Achromatic scale

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Developing Creative Skills, Research & Reflection

In this method, the primary objective was to create an achromatic tonal scale using a mix of black and white pigments. The process commenced with thoroughly mixing black pigment into white, producing a sequence of narrow lines ranging from pure white to the darkest black. This progression of grey tones was carefully laid out and worked on several times to ensure a clear tonal transition.

Upon studying the resulting scale, a neutral grey tone was identified, which stood equidistant between the black and white ends of the spectrum. This neutral grey was subsequently applied to two small paper scraps for comparison. When these scraps were placed next to the white and black ends of the scale, observations were made on the appearance of the grey tone.

Lastly, neutral grey was employed as a ground for a subsequent colour task. Mixing black acrylic with white paint produced a neutral grey and painted it as a background on another piece of paper.

Upon embarking on this task, I initially found achieving a comprehensive range of grey tones challenging. The delicate balance between the black and white pigments proved quite intricate, requiring patience and precision to develop a smooth progression.

As I continued practising and refining my technique, I discovered reproducing the neutral grey became progressively easier. This improvement can be attributed to my growing familiarity with the process and developing a more discerning eye for the subtleties of colour mixing.

One particularly fascinating aspect of the task was the placement of the neutral grey scraps against the tonal scale’s pure white and black ends. Observing the grey tone about the contrasting tones at each end of the spectrum provided a unique insight into how the perception of colour can be influenced by its surroundings. The exercise reminded me of the complex and ever-changing nature of colour perception, encouraging me to approach future tasks with a heightened awareness of the importance of context and the interplay between colours.

Anish Kapoor

A contemporary artist known for using a monochromatic scale impactfully is Anish Kapoor. Born in Mumbai, India, in 1954, Kapoor has become an influential figure in the contemporary art world. His minimalist sculptures and installations often employ a monochromatic palette, which enables him to create powerful visual effects and evoke strong emotional responses.

One of Kapoor’s most notable monochromatic works is his “Descent into Limbo” installation, which features an intensely black pigment known as Vantablack. This substance absorbs over 99% of visible light, creating the illusion of an infinite void. Using a monochromatic scale, Kapoor can emphasise the interplay of light, space, and form, drawing viewers into an immersive and contemplative experience.

Kapoor’s approach to monochromatic art is an excellent example of how artists can harness the power of a limited colour palette to create thought-provoking and visually striking works.

“Descent into Limbo” is an immersive installation created by Anish Kapoor, which challenges the viewer’s perception of space, depth, and light. The work consists of a small, freestanding building with a circular floor opening. This hole is coated with Vantablack, a material known for its exceptional ability to absorb light, making it one of the blackest substances known to humanity. The application of Vantablack results in an almost complete absence of reflected light, creating a disorienting and stunning visual effect.

The sensory experience of “Descent into Limbo” begins as viewers enter the dimly lit space. Upon encountering the circular hole, they are faced with the illusion of an infinite void, as the Vantablack coating makes it nearly impossible to perceive any depth or contours. This disarming experience invites contemplation of the nature of perception, the role of light in creating our visual reality, and the boundaries between the physical and the intangible.

Kapoor’s choice to use a monochromatic palette in this installation is critical to its impact. By reducing the colour spectrum to its most elemental form, the artist focuses the viewer’s attention on the interplay between light, darkness, and space. The extreme blackness of Vantablack amplifies this effect, creating a sensation of stepping into an abyss or an uncharted dimension.

“Descent into Limbo” can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the human condition, confronting existential themes such as life, death, and the unknown. The void, in this context, could represent the enigmatic nature of existence and the uncertainties we face as individuals navigating our own paths through life.

In summary, Anish Kapoor’s “Descent into Limbo” is a powerful and thought-provoking installation that utilises a monochromatic palette and innovative materials to challenge our perceptions of reality and explore the depths of the human experience.

Working on different coloured grounds

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), history of art, Project 2: Developing Creative Skills, Research & Reflection, Uncategorized


During my recent artistic explorations, I discovered the transformative impact of working on a dark ground on my perception and understanding of composition. As artists, we often focus on individual objects within a painting, overlooking the arrangement of shapes, tones, and colours that encapsulate the piece’s essence. Through my experience with dark grounds, I gained a newfound appreciation for the importance of considering negative shapes, design, compositional interest, and the main subject’s outline and form.

