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Author Archives: MSButler
‘Set up a reasonably large still life, for example two or three chairs piled together’ – that is one of those requests that I struggled with in Drawing 1 as being thoroughly uninspiring as a drawing project! So, I decided to draw a cross section of a Primula from a photograph in a book – it also took up less space in the house! I followed the rest of the suggestions by attaching a 2B graphite stick to the end of a pole to do the initial drawing on a 140x70cm piece of lining paper on the floor.
I found that I actually had quite a lot of control over this despite it’s length as I could press it against my arm as I drew with it. However, when I swapped the graphite stick for a 9B one to try to add some shading, I lost that control and regressed to a child’s drawing.
Adding colour to the drawing using handfuls of coloured pencils didn’t improve it much either
Scale can be important and I can see how this method of drawing could be used for large scale works. The reflection asks:
What happens when you break the relationship between your brain and the marks you make in this way? Are these simply bad drawings – or do they point the way to a kind of responsiveness within the act of mark-making which enables a more sensitive and ultimately more informative line? This is a loaded question, but respond with your own views and reflections based on what you’ve learned so far.
Despite the loaded question, I’m afraid I feel that they are simply bad drawings. I think some people work in a more fluid and spontaneous way and this method of drawing could work well for them and influence their work. However, others (in which I include myself), prefer a more detailed or precise way of working and I cannot see how this could help in the work I produce.
Not a project I immediately engaged with, but I had a go. I chose a jar to draw, thinking that the contrast between the smooth glass and metal lid might add something to the exercise. The notes requested several studies until you feel that you’ve arrived at something interesting. I did several studies, but I don’t feel I arrived at the interesting stage, or at least not an interesting drawing in it’s own right.
It was interesting to think how you might try to represent feel without sight – i.e. using darker areas for areas which cannot be felt (recessed areas), or the difference between rough and smooth surfaces being emphasised. In doing this the differences between surface texture could be highlighted above what can be seen, with imperfections brought to the fore. I think I was partially recording the sensation of touch, but also trying to use it as a replacement for sight in trying to draw a 3D object. Overall, it was interesting to think what using this method could lead to, but as drawings they are just rubbish drawings!
I want this to be closely related to my parallel project, so initial ideas at the moment are:
- How artists portray environmental issues
- How artists combine science/microscopy with art
- Drawing on metal (rust printing, cutting, welding)
I think the individual elements of this drawing all work well, although the foreground is the weakest area. What I am not convinced by is the overall effect of the whole image. I think it is because it is too dark and too cluttered for my liking. What might have been quite interesting would be to leave the rocks as a white space and fill in the foreground in more detail?
The gunpowder line doesn’t work as successfully on the heavy weight paper I have used in this drawing, with fewer holes burnt all the way through the paper. There is some scope in the future with experimenting with different layers behind the holes made with the gunpowder to see what effects can be achieved. The gunpowder line along with the rust introduces browns into the black and white image. I wonder whether this introduction of some colour, then means that more should be used?
To improve the image as it stands, cropping it to exclude some of the foreground makes the image work a bit better:
I can see the potential in using the subject in a drawing, both for the ability to make more random marks and to impart more meaning to the drawing. However, I think there is limited scope for me to do this in my practice as there are very few local locations in which I would feel happy disturbing any of the vegetation.
The brief here is to make a drawing of a subject of your choice using the subject itself, or tools constructed from the subject, dipped in ink or paint.
In my mark making experiments, the use of rust printing and drawing with gunpowder have stood out as methods I want to explore further and fit with the work I would like to produce.
I frequently do a walk near my home which goes through a disused quarry and these drawing methods seemed to fit in well with this subject.
I did some sketches and made notes on possible options:
Using the subject in the drawing was a bit tricky as there isn’t much actually on the site!
I decided to draw two boulders which had been left in the centre of the quarry.
These have drill holes through them where explosive charges had been placed. With a little lateral thinking I decided that the materials which would be used would be:
- Gunpowder to draw the outline of the boulders – not using the subject directly, but making reference to the explosives which were used to blow these boulders out of the quarry face.
- Rust marks – overall light rust over the whole image to join it all together, individual rust marks from items found on the site, rocks collected from the site placed on the paper whilst rust printing to hopefully pick up their outline in the rust print.
- Possible marks made from part of a tyre found on the site?
- Possibly adding crushed rock to the image?
