Part One ~ Form & Gesture
Warm-up Temporary Drawings
Thinking about what a temporary drawing is draws my mind to the ephemeral artworks of Andy Goldsworthy and Richard Long. Also the times spent on a beach drawing in the sand with a stick and making mini sculptures with pebbles. Unfortunately I wasn’t on a beach at the time of doing this exercise so I went into my garden to see what I could do with water and using bits of the garden. It’s fair to say I had some fun.
The day was hot and so the water was evaporating quickly in the sun. The marks of water left by swiftly moving the watering can across the garden was interesting depending on the speed and the surrounding splashes. I found though that I wanted more control and so I used a bristle brush and water to draw with onto the paving and started to include cut wild flowers into the drawings.
Drawing with the hydrangea flowers and leaves, perhaps these look a bit twee though. The sun soon dried the petals and withered away.
Following being outside I came into the kitchen and noticed the full sink of washing up water with remaining bubbles, it was too tempted to have a play with liquid acrylics and the cut hydrangea flowers. These pictures I feel look interesting and could almost resemble water lilies on a pond. A fun time was had creating these temporary drawings. When I emptied the sink paint had settled to the bottom on a plate which looked interesting and I made marks with my finger. (pics below).
Project 1 – Feeling and Expression
Exercise 1 ~ Experimenting with expressive lines and marks
It’s so good working in this way, it’s a feeling of being free and felt exciting to be buying A1 sheets of paper. The first emotion I chose to do is actually meant to be the forth sheet; I chose anxiety as I’d had a stressful day at work with lots going on and I had a feeling of being anxious, so I thought this would be good to start with these drawings. First of all I chose what I thought was a dark blue, however it wasn’t dark enough so I changed to black. While making the marks, firstly oil pastel, followed by dilute acrylic, ink and charcoal, I felt I was making the marks feeling irritable and almost nervous; a kind of jumpy movement; the strokes I used were fast and in some cases hard; I painted my fist with the ink and punched the paper. I think these feelings are evident in the marks made. I was also aware that I was starting to think more about the marks I was making and questioning myself if I was being too deliberate rather than subconscious. I was also aware I wanted to fill the space and to make an interesting composition. I felt also when I’d finished this sheet that I felt more relaxed, good therapy I would say!. I feel I got more effect with the ink and charcoal rather than the oil pastel, the oil pastel seemed a delicate consistency to achieve thicker lines. Top left to bottom right is oil pastel, acrylic, ink and charcoal which is repeated in the same position on each of the themed sheets.
The next emotion I chose to work with was anger perhaps following on from feeling anxious. These I found interesting in the way my marks were exploding onto the paper; they were fast and again I achieved more emphasis with the ink, acrylics using the knife and charcoal was dramatic. My drawing was fierce and explosive; this time also I was aware that I started to paint the explosion and felt I was being illustrative, so I tried to pull back to be more subconscious. The one I’ve been working on this evening is ‘Calm’ which the movement in the mark making has been more gentle and smooth. I made sweeping ripple shaped marks; it was a spontaneous motion but I also thought the marks were resembling water ripples on a river. I love to be by water to relax and so I wonder if this is why the marks, in particular using the charcoal look like ripples.
For ‘Joy’ I put on some feel good music and I did actually wake in a happy mood 🙂 I used the same mediums as the other drawings. The marks I was making were uplifting gentle but fast sweeping motions. When I used ink I used bubble wrap to print the ink as little bubbles and then used a dry brush to carry on the sweeping movements. The ink drawing I think resembles a summer meadow with grasses in a breeze. Both ink and charcoal are good mediums for me to give lots of mid tones and lines to give definition.
Exercise 2 ~ Experimenting with Texture
For experimenting with texture I chose a rag mat, glass jug and white voile curtain from my kitchen and an indian wooden carved table from my lounge. I started off with a 5B and 3B pencil for the rag mat which after a while I felt I was being too tight with, but that could be because the mat has a lot of detail and the nature of using a pencil is intricate. The texture of the rag mat is soft lumpy and heavily woven. I stayed with using pencil for the voile curtain as this material is soft and translucent and I felt I’d get a better effect this way.
For the glass I used diluted ink as it is a freer medium for me to work quickly. The effects are good fun for the glass which has a smooth, hard reflective surface. I used ink also for the wooden carved table as well as I like the speed and freedom with using ink.
I decided to work further with the texture of the rag mat and experiment with drawing with acrylic and tissue paper. The rag mat is made up of colourful rags and I wanted to work in some colour at this point. I particularly like the way the ink drawing (bottom left) has worked on a flat background of grey acrylic paint. The last sketch is a simple biro drawing.
