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Monthly Archives: November 2014
Dorothy’s sketchbook had already gone around the circle once and was on it’s second time around. This gave me the opportunity to see how things had been done before. There was some great work in this book, but it was a jumble of different things which didn’t give me ideas to work on what people had done before me. This highlighted that a theme to a sketchbook could be a very good idea. With no theme, I worked in watercolour as I am experimenting with this medium at the moment.
I think I will have to set myself a theme if there is none specified in the next sketchbook.
‘Mask, 1901’ and ‘Head of a Woman, 1907’ – Two very different face sculptures, the first using very fluid and rough modelling to shape the face in a rounded way. It is a very expressive face, with smooth contours. The second face is very different, the features are precise and hard edged. The inspiration is obviously from some tribal art, with the planes of the nose starting to suggest the move to cubism. The face looks quite flattened and the marks from making it are left on the surface.
‘Head of a Woman, 1951’ – This combines smoothed surfaces in the rounded base and head, with rough surfaces showing the modelling of the form in the joining piece. It is interesting to wonder how he came to this sculpture, do the rounded and rough areas have significance or do they just look good together? Is there another element of tribal art he is combining with the flattened head?
‘Head of a Woman, 1909-10’ – Definitely into cubism here. It is interesting to see how he has shown the planes of the face here, although from the image in the book, I’m not sure I like the overall outcome.
‘Glass of Absinthe, 1914’ – I find this sculpture more interesting, firstly in how the artist gets from (presumably) a glass of absinthe, to something very far removed from that. It has qualities of a glass still – more like a cocktail glass than a shot glass – but maybe that is how absinthe comes? Secondly, the sculpture has very interesting planes, holes, areas to visually explore, and an interesting surface texture. It would be interesting to know how it was constructed before being cast in bronze – perhaps part construction and part modelling? It looks like the base is the casting cup from the casting more than it being a deliberate part of it?
‘Bouquet, 1953’ – I think this is great, it is abstract, but you can very quickly see what it is and how he got there. Changing the hole in the jug handle into a half sphere protruding out rather than in and generalising the mass of flowers into an amorphous mass, but adding marks with some of the plant lines.
‘Stick-statuettes, 1931’ – Work on a similar theme, developing figure sculptures. He leaves many of the marks from the sculpting process on these figures. It would be good to work on a theme in a similar way to this.
‘Design for a Monument, 1929’ and ‘Bathing Woman, Design for a Monument (Drawing), 1927’ – two very abstracted sculptures, in which you can see some of the elements of the starting figures, but they have developed very far away from their origins – it would be great to try to do something similar with the first project. On the drawing, it is interesting to note that Picasso shaded to suggest form, but not according to how the light would fall on it.
‘Baboon and Young, 1951’ – Combining construction and modelling in a very surreal way.
Just spotted his ‘Corona I, 1962’ whilst looking at Picasso’s work and really like this piece. It is very rounded bronze work, yet suggestive of a machine. It would be interesting to see in the flesh to work out how he has combined bronze and cement in this way.
‘Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913’ is a sculpture full of energy and movement, suggesting speed. The surface looks to be smooth and from the picture it is hard to tell how it was made.
‘Anti-Graceful (The Artist’s Mother), 1921’ – presumably he didn’t like his mother? This is a lump of sculpture which lives up to it’s name. Presumably modelled out of slay or similar. Doesn’t do mush for me!
‘Development of a Bottle in Space, 1912’ – I do like this one and if it is indeed a ‘development’, I would love to be able to see the versions which lead up to this one. The main form is obviously still a bottle, despite being hollowed out. It is intriguing to wonder how he got from a bottle to this sculpture – the neck label / metal has got larger and separated, the cap or cork has distorted, the side of the bottle has been removed – did that go into the base or disappear? The label has gained a lot of thickness. Where did the surrounding forms come from though?
‘Tete double: Oedipus, 1935’ – Cast forms then modelled? Hard to tell without seeing in the flesh, but I don’t think this does anything for me.
‘The Table is Set, 1944’ – I immediately want to know what these objects are and how he came to these shapes from their origins, presumably through the simplification of shapes?
‘Moon Mad, 1944’ – again intriguing to see the development of an abstract sculpture from a figure. Doing some figure sculptures would be an interesting project to undertake.
‘The King playing with the Queen, 1944’ – obviously chess inspired, I suspect this may have started life as a constructed sculpture rather than a modelled one.
Enough research for now – on with the sculpting….!
