Monday, 27 February 2017

Project 3 - A finer focus

There is something disturbing about Gwen Hardie's skin paintings (also here on Artsy) and I'm not quite sure what it is. I think it is the colours, the blues are reminiscent of bruises or distorted veins. The nipples are seen so closely I fear that they are being inspected by a malevolent stalker with a high definition telescope.

Turner Prizewinner Richard Wright says in The Tate's video "This work is not for the future this is work for now" Lots of images at the Gagosian website and he discusses an exhibition that he curated for the Tate here. I like the way that Wright responds to the environment around his work and his use of repeated pattern and shape. I am pondering on his statement in the Tateshot film that the exhibition was about slowing down the viewers engagement with the pieces. This has relevance to this project about time, but also the general relevance of artwork to the public, particularly work which addresses the ordinary and everyday.

I have enormous respect for Grayson Perry, his Reith Lectures were fascinating, but I was underwhelmed by his work Julie and Rob for the 2015 RA Summer exhibition was brash and kitchsy. I had never looked that closely at his pots and I find that they have lovely narrative drawings. I'm not sure that I agree with the course notes which describe them as detailed extended doodles  but I will look more closely next time I get a chance to see his work.

Jim Shaw makes work that is very busy. There are so many cultural references bursting to get out it's like being inside a 1970's American comic. He is incredibly eclectic in what he does ranging from drawings, paintings and installations to thrift store paintings. I found an essay in Frieze which is a good summary of his ideas and interests. His pencil Dream drawings are very detailed (I was in a Vegas show about a Viking farmer...) Also this study for Seven Deadly Sins and a study for Anal/Isis which I read as hair though I may be wrong?

Detailed Drawings is a Tumblr site with loads of artists collected together. I find that repeated exposure to these complex works does feel rather frenetic after a while. They aren't relaxing pieces, and part of me does worry about the mental health of someone who works this way on a large scale.

I have a jam jar of keys which I daren't throw away in case they unlock a forgotten door somewhere so to get going I drew them.
I think this project calls for something larger and more detailed.

Dawn Clements here and here does some very detailed drawings which take you through a scene. I remembered being very excited about them at an exhibition at the Saachi Gallery.   The Guggenheim Foundation says "She creates a sense of wholeness from fragments, piecing, editing, suturing multiple points of view to create a sense of moving through spaces, extending time. In her work images are fixed, but the vanishing point is usually in motion, and unstable." 

Inspired I sketched the desk in my studio/dining room.
It's an interesting idea but probably too derivative for me at the moment.

I'm not keen on hyper realism, I don't have the patience for masses of detail unless it's a subject which really inspires me so I need to choose something that will keep me fiddling to get this exercise done properly. Lynne Chapman did a residency with the University of Manchester which included a study of dormant things, (also here) stuff that doesn't have a current purpose but you can't throw away (like my jar of keys). I've downsized fairly recently so I don't have quite as much clutter as in the past, I considered the cutlery draw or my toolbox, maybe my pens and pencils, but Andrea Joseph has that covered.

Living things get me excited enough to fiddle. The course notes say that 'It’s not ‘cheating’ to use a projector or tracing paper here to create extra layers of complexity.' I don't have a projector but I read this as a go ahead to work closely from a photo. My dog is 14 so in a way he covers the underlying time factor of the project. I have drawn him regularly from life but for this level of detail I need a photo.
I used a propelling pencil so that I didn't have to keep stopping to sharpen it. My dad was a draughtsman so I have a pot of leads which are unlabelled but I suspect to be a bit harder than HB, maybe H? 
I grew up using cast off H pencils and I've never been a fan, they make a very weak line, but I found that with lots of layering I managed to get some depth of tone. I drew a very feint outline before I started to be sure that everything was in the right place before I added shading and this had to be erased in places to stop it giving conflicting information about the fur to the viewer. 

I learnt a lot doing this exercise. My aim was to render individual hairs - I didn't manage all of them. I found that if I was lazy and made longer marks I didn't properly represent his smooth coat. I wanted a minimal background, the pencil is so weak that anything behind the dog would make him disappear. This meant that I had to either choose to have a pencil outline around the white fur on his neck or draw in something a little darker but boring. I chose to extend the beanbag, however I've not managed to completely get rid of my earlier pencil marks. The detail makes this a very static picture and it was hard to decide when to stop fiddling. I am quite pleased with the result though I preferred it when I used the auto tone button in Photoshop and made it bolder.
Although the background is rather pixelated if you see the screen at an angle. On some level I think that I might quite like that.... 

If the darkened drawing works better maybe I should repeat the exercise working in ink. I chose a different subject,
and decided to draw in biro. I've never done much more than doodles in biro and there are some very detailed drawings made with ballpoint pens from artists such as Samuel Silva and James Mylne.
It's not as detailed as it should be. It takes a lot of concentration to copy so closely and I think that it was a mistake to attempt two very detailed drawings one after another.  The biro did tend to blob, it's not new, it may be best to use a fresh biro for a very detailed drawing. 

Moving away from representational, and for completeness, I did an extended doodle in ink.

Stephen Walter
I went to The Island exhibition in the crypt of St Pancras Church in 2008 and, spookily, walked past a gallery in London yesterday which was displaying a print of Subterranean.(video interview about it here) Also a video about the making of Nova Utopia. The Guardian has an interview. This weekend there seems to be something wrong with his website, remind me to go back to it.
Getting slightly distracted, there are some great animated maps here


I interpreted this brief literally and in making the finished drawings the use of detail made them very static. The pencil drawing lacked depth because it was done with a hard pencil which has a limited range of tone. We discussed the possibility of using a very fine tipped ink pen to give variety of tone but I have found that ink is too dominant when mixed pencil. I didn’t manage to find a way of extending this project beyond the brief in the text. 

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