Monthly Archives: June 2018

Project 2: Experiments with mark-making

‘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.

P2 01

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.

P2 02

Adding colour to the drawing using handfuls of coloured pencils didn’t improve it much either

P2 03P2 04

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.

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Project 1: Drawing blind

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.

P1 01 P1 02 P1 03

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!

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Assignment 2 Reflection

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:

Quarry drawing 08

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.

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Assignment two

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:

Quarry sketch 1 Quarry sketch 2 Quarry sketch 3 Quarry sketch 4

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.

Quarry photo 1 Quarry photo 2 Quarry photo 3 Quarry photo 4Quarry photo 5 Quarry photo 6 Quarry photo 7Quarry sketch 5 Quarry sketch 6

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:

Quarry drawing 01

Line of gunpowder:

Quarry drawing 02

Video of the gunpowder burning:

After the burn:

Quarry drawing 03

Rusty objects and rocks added, rusting solution added and sealed to rust:

Quarry drawing 04

After rusting:

Quarry drawing 05

Charcoal drawing of the rocks added:

Quarry drawing 06

Random lines using found tyre added to try to blend the foreground with the rest of the image:

Quarry drawing 07

 

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Contextual focus point: Cornelia Parker

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.’

References:

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].

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Project 3: Narrative

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.

Map background test

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.

Dave drawing 01

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:

Dave drawing 02

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.

Reflection

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.

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Project 2: Mark-making materials

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:

2 layers 1

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

2 layers 2

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.

2 layers 3

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):

Steel drawing 1 Steel drawing 2

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.

Steel drawing 4

I will be experimenting with this further as I enjoyed this method and it is a good fit with my sculpture work.

Reflection

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

References:

Breidbach, O. and Haeckel, E. (2005). Art forms from the ocean. Munich: Prestel.

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