Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies Year One - Painting

Themes of Art

Theme of ‘The Human Figure’.

“For thousands of years the human figure has appeared in art. Early cave paintings show figures of hunters simply depicted using a few strokes. In ancient Greece human figures were the main subject on decorated vases. Through the ages the human figure has appeared in portraits, has been used to tell stories or express beliefs, or used to explore what it is to be human.”

Tate Gallery

During my research into the themes of arts, I decided to look into the human figure. I chose this because I have a personal interest to this theme and believe it could benefit my portrayal of figures within my current working projects.

Images that represent The Human Figure:

Artist from all over the world continuously use the human figure as a form of reference to produce work as can be viewed above. They can range from pictures, photography, textiles and sculpture, as well as other forms. Some choose to use the human figure as a realistic reference, like Rineke Dijkstra’s photography. Others observe the human figure and choose to obstruct it within the works like Francis Bacon’s paintings for instance.

Bay Area Figurative Movement, 1950-1965

“A movement of mid-20th-century American artists based in San Francisco who abandoned the dominant Abstract Expressionist style of the period and returned to figuration.”


The Bay Area Figurative Movement, has multiple links to the theme of the Human Figure. The movement focussed upon the figure but was represented in a unique style, largely influenced from Surrealism. Overall, this formed a new way of creating abstraction within art. Personally, I think this movement is a great resource for viewing the human form in an alternate way.

First Generation Artists

The first generation of artists in the Bay Area Figurative Movement were; Elmer Bischoff, Paul Wonner, Richard Diebenkorn and David Park. David Park being the Pioneer of the movement.

Second Generation Artists

The second generation of artists within this movement included Nathan Oliveira, Joan Brown and Manuel Neri.

“These artists rendered genre scenes, local landscapes, and figure paintings with a luminous palette …their works became increasingly idiosyncratic, to the extent that they bled into the Funk Art movement of the San Francisco underground.”



Overall I think the Bay Area Figurative Movement, had a profound impact on art of America. As well as how the human figure is represented, I think the abstraction which was formed in this movement can be viewed in lots of contemporary works, for instance how Jenny Saville manipulate the human figure in forms of realistic abstraction. I’m glad I have researched into the theme of ‘Human Figure’, as well as the Bay Area Figurative Movement as it has enlightened me on alternate ways to represent the figure that I can translate into my future art projects.

Year One - Painting

Trapped by BPD

Research into people struggling with the disorder

Year One - Painting

Loneliness – BPD Painting Research

Year One - Painting

Painting Crit

Year One - Contextual and Professional Studies Year One - Painting

Outside of Art

Psychology Influence in Art

For this topic of ‘Outside of Art’, I decided to look into the relation of reflecting Psychology within art.

Jacky Gerritsen Art

I like the way this artist reflects the idea of psychology through their art work. The use of tones and colours vary in relation to the context of the work yet are all relative and complimentary. The work is well executed and makes the audience question their own ideas when viewing the work.

I tried to research further into the ideology behind these pieces in particular, yet there is minimal information on the artist or art work online. I found the artist on Facebook and I am fortunate to have gotten a response!

I took from the artist’s response my initial ideas of the audience forming their own ideas based on their work. Yet it was insightful to hear this from the artist themselves, who made her art for a particular reason yet doesn’t necessarily share the original inspirations or concepts. Reflecting to the audience that art is made for others and the psychology behind the piece is relative to the person viewing it.

The Relationship between Art and Psychology

‘Art causes reduction and even treatment of behavioral and mental disorders. Concepts like art, soul, love, beauty, relation, justice, perfection, and freedom in each realm of life has its own specific meaning’

The Relationship Between Art and Psychology Article

‘Art invites men to social life and before suffering from mental madness leaves significant effects on improvement of human life.’

The Relationship Between Art and Psychology Article

I can relate to this on a personal level as I believe the act of art does relieve mental health struggles allowing me to express my emotions into the art. Like Aristotle said, “No great genius has ever existed without a strain of madness.”, reflecting the idea that great artwork is formed by extreme emotions which lots of artists can resinate with.

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889)

This idea of allowing people suffering from mental illness to create great art, really reminded me of Vincent van Gogh. His artwork within his life really reflects his mental suffering, which can be shown in the image above. Although psychologists do not know what the artist was suffering from, it is widely know he was a troubled man. Yet his work is now extremely valued when it had not been in his lifetime. Though unfortunate he never lived to experience his success, art clearly helped to elevate his emotions as he continued to create work even when he was criticised.

