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Category Archives: Stage 1 S
Signing up to the sculpture course was my hope at the start of my OCA journey, but it seemed dependant on having a workshop space to work in. Starting out doing drawing seemed like a good background study, and a house move opened up the opportunity of having a suitable workshop.
Whilst I am completing my drawing and printing courses, I am converting my garage into a workshop and also doing some sculpture related studies.
A 5 week evening class giving an introduction to stone carving resulted in the following:
My practice stone piece making a curved edge (hard work!) and practising some lettering (easier).
My letter piece:
Probably only useful for me to create bases / plinths for sculpture as I am not likely to become an expert in this, but it was a good fun course.
I definitely want to try doing metal sculpture, so learning to weld seemed like an important skill to acquire. After questioning a sculptor whose work I admire (Darrell Evanes), I opted for MiG welding and completed a City and Guilds level 1 course in this.
My exciting final pieces!
I then got to play with TiG welding as well which was much neater and a more slow contemplative form of welding, although harder to get right.
It was a very process driven course, focussed on producing the five weld pieces shown in the image, but hopefully knowing how to weld correctly will help in my sculpture work.
Another 5 week evening class to give an introduction to this skill which was good fun.
My first three completed pieces:
More to come, but as I may use them as presents I’ll not put them on here yet!
I went along to the very interesting Leeds study weekend run by Gerald Deslandes. I think I am still absorbing the vast amounts of information he went through on the influences of artists over the ages, so I am not going to review those lectures here. What I was going to look at here was our visit to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield on the Sunday.
What was very interesting to me about this gallery is that it was more about the working processes and models than the final works, due to the Hepworth family gift of Hepworth’s plasters to the museum. As someone who wants to get into making sculptures, this was fascinating. There was a great focus on texture in her work, especially on work line “Figure (Archaean) 1959”, but even on the more “mechanical” work like “Winged Figure 1961-2”, where texture has been added to sheet aluminium using Isopon, a polyester resin filler (used in car repairs by the looks of it).
Most of Hepworth’s sculptures are designed to be viewed from all angles and often provide discoveries of new elements as you move around the piece. Many of them are reminiscent of standing stones or ancient sculptures or water-worn rocks – they all seem to have a great age.
It was interesting to see how she colours the plasters by painting them in the colours of the patina she wants in the final bronze casting. Interestingly, reading the Tate interview linked to above, this was also done to highlight blemishes before sending them away to be cast, or to colour them for exhibitions.
I also like the way that the sculptures often show her working methods, the impressions of her fingers, the lines from her files, etc. These marks are part of the sculptures and they wouldn’t work the same if they were perfectly smooth. Others in comparison such as “Two Forms 1937” carved out of marble are very smooth.
I hadn’t gone there very prepared, thinking that they would run through various techniques and we’d have a few days to come up with a project. However, after a quick demonstration of some of the kit, it was straight into it.
My first project was a metal standing stone, cut and riveted together and then decorated with ground lines on one side, and a map of Baras on the other (drawing from my printmaking work I have done using maps of this location).
After that, I did a quick piece for “consequences”, an art project I am starting with my family where we each start a piece, pass it on to another family member to work on, then on to another family member to complete (more of this later hopefully!). The thinking behind this piece is a rolling hillside with footpaths over it, with holes drilled at the ends and middle to allow threads/material to be attached (if that is what the next person decides to do – who knows!).
Then I started work on a couple of pieces for “residencies – homes for unknown creatures” an idea I have been mulling over for a while. Neither of these are complete at the moment, but I will post images of them again when they reach that stage.
The course was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone. Brian and Owen were both very friendly and helpful, there was plenty of material to choose from and kit to work with. A few images of the workshop and people at work:
It was suggested to look at the works of:
Naum Gabo (1890-1977)
Antoine Pevsner (1884-1962)
Laslo Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946)
Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953)
Kasimir Malevich (1878-1953)
Ben Nicholson (1894-1982)
Victor Pasmore (1908-1998)
Pablo Picasso (1881 -1973)
I looked at work from all of these artists, making notes in my sketchbook which I don’t intend to repeat here.