Experimenting with Frottage
This is such an effective technique and so simple. I used an oil pastel stick and 90gsm paper which I had to hand. It proved to be the most effective for me to capture texture from items around my home. I tried soft pencils but I think I would need much thinner paper to get a good impression. I used decorative photo frames, wooden indian furniture and indian textile wood cut printing blocks for the oil pastel frottage rubbings. I can see this would be a good fun technique to use in mixed media collage drawings.
Project 2 ~ Basic Shapes and Fundamental Form
Exercise 1 ~ Groups of objects
I chose a selection of objects from my kitchen; I wanted to give my self a challenge and chose interesting shapes such as the indian candle holder in contrast to the spotty ceramic jug. It’s been a while since drawing a still life on a large scale. I decided to draw with charcoal on brown paper as the brown gives mid-tones and the charcoal is dramatic in being able to create strong marks and being able to work with my fingers to shade and blend. I feel that perhaps this exercise I’ve drawn a final drawing rather than just looking at the shapes, but as I drew I found myself completely immersed in it and enjoyed the drawing.
Some pics of the progress…
Exercise 2 ~ Observing shadow using block of tone
This was quite a challenge as I chose a flat antique dish with a shallow lip against a rustic spannish bowl, bot are highly glazed and so it was fun trying to capture the shine as well as tonal shadows. I used charcoal for this drawing as it is quite a dramatic medium to work with mid tones and contrasting dark shadows. There was a big temptation to draw lines for outlines but I did my best to avoid this. I joined two pieces of A3 paper together as I’d run out of my large paper and so the charcoal has picked up on the join. I’ve tried to keep loose while drawing this and and to work fast.
Exercise 3 ~ Creating shadow using lines and marks
For this exercise I used Pencil 2B, pen, ink with a dry brush and conte. Again for these I tried to be as sketchy as possible, however I do find my self putting in detail. I think though this helped with defining the light from the primary light source and and secondary reflected light such as on the glass objects. Using the information of tone has helped to shape these objects; shaping the mid-tonal areas with each medium helps to define the space around the object and of the shadows within the shape. I enjoyed using the ink as it felt quite free to work with.
This still life sketch I drew with a fine liner to sketch quickly in lines. I liked drawing this quickly as it felt like doing a quick doodle. I find while sketching I do a few lines to create the shape and move marks in various ways to create the shape of the objects. Here I chose to draw a hand made ceramic bird which is fun and quirky and so I wanted the drawing to reflect this.
Raphael ~ The Drawings exhibition visit
On the last day of the exhibition I managed to go to see the fabulous and mesmerising drawings of Raphael. It’s hard to believe the amount of 500 year old drawings altogether for this exhibition and how they have survived for us to enjoy today. It was great to really look closely at his pencil marks and drawing techniques. I felt I learnt from looking at the drawings and made a couple of sketches to record how Raphael had made his marks to create shape, form and tone using the simplest of marks.
What inspired me also was how Raphael made a series of drawings, some minute, all on one piece of paper. It was clear to see how he re-worked sketches until he was happy. The slightest adjustments to the position and angles of heads, arms, hands and feet could be studied; each displayed drawing was full of detailed sketches. Raphael’s sketchbooks must have been extremely full as sketches could be seen through the mounted drawing on the reverse; drawings upon drawings. I liked the way the drawing were created with a mixture of brown ink, charcoal and chalk. Raphael also used the technique called ‘pouncing’ where charcoal dust is gently shaken through the pounce bag made of muslin and is forced through a series of pin holes on the drawing.
Exercise Three ~ Research Point
This research point is to look at tonal work by Odilon Redon, who happens to be one of my many favourites. I love his figurative work which I’ll look at again in the projects further on in this course. For now I’ve chosen these few pieces of work which shows good depth in light and the darkness of shadows.
This charcoal drawing shows a lot of information depicting the curving tree trunks with the texture of the bark highlighted in the light in contrast to the strong shadows of the darkness. It suggests a night time scene perhaps with the tress in the moonlight. The movement of the drawn marks shows the flatness of the ground with high lighted details of the grass and plants below. While there appears to be movement in the leaves top left as though there is a soft breeze. Odilon Redon’s marks are soft and delicate with worked with intensity.
‘Le Joueur’ shows again great contrast between lit areas of the composition against the darkness of the night. The use of the intense dark charcoal for the trees gives depth to the highlighted figure in the distance. Odilon Redon has used mid-tones to create depth for the landscape in the distance which helps the contrasting figure to stand out even though there are only a few highlights depicting the shape of the body carrying a dice. Odilon Redon is a symbolist artist; in this case the figure is portrayed as a gambler by using the dice in the composition to symbolise gambling.
Redon’s use of colour here is beautiful; the golden yellows have been used for the high lighted subject while prussian blue has been used in the darker areas which gives feeling to the atmosphere rather than the contrasting darkness in his charcoal drawings.
