Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Tutor feedback

I was introduced to Tate Shots which is a series of very short videos in which an artist discusses their work. They are quite addictive because they are so short you find yourself watching just one more and at the end can't remember where you started. The artist I was sent to look at was Nigel Cooke and his painting New Accursed Art Club it was fascinating to see the various stages that the painting went through to arrive at it's finished state. There's also a short video here where he explains some of the ideas behind his paintings.

I've looked at Colin Crotty's work before. On one hand I like it and the feeling of mystery it conveys but I also find the pictures slightly disturbing. Maybe I'm a wimp but I wouldn't want to live with one of his pictures or meet it alone on a dark night. His backgrounds are interesting, sparse and simple but in keeping with the rest of the image.

It was suggested that I look at the British Figure exhibition at the Flowers Gallery Ken Currie's Transfigurations was disturbing but I loved Maggi Hambling's Amanda Seated Wearing Boots I wasn't very taken with the painting Krishenda but I was introduced to the work of Ishbel Myerscough I particularly liked her description of drawing here. Typically, I like her drawings better than her paintings though this friendship painting is great.

Nick Millers Truckscapes are my sort of landscape, complicated and detailed they draw you into the picture. I like the way he draws his own lopsided piece of frame into some of his pictures and distorts the angle of view in the foreground.

I'm not quite as sure about Anita Groener The tree scape's are very detailed but the more abstract work is difficult to appreciate on a computer. Making all those little marks would drive me mad so I appreciate her craft. They remind me of Richard Long's Mississippi River Blues which I liked at the RA summer exhibition, I would never have appreciated this picture unless I had seen it in real life.

Eugine Delacroix did some beautifully lively drawings and certainly managed to capture movement. This picture sums up his drawings (it's also worth looking at the other drawings on the site I love John Singer Sargent)

A lot of Diana Copperwhite's paintings seem unfinished to me but I do like Your Friends are Electric Oil which is more figurative and easier to understand.

Peter Blake is such a versatile artist he must have done something for everyone to enjoy. I don't like Self portrait with badges but his 1949 Self Portrait manages to make a conventional pose look interesting.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Assignment 5 - Part 2

To get a better feeling of the actual mechanics of the movement I tried looking at online videos but this time pressing the pause button to create fuzzy action shots for reference.

I started with dip pen and ink but it didn't move freely across the paper so I switched to felt tip then pencil. For the next session (below) I used a fine liner and tried different marks to suggest my figures.

 I tried coloured pencils but the drawings weren't great and they don't scan well Finally I mixed felt tip with a slightly dried out fineliner.
Reviewing the drawings there are a number which I think were reasonably successful and would benefit from further development.

I used water-soluble crayons with and without water to smear the colours
Some of them were a bit of a challenge to scan but I still think the images you see are a better representation of what I see on the page than my photos

I think this version is the most successful but I haven't met my target of including some background.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Assignment 5 - Part 1

Working title Figure skating - a study of movement on ice

Dance inspires some great lively drawings but figure skating (always the poor relation) doesn't inspire even though there is beauty and athleticism. I love the feeling of freedom and movement on ice and I understand what the moves feel like. This seems like a good starting point to draw from.

Karolina Szymkiewicz carefully drawn but with a hint of movement from half drawn hair or feint movement lines. The dancers are perfectly proportioned but very slightly off balance so you know they will be moved by gravity a split second after the drawing the you see.
Marcus Gannuscio The sketches are way ahead of the finished pieces. Hatched lines and shading create energy and are read as movement lines. Figures are again slightly off balance.
Jane Waller Multiple lines overlaid. One figure drawn many times or multiple figures dancing and merging.
Laura Foote Particularly her drawings of the English National Ballet.
Keith Martin multicoloured gestural drawings where the movement is in the layering and depth of the mark but is as much about what is not drawn as what is. A sort of David Downton in motion, though maybe David Downton is already doing what I want to do but on models who move less than skaters.

Some preliminary sketchbook drawings
Although I draw quickly I'm not great at constantly moving models and ice rinks are inhospitable places to sit still for any length of time but I didn't want to work from photos. Then I found a gif here which was great for studying a repetitive movement. Below are the drawings I did while watching (and a random sketch of my dog)
I saved some scrappy paper that had been used to pack shoes. It's very crumpled but the idea was that I wouldn't be afraid to experiment with it as it was rubbish. I drew with charcoal, felt tip, pastel and oil pastel.
I found the pose that I wanted and did some more sketchbook experiments in felt tip and pencil.
Then tried charcoal and white conte on a larger sheet of sugar paper
I'm trying to utilise the direction the lines to give a feeling of movement but this became a bit stiff and I overworked it.
A second attempt. This is work in progress photographed to record where I was before I had a chance to overwork it.
Unfortunately the photo is a bit fuzzy but here is how it developed. I'm more pleased with this, there is energy here though maybe the head could have been better with a lighter touch. It's a bit better in real life.

Next experiment in pastel. This was small enough to crop to A3 size with the scanner.
 It's interesting to compare the different colour values between the photo and the scan, it's the same picture. I'm not sure whether the larger picture gives the figure more room to rotate or the closer crop heightens the feeling of movement because the figure is in a smaller space.

