Patchy skin colours


170504e Trumpeter (2017) oil on canvas 25 x 30cm

This was a day of non-stop ugly paintings. Everything came out that way, but I was learning a lot from making them. The learning curve I face in regard to colour is so steep it’s dizzying, but exciting too. I mixed a LOT of colours for the Trumpeter picture. The left-over paint was enough to make these other five paintings.


170503a Winking Girl (2017) oil on canvas 25 x 25cm


170504a Cyclops with Lump (2017) oil on canvas 30 x 25cm


170504b Siamese Red Coats (2017) oil on canvas 20 x 24.5cm


170504c Looking Up at Hair Lump (2017) oil on canvas 30 x 25cm


170504d Bikini Sunset (2017) oil on canvas 30 x 25cm

I was thinking about skin (faces especially) rendered in patchy colour. The Fauves are the obvious example, but I was thinking about more recent paintings by Martin Kippenberger, Dana Schutz, Brian Calvin, Nicole Eisenman, Liu Xiaodong, and Aliza Nisenbaum. I like when there’s a tension between the patchy colours almost acting as representation of skin tones and light qualities, but being “off” enough to draw attention to themselves as abstract colour relationships. I like when it looks awkward, even ugly, in paintings by Kippenberger, Calvin, Eisenman and Schutz, but still have a strong sense of three-dimensional form. My own efforts so far have come out very flat.


Martin Kippenberger Untitled [from the series Hand Painted Pictures] (1992) oil on canvas 180 x 150cm


Dana Schutz Blind (2004) oil on canvas 71.1 x 55.9cm


Brian Calvin Students (2010) oil on canvas 20.5 x 25.5cm


Nicole Eisenman Winter Solstice 2012 Dinner Party (2009) oil on canvas 142 x 112cm


Liu Xiaodong (I don’t have details for this painting)


Aliza Nisenbaum Atanacio at Rest (2013) oil on linen, 40.6 x 40.6cm


3 thoughts on “Patchy skin colours

  1. Pingback: Just do it | dailydaub

  2. I am enjoying reading about your technical experiments and thoughts regarding your inspirations. Like using colour as you see it and not dwelling on its name. I think I’ve already said something about these exercises. I probably already queried your “ugly” label. Even though an exercise is often limited to one aspect of your skill, it is inevitable that your accumulated technique and theory will intrude. Here it particularly does for me with Cyclops with lump. It looks like a study for composition which is clearly already successful.


    • That’s very true. The using-up-spare-paint paintings are a good opportunity to practice composition, and that one isn’t too bad. “Ugly” and “bad” etc, I know they’re imperfect ways of describing these things, but I’m still groping for more useful terms. Finding better ways to paint is partly a matter of finding better ways to think about painting, and the effort to describe the process contributes to that. That’s partly why I’m writing this blog, and also why it’s so useful to have your feedback too. 🙂


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