lee Wen – Anthropometry revision 2008

PP14 PP15 PP16

He is talking about skin, notion of paint as skin. Links between chinese and british, colonialism. Looking at chinese identity in singapore. How you display a metaphor for something without painting an image of it.

Carolee Schneeman – puts her body where her thoughts are. Woman working in the 1960s, questioning the notion of the female body. A relation to feminine fluids and objectification. Based on the male gaze, not female gaze. The master painter points at the female and controls how he wants to see her. She reacts against this.


Gustav Metzger – auto–destructive art action – london 1961


“a desperate last minute submersive political weapon” – an attack on a capatist system – “performance as anti-comodification” – I am making the work, it is not for sale, it is made and that is it. Idea of destruction within it.

Nikki Saint Phalle – Shoot paintings – paris 1961

PP20 PP19

Filled things within an assemblage with paint in pots and shoot them to make the paint drip and create the final outcome. Slightly ephemeral – early feminist artist.

Anish Kapoor – shooting in the corner London 2009


Performative installation, canon like weapon shotting peletts of paint. In relation to the present day, this is far more accepted.

Shigeko Kubota – Vagina painting – Flux Fest


Paint brush is loosely related to a male falice. It looks like the brush is inserted into the vagina and then being used to paint with.

Action Art – “It is rather, far more, the desire to delve deeper into the enigma of painting in order to experience it ever more richly”

How do you use paint , a material substance as a metaphor?

Gunter Brus 1964 – Viennese Aktionist – Artist placed in a vulnerable position and drawing attention to that.

Herman Nitsch – Painting installation – Jerusalem 1995 – conflict, relations to blood

Stuart Brisley – Performance, Poland 1975 – After the performance, he created a more traditional painting illustrating elements of the process. All of the rags used to clean the body are painted realistically.

Paint as a substance that becomes a mediator to channel ideas and concepts.

Robert Smithson – Asphalt ran down, Italy 1969 – work is more spectacular in the process to create it. It is about environmental issues.

Ian Mckeever – Painting for a hole in the ground


The gestures and marks on the painting have a correlation with the landscape.

Richard Jackson – from a series of 100 drawings 1978


Imagery of a clock spreading paint, and windscreen wipers spreading paintbrushes. In 2003, he drove a moped through paint on canvas

Paul McCarthy – Face Painting – Floor White Line. Architectural Surfaces and the human changing the space. Whipping a wall and a window with paint 1972. People would just happen upon this piece. How do you control a blanket. Is it about human control or not being able to control it?


Paul McCarthy – Red Penis Painting 1972 – If we didn’t know It was painted with a penis, would it be as interesting?


Paul McCarthy – Painter (Film) – reference to William Dekuning – What does it mean to make art? Is it an illusion? Can it be both serious and humourous?

Janine Antoni – “Loving Care” 1992-96 – strong relation to hair dye. Using her hair to paint with. A context with women’s cosmetics.


Keith Boadwee – Inserting paint into his anus an squirting it out. Paint Enema’s. Making asshole abstractions.


Performance artist – John Court 2006 – Had buckets of paint poured on him and lay there still until it dried. It took 8 hours to performance. Text as gesture is evident here, it is about communication. He is incredibly dyslexic. Writing Art forwards and backwards. Writing with left hand. Making the work more difficult to make. Disability/Inhability to communicate, so he is doing it through action. In terms of documentation, he creates time lapses, condensing a six hour performance into 10 mins.

There is a relationship between performance and contemporary drawing. 

Painting Performance – Belfast 1977 – Andre Stitt Himself put black plastic down and flung paint around, for him it was about anger and using paint to embody the anger at civil war. He didn’t have a knowledge of a history of performance, he just thought about the relationship between the body and paintings.



Andre Stitt – Burning Paintings Performance 1978. It is important for us to think about why we make art.

MODERNISM – intervention in art.  With its avant garde advances, and the development of gesture as a performative intervention in art, in the form of an autonomous construct – achieved.

Making a performance is a precious thing. Freedom, Childs play, imancipation, being in a moment. An awareness that we will break the idea of self-conciousness creating performance painting.

 Cy Twombley: Untitled No.10 – textural mark making 2004

PP34 PP35

Anastasia Ax – Paint Performance, Oslo 2010 – Space, Architectural concerns, self contained worlds in which we as observers experience the live act and the material artefact, whats left.

Alexis Harding – paint falling off the canvas onto the floor – pulmonary 2006

PP36 PP37

How do Artists use materials to create contemporary performance and bring it into the art world?

