- November 2018
- September 2018
- June 2018
- May 2018
- March 2018
- February 2018
- December 2017
- November 2017
- September 2017
- August 2017
- July 2017
- June 2017
- April 2017
- February 2017
- December 2016
- November 2016
- October 2016
- June 2016
- May 2016
- April 2016
- March 2016
- February 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- October 2015
- September 2015
- August 2015
- July 2015
- June 2015
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
Author Archives: MSButler
I struggled through this stage of the course as a lot of the projects held little appeal as they are very different to how I approach drawing. I worked through them, as often interesting work can result from unexpected directions, but the only project which directly clicked for me was the one on drawing machines. I am more scientific / technical and less inclined to draw from my emotions, which is what a lot of this stage of the course required. I probably didn’t push it as far as I could, but when my heart isn’t in it, it is hard to do that.
With the final drawings, the ones from the drawing machines project and the assignment piece hold the most appeal to me. Only the drawing from the first drawing machine feels like a complete and cohesive image though.
With rust printing, burning, ink and charcoal, and the combination of random and non-random mark making, I feel like I have found the materials and methods I enjoy working with. I think I need to experiment more with these though to achieve results I am happier with. I think it is the non-random mark making and the way of tying the two together which is where I need to focus my efforts. One issue which I think is holding me back is that I enjoy the results of rust printing, use expensive paper and only get a few copies. This means that I am far too precious about the drawings when they are only half complete and that is stifling what I then do with them. I plan to produce a large number of small works as part of my parallel project and spend time experimenting more with these without worrying about the final outcome.
The course calls for an emotional response to a piece of music and suggests drawing whilst listening to the music in an immediate response to it. I am going to do this differently and do a more lengthy, thought out response to a piece of music. This is more in keeping with the way I work and also it allows me to continue with my previous experiments with rust printing, which require time to complete.
Music chosen:- Peter Gunn (feat. Duanne Eddy) by Art of Noise.
I have no knowledge of the TV series this was a theme tune for, so my response comes from the music without this background. It obviously has a car driving influence, from the constant rhythm which brings to mind the noise of driving over sections of road. A screeching wheel spin sound is also used at one point which reinforces this. For me, I also have the background of listening to this tune whilst playing a car racing game called ‘Spy Hunter’ (En.wikipedia.org, n.d.) on the BBC in my childhood.
My plan was to combine rust printing, ink drawing and possibly watercolour to create my piece. I have been mulling over the design of this for many months and listening to the track on and off during this time. The main element of the drawing was going to be a car wheel, with musical elements running throughout it.
I devised a compass from a bit of metal tube and a magnet to allow me to work on a big scale and scribed on the design.
The resulting rust print:
I was aiming to add musical elements such as extracts from the music score, words, spectrograms or waveforms. However I decided that the first two looked contrived and I couldn’t get a clear spectrogram from any of the music. The waveform looked the most promising option. This was added to the first print, but more in a random way than replicating sections of the music. Another line which felt to me like a representation of the music (but I don’t think has any basis) was also added. Charcoal was used around the edge, smudged into the picture in a way which I felt to work with the music.
The music has some sharp forceful sections which felt to me like splats of bold colour. I experimented and ending up dropping ink from a height onto the paper. These were a bit smaller that the bold splats I had in mind, so maybe I should have experimented more before committing myself.
The resulting image:
En.wikipedia.org. (n.d.). Spy Hunter. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spy_Hunter [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
This work is an image of some faint lines and shading, in a simple frame with the following text added:
ERASED de KOONING DRAWING
On initial inspection the main feeling is of curiousness about the image which was erased, there is nothing else there to interest you. Without the title it is just a blank piece of paper.
Rauchenburg was seeking an answer to the question of whether a work of art could be made through erasure. Could a blank sheet of paper be considered a work of art? He had tried erasing one of his own drawings, but felt it was unsatisfactory. For it to be complete, he needed to erase a significant drawing. So Rauschenburg asked De Kooning’s for one of his drawings with the purpose of erasing it. At the time, De Kooning was greatly admired and his drawings had great value. De Kooning agreed and when choosing a drawing, picked one he thought he would care about losing, as well as one which would be difficult to erase as it was heavily drawn in grease pencil, ink, charcoal and graphite. The process took 2 months to complete and even then, some ghostly marks were still visible.