I think the first two artists were the most inspiring for me, although for their more 3D work than the shallow relief sculpture I will be producing in the first project. Ben Nicholson and Victor Pasmore seem to have produced the most relevant work for this project.
Adding a recent artist to the mix, I came across Ron van der Ende. Working in salvaged wood he creates very impressive 3D looking shallow relief’s. He constructs a bas-relief and then adds a 3mm thick veneer with whatever paint colour was on the found wood he salvaged. The results are very impressive.
I made a couple of brief sketches before diving in and starting to cut wood and my initial decision was to include a large semi-circle, so I started out cutting that and some long rectangles.
My baseboard was pretty much exactly the dimensions suggested by the course notes of 600x300mm (you can have too many choices!) and I decided on a vertical arrangement.
Added a smaller circle
Moved the semi-circles apart and added a square
Added holes (worked out positions using rolls of tape)
Working on the square area
Final arrangement of the square area and another hole added on the circle
To the final arrangement. I left it laid out overnight and returned to it the following day. I was happy with most of it, but decided that the final adjustment would be to cut down the bottom right hand rectangle to be thinner.
The final unpainted relief.
The final painted relief.
The course notes ask “did you achieve the composition you intended?” – a difficult question to answer when the sculpture is produced as a process of experimentation with no real initial outcome in mind! I guess “no” as I had no fixed intention and “yes” as I achieved a composition I am pleased with using elements of my initial sketches.
Tonal sketches of the relief hanging on the wall and lit from different sides.
Appraisal of outcomes
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
My choice of materials was based on the course notes brief and the pieces are well secured.
I could have used a greater range of shapes or developed the sculpture further, but in many ways have played it safe here.
Quality of outcome
In the main the composition of this piece works well. The square with rectangle however, doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the piece and could be improved by adding a cut circle to the square piece (added in Photoshop below):
The finishing is all good, although the white (or cream actually) is a bit bland.
Demonstration of creativity
This piece was created through experimentation with different shapes and their arrangement on the baseboard, the final result arrived at through balancing the different elements.
This sculpture was not intentionally influenced by my research, but was arrived at through experimentation.
I have followed the course notes too rigidly in this project and not thought outside of the box. This sculpture could have been much more exciting and adventurous.
3D wall sculpture protruding out from the wall approximately 300mm
“open-space” construction – searching the web took me to “Studio Codex” which explains this as a sculpture which has openings/holes, or protrudes out into space – i.e. not appearing as a single solid object.
Using a selection of lengths of softwood of various dimensions, e.g. 1×1, 2×1, 2×2, 3×2. Inches
I felt I needed to start this project with more of an idea than the first one.
One initial idea was to do something based on sea groynes:
Whilst this would protrude out of the wall, I wasn’t sure if it sufficiently fulfilled the “open-space” requirement.
Mulling over the issue I remembered the work of Ursula Von Rydingsvard I had viewed at her recent exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Ursula Von Rydingsvard
Her large sculptures are mostly constructed out of 2”x4” or 4”x4” cedar planks, cut with a circular saw. These fit together to give a grid appearance from the ends, with the saw marks evident and part of the design, enhanced by the use of graphite to stain them which also gives them an old appearance.
Two large cedar and graphite sculptures
“Bronze Bowl with Lace, 2013-14”, cast in bronze, but the initial model was in cedar, so retains its texture and feel.
Her sculptures in cedar are all very large scale works, so if I was to work in this way it would need to be on a much smaller scale. In my mind I put her work together with my “residencies” ideas and began to come up with an idea.
With the full title of “residencies – homes for unknown creatures”, this is an idea I have been mulling over for a while and which already has some partially complete sculptures:
Basically a themed set of sculptures based on the homes of creatures – cocoons, birds nests, caves, etc.
One possibility might be to put this together with Ursula Von Rydingsvard’s working methods to produce a “residency” as a relief sculpture? I think it’d blow the proposed 10 hour time suggestion out of the water, but could be fun to do!
Having googled images of cocoons, I think I’m more imagining a nest actually, especially as I picture an entrance.
I tried sketching this idea, but I can picture it in my mind much better than I can draw it!