Traditionally, we consider painting supports as white spaces awaiting our creative marks. However, it is essential to remember that using white grounds is a relatively recent phenomenon. Before the nineteenth century, artists typically worked on coloured backgrounds. The Impressionists pioneered the exploitation of white ground, harnessing the reflective nature of the canvas to emphasise the brilliance and dazzle of their vibrant, pure colours. The white background illuminated the transparent layers of thinly applied paint and heightened the impact of individual colours when the ground showed through between them.

Working on a dark ground shifted my perspective and challenged me to view my compositions differently. With the darker background, I paid closer attention to the negative spaces and the relationships between shapes and colours. This new focus expanded my understanding of the importance of composition and the role of the ground in achieving a balanced and harmonious piece.

Additionally, the historical context of coloured grounds inspired me to reflect on the evolution of artistic techniques and styles. I felt a connection to the past, knowing I was participating in a practice that has been part of the artistic journey for centuries. This awareness encouraged me to experiment further with different grounds and techniques, pushing the boundaries of my creative expression.

In conclusion, working on the dark ground has broadened my artistic horizons and deepened my appreciation for the intricacies of composition and the power of the ground in shaping our perception. The experience has been a profound reminder that, as artists, we must continuously explore and experiment to develop a well-rounded understanding of our craft.

Artists who use dark backgrounds

Numerous artists throughout history have exploited dark backgrounds to create dramatic, compelling, and visually striking pieces of work. The use of dark backgrounds, or chiaroscuro, allows artists to emphasise contrasts between light and shadow, making their subjects stand out and giving their paintings depth and dimension. Here are some notable examples:

Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Caravaggio was an Italian painter known for his extraordinary use of chiaroscuro and dark backgrounds. His paintings often featured intense contrasts between dark and light, lending a dramatic and emotional impact to his work. Examples include “The Calling of St. Matthew” (1599-1600) and “Judith Beheading Holofernes” (1599-1602).

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)

Dutch painter Rembrandt is renowned for his use of chiaroscuro and dark backgrounds. His ability to manipulate light and shadow created a sense of depth and atmosphere in his paintings. Notable examples include “The Night Watch” (1642) and “Self-Portrait with Two Circles” (1665-1669).

Francisco Goya (1746-1828)

Goya, a Spanish painter, utilised dark backgrounds in several of his works to convey deep emotions and powerful messages. Examples include “The Third of May 1808” (1814) and “Saturn Devouring His Son” (1819-1823), both of which are part of his “Black Paintings” series.

Contemporary Artists

I am constantly fascinated by how artists use dark backgrounds to create depth, contrast, and emotional resonance in their work. The deliberate choice to incorporate dark backgrounds in modern artwork brings forth many feelings, making me appreciate each piece’s emotional complexity and storytelling potential.

When I look at paintings with dark backgrounds, I am often struck by a sense of depth that engulfs me, drawing me into the artwork. This depth creates an immersive experience, allowing me to connect more intimately with the subject matter and the emotions the artist conveys. In this way, the dark backgrounds seem to bridge the artwork and my emotional response, deepening my understanding and appreciation of the piece.

The contrast between the dark background and the brighter elements of the composition also elicits a powerful emotional response. This stark juxtaposition emphasises the importance of the subject. It creates a sense of focus, which can evoke feelings of awe, introspection, or even discomfort, depending on the theme and context of the piece. As a viewer, I find that the heightened contrast often allows me to engage more profoundly with the underlying themes and emotions of the artwork, challenging me to confront and explore my own feelings in the process.

Furthermore, the emotional resonance created by dark backgrounds can be quite evocative, stirring up a wide range of feelings within me. Depending on the artist’s intent and the overall composition, these emotions can range from a sense of mystery and intrigue to feelings of solitude, melancholy, or even hope. The ability of dark backgrounds to convey such a diverse array of emotions speaks to the power of this technique in modern artwork.

In conclusion, my personal reflections on contemporary art with dark backgrounds have made me realise the immense potential of this technique to create depth, contrast, and emotional resonance. As I continue to explore and appreciate the work of modern artists, I find myself increasingly drawn to the captivating and emotionally charged world of dark backgrounds and the feelings they evoke within me.

Research task – Colour Theory

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Developing Creative Skills, Research & Reflection

Michel Eugène Chevreul

Michel Eugène Chevreul was a 19th-century French chemist who made significant contributions to the field of colour theory. His groundbreaking work, “The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast” (1839), explored the interaction of colours and how they are perceived by the human eye. Chevreul’s theories have profoundly impacted the world of art, with many artists drawing inspiration from his ideas to expand the possibilities of painting.