‘Gestalts psychology, a holistic view point in psychology, helped the growth of art psychology. Arnheims’ works especially his significant book «toward a Psychology of Art» played an undeniable role’

The Relationship Between Art and Psychology Article
Toward a Psychology of Art: Collected Essays Book

‘The papers collected in this book are based on the assumption that art, as any other activity of the mind, is subject to psychology, accessible to understanding, and needed for any comprehensive survey of mental functioning’

Amazon’s Summary of the Book

From having viewed summaries of this book I can see how it could have helped build intrigue to the subject of psychology within art, resulting the ‘significant book’ having an ‘undeniable role’. The book covers a wide range of artists and artwork and how these are influenced from physiology and how they continue to influence ideologies.


From my research into ‘Psychology Influence in Art’, I found that most artworks have elements of psychology whether it be vast or minuscule. I found people relate to artwork in an emotive way which then enables art to subjectively be interpreted in the mental headspace of the viewer. This topic is very intriguing when viewing art personally and how viewers when looking at art is of a large scale relative to multiple elements. I think this could influence my personal project by showing subtle themes of Psychology and allow the viewing audience to form their own opinions of the work I produce.


Kamali, N., and Javdan, M. 2012. The Relationship between Art and Psychology. J. Life Sci. Biomed. 2(4): 129-133.

Year One - Painting

Exploring Borderline Personality Disorder

The 9 symptoms of BPD

  1. Fear of abandonment. People with BPD are often terrified of being abandoned or left alone. Even something as innocuous as a loved one arriving home late from work or going away for the weekend may trigger intense fear. This can prompt frantic efforts to keep the other person close. You may beg, cling, start fights, track your loved one’s movements, or even physically block the person from leaving. Unfortunately, this behavior tends to have the opposite effect—driving others away.
  2. Unstable relationships. People with BPD tend to have relationships that are intense and short-lived. You may fall in love quickly, believing that each new person is the one who will make you feel whole, only to be quickly disappointed. Your relationships either seem perfect or horrible, without any middle ground. Your lovers, friends, or family members may feel like they have emotional whiplash as a result of your rapid swings from idealization to devaluation, anger, and hate.
  3. Unclear or shifting self-image. When you have BPD, your sense of self is typically unstable. Sometimes you may feel good about yourself, but other times you hate yourself, or even view yourself as evil. You probably don’t have a clear idea of who you are or what you want in life. As a result, you may frequently change jobs, friends, lovers, religion, values, goals, or even sexual identity.
  4. Impulsive, self-destructive behaviors. If you have BPD, you may engage in harmful, sensation-seeking behaviors, especially when you’re upset. You may impulsively spend money you can’t afford, binge eat, drive recklessly, shoplift, engage in risky sex, or overdo it with drugs or alcohol. These risky behaviors may help you feel better in the moment, but they hurt you and those around you over the long-term.
  5. Self-harm. Suicidal behaviour and deliberate self-harm is common in people with BPD. Suicidal behavior includes thinking about suicide, making suicidal gestures or threats, or actually carrying out a suicide attempt.Self harm encompasses all other attempts to hurt yourself without suicidal intent. Common forms of self-harm include cutting and burning.
  6. Extreme emotional swings. Unstable emotions and moods are common with BPD. One moment, you may feel happy, and the next, despondent. Little things that other people brush off can send you into an emotional tailspin. These mood swings are intense, but they tend to pass fairly quickly (unlike the emotional swings of depression or bipolar disorder), usually lasting just a few minutes or hours.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness. People with BPD often talk about feeling empty, as if there’s a hole or a void inside them. At the extreme, you may feel as if you’re “nothing” or “nobody.” This feeling is uncomfortable, so you may try to fill the void with things like drugs, food, or sex. But nothing feels truly satisfying.
  8. Explosive anger. If you have BPD, you may struggle with intense anger and a short temper. You may also have trouble controlling yourself once the fuse is lit—yelling, throwing things, or becoming completely consumed by rage. It’s important to note that this anger isn’t always directed outwards. You may spend a lot of time feeling angry at yourself.
  9. Feeling suspicious or out of touch with reality. People with BPD often struggle with paranoid or suspicious thoughts about others’ motives. When under stress, you may even lose touch with reality—an experience known as dissociation. You may feel foggy, spaced out, or as if you’re outside your own body.
- BPD Help Guide Article