The thought of doing a representative still life doesn’t appeal as much as trying to abstract a still life arrangement, so this is what I am going to try to do.
I’m not sure how easy this will be, but I will probably need to do more preparatory work in my sketchbook to achieve this, which is a good thing for my sketchbook development as well.
It will be interesting to see how far I can develop ideas from their starting point, in a similar way to how Picasso developed his figures into his ‘Bathing Woman. Design for a Monument (Drawing)’ 1927 or his ‘Design for a Monument’ 1929, or Umberto Boccioni’s ‘Development of a bottle in space’ 1912 or Max Ernst’s ‘The Table is Set’ 1944. These examples show some of the infinite variations on how this could be approached – let’s see how I get on!
A few sketches thinking about abstraction:
Having written the above, the words ‘still life’ caused a creative block in the same way they did on the drawing and printing course! I tried a few still life arrangements which gave me no inspiration at all:
An idea of boxes in a corner appealed for a while, but I then went off the idea:
This lasted for a few weeks before I decided that I just needed to get on with it!
Still Life Arrangement
In the spirit of ‘getting on with it’, I threw together various objects which provided a variation in shape and texture. I did some sketches in my sketchbook and adjusted these to give a pleasing arrangement and interesting forms to sculpt.
After deciding the arrangement, it was time to do some sketches of the arrangement:
These sketches show the still life arrangement well, but don’t develop it any further. Due to lack of inspiration on how to move it forwards, but I decided to just get on with it and use this exercise as a modelling practice rather than trying to produce a work of art.
The final sculpture – roughly life-sized (I may paint/wax it when it is dry, but it is complete for now):
A successful representation of the still life
Sketches of my sculpture, all in charcoal:
These are the kind of drawings I should have been doing at the start to develop the still life before I started to model it. Because I haven’t, I have ended up with effectively a copy of the still life in clay, rather than exploring anything – lesson learned!
I did finally treat this sculpture with shellac. Final piece:
”Clay still life’ Clay, wood, shellac 38x36x27cm
Appraisal of outcomes
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I think this is a well modelled sculpture, fairly accurately representing the still life arrangement it was based on.
The arrangement of the still life objects is interesting, with the cloth providing a link between them and a flow through the sculpture.
Quality of Outcome
As a “copy” of the original still life, this works very well.
Demonstration of Creativity
This sculpture lacks imagination or any development.
Not really applied in this sculpture.
For this assignment, I had a Skype tutorial with my tutor to talk through the work I had produced. These notes are from this tutorial, the short written report my tutor provided and thinking about what we discussed afterwards.
My tutor was pleased with my progress from my first assignment, and I have made good steps forward from my first assignment. So he is going to push me and direct me to help me to be self critical and make decisions to re-jig sculptures if they are not making sense, to give them more life.
It was clear that I need to spend a lot more time reflecting on the sculptures I have produced, both in terms of working out what works/doesn’t work and why, and also to consider how other people will respond to the sculpture/what meaning it portrays.
Project 3: Building three-dimensional structures
My tutor thought that ‘The flick’ was too staged, too illustrative. When the viewer comes along, are they convinced my the scenario? Does the hovering of the hand work more successfully than the staged metal domino’s? He suggested that taking the boxes away might achieve a more successful or different outcome. Does this create a more unusual sculpture – what would the hand be pointing at?
In producing this sculpture I had an idea in mind and, although this idea changed as I went along, I did end up producing the sculpture I had envisaged. What my tutor is saying is that I need to question these ideas as I go along and be prepared to change this, drastically if necessary.
He suggested that in modelling the hand and placing it in a situation that implies realism, I could have cast my hand instead. Has the process of modelling it given it a sense of the uncanny to the hand? I particularly like the marks from the modelling process, I think they make the hand work, and I didn’t want it to be too real. But maybe as my tutor suggests, putting the hand in the situation it is in, makes it need to be more real? Maybe its situation means that the non-realness is lost. I think the hand on it’s own does work better as a sculpture and maybe I was being too constrained by the brief in keeping some constructed elements in the work. The modelled hand provides more of a sense of the unreal, which is then removed by the staged metal dominoes. He suggested that I look at the drawings of Egon Schiele to see the sense of the human form describing something beyond itself. Looking at his work, they certainly have an energy and expressiveness, with an interesting use of unreal colours. They have passion and convey a message, but they are not pictures I would have hanging on my wall – something I will come back to at the end of this post.