The ink drawing of the background:
Line of gunpowder:
Video of the gunpowder burning:
After the burn:
Rusty objects and rocks added, rusting solution added and sealed to rust:
Charcoal drawing of the rocks added:
Random lines using found tyre added to try to blend the foreground with the rest of the image:
Cornelia Parker is very clearly a conceptual artist. Her work is all about the idea, with aesthetics often playing a part, but very much a secondary concern.
What do I think Parker is trying to do in her piece ‘Poison and Antidote Drawing, 2010’?
Parker’s work is mostly all about the conceptual message. The concept of mixing poison and antidote with black and white ink links two different opposites together and provide the subject for this work. Mixing the two inks together and using Rorschach blots introduces random results, so she is not in control of the outcome. Hidden meanings might be found in the phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, in using poisoned ink in these drawings.
I think this work is more of an extension of her earlier work ‘Pornographic Drawing 1996’ where she extracted the ferric oxide component from confiscated pornographic films and used these as the ink. With those drawings, her use of Rorschach drawings was more relevant to the subject as these drawings are used in psychoanalysis to reveal subconscious desires, providing additional layers of meaning to appreciate. Especially as the image produced was very phallic in appearance.
In ‘Poison and Antidote Drawing, 2010’, the Rorschach drawings show how the two inks react with each other, but I’m not sure they have a deeper meaning than that. What they do provide is interesting shapes and patterns and the resulting drawing is aesthetically pleasing.
Embracing the random element of working with materials fits with my recent experiments with gunpowder and rust, but in my work I feel I need more than just a concept and I associate ‘art’ with the skill of the artist.
Why do I think Parker uses bits of her subject to make her artwork?
The subject is Parker’s work. Without that link to the original item, the work doesn’t work, it wouldn’t resonate with the people viewing it and it would fail.
How do I think it feels to stand in the presence of artworks that are constructed from original objects of great cultural significance? How does that differ from, say, standing in front of a painting of the same object?
In our society, we value history highly. The use of original objects makes us feel a connection with the past time in which those objects were created or used. So their use in making artwork brings about a much stronger reaction in us than their representation in drawing/painting. Ai Weiwei’s ‘Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995’ is a good example of this.
Ai Weiwei (cited in Guggenheim, 2018):
‘It’s powerful only because someone thinks it’s powerful and invests value in the object.’
Artsy.net. (n.d.). Poison and Antidote Drawings. [online] Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/cornelia-parker-poison-and-antidote-drawings-8 [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
British Museum. (2018). Poison drawing. [online] Available at: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=691360&partId=1&school=13279&page=5 [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].
Guggenheim. (2018). Ai Weiwei. [online] Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/ai-weiwei [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].
Wroe, N. (2018). Cornelia Parker: ‘I’ve always been happy to sleep with the enemy’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/may/18/cornelia-parker-interview [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].
This project was one of those which caused a block for me in struggling to think of anything I could do to which would inspire me. Apart from friends and family, I generally don’t hold strong opinions about people. There are a few politicians which are the exception, but I don’t want to explore drawing people I despise, so friends or family it was. Translating that into an item of clothing was then very difficult. I toyed with drawing some purple clothing for my wife, but wasn’t overly inspired my this. I decided to bend the brief a bit and do a drawing of my father with an OS map background and him measuring a walk with a handkerchief, his favoured method of working out a walk length.
I decided to collage a map onto the paper to create the background. I tried as test piece at a life drawing session – it worked, but was more difficult to draw in charcoal over it than it was just on the paper. I decided it was worth carrying on with it though.
So I prepared a piece of paper with a torn OS map over half of the page. I sketched in a handkerchief shape and painted in gesso, then covered the gesso and map in a pastel ground to enable it to take a charcoal drawing.
This worked OK, although the hands are a little small (because they are drawn from my own, not my fathers!). The blending of the figure into the map could be better around the shadow of the head also.
I tried a second attempt:
I was pleased with the drawing of the face, it was just a shame it looked nothing like my father! I think the issue is that the eyes are too high and the face too wide. The handkerchief and compass also look a little lost and don’t fit in with the rest of the drawing.
My first attempt was the better drawing, both in composition and in looking like the subject I was drawing. The drawings are only loosely based on the project brief, but I have to modify to make them inspiring to me to get the most out of it. I’m not sure the two parts of the drawing blend well enough together, but the collaging of the maps onto the background worked well.
