Diary of a painting – Joan Sugrue


Start off with MDF board and glue linen to it with rabbit skin glue. Put on 3 layers of homemade gesso (rabbit skin glue and whitening).

I need to get paint out on the palette fast when I get into the studio otherwise I will start sitting around and thinking and not doing.
Always standing while painting, only sit to look at what is done.

First paint layers are diluted with turps, quickly scrapped over the ground with cheap bristle brushes, Prussian Blue, Naples Yellow, then a change of mind Cadmium Red with Naples Yellow, scrub back, all Michael Harding paints which can stand a lot of dilution. Leave aside.
Start to paint in figure, Ultramarine, leave for a week. I remember seeing a Gainsborough in Russborough House in Co Wicklow very close up and examining the way the trees were painted, start painting more into the background Sap Green, Cerulean Blue, Titanium White, Terre Verte (D-R) and Warm Grey (Schevenings), Linseed oil and Turps, but wipe it all away again at the end of the session.

Leave for a few weeks, turned to the wall.

Reading “Europe in Sepia” by Dubravka Ugresic, a Croatian essayist and novelist. She writes about her homeland – post communism , this feeds into my own practice which deals with ideas surrounding post colonialism.

Started, then wiped off, started again.

Put on Joy Division on the CD . A figure is painted in the foreground with too much detail, scrub back with rags. Repaint the figure with wide flat sable brush, Prussian Blue, Cadmium red, Titanium White, Yellow Hue, Vandyke Brown, Scrub it back again.

I visit the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Repaint figure with small round sable hair brush, Paynes Grey, Titanium White, Naples Yellow, Burnt Umber. Need to leave it alone. After a few hours come back and scrape it back again.

Leave for a few weeks again, turned to wall.

Reading “Solar Bones” by Mike McCormack, no full stops, just like this painting.
Other books that I dip into are “Daybook” by Anne Truitt, “The Prado” Catalogue Permanent Collection, Marlene Dumas “Measuring your Own Grave” and extracts from Merleau Ponty “Phenomenology of Perception “.
Return to Studio– Listen to the radio while I paint, anything that will distract my conscious mind, an interview with John McColgan is on. Paint over again with Paynes Grey, Cadmium red, Titanium White until the marks on the surface don’t need anymore work. Go and watch Game of Thrones.

Return to Studio next day, Sit and look at it for a while and decide its finished.

Joan Sugrue

Diary of a painting – Jackie Berridge

Lost In Space

Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red, Magenta, Viridian, Titanium White
Aluminium stretcher bars by Jacksons and duck canvas

I’ve always been interested in human behaviour, particularly the subtle nuances of body language. This new work also explores human expression through home decor and the domestic environment, in contrast with previous work where ‘beings’ populate a fantastical landscape.

Lost in Space has been a slow burner. The finished painting can be viewed as a floating community of connected but disconnected people. It is a fusion of ideas inspired by contemporary culture, medieval paintings, 20th century monologues, space travel and bric-a-brac.

I had a lightbulb moment when my son introduced me to “Gogglebox”, a reality show featuring families and groups of friends reacting to television shows from their own homes. Sitting rooms are as much an expression of personality as the clothes people wear. A useful device for my work.

Recent visits to the National Gallery have been particularly rewarding. I am currently drawn to mediaeval and Renaissance paintings and especially the ‘San Sepalcro Altarpiece’ by the Sienese painter Sansetta. As well as the wonderful architecture and the interesting perspectives, I also adore the minutiae and detail. With tiny brush in hand, I have recently embraced fine detail in Lost in Space, juxtaposing the decorative elements with sweeping more painterly brush marks.

The Starship Enterprise has provided unexpected source material. Originally I had imagined the building/rooms/cells to be firmly rooted on terra firma. However, the notion of an intergalactic spaceship offers more scope for the imagination and follows on neatly from the fantastical landscapes.