He insisted that the work wasn’t a negation, it was a celebration (Cain, A., 2017). I tend to agree as I can only imagine that you would spend that much time erasing an artist’s work who you admire if it was in a spirit of celebration.
At the time it did not cause much of a sensation, but this and his black and white canvases were “an end to art and a beginning” (Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J., 2003). Showing blank works challenged what was art and opened up the way for anything and everything being art.
Whilst I find it hard to process that a blank image can be art, opening the door to experimentation and the infinite possibilities we now have for creating art has been a great step forward. In this light I can see how such works are pivotal in the history of art.
Cain, A. (2017). No. 60: Why Robert Rauschenberg Erased a de Kooning. [podcast] The Artsy Podcast. Available at: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artsy-podcast-60-robert-rauschenberg-erased-de-kooning [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J. (2003). Essays on the blurring of art and life. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.
SFMOMA. (n.d.). Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953. [online] Available at: https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/98.298 [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
Environmental issues are important to me, they have influenced my choice of job, my lifestyle, my way of thinking. These issues are starting to make an appearance in my art work and I suspect will feature more and more as time goes by.
So, the question I propose to answer with my critical essay is “Can artists have an influence in tackling environmental issues?”, or “Can art and environmental issues be combined in an effective way?”
The artists I propose to look at in this regard are:
Common Ground – Dorset-based arts and environmental charity – currently have an exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, enabling some primary research – https://www.commonground.org.uk/
Laney Birkhead – A printmaker who has combined her love of beekeeping and concerns about bee decline with her artwork in producing ‘Swarm’ – http://www.laneybirkhead.com/Swarm-Printmaking-Project – I was involved in the latest exhibition of this work, so can include primary research from this
John Sabraw – creates paint from iron oxide extracted from polluted streams – http://www.johnsabraw.com/
Giuseppe Penone – currently exhibiting at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, enabling some primary research
This list will grow to start with and then be narrowed down to three for the essay.
Talk about some of these projects not being my cup of tea, this topped the rest! I’m not sure if I feature on the autistic spectrum or whether emotion just doesn’t really feature in my art. I appreciate that the course is getting us to try lots of different approaches, but I didn’t start this project having much hope of getting anything out of it. I decided to try the best I could though.
It took me a long while to even figure out the statements to work from until I started to raid the lyrics of my music collection. Once I had these ready, I prepared them at the top of a sketchbook page and took them to a life drawing session. I read the statements to myself and timed around 10 minutes for each drawing. I only managed to get 9 done in the time available.
Do any of these drawings convey the emotion of the statement I was reading? Some have an inkling of this, but I don’t think any strong emotions are evident. Part of that comes from myself not being an overtly emotional kind of person. However, the main issue I think I had was the drawing environment. It’s hard to keep a passionate statement in mind and allow it to influence you whilst listening to classical music, with a serene model pose in an environment I am used to being relaxed and calm in. This conflict meant that I also probably thought too much about how my marks might be associated with the emotion rather than feeling the emotion and letting that feeling influence my drawings.
I think ‘Pencil Mask, 1972’ was her first drawing machine. It looks like a bondage mask and I imagine is very uncomfortable to use. By having to use her head to make drawings, the ability to properly see what you are drawing has been taken away and so an element of unpredictability introduced. I’ve not seen the resulting images, so can’t comment on what the feel of the drawings were.
A later work which is pretty much impossible to find anything out about online is ‘The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall, 1988’ (Walkerart.org, n.d.). For some reason the details of this are no longer on the main site and have to be accessed through a website archive site) and this is the only reference I can find online regarding this work. This article says that in this work she “mimic[s] the human act of painting” (archive.li, 2012) and that she herself says “The machine is a substitute for eternal life, because it lasts forever.”–Rebecca Horn, 1993 (archive.li, 2012). I’m not sure I agree with either of these statements, to me it seems clear that this is a machine painting which incorporates elements of randomness and as to her statement about the piece, nothing lasts forever. Despite disagreeing with her on these points, I think this is a strong piece which invites you to contemplate the endless cycle of the painting.
