Monday, 22 June 2015

Assignment 4

Models are difficult. I caught Sam at home working on his portfolio and drew him in pencil and felt tip. My kids have grown up with me drawing them so they just ignore me. They're no good at sitting still but they don't pose or hold unnatural poses either which is great.

with added fountain pen on the last drawing
More pencil, working on the laptop now. Sam went on his way so I did a brush and ink drawing from my study but I'm just not happy with the proportions or the drawing.
I find A1 difficult to handle. It's physically so big it's hard to fit it into small house, difficult to work with and difficult to store without damaging the paper. Instead I used 3 sheets of A3 paper to assemble my drawing which is A1 size when laid out. This is felt tip again and I'm a bit happier with this one.
The background was then filled in with different papers.
It's not very coherent. I tried to reflect the shapes of the figure using the added sheets of paper but maybe it would be more successful if I used the added sheets to contrast the shape of the figure. Its also difficult to find a glue that reliable sticks the papers together without cockling or the papers coming unstuck.

For the reclining tone drawing I cheated and used a photo. This is on sugar paper using pastels on their side edge to give a broader stroke, working with blocks of colour and honing down to detail as I progressed. The face is wrong but I was trying not to do a portrait.

This was a quick portrait study in water-soluble crayon but it's rather dull.

I also used Graphitint pencils to draw Sam texting with help from Henry, and Eric the cat.

To have a more persistent approach to this exercise I persuaded my parents to model for me and spent the morning drawing my Mum preparing lunch. This was partly for me to warm up and partly for her benefit so she became more relaxed and comfortable about being drawn.

The drawing at the bottom where she looks at me is when we both settled into the session and started to relax.
Also a few studies for the portrait
Pencil, watersoluble crayons or coloured pencil.
I absolutely hate formal stiff posed portraits (whether drawn or photographed) so I told them not to pose or hold still for me in an attempt to catch them sitting as naturally as possible. Below she's eating a biscuit not smoking!

After lunch my parents take a nap. I'm used to working fast, I spent about 30 minutes on this drawing partly because that's as long as Dad sleeps but also because I would have overworked the drawing if I'd have carried on any longer. This is Conte on sugar paper. I had to position myself with my back to the wall so I couldn't step back far enough to get an overview as I drew and I had to bob up and down a bit to see around the easel and the paper. With that in mind I'm reasonably pleased with this.
For the seated line drawing I used Water-soluble crayons. My Mum read which kept her mind off me drawing her. I should have been bolder with the lines as I drew. When I went back to try and strengthen them I started to loose the shape and the freshness of the drawing.
and for the portrait charcoal and conte on lovely recycled paper from the Apsley Paper Trail.  By this stage she was much more relaxed and comfortable with being drawn and this (coincidentally) is reasonable likeness though I didn't notice it when I was drawing.

It's not so easy to be experimental drawing my parents who have a neat house and little interest in art but this was pushing my personal boundaries as I find them very hard to draw. They are very supportive, but they have issues with the way their bodies have changed as they have aged. It is hard to ignore the way you look when someone is drawing you and it's hard to draw accurately and naturally whilst trying not to be unkind. I hope I have succeeded and I wonder how being drawn affects your self image.
I looked into art and facial disfigurement. I'm sure I read somewhere about a project to help people come to terms with their bodies by drawing or painting them. Mark Gilbert did a very similar project here which may be what I remembered. With the help of this article by Jonathan Jones I found these paintings by Goya and  Domenico_Ghirlandaio of less than perfect faces. As discussed in the exercise where I drew individual features perfect regular faces are dull, disfigurement is character, easier to say as someone with a fairly "normal" face. There's also this portrait of Simon Weston which somehow seems to sanitise him. I'm not sure that is a good thing.

I love drawing people, they change endlessly. The chance that they could move any minute keeps me on my toes and forces me to look for what matters and not fiddle with the details. I don't like hyper real over finished pieces so I tried not to overwork these drawings.
To move forward I need to place my figures in their environment more. I tend to focus on faces because that is what really excites me but a face floating in space tells you less about a person than if you catch them in their natural environment. The environment needs to complement the face or figure not dominate it.
My interest is in found situations, (people, scenes, happenings) so I need work on how I can record this without disturbing the spontaneity of the original scene. I'm not sure how to focus this into Assignment 5 but I want to work further on the figure in the environment.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Exercise 3 - Portrait from memory or the imagination

I started drawing rather stiffly, the top two faces look like identikit criminals!
They get a bit looser as I go along
Then I decided I needed to use something other than pencil.

My problem is that I'm making the face up on the paper, doing some squiggles and letting them turn into a face. Is this cheating? I think should be imagining or seeing the person and then drawing them. Back to the drawing board...
I drew some people I knew from memory and this lead to drawing a lady I know who is very distressed at the moment.
It's strange how scanning a drawing picks up it's faults. I had to go back and adjust the nose.
It's not a great drawing and it's not much of a likeness but at the risk of making sweeping assumptions I think it conveys the way I think she feels at the moment. That's probably more important than a likeness, but to who? me drawing? friends looking at the picture? or the subject herself who may hate me for exposing her feelings, even anonymously on a blog. 
Probably good portraits are not always nice or accurate pictures and won't make the subject happy or comfortable. That makes me wonder why we do portraits? Maybe as a record of a universal feeling for future viewers. Cezanne's drawing of his wife makes me feel calm and peaceful. Tracey Emin's Self Portrait as a small bird is light and playful and would cheer me up if I had it on a wall. 

Zinaida Serebriakova's paintings and drawings make me wonder about the people she portrays, who were they what were they thinking? what happened next?

I feel a link to my grandmother through a painting I did of her so is the importance for me the act of making the painting or having the painting to remind me of her?