The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast

“The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast” is a fundamental principle in colour theory, first introduced by the French chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul in his 1839 book, “De la Loi du Contraste Simultané des Couleurs” (The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast). This principle explores how colours can appear differently depending on their surrounding context and the colours they are next to.

According to Chevreul, when two colours are placed side by side, they interact with each other in a way that influences their appearance. This interaction can cause the colours to appear more intense, more subdued, or even altered in hue. The critical aspects of simultaneous colour contrast include:

  1. Complementary colours: When complementary colours (those opposite each other on the colour wheel) are placed next to each other, they appear more vibrant and intense. This is because the contrast between the two colours enhances their individual qualities, making them appear brighter and more saturated.
  2. Similar colours: When similar hues or saturation colours are placed next to each other, they appear more subdued and less intense. This is because the similarity between the colours reduces the contrast, making them appear more muted or even causing them to blend together visually.
  3. The contrast of light and dark: The contrast between light and dark colours can also impact their appearance. When a light colour is placed next to a dark colour, the light colour appears lighter, and the dark colour appears darker. This is due to the relative difference in value, which enhances the perception of contrast between the two colours.
  4. The contrast of warm and cool: The interaction between warm and cool colours can also influence their appearance. Warm colours (reds, oranges, yellows) appear more vivid when juxtaposed with cool colours (blues, greens, purples), and vice versa. This is because the contrast between warm and cool tones creates a sense of depth and balance, making each colour seem more intense.

Chevreul’s “The Law of Simultaneous Colour Contrast” has had a significant impact on the world of art and design, as artists and designers have applied these principles to create visually appealing and harmonious compositions. The understanding of how colours interact with one another has been crucial in the development of various art movements and styles, influencing artists such as Georges Seurat, Vincent van Gogh, and the Fauvists.

Georges Seurat

Georges Seurat, a prominent French painter, was heavily influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s theories on colour, precisely the idea of simultaneous contrast. Chevreul’s work in colour theory provided the foundation for Seurat’s development of the Pointillism technique and his approach to colour in painting.

Simultaneous contrast refers to how colours change when placed next to each other. According to Chevreul, colours seem more intense when juxtaposed with their complementary colours, while they appear subdued when placed next to similar hues. This understanding of colour interaction led Seurat to explore the concept of optical mixing in his paintings.

Seurat’s Pointillism technique involves applying small, distinct dots of pure colour in patterns to create an image. When viewed from a distance, the viewer’s eye blends these dots of colour optically, resulting in a more vibrant and luminous effect than the traditional mixing of pigments on a palette. This approach allowed Seurat to create paintings with greater depth, vibrancy, and intensity of colour.

One of Seurat’s most famous works, “A Sunday on La Grande Jette” (1884), exemplifies his application of Chevreul’s colour theories. In this painting, Seurat employed optical mixing and complementary colours to create a sense of depth, light, and atmosphere. The vibrant colours, achieved through the juxtaposition of contrasting hues, demonstrate Seurat’s mastery of simultaneous contrast and his understanding of Chevreul’s theories.

In summary, Georges Seurat was profoundly influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s colour theories, particularly the concept of simultaneous contrast. This influence led to Seurat’s development of the Pointillism technique and his innovative approach to colour in painting, which significantly impacted the art world and continues to inspire artists today.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, the renowned Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, was influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s theories on colour, particularly the concepts of colour harmony and simultaneous contrast. Chevreul’s work on colour interaction provided van Gogh with valuable insights into the use of colour in his paintings, which he employed to create vivid and emotionally evocative compositions.

Colour harmony refers to the aesthetically pleasing combination of colours, often achieved by using complementary colours—those that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. Chevreul’s idea of simultaneous contrast further suggests that complementary colours, when placed side by side, appear more vibrant and intense. Van Gogh embraced these principles in his work, strategically using contrasting colours to create dynamic tension and enhance the visual impact of his paintings.

In many of van Gogh’s works, he employed bold, complementary colour schemes to heighten emotional expression and create a sense of depth. For example, in his iconic painting “The Starry Night” (1889), van Gogh used contrasting hues of blue and yellow to create a striking and dramatic effect. The swirling night sky is composed of vibrant blues and greens, juxtaposed with the bright yellows of the stars and the moon, resulting in an intensified sense of energy and movement.

