Chuck Close

Chuck Close deals with a condition whereby he has difficulty with facial recognition. I particularly liked Self Portrait II (2016), as with other paintings by this artist, it necessitates a gaining of distance from the canvas in order to recognise the face depicted therein. Perhaps this is an attempt by the artist to express his own limitations in dealing with people face to face? This is something with which I can identify, having issues myself with how I am/imagine myself to be perceived by others. I would expect that Chuck Close would have significant difficulty in forging new relationships due to this condition.

I also appreciate his use of colour in this almost pixelated image. I recognise a few of my own favourite colour combinations here, green/orange with purple. It’s a clever use of colour and composition, as well as an ingenious way of getting around, or even making positive use of, the hurdles of his own limitations.

Chris Ofili

Elements, both biblical and sensual, abound in Chris Ofili’s work. But what attracts me to it is less about the content/subject matter and more a curiosity around his process and colour choices. A series of stage-by-stage photos illlustrating his progress would be a precious resource indeed.

One can but dream.

But, hang on. What’s this online image I see and recognise? “Poolside Magic 9”? (2012) I instantly realise it’s a picture from a precious resource already in my possession, of whose contextual consequence I was ignorant, until this very moment. By pure chance, an exhibition catalogue came into my possession via a Cancer Research charity shop somewhere in London. This Victoria Miro Gallery, Venice “Poolside Magic” exhibition catalogue (2017) documents something of the artist’s progression, (as near as I am likely to witness) whilst also being an exhibit-able collection.

The “Poolside Magic” Exhibition Catalogue (2017) was published for the inaugural exhibition of the Victoria Miro Gallery, Venice. “…comprises a suite of pastel, charcoal and watercolour works on paper…which are being shown together for the first time.” Victoria Miro Gallery. Miro (2017).

In reading this on the official Victoria Miro website, I am getting really excited. Not only am I in possession of a finite resource in the Chris Ofili “Poolside Magic” official exhibition catalogue, but it underlines for me that good art is something that can be recognised out of context – in a charity shop somewhere in the London metropolis. It puts me in mind of something I once heard. If a piece is discovered in a skip, would it be worthy of rescue? Or at least, words to that effect. I think it may have been a gem from Grayson Perry’s series of Reith Lectures (2013) on “What is Art?” entitiled, “Playing to the Gallery”.

I didn’t need to peer at the credentials at the back of the book – a saddle stitched book of around 56 pages – in order to know that this would be a volume worth having, especially at that price, (£1.50) How I do love a bargain!

Ofili (2012)

In the “Poolside Magic” exhibition catalogue, Ofili reveals repeated attempts at a similar image. These drawings are perhaps the tip of the iceberg? I imagine a studio filled with these unnamed images of males (servants?) presenting offerings on platters to what I can only presume are nude goddesses. There are spirits in the steam, or smoke of burnt offerings, in the space between the servant’s offering (food?) and the female figure – goddess or otherwise. In Poolside Magic 9 (2012) his artful use of bright “Barbie pink” with “Royal blue” background suggests not only a knowledge of colour “rules” but a desire to convey a message in a sensual visual language.

I do approve!


Victoria Miro (2020) Chris Ofili: Poolside Magic, Victoria Miro. Available at: (Accessed: 16 September 2020).

Miro, V. (2017) Chris Ofili, Poolside Magic. Exhibition Catalogue. Victoria Miro.

Ofili, C. (2012) Chris Ofili: Poolside Magic 9. Available at: (Accessed: 16 September 2020).

BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures, Grayson Perry: Playing to the Gallery: 2013, I Found Myself in the Art World (no date) BBC. Available at: (Accessed: 16 September 2020).

Summary of Tutor Feedback from Assignment 5: Personal Project


I was very please to receive tutor feedback on my Personal Project for this assignment. It was timely, well considered, and I believe it showed a genuine interest in my work and processes.

My tutor was pleased to see I’d taken on board his pointers from Assignment 4 and reworked pieces accordingly. This, together with my finally getting to grips with consistent Harvard references. He believes I have potential to do well in the Drawing Degree pathway.

Assignment 5: Personal Project

Hypervigilance #2 demonstrates a wide use of media and method. He comments that I would benefit from going deeper into how and why I have been influenced by artists such as Picasso. My emotional and visual awareness is in evidence and there is scope to develop this further in the next unit.