From the limited sources I have found, it appears that Horn focusses on the random marks made by machines. In my own work I would like to introduce this element of randomness, but combine it with controlled drawing also as I enjoy the contrast between the two elements.
archive.li. (2012). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall | Rebecca Horn | Walk…. [online] Available at: https://archive.li/YgNS [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
Tate. (2004). ‘Pencil Mask’, Rebecca Horn, 1972 | Tate. [online] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/horn-pencil-mask-t07847 [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
Walkerart.org. (n.d.). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall. [online] Available at: https://walkerart.org/collections/artworks/the-little-painting-school-performs-a-waterfall [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].
My favourite drawing machine I came across in my research was ‘ADA’, by Karina Smigla-Bobinski (Smigla-Bobinski, n.d.). It is incredibly simple and I can imagine getting immersed in mark making with it. The random marks it makes look fascinating and I love the confined nature determined by the ball’s size and the walls.
Another one I came across made by a local sculptor was a handheld drawing machine which adds motors to vibrate and rotate a pen at the end of a rod (Bond, n.d.). This mixes randomness from the motor with the control of the user in positioning the pen and possibly predicting the motion of the motor.
Smigla-Bobinski, K. (n.d.). ADA. [online] Smigla-bobinski.com. Available at: http://www.smigla-bobinski.com/english/works/ADA/index.html [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].
Bond, J. (n.d.). Jim Bond. [online] Jimbond.co.uk. Available at: http://www.jimbond.co.uk/workshop2.htm [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].
Drawing Machine 1
I decided to produce a drawing machine that recorded movement in a car. It took me a little while to perfect this, but this is what I ended up with:
Initially the movement was too unrestricted and the pens ended up off the paper after a short period of time.
Restricting it to stay on the paper was more successful
This was left in the car for a number of weeks and eventually resulted in this drawing
All these marks were produced by the movement of the car, I didn’t add any of my own. I decided to complete this drawing with some simple charcoal shading. This worked quite well, but I think suffers from not being properly circular. This needn’t be an issue, but because it is almost a perfect circle, I think it stands out more by being slightly off. Adding a considered line to define the outside of the pens reach would have improved this and I don’t think would have detracted from the random effect in any way.
Drawing Machine 2
In working on my parallel project, I have been surveying several grid squares for ash trees. Whilst doing this, I recorded the GPS tracks of my movement around those squares and the journey to and from them.
My phone was the drawing machine in this case. I decided to create a rust print of image and play around with some of the ideas I have for my parallel project using these prints.
I printed two images on rough and smooth paper to then work on.
In my parallel project, I want to combine rust printing with burning and ink or watercolour, so I used these in this drawings also.
I started with the rough paper print:
The burning worked fine when using a pyrography machine, but was too wide and didn’t go through the paper when a blow torch was used. The ink dots are too precise and stifled here.
On to the smooth paper print:
I stuck with the pyrography machine for the burning and this time wetted the paper first so the ink bloomed when dotted on the paper. This more random approach worked better.
I abandoned the rough paper print at this point and focussed on the smooth paper one. I was happy with what was there so far, but it had too big an area of white space and needed something more. I decided that a section of one of the surveyed maps would fit well in this space, so I drew this in with ink, charcoal and wash pencil.
I was quite pleased with the final image and this is getting closer to what I want to investigate in combining random and precision drawing. It is also helping me to clarify the drawings I want to carry out for my parallel project. As a completed image I think it still lacks something to bring it all together, but until I work out what might do that, I will leave it there for now.
The course notes ask for my response to the following comments:
The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture was caught up with notions of authenticity and even of purity of intent. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote in his article ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’ in 1939 about the good artist painting ‘cause’ and the bad artist painting ‘effect’. He also talks about what he describes as ‘the inflections of the personal’ becoming a legitimate subject. For example, the artist Jackson Pollock talked about wanting to paint from his emotions, not to illustrate them.
I think a good artist could paint ’cause’ and also ‘effect’. Whichever chimes with the artist is going to be the one which produces good art. Similarly with painting from the emotions or illustrating them. I can see the distinction and for people for whom that is important, I can understand their passion for choosing one over the other, but either is valid in my book. Having a strict criteria for how things should be done sparks movements in art, but they inevitably get superseded by new thinking. Personally I struggle to draw from my emotions or illustrate them, so the distinction is a moot point for me.
