N.C.A.D. Diploma in Art & Design

Painting - Project 4




We were first presented with a brief research task.  For this task we were required to source 10 contemporary artists (painters) whose work we admired.  We were then provided with the below project brief:


With reference to what you have learned from your contemporary painting research project, choose an area of interest from the below list of subject areas.  If you already have some ideas arising out of your 3D and photography work then you are free to go ahead and continue with these ideas. 


The project outcome should consist of a body of paintings (somewhere between five and ten depending on scale etc.) backed up by painting sketches, drawings and notebook research work.  Paintings can be on paper, canvas, board or found materials.




(1)  It is important that you use your subject as a vehicle to explore painting therefore try to avoid choosing an area of research which, though interesting, would not translate into painting.  It is best to keep your theme/ideas quite simple to allow for materials exploration. 


(2)  As with all projects, avoid planning an end product.  Much of the decisions you make will be intuitive and accidental and it is important to leave space for unexpected outcomes. 


(3)  Idea gathering can be in the from of brainstorming, mental maps, drawing, photography, collage and painting.


(4)  Also, you should consider colour research.  Identify a range of colours you want to work with and try mixing them in advance.  Experiment with colours you like that you have gathered from other sources, magazines etc.


(5)  Follow your research with preliminary painting sketches (quick paintings on paper).  Choose a selection of the most interesting or successful of your sketches and use these as a starting point for finished paintings - perhaps working them up in scale or on different supports.




Research 10 contemporary painters whose work you are interested in (these should be painters whose work dates from 1990 to present).  Allow yourself to make your selection intuitively - just look for work that you are drawn to for any reason, colour, content or technique.  After you have made your selection then consider the artists you have chosen; is there any overriding connection or pattern of associations between them in terms of style, technique, subject matter, concerns etc?  Try to analyse the choices you have made and why you made them. 


Write a note to yourself in your notebook summing up your conclusions. 



The below books are some great resources on painters:

Vitamin P (and now Vitamin P2)

Art Now series




Subject Areas









Warm Up Exercises



In order to first gain a taste of painting and the types of colors, patterns and designs that we may be drawn to, we were instructed to create some collage work from magazines and to then paint a copy of this collage.  Surprisingly, I picked out some bright colors rather than the monochrome and grey color schemes that I am usually drawn to for my artwork.  

Influences & Theme



As previously mentioned, we had the option to either pick a theme from the list provided to us, or, to continue along with our own theme (especially if we had started to develop an underlying theme to our ongoing body of work throughout this course).  I therefore decided to continue with the themes of 'Containment & Connections' which I had used in the majority of my prior project work.  Using my visual notebook, I created some notes and prepared a mind map in relation to these themes.  I decided that the subject of shapes and patterns (in relation to connections) would be a simple starting point for work as I had no prior experience in painting.

Cecily Brown was an artist whose work I loved while researching on my 10 contemporary artists.  Browns work influenced some of the pinkish tones in my below painting work.  I also love her energetic use of the brush and this is a technique that I would like to build upon myself in the future.

Below are two simple starting point practice pieces that I first created:

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Below are some of the final pieces that I created for this project.  Although I was not very happy with my final work, I did feel that I had experimented and found some new areas and color schemes that I would like to eventually return to and play around with more.  



For the majority of my work for this project I used the idea of connections through patterns and lines.  This also acted as a symbol of containment as these lines were to symbolize a force that is holding back and containing the colors that lie underneath - this was also to symbolize a light that is captured beneath and is trying to break free.  In work 4 (see below) you can again see the influence of a spiderweb affect in my work, this again acts as a symbol of containment and the feeling of being captured and smothered.  

Although I experimented with brighter colors throughout this project, I believe that my best work was actually in my return to the use of a monochrome scheme - in that of 'Containing Dark Thoughts' (see below).  In this painting, I use the white paint dripping down the canvas and over the black base as a symbol of light and hope that is attempting to over shine the darkness.  Also, it is to symbolize the idea of light attempting to erase and overpower the dark thoughts that lie underneath.

It was only after I presented this project to the class that I realized (from critique and feedback comments in the class) how the dot pieces that I used in works 6 and 7 were likely due to a strong influence from my Sculpture research of Yayoi Kusama (click here to see my presentation on Yayoi Kusama).











Containing Dark Thoughts

Containing Dark Thoughts



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