Friday, 31 October 2014

Research point - Patrick Caulfield Gary Hume and negative spaces

 Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume exhibited together at the Tate in 2013

I did some more detailed research on Patrick Caulfield for the earlier version of Drawing 1. He was a painter and print maker who lived between 1936 and 2005. He represented objects with a black outline on a flat coloured background. In his earlier works he chose quite simple objects such as "Vases of flowers" (1963) where the complex leaves of the flowers are created in black outlines. In "Battlements" and "Coloured still life" both 1967 he simplified his techniques further.
As time went on he expanded his range to include the backgrounds such as in "Pipe" (1972) then included hyper-real elements for example in "After lunch " (1975). I'm not so keen on this piece as the fish tank and window seem out of balance with the rest of the painting. His work always had an element of abstraction because of the way he isolated individual elements from their surroundings, but he moved much more to abstraction in later years with a series of jugs and pitchers in the early 1980's and prints of white ware in 1990. These have stylised shadows and partly viewed elements to create tension such as in "Lamp and Kuan ware" or "Lung Ch’uan Ware and Black Lamp"
He didn't like the label of Pop art but it does seem very apt to me. He does appear to have been a prolific artist though the Tate website says that he was a slow worker.
His work is a combination of simple shapes both positive and negative which we read as images because we always look to make sense of what we see and fit it into our memory bank of images. I read "Lung Ch’uan Ware and Black Lamp" as a jug on a sheet of punched paper such as you would find in a ring bound sketchbook and only realised it was a lamp when I was reading about the work. I think he must have been influenced by the famous image of 2 faces that look like a lamp but his work is a lot more sophisticated than that. 

Gary Hume uses flat clocks of colour to create images such as Pecking bird or Cuckoo in the nest The negative space is necessary for us to read and understand the image.  The Guardian contrasts their work here

There are some great examples here using negative space in a graphic design context  MC Escher was a master of its use, see this Victor Varsarely was considered to be the grandfather of Op Art and did a lot of patterned work but also lots of images using zebras and negative space. There is a very irritating website so I preferred to look at his work through Bing Images

My tutor suggested I look at the work of Alighiero E Boetti and Hughie O’ Donoghue

Alighiero E Boetti Aerei (1989) is a good example of the use of negative space and I think
Hughie O’ Donoghue's work is also very dependent on the surrounding area as much as the "main" image. I like the Memory of the House  pictures but they're difficult to see in detain on line due to copyright issues. His figures also rely very much on the negative space I would love to see his work in real life as the images are quite captivating.

And of course wikipedia (it would be rude not to!)

The older Drawing 1 asked for an image in the style of Patrick Caulfield;

I did some doodles in my sketchbook. I was inspired by the picture from a gift card and a glass vase/pot that I have so I tried different ideas with both.
I took one of the early card sketches and modified it with the computer. Is this still drawing?
I like the idea but I think it's strayed away from Patrick Caulfield's style.
I tried some collage
 His work is deceptively simple but difficult to replicate. Trying to do something similar certainly increases my appreciation of his skill
 I think the collage is a bit more successful but I find it really hard to cut or draw smooth curves
I took the second collage and manipulated it a bit. When I stuck the leaves/petals on I didn't get them in the same place as when I was mocking up the layout. Is the stem/curve above the pot too obvious?
Was it better without?
Trying to do something in his style certainly helped me to understand the work much better

Research point - Still life

The on line resources are so broad I didn't know where to start. So I went back to Google and the trusty Encyclopedia Britannica which says;
Still-life painting, depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their qualities of form, colour, texture, and composition.
Although early cave paintings depict inanimate objects they were as talismans to bring good luck, or to ward off evil. It was not until people became richer and spent less of their time on just surviving that still life as something to appreciate for its own sake emerged. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica that was during the Renaissance which happened after the Middle Ages. I thought that seemed a bit odd, the Greeks and Romans depicted still lives too - look at some of the images found at Pompeii. Apparently art in the Middle Ages was very much controlled by the church and involved depicting scenes from the bible though there was some lovely still life set within these paintings see the objects on the shelves in Van Eyck's Virgin and Child with a book (Bridgeman Educational Library) or the food on the table in Caravaggio's The Supper at Emmaus.  (The National Gallery) According to EH Gombrich " The Story of Art " the Dutch masters were the fathers of still life painting and proved that the subject matter may not be as important as the painting itself and illustrated it with this picture by Willen Kalf which has the snappy title of;
Still life with the drinking horn of the St Sebastian Archers Guild, lobster and glasses
Beautifully rendered it is though, and that's from someone who isn't a fan of hyper realism
Gombrich contrasts this with Cezannes painting