Performance > Interaction > Painterly Mobility

Painting Performance Key Words – Surface, Tension, Skin, Pigment, Viscera, Fluid, Emotional Expulsion, Pushing/Pulling, Dipping, Dripping, Spilling, Flinging, Layering, Coating, Spraying, Dragging and Sloshing

These are all ways of experimenting that could be applied to any practice, whether it is painting or sculpture or performance etc.

Many Ideas about performance art have arisen to me from this Lecture. I gained Ideas from both the tutors own work and the work of other artists.

I have learnt about:
The Gravity of the body and How the Body Works
The use of unconventional materials
Getting art made quickly and the speed of documenting performance
Photography capturing action, paint in mid air etc
Using your experience in performance to create art on canvas
When to make work, the time of day
Weather conditions controlling outdoor performance
To think about how a performance can portray concepts and people can make their own interpretation to the work just as they would when viewing a painting.

Lynda Benglis: Studio, New York 1968
Concerned with conceptualism
Painters started thinking of new ways to apply paint and incorporated unconventional materials.


There are many interesting ideas as work in performance art and paint performance – to unpack thinking about the human body, materiality, paint as a material, how the paint is applied, movement, etc.

Experimenting with Collage: Workshop Extension

After undertaking the Collage workshop, I decided it would be useless if I didn’t put what I had learn’t into practice and try and make a collage referring to the notes I had made and the new techniques I had been introduced to in the session.

collage 2

I decided to integrate my subject work in with what I had learnt during this workshop and attempt to produce a collaged Landscape with an element of abstraction to it.

collage 4

In terms of process, to create my collage I used imagery from newspapers and 1960s magazines to construct it. Older printed papers are easier to scratch into and manipulate than newer print. I used both sandpaper and wire wool to scratch into the surface of my collage. Drawing on top of the paper was another technique used. I also included tracing paper and printed text within the work, as well as using various imagery to produce a textured affect.

collage 6 collage 7

Above, are a few close ups of my collage. You can see that the scratched surface both adds texture to the piece and helps the paper that the image is printed on to come through. I think this makes my collage more exciting and appear less flat.

collage 5

I think I managed to successfully create a collage encompassing all the new ideas, artists work and imagery that I had been exposed to in this workshop. It was enjoyable to create and I will definitely be revisiting these techniques in my artistic life. Here, The imagery was supplied in the workshop and so I was restricted as to what I could use to make the piece. Visually, this fits in with my subject work but also my idea of documenting a journey through found objects is at play here. If I was to make another collage, I think I would work on creating more perspective within the work and more of a distinct foreground.

Reflection: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Progressions?

Reflecting on what I have done so far and writing down my ideas and progressions in concrete will not only help me progress but make the work I have been doing clearer to me and to others.

Within this project, I have decided to make work inspired by a piece by John Piper called the Rocky Valley.  Initially, I was very interested in the textures and the colour palette of the work. On closer investigation, the abstract marks that were making up the rock face became a key inspiration to the beginning of my project. Firstly, I have experimented with creating my own work inspired by the visual aspects of the piece, creating continuous line drawings with abstract shapes and gestural mark making and painting those elements onto photographs etc. Other influential artists like Dryden Goodwin and David Hockney encouraged me to create Landscapes with abstract shapes and elements through methods like scratching into photographs and digital work.

After exhausting the physical and visual influences, I decided to research into the concepts and reasoning of John Piper’s work. I found that he wanted to capture a sense of the place he was producing and express the personality of the nature within it and around him. He wanted his work to have a strong connection with the visual elements of the place as well as the feelings and emotions within it. I have chosen to work with my home area of the Brecon Beacons because it is a place close to my heart and I believe I will be able to capture it appropriately because I have experienced it first hand. I attempted to make some I-Pad collages combining real pictures of the place with levels of abstraction and marks. I also incorporated the colour palette and because the place was in it, I felt there would be a connection to it, but it was not strong enough.

Capturing a sense of a place has become a key concept of my work. I have been taking things from the outdoors and using them within my artwork, instantly creating a connection. At first, I was incredibly unsure where I was going with this and so started drawing with twigs dipped in ink and making line drawings from the nature within a place. I have also been experimenting with collage, textures and abstraction. Again, the connection was quite obvious and not very exciting and after seeing Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition in the Royal Academy in London, I started thinking about other ways of incorporating nature into my work.

Currently, I am experimenting with adding nature itself into the paint that I work with. I have produced experiments where I have mixed organic materials like soil or leaves into the medium and I am incredibly happy with the results. Not only does it add texture to the paint, but it gives a sense of the place you are painting, because nature from it is in the work as well. Combining the influence of John Piper and Anselm Kiefer seems to be giving my work a lot of direction and I am excited by the Ideas that are emerging.