The course asks to reflect on the possibilities of juxtaposing apparently incongruous materials and subject, using the example of an enormous violently applied drawing, engine oil on sheet steel, of a newborn baby and how that would be read. In this example, I can see how the drawing materials and methods could be used to play with how you see a subject. However, this (and this project brief) is a good example of where I struggle with the course sometimes – getting emotion into an image when I am not a highly emotional person. I’ll keep trying, but I am more likely to introduce science than emotion into my drawings.
The aim of this project was to use two differently coloured layers and make drawings by scratching through the top into the bottom layer.
I struggled to get inspired by this project. I tried a number of experiments, but not many of them were successful:
Trying to get a layer of wax pastel on top of anything proved to be harder than I imagined it would be. Even when I managed it, it wasn’t doing anything for me as a drawing medium
Acrylic over watercolour ended up removing the watercolour, but acrylic over acrylic worked better, as long as the top layer of acrylic was still wet when scratching into it.
Drawing a brightly coloured landscape, covering in black acrylic and wiping or scratching through it worked quite well. The only issue was that I had applied the black in a very thin layer so it dried very quickly and didn’t give me long to work into it.
The above experiments had been done for the sake of the course and without inspiring me. However, I finally had an idea which sparked my imagination. I had recently been given some large steel sheets which used to be the covering of a fire door. These were painted white, but had damage on them where rust marks were coming through. I decided to draw onto these by scratching through into the paint to reveal the steel below. The subject I chose to draw was taken from Ernst Haekel’s ‘Art Forms from the ocean’ (Breidbach and Haeckel, 2005):
I liked the drawing back to the steel, but it improved as the steel rusted (helped along by spraying it with a rusting mixture) as it blended nicely into an aged look. I decided to try to get a rust print from this, so I soaked a piece of paper in rusting mixture, laid the steel steel on top of it and wrapped them both up in a plastic sheet to seal in the moisture and left it for a week. The results were better than I expected.
I will be experimenting with this further as I enjoyed this method and it is a good fit with my sculpture work.
Scratching through layers initially didn’t seem to be a drawing technique for me, until I discovered scratching through paint into steel. Also the possibilities of gunpowder drawing and other combustible material to give an interesting semi-random pattern was discovered. Both of these offer me an exciting opportunity to draw in a non-traditional way which seems to be a closer ‘fit’ to my current sculpture work. I will explore both of these options further as I progress through the course
Breidbach, O. and Haeckel, E. (2005). Art forms from the ocean. Munich: Prestel.
The course pointed me to look at three artists who make work which both creates and denies three dimensions at the same time and make notes on their work.
Eames produces very interesting digital work.
The series ‘Fires over Western Africa’ look like satellite images of the area of Africa, manipulated into straight lines, with the fire locations overlaid on top – basically using GIS (which I use in my day job) to make art. In a similar way to Rebecca Chesney she is keeping her wonder at the technology and using it to produce artistic work. It looks like Eames is more focused on making a finished artistic ‘product’ than Chesney is though.
Interestingly, on her home page she explains that she is trying to capture the immediacy / messiness of drawing or doing, something that is usually lacking in digital drawing. However, the lack of ‘mess’ is what strikes me about her work and makes me not warm to her images, so I’m not sure she has achieved this yet. The images I like best in her portfolio are the ones that are not digital drawings:
‘Finalfusion_#1’ and ‘Ochestration_#3’. These drawings remind me of microscopic images of organisms, or cross sections of plants, imagery that interests me and I like the way she has produced these with interesting and varied mark-making. They use the layering of different images that she has also done with digital images, but the drawings work so much better for me. With the digital versions she has pixilated them heavily, perhaps to try to get some ‘mess’ into them, but they make them look out of focus and highlight their digital nature which puts me off (perhaps because I am trying to escape from computers in my art work?).
As for the 3D nature of her work, it is primarily through her use of line she represents this. There is shading also, but it looks quite crude (i.e. not believable) digital shading.
Very skilful paintings with intriguing subjects – floating people with no legs, or partially painted people such as a floating head in ‘Sleeper, 2008’. They appear to make no sense and so invite you to question what is happening and why they are depicted in this way. I like them, but I’m struggling to put my finger on why! Maybe it is because they appear traditional in the way they are painted, but not traditional in what they depict? Very interesting work.
Looking at his 3D depiction, he skilfully depicts shadows in his paintings to represent the 3D surface, giving the images a very lifelike appearance.
