Monthly Archives: June 2018

Initial Ideas

I want this to be closely related to my parallel project, so initial ideas at the moment are:

  • How artists portray environmental issues
  • How artists combine science/microscopy with art
  • Drawing on metal (rust printing, cutting, welding)
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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’?

This is one of her pieces were aesthetics seem to play a part. 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 both introduce random results, so she is not in control of the outcome. The mixture does produce pleasing shapes and the resulting drawing is aesthetically pleasing. However, without the title and the knowledge of the materials used to make it, it is reminiscent of a child’s experiment and shows no craftsmanship from the artists hands.

Embracing the random element of working with materials fits with my recent experiments with gunpowder and rust, but I feel I need more than just a concept. I associate ‘art’ with the skill of the artist. You could argue that her ‘skill’ is in coming up with the idea, but I feel work like this could be equally shown in a museum. Like museum artefacts, they are interesting and evoke thought about them, but in my eyes I am not sure they are ‘art’.

‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View, 1991’ is a piece of hers which I do like. What makes this different though? It is certainly an impressive piece, it’s size means that it dominates the space it is in and the light in the middle casts great shadows on the gallery walls and floor. Is there much skill involved? The shed was blown up by the British Army and all Cornelia Parker has done is suspend the fragments from the ceiling. She did carefully select the shed and contents, but her input into making the objects look the way they do is minimal. Maybe it is the uniqueness of the piece, it is like nothing else I’ve seen.

Why do I think Parker uses bits of her subject to make her artwork?

I think she has to! As I mentioned above, without the knowledge of the materials used and the title, most of her work is not aesthetically pleasing and so would not get near a gallery wall.

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?

I 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.’

In a similar way, I feel that it’s art because someone thinks it is and invests value in it. I’m not sure I am one of those people though!

British Museum. (2018). Poison drawing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].

Guggenheim. (2018). Ai Weiwei. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].

Tate. (2018). The Story of Cold Dark Matter – Look Closer | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Jun. 2018].

Wroe, N. (2018). Cornelia Parker: ‘I’ve always been happy to sleep with the enemy’. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [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.


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.


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


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

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