Category Archives: Project 6

Project 6: Masks Research

Hieronymous Bosch: “The Garden of Earthly Delights”


I was drawn to explore this work on the advice of my tutor, in the context of the “Masks” project. Following a visit to the city of Venice,  I took many photographs of the masks which are displayed all over the city and wanted to used these in my own work.

To help me understand the context for this incredibly complex painting I tried first to understand why the artist might have sought used the motifs and themes seen in the painting, looking back to the concept of Carnival and its relationship to the religious beliefs associated with it.

The Masks

Metamorphosis from human to animal form is a common theme in carnival masks and costumes and is used to great effect in the Garden of Earthly Delights.
The artist Max Beckman lived from 1450-1516, in Medieval Europe, when the influence of the church in art was very significant, with many paintings being produced for church patrons. Bosch had connections to the catholic church and would have identified with the concepts of heaven, hell and creation from the teachings of the church. He would have been familiar with the feast of Easter and the concept of Lent and the fasting and penitential rites which are associated with it.

Celebrations of Carnival take place in many Catholic communities in Europe and Latin America immediately prior to the commencement of Lent, a period of strict fasting and penance which is observed by some Christian faith groups for the 6 weeks prior to the religious feast of Easter. Before the fasting of Lent begins, many such communities celebrate with elaborate festivals, with music, dancing and feasting. During the celebrations, participants often wear masks depicting animal figures such as rabbits, lions, clown figures which mask the identity of the original wearer.
Other mask forms include those which depict distortion of the human face, for example, enlarged noses and phallic symbols, the “ Grotesque Body”.
This phenomenon of the Grotesque Body was postulated by the Russian literary critic Michael Bakhtin in relation to his interpretation of the work of Franciose Rabelais. Bakhtin describes the phenomenon as:

“ degradation, the lowering of all that is abstract, spiritual, noble, and ideal to the material level” (Bakhtin)

Bosch makes prolific use of the grotesque within the Garden of Earthly Delights, presumably to both delight the viewer with his vision of paradise and to shock and repulse the viewer with his vision of hell.

The vision of hell depicted in the right hand panel is revealed to us, in stark contrast to the blissful delights of the Garden of Eden on the right hand panel and the earthly paradise shown in the central panel.

The death of my father during the time I was working on the course also heightened thoughts of the concept of the soul and heaven and hell with these themes constantly reappeared in my thinking at this stage of the course.

The interior painting (Figure1), is a triptych painted in oil on wood panel. The interior panels are painted in rich colour and show 3 different landscapes, populated by a wondrous array of human, animal and plant life. Many of the figures combine these different forms of like, in a fantastical representIon of paradise and hell. The richness of the landscape and ever-surprising array of life- forms keeps the eye of the viewer glued to the canvas in an almost voyeuristic experience as the mind absorbs the potential for metamorphosis of man or woman into any number of interesting and horrific forms.

The left panel shows presenting a vision of The Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. It is a rich landscape depicting a mountainous background, garden middle and foreground. The artist has place the main figures of interest in the foreground, with God shown in rich pink robes in the centre of the picture plane with Adam and Eve, naked on each side. They are surrounded by a wonderful array of animals and birds amongst which they co-exist in perfect harmony. The tree which will lead to their eventual temptation and expulsion is shown to the left of the picture plane. The use of rich greens and blues, together with the stunning variety of colours used to paint the animal characters creates an image which is both beautiful and welcoming. The freedom suggested by the nakedness of the couple evokes an idyllic existence. We could still identify with these sentiments if we did not have strong religious beliefs as many of Bosch’s original audience would have had.

The central panel is also a rich coloured landscape with background and middle and foreground. A river is shown, flowing towards the distance. Here, the artist seems to have used linear perspective to add to the sense of depth in the painting. The middle and foreground are crammed with figures, some still obviously human in form and some metamorphosed into strange and unrecognisable forms. The figures are completely unselfconscious in their nakedness and postures.

The panel n the right shows Bosch’s vision of Hell. It is a landscape painted using black for the background colour, suggesting perpetual darkness, with the glow of distant fire. A number of hellish scenarios are set out for the human participants in the scene. These show a range of images of torture and degradation in store for those condemned to spend eternity in hell.

When the panels are folded inwards, the exterior depicts the creation of the earth in monochrome, with the Creator presiding over the globe. This sets out the overall narrative for the painting and prepares the viewer for the religious theme to come. The use of monochrome on the exterior of the panels adds to the element of surprise which must assail the viewer on opening the panels to reveal the magnificently coloured interior.

