Rachel Dein



Rachel Dein is an artist who’s work I have enjoyed since I became known of her in my foundation course. Her work is so beautifully delicate and fragile that just looking at it makes me feel like I could damage it. I’m currently looking at Dein’s work at the moment as I think she could tie in well with my subject brief Outside/Inside as her work is based around plants and nature.



 The technique that Dein uses is a simple casting method where she rolls out a slab of clay, arranges a selection of flowers and foliage before greasing, hammering down and sealing a frame. After all of this she mixes together a plaster mixture and pours this into the frame on top of the flower arrangement. Once the plaster has set she gently peels the back the clay mould to reveal the beautifully delicate plaster cast of flowers and foliage.

The way that Dein uses this technique has really interested me and I am looking at completing a workshop with her in her studio in London. Doing this workshop could really help me with my ceramic and plaster casting skills and could also give me a different media to experiment with during this brief.


Starting Point


My level 4 subject brief this year is the theme Outside/Inside. My first thoughts on this theme had me quite worried as to how I could start this project off.  After thinking about it for a while and researching/jotting down ideas I have been really intrigued as to what I could create with this theme.

My first thoughts on this theme was to look at objects or things based on what the theme says. Outside and Inside.

My first idea for this brief was to look at everything and anything that relates to nature. The first part of my brain storm are four drawings of insects and the types of insects I could base this brief around. After looking a little bit more in-depth on google about insects, I think that looking into exoskeletons and even endoskeletons would be the best route for me to go down if I was to base this brief around insects/animals.



Some insects/animals like crabs, beetles, spiders.etc. have exoskeletons to support and protect their bodies from superior species. Larger exoskeletons are also known as shells. I think that this could be a really good path to go down as there are many different medias I could use to create my own take on exoskeletons.

Another idea I had based around the nature/natural forms theme was looking at things like plants, insects and animals in a more pretty/delicate way.

After looking at artists like Rachel Dein, Mister Finch and Jennifer Angus, I am defiantly considering creating something that is quite large scale and beautiful to look at. Each of these artists create pieces of work that relate to plants, insects and animals but do this in a completely different media from one another.

Rachel Dein focuses mainly on using ceramics and plaster casting plants.



Mister Finch creates large scale art pieces of insects, animals and natural forms like plants made completely out of textiles.



Jennifer Angus on the other hand uses insects by pinning them into walls to create her large scale art pieces

Jennifer Angus, Victorian Fancy detail

After doing my research on just nature for this part of my brain storm, I have come up with so many ideas already just on a small segment on what I could do. Also this gives me a very large variety of artists that I can look into and take inspiration from.

Shinro Ohtake

z ohtake.jpg


Shinzo Ohtake is an Japanese artist who paints/ creates installations and also designs record and book covers.  I was recommended to look at this artist by my tutor James and have found his work to be quite intriguing. Ohtake’s work is quite similar to the art journaling style I choose to do in my own sketchbooks. What I like about this style is that its a good way to turn a boring page into something aesthetically pleasing and also I find helps to keep me interested in the projects I’m doing at the time.



Another technique Ohtake uses that is similar to my work is the ‘Zig Zag’ concertina journal which consists of a sketchbook that is all connected into one long page that opens up in a zig zag pattern. I really enjoy using this kind of sketchbook for my work as this means I am not restricted to one page at a time and I can stretch out what I’m doing along the pages without having to worry about not having enough room.


What I enjoy about Ohtake’s work is how he uses colour to make his sketchbooks bright and eye catching. His pages are always so full of this and there are never any blank spaces. I’ve started to look at his work for inspiration recently as it inspires to use more brighter colours when journaling in my own sketchbook. Recently I have been using greens, yellows and oranges in their brightest forms in my sketchbook and I am really liking how it looks as I find it makes my pages look more exciting.



Examples of the use of colour and texture in my own work.

Ohtake’s work also looks quite textural from the images I have seen when doing research into him. I really like this idea of including texture in sketchbooks as it not only gives you something to feel on the page but it can also change the way the paint takes to the page. I found when experimenting with different texture pastes like sand paste and crackle paint, the watercolour paints I was using would highlighted the textures and made it stand out more. I really like the way this looks as it gives the sketchbook a more detailed look.

Field Projects – Shaped Paintings


This week I started a new material project called Shaped Paintings. What I aim to achieve within the next three weeks of this project is to create a painting that is not your day to day square or rectangular canvas shape but one of the shape of my subject. My chosen subject for this project is a beetle. I have chosen to use a beetle as this will link in with my Outside/ Inside project and also it will be quite a challenge to see how the final result of this piece turns out.

What I am wanting to do for this this piece is to create a three-dimetional painting that doesn’t initially have to be hung on the wall but could be propped up or stood up on its own. How I would do this would be to create the shape of the bug using chip board (as its easy to cut and paint on) and create wire legs to be able to hold the weight of the beetle.


What I have done is cut out templates for the chip board so that I can get all of my pieces to a similar size. With the wings, I need to make three of each side as I want to create a layered effect that will help with shaping my beetle. After I have used my templates to draw the shapes on my chip board, I plan on using a bandsaw to cut out my shapes and then sand down the edges using a sanding machine for wood. Then I will need to prime the surface and sides of my chip board with three layers of priming paint to prepare the wood for the acrylic paint I will be apply next week.

This week is the week I am under painting my chip board pieces. The colours I have chosen for my beetle are red and green like the image above. What I am planning to do is to paint a dark red base coat as my under coat and then after that has dried paint green around the sides. Then using a damp brush, I will then blend the paint into the middle in circular motions to create an ombre effect. I am also hoping that using this technique may help the wood look less flat and more rounded to create a 3D effect.