I agree that this is my weakest area. I need to use it more as a developmental tool. Play, investigate colour combinations and explore a wider approach to exercises. Expand experimentation.


I need to use more secondary references to back up my arguments, observations and opinions. However, I express myself well and my tutor said he enjoyed reading my blog posts.

Pointers for Assessment

My next unit will be Exploring Drawing Media. I shall follow this unit with Introduction to Printmaking Here, I intend to broaden and further develop my experimental approach to drawing. I have my Acme Glasgow Wringer cum printing press installed in my kitchen, ready and eager to roll.

Acme Press

I shall look at the following artists with interest during the interim between this unit and the next. I shall add my thoughts to this blog. I have enjoyed my studies so far and I look forward very much to making a start on the next unit in October.

Ryan Mosely

Luke Rudolf

Alice Neel

Chuck Close

Christopher Offili

Chantal Joffe

Lorna Simpson

Ellen Gallagher

Marlene Dumas

As well as this book:

Contemporary Drawing: From 1960s to Now

Summary of Tutor Feedback from Assignment 4


Good progress in part 4: The Figure, a difficult subject. There is a likelihood of passing at assessment, however a few areas will require attention.

Develop pieces to completion including the following, giving greater depth using tone. Develop the technique of enlarging sketches such as reclining figure.

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Figure [Conte stick on A3 cartridge paper] incomplete
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Figure [Conte stick on A3 cartridge paper]
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [square kraft paper sketchbook] Incomplete
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [square kraft paper sketchbook]
Walker. M. (2020) A Group of Figures [square kraft paper sketchbook]
Walker.M. (2020) A Group of Figures [coloured/ white pencil on A3 black paper]
Walker.M. (2020) Reclining Male Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper]
Walker.M. (2020) Reclining Male Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper]
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [pencil on square kraft paper sketchbook]

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [pencil on square kraft paper sketchbook]
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Female Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper sketchbook]
Walker.M. (2020) Seated Female Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper sketchbook]

Detail why certain colours and textures have been used, (in Hypervigilance for example, for assignment 5) how and why do these choices work?

I need to look into this with further reading. Josef Albers(2013) Interaction of Colour, will be my first port of call. I had looked at getting a copy of the Johannes Itten book, The Art of Color,(1993) however the price was fairly prohibitive.

Vary materials and techniques used.
Try things out and document results.

I include the links (provided in feedback) here for my own ease of reference.

I viewed these pages with interest. One of the comments at the bottom of a blog post mentioned a liking for the Indiana Jones film prop notebook. After spending 20 mins looking at and finding such an item could be bought for hard cash, I reminded myself I had work to do.

To me, a sketchbook has been little more than a visual rough book. It is a place to work out assignments and tasks set. How much more interesting to include objects which hold my interest. Religious icons, ancient Aztec architecture, or African masks? I think I’ll begin now with pasting in a few photos from the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Perhaps I’ll add in some cuttings from the latest RA magazine with a view to developing a fresh approach to my practice. It is a tool for inspiration, not an obligation.

Feeling energised and enthused.


Expand on Hockney’s colour choices. How do these effect my own choices in my practice? Evidence these.

Shy of requesting an interview with the artist himself, I do however own a ref book in my own library. I shall use this and other resources to feed into the submission of material for Assignment 5 and for the final assessment.

Learning logs

Harvard refs only in future, please!!!

Further research viewing/reading

Robert Rauschenberg:

Rauschenberg (Guggenheim Museums and Foundation, no date)an artist of who I’ve heard but not investigated. Interesting to hear he’s studied with Josef Albers, the author of the colour theory book I have as part my extensive tsundoku. I like his use of found paper and fabric used in the “Red Painting ” series.

Steven Shearer:

I have looked at Shearer (Steven Shearer Exhibition, no date) before and really do appreciate his use of colour and composition. He harks back to a fauvish quality, as well as to the more melancholic vibes of artists such as Edvard Munch or Leon Spilliaert.

Dryden Goodwin:

An everyman with a finger in many pies; film production, installation as well as drawing. Dryden Goodwin’s (no date) theme of portraiture delves deep into the emotional elements of a person.

Howard Hodgkin:

A passion for ethnic art is something to which I can relate. Having looked at Hodgkin (no date) now have a renewed yen to paint gods and goddesses in blue ink on paper.