Living with Borderline Personally Disorder Interview


04:36 you have your angry episodes you refer

04:38 to yourself as her almost like you have

04:40 a different personality can you talk a

04:43 little bit about her when I reach a

04:45 certain level of angry I feel like I’m

04:51 there in my body but I’m not in control

04:54 I feel like I’m watching things happen

04:56 to me and I’m watching myself do and say

05:00 things so awful and mean and destructive

05:03 but I’m not really I can’t stop I can’t

05:06 stop them and I want to but I can’t stop

05:08 these things from happening

05:10 so it’s dissociative yeah like when

05:14 she’s out it’s like just pure hate and

05:18 pure like just it’s almost like evil

05:21 like I can look at the person I love the

05:23 most in the plan and be like like you’re

05:26 disgusting like I hate you like those

05:29 are the things that I’ll think 

Borderline Personality Disorder Documentary

“people with borderline personality experience emotions more intensely”

” a sense of not really knowing who you are”

“ultimate outsiders”

“I can’t assume what people are thinking of me”

Dr Aguirre’s Insight on BPD Documentary

“The function is to remove intense physiological pain, and if you can put yourself in the position of somebody who would prefer to self injure through cutting or one of these other behaviours, than to deal with intense physiological pain, it begins to give you are idea of how much physiological pain they must be in that this feels better than that.”

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity!”

– Albert Einstein

Dr Aguirre goes on to quote Albert Einstein and then states: “And so that when a thought is paired with a very painful emotion it can feel like an eternity. And so often people with borderline personality disorder they seem to be unable to tell a story linearly because they’re not seeing it through the lens of time, they are seeing it through the lens of emotions and so what might have seemed like 10 minutes to you, to someone who’s emotionally intense might seem a lot longer.”


Furnham, A., Lee, V., & Kolzeev, V. (2015). Mental health literacy and borderline personality disorder (BPD): What do the public "make" of those with BPD?Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 50(2), 317-324. doi:
Year One - Painting

Shawn Coss

Inktober Illness Series Two
Year One - Painting

Large Scale, Greyscale Paintings

30 Minute Expressive Painting Tasks

For these paintings I was inspired by Edvard Munch’s 1894 Melancholy, which I previous shared a blog post on. I chose to focus on this painting for inspiration as I was looking into the concept of ‘Structure’ shown in the current Fine Art Painting project brief.

Project Brief

Edvard Munch’s Meloncholy inspired me to view ‘Structure’ in daily life. The figure in the painting appears very emotional in a negative sense, yet surrounded with beautiful scenery. Forming me to question if a person can feel trapped in a structure of their own emotional, no matter the freeing surroundings they may be within.

First Large Scale Painting (30 Minutes)

I chose to take elements from the original painting, such as: the sky, sea, sand and the figure. Yet explore these ‘Structural’ ideologies in a expressive, more abstract sense. By doing this I was able to create emotion with the paint, I think I was able to connect with the inspiration of the piece which enabled me to create a more coherent set of paintings.

Second Large Scale Painting (30 Minutes)

For this piece I created the same piece in negative colours. I tried to stick to the same shapes and composition of the first piece. However, I wanted to use large brushes and an extended brush to use my body to create the painting the same as the first, to create the authentic emotion and mark makings during the creation.

Collage of Large Scale Paintings

I then created a collage using the best elements of the second painting and attaching them to the first piece. I think the outcome of which made the piece more endearing.

Year One - Painting

20 Minute Observational Studies (Acrylic)

Excluding use of Black and White Paints

With Brushes, Multiple Objects
With Brushes, Single Object
Without Brushes, Single Object
Year One - Painting

Painting Research

Edvard Munch – Melancholy (1894-96)

“Painted in a Symbolist style, with lines, colors and figural distortion to reveal the seascape through the prism of sadness and jealousy, Melancholy is part of a series of similar paintings and woodcuts that Munch completed in the 1890s. The artwork shows a man brooding in the foreground, succumbed to sadness, with his body turned away from the scene that is causing him pain: a man and a woman who are standing on a jetty, in the background, about to embark on a boat. The couple may physically be there, on the pier, but the expressiveness of the painting seems to make no distinction between imagination and reality. Whether the man is simply imagining the two lovers going away or he is acutely aware that they’re nearby, is of no consequence. The pain he is feeling is just as real.”