which still manages to convey a sense of depth even though the perspective is warped and the shapes are formed in an manner far more like a drawing
Georges Braque and Picasso took this further with fractured paintings such as Still life with a harp and violin (Bridgeman Educational Library) Still life with a clarinet on a table It's hard to see the objects that inspired the paintings but there is a flavour. I'm not such a fan of his later work which is much simplified and gets a bit cartoon like for my taste. Picasso also made stylised paintings such as Pitcher and bowl of fruit which glows like a stained glass window and used found objects to create 3D still life's
The Guardian has a selection of contemporary still life's in this article. Some of them seem to be a natural evolution from earlier objects, some (such as Marc Quinn's Self) seem to stretch the definition of still life somewhat.
I like the idea of unusual objects for still life pictures Gummy bears,   Ladders  and  items from modern life
Flowers, fruit and bottles still appear in a lot of pictures when you look for contemporary still life pictures but few of them are doing anything radically different to the Dutch Masters. I do really like the idea that the object is less important than the painting/drawing. Maybe it is more important to draw the dull the ordinary and the everyday because that is what we overlook. Going back to the Urbansketchers website Sharon Frost draws very ordinary scenes but makes them important because she has taken time over them. Is the role of the artist to make people stop and examine the ordinary world around them?
Sadly I missed this exhibition but it looks interesting. I did see the Saachi Gallery exhibition Paper which had a number of drawings. The variety of media was interesting, I particularly liked Paul Westcombe's drawings on paper cups. The overall effect was decorative but the subject matter wasn't!
There's also Andrea Joseph who draws the things we had in our pencil cases at school, but also street signs and envelopes. Her work is quite stylised and does remind me of all the doodles we did in our notebooks at school, maybe that is why she is successful.
These modern still life's (lives?) do stretch perspectives and angles. Do drawings of rooms, furniture and buildings (urban landscapes) still fit into the still life category in some way? They are inanimate objects drawn for their shapes or textures.
Wilst researching I found this which isn't still life but is a very interesting drawing
PS I don't like the way the OCA text refers to young contemporary artists. What about the middle ages and the old ones......?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Assignment 1 - A personal still life

I wanted objects that are reasonably big as the drawing is to be A2 or A3. I chose footwear, not because I'm particularly into shoes but because these ones were piled together and represented different aspects of my life. Also I like drawing shoes, they have interesting shapes, retain some of the character of their wearer and although it sounds a bit crazy I think they are a bit like drawing people. The wellies are mainly for dog walking, my dog is my best mate, child replacement now my kids have grown up, bodyguard and co-explorer. The ice boots for skating which has crept up to become a bit of an obsession and the trainers are because I've started running to keep fit while my local ice rink is closed for refurbishment.

To sort out a layout I did some rough sketches
 In this first attempt a pair of ankle boots crept in too but I think that's too many boots

Then a more considered drawing on a sheet of A2 paper using charcoal, graphite stick and compressed charcoal

 It was a mistake to add the compressed charcoal as it was too dark against the lighter graphite and plain charcoal so I had to rub some of it off. I also used the putty rubber to pull out some highlights. Part of me likes the dark outlines in this and part of me thinks they're too cartoon like and lazy. I found it hard to use more than one material for my drawing, I'm used to resolving the image just using one sort of medium.