Jim Shaw’s images use a cartoon style of drawing/painting, and shading is often absent and the images very flat. When he does use shading, it is usually in blocks of colour and stylised. In general they leave me cold and I struggle to see any merit in them. The closest I can get to liking one would be ‘Four Men with Arms Raised #1, 2012’ in which I like the play on scale and the airbrushed lines. I don’t think I will be taking much from this artists work though.
Artnet.com. (2018). Jim Shaw | artnet. [online] Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/jim-shaw/ [Accessed 22 May 2018].
Eames, A. (2018). Angela Eames | Artist | Drawing and Technology. [online] Angela Eames | Artist | Drawing and Technology. Available at: https://www.angelaeames.com [Accessed 22 May 2018].
Zeno-x.com. (2018). Zeno X Gallery – Michaël Borremans – Selected Works. [online] Available at: http://www.zeno-x.com/artists/MB/michael_borremans.html [Accessed 22 May 2018].
I stalled for a while at this point in a similar way to how I did when I hit an uninspiring section on the D1 course. I just need to remember that everything can be inspiring if you find the right angle!
For me this was playing with fire and rust:
I then did a project to draw 40 different lines, using a variety of media:
I was fortunate to go on a ‘Greening Arts Practice’ session which featured a talk by this artist. The theme for the session was about how we perceive land and how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all shape and impact on it.
Rebecca’s work is all about discovering new information and sharing it with the public. The end product is a drawing, an exhibition, a leaflet, or a recording. She does not produce work to sell.
Her work is very much a crossover between art and science and it is interesting to see how closely these two can align. ‘map. volume 1, coniston: grizedale arts, cumbria 2005 / 06’ is a particularly interesting project for me as this was using the kind of information I work with in my day job as a GIS officer. It was interesting to look at this project and examine what makes this art in comparison to the maps I might produce as part of my work. I think that as an artist she is delving into science and looking at the information in a new way, keeping her sense of wonder in what she discovers and trying to pass that on to the public. She is effectively taking the public on a journey with her, she is one step ahead of them, but not an expert. She talks to the experts and interprets the science for the public. She picks out the bits she wants to do and makes sure she keeps in mind that she is an artist and not a scientist. Her involvement brings a fresh pair of eyes to a subject. She looks into the issues which bring tension into the landscape and the challenge for her is in getting the message she wants to convey across in the artwork. In this work she highlights issues, but also hides them. If I’d produced a map of this in my day job, the boundaries would be clearer as to what they mean. Her work can’t be interpreted.
It was fascinating to her Rebecca talk about her work and the discussions with her and the group afterwards were very interesting and thought provoking.
Chesney, R. (2018). Rebecca Chesney. [online] Rebeccachesney.com. Available at: http://www.rebeccachesney.com/ [Accessed 22 May 2018].
This project starts with a background covered in charcoal and starts by drawing into this with a rubber and then adding more charcoal to produce images without outlines.
This is my favoured way of doing life drawing, so I started doing some of these:
I want to see if I can apply this to my sculpture work though, so the next step was to draw a completed sculpture in this way:
This kind of works (colour plays quite a part in the sculpture, so black and white doesn’t capture that), but it doesn’t help me to develop the work.
I then tried a sculpture I haven’t (fully) made yet:
Obviously the lighting is made up on this sculpture as it doesn’t exist yet. The sculpture will be a wall hung relief work, but this looks more like an aerial view of a large scale work in the landscape. I’m also not sure it helps me to develop my work. At this stage, the nerve cell pieces are made, but I need to decide how to arrange them on the background. This is going to be much easier to do by moving the pieces around once they are made.
I am a big fan of this way of drawing and think it offers the best method of capturing a sense of depth and form.
This method of drawing doesn’t help me work on my current relief sculptures, but would help when looking at more all-round 3D works. For instance, this was how I ended up with this sculpture. I have gone in for a lot of relief sculptures lately and want to move back into more 3D in the round works, so this method might be more useful to employ with these works.
This was an exhibition of contemporary artist drawings, ranging from pencil/ink/charcoal drawings to objects and animation.
Responds to ‘found’ photographs and reproduces using pencil in incredible detail that makes it indistinguishable from a photograph. That shows great skill, but the interest comes from where he has altered them as if ‘photoshopping’ the images. ‘Untitled 2, 2005’ was particularly effective, a small image (maybe 50cm wide) akin to a black and white photograph of a school group, with the photographic like image for the front row, getting less detailed and down to a single outline at the back row of children.
A very pared down image using just a few lines, but in those lines the expression of the people is captured perfectly.
