Assignment 5 – Paintings on a theme – summary and overall evaluation

A series of five paintings on the theme of Shakespeare’s Richard II as played by Fiona Shaw in 1995 and David Tennant in 2013.


Painting 1: “God save the King, although I be not he” Richard II



Painting 2: “I give this heavy weight from off my head” Richard II


Painting 3: “The hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king” (I)


Painting 4: “The hollow crown that rounds the mortal temples of a king” (II)


Painting 5: “On this side my hand, on that side thine”










Experiment with lettering – not included as an assignment piece


“I give this heavy weight from off my head” (II)






I’ve given a relatively detailed evaluation of each of my paintings (click on the images above to get to the pages) and overall I am fairly satisfied that I have pushed myself and shown improvement. I have managed to:

  • engage with my subject and feel excited by it
  • create mood and atmosphere and tell stories
  • use a limited colour palette in a bolder, more vibrant way
  • got the hang of using many transparent layers of paint
  • pushed myself to explore new techniques (e.g. use of enamel paint with acrylic) and different uses of line
  • be more creative in terms of background
  • improved my compositions and filled the picture plane
  • journey from sketchbook to final painting in a way that has been productive and sometimes exciting
  • used Photoshop creatively to give ideas
  • taken inspiration from many artists, German expressionist Emil Nolde in particular.

My theme kept me motivated. Each time I returned to the limited footage I have of Fiona Shaw playing Richard II,  I was reinvigorated as it is very powerful. I was helped along by lots of Shakespeare themed theatre and TV productions to mark the 400th anniversary of his death. This  was just as well because after my initial planning and research we moved house, which involved redecorating and renting our old house. This was extremely tiring and distracting and we’re still not completely organised as we have moved to a much smaller house while we decide what we want to do in the long term. I’m pleased that in all the chaos I’ve managed to complete this assignment within the original time frame I set myself  before we decided to move.

It goes without saying that at Level One there is much that could be improved. I would like to have produced some  abstract or ethereal and less literal work. I’m still not fully achieving in acrylic the kind of expressive and fluid line that I can bring to my ink paintings (sometimes!) but I’m determined to keep working on this as I believe that is where my personal voice lies. I’m beginning to understand the language of acrylic paints. I really didn’t like them at the start of Part 5 but I’m an enthusiast now!

Also see: Reflections on completing Painting 1



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