Another example can be found in “Café Terrace at Night” (1888), where van Gogh used contrasting warm and cool colours, such as oranges and blues, to create a sense of depth and atmosphere in the composition. The warm tones of the café terrace glow against the cool blues of the night sky, giving the scene a luminous quality.

Overall, Vincent van Gogh’s artistic approach was significantly influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s colour theories, particularly the ideas of colour harmony and simultaneous contrast. By incorporating these principles into his work, van Gogh was able to create visually powerful and emotionally resonant paintings that continue to captivate audiences to this day.


The Fauvists, a group of early 20th-century artists known for their bold and expressive use of colour, were influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s theories on colour, specifically the concepts of colour harmony and simultaneous contrast. Chevreul’s work on colour interaction provided the Fauvists with valuable insights into the potential of colour in painting, leading them to push the boundaries of traditional colour palettes and develop their distinct style.

Colour harmony and simultaneous contrast are key aspects of Chevreul’s theories, which suggest that colours appear more vibrant and intense when placed alongside their complementary counterparts. The Fauvists embraced these principles, employing unconventional and vivid colour combinations in their paintings to create a sense of balance and unity. They often used non-naturalistic hues to express emotions and convey the essence of a subject, rather than adhere to a realistic representation.

Henri Matisse, one of the leading figures of Fauvism, was known for his use of bold and contrasting colours in his paintings. In works such as “The Joy of Life” (1905-1906) and “The Dance” (1909), Matisse employed Chevreul’s ideas on colour harmony and simultaneous contrast to create striking compositions with a dynamic sense of energy and movement. The vivid and unexpected juxtaposition of colours in these paintings captures the viewer’s attention and conveys a sense of emotion and vitality.

By Henri Matisse – Image URL: too The Barnes Foundation photograph, PD-US,

André Derain, another prominent Fauvist, also incorporated Chevreul’s colour theories into his work. In paintings like “Charing Cross Bridge” (1906) and “Boats at Collioure” (1905), Derain used bold, complementary colours to create a sense of depth and atmosphere. His application of simultaneous contrast and colour harmony further enhanced the visual impact of his paintings, resulting in vibrant and eye-catching compositions.

In conclusion, the Fauvists were heavily influenced by Michel Eugène Chevreul’s theories on colour, particularly the concepts of colour harmony and simultaneous contrast. By embracing these principles and experimenting with bold, expressive colours, the Fauvists were able to develop a unique and innovative artistic style that left a lasting impact on the art world.

Overview of Painting with Colour – where to begin

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Developing Creative Skills, Research & Reflection

The course is divided into five exercises:

  • 1. Basic paint application
  • 2. Understanding colour
  • 3. Painting the colours you see
  • 4. Colour relationships
  • 5. Personal palette

Reflections before I begin

As I embark on this new unit on painting with colour, I must admit that I am both excited and apprehensive. While I am eager to delve into the world of colour and experiment creatively, I am also acutely aware of my limited painting abilities. This self-awareness has left me feeling somewhat overwhelmed and unsure of my ability to tackle the challenges that lie ahead. However, I am determined to confront these feelings of doubt and make the most of this opportunity to learn and grow as an artist.

One of the primary reasons I find this unit challenging is my lack of confidence in my basic painting skills. I often question whether I have the necessary foundational knowledge to fully comprehend and apply the concepts taught. This fear of inadequacy can sometimes be paralysing, making it difficult for me to fully engage with the learning process.

However, I recognise that this unit is an opportunity to confront these insecurities and develop my painting abilities. To do this, I plan to approach each lesson with an open mind, focusing on the learning process rather than striving for perfection. By shifting my mindset and embracing the challenge, I hope to build my confidence and develop a more positive outlook on my artistic journey.

Another aspect of this unit that I find both challenging and invigorating is the prospect of experimenting creatively. As someone who has traditionally adhered to a more structured and cautious approach to art, embracing my creativity and pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone is both thrilling and intimidating.

I plan to dedicate time and effort to exploring new techniques, materials, and styles to make the most of this opportunity. I will remind myself that experimentation is a crucial aspect of the learning process and that making mistakes is natural and essential for growth. By allowing myself to explore and experiment, I hope to better understand my artistic preferences and strengths.

