Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Exercise 3 Live animals using line and tone

I've done this exercise out of order as I can borrow some bones for the tonal study but not until next week. Some of the drawings in the line exercise probably fall into the tone category and some of the work here is more line than tone. I've not been very successful in following instructions in my attempts to capture the image. I started by trying to draw my daughters cockateil Frankie, something I have attempted on many occasions
I used A3 sugar paper a graphite stick and oil pastel for the colour. I found it difficult to get tone because he was small and kept moving so I tried drawing my dog in coloured pencil on A4 coloured paper from Apsley Paper Mill.

It is more line than tone so I tried some more studies with a graphite stick on a larger sheet of paper
Eric the cat walked in part way through and I got distracted and drew him too. I like the drawings of him better than the dog drawings.

more cat studies
My final drawings were with graphite stick on A4 paper because it was easier to hold when drawing from life with a cat who could get up and change position at any moment.
I deliberately didn't draw the background which was a bean bag. I've drawn a lot of animals on bean bags and the lines can be a bit distracting

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Exercise 1 Animal line study

This exercise is both easy and difficult. I draw animals, I have sketchbooks full of animal studies. One of my reasons for doing this course was to expand my horizons and do things differently but animal studies is more of the same and I need to work hard not to churn out what I always draw.
I chose to do cats, because I don't think I do them very well and they were often badly done in the websites I looked at for my research. Conveniently I have 3 models here at home to study. Here are some pages from my sketchbooks.
 Fineliner and coloured pencil
 Pencil and fineliner
Pencil and fineliner
To mix things up a bit I used some sheets of A3 paper and graphite sticks, Aquatone pencils or Tombow markers. This is what I would use in a life drawing session and I wanted to channel some of that style and energy into my home studies. Pencil and A4 paper can be a bit tight and restricting.
Inspired by the watercolour on Qing Q's Kingfisher I played with some acrylic ink, water and a hairdryer
To an extent I could "draw" with the hairdryer turning the drops of ink and chasing them down the page. This lead me to think of the fluid way in which a cat jumps down off a high object (I feed my cats on a shelf to stop my dog stealing their food) I am interested in capturing movement in the way that Louise Pallister does with her dogs

The moment I'm looking for is very brief. I did some drawings and as I haven't got any reference photos so I took some rubbishy video on my phone so that I could slow down the movement to see the best pose.
First attempt in charcoal with acrylic ink lines that didn't go where I wanted them to. I think the under drawing of the cat gives it energy but it still seems a bit stiff. The cat looks as though he is floating in space so I strenghtened the lines of the support.
I think I've been too tentative with the background so I added some ink but then the cat dissappeared so I added brown conte
A bit fussy and busy? plus the cat still looks static.

Second attempt using coloured inks for the lines. They worked well but the cat drawing is in Aquatone pencils with water added and it looks like a marrow!
I tried working into it a bit more
The sweep of yellow was a mistake as it has picked up some of the charcoal but I wasn't happy with the drawing before that anyway
 Back to some rough paper for some sketches using a Tombow marker
I think I know where I'm going now I like the sweep of the tail
I tried coloured pastel instead of ink for the background. I like the overall shape but the cat still looks like a marrow
 Also I think the cat needs more definition so I went back to it and added more pastel. This is a bit better and the cat looks more dynamic though I'm not sure if the background is too distracting
This is a better cat but I've been too cautious with the background colour (watercolour this time)
Too much colour again?
Maybe better cropped? I think this version does look quite dynamic but would have benefited from being positioned higher up the page so that the cat had somewhere to jump to.
I mocked this up on the computer. This would also have been easier as I wouldn't have to draw the cat so big. This is with a sheet of paper attached at the bottom

It's not possible to extend the splodgy colour properly but maybe it gives a better idea. I had to redraw it to see if it would look better. This time I just went for the cat in charcoal without the background. It does say animal line study in the instructions.....

I am trying not to be too finished but the lines where I was working out where to put the front leg are distracting me so I rubbed them out, sorry
Not happy with the position of the head...
I have a feeling the pictures are getting worse not better so I'm going to step away from this and see what my tutor thinks when he assesses this module.
Reviewing what I've done I saw potential for my "hairdryer drawing"
I can see cats in the tangle of lines
 I highlighted them with a graphite stick
Then added a touch of white oil pastel and brown conte. I think that took it too far and a simple approach was better.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Research point - Pets and other animals

I went a bit scatter gun with my research and found Russian artist Svetlana Petrova 
adding photos of her cat to old masters which is completely irrelevant to this project but made me smile. Also David Zambeck's painting Tenticle caught my eye with the way it creeps over four canvases. It's painted in acrylic and suggests rather than shows the form of the tentacle. I think it would be a fun though rather creepy thing to put on a wall.
Qing Qi's oil and acrylic painting Kingfisher captures the energy of the bird taking off and the colour without being completely realistic. He has used splodges of paint to suggest the water from which the bird has just risen which is very effective.