Summer Exhibition ~ RA ~ visit this summer
Each year I like to visit the Summer Exhibition at the RA, Piccadilly, for the diverse selection of art; there is always something new that inspires me. However this year I feel it wasn’t as good as previous years, personally. There wasn’t as much that really stood out to me, while I focused on the drawings in the exhibition for inspiration while working on this ‘Drawing Skills’ course. Pictured below are some of the drawings and paintings I liked. I like the use of scraffito in the paintings which give texture and a free style of drawing in the paint.
Exercise 4 ~ Shadows and Reflected Light
For this exercise I chose my stainless steel toaster and a spotty jug. I feel this went quite well trying to achieve the mid-tones and highlights of the reflective surface. I like the way the spotty jug is reflected in the steel surface of the toaster and played quite well with the shadows cast from the objects as well as in the reflection. I think the perspective of my drawing is awkward in places.
Assignment One ~ Form and Gesture
To start this assignment I chose the ‘joy’ experimental mark making sheet and to work in ink as I feel it gives me more drama with the strength in contrasts I can create. The chosen objects are some of my favourite items in my home, the most prominent one being a ceramic sculpture made from terracotta and glazed with matt under glazes in turquoise and blues and finished with a gold lustre. The others are a glass Swedish candle holder and a carved Indian wood block used for textile printing. I think these objects have good contrast in textures in comparison to try out the ink mark makings. I set them up together with natural light coming from the window.
I feel the drawing went quite well although I’m more pleased with the pre-parity sketch I did in my sketchbook; it looks more spontaneous and some of the marks are fast and more fluid. I like the marks the ink created which reflects the comedy of the ceramic sculpture as some of the marks are quite sketchy. I used a mixture of fine dry brushes to create the drawn lines, a pointy stick and large wet brush, cotton wool and water for the mid tone washes.
Reflection on my progress
Since starting this drawing course a few months ago, I’ve been experimenting with different mediums, textures and papers. The exercises I’ve done in the A3 sketch book and on A1 pieces of paper as well as keeping a small bag sized sketchbook which I take out with me. I’ve had a slow start to this course as I’ve been reworking some of the essays from the ‘Creative Arts Today’ course which is being assessed in November.
I’m trying to sketch a few times a week, or to even do a ten minute sketch a day would be nice. So I tend to sketch in fine liner or pencil when I’m out as they are quick sketches or more detailed drawings that I can pick up and put down in my lunch break while at work.
I’m going to the occasional life drawing session which is held in Reading; there’s no tutor but a group of artists who like to get together to draw. I like to use charcoal and coloured contes for these, which I’ve included in my first selection for my tutor to see.
I have my own projects going on at the same time which I hope I’ll be able to bring together for Assignment Five. Also my A3 sketch book will be fuller by the end of this course; I’ll include drawings from my other sketch books as well.
Reflection following feedback from Assignment One
I’m feeling pleased and encouraged following my tutor’s feedback and feel I’m heading in the right direction and now looking forward to the next part of the course ‘Intimacy’ exploring colour in still life composition. My tutors feedback included recommendation to visit the Jasper Johns exhibition at the RA and Soutine at the Courtauld Gallery displaying paintings of Cooks, Waiters and Bellboys. I’m planning my visits very soon.
My tutor commented specifically about certain pieces in my sketchbooks and separate drawings I’d included which were very encouraging. I feel more confident now about my learning log and what can and needs to be included and I have a feeling of working freer on my own work as well as working on the exercises from the course. Thank you.
Part Two ~ Intimacy
I’m having a look at early painters from the sixteenth century as a starting point for researching the still life genre. Above is a painting by Dutch painter Pieter Claesz, oil on wood painted in 1628. Still life paintings of this era displayed objects grouped together to celebrate peoples success and intelligence; well educated people were portrayed in a sense of them wanting to display their knowledge. This style of painting is known as a vanitas, which is latin for vanity; vanistas are composed of objects such as the quill and papers portraying that the owner was an educated writer displaying his sense of awareness. Often skulls were featured in still life paintings to portray death or mortality; Memento Mori is also latin for the ‘reminder of death'(Nationalgallery.org.uk, 2018). The slight drift of smoke from the recently snuffed lamp suggests death. Meanwhile there is a reflection of a window in the upturned glass showing that the scene is in a room which suggests life.
Nationalgallery.org.uk. (2018). Memento Mori | Glossary | National Gallery, London. [online] Available at: https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/glossary/memento-mori [Accessed 12 Jan. 2018].