To give the exercise a proper go I did another drawing with a dip pen and ink but this time I used A3 paper which I'm much more comfortable with

then added tone with the graphite stick

Is it better or just different? The shadows aren't as good as in the first drawing

Assessment criteria points

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational
skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%). I believe I can do the technical bit of drawing, never as well as I would like but as I get better at it I find I'm never good enough. I'm not sure about my techniques, that's why I'm here, I find it fairly easy to observe and be visually aware but design and composition is hard, sometime its reasonably successful sometimes its rubbish

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a
coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of
ideas (20%). I use this blog to try and present my ideas in a coherent manner, if it doesn't succeed it is because my thought processes are a bit erratic

Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development
of a personal voice (25%). I try to experiment but I tend to fall back on obvious solutions when I relax. Do I have a personal voice? Probably not a very original one

Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and
third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%). I do a lot of research online which I either forget to document as I go along or I don't spend enough time reflecting on and re writing for my blog. I'm trying to rectify this.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Exercise- Shadows and reflected light and shade

Still on the lookout for shiny objects I cleaned the kettle and found the missing lid of the flask from one of the previous drawings.
As I used A2 paper it was too big for my scanner so I had to take a dodgy photo with my phone hence the orange cast. The flask isn't very shiny so I dug out some balti dishes which don't have a lot of surface to reflect with. I put them on a black surface and added a sheet of paper to give me something to reflect.
I had trouble keeping the white areas white and the putty rubber tended to partially lift the charcoal to a light grey. I think my first attempt was better and that both of the drawings are stiff and overworked.
The new version of the course asks for a shiny object and a ceramic object to give contrast. I felt guilty I hadn't tried this so I had a go

 Guilt is not a good motivator for drawing. This is A2 and I just can't seem to work this big to my satisfaction. The drawing is tilted because I was working above my eye line. The pots are bigger than in real life and getting to that stage somehow just went wrong. I'm not pleased with this at all.

Project - Reflected light

I never realised how short I was of shiny objects in my house. I started with an old flask, a bottle and a jug which defiantely isn't shiny. I used lovely grey paper from the Paper Trail in Apsley
I'm really not happy with the spout of the jug but it doesn't look so bad in a smaller image
Sticking with the jug (I need the practice) I change the flask for a balti bowl. These are 2 different drawings I'm just saving paper
Then I tried a funny little camping light which I switched on and a foundation powder pot. The switched on light didn't really work. The smaller bottles are nail varnish, the lid on the smallest one isn't on straight so it's probably dried out.

Research point Odilon Redon and tone

Was a French painter, printmaker, draughtsman and pastellist who lived between 1840 and 1916. He did a lot of work in charcoal from imagination creating some surreal rather Gothic figures many of which rely on creating dark pastel shadows to bring the light figures forward. I like his later pastel drawings which seem to me to be influenced by Gustav Klimt. I particularly like "Buddha" from 1906/7 and "Ophelia among the Flowers". Some of his oils look like they have been done in pastel as drawings rather than paintings.
He was born in Bordeaux, Aquitane Bertrand-Jean Redon, Odilon was a nickname from his mother Odile. He drew from when he was a child but started studying drawing when he was 15. His father insisted that he trained as an architect but he failed the entrance exams. He then studied sculpture and was taught etching and lithography by Rodolphe Bresdin. He served in the army in the Franco-Prussian war in 1870 then moved to Paris where he worked in charcoal and lithography using shades of black and published an album of lithographs in 1884. He was not widely recognised until he featured in a novel A Retours.
He became more interested in working in pastel and oil in the 1890's and stopped creating works in black (noirs) in 1900.
His work is influenced by his interest in Buddhism and representation of his internal thoughts and feelings. His noirs are very dark and seem to be the work of a troubled mind but his later work is lighter and more optimistic.
He describes his work as
"My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous relm of the undetermined."
and "to place the visible at the service of the invisible"
Commentators have said that his noir drawings "defied classification, unheeding for the most part the limitations of painting"
He used charcoal that had been soaked in linseed oil, a medium that had gone out of fashion but which was good a sticking to paper. He also used black conte crayon and black pastel. He fixed his work intermittently during the drawing process and used fingers, fingernails, a sponge and pointed impliments to move the charcoal around before the fixative dried. Paper was usually coloured and could be treated with powdered charcoal before the drawing started. Redon was unusual in embracing the fact that paper changes colour over time and alters the hue of a drawing.
There was a very interesting paper  published in 2011 which documents the investigation into his techniques and has some good examples of his work Tadpole 1883 is lovely and very atmospheric