Looking at the work of Jackson Pollock is interesting and seeing how over time he gradually gave up control over subject to embrace painting solely from his emotions. He embraced the happy accidents which come from working with paint splashes and, although he obviously had control over the broad sweep of the marks, he gave up control of the detail. Personally, I enjoy work which has an element of this lack of control, although I do like to see it mixed with more controlled work.
Namuth, H. (1951). Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth. [online] YouTube. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cgBvpjwOGo [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].
YouTube. (2017). The Case for Jackson Pollock. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U19VOF4qfs [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].
Having given the subject a lot of thought over the last few months, I have now decided what I want to look at and some ideas of the work I want to produce.
Ash: A Celebration and a Lament
This is a difficult subject as unlike many environmental issues, there doesn’t appear to be much we can do about this one. Ash dieback has spread throughout the country and the impact on the landscape around me in the Yorkshire Dales is huge. Ash trees make up a very high percentage of the trees in the Dales which is already a sparsely tree covered landscape and pretty much every Ash tree I see in my local environment is showing the symptoms of Ash dieback. The latest thinking seems to be to wait and see if any genetic strain of Ash is resistant to the fungus. It looks like 5-10% of ash trees may be resistant to the disease (BBC, 2018), but even if that is the case, the impact on my local area will be enormous and a lot of tree planting will need to be done to replace the habitats which will soon be lost.
What can I do? Well, I doubt many other people realise the extent of this issue, so I can raise awareness of it. Hopefully there will be some plan to address the issue at some point, in which case I can also raise awareness of that as well. What I can also do is celebrate the trees we still have at this moment in time. Having investigated the issue and noticed the impact it is having, it is also an issue I cannot now ignore and so I have to make work about it now.
My current thoughts are detailed below.
- Charcoal (made from ash twigs) drawings of dead leaf stems with ash dieback fungus (in ink?)
- Maps (in ink / rust prints?) with trees drawn on, then the ash trees burnt out (using soldering iron / gunpowder / sun and magnifying glass?)
- Sketches of planned sculptures as rust prints
- Ash dieback fungus
- Cast ash twigs, leaving the charcoal of the twigs in the moulds to give holes in the casts
- Model landscapes cast to partially fail (could make them fail in required areas in similar way to map drawings described above?)
- Ash dieback fungus – photograph and try to preserve some (resin?) + try to see spores
- Ash twigs – to cast + turn into charcoal
- 5(?) 1km grid squares – survey trees in the square and which ones of them are ash
- Dense black charcoal twigs
- What medium goes with the above for drawing the fungi
- Adding ink / watercolour to rust prints
- Research ash dieback
My ideas so far are more focused on the ‘lament’. I need to think more about how I get the ‘celebration’ part into there.
BBC. (2018). BBC Radio 4 – Gardeners’ Question Time, The New Forest. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0000sdq [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].
Notes on my tutor’s report for part 2:
My tutor wants me to explore more widely other artists who work within a similar remit and develop a much deeper understanding through practical and critical research. She also wants me to now spend more time on my parallel project and critical review and give my practical work time and space to develop.
Project 1 Space, depth and volume
Picked up on a lack of idea development in my submission. Need to try a wider range of options and explore as many possibilities as I can rather than restrict to a single outcome.
Project 2 Mark Making materials
My tutor pointed out that I have not explained my thinking behind the mark making I have been doing. I think I need to document my thinking much more as I am aware that I spend a lot of time working stuff out in my head, but then struggle to document that thought process in my blog. I will try to work on that more.
It is interesting to see that in my tutor’s later comments, she has suggested I do exactly what I have been planning to develop for my parallel project, which is using drawing on steel / rust to draw my own studies of organisms through a microscope.
She also suggests using cartography as a means to explore drawing, with some suggestions on artists to look at for extending ideas:
Maelzer paints or manipulates photographs of abandoned places or objects, they have a sense of time forgotten and a feeling of loss about them.