Very detailed drawings from her imagination which must take a long time to complete. She had some nice use of line and stippling, although I didn’t find there to be enough variation in mark making to keep my interest.
His drawings using just biro were very powerful. They use bold lines, or ruled lines fading out to produce graphic effects. They remind me a bit of Paul Nobel’s Nobtown drawings, but I prefer these ones as they leave more to the imagination.
A very interesting exhibition. Simon Woolham’s work made the biggest impression on me and I will try out some of his drawing methods.
Exhibition Visit – The Hepworth – Alina Szapocznikow: Human Landscape + Permanent collection of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth
I started my visit looking at the permanent collection of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. I had viewed most of this on previous visits, so concentrated on their drawings and its relationship to their sculptures.
The drawings of his which were on display were his lithograph prints of Stonehenge and a couple of drawings of sculptures in a landscape.
I think his lithographs of Stonehenge are fantastic. They are very dark, but not in a brooding way, they have more of a mysterious feel to them. The lines and shading he uses describe the form of the rocks in great detail and really bring them to life.
The concentration on form and the smooth curves he describes in these rocks can be seen in his sculptural work. Whilst they are drawings of different objects to those which directly influenced his sculptures, the connection is clear.
This drawing was one of only two on display which show his drawings of sculptures – this time placed in an imaginary landscape. The background and shadows are very simple, but is effective in displaying these sculptures in-situ. This is something my tutor has just suggested I try doing with my own work in connecting my drawing more closely with my sculpture work. I can see how this could work well and I will try doing this.
There are many similarities between Hepworth’s and Moore’s sculptures, especially in their early work. However, when it comes to drawings, they are very different. Whereas Moore’s drawings are all about form, Hepworth’s seem to be all about line. She said herself (in an article for The Studio in 1946) that she rarely makes drawings for her sculptures, but her drawings are a search for forms, rhythms and curvatures. In the drawings on display, you could see their influence on the stringed sculptures she produced and the use of holes in her work, but there was no evidence of form being explored.
Szapocznikow’s work was very odd. Her work concentrates on the human figure and is mostly distorted and disturbing work. Reading about her background of being a Polish Jew and spending over 10 months imprisoned in concentration camps during the second world war, the experiences she suffered there are clear to see in her work.
‘Hand, Monument to the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto II, 1957’
In this sculpture she has drawn on these experiences to propose a sculpture for a monument to the Holocaust and it is a powerful work which fits the brief well.
Similarly, her work ‘Exhumed, 1955’ is another powerful sculpture, an unofficial memorial to a politician falsely accused of espionage and murdered.
Her other works, I found hard to connect to. Distorted figures or parts of figures were hard to interpret and her tumour works were very disturbing. She used materials which fitted in well with her work – resin and foam – these highlighted the disturbing nature of her sculptures.
Many of her drawings were also on display. These were often doodle like and used line with very little depiction of tone. It was also hard to see the link between these and her sculptural work, they all seems to be abstract shapes which bore no similarity with her sculptures.
Overall, it was not an exhibition I connected well with. I could see where the influences for her work came from and appreciate some of her work (the first two sculptures mentioned), but I didn’t like any of it. Is there anything I can take from the exhibition? That I’m not sure of at the moment. Maybe to be less precious of my drawings and not strive for a polished end product?
Notes on my tutor’s report for part 1:
Keen to get me confident in connecting my sculptural interests to drawing.
Need to bring my artists research into the coursework.
Try taking elements of a drawn 2D scene, model in 3D, then draw again.
Other option is collage – representing a scene through layered collage.
For my parallel project, investigate placement of sculptures in a scene or develop a purpose to the drawing investigations to move my sculptural ideas forward in some way.
Noted that the stippling was an interesting surface to bring in and why I did this. I need to remember to include details on why I make decisions like this in my reflections. Without the stippling, the white in the drawing was too stark. I was looking to break this up and had the option of either stippling or adding blocks of colour to the white areas. As blocks of colour had been explored in the previous project, I went for stippling.
Investigate more possibilities than the prescribed course notes to get the most out of the course.
My tutor notes that these are very successful and wonders why I say that I struggle with drawing. I am confident in my life drawings using charcoal and so it is odd that I consider myself a poor drawer. I need to work out how to apply the confidence I have in my life drawings to other subjects I guess.
Delve around further in terms of the artist’s working processes.
Write about decisions made in why I am drawing what I choose to draw.
Be more critical when unpacking the work when it is done to understand what I am investigating and why.