So what is the atmospheric potential of tone? A simple plain line drawing has very little atmosphere, more of a diagram. Even comics use tone to create a sense of atmosphere and give imformation without resorting to words. Lots of darker tones create a feeling of  forboding, mystery and depth. A few lighter tones can draw attention to a particular aspect of a drawing. The artist has the ability to control how a viewer reads a drawing by how they apply tone. Softly applied tone makes the picture look as though it has evolved from the paper rather than been drawn, maybe tone is where drawing turns into painting as in pastel paintings?

Exercise 3 Creating shadow using lines and marks

This is a bit of a combination of the old format and the new because the exercises seemed so similar

I was a bit confused by this exercise. Were the squares supposed to have the same tone? That's what I've done, or was I supposed to draw a simple object? This is for the old format course so I did 2 simple objects I picked these conkers up a couple of weeks ago intending to draw them. I think they're a little small for this exercise but I've done them anyway
This is biro,HB papermate,4b pencil and Uniball pen(that doesn't quite fit, bad planning)
Then I used a variety of media for my studies

I think the biro was the most successful though the shadows are a bit dark in places.
Then I got the course material for the new style course and tried to draw the same objects without to many outlines
 I used biro. The position of the objects isn't quite correct as I was focusing on the shadows rather than the lies and I was trying to work rapidly and loosely

How difficult did you find it to distinguish between light from a primary light source and secondary reflected light? I tried to draw what I saw so I don't think it is important where the light or shadow is from but it is important to show it if it is visible. Is that the wrong approach?
How has awareness of tone affected your depiction of form? If you look closely at the tone and represent it well then the form sor of emerges because that is how we make sense of visual images (I think)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Exercise 2 Observing shadow using blocks of tone

I drew 2 white bowls
I'm struggling with the shadow on the inside of the bowl on the left

Maybe this is a bit better (and I've cropped it which looks better)
Hard in charcoal to get the subtlety of shade sometimes. The paper says suitable for all mediums but it was difficult to get an even tone, maybe that's a good thing?

It looks better when reproduced smaller!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Exercise 1 Expressive lines and marks

Ooops I did this exercise and completely forgot to post it. I used a graphite stick, charcoal, a dark blue oil bar (acquired as a free bee -lovely!)and ink with a barbecue skewer (very difficult to move the ink around - maybe the paper is too absorbent)
The bottom left is the ink creeping round the edge of the page but it doesn't come out well in the photo.
I found it hard not to be representative. People dismiss abstract work as being lazy but I find it really difficult to do. I'm not very pleased with my efforts here.

Exercise 1 Groups of objects

I liked the idea of shopping falling out of a bag but it didn't seem very imaginative and I've just drawn loads of groceries so for my first attempt I had things spilling out of a handbag
 Drawn in charcoal on some large sheets of corrugated cardboard that came as packaging
 I find it really hard to draw bigger than I see, I guess its practise
Am I allowed to put touches of white pastel in too?
Then I drew what was on the mantelpiece.
Graphite stick but it's a bit wishy washy because it dug into the paper if I pushed hard
 I tried marker pen but that was drying out so I added compressed charcoal. The composition is a bit dull
Finally I drew what was on the draining board
 Still cardboard box packaging this time I went straight to compressed charcoal
 and then added a bit of sneaky white pastel
I think the first drawing is the best but the last is more fluid.