Friday, 3 July 2015


I'm a bit overwhelmed because I've just been to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition and it was brilliant. I've been before but not been as excited, maybe my tastes have changed. Michael Craig Martin has done an excellent job of curating it. I must admit that I'm not a big fan of his, dare I say that I find his work a bit lazy? However, he makes a great curator.

In my program I've circled works by the academicians Jim Dine, Tony Bevan, David Remfry, Anthony Whishaw, Mick Moon, Richard Long, Jock McFadyen, Ian McKeever, Emma Stibbon, Bernard Dunstan, Diana Armfield, Frank Bowling, Ivor Abrahams, Elizabeth Blackadder, Paul Koralek, William Kentridge, Cathie Pilkington, Jennifer Dickson, Anish Kapoor, Anne Desmet, Ian Ritchie, Norman Ackroyd, Chris Orr, John Wragg, Bill Jacklin, William Bowyer, Frederick Cuming, Anthony Green, Olwyn Bowey, James Butler, Ann Christopher, Cornelia Parker, Richard Wilson, Kenneth Draper and the wonderful Ken Howard.

Also loads of other artists Rory Browne, Patrick Wilkins, Kate Barlow, Jennifer Summers, Sarah Sutton, Carol Robertson, Peter Wylie, Calum McClure, Melissa Scott-Miller, Hazel Drummond, Henry Kondracki, Carys Evans, Emma Haworth, Donna McLean, Jo Oakley, Tom Hughes, Mandy Payne, Eileen Hogan, Kate Sherman, Louis Turpin, David Firmstone, Anthony Priddle, Deborah Batt, Ryutaro Ikeda, Carol Hodder, Janette Kerr, Kouhei Nobuhara, Rob Taylor, Robert Brown, Alison Boult, Luke Elwes, Susan Aldworth, Howard Jeffs, Sasa Marinkov, David L Carpanini, Melanie Bellis, Richard J Mackay, Louise London, Austin Cole, Julian Opie, Mychael Barratt, Donna Leighton, Hilary Powell, Tim Head, Richard Smith, Gerard Hemsworth, Jeremy Gardiner, Meg Buick, Iona Howard, George Shaw, Merlyn Chesterman, Jason Hicklin, Toni Martina, Peter Messer, Miha Lah, Kim Rugg, Caroline Burraway, Carla Groppi, Jeani Laub, Kenneth Spence, Susanna Heron, Annabel Hatton, and Denise DeCordova. I'm listing them here not to drive you mad but so that I have a resource to come back to.

The show is just so big it's impossible to seriously consider each piece of work properly. I wish there had been time to make sketches and take proper notes but it took us about 3 hours to get round and at the end we had art fatigue. I'm sure Tom Phillips work, A Humument, has merit but I was beyond studying it at that stage, it deserves an exhibition of it's own . If you lived closer the best way would be to become a member and take a room at a time over several weeks.

It was great to see artists using techniques that have been discussed in the drawing course such as multiple perspectives, limited colour pallets and unusual perspectives. However have had to have a serious chat with myself since I came home as I felt intimidated by seeing so much good work that I was inhibited to draw myself and create something substandard.

While I was in London I had a quick peek at the Serpentine Gallery's summer Pavilion It's much smaller in real life than I had expected and I felt it was spoilt by the bar/cafe which looked like it had come out of a student ball. It was made of some fantastic material which would lend itself to some great abstract photos if you have a decent camera. I made do with my trusty old phone.

I've completed the taught part of the module and need to choose a subject for Part 5. I've enjoyed the course more than I expected I would. I draw a lot and still love the simple feeling of making a mark on paper. It was great to go back to basics at the beginning of the course and draw still life. I've not had much formal art education so although I've drawn pretty much everything over the years it's good to focus on something that stays put and can be considered carefully. I do like still life more than I realised but it encourages me to be careful and tight and detailed rather than creative and adventurous. I lump interiors with still life as they can be controlled and measured. Landscapes are tricky for me, maybe because of my tendency to measure and be precise. I'm not keen on the work I've done in the landscape part so maybe I should be returning to it to practice more. I love to draw living things, people plants and animals. I love the variety of shapes and the challenge to capture a feeling of something that moves and changes. There is a buzz in drawing something that could get up and walk away at any moment (ok plants don't do that but they do move around in the breeze)

I'm thinking of trying to capture movement better and trying to place my figures within their environment more. Reportage drawing fascinates me so maybe trying to plant my figures within a narrative would be a good challenge. I am also intrigued by the possibility of multiple disjointed perspectives and how this could be employed to add tension to a picture without making it too busy. This is quite a lot for a single project, I probably need to narrow it down. The course notes don't seem to specify how much work it expected or how much time should be allowed for this part. My daughter has just completed a degree in design and was expected to start with a broad idea and work with an open mind to see where it lead her. This seems like a good way to work but will require discipline to ensure I don't just end up with an incoherent set of images of "safe" subjects like my dog. I think I need a loose aim or title to make me push myself to do something different.