‘Still Life with Musical instruments’ is another good example of the artist portraying success and wealth through a lavish composition of objects. Displayed here are musical instruments which would belong to an educated person who was from a wealthy family being able to afford such luxuries. Also displayed are rich foods presented on silver salvers and pottery; together with wine in a glass goblet all of which display a decadent lifestyle of luxury. To the centre of the painting there appears to be a compass, or possibly it is a watch; however these are items belonging to a well travelled and educated person. There is a tortoise in the forefront of the painting; I’m not sure if there is any significance in the tortoise, perhaps would be good to research if there was a trend in using tortoises. Claesz’s paintings like many of this period were dark and heavy with rich pigments of golden ochres in contrast to present light and dark tones. The 16th century paintings are so photographically realistic that they must have taken the artists many months or even years to complete. I have great admiration for the patience and skill these artists had. I personally like to paint quickly to capture an atmosphere or emotion through simple compositions with colour and texture to creating feeling. Perhaps I choose to work this way as I’d never be able to paint so skill fully to produce a piece of work that is so photo realistic.
I came across this still life by Spanish born Portuguese artist Josefa de Ayala (1630 – 1684); I was drawn to the lamb being situated on it’s own rather than being composed with a selection of fruit, goblets and other objects. I like the flatness of the flowers painted on the nearby surface while the lamb is quite realistic. I appreciate also that this painting is created by a female artist and there weren’t many successfully respected female artists, especially of this period. Josefa created approximately 150 works of art making her one of the most prolific Baroque artists in Portugal.
Above is a still life typical of nineteenth century painters by Paul Cezanne. This still life painting is similar to that of Pieter Claesz’s Still Life with Musical Instruments in the treatment of light. Cezanne was concerned with how light effected objects in the still life. However Cezanne’s ‘The Blue Vase’ is much lighter in atmosphere, texture and colour pallet to Claesz’s painting. Paul Cezanne was considered a modern painter who didn’t fit into the Impressionist movement. His paintings were more ahead of his contemporaries in terms of painting style; he stood alone from the Impressionists’ being individual in his bold approach.
I actually prefer the painting style of the Nineteenth Century painters such as Cezanne as they look like paintings where every brush stoke and colour used can be clearly seen; rather than the photo realistic approach of the Sixteenth Century painters. “Cézanne rarely painted flowering plants or fresh-cut bouquets, which were susceptible to wilting under his protracted gaze. He included potted plants only in three still lifes’, two views of the conservatory at Jas de Bouffan, his family’s estate, and about a dozen exquisite watercolours made over the course of two decades (from about 1878 to 1906).” (The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, 2018).
Still Life by artists of today
Contemporary artist/photographer Richard Kuiper replicates Pieter Claesz’s Sixteenth Century painting by composing a collection of plastic objects, “a widely used material, including water bottles, floral arrangements, even the feathers. The artist tries to draw our attention towards the excessive use of plastic in our everyday lives, with the hope we will be able to decrease it before it takes over completely. (Widewalls, 2018).
Kuiper is using inspiration of vanitas and Memento Mori style paintings to express a political message surrounding the production of plastics and world pollution.
Widewalls. (2018). Richard Kuiper – Dutch Still Life in Plastic. [online] Available at: https://www.widewalls.ch/still-life-photographers/richard-kuiper/ [Accessed 12 Jan. 2018].
Positive and Negative Space
Gary Humes’ work demonstrates a clear use of negative and positive spaces. It’s almost as though the negative spaces belonging to the background of a composition have become the prominent positive spaces. The areas of space have been treated equally in their flatness and remain on the same level. This approach to depicting negative space works well for abstract art. It reminds me of pop art in particular such as the work of Andy Warhol.
This contemporary painting caught my eye today; the colour palette is vibrant although subdued and the negative space is treated well with the application of painterly strokes. I’ve been sketching artichokes recently as I like their form and colours. The bold brush marks in this work I think would work well for drawing with paint to study the artichokes.
Im inspired by the above painting and the loose painterly style and I wanted to experiment with this style; below is my experiment drawing with a dry brush and acrylic paint.
Looking at drawings
Today I’m looking at simple drawings from the 1920s; this is a period of style that has inspired me for many years. I visited the Jean Cocteau exhibition at the Pompidou Gallery in 2003 and I was engaged for hours with his simplistic drawings for his theatre production design sets, as well as drawings for Channel.
Project One ~ Detailed observation of Natural Objects
I came back from shopping with a huge watermelon and together with a christmas present of oil pastels I thought this would be good enough inspiration to achieve a colourful observational drawing. I liked working with the pastels to gain instant colour and a loose sketchy drawing. I quite like this composition too as it has interest in the background of my tree with a bird and art trolly with paint brushes.
The drawing above I felt was a bit laboured compared to the first drawing; however I was working more with the pastels and layering to create more depth in the colours and textures of the watermelon skin, the wood of the table and the fabric of the table runner.
After a while I decided to draw artichokes as they’re an interesting fruit especially when cut in half displaying many layers of leaves, or petals. As well as the interest in the delicate colours. I firstly did a detailed drawing, which at the time I was pleased with; however now I’m not so happy as It looks a a bit flat and could do with some more contrasting dark marks. The composition I like as it sits balanced nicely with the three pieces of fruit.