Her interest in abandoned sites and discarded items fits with the images that appeal to me. The texture of decay was an appealing subject to me when I was a photographer and has come back in my sculpture work in using rusted steel and now into my drawings using rust prints. This is definitely an area I want to explore more, so I will try to think how to continue this going forwards. I have a stash of images of abandoned places, so maybe I will try to use these in a project in future.
Maelzer, L. (2018). Leemaelzer. [online] Leemaelzer.com. Available at: http://www.leemaelzer.com/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
I struggled to get a sense of Dyson’s work through the images on her website and other sites. Her work is about the way spaces are negotiated by black and brown bodies, with historical work on the history of slavery and racism. Her work is highly abstracted though and mostly evades my attempts to interpret it
Dyson, T. (2018). TorkwaseDyson.com. [online] TorkwaseDyson.com. Available at: https://www.torkwasedyson.com/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
Meier, A. (2016). Creating a Spatial History of Slavery through Abstraction. [online] Hyperallergic. Available at: https://hyperallergic.com/287833/creating-a-spatial-history-of-slavery-through-abstraction/ [Accessed 23 Jul. 2018].
Project 3 Narrative
My tutor thinks my drawing of my father is very earnest and representational and I need to be more experimental. I decided to re-visit this exercise again and see what I could do to rectify this:
I made the mistake of trying to use charcoal dipped in oil to darken areas of this drawing, but on the map background this didn’t work, maybe because of the acrylic gel used to affix it to the background paper. The resulting image may be lacking in technical proficiency in areas, but it has resulted in a more interesting image and more open to investigation and interpretation.
My tutor suggests I look at the work of Cai Guo-Qiang, which further reinforces the lack of explanation I am putting into my blog as it was his exhibition in the Whitworth back in 2015 that inspired me to try out gunpowder drawing.
I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.
Parallel Project and critical review
Need to think why work having a distinct narrative through a landscape is important to me. Think wider outside of the brief. Think about how going to start making work for the theme. Make work around my research.
Pin down what going to make for the project and more importantly, why?
My initial approach is going to be to start making sketches around landscape locations and also to try to translate some of them into sculpture.
Experiments to try:
- Drawing in wire, with tissue paper wrap over the top
- Drawing in oil based clay
- Could do thin plaster casts of these in Jesmonite?
Contextual focus point: Cornelia Parker
My tutor pointed out that my comments on her work were ill informed and she is right. I shall try to rephrase what I was trying to say:
Parker’s work is mostly all about the conceptual message. The hand of the artist (i.e. craftsmanship) is often absent. I think many of her works are interesting in their conceptual approach, but that only some of them hit the mark with me. There are sometimes hidden meanings in the conceptual work, i.e. in her ‘Pornographic Drawing 1996’ where she uses Rorschach drawings which are used in psychoanalysis to reveal subconscious desires, providing additional layers to appreciate. With the ones which don’t resonate with me though, there is often no fall-back position of admiring the craftsmanship of the work.
Her work is highly sought after and the exhibition of her work at the Whitworth gallery I went to in 2015 was interesting. What I was trying to say is that in my work, I want there to be more evidence of the artist’s hand in the work and that craftsmanship is important to me.
I have gone back and re-written this section to make a more informed assessment of her work.
My tutor points out that I am still trying to make a representational drawing and also that I haven’t followed my ideas through to exhaustion.
One of the key questions she asks is “think why you think that the final image needs to read like a painting? Is this important to you?”
I like abstract images, so I by no means feel that it needs to read like a representational painting. I do feel though that a drawing / piece of art, should have an aesthetic beauty to it. I feel that it needs the ‘hook’ of being an attractive image, to draw people into viewing is closer, to then impart more of it’s meaning to the viewer. A visually ugly image can turn off viewer attention instantly, or quickly impose a negative impression of a piece which it is hard to get past. So “yes” and “no” really!
I will keep exploring this site and how to draw this area.
My tutor encourages me to be more open to creative exploration and investigate other artists to gain confidence in my own approach and development of my personal voice.
Learning Logs or Blogs/Critical essays
Be less critical about what my work looks like and think more about that I enjoy in making marks.
