Sunday, 31 January 2016

Drawing 2 - Assignment 1

The brief says;

"Think about all you’ve learned about scale, cropping, selection, flexibility and judgement and make a decision about which area you’d like to develop for your assignment piece."

Which pieces have worked best? I like these; 

I enjoyed doing all of the projects but one working with the human form was my favourite. My sketch books are full of drawings of people and animals with the occasional plant. Do I push myself by sticking to still life and inanimate objects which I don't draw as often. They are easier to draw as they don't move but I think it's a lot harder to create an interesting composition.

For the theme of my assignment I want to further develop the cropped figure. My dog is a lurcher so you can see the structure of his muscles. I have become interested in the way the muscles lie under the skin. In life drawing with humans it is quite normal to draw cropped areas but although I have tried to find artists who do this with animals I have been unable to find any examples. To start I made a number of sketchbook studies.
 Initially with a mixed blue and red Koh-i-noor Magic pencil which gives some interesting effects

 also with a fountain pen filled with brown ink

 a stick of graphite

and with a woodless graphite pencil which can generate broad strokes by using the side of the sharpened point.

Although I drew his head, my focus was on the body. I often draw Henry but I usually start at his head and work down his body, it was interesting to see that these drawings which start with his body are more lively and interesting. This may in part be because I was relaxed as I wasn't trying to create a finished drawing so it didn't matter if he moved, I just moved on to a different muscle group. He does manage some interesting positions but mostly they are the same so for drawing from life I was a bit limited to the poses you see.
Using graphite and the magic pencil I developed the sketches into bigger drawings, each one is done on A3 paper.

This drawing in the style of Egon Schiele, different subject matter but relying on line to create an image without a background and working from an uncommon angle.

This drawing was going to be bigger and more detailed but he moved. However  I think I like the simplicity of the lines so I have left it "unfinished" to try and convey the temporary nature of the pose.

The first two drawings best fulfil the brief that I set myself at the beginning of this assignment,
but they're only graphite drawings and I feel I should be giving more. I think the drawing on the left is the strongest composition so I redrew it in graphite, white and magenta coloured pencils and white oil pastel on grey paper.
 which I cropped

I'm not quite sure whether the crop works or whether the original, which pushes the curled up dog into the side of the page, has more tension but there's a dull bit of blank grey paper which I don't feel would benefit from just colouring in with a graphic stick and I don't want to fill with anything which will distract from the main drawing.

Tutor Feedback

My tutor didn't feel that the final drawing was sufficiently resolved to be considered finished. It has taken me a few weeks to reach the point where I feel ready to tackle it again and when I did I decided to start again but use the same materials although the paper I used has less tooth than the original.

It was difficult to photograph as the light reflects off the graphite and appears shiny or bizarrely brown. This was the best photo and I still think it looks better in real life.  It is more resolved which does look much better though it contradicts my original aim to keep an unfinished look to represent the transient nature of the pose, if I am to do an unfinished picture the underlying structure of it needs to be much better to carry the lack of detail.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Study visit - Prunella Clough and Lumiere London

I looked at the Tate's biography and online pictures and the BBC Archive Also articles in the Guardian by Margaret Drabble and Frances Spalding.
Her earlier paintings such as Lorry with a Cable Drum have a drawn quality and I'm very taken by her etchings. Her use of figures is interesting, when she included them they physically dominated the paintings but somehow you feel that the paintings weren't about them and that they are somehow incidental to the composition.

Broken Bottle caught my eye as the way it is laid out it looks as though the bottle has been laid to rest.

It has been commented that her later more abstract paintings are rooted in reality and it is easy to understand how they evolved from her earlier work which was an abstraction of what she saw. (Maybe all drawing and painting is to a greater or lesser extent abstraction of the original source.)
I love her 1993 Back Drop for it's use of colour and the way the paint suggests the fall of the curtain but this doesn't seem to be typical of her later work.

I've found that pictures look very different in the flesh so I went to the Tate Britain which seems to be the only place nearby that has her paintings on display. First, Man Hosing Metal Fish Boxes from 1951. It's a lot darker than I expected and that makes it difficult to see the lines that make up the folds of the figure's clothing. The lines are very important, although the face is stylised it has a definite expression which was difficult to capture when I sketched the picture.
 The chiseled face puts me in mind of a wooden puppet character from my childhood but I can't remember their name or find an online image. Were they inspired by cubism?
(2 months later the character came to me, it's Larry the Lamb (or more specifically the mayor) from Toytown There's not much on the internet apart from this book cover and this album cover)

The jet of water looks better in real life than it does in scans or photos
The background is an integral part of the figure and the scene. They clearly evolved together. There are lots of background details which might seem unnecessary but give a clearer picture of the world that the figure comes from.

The Tate also displays Wire and Demolition from 1982 which is very different.
 It's much bigger than I expected, quite a complex picture. Although your eye is drawn to the black tangle of what I guess are wires there is a lot going on in the background. The brown and beige paint has been splattered and dragged around on the canvas. It looks like the remnants of a dry stone wall though I can see faces and outlines of figures in the lines which may say more about me than it does about Prunella Clough. I think the painting could work very well without the blocks of bright colour, orange turquoise and pink. They manage to look very much part of the painting even though they are very different to the rest of it. There is an area of pink and white paint at the lower left hand area in a sort of starburst shape, was this used to balance the blocks of bright colour? You don't see this area unless you look closely. Maybe there is some pink in the beige of the whole background. The shapes defined by the black wires are clearly defined but complex, this is a picture that you could look at again and again and still find new elements.
 I chose to only study in depth Prunella Clough on this visit to try and focus as intensely as possible but whilst in the Tate I saw Peter Blakes Self Portrait with Badges which I was asked to consider for my self portrait work in Drawing 1.