My tutor asks why the interest in cells. Again I have failed to explain this thought process in my reflections. I have an interest in microscopy from work I did on my Sculpture 2 course and I continue to delve into that world for ideas and inspiration for new sculptural work. I am currently working on a sculpture piece based on nerve cells (IMAGE) and so I am again trying to link my drawing work with my sculptural work to make it more relevant and interesting for me.
Try to incorporate 3D work. Use non-traditional materials to draw with.
Visit at least one exhibition for part 2.
Read and reflect wider than the course notes.
Investigate contemporary sculpture from artists drawings to get a better sense of the connections that can be made.
A very helpful tutor report and useful guidance in how to take my drawing work forwards. I was wary of doing this course based on my experience of D1, but now I think I can get a lot out of it.
Idea 1: Pollen
I would like to expand this work, so have the idea of producing a series of drawings of pollen grains, then their transformation into pieces of sculpture.
Maybe move this more into mixed media drawing?
Some ink drawings of the actual pollen grains as a starting point:
Idea 2: Genetic Modification or cross pollination
Using a similar method to the idea above, this would start with a drawing of a pollen grain and another of a virus (or different pollen grain), then a series of drawings combining the two into a new form and from there into a sculpture.
This would require research into the science behind these first.
Idea 3: Bees
I might have the opportunity to get involved with an exhibition based on bee decline with my sculpture work. I could incorporate drawing much more in this process than how I usually work and see if it leads me into more interesting territory.
Idea 4: Textures
Produce 100 different texture drawings to result in 10 sculpted texture tiles?
Idea 5: Hidden environmental threats to the Yorkshire Dales National Park
- 3 artists (myself, Geoff Rushton and Anna Whitehouse)
- 3 hidden threats
- Bring science, environment and art together
- Exhibit in the National Park, a scientific establishment (Leeds University?) and an art gallery
Anna has the potential opportunity to use an electron microscope at Leeds University.
Environmental issues facing the Dales:
- Tree disease – ash dieback, similar disease in Juniper
- Species movement (due to climate change)
- Plastic – tree guards
- Traffic volume
- Farming – uncertain future post Brexit
- Invasive species
- Isolated habitats suffering encroachment
- Pest control – altering balance of natural predation
‘Hidden issues’ is an interesting idea, but as a group we wanted to follow this route to raise awareness of environmental issues, but when focussing on specific issues in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, there is very little or nothing the general public can do to help.
Idea 6: Focus on a 1km grid square and produce work based on that
This is an idea for collaborative work also, but rather than focus on the environmental issues at the outset, take an area of land and produce work based on what we find there – the environmental issues will no doubt come out as we do this.
Picking a location is currently a sticking point, but we are thinking of a place roughly at the mid-point between each of our three locations (so semi-random).
Idea 6 is the current front runner for my parallel project.
I want to explore:
- ink drawing
- rust printing
- gunpowder drawing / burning
- ‘drawing’ on bronze – lines on a 3D surface
Reviewing my work so far, projects 1-3 have been a progressive investigation of the use of ink, whilst project 4 has been a change of medium and feels a bit disjointed from the other two because of it. All the projects have explored making an apparently uninspiring subject interesting and exploring ways of making compositions more dynamic.
With my assignment piece I decided to combine elements from all the projects, taking the change of scale from project 3, my use of ink and bringing in the charcoal life drawings from project 4. My thinking was to combine these by doing ink/watercolour drawings of cells / skin / blood / etc. then charcoal life drawings over the top. Referencing the unseen internal structures alongside the external form of the body.
I tried out some drawings of nerve and brain cells in ink which worked well:
I then tried a few prepared ink drawings which I then drew over in charcoal:
I thought this idea worked well, with the quick ink and charcoal sketches working the best. I wanted to keep the spontaneity which came from working at speed, so for the assignment piece I decided to prepare both layers within a short timescale to try to retain this.
I used watercolour blocks to prevent the paper buckling and worked on 5 of these at once. Ten ink drawings were completed within around 2 hours, drying the blocks over a heater as soon as they were finished. To some of them I added a white gouache wash over the top to send the bold black lines more into the background. Within the 5 watercolour blocks I used there were 3 different paper types which worked differently with the ink.
In the second session, this was completed during around an hour and a half life drawing session, so allowed around 10 minutes a drawing. Again the different backgrounds all worked differently with the charcoal and swapping between them worked well to keep me on my toes.
