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Category Archives: Part 5
The course notes specify to “Find a fairly busy scene, with plenty of movement.” – in a rural village, that isn’t a scene which features people, so I chose to draw my bird feeders. I get a lot of sparrows feeding on these and whilst they are hard to capture due to their speed, they return often enough to capture them again in the same positions (or near enough).
My first attempt was a bit messy as I’d drawn the feeders and birds in black ink and they didn’t fit together that well.
I tried again, this time using watercolour for the feeders and black ink for the birds. I drew the birds first in pencil, then used a bold black ink pen to go over them. This didn’t work very well as it lost any sense of movement in the birds from the sketchy lines of my first drawing.
I went back to my sketchy ink lines with a pencil background this time which worked a bit better, although I prefer the watercolour background to the pencil.
Drawing fast moving scenes is not easy and I think it would take a lot of practice and skill to make these look good. In my case I think I would need to draw a lot of still images of sparrows in order to know how they look well enough to draw them quickly, either in detail or as simple sketchy lines.
I have been going to life drawing classes for six years now, but last night’s class was something of a revelation. The classes have recently changed to be run by different members of the group each week and explore different ways of working to try to get us outside of our comfort zone, my comfort zone being working on a rubbed in charcoal base and focussing in on tone. Last night the class tutor (Helen Peyton) lead it exploring mark making. We started off with continuous line, then opposite hand drawing, hatching/stippling, drawing in ink with various implements and finally charcoal on the end of a long stick. These are all exercises I have done on this course and the previous drawing course, and at times in the life drawing class, but this time I finally got the point! In combining these different methods, interesting mark making happened and exciting results started to emerge. What Helen said during the class really resonated “you can view a drawing which is like a photograph and appreciate it, but then walk away and never want to see it again. But a drawing made up of interesting marks will excite you and you will keep coming back to it” (not word for word). The drawings I produced are not fantastic pieces of work when viewed as a whole, but when you look closely, some of the mark making is.
This is an exciting area to explore now, rather than a seemingly pointless exercise to have to get through. The revelation has come too late for most of this course, but I think it could lead in interesting directions in the future. It also fits perfectly with the interest I have already identified on this course with matching detail and random mark making from processes like rusting and burning.
Artist books are tricky for me to get my head around. I think they offer a great way of exploring a theme and can result in some fascinating work. They allow the artist to tell a story, or explore an idea in much greater depth than a single image could ever do. “It becomes an experiential medium for creative expression” (Chen, 2013). I have been to an artist book fair and admired the skill and artistry of this form of work, and could even see myself exploring using this medium for certain projects. But I do think they fall down in their means of displaying the art work to the viewer. If I bought an artist’s book, it would get enjoyed initially, but then it would get confined to a bookshelf and never seen again, whereas a framed drawing would bring me much more enjoyment as I pass by it. Similarly, the display of an artist’s book in a gallery would have to be in a display case and would then only show a few pages to the viewer, so not allow them the full intended experience.
My research for this section was carried out using the book ‘500 handmade books. Volume 2’ (Chen, 2013). This book contains images of many artist books, but without explanations of what they are about or why they were produced, so my impressions of them are solely based on the look of them and any interpretation drawn from the book title.
‘For Bees Who Travel by Truck’ (Kaylynn Sullivan Twotrees, 2011) uses burnt edges for some of the pages and combines random and placed mark making on the book cover.
‘Walks with Rosie’ (Andrew Huot, 2009) looks like he has drawn maps of his walks over time, without the context of the background to place them in space. This offers interest by leaving the detail of the route up to the viewers imagination.
‘Untitled’ (Kaitland A. Marek, 2011) looks like contour lines from a map. It is hard to say from a small picture in a book, but whilst these would be interesting for me due to my love of maps, on their own I don’t think they would hold my attention for long as the mark making is very uniform.
‘The Fire Extinguisher Family Reunion’ (Sarah Smith, 2009). From the 2 pages on display, I can tell that she is quite clearly bonkers, but I like bonkers! As a humourous book, I really like this one, but as a drawing book, the drawings are straight illustrations which don’t provide interest to me as drawings.
‘Chasing the Sun’ (Frank Hamrick, 2010) uses a line through a book apparently made using tea. The slightly controlled but random nature of this line hold interest for me and producing a book following a line though it is a possibility for my response to this project.
‘Fibonacci’s Tower’ (Jamie Ash, 2009) is an interesting sculptural piece based on/around a book. The wood or aluminium pieces are painted in the same way as the bronze pieces I make and he also uses burning on the edges of his pieces of text.
All these books are inspired by whatever the artist is interested in and offer a way to explore that subject on a greater depth than other mediums would have offered.
This research led me to two different ideas of artist books I could try:
- A book of burning – using burning experiments and descriptions of what was tried
- A continuous line using different mediums through a concertina book (continuing ideas from the mark making experiments in part 2 of this course)
Chen, J. (2013). 500 handmade books. Volume 2. New York: Lark Books.
The idea I decided to explore from my research was a book of burning. In an effort to be more environmentally conscious with my work, I used the paper offcuts from my parallel project drawing for the pages of this book and furthered my experiments with burning and adding to these with ink to provide the subject for the book. These were joined together with a simple pamphlet stitch hidden in the centre.