I followed the visit by going to the Lumiere festival,  highlights included the Keyframes - Groupe LAPS/Thomas Veyssiiere (I have a short video but I can't get it to play when I upload it) also Les Lumineoles by Porte par le vent

and 1.8 London - Janet Echelman/Studio Echelman Explained here in Dezeen.

We didn't manage to see everything but we lasted till 10.15 when it started to snow. It was a brilliant evening which brought hundreds of happy people onto the streets of London on a very cold evening, I hope it, or similar events happen in the future, it can only be good for art and for London

Monday, 11 January 2016

Drawing 2 Part 1 - Project 4 - The Human Form

"Make a drawing of two combined body parts."
Life drawing doesn't start again until February and the son-at-home baulked (as usual) when I suggested he sat for me so I was my own model which has limitations of viewpoint but is quite liberating in that I don't have to please anyone else with my drawing.
I liked the idea of a hand holding a foot as it was easier to generate some tension but drawing myself meant that my first preferred pose had a lot of foreshortening which was distracting.
Some sketchbook studies with varying degrees of photo quality.

The scanner doesn't pick up the crayon as well as a camera
This is the image that I like. I started drawing from life but I was getting very cold feet which is good for keeping the urgency and energy in a drawing but not so good for making a close observation of the subject.
I like the simplicity in this sketch

Here I used more coloured crayons and hinted at the floorboards crossways to break the flow of the lines created by the hand and foot.
The next version using conventional coloured pencils is more detailed because I used the reference photo although I took out my little finger which in the photo is weird and distracting. 

and I quite like this crop
The problem with drawing in detail from a photo is that it can get a bit stuffy so I turned the heating up and tried to be a bit more experimental with conte. It's not entirely successful but it is livelier.
I also experimented with a different pose. This has no background because I want the viewer to wonder what is happening.
In reality it's not as exciting as the drawing might suggest....

I also tried the same pose with coloured crayon which isn't as successful .

The drawings that worked for me are this one which sends the viewer in a circle from the bottom left hand corner along the limbs and out up the arm. It is a bit static but it disorientates slightly because of the lines of the floor and the angle of the limbs.
Also this version which also sends the eye along the arm up to the leg. It has more tension partly due to the medium and partly due to the pose.
I have enjoyed this exercise and I think that shows in the drawings. I liked the challenge of creating something interesting with the limitations due to the lack of a model. Generally when faced with a model I draw the whole pose and it makes for a more interesting image to focus on just part of the body.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Drawing 2 - Part 1 Project 3

The brief made me think of the work of Slinkachu and some of the mini people in other installations - take a look at  Public street art and Isaac Cordal  The idea of broccoli looking like a tree has been used by Carl Warner in his Foodscapes. Graphic designer Javier Perez adds little drawings to small objects

To get started I drew the detail of one of the bricks in my fireplace

which has lots of interesting cracks and fissures but probably can't be a conventional landscape. So I looked in my collection of interesting stones and shells and did some rough pencil sketches to get some inspiration.
the computer has given it the slight pink and yellow cast

I do like the way the stone and tap in the top left hand pile looks like a cow but ultimately preferred the corks at the bottom which look like lighthouses.

 Combined with the stones I have a harbour scene. I drew the line at the back to be a horizon. When cropped you have this;
or if further cropped, this;

which I don't think works as well although it is more ambiguous so may be more interesting for the viewer.

Looking for potential small worlds I drew the base of a hyacinth which looked like some sort of erupting volcano over a terracotta cliff face.
Then I returned individually to my stone collection to draw the stone which looks like some sort of alien face.
I've heard people raving about the Lamy Safari fountain pen so I bought one with my Christmas money which arrived today with a cartridge of blue ink. To test it I went back to the harbour scene and drew it a little larger on denim paper from the the Two Rivers Paper Mill at Frogmore then used coloured pencils to add depth.
I had intended to stick to white and blue but it was too dull so I added the golden brown and, randomly, madder carmine. The background needs something to stop it floating in space, the objects are arranged on a plain wooden surface so I need to make something up unless I crop it very closely.
I don't like cutting the top off the corks but it doesn't work to keep them in.
I drew lines across the background as a sort of stylised sea which I think helps to ground the scene without being too distracting.
 Which can be slightly cropped
 or more heavily cropped which I prefer
For completeness I added some flecks of white and blue but I'm starting to overdo things so I'm stopping here.

Do I feel differently about selecting subject matter? I find it impossible to predict what is good subject matter and what isn't. I'm drawn the ordinary and everyday and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't partly down to how long I spend on trying to make it work as an unpromising idea may turn into something good if you throw enough time and effort at it. Compositions I struggle with. "Found" setups are easier to see as good compositions but being in control and being able to manipulate my subjects doesn't always work for me. However I may be able to see where I went wrong after the event. I think the white pebbles in the arrangement  were a bit of a mistake but I was trying to avoid too many interesting objects all together. The picture needed a few boring objects to balance it but I don't think they were quite boring enough and they look like a very random addition without a purpose. It might have helped if I hadn't kept them white but I didn't want the picture to be all dull colours. 

After I'd finished I thought that illustrations for Mary Norton's The Borrowers might have some interesting approaches to small objects viewed differently This uncredited image has the feel of a stage set with it's cut out figures. It's a great illustration but doesn't fit the brief very well. I really like the atmospheric illustrations by Diana Stanley brilliant use of crosshatching to create areas of dark and light. Sadly I have been unable to find anything more about her work.