In conclusion, while I anticipate that this unit on painting with colour will present numerous challenges, I am eager to embrace the opportunity to learn, experiment, and grow. By confronting my insecurities and shifting my focus towards the learning process, I believe I can overcome my fears and develop a newfound confidence in my painting abilities. I am excited to see where this artistic journey will take me, and I am optimistic that the challenges I face will ultimately lead to personal growth and a richer understanding of art.

What is painting?

The term “painting” often conjures up images of a canvas adorned with strokes of colour expertly applied by a skilled artist. However, this narrow perception of painting fails to capture the true essence of this rich and diverse art form.

At its core, painting is the application of pigment to a surface to create visual art. This simple definition, however, barely scratches the surface of the vast possibilities that painting encompasses. As an art form, painting constantly evolves, with artists pushing the boundaries of what is considered traditional or conventional. From cave paintings to contemporary street art, the history of painting is a testament to human creativity and the desire to express ourselves visually.

To truly understand the concept of painting, we must consider the vast array of materials and techniques employed by artists throughout history. Painting is not limited to oil on canvas; it can also include watercolours, acrylics, encaustic, frescoes, and digital painting. The surfaces artists paint are equally diverse, ranging from traditional canvas and paper to unconventional materials like metal, glass, and buildings. This infinite variety of materials and techniques highlights the boundless potential of painting as a means of creative expression.

Another aspect of painting that warrants reflection is its subjective nature. Art is inherently open to interpretation, and painting is no exception. What one person perceives as beautiful or meaningful art may not resonate with another individual. This subjectivity is not a limitation but rather a celebration of each person’s unique perspectives and experiences to appreciate the painting. As we explore the world of painting, it is essential to embrace this diversity of interpretation and acknowledge that there is no single “correct” way to perceive or appreciate a work of art.

Finally, we must reflect on the role of painting in human culture and society. Throughout history, painting has been a powerful means of communication, storytelling, and self-expression. Artists have used painting to document historical events, explore religious and philosophical ideas, and grapple with the human experience. In this sense, painting is more than just an aesthetic pursuit; it is a window into the soul of humanity, revealing our collective hopes, fears, and aspirations.

Acrylic Painting

As I embark on my painting journey, I’m focusing on acrylic paints for various reasons. Acrylics are readily available and offer an affordable option for those looking to explore the world of painting without breaking the bank. Furthermore, acrylic paints are known for their ease of use, blending capabilities, and versatility, making them an ideal choice for artists at any level of experience.

One of the main advantages of acrylic paint is its user-friendly nature. It can be easily mixed and blended, allowing various colours and effects. This makes it perfect for beginners who are still learning the ropes of colour mixing and application techniques and more experienced artists looking to experiment with new styles and approaches.

Additionally, acrylic paint can be applied in various ways, including brushes, palette knives, sponges, or even fingers. This versatility enables artists to create multiple textures and effects, providing endless possibilities for creative expression.

Another significant benefit of using acrylic paints is their quick drying time. Unlike oil paints, which can take days or even weeks to dry thoroughly, acrylics dry within minutes to hours, depending on the thickness of the application. This allows artists to work more efficiently and build up layers without waiting for extended periods.

Lastly, acrylic paints are water-based and do not require harsh chemicals or solvents for thinning or cleaning. This makes them an environmentally friendly and safe option for artists of all ages.

In conclusion, I have chosen to focus on acrylics as my medium of choice due to their accessibility, affordability, ease of use, versatility, and quick drying time. These qualities make acrylic paints an ideal option for anyone looking to explore the world of painting, and I am excited to see where this creative journey will take me.

Richter, Gerhard, Fuji, 1996 (oil on alucobond)

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Developing Creative Skills, Research & Reflection
Richter, Gerhard, Fuji, 1996 (oil on alucobond) Image courtesy of Bridgeman Images.

Gerhard Richter’s “Fuji” (1996) is a striking example of the renowned German artist’s ongoing exploration of abstraction and unique painting techniques. This oil on Alucobond artwork showcases Richter’s ability to create enigmatic and thought-provoking images while defying traditional artistic conventions.

Composition and Technique

“Fuji” is an abstract painting characterized by its interplay of colours, textures, and layers. At first glance, the viewer might perceive the depiction of a mountain peak, perhaps Mount Fuji itself, emerging from the layers of paint. The painting, however, is not meant to represent a specific landscape or subject matter but to evoke the emotional impact of the viewer’s interpretation.