I carried on with artichokes for a while experimenting with white and black ink. I love this medium as it is so loose to work with and I can sketch quite quickly with it. It felt strange to be focusing on highlights of the composition rather than the dark and mid-tone areas of a still life. Below are some of the studies sketching with the inks (black also) and on painted flat acrylic backgrounds.
Exercise 1 ~ Still life using line
For this exercise I used fine liner pen so I could work quickly and achieve a sketchy feel for my chosen objects. These are some of my favourite items; an indian carved elephant with moving joints, a rustic turquoise bowl with a collection of shells, washed up glass, ceramics and drift wood I’ve found on beaches.
I feel the drawing itself is drawn higher than the photo I took, so looks slightly different. I used a different range of marks, crossing over in different directions to achieve the marks of the wood and shapes of the various objects.
Exercise 2 ~ Still life in tone using colour
I’ve attempted this exercise with pastels and I worked quite quickly as the brief suggested. I found as I got further into the drawing I was tempted to start putting in more finer detail, so I tried to hold back as the drawing is about the tone and colour; it help with the chubbiness of the pastels. I used the edge of the pastel as well as the tip.
I firstly used yellow to mark out the composition then started filling in areas of colour starting with the grey tones, then the yellows to mark out the objects. I felt this worked well as I built up the layers. I didn’t feel that pleased with this first drawing so I tried another, (below).
What aspects of each drawing were successful, and what did you have problems with? Did you manage to get a sense of depth in your drawings? what elements of the drawings and still life groupings helped to create that sense?
I’m pleased with the pen line drawing as I feel I’ve managed to get some depth and detail including light, shadow and fine details of the objects. I do line working in pen working on more detailed areas. The position of the objects created depth in the line drawing, particularly with the angle of the elephant on the block. I did have a little problem with the shadows, however I chose to put less of the shadows in as I did’t want to detract from the drawings of the objects. Depth was created in the pastel drawings by shadows and tones in the colours, especially in the glass and perspective of the cafetiere and the shadows and highlights in the fruit bowl.
What difficulties were created by being restricted to line or tone?
The line drawing was more difficult to achieve tone, but I found I was able to do this by distributing the amount of lines in these areas. The tonal drawings I found I was looking at the information in the objects differently and tried to work out the flat areas of tone to build upon; as suggested, screwing up my eyes helped to see shadows and highlights.
How did using colour affect your working method?
I worked quicker using colour, but this could be because of the nature of using pastels where I was able to lay down information and areas of the composition quickly. I used greys in the background (in the second drawing) to blend in with the table colouring, again mainly because I didn’t want to detract from the objects of the composition. It was good working quickly with the colour where I started with the lighter colours such as yellow for the fruit in the bowl and used grey in the bowl for shadows. The cafetiere was more of a challenge being glass and bronze metal. I tried to build up the colours without putting in too much detail. However I liked using the greys and white pastels to create shadows to bring depth to the drawing.
Exercise 3 ~ Experiment with mixed media
For this exercise I wanted to create a contemporary composition with the objects positioned with some space around them. I painted in the base colours first to give some body to start with, then I worked in some detail with charcoal and conte focusing on the buddha first. I used wax in the glass of the indian lantern which created a slight resist for the next layer of paint. I kept my drawing free as I was experimenting with the different media. I’m pleased with the stoney look of the statue. I used wedgwood grey, white with a little cadmium yellow for the stone, also used phthalo turquoise and white for the glass and bowls. I finished with some pen detail on the glass and white conte across the background and some of the highlights of the buddha and objects.
Exhibition Visit ~ Modigliani ~ Tate Modern
I started copying one of Modigliani’s portraits to learn his colour pallet and brush style. The images I had to work from were on line or in a book and there is so much colour difference between the plates. This became more apparent when I visited the exhibition last weekend and stood in front of the painting I was trying to replicate. The colours were very different to those in print. In areas where I thought it was primarily golden ochres, were indeed a mixture of ochres, greens, warm greys with underpainting of light blue greys. It was great to experience and see the painting first hand. Modigliani’s painting style was quite sketchy in places using what looked like spontaneous brush strokes with thinned paint where the board or canvas could be seen. This is my ‘Modigliani’ painting below. After seeing the portrait of the artist’s wife and model, I was able to work with the colours a bit more thoroughly.
Exercise 4 ~ Monochrome
I’m choosing to painting oranges on a blue glass dish for this exercise, even though the dish is blue, I will paint all in one colour ~ I’m choosing orange as it is nice and vibrant and because they are oranges.
I’m over all pleased with this exercise and think the jug and some of the oranges have come out quite well. I stippled with the brush to create an orange peel texture and created the lighter areas of the painting with thin washes of the yellow/orange. The jug and sugar bowl are hand thrown and so have the lines of being hand thrown which Ive painted with curved horizontal lines; this has worked well in the jug. The glass dish I’d have liked to have been better with more shine or translucency. I think I could have left more white paper in areas to create highlights.