I decided to scrub the branch idea as it was getting into carving more than construction so was deviating off subject.
I thought girders protruding from the baseboard would work well, but these would probably be best actually in metal which is again going off subject. So I left that idea and started on another.
Explosion of fire
The idea here was to have two wheels of wood, one rough and burnt, the other smooth and varnished. These would be on a painted background going from brown to red to indicate fire behind the burnt wood wheel.
Experiments with the wooden wheels, going beyond 5 pieces looked too messy.
Only 5 pieces did not protrude anywhere near the suggested 30cm from the wall, so I added some extra pieces sticking out with the thought that these could also be used to support the main pieces.
Working out possible arrangements. I then sanded the wood and drilled a hole through the pieces (and half way through the top piece) so I could affix them with glue and dowelling pieces and played with the arrangement some more:
Then with the burnt wood added:
The baseboard painted:
This was cut out of laminated chipboard, primed, painted with acrylic gesso, painted fully in a purple/brown, then a grey randomly applied on top, then red, orange, and finally yellow. The thinking was to try to give the impression of a fire. My acrylic painting isn’t up to too much just yet, but I am going to work on this as a side project whilst I work through the sculpture course.
The pieces were fixed together by using glue and dowelling pieces through the central hole and also in the two places where they rested on each other. This gave a firm structure.
I drilled holes in the base of the protruding pieces and affixed them with glue and dowelling also. Two of the pieces were also affixed to the main piece using dowel rods in their sides.
The final piece with mirror plates on the back and hung on the wall.
A sketch of the piece in coloured pencils and charcoal:
Appraisal of outcomes
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
The background painting in this piece is too busy and uniform & is too much of an attempt to describe the theme directly (but doesn’t look close enough to this either!). I need to try to be more imaginative and get at the feeling of the fire. Working bigger and more fluidly in preliminary sketches would have helped this.
A backboard painting made after the completion of the sculpture which is more free (but could still be improved upon):
Is there a danger though that a bolder background could dominate the attention and distract from the sculpture? Maybe a plain colour would also work?
The burnt wood elements are also too clean, especially the bits which point outwards from the board exploding towards the viewer. Splitting these with an axe would have given a better rough and random element. Using matt varnish would also be an improvement as the shine on the gloss varnish doesn’t marry with the burnt wood.
As my tutor pointed out, the next obvious development is to have the burnt wood exploding out and off the baseboard of the sculpture. These shards could be hung from the ceiling using fishing wire.
Quality of outcome
Overall it is more adventurous than my first project, but it could go much further.
Demonstration of creativity
The sculpture is unique and imaginative. I find it hard to describe how I come about my sculpture ideas, but this piece came to mind in a design very similar to the finished piece. It could have been developed further to express the feeling of the exploding fire more, playing about with the materials and working outside the boundaries of the brief.
Again, this sculpture was not intentionally influenced by my research, but was arrived at through thinking about different possibilities using the course notes brief. In doing this I have again followed the brief too rigidly and moving beyond this would produce work which is more bold and adventurous.
Picasso ‘Mandolin’ 1914
Can’t say I really ‘get’ this sculpture. It looks like a load of offcuts of wood nailed together with little obvious sense of composition.
Tatlin ‘Corner Relief’ 1915
This looks a bit more composed and interesting to me, although it is difficult to get a good sense of the sculpture from a small black and white image. It looks like he has incorporated a set square into this sculpture as well as using unidentifiable cuts of wood/metal(?)
Jean Arp ‘Forest’ 1916
This is a brightly coloured relief sculpture using cut rounded natural shapes in wood to give a layered image. I can’t say the sculpture appeals to me, looking a bit like a child’s toy, but I can see the potential in that method.
Max Ernst ‘Fruits of a long Experience’ 1919
The source of the inspiration for this piece is obvious, but why star constellations relate to workshop tools is beyond me? Again, as a sculpture it doesn’t appeal to me.
An interesting start going into a project where none of the research inspires me! However, the course notes suggest placing objects/pieces together in a way similar to project 1 to create an abstract piece, so I will gather my materials and see where I get to.
