Exploring the Field – A Place to Start

Collage illustrating topics and themes for research

Collage illustrating topics and themes for research

In looking at the breadth of the time periods of Pre-Modern and Modernism, as defined in the course workbook, I decided to focus on artworks, artists and mediums that have interested me over the years but I’ve never really taken the time to explore in any depth. In some case I’ve read about a particular artist or topic but haven’t taken that knowledge any further.

When I read through Part 1 of the course it occurred to me that this was a chance to consider some of these in more detail and it would be a way to bring focus to the breadth of research while, at the same time, staying open-minded as to where that research might lead. My aim is use some of these ideas as a starting point to help me consider more fully what it is that has made these topics, artists, artworks, mediums and techniques stay with me.

A selection of these are listed below with some initial thoughts on what appeals to me.


When visiting larger galleries, I find myself searching out icons and religious paintings. Part of that appeal is the vibrancy of the colours of the egg tempera. I have dabbled with shop-bought versions of the paint but have always wanted to try making the egg tempera from scratch.

Medieval Sculpture

Several years ago, I visited the Burrell Collection in Glasgow and found myself sketching and photographing the collection of medieval carvings. As an initial response, I liked the contrast of the humour of some of the carvings and the quiet stillness of others. I also liked the weathered effect of the paint on the statues and the worn textures.


When studying for Painting 1, I researched Dumbarton Castle and, in doing so, discovered sketches by Turner undertaken as part of a tour of Scotland. In the same year, I went to an exhibition of Turner’s work at the Maritime Museum in London and was fascinated by the display of his sketchbooks. Part of that interest had been his use of gouache as I had used this for a painting exercise in Painting 1. I had found using it a struggle but, at the time, felt that I would like to experiment more with it.

Amedeo Modigliani

I have always liked Modigliani’s work partly because the treatment of the faces and the elongated figures remind me of older religious paintings.

Gwen John

I read a biography of Gwen John a few years ago and really like her later, looser style where, with a few strokes of the brush she conjures up someone sitting in a church or a room set up for afternoon tea and both have a meditative, spiritual quality.

So, some things to start exploring and see where they lead.