Back to Subject: Tutorial, Influence from Field Modules and Plan for the Rest of Term

I am back working on my Subject module, creating a relationship between my art , place and nature. I am enjoying getting back into it, have been influenced by my field modules and have quite clear direction of where I want to go with it next, what I want to experiment with and the art pieces I would like to create. Also, a tutorial this week helped me finalize my ideas and reflect on what has worked so far and what hasn’t been as successful or things I have identified as not wanting to carry on with. I have experimented so much in this project, learnt and grown as an artist. I have been exploring a variety of ways to incorporate nature into art and now it is time to be selective and consolidate my ideas down and conclude my project, for now (although I don’t really feel it will ever be closed and think I could work on it for years).

How I started my Subject Project, Developments and Where I Left off

I started this project looking at the work of John Piper, particularly his work “The Rocky Valley” which I experienced first hand whilst browsing the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff. I started experimenting with the image, drawing and mark making before reading about how he tries to capture a sense of place and experience within his work. He wants his paintings to have a sense of being in the place he paints and romanticises the outcomes. This research led me to incorporate a place that is personal to me – “The Brecon Beacons” and to experiment with capturing a sense of place. Trying to capture an essense of being in the surrounding, I started playing with found natural objects from the surrounding and my project quickly developed with my own ideas and the influences of other artists into “a connection between my art and nature”, moving away from john  Piper’s inital influence. Since then I have been experimenting with different ways of incorporating nature into my artwork whilst the Brecon Beacons still having an input as its where I feel closest to nature.
I left off before christmas, starting to experiment with mixing nature into paint and having natural matter physically in my work. I have also been dabbling whilst undertaking my field modules.

Field Modules – Influences

Paint Performance – I don’t really think that paint performance has influenced my subject module massively but it has done so. It has encouraged me not to worry so much about the outcome and to get stuck into experimentation. It has also made me less controlled and explore new ways of applying paint to free my pieces up (practiced using my fingers, left hand etc earlier in my subject module). I did draw with and paint with natural material in this module and after seeing the video documentation of this process, it inspired me to video myself drawing in a natural surrounding with nature as my pen etc. I was really pleased with this outcome and documenting the process of my work is something I will think about inspired by this module.

Drawing as Experience: I have been very inspired by undertaking this field module. I linked my final outcome to my subject work but this module will continue to influence my nature inspired art. Rather than just using mark making inspired by john piper in my drawings, I will think about using mark making that portrays a sensory experience of being in the place and amongst nature.  The psycho geography session was relevant as well and taught me quick ways of documenting walks I go on or things I see. Drawing from memory links in with my subject work. All these things will integrate into my work but in Particular, I have been highly inspired by the materiality of drawing session I undertook and want to make my own tools from natural elements to draw and paint with. Linking both my field modules, I think It would be beneficial to video the process of me making the tools and creating a painting with them.

My Dissertation Research is also feeding into my subject work as I am learning about how artists have integrated nature into their work in the past and the connections that can be drawn between art and nature. I have also researched into the reasons why nature is such a strong point of interest for artists etc linking back to primitive times. I have researched painters, sculptors, environmentalists and land artists.

Tutorial and Plan for the Rest of Term

In this weeks, tutorial I talked about my plans for the next 4 weeks and the tutor decided I had clear direction and to work with my ideas, she also gave me new things to work with and artists to look at to inspire me along the way. Entropy and Ephemerality was brought up. She was very interested in my paintings where nature is applied in the paint and on the surface of the board but wondered why I hadn’t thought about making my own paints from nature with soils, or leaves/flowers (natural pigments) and egg tempera or linseed oil etc. It was also mentioned that it would be an idea to make the painting performative for a video work? The process of gathering the soil etc through to making the painting. These are all Ideas I will be taking on board.

My Plan, Outcomes etc.

Over the next few weeks, I want to consolidate my ideas, make final outcome/s and tie in inspirations from field. I want to make a large painting working with the idea of mixing natural materials into the paint and create a textural piece. I am also going to experiment with making my own paints and producing paintings with them. Taking influence from drawing as experience, I want to make my own tools from natural elements and video the collection of the materials and the making process, I will then use only the tools to create a painting/piece of art and video that developing. I will be looking at mixing nature into art physcially (into the paint), using nature to make tools to paint with and actually grinding up my own paints with natural materials. I am going to be working hard over the next month to bring these ideas to reality and look forward to the outcomes that I create.


A Connection to Nature: Painting Landscapes onto Leaves

I am highly inspired by the work and the concepts of John Piper. Particularly his views about the landscape work you create having a connection to a place and therefore a connection to Nature. I have started playing and working with the idea of incorporating parts of a place and natural objects into my work with success and I think connecting my painting and drawing with nature itself is an interesting idea to work with within my project. My tutor thought that my abstract drawings were a successful and visually appealing element of the work up in my studio space and I agreed but I felt that they lacked a connection to the place I portrayed.


Over the Weekend, I went home and collected Ivy Leaves from the area of the Brecon Beacons and primed them and started drawing my abstracted landscape drawings on to them. I chose Ivy Leaves because their waxy quality means they don’t shrivel and die quickly. 



I think there is something quite charming about these delicate leaf drawings. After producing these three drawings, I experimented with adding watercolour of a similar colour palette to my chosen painting – John Piper’s Rocky Valley, North Wales.




I am very pleased with these little drawings/paintings. I felt that only drawing on paper didn’t tye in well with my project, especially considering the fact that natural trees are cut down to make it. I was restricted by the surface and so found a new surface that fits in with the concepts of my project to paint and draw onto.