Developing the “Mask”Series

In my work for the Mask series, I have drawn on the concept of the soul and redemption, using manipulation of the Carnival masks which I photographed in Venice. These masks used distortion
( elongation of the nose and chin ). Rabbit and lion heads were also seen in the Venice masks.

I used the Photoshop programme to simplify the mask forms to simple line for use in a print. An alternative approach was to increase the constraint dramatically to abstract the form of the masks.
This produced and interesting effect which was used to develop “ the Soul is Mine Alone” series.

Colours purple, red and black were selected to reflect penitence, sin and death.


1.Bosch: Hieronymus Bosch, Grange Books
Confidential Concepts, worldwide, USA 2004
Sir Rocco, London,2004 (English Version)

2. Hieronymous Bosch Visions and Nightmares, Nils Butter
Publisher,Reaktion Books Ltd, 2016, London

3. Ref Wikipedia





Project 6: Single Colour Linoprints: Masks


Sketchbook page: Initial photograph for mask
Sketchbook page: Further devlopment for mask using photoshop programme


For Project 6, I did 2 separate projects. The mask series was created for the second of the two projects. A selection of work from the Masks project is shown here. The remainder can be found in my paper sketchbook for the project. Research relevant to the project is “Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymous Bosch and  “Carnival” by Max Beckman.

The series was inspired by a visit to Venice.

Sketchbook images from the the mask series of images are presented below:

Thoughts on colour choices were based on the significance of the colours red, purple and black. Red: passion, sex and carnal pleasure. Purple: Lent, penitence, fasting. Black: death and mourning.


Addition of Type using Photoshop Programme


Project 6: Single Linocut




Edward Bawden was an English artist well-known for his skills as a graphic artist, illustrator and watercolourist. His work included illustrations for many books and posters. He was widely travelled, having visited many counties in Africa and the Middle East and Europe during the 2nd World War (Wikipedia).

Figure 1: Title Whale (woodcut on paper):, Edward Bawden (1903-89)
Medium:woodcut on paper: Dimensions: 65×95 cms
Edition 9/100

The first work which I selected to investigate was the linocut “Whale” (Figure ).
It is a black and white woodcut printed in landscape format and fairly large in scale at 65x 95cms. I chose this work because I found it both visually striking and loved the fact that it tells a story which is of interest to me.


The whale is placed across the centre of the picture plane, occupying most of the centre of the print, a factor which helps to convey its large size relative to the other elements of the print. The whale dwarfs the hunters who are pursuing it in a small boat. The artist shows the hunters rowing, with one wielding a spear, preparing to throw. His aggression is in contrast to the defencelessness and passivity of the whale, despite its enormous size.


The picture tells a tale: the pursuing hunters, a displaced boat which has tipped it’s occupants into the water. Despite it’s large size, the whale looks frightened and panic- stricken and there is a sense that it will not escape it’s pursuers.


The print demonstrates a wide range of marks across the picture plane: rhythmic curling waves beneath the whale, jagged short marks above the whale suggesting choppy water, a night sky suggested in the upper left corner of the work which has been left uncut to suggest the darkness of the sky contrasting with the much lighter sea below.
The texture of the whale has been created using long straight cuts along it’s length. The water being extruded from the whale’s blowhole uses delicate curving cuts to suggest the flowing water emerging from the blowhole.
Overall, I think the print is very successful. It is pleasing to look at visually and very effectively tells a story at the same time.

The next print I selected was a linocut titled Tyger Tyger.

Figure 2
Tyger, Tyger (linocut), Edward Bawden, (1903-89).
English Medium: linocut


The print has been made in landscape format. The Tiger which is the subject of the print is placed centrally, across the picture plane. He is shown stalking in deep undergrowth. The artist emphasises the camouflage of the stalking tiger amongst the grasses by mirroring the marks used on the tiger’s coat in the grasses.

Mark making

The artist has varied the direction and length of the marks on the tiger’s body to help them stand out against the background, but the sense that the tiger is well hidden is preserved. Those used on the tiger’s body are much shorter than the long vertical marks used to depict the grasses among which he moves. The artist has depicted the tiger’s head full face onto the viewer. He has used a different range of marks to describe the tiger’s head, with small round marks carved out to depict the whiskers and ears.

The vegetation has been left mainly uncut, with sharply constraining rounded forms cut out to provide sharp contrast amongst the dark leaf forms.

Choice of this work

I was particularly interested in the tiger as a subject, as I had used the tiger motif in the masked monoprint section of the course. I was very interested to see how a similar subject created using a different technique could produce a very different mood. This is a subject I would perhaps like to revisit using combined techniques.