In terms of progression, I am hoping to produce more experiments adding things to paint and using them to create abstracted Landscapes incorporating abstract shape and encompassing gestural mark making. I think combining everything that I have learnt from investigating and researching so far could lead to a successful outcome and then I could stand back and look at it and see how to progress further. Incorporating nature and organic matter actually into the art that I produce takes the connection to a landscape further than the work of John Piper. I have started to think about other ways of documenting a place and have created a few abstract pieces from collected found objects from the outdoors but this is something I will have to investigate further also.

Terry Setch: Mixed Media Works: Estuary Paintings

Many of Terry Setch’s works are themed around the coast near Penarth in Wales, where Setch is based. These works act as a witness to his surroundings, in the literal sense via the materials he uses and the layers he creates within them, but also in the wider issues his art works often raise.

“Setch is well-known for utilizing varying materials in his analysis and interpretation of the conflict between nature and society. His huge painted canvases are often augmented with materials and debris found on the beach, a combination of both man-made and natural matter. This contrast in itself creates a tension, raising questions on pollution, mankind’s apathy, the forces of nature in the weathered objects, inadvertently representative of demise. This juxtaposes the notion that there is new life in the objects used to create such histrionic representations of the world around us.”




Setch’s work is highly relevant to the ideas that I am looking at within my own work at the moment. His concepts include an approach to nature and he uses found objects within his work like Debris from the beach and natural matter. I have experimented with including natural matter within paint and I am going to embark on producing an abstracted Landscape painting containing natural elements within the paint and on the surface. Terry Setch’s work will be an interesting reference to refer to when producing work within the areas I am currently interested in.

Setch’s subject matter enables the onlooker to fully experience the world created within it, via the use of textured materials; such as encaustic wax, melted plastic and polypropylene, however it is not through realism, as his works require the viewer to suspend disbelief in order to fully experience what each piece evokes for them.

the artist; (c) Terry Setch RA; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Similar to the work of John Piper, Setch’s Landscapes capture a sense of the place. They are highly interesting in texture and evoke the mood and atmosphere of the surroundings, to the point where you could imagine yourself being there. It is interesting to come across an artist where their abstract and less abstract works are relevant to the ideas I am working with and I am sure his work will influence my project highly.

Anselm Kiefer: The Use of Nature in his Work

After seeing Kiefer’s work in Person in an exhibition in the Royal Academy I was highly inspired. There are so many different textures and surfaces within his work and seeing it in person has really inspired me to be more experimental with mixed media and to maybe play with mixing unconventional materials into my work. I am highly inspired by the confidence of his work and I am hopeful that one day people could view my work and think it was bold and confident. Also, I am looking at nature and a connection to place and landscape surroundings and nature is a recurring theme in Kiefer’s work. He mixes natural materials into paint and includes them on the surface of the work, something I would like to consider. I will definitely be revisiting Kiefer’s work in relation to my own.


Anselm Kiefer’s mixed media work is highly inspiring and In terms of my project work, I can see a strong connection. He incorporates both natural imagery into his pieces as well as nature itself in the form of soil or rock or tree branches etc. This is highly relevant as I have been experimenting with adding natural forms to paint myself, admittedly inspired by the exhibition of his that I went to see.

anselm forest

As well as adding unconventional material into paint, he also applies it to the surface of whatever he is working on. He really inspires me to want to experiment and play around with untypical ways of working and mediums. I have been experimenting with twigs in my work, but on a much smaller scale, Anselm inspires me to work on a larger scale (not quite as large as his work though).

anselm forest 3

anselm forest 2

Combining the work of Anselm Kiefer, his use of nature and John Pipers work I think will make for a highly successful outcome. I intend to capture a connection to nature that John Piper talks about so much through actually including nature in the work. I also intend to include abstract shapes and mark making and influences from the colour palette of his work. For me, art is about experimentation and I am looking forward to playing with these ideas.

Katharina Grosse – Painted Soil Installation

Searching for artists that paint nature itself or mix it into paint as I have recently been experimenting with, I came across the work of Katharina Grosse.

“Grosse typically designs intricate but ramshackle constructions using mounds of dirt, found objects and fabricated abstract shapes in wood, Styrofoam or plastic. Once the tableau is in place, she dons protective gear that resembles a hazmat suit and wields an industrial spray gun. She moves through the environment—usually on foot, but sometimes on scaffolding or suspended from a crane—covering almost everything in her path with brilliant, saturated color. Occasionally, she coats the gallery’s furniture, walls, windows and ceiling, incorporating the architecture into the art.”



katherina Grosse

I am intrigued by the fact that the texture of the soil is highlighted because it is painted. This is also evident in my experimentation work. Visually I think this work is very fun and appealing, I feel it relevant to my work in terms of material and the concept of combining paint with natural objects. It inspires me to be confident in what I am doing and keep experimenting.