Sunday, November 21, 2010

Elements of My Thesis

The Value of Ruskin's Ideas in Modern Painters Volume I for Contemporary Painting

Early Chapters:

Ruskin’s Value as a Critic. 1

Ideas of Truth and the Issue of Imitation. 1

Ruskin’s Idea of Relation and Post-Modern Painting. 5

Relation and Truth as a Critical Practice

Some passages...

Ruskin’s unique value as a critic still resonates with painting today due to his devotion to art and his vivacious support of many artists, primarily Turner. Ruskin’s criticism presents a symbiotic relationship between painting and theory, which provides a more progressive approach that contemporary criticism, which often has the two at odds with each. Ruskin’s desire to educate the masses and write for the public gives his criticism a clear and enthusing power.

In a critical sense we can expand on the idea of the flaneur, which can lead the painter to become more than just immersed in the sensory spectacle of life but perhaps the historical and cultural context of the present too. By taking on this role and travelling through paintings own narration one can attain greater variety of knowledge and therefore express their ideas with more Truth.

It has become custom to place oneself within the temporal framework of the unstoppable progress of history from which point one can survey the social field: looking forwards and backwards’ (Frank Reijinders 2003, p20). Paintings today can be cultural hybrids composed from various references from the past and the present and these can come together within the subject creating an advanced version of Ruskin’s ‘Relation.’

However, while artists such as Peter Doig, and Carlos Maria Mariani borrow references from various sources and periods there are also possibilities in re-examining ideas by theorists such as Ruskin in a contemporary context. In doing so the painter may find ideas that resonate with them, such as Ruskin’s idea of ‘Relation’. If the artist then mixes these older elements with present theories and expectations they can create new methods of valuing the quality of contemporary painting. In turn these rules provide painters with the ability to push new barriers and begin radicalising the aesthetic in response.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Watercolour A3

Continuing from Free Fall I used the image of a praying woman in a similar way. There is something lonely and eerie about it and the paint is fragmented in a way akin to the visual effects of the scans I have been looking at.

Couple of Roman studies

A3 Pencil Drawings

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Free Fall

Oil on canvas 40"x 30" approx

I wanted to use the new aesthetic I was developing from the weather experiments with figurative work. I found isolating a free-falling figure in a void created a interesting spacial ambiguity and gave a religious tone to the image; which I enjoy playing with especially due to religions involvement with the history of painting. I developed a method for distorting the image to try and achieve the visual effects of the weather data.

Nature, Data and Antiquity

I began to experiment with mixing up data and photography to try and create hybrid landscapes. I created a drawing using photography from Wales, a print of St. Martin in the Fields Church and satellite imagery. The painting I'm working on uses an image of the Norfolk coast and a Roman figure from the British Museum together with various weather data.

A3 Pencil drawing and Oil on canvas 30"x 24" approx


oil on canvas 20"x16" approx

Data Landscape

Oil on Canvas 36"x24"

Data and Nature

Oil on panel 12"x 9" approx

Over the summer I have been developing my painting using an idea from my theory practice regarding Ruskin's views on expressing nature. Can a Ruskinian vision of nature be achieved through contemporary technologies ability to provide every form of data and visualisation on natures condition? I have been looking at satellite imagery and atmospheric scans to try and create new works inspired by this idea.


Oil on canvas 20"x16" approx

My painting practice references elements of the history of painting often in conjunction with subjects that may represent contemporary issues. An awareness of the current climate socially, culturally and politically is a concern as I begin to develop ideas for work. This painting from last year uses Raphael’s classical pyramid composition as inspiration for representing different visions of the hierarchy of the art institution; a pyramid of power and value traditionally assigned to religious figures is applied to this. Contemporary elements are intuitively conjoined with the traditional in the landscape and references from film are also added into the paintings to create a greater metaphorical depth.