Research point

So many drawings to choose from, but what is contemporary? Paul Cezannes drawing Madame Cezane with Hortensias (1885) is the piece of art I would buy if I ever became rich. The lightness of touch with the pencil, the softness of the drawing, so restrained, just a little green paint for the leaves. Maybe its too old to be considered contemporary but to me it seems a very loving, caring drawing.
Madame Cezanne with Hortensias - Paul Cezanne

I had to look at the work of Julie Brixey-Williams after the recommendation in the course notes. Of the work I saw I like Cloud Dance 2 best for the natural way that she represents fluid movement. In my research I stumbled across the Reportager website which has some pretty heartfelt drawings from the likes of Oliver Kugler and Dan Archer who are trying to deal with social issues through drawings.
I'm a long term follower of the urbansketchers website and particularly admire the work of Melanie Reim which has an urgency and liveliness, capturing a scene or a situation without putting every little detail in.
Going off track slightly Phil Sylvester has written an interesting essay on how drawing and mark making can be representative without being slavish copies.
Andy Mercer captures the slightly menacing claustrophobic feeling of being in a foreign city at night 
in this drawing and I can feel the urgency to capture a fleeting moment in Jason Gathorne-Hardy's drawings of birds 
Again not contemporary but Henri Toulouse Lautrec captures a feeling of wretchedness and discomfort in "A Montrouge"–Rosa La Rouge

I think that we are visual creatures wired to interpret what we see and extrapolate from it. I don't know how an adult that had never seen drawings or paintings would interpret them but we are bombarded with images and we are all trained to decode them and read certain triggers in the same way. The more you look at art the more you probably read into an image. I don't think we separate the image from the medium when we view art and I don't think we are usually aware in the first instance of the act that created the art, that follows if we are sufficiently interested to consider the work in more depth or read up about it. There is a danger that because we see so many images we stop really looking at them. An artist then needs to work to grab our attention very quickly and we may miss more subtle aspects of a piece of work but we tend to pick up on the emotion because reading emotions quickly is an important part of our survival mechanism

So what is the difference between expressive and expressionist? Before looking it up I feel that anyone who relaxes and lets themselves be honest with what they produce can be expressive. Its not a contrived self conscious state. Expressionist feels more self concious, for the benefit of others or to impress or influence them. Lets look for a dictionary.......

The Longland Top Pocket English Dictionary says;

Expressive - showing feelings
Expressionism - a style of art which attempts to depict the artist's subjective emotions rather than eternal reality

of Expressionism;

DK Eyewitness Companion Art says;
Style conveying heightened sensibility through distortion of colour, drawing, space, scale, form or intense subject matter or a combination of these. 

Wikipedia says;
Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas.

Maybe expressionism is not necessarily showing the artist's own true feelings but may be contrived for artistic effect.

How can I answer the question?

so how might (drawing) act as an emotional conduit between artist and viewer?
Is it the image, the medium or the act that brought the art work into being that makes it‘expressive’ or ‘expressionist’? 
 I think that interpretation of art is a very subjective thing that is bound up in past influences and experiences. We understand and bond with some works because we can identify with the mindset of the artist that produced them. Its easier to be expressive with a medium that doesn't require a lot of preparation which is why drawings and sketchbooks are so attractive. The presence of "errors" allow a liveliness in work that makes it expressive. So I guess my short answer to the question above is all three and it would take an essay, or even a book, to fully explore this concept.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Warm up - temporary drawings

I started with a bit of a blank on this but when I got going there were so many opportunities

Drawing with the hoover in the dog hairs on the carpet

and in the dust under the TV.....

and other dust drawings. Housework has never been so fun :-)
Not sure whether this will upload ok but I drew in the duckweed on the pond
So temporary it was hard to photograph
Spare white chocolate from a piping bag dropped into water

Bleach dropped into the sink to get rid of the tea stains. I'd never noticed before how the plug looks like an eye
The lead of the hoover, I see two people, probably sitting on a bus - not sure I should tell you that
Dripping ink into water in the now clean sink

I wanted to draw on the steamed up mirror in the bathroom too but I couldn't get it to steam up. I didn't do the torch/sparklers outside as I haven't got anyone around to film them but I will be buying sparklers for firework night to play
This is drawing as we did when we were kids and weren't precious about it, kids have no cares about permanence or being right. I found it hard not to make real things with my drawing, not because I've been conditioned to copy things but because I like to