‘New Scientist’
Alan Bennett’s monologues – ‘Talking Heads’.
Raymond Carver’s ‘A Small Good Thing’, a short story dealing with the theme of isolation (‘Cathedral’).
Painters – Sanam Khatibi, Joan Eardley, Philip Guston, Hilma af Klint, Katherine Bernhardt, Piero della Francesca, Gustav Klimt, Poalo Ucello

I work in silence or listen to radio 4.


My ideas are shaped in sketchbooks. Over many months I draw and collage different ideas – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Thoughts flow freely, unselfconsciously and unedited. Like many artists I am never off duty and often jot down ‘flashes’, phrases and notes on my phone.

The decision to build a floating community probably didn’t crystallise until I started a large drawing (150 x 150 cm) for a forthcoming solo show at the Rabley Drawing Centre in Marlborough. Using pencil, tape and glue I collaged, tore, cut and glued the cells, rooms and gardens together. Loose scribbles, smudged and sanded areas contrast with more graphic and precise marks.

I close my sketchbooks when painting, preferring to use my imagination or work from direct source material. I never plan, I always respond.

I have particular people, real or fictitious in mind. The characters evolve with the rooms.

For Lost in Space I started gridding, then painting the decorative pink area (bottom left hand corner). I followed on with a sweep of yellow paint on the right. Other decorative elements followed. Whilst I painstakingly grid designs and copy, I am also prepared to destroy or edit precise areas to keep the painting fresh and immediate.

I gradually build up layers whilst leaving some areas of bare primed canvas. I like the contrast of decorative bits with sketchy elements and the lightly worked areas juxtaposed with impasto.

To unite the disparate elements I applied black (alizarin and viridian). Using masking tape I ‘cut’ into all areas of the composition and apply the dark paint with a 3 inch brush. Some lengths of the masking tape are torn. I love the pealing off. Edges are important. If they are too hard, I may smudge or soften.

Jackie Berridge

Diary of a painting – Phil Illingworth 

Diary of a painting

I abandoned my initial thoughts for this piece because it just wasn’t doing it for me. I’m wanting to break a few more rules. Going back to my own set of basics, reminding myself that it can be harder to strip things away, but important if I want to stay engaged with the things that interest me.

So I start again:

Canvas – raw 12oz cotton duck
Wood – 3mm beech dowel, cut to length, sharpened to a fine point on a sanding wheel. There are 46 spikes.
White linen thread – this is the last of a very old bobbin of thread I found in a box of miscellaneous items at an antiques auction. I make a mental note that I need to find some more from somewhere because I’m going to run out very soon. I have enough to finish this piece, but not enough to start another.
Wadding – I have decided I’m going to pad the piece again; this will function as my support in place of stretchers.
Paint – I have decided to use enamels. There is a particular tactility to the finish that interests me – it almost has a quality of a material other than paint. I suppose the clue is in the name….

I cut two panels of canvas to size and start to hand-sew them together. I’m crap at sewing. Machine sewing would be quicker and neater, but it wouldn’t be right. I find hand sewing somehow reminiscent of the brush stroke or mark-making, perhaps drawing. There’s also a connection to tacking canvas onto wooden stretchers, and to stitching pieces of canvas together to make larger paintings. Yet the canvas is no longer merely incidental; in a manner of speaking I’m altering the status of the material and bringing it to the fore. The stitching process is contemplative, repetitive, and rewarding. I mull over the work I’m making, sometimes think about altogether different things, while I sew. I frequently prick my finger and ponder what I would do if I bled onto the canvas. I can’t sew with a plaster on my finger (I’ve tried) so I carry on because I’d rather risk bleeding on the canvas and not have to stop. The form builds slowly but surely, starting to show the transformation from two to three dimensions. My stitching isn’t perfect, there are flaws. I struggled with that imperfection when I first started using this technique in my practice, but I’m reconciled to it now.

I think I might lay the spikes out in a regular pattern even though it won’t be immediately apparent. I have tended to use random arrangements, but this time I want to imply something specific. Randomness demands equal deliberation, but invokes different implications. I experiment with equidistant points arranged on concentric circles. I use the mac for this stage because it is precise (that might be my Obsessive/Compulsive side showing, right there). I settle on a starting point of five – a pentagon – because it sets up a kind of syncopated pattern that I like the look of. Although the visual rhythm has a concrete foundation, it simultaneously wrong-foots. I like to think that sums up a lot of what I do.