Looking for artists who work in a meticulous way I used Vitamin D (Dexter, 2005) for my research. I have selected a few highlights from this below.
‘Fraying the ropes’ [ink on paper] (Ernesto Caivano, 2003) p.53
This is a mixture of illustrative imagery and detailed doodling, it uses a wide variety of mark making which maintains interest when exploring the image. It is very detailed and made up of precise ink lines, depicting a scene of a fantasy story written by the artist. It is the depiction of the tree branches and the scientific molecule drawings which appeal to me.
‘The World’ [mixed media on paper] (Simon Evans, 2003) p.100
This is a huge drawing (1.6mx2.2m), so is difficult to appreciate from a much smaller image in a book. The drawing is laid out as a map of an island, with the areas depicted mostly filled with text (unreadable at this scale) or doodle like drawings. The use of imaginary maps provides a structure on which to base a drawing which could be an interesting option to explore.
‘Safe and Quiet’ [graphite on wall and canvas] (Glexis Novoa, 2002) p.229
Novoa produces beautiful detailed images of dystopian city-scapes. They depict generic cities with large and impressive buildings, but devoid of any human life. The use of a bold horizon line where the city meets the sea works well with these images.
‘C 1 030502’ [pencil on paper] (Frances Richardson, 2002) p.266
Richardson only uses negative (-) and positive (+) signs to draw her images, using gradation of intensity to provide interest in the mass of repetitive marks.
‘Studio dal vero (Life Study)” [graphite on paper] (Serse, 1999) p.281
Serse draws in a photo-realistic style using reductive drawing by erasing into a graphite base. This image shows off his incredible skill in not only depicting the water splash in such detail, but also giving it added depth and contrast which I suspect wasn’t there in his photographic reference image.
(James Siena, 2004) ‘Slice’ [graphite and coloured pencil on paper] p.293
I have picked this piece because this is the kind of drawing I am planning to do for this project. Siena’s drawing here doesn’t appeal to me due to its uniformity of mark making and colour choice. However, the use of shapes similar to contour lines offers and interesting avenue to explore.
Dexter, E. (2005). Vitamin D. London: Phaidon.
I decided to explore the potential of doodling and continuing my work with combining random and planned mark making and the use of burning and ink.
I started off by laying 3 firework fuses across a piece of paper and lighting them to provide 3 linear burn marks across the page. I decided to contour around the burn marks with ink, but decided that they would all become quite uniform after the initial lines around the edges started to approach the centre, so I added 3 sprays of ink to also contour around and provide more interest.
I forgot to photograph this as I went along, so only have the image of the final piece:
The sprays of ink did help to provide more interesting shapes in this image, but I wonder if some different marks might have fitted better with the whole piece. I also wasn’t consistent with the gaps between the lines, as I got less patient with the drawing. Some variation in different areas works well, but I perhaps got too far apart on the edge sections.
The aim of this project is to make a drawing which forces the viewer to use time differently. The rust drawings I have been doing create a sense of time passing in that they look old as soon as they have been produced. They also represent time passing in that they require time to produce as it takes a few days for the rust to print onto the surface of the paper. I decided to extend this time passing by producing a drawing which took a longer time to complete. This would be done by producing a life drawing, initially drawn at a life drawing class, then traced and reversed onto metal, scratched into and rust printed, then drawn back into at a second life drawing session with the same pose.
In looking at these images I think the viewer will take time to explore the work, the random and planned marks make interesting viewing, the thoughtful look on the model makes the viewer imagine what she is thinking about. The random scratches which were already on the metal sheet also add a sense of movement to the image including another unexpected sense of time. I’m not sure the time spent as an artist is immediately visible if the viewer is unaware of the processes involved, but I do feel a sense of time passing is evident.
Frank Auerbach paints by building up layer and layer of paint. He paints the same people over and over again, and each painting is an accumulation of hundreds of sittings, with the paint scraped back to the canvas at the end of each day until the resulting image is ‘right’. A huge amount of paint is applied to the canvas and close up they appear as a mass of colour and texture, it is only in stepping back from the image that it comes into focus.
I have only seen one of his paintings in the flesh, ‘Maples Demolitions, Euston Road, 1960’ in Leeds art gallery. I found the close up views of the textures and colours of the paint interesting, but was less moved by the overall impression of the image.
Viewing his portraits on screen will not give the same experience and his portrait paintings seen this way do not inspire me. I am sure they would offer more if viewed in person though. The image which did grab my attention whilst searching was ‘Self-portrait, 1958’ (Artsy.net, n.d.), this image in charcoal and chalk on paper which has been patched or collaged I find very powerful. The collaged background produced interesting random marks which appeals to me and the charcoal drawing has a sense of energy and urgency. In contrast to his paintings this appears like a much quicker drawing.
Sooke, A. (2015). Frank Auerbach, Tate Britain, review: ‘astonishing’. [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/what-to-see/frank-auerbach-tate-britain-review/ [Accessed 19 Jul. 2019].
Artsy.net. (n.d.). Frank Auerbach | Self-portrait (1958) | Artsy. [online] Available at: https://www.artsy.net/artwork/frank-auerbach-self-portrait [Accessed 19 Jul. 2019].