Preparing my Studio Practice – First reflection

Stefan513593 - Mud Fall - work in progress - (c)SJSchaffeld, 2016

“What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event” – Harold Rosenberg, 1952

What is it all about? Painting as gesture, movement and performance

This is my first level HE 5 course unit, understanding that it will allow me more freedom to explore according what resonates most to me, to make truly a work of myself, and be authentic in visualization my ideas and sensations. Making paintings and gestural works as a key element in part one, I will be mindful in what will happen and to response to the moment rather than follow pre-conceived ideas. The latter that made my during previous level a bit too self-conscious. Thus, I will reflect on how I am doing in my practice-led research. Inspired since some time now by the book of Smith and Dean (2014). I liked especially the article  by Kathleen Vaughan on ‘Mariposa’.

Reading through part one made me aware of the exciting journey of bodily interaction with mark making, paint application, gesture and movement without my gesture. I understand the mix of exercices, reading and research as a starting point, or just as some idea input to set the stage.

Since my drawing 1 unit I was fascinated by the sensual approach with mark making, how my senses to interact and interfere with what I observe, see, and recall from memory.

Other resources that inspired my during the previous course units are on the one hand the article by Michael Croft (2016) where he described his phenomenlogical awareness of drawing at the wall with a corner, a video camera recording him, his bending and stretching informing his spatial mark making  (see my blog post for D1). Another work that inspired my personal project for drawing 1 was the  fantastic collaborative work Harty and Sawdon (2012) on exploring whether one could and if yes how draw the ‘taste of tree’. An iterative and layered approach with photo images, word associations and drawing. Eventually led the author to conclude that they were not that successful in drawing on the taste, as most assoications were based on sight and hearing, at times touch (see my blog post).

Further, I was and still am deeply influenced by the tactility of drawing and painting. With some inspirations from the exhibition ‘Prière de toucher‘ Basel (2016) I felt that visual art is also tactile art, with the human body, the artist body, a key aspect in the work. From that same exhibition the video installation oy Pipilotti Rist inspired me to wright my last assignment essay for UVC

My personal starting points from previous units are:

  • Recalled sensation and bodily awareness: blog post drawing 1
  • Mark making with natural material (river mud) through gravity, my hands and my feet: The visible touch – blog post drawing 1
  • Process of making and documentation through video recording: video part of drawing 1 and video part of painting 1
  • My own whole body as paintbrush, inspired by Yves Klein and Carolee Schneeman, as part of my parallel project of nine weeks a daily self-portrait in painting 1. I made these painting on the floor and with gouache paint.
  • My current personal project with mark making as a remove from gesture and representation: time elapse process steps
  • My assignment essay on Pipilotti Rist (1992) Pickelporno, an investigation of movement in space and time, a photographic collage with some painterly metaphors, with an awareness of reality and process of seeing and cognition.

I can see that my personal interest do resonate very well with this course unit, at least part one. Therefore, I was so excited having seen the course sample before officially publication.

Key aspects for me to look, to explore, to feel, to experience, to make meaning from:

Stefan513593 - Body Painting - Daily Self-Portrait, 2016

Fig. 1: Stefan513593 – Body Painting – Daily Self-Portrait, 2016

Physical and sensory interaction:

see above. Where can this lead my to? What else and how can I take my bodily awareness, the physics, the masses further in a dialogue with sensual experience? It is about materiliaty and process, about my body and movement. Is it choreography and repetition? Repetition as Deleuze described as one key aspect of difference? Wondering in which space I could forward, space and time, inside or outside? Alone or in interaction?


Gesture is not representational painting, gesture is motion and expression, gesture is also linguistic. What brings me to my own professional practice as art therapist and systemic coach with one focus on structural constellation work. Infants are moving and exploring space, gestures are pre-linguistic expression. And many linguistic terms we use are related to body movements, to gesture. Just a very brief snapshot, wondering I could or should follow this my personal path further. It also reminds me of Wittgenstein and his question ‘What is left if you subtract from the fact (basic action) he fact (bodily movement)?’ with the answer that ‘an action is a bodily movement covered by a rule’ (L. Wittgenstein in: Danto, 2006:5)

Chance, time and duration: 
Chance is a strong element especially in my current project on difference and becoming, inspired by Gilles Deleuze’ theoretical conceptions of difference and repetition.