I decide to use just black and yellow.

White gesso primer to seal the wood, then a coat of light grey matt enamel as an undercoat. I use blocks of polystyrene pierced with holes to hold the spikes upright while they dry. Next I measure and mark the spikes with a ruler and pencil, where I’m going to paint the bands of colour. I’m conscious that applying the paint is going to be fiddly. I’m slightly tense about this because I know the yellow I have chosen isn’t heavily pigmented and I’m going to have to apply at least two coats.

I have had very little direct human contact during the first few weeks of making this piece, certainly during the major decision making stages. Being isolated has undoubtedly impacted on my day to day thoughts, but I wonder to myself if this has an effect on how I think as I work?

I’m listening to:
Massive Attack
Frank Sinatra
Miles Davis
David Bowie
Grace Jones
Van Morrison
John Martyn

I choose my music according to my mood and what I’m doing. Sometimes I start to listen to something, but stop because it irritates me – even though the same music will probably be perfect for other times. I stopped using shuffle on my iPod for the same reason.

I don’t watch much TV, but I have been watching The Missing and The Apprentice, and my guilty pleasure is Strictly. Maybe I shouldn’t admit to that, not least because I don’t have the first idea what makes a good dancer. I watch The Shining, Scarface, and Eraserhead on DVD.

I have devised a production system to paint the bands of colour. Yellow first, in two coats. My thoughts drift, and in my head I calculate the number of yellow strips as I paint: 46×4=184, so x 2 coats = 368. This stage is monotonous and makes my neck stiff, so I paint roughly half in a session, and then have to wait 8 hours between coats. I’m pleased and relieved that two coats is enough.

Now the second coat is dry I look at the yellow strips against the bands of grey undercoat. It looks better balanced than the black, yet at the same time more unsettling. So I change my mind. The unexpected becomes serendipitous when it’s a good thing, a pain in the arse when it’s bad. I embrace serendipity and mix black with white to make the identical grey in gloss.

(there’s a break at this point)

I went out yesterday to buy the last of the materials I need, which felt good. The components for the artwork have been packed away for six weeks, since I last wrote, travelling with me from France to the UK. All sorts of things have taken place in the intervening weeks, none of it directly to do with the artwork, but most of it stopping me getting back on to it. The soundtrack to this period has been the lead-up to the inauguration of Trump. This morning a TV in the background is replaying him chanting “Build that wall” over and over and over again. Ad nauseam. It makes me feel nauseous, and nervous.

I hit a small technical hitch and I need my drill, but it’s still in storage. Bugger. Progress is halted again.

Another ten days has passed but now I have my tools out of storage. We watched 1984 last night, eternally prescient. I feel inexplicably anxious about restarting the artwork, or maybe it’s anticipation. I listen to Ian Dury for the boost while I work, followed by Cream, Pink Floyd, more Massive Attack, then the Pixies. Another couple of hours of finishing and the making comes to an end. Now comes the most difficult phase – deciding if the work is what I want it to be.

Phil Illingworth

Diary of a painting – Julian Brown

Diary for painting Fairground Attraction 2016

It all started with a trip to the fair
My daughters nervous excitement
The smell of candy floss
Helta Skelta
Fairground shoddiness
Drug paraphernalia
Tattoo shops
The waltzer
The Ringmaster

Come home and find a charming film of Joby Carters sign writing, love the drop shadows

Russell & Chapel exhibition profile stretcher bars
12oz cotton duck
Staple gun
Golden Gesso
Green frog tape
Norton Sandpaper
Clutch pencils
Thin washes of Golden C.P cadmium yellow light

Golden glazing liquid
Golden Phthalo blue (red shade)
Golden hansa yellow light
Golden nickle Azo yellow
Golden quinadone burnt orange
Golden C.P cadmium orange
Golden Phthalo blue (green shade)
Pip Seymour Cinabrese (Flesh Tint) pink
Pip Seymour raw umber