This is quite a daunting first assignment – with the option of doing pretty much anything at all, in any material, at any size (up to 600mmx600mm), it is hard to know where to begin! Using my own cut forms is all very well, but unless I cut out lots of random shapes, I don’t have any at the moment. Therefore a theme is needed to start with I think. This will at least allow me to cut shapes based on that theme and work from there.
I collected some objects together with suggested either a mechanical/industrial theme, or a cycling theme.
I tried some sketches and different arrangements, but nothing was grabbing me.
Going back to the notes, a curved surface was suggested using veneer or Formica. The only material I had to hand which could be curved was some thin clear plastic, once used as secondary glazing on a window.
I cut a strip of this and tried some arrangements and sketches.
The arrangements couldn’t be photographed because I needed both hands to hold the strip in place.
After much procrastination, I decided that I just needed to go for it and make a start.
First decision – to use a 500mm x 500mm baseboard.
Second decision – to use a strip of plastic secured to the baseboard by blocks of wood using screws. This had to be committed to as I couldn’t secure the plastic strip without screwing it down.
Now I had a starting point, it was easier to try different elements against that to see where to go next. I tried with cogs, circular saw blade, metal pieces, wooden shapes, but couldn’t get a cohesive design.
Then I tried some metal rods and it came together.
I added a second bent plastic strip to fill the gap (I tried introducing other media, but nothing else seemed to work).
The only problem with this arrangement lies with the joining of the metal rods. If I had welding kit, the obvious way of doing this would be to weld the three pieces together. Not having that, the only other methods of joining that I could think of would be:
- Drilling holes through the plastic – not ideal as they wouldn’t then rest on each other which is what makes this arrangement work well
- Using wire to join them – not ideal as would disrupt the clean appearance
- Using gravity – this would limit the hanging options to one or two orientations – the best option I think though (if it works)
I was happy with these elements and their composition, so the next decision was how to prepare the surfaces. I thought it would be good to go with brightly coloured painted surfaces, so I tried photoshopping the picture of the assembled sculpture with different coloured backgrounds and wooden blocks.
I decided to go with this version:
Drilling the angled holes to hold the metal rods was not easy and I ended up having to cut the blocks at the bottom so that they fitted flat to the baseboard. In retrospect, this effect could have been emphasised to give more pronounced angled blocks.
I primed the wood, painted with gesso, then several coats of acrylic paints (if I had known how many coats were required I would have gone for a background the colour of one of the tubes of paint rather than trying to mix the same colour many times over). I also made the mistake of drawing around some of my blocks, the lines of which still showed through after 3 coats of paint, so I had to paint the lines in white to enable the orange to cover them over. Maybe I need to get some less transparent paints.
The blocks were screwed to the base through countersunk holes, the plastic was screwed to the blocks using black wood screws and washers.
The moment of truth with hanging the piece and whether the metal rods would hold their position:
They were actually very firmly attached through screwing the wooden blocks to the baseboard so I needn’t have worried about this after all.
Some sketches of the final piece (the first in acrylic paints which didn’t work, the second in charcoal):
Appraisal of outcomes
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I think my choice of materials was good and the techniques I used for joining them are all sound. I could perhaps have used a greater range of materials, but I prefer clean uncluttered work and there would have been a danger of adding too much information if I had kept adding different materials.
I think the composition of this piece works well. The bright colours and silver metal bars make it a bold statement and the curved lines of the plastic give it some movement.
Quality of outcome
This piece was created through experimentation with different materials and their placement on the baseboard, the final result arrived at through balancing the different elements and ensuring a clean coherent arrangement. The finishing is all good and the colours bold and even.
Demonstration of creativity
This sculpture was again created to the course notes brief, using experimentation with the placement of different materials. In contrast to the first project though, I am much happier with the outcome of this piece and don’t feel that the brief has constrained this sculpture.
The sculpture was not intentionally influenced by my research, but was arrived at through thinking about different possibilities using the course notes brief.
My drawings of this sculpture are not very good and this area needs much more work.
This blog and my sketchbook form the basis of my reflection, research and critical thinking.
