photographs – primary research

As part of developing my work I have gone out to take my own photos, as part of my research and development I have taken a variety of my own photos from around the area where I live. when I went out on this walk, I was specifically aiming for one building that I had seen before and knew I wanted to photograph, bit I found that as I was walking, I saw lots of other opportunities to take photos which inspired me. I later used many of these photos as reference for paintings.

George Shaw is also known for painting urban spaces, specifically the council estate which he grew up on. These paintings show no people, but usually show signs that there was someone there, graffiti, doors left open etc. Along with this there always seems to be nature creeping into these paintings, there are trees and other plants around the buildings, which is something that I found around me also, in the places I photographed and is something I used heavily in my paintings like these.

I have always found this kind of imagery interesting, abandoned buildings, objects decaying, nature taking over structures. These kinds of images create a quiet, eery atmosphere and makes you question what could have happened. For me, I also enjoy when the paint itself reflects the atmosphere, with the colours and textures. For example, this print by Catriona Leahy is done onto rusted metal, bringing the surface es in the image into the art itself. It is also quite dark, in a similar way to the paintings I have been doing of buildings.

When it is easier to travel more, I would like to be able to travel to more places specifically to photograph building and areas of abandonment, perhaps even areas of nature which have no people around so that I can try to capture the stillness of being alone in those spaces. I would also like to try looking for found objects outside, or in second hand sops to incorporate into my works.


other photos along the river


Michael Raedecker

Michael Readecker is a Dutch artist working in the United Kingdom, he studied fashion in Amsterdam and later he art at Goldsmiths in London.

Readeckers work is much more stylised than another artist which I have looked at, George Shaw, and in this way connects more to the work which I have been making. His colour palette is much more limited, the work being made up of unrealistic, close tones which make them appear fantasy like.

Description of Ins and Outs (2000) from Saatchi Gallery, “ins and outs is a sublime dream home. Steely grey in the dead of night, manicured in the expansive landscape, trees in a straight line, boulders placed decoratively for maximum effect: it might be the retirement retreat of a Silicone Valley millionaire, the kind of person who would bother to have their trees pruned into perfect orbs, who’d insist that their sky be as delicate as a Japanese watercolour. Michael Raedecker’s paintings are always little seeds of gossip. Drawn to this house by the impossible intensity of the light – made up of countless tiny pink and yellow threads – the first instinct is that something suspicious is happening within.”

This painting is very dark, with lots of close tones mostly in fairly neutral blues with hints of greens. The light coming from the doorway particularly stands out, its much lighter than the rest if the painting and the yellow stands out against the blue surrounding it.

In my building paintings I created contrasts between the manmade structures and the plant life/ nature growing on and around it. While very different in subject matter, my skeleton paintings have a similar darkness to them, and close tones. They also use more unusual, unrealistic colours.

Although this piece is very different in subject to what I have been painting, the colours and atmosphere it creates are inspiring to me. The plant appears to be almost entirely made up of embroidery, the subtle shading below it and the yellow which surrounds some areas makes it appear as part of the background, situated in the space more so than just sitting on top of the paper. The contrast of the very light petals stands out against the dark background, giving it presence and making it appear three dimensional.

The paint in the background is dark and desaturated, it appears to be staining the canvas more so than covering it, which makes it look softer.

Contextual Painting

George Shaw

George Shaw paints empty, sometimes derelict suburban spaces. To me the emptiness in one image is somewhat unsettling, but not as much as when you see these works together. One painting with no human or animal like could be coincidence, but seeing multiple together makes the atmosphere feel much more ominous. Based on this I am considering presenting my work as a series which is meant to be seen together.

His paintings also have hints of someone having been there relatively recently, such as graffiti, litter, a pathway worn into the ground by frequent use or a garage door left open. There always seems to be some nature creeping into Shaw’s paintings, even those seeming to be focused on the various buildings, there are always bushes, trees showing from behind them or an area of grass, which is something that has been present in my paintings of man made structures, with plant life growing on or around them. nature always creeps back in.

Within Shaw’s paintings there is a very sophisticated use of light, even in the very dark paintings you can see the light in the background creating some very dramatic contrasts.

These two paintings feature much more nature, with the man made structures hiding more in the background or in subtle, especially the painting on the left. this painting shows pathways where people (or animals) have left pathways in the ground through frequent use, as well as wooden posts. The shapes marking the edge of the dark area, before the red sky are somewhat triangular in shape, indicating that they could be the silhouettes of the roofs of houses behind the trees.

Shaw’s paintings are much more defined and realistic that the style which I have been working in, where my pieces have been much more stylised and expresive.


other paintings