Project 3 ~ At Home
Exercise 1 ~ Quick sketches around the house
Starting in my bedroom I made fine details drawings in pencil. I thought this would be a good starting point as these scenes, or objects are the first and last things I see every day. The mirror on the stand was a challenge as the mirror was tilting forward and at a 30° angle which was quite hard to depict. I’ve made the mirror bigger at the bottom which hopefully shows that it is tilting. I used a 2B while sketching in bed one morning and used the curtains and wall corner to give some perspective and construction to the drawing. I know these are meant to be quick sketches, however I was enjoying the drawing and also using a pencil I think we are inclined to draw in more detail.
The next few drawings are of areas in my lounge. There is a particularly busy (messy) corner with a wooden book case full of my books, sculptures, photos and canvases, along with a stack of storage boxes, old painted chair and my son’s guitar. I thought this is a good area to focus on the lots going on. I chose to use charcoal for these sketches so I could work faster and make it more sketchy. I like the overall drawing but I know some areas like the guitar are slightly out of proportion.
I think a sense of depth can be seen here in this sketch even though only a small area of the top of the sideboard can be seen. The angles of the framed photos and vase with flowers in front my painting on the wall help to give the illusion of depth and perspective. There is a door to the right which is always open and overlaps the sideboard slightly.
I had fun with this sketch as it’s not something I would usually choose to draw. As this exercise is about finding areas around the home that creates interest, I thought this would be good to draw with the different textures of the surfaces and also I noticed the upside down saucepan and frying pan creating interesting reflections and shadows. The money plants on the window sill also create interest of the old plant stem with new leaves in comparison to the pot on the left with the bigger leaves. I tried to suggest the view outside the window, but I don’t think this was very successful. The saucepan, frying pan and glass jug I feel pleased with.
Finding contemporary artists who focus on domestic interiors was a good exercise for me as a realisation that I like this style and idea of work. I’ve always admired Matisse for his interior subject and window paintings which include the outside view as well as the inside. Although he paints a room he also includes an element of still life such as his theme of goldfish bowls as a focal point and also artefacts as well his models. Matisse’s paintings show some evidence of the Cubism movement of the early 1900s, however Matisse is known for his vivid use of colour while he led the fauvism movement. Matisse was unique to his contemporaries in terms of his composition and subject matter. Matisse’s paintings depict the mood of the 1920s with the pattern of fabrics and rugs as well as the ornate furniture. The use of artefacts such as the african carvings and masks also evident in Picasso’s work give context to the period of travel when explorers would travel to Africa and India and return with many native objects.
The painting above shows a section of David Hockney’s ‘Large Interior Los Angeles’ which shows the large expanse of luxurious modern living. It’s quite abstract in the treatment of the furniture arrangement and a casual living space with the inclusion of Hockney’s dog to the left. Hockney did a series of his dogs as well as contemporary portraits. The scene is a modern depiction of the eighties along with a contrast showing classical furnishings and the grand piano in the background.
I searched for contemporary artists and found a couple of Australian artists who’s work as you study them look very much like they are influenced by Matisse. Elizabeth Barnett and Christine Webb are figurative contemporary artists exhibiting in galleries across Australia. These paintings demonstrate how modern Matisse’s work was for the time as they would sit very well next to a Matisse painting.
For this assignment I chose an area in my lounge which is rather eclectic with objects, pictures and books filling the bookcase. There is an old chair sitting at an angle in front and my son’s guitar next to it. I saw this busy area as being a challenge to draw in terms of colour and detail. Looking into parts of the bookcase is already a set of mini still life arrangements.
Assignment 2 ~ Reflection
I feel I’ve achieved a good use of colour; some complementing one another and to also break up the dark brown of the wood. Composition wise I decided to make it portrait and crop into the chair to the left and the bookcase to the right to somehow emphasise more of the detail. I have tried to use a variety of marks in the drawing as well as fine liner to add extra contrast. As I wanted to create an accurate drawing I used acrylic paint and that I would be able to achieve greater use of colour. I’m happy I’ve been able to capture some expression in the objects especially the turquoise bird sculpture which I’ve drawn in previous exercises. Also the guitar I’m pleased with which captures it as a worn, loved guitar.
While I was working on this drawing/painting I realised that I was painting more than drawing and I started to question myself ‘at what point does a drawing created with acrylic paint stop being a drawing and become a painting?’ As I worked on the detail I found that I was working with the paint in a flat manner and I now wish I’d worked in looser and faster marks to achieve a more spontaneous piece of work.