Richter employs his signature “squeegee” technique in “Fuji,” a method in which he drags a large squeegee across the surface of the canvas or, in this case, the Alucobond. This technique allows Richter to create a complex interplay of colours and textures as the layers of paint mix, overlap, and merge, resulting in an intricate and dynamic composition.

The use of Alucobond, a lightweight and rigid aluminium composite material, as the support for the painting adds an element of modernity and emphasizes the innovative nature of Richter’s work. The smooth surface of the Alucobond contrasts with the thick layers of paint, further highlighting the texture and depth of the painting.

Colour and Mood

The colour palette of “Fuji” consists of various shades of blue, green, and white, with hints of red and yellow. These colours evoke a sense of calmness, serenity, and perhaps even a touch of mystery. The cool colours suggest a connection to nature, while the warmer tones add depth and energy to the composition.

The mood of the painting can be described as contemplative and introspective, inviting the viewer to reflect on their own emotions and experiences. The abstraction of the image allows for a multitude of interpretations, giving the viewer the freedom to project their own meaning onto the artwork.

Context and Significance

“Fuji” is part of Gerhard Richter’s broader exploration of abstraction and the relationship between the viewer, the artist, and the artwork. By blurring the lines between representation and abstraction, Richter challenges the viewer to question their perceptions of reality and the nature of art itself.

The painting can also reflect Richter’s broader artistic philosophy, emphasising the importance of process and experimentation over adherence to strict artistic conventions. Using unconventional materials and techniques in “Fuji” highlights Richter’s willingness to push boundaries and challenge the status quo.

Using it as an introductory image to the unit

Using Gerhard Richter’s “Fuji” (1996) as the central introductory image for a unit on painting with colour is an inspired choice for several reasons. This artwork not only showcases Richter’s mastery of colour and abstraction but also serves as an excellent starting point for a broader discussion on the role of colour in painting and the various techniques and approaches artists employ.

  1. Diverse colour palette: “Fuji” features a wide range of colours, from cool blues and greens to warmer reds and yellows. This diverse colour palette allows us to explore the interplay of colours and examine how different hues can evoke various emotions and moods. As an introductory image, “Fuji” demonstrates the power of colour in creating a visually captivating composition and provides a foundation for further study and experimentation.
  2. Exploration of colour theory: The painting can serve as an entry point for discussing colour theory and its practical applications in painting. We can analyse the relationships between complementary, analogous, and contrasting colours in “Fuji” and learn about concepts such as hue, saturation, and value. This will help develop a deeper understanding of the role of colour in visual art and how it can be manipulated to achieve specific effects.
  3. Techniques and experimentation: Richter’s unique “squeegee” technique highlights the importance of experimentation in the creative process. Using “Fuji” as a central image encourages us to explore different painting techniques and approaches to working with colour. This can inspire a break away from traditional methods and develop our own unique styles and techniques.
  4. Abstraction and personal interpretation: As an abstract painting, “Fuji” invites individual interpretation, making it a fitting example for discussions on the subjective nature of art. By examining the painting, we can explore how their own experiences and emotions shape their understanding of colour and its potential meanings. This can lead to fruitful discussions on the role of the viewer in the art-making process and how personal perspectives can influence the perception of colour and imagery.
  5. The connection between colour and emotion: “Fuji” demonstrates the ability of colour to convey mood and evoke emotion. Using this painting as a central image can prompt a reflection on emotional responses to colour and consider how they might use colour in my work to create specific atmospheres or emotions.

My emotional response to the painting

  1. Calmness: The cool shades of blue and green in the painting evoke a sense of calm and serenity, as these colours are often associated with nature, water, and tranquillity.
  2. Mystery: The abstract nature of “Fuji” and the ambiguous forms created by Richter’s unique squeegee technique elicits a sense of mystery or intrigue, as the painting encourages a deeper exploration of the depths of my imagination to interpret the image.
  3. Reflection: The painting’s contemplative mood and introspective quality inspires reflection or introspection, leading me to ponder my own experiences and emotions.
  4. Inspiration: The innovative approach to colour and technique in “Fuji” gives a sense of inspiration and admiration for Richter’s creativity, encouraging me to explore new artistic avenues and push the boundaries of my own creative expression.
  5. Connectedness: The possible interpretation of a mountain peak, such as Mount Fuji, emerging from the layers of paint evokes a sense of connectedness to nature, the world, and our shared human experience.