Test match Special from India
Silicon Soul – very loud
Chilly Gonzales piano music
Sleaford Mods
Noise of school children
Tip toe for a view of the sea
Watch the 360 tower go up – go down
Pure afternoon Brighton light
When Freddie’s kip is over 3 hour interruptions……
Plastic sheets
Tissue paper
Printing rollers
More Glaze
Evenings closing in

Golden C.P cadmium red dark
Golden ultramarine violet
Golden Phthalo green (blue shade)
Golden transparent brown iron oxide

Julian Brown

Diary of a painting – Paul Behnke

Angry Bat-God Yelling, 2017, Acrylic on canvas, 152 x 147 cm.

Angry Bat-God Yelling (2017) is the first large painting completed since my show of small work in Germany last summer.

In my new work I am depending less on the hard edged and non-objective forms that have been staples of my painting in favor of a quicker, more slap dash approach. The more pronounced, descriptive forms push a narrative as well as a mix of pop culture and supernatural interests to the surface. Yet the tether to a romantic ideal of modernism still holds fast.


I predominantly use Golden paints supplemented with various colors by Lascaux and Old Holland Acrylics.

For this painting the following colors were mixed or in some cases taken directly from the tube.

Yellow green, blue green, a somewhat lightened graphite gray, various shades of cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, a lightened ultramarine blue, various reds, iridescent silver, light pink and a fluorescent orange.

My palette references the psychedelic, advertisements, pop culture in general and the mythic.


Seeing with the Mind’s Eye: The History, Techniques and Uses of Visualization by Mike and Nancy Samuels

What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present by Dan Nadel

Eye of the Sixties: Richard Bellamy and the Transformation of Modern Art by Judith E. Stein

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks: The Most Popular Couple the World Has Ever Known by Boonton Herndon


Currently on rotation in the studio-

The Commodores – Machine Gun

Echo and the Bunnymen – Songs to Learn and Sing

Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Bell Biv DeVoe – 20th Century Masters

Bow Wow Wow – Love Peace and Harmony

Cat Power – Moon Pix

Charles Lloyd Quartet – Love-In (Live)

Cole Porter – The Talismanic Cole Porter

Eddie Hazel – Game, Dames and Guitar Thangs

Hamza El Din – Eclipse

Three Dog Night – One



The Big Blue (1988), Brother Sun Sister Moon (1972), You Can’t Take it With You (1938), Cleopatra (1963), Red Dust (1932), Diner (1982), Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).


These were all favorites as a kid and I watched a few episodes of all of these during the time it took to finish this painting.

Batman: The Mad Hatter Runs a Foul S2 Ep35/36, Star Trek, Wild Wild West and The Green Hornet.


Cuban Socialist Posters from the 1970’s – Miguel Abreu Gallery

Katharina Grosse – Gagosian

Anthony Caro – Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Tal R – Cheim & Read

David Humphrey – Fredericks & Freiser

Edward Clark – Tilton Gallery

Marina Adams – Salon 94 Bowery

Paul Behnke

Diary of a painting – Adam Milford

January, 2016-17, oil on canvas, 140 x 110cm

Painting already started → Russell and Chapple stretcher – 140 x 110. Primed cotton duck.

Cobalt Blue / Cerulean Blue / Ivory Black / Raw Umber / Titanium White / Olive Green / Davy’s Grey / All Windsor & Newton

Davy’s Grey / Green Umber / Scheveningen Warm Grey / Scheveningen Warm Grey Light / Turquoise Blue Deep / All Old Holland

Variety of Sennelier and Michael Harding tubes

Jackson’s Refined Linseed and English Distilled Turpentine. Michael Harding PM1 medium Beeswax Paste. Frog Tape.

Brushes / knives / rags / 15 and 25cm spreading knives for plaster / Liquitex Large Knife #17

Two Haribo tubs I’ve had for nearly 20 years for mixing paint. No palette.

Small studio at home. Can see the sea, Corporation Wharf cement depot and Cattedown Wharf fuel terminal buildings. Also across Plymouth Sound to Cornwall.

Christmas / Abstract Expressionism at the RA and Rauschenberg at Tate Modern.

