Category Archives: Part 3

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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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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Research point – The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture

The course notes ask for my response to the following comments:

The Abstract Expressionists’ use of gesture was caught up with notions of authenticity and even of purity of intent. The influential critic Clement Greenberg wrote in his article ‘Avant Garde and Kitsch’ in 1939 about the good artist painting ‘cause’ and the bad artist painting ‘effect’. He also talks about what he describes as ‘the inflections of the personal’ becoming a legitimate subject. For example, the artist Jackson Pollock talked about wanting to paint from his emotions, not to illustrate them.

I think a good artist could paint ’cause’ and also ‘effect’. Whichever chimes with the artist is going to be the one which produces good art. Similarly with painting from the emotions or illustrating them. I can see the distinction and for people for whom that is important, I can understand their passion for choosing one over the other, but either is valid in my book. Having a strict criteria for how things should be done sparks movements in art, but they inevitably get superseded by new thinking. Personally I struggle to draw from my emotions or illustrate them, so the distinction is a moot point for me.

Looking at the work of Jackson Pollock is interesting and seeing how over time he gradually gave up control over subject to embrace painting solely from his emotions. He embraced the happy accidents which come from working with paint splashes and, although he obviously had control over the broad sweep of the marks, he gave up control of the detail. Personally, I enjoy work which has an element of this lack of control, although I do like to see it mixed with more controlled work.


Namuth, H. (1951). Jackson Pollock by Hans Namuth. [online] YouTube. Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].

YouTube. (2017). The Case for Jackson Pollock. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Nov. 2018].

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Project 3: Drawing ‘machines’

GPX tracksGPX tracksMy favourite drawing machine I came across in my research was ‘ADA’, by Karina Smigla-Bobinski (Smigla-Bobinski, n.d.). It is incredibly simple and I can imagine getting immersed in mark making with it. The random marks it makes look fascinating and I love the confined nature determined by the ball’s size and the walls.

Another one I came across made by a local sculptor was a handheld drawing machine which adds motors to vibrate and rotate a pen at the end of a rod (Bond, n.d.). This mixes randomness from the motor with the control of the user in positioning the pen and possibly predicting the motion of the motor.


Smigla-Bobinski, K. (n.d.). ADA. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].

Bond, J. (n.d.). Jim Bond. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2018].

Drawing Machine 1

I decided to produce a drawing machine that recorded movement in a car. It took me a little while to perfect this, but this is what I ended up with:

DM v1 setup1 DM v1 setup2 DM v1 setup3

Initially the movement was too unrestricted and the pens ended up off the paper after a short period of time.

DM v1 setup4

Restricting it to stay on the paper was more successful

DM v2 setup

This was left in the car for a number of weeks and eventually resulted in this drawing

DM v2 drawing2

All these marks were produced by the movement of the car, I didn’t add any of my own. I decided to complete this drawing with some simple charcoal shading. This worked quite well, but I think suffers from not being properly circular. This needn’t be an issue, but because it is almost a perfect circle, I think it stands out more by being slightly off. Adding a considered line to define the outside of the pens reach would have improved this and I don’t think would have detracted from the random effect in any way.

Final drawing:


Drawing Machine 2

In working on my parallel project, I have been surveying several grid squares for ash trees. Whilst doing this, I recorded the GPS tracks of my movement around those squares and the journey to and from them.

GPX tracks

My phone was the drawing machine in this case. I decided to create a rust print of image and play around with some of the ideas I have for my parallel project using these prints.

DM2 setup DM2 setup2

I printed two images on rough and smooth paper to then work on.

DM2 rust print1 DM2 rust print2


In my parallel project, I want to combine rust printing with burning and ink or watercolour, so I used these in this drawings also.

I started with the rough paper print:

RP1 Final

The burning worked fine when using a pyrography machine, but was too wide and didn’t go through the paper when a blow torch was used. The ink dots are too precise and stifled here.

On to the smooth paper print:

RP2 with ink

I stuck with the pyrography machine for the burning and this time wetted the paper first so the ink bloomed when dotted on the paper. This more random approach worked better.

I abandoned the rough paper print at this point and focussed on the smooth paper one. I was happy with what was there so far, but it had too big an area of white space and needed something more. I decided that a section of one of the surveyed maps would fit well in this space, so I drew this in with ink, charcoal and wash pencil.

RP2 Final

I was quite pleased with the final image and this is getting closer to what I want to investigate in combining random and precision drawing. It is also helping me to clarify the drawings I want to carry out for my parallel project. As a completed image I think it still lacks something to bring it all together, but until I work out what might do that, I will leave it there for now.

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Research point – Rebecca Horn’s drawing machines

I think ‘Pencil Mask, 1972’ was her first drawing machine. It looks like a bondage mask and I imagine is very uncomfortable to use. By having to use her head to make drawings, the ability to properly see what you are drawing has been taken away and so an element of unpredictability introduced. I’ve not seen the resulting images, so can’t comment on what the feel of the drawings were.