Getting more on the subject Louise Pallister  captures the aliveness of her subjects. I like her mixed media pictures best. She states that she is seeking to depict animals in a way that is not illustrative and doesn't feel like pet portraiture and I think she has succeeded.  It takes a long time to load but the link here is worth the wait.

Justine Osborne has a more traditional approach to the positioning of her subject but draws in charcoal in a lovely lively sketchy manner.

I work with dogs and cats so I am very sensitive to the way they position themselves. This means that I often struggle with less representative images because they look as though they will collapse. Valerie Davide gets through my realism barrier with pictures that aren't entirely lifelike but feel substantial. She is also using charcoal.
Cats currently seem to get a very bad deal with lots of cutesy cartoons and bad drawings Gayle Mason gets it right for me particularly her monochrome cats with a splash of colour using pencil.
On the whole I favour liveliness of line over accuracy in other peoples work but strive for dull perfectionism in my own. Is recognising this the first stage of fixing it?

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Exercise 4 - Monochrome

The brief says a man made object and a natural one. I thought of a shell in the bathroom or logs and fir cones in my fireplace but settled on eggs in an egg box, I've treated myself to some fancy blue eggs which come in a blue box but I'd already used 2 so I saved the shells & did some studies in blue pencil in my sketchbook.
Sorry the top left picture is a bit feint. I like the layout at bottom right. I have some duck egg blue sugar paper but it doesn't do justice to the blue of the shells so I used white paper and coloured pencil
because I wanted to study the detail of the shape of the egg box
It needs some contrast to wake it up so I used a blue graphite pencil
I can't seem to make the broken eggshells make sense though they look better compressed on the screen. As ever I really struggled to make the picture A3 size. Also the most left hand corner of the egg box is too big but maybe you wouldn't have noticed that if I didn't point it out? There's too much of a line around the eggs (partly picked up by the scanner) so I've tried to fix that.
I think this is going to be as good as it gets but the eggs are white not blue so in the interests of accuracy I ought to fix that...
Just added the lighter blue here and I've lost some of the contrasts.
I think the broken shells make more sense now but the left hand corner of the box is starting to look worse so although I probably ought to carry on I'm going to stop. I think I was wrong to want to stop at the earlier version and pushing forward has made it better so with that in mind I should carry on but the paper isn't taking the pencil as well now so I'm going to step away and see what I think tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Exercise 3 - Experiment with mixed media

Sorry I've been a bit waylaid by life in general and Christmas card design in particular so it's taken a while to get to this exercise.
After some consideration I decided that I had dismissed too quickly the layout with toys from a previous exercise.
I've got some biggish sheets of cardboard from son number 2 who has been on a buying spree in preparation for working abroad for 6 months so that seemed the perfect base to work on
This is marker pen, pastel (both chalky and oil) and compressed charcoal. Does it need a background?
Going back to my earlier reflection I think I need to avoid drawing everything with a space around it so I used another smaller sheet of cardboard and glued some scrap paper onto it.
 I'm having trouble getting the paper to stick when I draw over it. Am I just being too impatient?
Again I've left space around my composition and not drawn right up to the edges. Maybe I can fix it with cropping?

A bit more punch. On the same lines I could improve my earlier attempts with cropping

Is this cheating? I do think it works better with the crop especially the bottom version.
I tried PVA to glue my paper down and found an old red matchpot of emulsion which I "drew" very rough shapes of the red areas on my board. Once it was dry I drew with pastel (oil and chalk) and compressed charcoal.
I'm always worried about overworking but this looks unfinished

Funny that I was sure that this more cropped image obviously needed a black background.
I do find it easier to work loosely if the support is cheap and nasty and if I corrupt it with stuck on paper but I'm still not sure what is the best glue to use. PVA did seem to work a bit better but the paper was rubbing off if I worked it to hard, I guess that is to be expected. I like working from a medium tone and adding lights and darks to create an image. Pastel is great for this and has the advantage that I can work over it although I haven't found anything that can work over oil pastel but oil pastel. Big pens like markers stop me from fiddling with detail too early as does working large. I avoided dip pens although I do enjoy using them because I find it hard to draw large with them.