Built Ikea children’s bed and wardrobe.

Steve Reich – Music for 18 Musicians / Arvo Part – Frates & Spiegel im Spiegel/ Henryk Gorecki – Symphony No. 3 / Inner City – Good Life / Four Tet – There is Love in You / Fuck Buttons – Tarot Sport / Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool / Tortoise – TNT / Cable – Downlift the Uptrodden / Dorian Concept – Joined Ends / Floating Points – Elaenia / John Coltrane – A Love Supreme / Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Hallelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! / Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Yanqui U.X.O / Sonic Youth – Washing Machine / Aphex Twin – Richard D James /

Sun / Mist / Rain / Sun / Rain (Thursday & Friday)

Rachel’s – Music for Egon Schiele / John Coltrane – Ascension / Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back / Can – Ege Bamyasi / Can – Tago Mago /

Peter Hook – How Not to Run a Nightclub / Turps Banana – New York edition / Peppa Pig Goes Skiing / Painters Table blogs/ All boos in storage since moving house

Hildur Gudnadottir – Without Sinking /

‘Post-truth’ / ‘Alternative facts’. Everything has changed this week. ‘Hard Brexit’. Donald Trump. What can we do? Fight? Protest while we still can?

Noticed drying times are different in this studio – some are drying more quickly (whites in particular), others more slowly. Must order more stretchers. Must tidy studio.

Jake Liebezeit died today.

Clumsy and precise. Balance and imbalance. Atonal. Tension. Repetition, removal/ reduction and interval. Space between elements. Edges. Emptiness. Traces/ pentimenti. Transparency and opacity. Informality. Depth. Flatness.

“Cold exactitude is not truth” – Delacroix, quoted by Matisse.

‘Storm Doris’ has just blown through. I think these names are both ridiculous and brilliant.

Adam Milford

Diary of a painting – Stephen Buckeridge

The Future that was! 2017 Acrylic and mixed media on un-primed flax mounted on panel 70 x 50cm

Diary of a Painting (September to Jan 2017)

I keep a journal in a note book, which builds over time and contains photos, studio shots and images of work in progress, writings as well as finished work. The present notebook records some events from Sept 2015 to current work. 

Early September I started the recent series of paintings including the original choice for the diary – entitled ‘Just as was Told Degenerative/Regeneration’, I had posted the relative incarnations on Twitter sadly the painting still hasn’t been resolved and may well be consigned to history. However another set of paintings that has evolved out of the process. Whilst the diary isn’t about one painting in particular, in effect the diary relates to the process of thought, exploration and decision making that is prevalent though my practise. As such the painting –The Future that was! 2017 will form the basis for the diary. In early Sept 2016 I came read an essay entitled Painting Photography Painting Timelines and Medium Specificities by Carol Armstrong from Painting Beyond Itself (The Medium in the Post-Medium Condition), which has provided a stimulus for recent work, indeed the phrase ‘Mediums are go-betweens’ struck a chord with me; I was particularly interested by the term ‘The Medium’, which I understood not to mean the literal materiality of a painting e.g. the paint or the support etc. Instead I understood the medium to be a kind of became an intervening substance through which impressions are conveyed to the senses; furthermore I became interested in the ways the elements (within the painted surface) themselves can change/act/inhabit within any given environment; the – ‘the go-between’ refer to the point at which something changes – the transformation. The essay further stated that the ‘medium acts through which a form acts on objects at a distance or any substance considered with regard to its properties as a vehicle of light and sound. – another connection alluded to the medium could be a pervading or enveloping substance –a substance for example where an organism lives, grows and adapts, especially one in which microorganisms, cells etc. are cultured, – or ones environment, condition of life, even a kind of visual social setting. 