Look at artists like Agnes Denes, Herman de Vries and CCANW – See Parallel Project post
I definitely need to document my thinking more, which is an important note to take forwards into the rest of the course.
I looked initially as her works like ‘Rice/Tree/Burial, 1968’, a piece which is thought to be the first ecologically conscious earthwork (Kino, 2012). This was a performance piece which involved planting a rice field, chaining trees and burying poetry in a time capsule. I have great admiration for works like this and whilst it chimes with my environmental concerns, it doesn’t chime with the type of work I want to produce myself.
On further investigation of her work, it became apparent that she has produced work in pretty much every field of art. The pieces of her work which appealed to me the most, are some of her drawings, a few of which I have made notes on below.
‘Stelae – Message from Another Time – Discoveries of Minds and People, 1986’
Carved marble inscribed with mathematical and scientific formulae. Looking at the scientific achievements we might carve onto a slab of stone to show the pinnacle of our thinking of the time, which could be unearthed in the future by archaeologists.
‘Isometric Systems in Isotropic Space – Map Projections: The Doughnut, 1974’
An ink and charcoal drawing of the globe in a doughnut projection.
‘The Human Hang-up Machine, 1969’
An ink drawing on graph paper which is like an engineering diagram for a machine, but with labels like “Degrees of Freedom”, or “Ethical Egoism Oscillator”. I am very taken by this work, engineering diagrams hold appeal to me for their precision and depiction of machinery and the explanation of how they work. This adds humour and a complexity which means you can spend a long time discovering new features of the work.
Her work appeals to me in the way she often combines science and art. Her drawings are precise which appeals to my way of working, although a little too precise and clinical sometimes for my taste. I want to find a balance of precise and random in my work if I can.
Kino, C. (2012). Agnes Denes Stretches the Canvas as Far as Can Go. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/arts/design/agnes-denes-stretches-the-canvas-as-far-as-can-go.html [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Moma.org. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. Human Hang-Up Machine. 1969 | MoMA. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/61777 [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
Agnesdenesstudio.com. (n.d.). Agnes Denes. [online] Available at: http://agnesdenesstudio.com [Accessed 17 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries
herman de vries (he uses lower case for his name to embrace equality) works with nature, using natural materials to produce installations, or rubbing earth on paper. ‘from earth: everywhere, 2015’ is a collection of 84 rubbings from different earth samples – de vries has over 8,000 different earth samples, so this is just a selection of these. The displaying of samples appeals to me and I have produced some work in a similar vein cataloguing textures.
His work is often uses natural objects as they are, with little intervention other than their placement. It is interesting, but mostly not where I want to take my work, although the cataloguing display is an area I have explored and may well take forward.
Ganstrom, L. (2015). herman de vries interview in the dutch pavilion at the venice art biennale. [online] designboom | architecture & design magazine. Available at: https://www.designboom.com/art/herman-de-vries-dutch-pavilion-venice-art-biennale-05-13-2015/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
herman de vries. (2018). herman de vries. [online] Available at: http://www.hermandevries.org/ [Accessed 19 Aug. 2018].
The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) is a charity all about nature and the Arts, so it should be a good place to explore the ideas I want to look at.
‘Soil Culture’ project shows the amazing things you can discover when focussing on a particular issue, soil in this case. Exploring the science behind this is fascinating and provides an unlimited source of inspiration. Making art from this inspiration can then start a conversation about the environmental issues behind the subject. This brings issues to light which would not have been known about before.
Interesting quote from one of the videos (CCANW, 2014):
Dr Stephan Harding, Resident Ecologist & Head of MSc in Holistic Science
‘Information doesn’t work, I can show you tonnes of graphs of sea level rise, it won’t do anything to you, it will just switch you off, make you go back and watch your television even more. It doesn’t work. Fear doesn’t work either. The only thing that works is love. What we’ve got to do, is fall in love with the earth.’
CCANW (2014). Soil Culture. [online] Available at: https://vimeo.com/112804613 [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Ccanw.org.uk. (n.d.). Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World. [online] Available at: https://ccanw.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
There was an exhibition of the work of Common Ground at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. This is a group of artists who look for ways to engage people with their local environment, running workshops and engaging with other artists, organisations, public. The exhibition showed work from many of their projects and like many artists working in this area, they focussed on using natural materials to create their work. Whilst I admire this work, I was focussing on what I could get out of it to use in my own work and there were two pieces which stood out for me.