Jenny Saville:

I admire Jenny Saville (Gagosian, 2018)for her shunning of an obvious depiction of conventional beauty in her large paintings of nudes. I have a tendency to add a certain “prettiness” to my work, for example, “Hypervigilance #2” uses colour combinations to soften the harshness of my gaze.

Alex Katz:

Katz (Artsy, no date)flat portraiture and landscapes ring a bell with me. It gives me hope for my own rather flat rendition of self portrait “Hypervigilance #2”. Where he takes his I inspiration from 1950s advertising, mine is more evocative of Byzantine art.

Pointers for next assignment(Assignment 5)

Good to see rework done on Ass 3, Waterloo Sunset

Assignment 3 submission
Reworked Assignment 3 submission

Research colour conventions and ref material used. How will this determine my colour choices for future practice?

Evidence critical thinking. Back up supposition with contextual refs. Feed this into future practice and whilst pursuing personal interests and lines of investigation.

Good work.

By the way, I am so anxious about reading feedback from my tutor that I ask my partner to pre-read it. Once he’s assured me the coast is clear, only then do I read it myself. Interesting. This is no reflection on my tutor’s delivery of his feedback, which always provides encouragement, as well as a balanced critique, but Hypervigilance rules.


Albers, J. (2013) Interaction of color. 50th anniversary edition ; 4th edition. New Haven [Connecticut]: Yale University Press.

Artsy (no date) Alex Katz – 1702 Artworks, Bio & Shows on Artsy. Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

Gagosian (2018) Jenny Saville, Gagosian. Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

Goodwin, D. (no date) BIOGRAPHY. Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

Guggenheim Museums and Foundation (no date) ‘Robert RauschenbergThe Guggenheim Museums and Foundation’. Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

‘Howard Hodgkin · British painter and printmaker’ (no date). Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

Itten, J. (1993) The art of color: the subjective experience and objective rationale of color. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Steven Shearer Exhibition (no date) The Brant Foundation. Available at: (Accessed: 18 August 2020).

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Female Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper sketchbook]

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [pencil on square kraft paper sketchbook]

Walker.M. (2020) Reclining Male Figure [pencil on A3 cartridge paper]

Walker.M. (2020) A Group of Figures [coloured/ white pencil on A3 black paper]

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Male Figure [square kraft paper sketchbook]

Walker.M. (2020) Seated Figure [A3 Conte stick on cartridge paper]

Personal Approach to Colour Use

Walker. M (2020) sketchbook detail

I don’t have a favourite colour. Colours are not standalone entities: they rely on one another to spark off a response in the viewer.

My use of colour is largely instinctive, but I do have a rough idea of a colour wheel inside my head, to which I refer on a regular basis when putting colours together. Choosing which colours to place side by side is usually a case of trial and error too. But I do try to take note when I see incidental juxtapositions in nature or in man-made occurrences. Favourite combinations are lavender and yellow or terracotta, turquoise and salmon pink, pale spring green and aubergine. I particularly like colours that “pop” against one another, like the vibrancy of an orange against a cobalt blue backdrop.


Walker. M. (2020) Portrait of AnnMarie Tournebene Boivin [coloured pencil on A3 cartridge pad]

Walker. M (2020) Self Portrait [coloured pencil on A3 cartridge pad]

Walker. M (2020) sketchbook detail [mixed media on cartridge paper}

Completed Piece for Assignment 5

Walker. M. (2020) Hypervigilance #2 [mixed media on A1 mountboard]

Overall I am pleased with this outcome. Despite earlier misgivings about a lack of an illusion of physical depth to the image, I feel the colour choices and textures created by multiple layers depict an emotional depth. The eyes are startlingly expressive. I chose to colour them a bright blue to accentuate this effect, though my eyes are actually hazel. I kept having to remind myself that this was an experimental piece and, as such, a learning tool. It wasn’t supposed to be an exact physical likeness, but I feel it is a close approximation of a depiction of my prevailing mental and emotional state. I feel that the emotional message this piece conveys underlines the reasons why I chose distance learning over a bricks and mortar University. Although this blog is open viewing online, I feel less exposed than if I were to attempt this level of personal expression in close physical proximity to fellow students. Studying this way suits me well, I feel.

A little bit about the inspiration for the piece:

Picasso’s Facing Death (1972), a drawing he created less than a year before he died, was a great inspiration for me. The way he captures his own sense of despair with huge staring eyes and the jarring colour combination of sickly green and red crayon, appears effortless. He was pouring out his soul onto the paper, I feel.