A later work which is pretty much impossible to find anything out about online is ‘The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall, 1988’ (, n.d.). For some reason the details of this are no longer on the main site and have to be accessed through a website archive site) and this is the only reference I can find online regarding this work. This article says that in this work she “mimic[s] the human act of painting” (, 2012) and that she herself says “The machine is a substitute for eternal life, because it lasts forever.”–Rebecca Horn, 1993 (, 2012). I’m not sure I agree with either of these statements, to me it seems clear that this is a machine painting which incorporates elements of randomness and as to her statement about the piece, nothing lasts forever. Despite disagreeing with her on these points, I think this is a strong piece which invites you to contemplate the endless cycle of the painting.

From the limited sources I have found, it appears that Horn focusses on the random marks made by machines. In my own work I would like to introduce this element of randomness, but combine it with controlled drawing also as I enjoy the contrast between the two elements.

References: (2012). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall | Rebecca Horn | Walk…. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Tate. (2004). ‘Pencil Mask’, Rebecca Horn, 1972 | Tate. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018]. (n.d.). The Little Painting School Performs a Waterfall. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

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Project 4: An emotional response

Talk about some of these projects not being my cup of tea, this topped the rest! I’m not sure if I feature on the autistic spectrum or whether emotion just doesn’t really feature in my art. I appreciate that the course is getting us to try lots of different approaches, but I didn’t start this project having much hope of getting anything out of it. I decided to try the best I could though.

It took me a long while to even figure out the statements to work from until I started to raid the lyrics of my music collection. Once I had these ready, I prepared them at the top of a sketchbook page and took them to a life drawing session. I read the statements to myself and timed around 10 minutes for each drawing. I only managed to get 9 done in the time available.

I smashed through and took the title. I am a champion

I smashed through and took the title. I am a champion

The scratch of that pencil is getting on my nerves

The scratch of that pencil is getting on my nerves

They took it all from me, I can feel my blood boil

They took it all from me, I can feel my blood boil

I've finally woken from a long sleep, I'm ready to jump, to make that blind leap

I’ve finally woken from a long sleep, I’m ready to jump, to make that blind leap

Heartbeat, thumping in my chest, now I've made a break for it I know they'll never rest

Heartbeat, thumping in my chest, now I’ve made a break for it I know they’ll never rest

There's no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss

There’s no sensation to compare with this, suspended animation, a state of bliss

I get a rush from the fear of getting caught, of recklessness and water

I get a rush from the fear of getting caught, of recklessness and water

I see the sun ahead, I ain't never looking back, all the dreams are coming true as I think of you

I see the sun ahead, I ain’t never looking back, all the dreams are coming true as I think of you

I play computer games instead of changing my life, all the time convincing myself that I will change – tomorrow

I play computer games instead of changing my life, all the time convincing myself that I will change – tomorrow


Do any of these drawings convey the emotion of the statement I was reading? Some have an inkling of this, but I don’t think any strong emotions are evident. Part of that comes from myself not being an overtly emotional kind of person. However, the main issue I think I had was the drawing environment. It’s hard to keep a passionate statement in mind and allow it to influence you whilst listening to classical music, with a serene model pose in an environment I am used to being relaxed and calm in. This conflict meant that I also probably thought too much about how my marks might be associated with the emotion rather than feeling the emotion and letting that feeling influence my drawings.

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Contextual focus point: Erased De Kooning

This work is an image of some faint lines and shading, in a simple frame with the following text added:


On initial inspection the main feeling is of curiousness about the image which was erased, there is nothing else there to interest you. Without the title it is just a blank piece of paper.

Rauchenburg was seeking an answer to the question of whether a work of art could be made through erasure. Could a blank sheet of paper be considered a work of art? He had tried erasing one of his own drawings, but felt it was unsatisfactory. For it to be complete, he needed to erase a significant drawing. So Rauschenburg asked De Kooning’s for one of his drawings with the purpose of erasing it. At the time, De Kooning was greatly admired and his drawings had great value. De Kooning agreed and when choosing a drawing, picked one he thought he would care about losing, as well as one which would be difficult to erase as it was heavily drawn in grease pencil, ink, charcoal and graphite. The process took 2 months to complete and even then, some ghostly marks were still visible.

He insisted that the work wasn’t a negation, it was a celebration (Cain, A., 2017). I tend to agree as I can only imagine that you would spend that much time erasing an artist’s work who you admire if it was in a spirit of celebration.

At the time it did not cause much of a sensation, but this and his black and white canvases were “an end to art and a beginning” (Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J., 2003). Showing blank works challenged what was art and opened up the way for anything and everything being art.

Whilst I find it hard to process that a blank image can be art, opening the door to experimentation and the infinite possibilities we now have for creating art has been a great step forward. In this light I can see how such works are pivotal in the history of art.


Cain, A. (2017). No. 60: Why Robert Rauschenberg Erased a de Kooning. [podcast] The Artsy Podcast. Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

Kaprow, A. and Kelley, J. (2003). Essays on the blurring of art and life. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press.

SFMOMA. (n.d.). Robert Rauschenberg, Erased de Kooning Drawing, 1953. [online] Available at: [Accessed 7 Nov. 2018].

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