Exercise 2: Case Study Analysis

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 7: Place and Time in the Archive, Research & Reflection

Susan Hiller

Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye

Ilya an Emilia Kabakov

Case Study 1: Susan Hiller, Witness (2000)


Witness is a sound installation, but also an archive. The installation consists of 350 speakers suspended from the ceiling, in a darkened room, lit by artificial blue lights. Each speaker plays different audio recordings of people from all over the world recounting their experience of witnessing a UFO or similarly unexplained phenomena. The recordings are in multiple languages, and create a cacophony of voices, at times going quiet and allowing just one voice to speak. The work was initially shown in an abandoned Baptist chapel in London and has since been exhibited at multiple national and international museums and festivals. The stories, though some are read by actors where written accounts have been found or provided, are not presented with any bias from Hiller, or with extra dramatisation added for effect; they create an almost factual, documentary account.


Susan Hiller’s Witness has many archival elements. It consists of a large number of different audio recordings and is presented not just as a playlist but in a constructed way to add to the meaning of the clips. They have a common theme around UFO stories. The archive tells a very specific curated story. The room it places the archive in a context, the room is dark with artificial blue lights to add to the atmosphere of UFOs and otherworldly experiences. The way in which the clips are presented also adds to this, they aren’t just one at a time but there are multiple languages being spoken at once, with periods of silence. This adds to the chaos and slightly spooky unsettling feeling.

By presenting this work as audio rather than text, it places the people behind the stories at the root. This is about the people as much as the stories they tell. By having the recordings by people or actors we get that human element.

The work is multilingual to show the global impact of these stories, I think it helps to unite humanity as one against UFOs. It acts as a unifier as it doesn’t matter what language you are speaking, it shows these stories span cultures and nationalities. Another example of how we often have more in common than differences. I think it also adds to the sense of chaos, that it is difficult to pick out just one character, as you listen you flit between people, accents and languages. We are encouraged to listen to the overall hum and not the individuals.

Exhibiting in a chapel builds a sense of atmosphere. There is a strange effect of having the piece at the top of a spiral staircase in a chapel. Almost like you are descending to the UFOs themselves. The space also allows shadows to play a role. Of course, it being a chapel evokes religious and spiritual feelings, are these UFOs or a calling from the heavens? In Jonathan Jones’s piece in the Guardian about the experience, he describes that “a babble of voices talk at once, muttering like the voices of the dead or the legion of the damned” (Jones, 2000).

I don’t think the work is trying to make us believe in UFOs. Rather telling the stories of those who have had an experience. There is a certain conviction in the number of stories, that how can this happen to so many people if UFOs aren’t real? However, I think this is an unbiased piece that allows us to make our own judgement.

This is different from a documentary as there is little of the artist’s own views in there. There is no narrative to go along with, just the pure experiences of the voices and the atmosphere. We aren’t informed, we are left to make a judgement.

Case Study 2: Zoe Leonard and Cheryl Dunye, The Fae Richards Photo Archive (1993–1996)


Work was made to accompany a feature-length film by Duny called The Watermelon Woman. The film follows Dunye trying to find out about the life of a black actress who has an unrecognised or uncredited role in a film called Plantation Memories, and is referred to only as ‘the watermelon woman’. Dunye’s film follows the fictional life of Fae Richards, an African American lesbian blues singer and actress, who Dunye images as the person that played the watermelon woman. This fictional film is used to highlight the fact that next to no archival information about black actresses (and no information at all about black lesbian actresses) was kept or recorded in archives, and so the artists created their own archive, The Fae Richards Photo Archive, in lieu of any actual archival findings. The work consists of 82 black and white photos that have been staged and enacted by Dunye, Leonard and other actors, alongside a cast list, and photo captions that were typed on a type-writer to give them an authentic appearance.


The archive was made to give a voice to a marginalised group of people. That no information about black lesbian actresses was kept meant that this was imagined.

It is made to look like an old archive to give it a sense of realism that this is to represent those voices that have been lost. The idea that these could have been real photos and text lifted from a real person from history.

In making this as a film, a book and an installation it helped to spread the word of this story. Like a real person from history may be celebrated in many ways, this gives them dimension. As though you could look up the different media to corroborate the story and make them seem more real.

There are still clues that this is fictional and that is important. As it highlights that this has had to be faked due to no real images or even knowledge of who these actresses were.

