Monthly Archives: July 2014




I have also been re-doing some of my prints for the Printmaking 1 assessment this month.

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Assessment Result

Well I passed, but it was a bare scrape through, with a mark of 41%. I didn’t think I had excelled on the course, but I thought I had done a lot better than that! My tutor’s comments that my last piece was “what I think is a successful culmination to your course” doesn’t seem to ring true now either! I am very disappointed with this grade, but at least it is a pass I guess.

It will be interesting to see how I perform on my Printmaking 1 course – I think I did better on this course, but we will see! I am doing work on it now to try to improve what I have (and I will be concentrating more on my sketchbook work in my Sculpture 1 course). If I perform similarly badly, then I need to have a very serious review of what I am doing before I get onto stage 2.

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Assignment 1


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.

Initial thoughts

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.


Sketchbook027 Sketchbook028

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.

P1010988P1010988 P1010988 P1010989

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:

  1. Drilling holes through the plastic – not ideal as they wouldn’t then rest on each other which is what makes this arrangement work well
  2. Using wire to join them – not ideal as would disrupt the clean appearance
  3. 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.

SculptureA1 blueSculptureA1 whiteSculptureA1 yellow 4 colours

I decided to go with this version:

SculptureA1 orange

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):

P1010994 P1010995

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.

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Project 2: Open-space relief sculpture


  • 3D wall sculpture protruding out from the wall approximately 300mm

  • Dynamic composition

  • “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.

Sea Groynes

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:

Hanging cage - steel - 54cm x 27cm x 16cm Cage in tree - steel - 30cm x 22cm x 19cm

Hanging cage – steel – 54cm x 27cm x 16cm
Cage in tree – steel – 30cm x 22cm x 19cm

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.

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June saw me finish my Printmaking 1 course with this series of 4 emotion prints:









My first Sculpture 1 piece:


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