Not all the drawings worked – in some the ink and charcoal drawings fight with each other and sometimes look quite disturbing. Others work very well together, some looking quite Picasso like.
I decided they would work well put together as a video. My video editing skills are limited, so I limited the effects to fading in:
I think these pieces draw together the project work well. I have been criticised for lack of risk taking in my previous course and I think forcing myself to work as speed in this assignment has involved more risk taking than I usually take, with some interesting and exciting results.
Not all of the drawings work, but that is to be expected with the risk taking and time constraints I set myself. However, as a whole in the video piece I think they do work well together.
The aim of this project is to draw parts of the human figure, observing the underlying structure of the limbs and create a drawing which leads the eye of the viewer into the overlapping twists and turns of limbs to create a powerful statement.
I enjoy life drawing and decided to leave my ink experiments for a while and do these drawings with charcoal which I am more confident in using to describe form.
I focussed in on overlapping limbs for these drawings and enjoyed trying to capture their shape and form.
There is not enough tonal variation in this drawing and the composition is not very interesting
I think I have captured the hands and crossed legs well here, but the composition doesn’t work, both with the drawing petering out at the edges and also the horizontal arms and leg being depicted in a portrait format.
I am pleased with how this one has worked out. The bottom on the left hand side is the least successful area, but I think the covered foot and shape of the leg works well.
I spent my time focussing on the hands in this drawing, so I didn’t have enough time to complete the upper part of the drawing. I think the composition of this works well though and would have been quite a powerful drawing if it was completed.
Another hand! I usually leave hands and feet unresolved as they are tricky to get right, but I think this one has worked out quite well. I think the composition works well here and shows a good sense of form.
I enjoy depicting the form of a figure in life drawing and I think most of my attempts here have been quite successful. Cropping the picture plane to include just a section of interesting shapes can work well, although attention needs to be given to whether limbs (arms and legs) will work being only drawn in part.
Research Point – Prunella Clough Tate Archive
Looking at the Prunella Clough Tate archive reinforces many of the projects in this stage, cropping images, inspiration from the mundane, the bold use of colour. She took uninteresting / unobserved scenes and trainformed them into artworks. It is particularly interesting to see her photo collection which acted as inspiration for her work. This is something I used to build up, but since turning my back on photography, have let slip. I will have to resurrect this habit.
I have picked out a couple of her images I particularly like:
I like the use here of a textured/patterned background with a small section of detailed painting and colour. I think this could work well with my water and ink drawings in moving them to a bigger scale.
Rusty metal always strikes a chord with me. Again, the use of a lightly patterned background which is left blank in much of the image works well and the small section of colour really stands out. I always wonder how artists ‘see’ images like this, so maybe I will try to create my own in this style and see how I get on.
A very interesting artist to look at and one I will take inspiration from.
Scaling up particular features of a landscape, still life, portrait, or anything for that matter is likely to create an abstract image of which the original source is potentially obscured (if scaled up sufficiently to remove all context). As a way of creating an abstract image, this offers unlimited drawing opportunities. It may be more interesting to scale up just below this point though, so the image can still be related to its original source, but take on a new life through being much bigger than would be expected. It’s increase in scale and partial representation will introduce ambiguity and allow the viewer to question what they are looking at, and so take on more interest as an image.
I played around with a few arrangements and settled on drawing two keys and a piece of toy train track. I used a small paper frame to isolate an area of this and select my composition.
Continuing my work with ink, I used ink and water to render the objects, then a watered down ink wash to add in the shadows.
This was OK, but the white areas were too white. I tossed up between adding colour and continuing in black and white. I decided to stick with the latter and added stipples to the background.
This drawing is much more interesting than I would have imagined that a drawing of two keys and a train track would have turned out. This method of working opens up an unlimited source of inspiration using whatever objects are to hand – something I will hopefully remember when I struggle to get inspiration for a drawing.
Research Point – Elizabeth Blackadder
The course notes point to a video about her work, but I thought I’d have a look at her work on various internet sites before watching this.
Born in 1931, Elizabeth Blackadder is recognised as one of Scotland’s most important artists (The Scottish Gallery, 2017).
Her paintings don’t appeal to me on first viewing as I find they lack any depth or life. Her sketches of lobsters and leaves are technically proficient, but are more like studies than finished paintings.