‘the Light Walk, 2016’ by Harriet and Rob Fraser
This was a series of wooden boards made from seven different woods (hawthorn, rowan, alder, scots pine, sycamore, birch, oak) with a laser cut GPS-tracking showing the seven day walk they took to travel between seven Long View trees.
The piece is visually attractive, appeals to my background working with maps, the poetry speaks to me about the environment they encountered and there is a great story about the journey they took behind the piece.
‘[G.H] Galgorm/Holly, 2018’ by Christine Mackey (and 4 other drawings in the series)
These are drawings of charcoal twigs which I presume were made with the charcoal twigs themselves. An idea I plan to use in my parrallel project work.
Common Ground. (n.d.). Common Ground. [online] Available at: https://www.commonground.org.uk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
Fraser, H. and Fraser, R. (2016). Back from the Light Walk. [online] THE LONG VIEW. Available at: https://thelongview.today/2016/06/28/back-from-the-light-walk/ [Accessed 3 Sep. 2018].
The result of this research and much thinking around this subject was the identification of the key issue for me. I want to highlight environmental issues, whilst working in my chosen mediums of bronze and steel sculpture, or rust printing and gunpowder. I am not looking to change the mediums I work with to suit the subject, but a way to approach the subject using the materials I respond to. In some ways it seemed that by using more industrial materials, I may be contradicting myself and I battled with this issue for a long time. However, I believe it is more about getting the message across and I don’t believe the materials should matter in doing this.
A simple paragraph to write, but the crux of the issue which I have been battling with for many months now!
Exploring a 1km grid square and producing work based on that – was agreed by the collaboration participants.
The 1km grid square was chosen by selecting a spot close to the central location between the three of us and we arranged a site visit to explore this area. It turned out to be an ideal site as it contains a wide range of habitats:
It also includes Barden Tower, a 15th century fortified house which was remodelled in the 16th and 17th centuries which is a very impressive ruin.
The first thing we came across when looking at the river was a large selection of signal crayfish remains. This is an invasive species which carries the crayfish plaque which wipes out the native white clawed crayfish. They are also much larger than the native crayfish and can out compete and even predate on them.
We also found Himalayan Balsam which is an invasive non-native plant. So invasive species could be a possible avenue to follow.
I spent a morning with conservation staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park doing river fly monitoring in the river about 6 miles upstream of this site. We caught and examined the larvae of mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies. During this monitoring, we also found a non-native invasive snail (from New Zealand) and an American flower (which I forget the name of).
Ash dieback is very prevalent in this location, with all the small trees affected and many of the large ones showing signs of it. This is spread by very small white fungus which appear on fallen ash leaf stalks between July and October. The spores from these are dispersed by the wind and can travel long distances. I hope to be able to find some of these during this period to be able to study further.
We also found Alder Gall Mite and Bird Cherry Ermine Moths. The former causes wart like nodules on Alder leaves, the latter covers cherry trees in silk. Both look like bad news for the trees, but apparently don’t harm them much.
Brown, P. (2018). Specieswatch: Bird-cherry ermine moth. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/jul/24/specieswatch-insects-caterpillars-moths [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Woodlandtrust.org.uk. (2018). Ash dieback. [online] Available at: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/tree-diseases-and-pests/key-threats/ash-dieback/ [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Historic England. (2018). Barden Tower medieval fortified house and medieval garden earthworks. [online] Available at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1015417 [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Plantlife. (2018). Himalayan balsam. [online] Available at: http://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/discover-wild-plants-nature/plant-fungi-species/himalayan-balsam [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Orchard, P. (2018). Alder Gall Mite featured on the The Nature of Dorset. [online] Natureofdorset.co.uk. Available at: http://www.natureofdorset.co.uk/species/alder-gall-mite [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
Natureinthedales.org.uk. (2018). Nature in the Dales – White-clawed crayfish. [online] Available at: http://www.natureinthedales.org.uk/species/invertebrates/white-clawed-crayfish [Accessed 5 Jul. 2018].
‘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 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].