My Interests lie somewhere in between; My recent work focuses upon this nature of the ‘go between’, and apart from the obvious references colour, texture and surface, structure and so on –there are other external factors that are key to the of the work, although not necessarily obvious references for example the repetitive bleeps and blurts of electronic music including Brian Eno and others which offer a kind of infinite special sound scape that is in itself suggests a ‘go between’ state. Furthermore I am looking to explore a spatial environment where different kinds of forms can coexist. These forms are defined by their differences, digital, fluid, gestural, geometric and dissonant relations which create tensions within the grounds in which they inhabit. Adjectives such as seductive, repulsion absorb and rejection concealment – revelation can be used to explain or place a label on the individual elements, yet is the tension within the space that exists as a relationship between the components that interests me. In a sense the paintings explore a hybrid environment where the balance between the fluid, the plastic and the digital is explored through a ground that is both absorbent and present.

I can’t remember where these quotes come from, but I have found them relevant.

‘We move through the space –it doesn’t move through us’ – what is seen – how to navigate through the painted surface?
‘Perception of the whole is different from the sum of its parts – perceiving a united space – whole rather than individual + independent fragments of the form/image’
I often make small drawings and paintings at home, often while watching TV which enables me to explore possibilities where I’m disconnected and enables decision making that I hope removes any preciousness in the work.

Notebook pages

Photos –images that might have a connection to the work in some way, a surface, structures, Incongruous elements that frequently appear on the surface of the roads in and around the studio, the studio is in an industrial estate in Tottenham and the pathways and roads constantly changing, mainly through the different kinds of debris that inhabit the space.

Books read with References and Notes (from Journal)
Smout Allen architects – Geofluidic Landscape – concealment + revelation – seductive/repulsive
Drawing: The Motive Force of Architecture (Architectural Design Primer) by Sir Peter Cook
Painting Beyond Itself – The Medium in the Post-medium Condition – Isabelle Graw and Ewa Lajer-Burcharth
Oranges and Sardines: Conversations on Abstract Painting by Gary Garrels – A painting to have a presence – thinking about space and painting –reading Charline von Heyl essay in
‘Oranges and Sardines’ catalogue – having read this a number of times, I keep returning to the question of an abstract space/silence of the mind spiritual is abstract? No content? A void or voids? Saying everything and nothing – opening a space within the mind – filled with a presence without meaning? Abstraction forcing the mind into a state of wonder.
The Collected Writings of Jon Thompson, Ridinghouse (17 Jan. 2011) Essay ‘the Sublime Moment: The Rise of the Critical Watchman’
The Language of Forms – Meyer Shapiro – ‘The Carpet page’ – mode of expression in a field that displays an inventiveness of sustained play and paradoxes, with reversals and a perpetual shifting from one group to another including the scarification and changes in the quality of surface. Charline von Heyl mentions this essay in Oranges and Sardines

Julie Mehrutu’s notes on painting – the mark/s are insistent! Shift with each motion that devour, decimate their place until they morph/shift/fuse into the surface.

The Aesthete in the City: Philosophy and Practice of American Abstract Painting in the 1980s -David Carrier ‘Painting into Depth Essay on Jonathan Lasker – one reason Carrier thinks that Lasker’s paintings are slow works is that we need time to make our way through these layers, synthesizing forms that seem physically distant and appear
divisive. Carrier references Raphael’s ‘Expulsion of Helioodorous’ great void in the centre of the painting, decisive actions taking place at the extreme edge of the painting?

Components – (I have tried to consider and restrict myself to a discreet number of elements within a painting – it doesn’t always work and I find it difficult not to tinker – often to disastrous outcomes). These are in no particular order.

1. A ground-fluid or otherwise
2. Architectural /organic biological structure
3. A gesture
4. Collaged section/ photographic computer image/something from outside
Lascaux Paint
Lascaux Effect Colours
Lascaux Crystal Acrylics
Lascaux Neon Acrylics
Lascaux Artist Metallics
Lascaux Gel medium, Matt/Gloss
Kremer Shellac Inks
No white – use pink instead
Silicon scrappers
Un-primed 16oz Heavy Flax – absorption – absorbed space- organic- external – deep space-
cosmos- sublime-unknown- ambiguous- internal
Fabriano paper

Balance between the fluid/plastic/digital
Fluid = temporality
Something real? (physical)
Scope – close view or examination
Scape – expansive scene

Stephen Buckeridge