Practical Exercise 5 – Anxieties and Fears – Acrylic


  • Acrylic paint – Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Phthalocyanine Blue, Cadmium Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Ultramarine Blue, Burn Sienna, Cadmium Red
  • Canvas panel
  • Size: 40.6 x 30.5 cm (16” x 12”)


In this exercise, I wanted to follow on from the previous exercise and create a more developed image to explore the theme of ageing, in particular the anxiety and fears that you can feel as you get older. The subject matter was, again, based on a dream my mother had about finding a mechanical doll in her bed. This was shortly after she moved in to a care home. When I asked her what she did about the doll she said that she just got into bed with it as she couldn’t think what else to do.

Session 1

Larger sketch from thumbnail options

Based on thumbnail sketches I created a larger drawing and transferred this onto canvas board.

Initial blocking in of colour

Initially, I blocked in colours and began to work on the face of the doll in more detail.

Session 2

Work on mechanical doll

In the second session I worked on the figure in the bed, trying to convey their sense of unease by the position of their body and the fact that they are awake, reluctant to sleep given the doll is lying beside them. I also wanted to use contrasting warm and cool colours to create a sense of contradiction. The warm colours because a bedroom should be safe and warm, but here they also exhibit the glowing quality of the doll lying in the shadows.

Work on female figure

On Reflection

  • As an experimental piece this has worked to the extent that it has made me consider other ways that I would like to take this forward.
  • I would like to experiment more with different viewpoints and working on a larger scale including a wider angle on the room, perhaps looking down on the two figures. This could, potentially, create a greater sense of the isolation of the figure beside the doll.
  • More experimentation with the figure of the doll in terms of the make-up of the features and limbs.
  • More experimentation with the relationship of the figures. Should the woman be completely turned away as if unaware of the doll?
  • I would also like to be more robust with the texture of the doll, taking more inspiration from Shani Rhys James, and conveying a more scratched and worn countenance.

Related Posts

Practical Exercise 4  – Anxieties and Fears  – Oil Pastel  –

Shani Rhys James – Research Notes –