Reflection following Assignment Tutor’s Report
I’m pleased with my positive tutor report which is thorough and constructive. There’s quite a lot to take on reading the feedback, so I’ll read through again while looking at my work when it arrives back. My Tutor recommended using pastel pencils as they would give me more fine detail; I think this would be a good idea to try as I did find the pastels quite chunky to work with. The oil pastels I find laboured to work with, Jim suggested they need to be worked harder and in layers; so I’ll try those again in part three – ‘Expanse’ which I’m looking forward to and it’s perfect timing now being the summer 🙂
My tutor made reference to David Hockney’s ‘lurid colours’ and that his colours ‘aren’t widely liked’, is it really not widely liked? His exhibitions are always popular. I do like bright vibrating colours in artwork; May be it depends on the subject and style of work? I was looking at some of my other paintings only last night thinking to myself are they too bright? definitely something for me to think about.
The mixed media piece; I did choose the blue grey background to create a calmness but also to create a contemporary flat feel, so I kept it fairly flat. As suggested I think it will be a good idea to work with other colours layered in as well to create more depth and interest.
I’m wondering which mediums are best for me to work with as Jim pointed out the delicateness of the pencil drawings and the artichoke crowns with the various mediums as being successful; these I worked quite spontaneously, so may be this is my best approach? My tutors suggestions have made me think of ideas of how to go about my work in future and to try new approaches.
My assignment piece with the chair and bookcase I felt half way through was a challenge with lots going on but thought it would be an interesting composition; perhaps I’ve over complicated it and as it is said ‘less is more’ sometimes matters. The carpet is light and the chair is a cold white so I used greys for the shadows. It would be interesting to see the carpet as another colour just to see what difference it could make.
I’m excited that my tutor likes the ‘At Home’ thoughts and my inspiration, I think I may work on these again in part five ‘own project’ and perhaps along with chairs. There’s a chandelier light fitting in my bedroom and the shadows cast from it are interesting and it’s the first thing I see each morning being above my bed. The scarf and beads hanging on the door handles of my wardrobe and the mirror on the stand; my tutor thinks these would be good to see worked up and taken further.
I’m pleased Jim also thinks it is good that I included my ‘Modigliani’ painting in my sketchbook and showing other work outside of the course work. I want it to reflect me and my interests as well as the course work exercises. I feel encouraged to continue in this way. Jim has told me about exhibitions on show at the moment, Rodin at the British Museum and Picasso at the Tate. I visited a Rodin exhibition at Somerset House a couple of years ago which displayed his terracotta sculptures and drawing of dance, Rodin is one of my favourites. I visited the Rodin museum in Paris many years ago which is full of his sculptures including ‘The Gates of Hell’. It will be good to see again at the British Museum.
Jim told me about Francis Cadell, who’s work includes chairs in interior settings. The first painting I was drawn to was the ‘Orange Blind’ by Francis Cadell (probably because of the vivid orange against the darks) and ‘Interior Summer’ I like with the emphasis on the light into the rooms and how the shadows are treated. Also to have a look at Gwen John’s paintings of which on first impressions I think are very gentle and soft. I’ll have a look at these in more detail as I continue with other work.
The chandelier light interests me in the painting and the light high-lighted in comparison to the darker shades in the room. This inspires me more to look a chandeliers in paintings.
Cadell captures the brightness of light source in his paintings; the light across the lacquered wooden floor really creates a sense of space and depth within the room and also draws us into the focal point of the dressed table.
Part 3 ~ Expanse
I started with sketching in pencil the individual trees while sitting in ‘Caversham Court Gardens’ Caversham. There are a few lovely individual trees there to choose to draw from with varied shapes. It’s been many years since I actually drew trees; it’s not been a subject I’ve been drawn to, so this has been a good exercise for me to try.
Exercise 1 ~ Sketching individual trees
These sketches are of very large trees in the distance which I’ve tried to depict the shape using simple lines and sketchy marks to make suggestions of how the leaves and foliage look. The paper I used is of a heavy grain which helps to create some texture for the bark and quick wispy marks for the cedar tree.
Exercise 2 ~ Larger observational study of an individual tree
I noticed an old tree outside of a derelict building with its branches sawn off and new growth spouting out in ad hock ways. It was quite interesting to draw using lots of squiggles and cross hatching to build up texture in the main trunk and light quick marks to depict the new leaves.
Exercise 3 ~ Study of several trees
I sat in the Forbury Gardens in Reading to make this drawing. Again the trees are very large and so I was drawing from a distance. I was trying to concentrate on the shapes, contrasts in foliage colour and texture and tried to achieve depth in the composition by drawing in the path running through the park. I’ve captured the shape of the trees and colours, however I feel it is a bit flat.I wonder if it is because I used coloured pencils which can be quite tight. The red tree had very rich red-brown (almost purple) leaves, so I used a mixture of brown, red and black marks to build up the rich colour. I drew in the background which could be seen between the trees and sketched in the darker green shadows of the trees on the sunlit grass.