“Pink Eyes”

Another work selected for review is the etching “Pink Eyes” by Richard Bawden.

Figure 3
Title: Pink Eyes (etching)
Bawden, Richard (b.1936)
Medium: etching


I was drawn to the work due to the delicacy of the rendering of the rabbit which is the subject of the print and the beautiful soft colour scheme of neutral greys, pale orange which provide a prefect background for the delicate whiteness of the rabbit.


The artist has used a vertical format, dividing the picture plane almost in half horizontally using the horizon line. The rabbit is placed in the lower section of the picture plane centrally, beside a ghostly tree positioned to the right of the rabbit. A ghostly moon shines in the night sky in the upper section of the picture plane in the darkest portion of the night sky. A pale orange light illuminates the night sky to the left, providing a warm contrast to the otherwise seemingly monochromatic scene. The only other strong colour is the pink eyes of the rabbit. The rabbit’s fur has a faint tinge of pink across it’s coat, with white highlights helping to develop the texture of the fur.The use of a monochrome scheme for most of the print emphasises the pink of the rabbit’s eyes helping them to stand out in a way which would be difficult if the work showed more colour elsewhere.

The artist has managed to convey a sense of the animal’s soft fur by the very delicate marks used for the handling of the fur around the rabbit, contrasting with its surroundings.

Overall, it is a beautiful delicate print which suggests an “otherworldliness” to the nocturnal life of the rabbit.

The second work  by Richard Bawden is a linocut titled “Hares at Holbacks”.

Figure 4

Title: Hares at Holbacks (linocut)
Bawden, Richard (b.1936): Medium: linocut
43×63 cms

This is a multicolour linoprint of hares in a woodland setting. The most striking feature of the print is the mark making used to develop the coats of the animals. For the hare in the foreground, the artist has used a wide variety if horizontal marks to describe the fur of the hare, changing the direction of the marks to vertical on the animal’s legs. The fur of the underbelly is described by the white of the paper and short vertical marks, contrasting with the rougher fur on the animal’s back.


The foreground hare occupies the centre of the work in the middle third of the picture plane. The woodland recedes into the background and for this, the artist has developed less detailed marks than for the foreground hare and woodland plants. In the foreground, the veins of the leaves are shown in detail. The marks on the background hare are small and delicate and less detailed than in the foreground animal.

I found it very interesting how with limited colours, the artist has developed a sense of perspective in the print by reducing the size and detail of objects in the distance, such as the trees. I found it impossible to tell how the colours had been achieved, whether by reduction or multiple blocks but believe that the soft edges suggest this is a print created by the reduction method. This is something I would like to explore



2. Whale (woodcut on paper), Bawden, Edward (1903-89) / Imperial College Healthcare Charity Art Collection, London / Bridgeman Images
3 Tyger, Tyger (linocut), Bawden, Edward (1903-89) / © Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK / Bridgeman Images

5. Pink Eyes (etching), Bawden, Richard (b.1936) / © Fry Art Gallery, Saffron Walden, Essex, UK / Bridgeman Images
6. Hares at Holbacks (linocut), Bawden, Richard (b.1936) / Private Collection / Sally Hunter Fine Art, London, UK / Bridgeman Images
hare running wood woodland forest




Project 6: Single colour linocut


Unspoken1 : Anywhere but here

Exploring the Topic

Initial exploration centred on the concept of home and family. I brainstormed words which I felt related to the topic  and used the computer to print these in a variety of fonts:





Ayrshire Cottages: Image used as the basis for Unspoken 1: Anywhere but here

The image which I selected to work on for this project was based on a landscape  of cottages on the Clyde Coast in Ayshire, Scotland. The title refers to what remained unspoken after my dad moved away after my mum died. We never really spoke about it as the subject was always too delicate to discuss. The two birds represent his new life.

The original image was revised from one of my original paintings to suit the project and sketched in white chalk on black paper. This gave me an idea what the work would look like as a print. I then traced the main features onto tracing paper and transferred these to my Lino block. I wanted to create a bleak mood, and  to keep the cottages distinctly white against a black background, with dark sky and textured foreground. The use of this colour scheme made the introduction of the birds relatively simple.

I was able to introduce variety of mark making in the path to the cottages using short deep cuts to create the effect of pebbles, decreasing in size as they moved into the mid- ground. Variety was also added through the addition of grasses in the foreground, both short and long. The piece below was my first print from the block and this was subsequently modified to improve the form of the rocks