This image seems to be close to the image this project is looking at producing. It is an unusual composition which doesn’t seem to follow normal placement ‘rules’. The objects seem to be randomly chosen and again, very flatly painted. It is interesting that this project is focussing on the background – in this image, the background works well for me, it is the random image painted as the main subject which don’t work for me. There is no focus, my eye wanders aimlessly around the image, not finding any area it likes to settle upon. However, zooming out to the overall shape and colour of the background it has an appeal to me.
I struggled to find other work by her that I liked, so I moved on to the video.
I’m not sure I learnt much more from viewing this, other than she paints what she likes and it was refreshing to see an artist talk about it in this way without losing the audience in art speak!
Turning back to the internet, this image was another which uses colour and the placement of objects. Whilst the first image link could have been produced in the way the course notes suggest by pinning work to a coloured cloth, this was obviously painted from a 3D scene, it has just been painted to look squashed into 2D – there are no shadows at all. Maybe this is my objection to her work – I am very much a 3D artist, so I like to see depth in an image.
It looks like (from the video and also from looking at her paintings) she paints the coloured backgrounds in after the individual objects have been painted. I will try this in the exercise.
National Galleries of Scotland (2011). Elizabeth Blackadder: In the Studio. [image] Available at: http://vimeo.com/25711526 [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
Nationalgalleries.org. (2017). Artworks | National Galleries of Scotland. [online] Available at: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/search/artist/elizabeth-blackadder [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
The Scottish Gallery. (2017). Elizabeth Blackadder. [online] Available at: https://scottish-gallery.co.uk/artist/elizabeth_blackadder [Accessed 27 Oct. 2017].
The aim of this project is to experiment with colour composition and detail to use the whole frame of the drawing. The notes say to pin up coloured fabric or card and suspend or pin light, brightly coloured objects onto the fabric. Then make several drawings in colour exploring composition and enjoying the juxtaposition of bright colours and detail.
I decided to modify the brief by electronically pinning items to a coloured background. This meant I could adjust the scale and also not be restricted to light objects. It also meant that I didn’t procrastinate because of not having any coloured fabric / suitable objects to pin to it. The course is encouraging me to see ideas in unexpected places, so I chose my items quickly from the items which are sitting around me in my studio. I photographed them individually on a white background, ‘cut them out’ in GIMP and ‘placed’ them on a coloured background.
I tried various arrangements and made small sketches of these, working in a similar way to Elizabeth Blackadder in leaving plenty of space around each object.
I decided that the final version worked the best. I haven’t given up on ink drawings yet, so I decided to keep going with these for this exercise and use watercolour over the top.
This time I worked with a mapping pen and water to do my drawings and I think I may have found my favoured medium in this combination. The mapping pen allows precise lines, but varied with pressure and the chance of blotches or sprays when the pen catches on the paper. The addition of water introduces partially controlled randomness and gives a great effect. I am glad I have persisted with ink as a medium! I used watercolour to add colour to the ink drawings and also to the background.
Have I managed to instil energy or life into the whole drawing, or does it run out of steam at the edges?
I like to think that I have in this drawing. In following the advice of the course notes in allowing the objects to go off the edge of the page, I think this adds more energy to the drawing. The bold colours and the interesting black ink shapes work well for me.
From an uninspiring premise, I’m quite surprised and pleased with the results. I have also really enjoyed working with ink and watercolour which is a promising start to the course.
Research Point – Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse made use of bold colours in his paintings, both in depicting the objects and the background.
In a similar way to Elizabeth Blackadder, some of his still life images are very flat, e.g. ‘Still Life with a Magnolia , 1941’, although others do have shadows and depth, e.g. ‘Vase with Fruit , 1901’.
It is interesting to view the ‘Selected Highlights’ page on the The Metropolitan Museum of Art website, which shows that he painted several versions of many of his images, working in very different styles on each version.
Henri-matisse.net. (n.d.). Matisse: Life and Painting. [online] Available at: http://www.henri-matisse.net [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. (n.d.). Selected Highlights. [online] Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2012/matisse/images [Accessed 23 Nov. 2017].
Elizabeth Blackadder vs Henri Matisse
Both use bold colours and both often render their objects in two dimensions by removing shadows.
Matisse still life images keep their arrangement, the object drawn have a relationship to each other in their placement. Blackadder often paints each item of a still life in it’s own space, with object rarely overlapping.
Backgrounds are important for both. Matisse paints backgrounds which are realistic – i.e. the corner of a room, whilst Blackadder uses shape and colour to provide a background to her objects.
I’m not sure which artist I have more affinity with. I can appreciate elements of both artist’s paintings, but overall neither really does it for me.