My tutor has pointed out some shortfalls in my working methods and also in my drawings, which requires a rethink of the way I work, especially after my recent disappointing drawing mark. I have not been engaging fully enough in the comments of my tutors and have been too keen to press on with the course rather than go back and work on what I have already done to improve them. I am therefore going to work through my tutor’s comments fully this time, go back and make changes / improve what I have done in the last assignment before carrying on to the next one.
One of the main comments that I need to work on is to have more fluidity / take more risks / avoid describing and interpret a theme / do sketches without worrying about accuracy/drips/etc. I think this is where I need to focus my energy – coming from a scientific/engineering background, I think I am too precise and detailed and this element gives me difficulty. This looseness is often what I enjoy, certainly in paintings, so I do need to concentrate on this area.
My tutor’s comments were that he felt that my composition could be more dynamic and engaging with the viewer through the development of some of the rectangular forms and their relationship to the curves which could be done through the linking of the small cut out circles.
I agree that whilst the composition is harmonious, it isn’t very exciting. What I’m not sure of is how to develop the rectangular forms or link the small cut out circles.
I am assuming that the area he is referring to is the rectangle on the square which doesn’t quite fit in with the other pieces. Adding a circle to this area might link it to the rest of the design.
I did a few sketches on this:
And some Photoshop work on the image:
The addition of this circle does improve the sculpture. Both options work, but I think I prefer the half hidden one.
I did wonder about adding more circles:
However, I’m not sure this adds anything and you can have too much of a good thing!
I went back to my tutor to see if was on the right track or not. His comments were that he felt it “needed more happening in it” and “responding to the circles and curves and adding to this may have opened up some interesting dynamics to the sculpture”. Adding these circles is perhaps a small step in this direction, but could be developed much further.
My tutor comments here about an early idea I had about sea groynes which was developed into nest sculptures and then a theme of ‘residencies’ but them abandoned because of material constraints. His comments were that I should spend more time on a subject and develop a theme with more rigour as I had started out doing. He also encourages me to not over think the material constraints, just get going and make.
A question I needed to ask of my tutor then was “can I go outside the material / dimension constraints specified in the projects? Or should I keep to these constraints but develop my ideas further to adapt my ideas to these constraints?”
His response was:
With regards to constraints of the course including dimensions and materials, please allow yourself to go outside the constraints of these projects and respond to the sculpture for what it is and not what the course guidelines tell you, they are only a guide and you will not be penalised for breaking the boundaries.
Try not to get confused or frustrated with regards to briefs and ideas, as with my first comment, remember this is about sculpture first and foremost, yes develop your ideas but I would like you to handle and make with your materials without boundaries or constraints of any kind, not with briefs or the course notes.
Remember to get into the making of sculpture, get used to the feel of the materials and marry this with your initial ideas for a work. Avoid at all costs designing a sculpture.
This is very exciting to me as I felt I was stifling the urge to play and go outside the boundaries of the projects. His final comment is also very interesting “Avoid at all costs designing a sculpture”. I guess this is where I went wrong in this project and ended up prescribing the outcome too early in the process (although changes were made whilst constructing it).
On my ‘explosion of fire’ sculpture, his comments were:
you need to be more playful with the materials, allowing a sense of ambition to take over the making of this sculpture. For example what if the wood struts ‘exploded’ out of the sculptures board and starting to emanate out of the work?
This now seems like an obvious development of the theme I was working on and I should have been thinking along these lines.
Another comment he makes:
The back board is also very illustrative of the idea of fire. Try to avoid describing your theme and instead look to interpret it as you use the materials combined with your imaginative interpretation of an explosion of fire might feel like!
In some ways I think this is a reflection of my lack of painting skills, but it also relates to the comment I made earlier about struggling to take risks and being too precise. The main issue though is the lack of enough thinking / development work before committing to an idea.
A revised painting of the backboard:
And with burnt wood exploding out of the sculpture this time (would need to be suspended on fishing/nylon wire from the ceiling):
I have gone too illustrative again by adding the red ember areas and the background could still be much better.
His final comment on this project was:
you need to be much more self-critical in your evaluation of your sculpture, discuss the successes and failures of the work and try to develop an insight into your thought processes.