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Using nature as a surface to work on is something I am keen to experiment with further. I am thinking about painting onto stone and drift wood or bark as well. After completing my drawings, I took them back out into the Landscape and photographed them back in their natural environment. My drawings have a strong connection to the place they portray because they are drawn on nature from the place and put back into the natural surroundings. I am moving away from John Piper’s influence and making a current body of work with his in mind but it is not dominating my ideas any longer. This idea was inspired by being introduced to Ian Mckeever’s Painting in a hole in the ground. He made a painting and put it in a natural landscape.  This set of photographs are incredibly interesting and juxtapose the man made with the natural. I have changed the natural environment here. The leaf would usually just blend in with the others but I guess it has a sense of power and importance because it stands out amongst them. I could also experiment with painting abstract Landscapes onto leaves in similar colours to the surroundings so that they do blend in and maybe they may almost become part of nature.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

My Current Studio Space

Putting everything up in my Studio Space helps me visually view my thought patterns and to take in all the experimentation that I have done to progress. Looking at my wall at the moment, I have definitely delved into a variety of different techniques and all the pieces are becoming one distinct body of work as a whole. You can see the journey that I have undergone so far and my thought processes.

studio space..

As you can see from the photo, I have accomodated a large board on which I am planning to bring my ideas together and incorporate mixed media into an abstracted Landscape piece. As I have experimented with, I plan to include nature into the paint as well as on the surface and just enjoy producing the piece of work.

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.


John Piper is noted for his drawings, paintings of landscape and architecture as well as abstract compositions, still life etc. In a period of around 15 years in the 1940s and 50s, Piper lived and worked intermittently in North Wales, and during his time there, he recorded the mountains of wales in a group of works that are among his greatest artistic achievements. Piper’s earliest learnings were towards abstraction, but his fascination with landscapes and architecture later dubbed him to be a neo-romantic. Piper’s involvement with abstraction and experimentation with collage, construction and assemblage of the early 1930s had a lasting influence on him. It remains a strong underlying factor in almost all of his work, and can mostly be seen as a structural basis for more graphic imagery. Like that of the other great neo-romantics, Graham Sutherland; Piper found that his work was greatly enriched by time spent in Pembrokeshire because of the areas special light and unique heritage.


He made many explorations of rural Britain throughout his life. Piper “Flirted” with abstraction and combined it with his observations. Like artists before and since, he was drawn to the visual drama of the welsh mountains, but he was also fascinated by their geology as his artists eye explored the bones and structure in many of his paintings and drawings, Piper has taken immense care to capture the rock structations, the exact placement of the boulders and the jointing of the rock faces. “Colour is the Language of the Artist” – this is particularly the case for John Piper who would make a mountain dazzle with the hues of pink, blue or gold. Piper knew that the colour of the Landscape would be affected in thousands of ways by such factors as light, time of day, year and environmental conditions like the weather. “John Piper’s painting seems like the perfect fusion of his neo-romantic poetism and the gentle abstraction he perfected in years of experimentation and travel.” – Exhibition Panel.

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The sense of experimentation can be seen in the impressionistic washes of the watercolours and in the rich complexity of his oils. These can be imbued with an intense, almost mystical glow that recalls his inspirational forbearers like J.M.W Turner and Samuel Palmer. Piper had an artistic and physical connection to the landscape around him.



John Piper had many inspirations. Obviously, the landscape itself but also influential people. At the Royal College of Art, he met Charles Mahoney, Morris Kestleman and Tom Monnington, all of whom effected a lasting influence on Piper as a young artist. He was also inspired by other artists work: Just as I am being inspired by his. To name a few, he was being influenced by JMW Turner, Samuel Palmer and Richard Wilson. During the period that John Piper spent in North Wales, he often referred to the guide books and early geological texts of the 18th and 19th centuries as he travelled the area recording the mountains. Not only did he admire their engraved illustrations, but they also provided a link to the artists of the period most admired by Piper like Wilson and Turner. It sounds like Piper lived his art and loved exploring the natural surroundings for inspiration.

CHOSEN ARTWORK: John Piper: Rocky Valley, North Wales 1948

I have decided to focus on the work: Rocky Valley, North Wales 1948 by John Piper. It instantly stood out to me whilst wandering around the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.




The colour palette really interests me, it is quite natural and earthy but has a sort of glow to it. What I am most drawn in by about this piece, is the elements of abstraction and mark making within it. I chose this piece because I really enjoy working with Landscape as a subject matter but I feel that painting them as they are is not only boring but the piece ends up rather lifeless without any artists personality or expression. One of the first things I noticed about this piece was the originality and I was intrigued by how the piece is representing a landscape with abstracted parts rather than accurately portraying one. I have never really worked in this way. This kind of abstraction that includes line work, shape and mark making is new to me and so I think could help me create a decent project as well as being challenged. I was thinking about how I would represent the mountains where I live in Brecon and be inspired by this work as soon as I saw it and so I have to go with it and start making. As I am going to be creating a body of work in response to this piece, I thought it beneficial to create a brainstorm: mapping out my initial observations and thoughts about the artwork.


Here are some notes that I have included in the brainstorm:
– elements of abstraction
– gestural mark making
– depth, three dimension incorporation
– subdued mood with a hopeful glimmer
– Looking at this piece is like looking through the artists eyes and seeing his interpretation of the Landscape in front of him. It has personality
– Loose technique, Textural
– Abstraction within a Landscape
– Expressive, Atmospheric, unrestrained

This process has definitely helped me to deconstruct the piece and to appreciate all the different elements that are situated within it. It has allowed me to get my initial observations down on paper and given me possible points to work with when using the influence to create my own work.