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Category Archives: Drawing 2
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.
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.
The aim of this project is to learn to use what seems to be an unpromising subject, build up a composition and create an interesting drawing.
I have learnt that projects like this in Drawing 1 could lead me to procrastinate as they didn’t inspire me, so I grabbed my sketchbook, went outside and drew the first area I found!
It was an uninspiring area and still life on the whole is an uninspiring subject matter to me. I played around with a few areas of the scene:
I wasn’t getting anywhere with these and was getting close to giving up, when several elements of the scene came together for me into the design of a sculpture – I was interested now!
This sketch is of a sculpture I am now quite keen to have a go at making, so it was a useful exercise in keeping going with an uninteresting subject until something is sparked.
I tried again in the quite periods whilst doing an art show with the corner of a room:
This morphed into a surrealist view of the wall! Good fun to play with, but I didn’t develop this one as far.
These sketches formed a successful outcome for me in producing ideas for my sculpture work, but they don’t necessarily create an ‘interesting drawing’, which was one of the project aims. One issue is the use of drawing pens gives too uniform a line and the resulting sketches are too flat and boring because of it. I also haven’t taken heed of some of the course suggestions to be playful with the work and media.
- Learn to use sketchbooks effectively
- Learn to use drawing as a development tool for my sculpture work
- Produce drawings which will compliment my sculptures
- Incorporate research into my work
- Complete in 1 year
My sketchbooks and drawings are currently the weakest area of my work and I hope that my journey through this course will address and resolve that issue.
I also have an aim to work with ink more, so will be trying to complete many of the exercises in this medium (or at least to start with).