It also reminds me of Henri Bergson’s conception of duration and delay of images in memory’ (Røssaak, 2016), a question how I will perceive consciously my performative actions during drawing/painting

My view on painting of today
I’ve noticed that in the course material the question is raised, what is painting, and what is painting for me? A question that follows me since my first OCA unit, placed by my tutors and for me to reflect on it. Especially, as during painting 1 I was struggling with which pathway to take. I enrolled initially on the painting pathway, a new drawing pathway appeared, I felt excited, and then even were undecided on painting, drawing, or fine art. The latter with the mandatory UVC, and a pathway that my painting tutor suggested me to consider. Before I finished painting, I switched to Fine Art degree pathway. So far I am quite satisfied with my decision, having more flexibility in drawing and painting.

So far my painting position here:

  • Painting is about color and planes compared to drawing that is more about mark making and tone
  • Painting is compared to illustration not an idea sketched down in paint, but rather a continuous process of interrogation surface, materiality of paint (or other painterly medium) and my responsive action to what appears.
With all this said and reflected on, understandin the scope of part one, I am wondering what my assignment piece would be. Would I need further reading and research to decide? I am struggling with this approach, rather a former habit of mine, and feel that I should look at what really resonates with me.
My rough ideas for part one , un-edited and un-priortized:
  1. Gesture and body awareness as a reflection on my professional practices in art therapy and systemic coaching
  2. Body movement as exploration of my body awareness, of my vulnerability (possible reference: Vito Acconci – far end)
  3. Sea and water: I love the energy of water, best sea but minimum a flowing river, not still, motion. It inspires me, it uplifts my spirit and fuels me back  (possible reference: Jessica Warboys)
  4. Boundaries: During my UVC studies I was more and more challenged my boundaries, boundaries of art and non-art, boundaries of hegemonic groups and marginalized groups, and last not least boundaries in mark making, possibly an allegory as in my rhizome and rising ground works
  5. Body and movement, inner versus outer movement, mediatation, a daily routine, repetition, kind of art yoga. I can feel that this might be a good routine, morning or evening. alongside a diary. How long? I will see and feel, repetition not ending. As Deleuze said, only the third repetition is moving towards repetition in difference, the first for its orginary delay doesn’t exist, the second makes the previous the first, still in semblance, the third can truly ‘take off’

Nevertheless, I should not focus now on what the goal for assignment should be. I need to practice, to experience, and to see what appears and how I will response to that.


  • Fig. 1 : SJSchaffeld (2016) Body Painting process of painting with my body in gouache
  • Fig. 2: SJSchaffeld (2016) Mud Fall  The featured image in the post is my work in progress, a large scale drawing as part of my personal project for Drawing 1. Made with mud from local river and acrylic paint, mark making with my feet


  • Croft, M. (2016) ‘A dialogue of one: Reflection on visual practice through drawing’, in: Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice. [online]. 1(1),  pp. 17-36,  At:  (Accessed on 17 Apr 2016).
  • Danto, A. C. (2006) ‘Works of Art and More Real Thinga’, in:  The Transfiguration of the Commonplace: A Philosophy of Art,Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,,  pp. 1 – 32.
  • Harty, D. and Sawdon, P. (2012) ‘The taste of tree? ‘, in: Journal for Artistic Research. [online].>At: (Accessed on 08 Nov 2015).
  • Røssaak, E. (2016) ‘Who Generates the Image Error? From Hitchcock to Glitch’, in: Cohen, B. and Streitberger, A. (eds.) The Photofilmic : Entangled Images in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture,Leuven: Leuven University Press.
  • Smith, H. and Dean, R. T. (2014) Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts,Research Methods for the Arts and Humanities, reprint (2010) ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd.


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