In Hypervigilance, I wanted to create something of equal emotional depth to the Picasso drawing. In my life, the prevailing state of being has been one of over-analysis of the minutiae inherent in the human condition. Hypervigilance was something I only had a name for relatively recently. And, in giving it a name, I have begun to relinquish its hold over me.


Picasso. P. (1972) Facing Death. [Crayon on paper] [online image] Available from: (accessed 5th August 2020)

Walker. M. (2020) Hypervigilance #2 [mixed media on A1 mountboard]


I have often woken in the night and considered drawing something, only to reject the idea. Excuses range from lack of light, overtiredness or not being able to locate a pencil. (My partner would interject here with a wry laugh, as I have a draw full of pencils).

Tonight was different. I bought some art online. This brought about a feeling of guilt which could only be assuaged by my carrying out some form of “virtuous” creative activity.

I doodled the above Multitude of Angels (2020)

I then spun out the inspiration into the following Kuragin inspired pseudo-Mayan images:

I may turn these into relief prints/sculptures.

I wrote the following note on the reverse of one:

“It can be stifling to leave creative practice up to following a set of “rules”, ie find another artist (or group of artists) and use them as a springboard. Sometimes it is possible to dig deep and just make stuff happen”

I began with Angel’s wings, and moved on to designs based on ancient inspirational prompts. But there was a contemporary artist involved. Pavel Kuragin from Russia.

The following morning I created these in aide of a bid to gain some life modelling work:

I cheated somewhat and used a lightbox for these. Even if I dont secure any life modelling work, perhaps they’ll ask me to draw them something.


Met with the life drawing organiser, she has available wall space if I’d like to use it to hang some of my work.

Assignment 5: Personal Project: 11th Hour Change of Heart/crisis of confidence

It’s 3am on Wednesday 5th August – just under a week before I had envisioned submitting Hypervigilance #2 for Assignment 5. I have given this mixed media work a personal critique, and as a result, have had an 11th hour change of heart. Looking at this collage, I realise now that, if I were to submit it as my final piece, it would not make the grade. There is insufficient depth/form or true likeness to the subject of this piece.

Not wishing to fall at the final hurdle, I have set up a fresh support of a sheet of slate blue A1 mountboard in readiness for starting from scratch at sunrise.

I shall use cannibalised elements of Hypervigilance #2 in my finished mixed media piece. This is not just to avoid having wasted the effort that went into producing it, but because I believe I can find a way to do so effectively. Exactly how I will go about this is not clear to me right now.

I shall revise my aim to submit the assignment early, and give it another week at the least to see what I can produce during that time frame. I shall also bear in mind the turnaround time remaining – having applied to submit for this November assessment.

Officially, this assignment is due early September, but I wish to avoid too nail-bitingly brief a turnaround between submitting this last assignment and being able to collate work for November assessment by the mid-September deadline.

I feel I may have made things rather more “interesting” for myself than they really needed to be. But at least I haven’t ignored that nagging inner voice and left it too late entirely.

N.B. Update: In cool light of day

Crises of confidence are not unknown at 3am. The above post, though partly a valid critique, definitely comes into that category. In the wee small hours I was hell-bent on starting afresh. However, I do feel that there are elements of Hypervigilance #2 that have value in that it has been a learning exercise. It could be argued that the inspiration taken from Picasso’s drawing, Facing Death (1971), was lacking in depth. Although this seems slightly “sacrilegious”. In Hypervigilance #1 and #2 I have sought to investigate a more experimental approach to process.

I have learned along the way what works, colour and texture, and what is less effective, hard lines left by the print design and collage effects – collagraph printing being relatively new to me – especially itself being cut up and in combination with collage. It is with this in mind that I shall submit Hypervigilance #2 for Assignment 5, together with the preparatory material a d written piece, as soon as it is ready to go.

Regardless of what time of day it is, reflecting upon my work in this way is a habit I am gradually adopting. I have learned that it’s not always best to jump to conclusions and rush to blog ideas at three in the morning. Better to jot these thoughts and ideas down in a rough book and reconsider in the cool light of day.


Picasso. P. (1972) Facing Death. [Crayon on paper] [online image] Available from: (accessed 5th August 2020)

Walker, M. (2020) Hypervigilance #1 and #2. [Mixed media on A1 mountboard]

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