Update 25/10/2016:


I have started my ombre effect painting and so far I am really liking how it has turned out. The ombre effect is exactly what I was looking for at this stage of the painting part and the next layer of paint that I put on will help to blend out the green and not leave any harsh lines or areas.

Some thing I would really like to add to my beetle is some kind of pattern work that I could put on the wings and the head area. This could be small line work like tree bark just to add a textured look to the area and also to add detail like in Ernst Haeckel’s work.

Field Projects – Indoor Sun’s

Indoor Sun’s is the first Material Project I have done since starting at Cardiff Met. In the first session we looked into different artist who had created pieces based around the theme ‘Indoor Suns’ whether that was weather related or just related to light. After looking at a few artists like Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde who created clouds indoors we started to create ideas of exhibitions we could create if there were no boundaries.

The first idea that we had was a hell like Victorian ghost train but after thinking about it more we decided to scrap this idea and base our idea around the weather. The final idea that we came up with was the idea of a room where you experienced all seasons and all weathers in a matter of 5-10 minutes. In this room we would use all kinds of sensors so that it would automatically turn on and off each season depending on which section of the room you were stood in quite like the exhibition ‘Rain Room’ created by Hannes Koch, Florian Ortkrass and Stuart Wood. To create ‘Rain Room’, they used sensors to turn off the rain when walking through certain sections of the room so that the rain was all around you without the person actually getting wet. Also with this ideas would be the smaller details like detail to temperature control in each section where each season is, humidity and wind control using fans and heaters and also different smells.

On our last few sessions we then started to play around with different jobs, sounds and lightings to create our own version of ‘Indoor Suns’ as a group. Above are three photos of what our final exhibition looked like. What we used were things like wood beams, string, glass cars, computer pieces, projects etc. What we did was create a sculptural form in the middle of the room and then using an old project we placed items on top to create images and light through the sculpture and onto the wall. We also used cameras to film sections of the room like when people walked passed to then be projected onto the wall also.

Below is a video I took of what we were experimenting with.

National Museum, Cardiff


Quite recently I visited the National Museum Cardiff to take a look at the art exhibitions they have there. Since moving to Cardiff in September, I have only been to the museum once which was for a lecture in the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre. So this was a chance for me to take a look inside and see what kind of collections they had to show. The museum had quite a range of pieces which were created by many talented artists ranging from the year 1500-2000. All of these pieces were either painting or sculptural. Two painters that stood out the most to me were the works of Ceri Richards and Dorothea Sharp.


Ceri Richards

Cycle of Nature, 1944

Ceri Richards was a British painter, print-maker and maker of reliefs who died in London 1971. This piece of his named ‘Cycle of Nature’ is an abstract oil painting sized 102.2cm-152.7cm.

This torrent of human, animal and vegetable forms is reminiscent of earlier Surrealist landscapes by Max Ernst. Richards is also exploring visual imagery the evokes Dylan Thomas’s poem of 1933. ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.’ In 1945 he was commissioned to illustrate the poem in Poetry London, for which he made three lithographs incorporating the entire text.

What I really enjoy about this piece by Richards is the pale colours he uses and how he has used them to create tone. This adds more depth to the painting and also creates a less flat look. The fact he has also used oil paint to create this piece of work also means that the textures on the canvas are quite interesting to look out. This is one of the things that I love about artists who choose to use oil paints as their media as it adds a more unique character to the art work.


Close up photos of ‘Cycle of Nature’ I took in the museum


Dorothea Sharp

At the Seaside, 1943

Dorothea Sharp was a British landscape, figure and flower painter who died in London 1955. Sharp trained at Regent Street Polytechnic School of Art and also in Paris.

Sharp lived in London and Blewbury in Berkshire, but also spent time in St Ives in Cornwall.  This work is typical of her idyllic and sunlit scenes of children or the seashore inspired by her Cornish sojourn. Such paintings enjoyed a huge revival in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s but in her own lifetime her reputation rested upon her accomplished flower pictures.

One of the many things that I love about this painting of Sharps is the way she has used the pale blues and the darker greens to create the illusion of moving water. The way she has painted this has captured the movement extremely well and is a clear representation of what she must of been seeing at the time. Another added detailed that I have noticed about Sharp’s paintings are the textures of the canvas she is working on. This really adds something to the painting I think and gives it a little bit more detail. Detail is also added where she has applied thicker amounts of paint in areas which gives the painting a more three-dimensional effect. I really like this and think this is one of my favourite paintings that were in the museum.


Close up photos of ‘At the Seaside’ I took in the museum

Ernst Haeckel, Art Forms in Nature

Whilst on Amazon the other day, I purchased a book which is a collection of prints by the artist Ernst Haeckel. I’ve known of Haeckel’s work before and found his work to be quite striking. Some of his pieces are packed full of detail and colour that make them hard to be missed and I want to be able to make my own pieces stand out and draw attention like he does with his.


One of the reason I have wanted to look at Haeckel’s work is because of my subject brief Outside/ Inside. What I really wanted to look into was insects and animals with exoskeletons as their outsides are our insides and I’ve found that his work relates to what I want to do quite well.


Cirripedia. Rankenkrebse

Haeckel’s work relates to a few ideas that I have as a few of his prints have sea animals with exoskeletons such as crabs, lobsters.etc. This is a topic I would like to explore more in-depth for my Outside/ Inside project as I find it quite interesting how animals such as crab have there exoskeletons as a protective shell. Also looking at endoskeletons is something I would like to research more into.