The evaluations have all been re-done
These need to be used more as a tool to develop my ideas and these drawings need to show more ambition, working at a minimum of A2 in size and using fluid materials.
this a much better sculpture and shows you have the ability to be intuitive about your making process without illustrating an idea.
I need to ensure I continue with this in my future work.
Your drawings in this assignment have not fulfilled the criteria of the assignment notes, please try to be ambitious with your drawing and use it to extrapolate another layer of creativity out of the thing that you have made.
The course notes didn’t seem to specify any drawings for this assignment piece, so the ones I made were a bit more of an afterthought to the work. This is definitely an area to fix!
This was a pastel drawing I attempted on my assignment piece – not very successfully though. I really should keep going and get this right, but I am finding this sculpture to be difficult to draw, plus my heart is not really in it at the moment as I am now well on with the next project. I may come back to this at a later date, but will definitely make sure to focus on this in future projects.
There was also a comment again about my self-evaluation comments. I have gone back and re-done all of these. They are probably still not ideal, but I will aim to be much more self-critical as I go forward.
A comment about removing the complicated tags in my blog where the reader has to click ‘continue reading’. It looks like this is a feature of the theme I am using and to modify this requires modifying the theme which I don’t think is possible on a WordPress site blog? I was planning to move my blog to my own website anyway, so I will try to do this and change this at that point. Already having work on the site makes me reluctant to change something which might break it. Perhaps this is why many people seem to set up a new blog for each course? I may end up doing this, but I am quite keen to keep it all together as a record of my progress throughout the whole course if possible. I will work on this area and see what I can do.
UPDATE – this is now done, removing the “Continue Reading” links and also ordering the blog in ascending rather than descending order so the assessors can just keep scrolling down the blog to view my entire work. Hopefully this will meet with their approval as I don’t think I have the strength to undertake another big review of my site!
‘Bauhaus’ artists in relation to my assignment sculpture.
Kinetic art and think about the way sculptors use it to marry concepts with artistic process. In particular Naum Gabo, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock and 1960’s Op Art.
I initially thought this was a spelling mistake, as I had never heard of it! Optical art makes use of optical illusions and I have to say, these don’t do it for me! They are more likely to send my eyes funny and are not something I plan to study in any great detail because of that! For me this falls under the category of art which I feel “why bother”! They seem to be mainly digital artists, or paintings/sculptures done which seem to express little feeling and be sterile in nature.
Of the artists I looks at Jesús Rafael Soto does seem to be an exception though, and I can appreciate his work more than the others, maybe because it is shifting more to kinetic art than Op Art? It is certainly more approachable and creates some great effects, despite the process being quite scientific / mathematical.
This is all about introducing the sense of movement either implied or actual into art.
I particularly like his face sculptures reduced to a number of planes, but his linear constructions are more relevant in relation to my assignment sculpture. The use of nylon threads to create three dimensional curved shapes by wrapping them around planes of plastic is very effective and provides a sense of movement in the piece.
He doesn’t seem to have produced much moving kinetic sculpture, but his fountain at Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital in London looks particularly impressive.
He has much more of a sense of fun in his sculptures. I particularly like his ‘Brazilian Fish’ 1947, ‘Finny Fish’ 1948 and others on this theme. These have elements that move due to the disturbance of air around them, but he is particularly well known for his development of the mobile as a sculpture.
I am aware Jackson Pollock paintings for the kind of looseness I can only dream of! Described as a kinetic painter, he uses unusual tools to produce his paintings and they often have a 3D and movement effect to them through the use of drips and splashes.
There are some fascinating artists here and it would be interesting to try to include some kinetic elements in one of my sculptures.
Photographing and filming
Although not commented on by my tutor, this was not very professional for my last assignment, so I thought I’d make more of an effort for this going forwards.
Key notes to carry forward:
- Be bold and adventurous and not constrained by the brief
- More rigorous development of a theme
- Use drawing more to develop ideas, working large and in a fluid way (this is going to be the hardest area for me!)
- Be intuitive about my making process without illustrating an idea
- Don’t ‘design’ a sculpture
- Show more insight in my learning log / self-assessments
- try some kinetic art