Case Study 3: Ilya & Emilia Kabakov, The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1988)


This work is both a piece of creative writing and an installation. The text was written in 1977, and was used to accompany an exhibition in 1988 of the same name, though it’s also known as The Garbage Man. The installation is in a small, narrow room, which, apart from a small bed, looks like a kind of museum with glass cases, cabinets and shelves filled with jars which all contain items that would usually be thrown away, like buttons, tin cans, old boots etc. Each item has a label on it with a catalogue number and a description.


Art Institute Chicago (n.d.). The Fae Richards Photo Archive. [online] The Art Institute of Chicago. Available at:
Hiller, S. (n.d.). SUSAN HILLER. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jul. 2022].
Jones, J. (2000). Susan Hiller’s Witness. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 30 Jul. 2022].
Kabakov, I. and Kabakov, E. (n.d.). The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (The Garbage Man). [online] Ilya & Emilia Kabakov. Available at:
Nykolak, J. (n.d.). Zoe Leonard. [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Jul. 2022].

Lavett Ballard

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Lavett Ballard is an American Artist, Art historian, Curator, and Author. Ballard considers her work as a re-envisioning of the narratives belonging to people of African descent.

The collaged imagery she uses explores women’s stories, reflecting social issues within a historical context. The photo collages are used with other mixed media layered onto pieces of wooden fences. The fences add another layer of meaning and connect to her roots in South America.

Ballard’s art has been featured on the cover of Time Magazine:

Ballard views her art as reimagined visual narratives of people of African descent. Her use of imagery reflects social issues affecting primarily Black Women’s stories within a historical context. She uses collaged photos adorned with paint, oil pastels and metallic foils.


Ballard, L. (2017). Lavett Ballard Bio. [online] lavettballardart. Available at: (n.d.). Alum Featured on TIME Magazine Cover | University of the Arts. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé is an experimental musician and multidisciplinary artist. She produces text scores, performances and publications which explore the materiality of language and engage with the particularities of different places.

OCA website

Emmanuelle Waeckerlé was born in Morocco to French parents and later moved to London. Her work PRAELUDERE was prompted by the fact that in French, a ballad is both a song and a walk. She draws the parallel between writing and walking, using simultaneous acts of marking and reading space.


Praeludere is a set of four verbal scores that can be activated inside or outside, sitting, standing or walking or alone with others, with or without an instrument. It is part of a body of work that explores the notion of the ballad as being somewhere between a walk and a song. Writing, drawing, seeing and walking are understood as simultaneous acts of marking and reading space.


Rule, D., Waeckerlé, E. and Evans, T. (2015). On Reading and Walking and Thinking… [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].
Waeckerlé, E. (2015). Praeludere. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2022].
Waeckerlé, E. (2022). About – Emmanuelle Waeckerlé. [online] ewaeckerle. Available at: [Accessed 10 May 2022].

Janet Cardiff

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 5: Developing Methods - A Sense of Time and Place, Research & Reflection

Janet Cardiff is a Canadian artist who works with immersive multimedia, sound and audio/video walks (Miller, 2022). She often collaborates with Georges Bures Miller on the video walks to create alternative realities for the audience who listen to (and view) the constructed narrative, layered with background sounds and directions.

I spent some time looking at the different walks on their website. I selected Thought Experiments in F# Minor, described as “A labyrinthine video walk that takes you inside and outside of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A”.

The piece is genuinely captivating. It is difficult to explain in words and is something people should experience for themselves. I was left questioning reality, what it means to watch something, and how time and place interact. There is a ghost-like quality to watching a video of someone watching a location where previous interactions took place. The impact is enormous on the audience.

The same place is used in the video, but there is previous footage of past events being shown at the same time as someone walking the tour. In addition, there are more fantastical elements, such as the cat conductor. The cat also links to the idea of reality in Schrodingers cat. What is real? Is video footage real? The people in the video are both alive and also not necessarily. An image or video always shows the past. We can then meet the person, the person has aged, changed, or in some cases, they may even have passed away, but the photo still exists.

Ideas for my Own Work

I find this piece very inspirational. I wonder if I could incorporate some time shifts in my own piece about mapping digital pieces. Superimposes two days of work on top of each other.

Miller, J.C. & G.B. (2022). Biography. [online] Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller. Available at: [Accessed 3 Apr 2022].