The bonfire sculpture is again an illustrative piece with a hand striking a match to light the pile of matches. He pushed me to describe the contrast between the constructed metaphor for a bonfire and the hand – there is something curious in terms of scale with the height of the fire and the hand – there is a sense of narrative between the two things – there is something interesting in putting the two elements together which works. However, the match lighting the matchbox feels a bit jokey, or kitsch, which doesn’t fit in with the rest of the sculpture. He suggested that if it was a maquette for a larger sculpture, it could be similar to a Claes Oldenburg sculpture due to this.
I am setting myself too strong a conceptual brief which I am sticking to rigidly. What would happen if the two elements in this sculpture were fused together? I am being very illustrative of my ideas, more time needs to be spent playing with the materials.
My tutor suggested looking at artists who deal with sculpture as a representation of an idea, such as Michael Craig Martin – This artist relies on belief of the artist and viewer and believes that these are key to a piece of art. In his work ‘An Oak Tree’ he “de-constructed the work of art in such a way as to reveal its single basic and essential element”, the belief that a glass of water on a shelf was in fact an oak tree. Do I get it? No. Do I like it? No, not really! Again, something to come back to.
Another artist he suggested I look at was Ryan Gander – whilst I like some of his work, ‘More really shiny things that don’t mean anything, 2011’ for instance looks interesting and I see the message it is presenting, or ‘Tell my mother not to worry (II) 2012’ has a playful way of using unexpected materials. However, other work such as ‘The way things collide (macaroon, meet stool), 2012’ or ‘Associative Ghost Template # 3, 2012’, I don’t “get” – they don’t seem to be saying anything to me and they don’t seem to be that interesting in themselves.
Other artists my tutor suggested to look at were William Tucker and Paul McCarthy. William Tucker’s work looks sterile to me – I can’t see the ‘story’ in much of his work and the imagery of it does not appeal to me. Equally Paul McCarthy’s work is also not appealing – why create silicone sculptures of White Snow Dwarf’s? – unless I am missing something from the images, they don’t appear to be saying anything much? The silicone looks eaten away in places on these models which introduces some interesting textures, but as a whole they don’t appeal to me any more than a plastic model of the dwarf would in a Disney store.
Narrative/illustrative art is art which tells a story – this used to be the case with much art up to the twentieth century, but it seems to be frowned upon now. Should it be?
Project 4: Large drawings from maquettes
I wasn’t a fan of my drawings made with a brush on a long stick and thought they looked like a bit of a dogs dinner, but my tutor thought they had more life and potential, and that the pastel drawings of the bronze hand were not convincing and felt lifeless in comparison.
He is trying to get me to introduce energy into my work – I am so aware of what I am doing, it is sometimes important to do things which are outside my comfort zone.
The drawings of the matchboxes could lead on to something else, whereas the others more records of the sculptures which don’t take you anywhere, or make you look at them in a different way. I need to look at these kind of drawings as a means to develop the sculptures.
Assignment 2: Large stacked structures
I need to think about how the viewer ‘reads’ my work, what does the symbolism ‘English’ in the matchbox mean? In this case it was what the matchbox had written on it and so had no ‘meaning’ for me when I was making it, but for someone else viewing it, that text could be very significant. It could be challenging something about Britishness, or entering into a social/political debate. I have a lot of thinking to do about my next sculptures! I have to be willing to challenge myself with what the meaning of my work might be.
I need to spend more time on reflection of the work and be much more self-critical – points covered in the notes above.
In my research, he advised that I choose a few artists to research and comment on that I am passionate about, and to do this in much greater depth than I have been doing so far.
My sketchbook needs to be used in greater depth for the next assignment.
I think my tutor is trying to lead me down the road to conceptual art – a route I am prepared to try, but I am very wary of! Obviously art should have meaning or mystery, but when the meaning becomes all and the beauty / interest of the sculpture goes, then that is when I get off! I can’t see the point of art which cannot be appreciated without a story behind it – I think that story can reinforce / add to the art, but I think a piece of art should stand up on it’s own, with no knowledge of why that piece of art was created, or what it intends to depict. I don’t want to be producing “poncey” art!
I want to produce art that can be appreciated by the masses. That may not be very ‘modern’, but that is the art I enjoy, and so I can aim for little else I think. The art I produce could have much deeper meaning for those who understood it / thought about it more, but I don’t want to produce work which alienates people and reinforces the ‘all modern art is rubbish’ point of view.
My tutor advised me to just concentrate on modelling and responding to the materials in the next stage of the course and see where it leads me.