Looking at all of these drawings I feel they could do with some more interest, perhaps using another medium which would free up my drawing style. So I’m now looking at other works of trees as source of inspiration.
The above paintings and drawings are interesting in particular Odilon Redon’s studies of trees. His portrayal of light through the tree branches gives a great sense of perspective and depth especially in the ‘Lane of Trees’ painting. I can almost feel the warmth of the sunlight breaking though the trees. Cezanne’s ‘Grand pin et terres rouges’ shows immense colours to depict the rich red landscape against the warm purple shadows of the trees. I love the use of loose layered brush stokes to sit the colours nicely beside one another to create this incredibly rich composition.
I attempted another drawing of several trees as I felt my earlier one was a bit flat. I wanted to achieve something quite vibrant and with depth, especially after looking at Cezanne’s paintings of wooded areas. I chose to draw from a perspective of looking up from the bottom to includes the ferns for another interest. I’m pleased with this outcome.
Project 2 ~ Landscape
I spent last weekend in Dartmouth, Devon and was inspired by the harbour side with the many tiered houses and cottages. Also while browsing the galleries I liked the way an artist had treated the harbour study, so I decided to have a go at exploring with layering of papers, using my brayer for blocks of colour and using the paint in loose way. I used pen and watercolours pencils to draw in detailed areas. I feel this has gone well to start this part of the course.
Looking at different eras of landscape artists is giving me an idea of the varied approaches and mediums used to produce landscapes. Starting with Albrecht Durer who’s work appears to be gentle and delicate in muted colours. Durer (1471~1528) born in the German city of Nuremberg; was a painter, printmaker, and theorist of the German Renaissance art who is today well known for his wood cut prints.
Whilst looking at Durer’s landscapes I realised I much prefer the figurative engravings, which are very detailed and rich with line and tone.
This watercolour by Durer (above) interests me in they way it looks spontaneous; it’s drawn using loose brush strokes and the contrast between the colours pulls the mountain in the background further away from the mountain in the front. I like the warm colours and the light portrayed in the landscape. It seems from trying to find landscapes by Durer that he worked on a lot more detailed figurative work than landscapes.
‘365 Project’ and I just want to say….
I’m listening to the ‘In conversation with…’ videos on the OCA website while I research these artists and I’m finding it great as I feel I’m in an art class rather than sitting here on my own. I’m currently listening to Bryan Eccleshall and it’s really inspiring… thank you 🙂 ‘365 project’ To do a drawing a day would be a good exercise to do, it would keep the momentum going! It’s easy to let other life things get in the way! But if its a quick sketch, if only 15 minutes… then it is still something that could become apart of something bigger. Distance learning can be isolating while we study on our own. It’s not always easy to attend the study days, so watching and listening to these videos is a great help. I watched the ‘sketch book’ video with Beth Dawson which is also inspiring and motivating.
Claude Lorrain (Gelle)
Claude Lorrain (1600 ~ 1682) was born in Chamagne, Vosges in Lorraine who was an artist of the Baroque era and lived most of his life in Italy. Lorrain was is admired for his achievements in landscape painting , although they are portrayed to be more than just a landscape with the addition of small figures and decadent temple like buildings depicting scenes from the Bible or mythology.
Lorrain’s landscape painting are lavish in colour, detail and composition. There is a lot going on; stories can be seen between the groups of people set against the backdrop of grand merchants ships and theatrical Athenian columns. The light through the clouds in the sky is reminiscent of Turner’s seascape paintings where his focus was on light. Lorrain uses the contrast of the light to draw the viewer in towards the ship and to highlight the groups of people and buildings.
My first memory of Lowry’s paintings is way back when I was a young girl and Lowry’s work was fashionable in the sale of prints and also talked about in the news. The style of the paintings are very primitive with the simplistic buildings and ‘match-stick men’ which are slightly out of scale in comparison to the buildings. There is a flatness to the composition in terms of the application of paint, and blocks of flat colour, however there is depth and perspective as you look further into the painting. Lowry chose to paint an unlikely landscape that isn’t of a beautiful subject but of a real subject of working class life. Lowry (November 1887 ~ February 1976) was an English artist who worked and lived in Lancashire and Salford where his inspiration cam from for his paintings.
Born 1966, George Shaw is a contemporary artist working in enamel on board. This is a very different landscape, again a subject that would usually be chosen as not pretty but it is interesting. Shaw focused on the ‘post war estate’ area of his parents home south of Coventry. The title of the painting is inspired by the pre-Raphaelite work of Millais which depicts great detail of nature.
Sarah Woodfine takes a very different approach depicting landscapes compared to the artists mentioned above; here work is of an imaginative style to create images and ideas of spaces and places. ‘How to Grow an Apple Tree’ is a sculpture capturing a part of landscape and placing it into a space of its own. This particular work is reminscent of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-made ‘Bicycle wheel’.
“Sarah Woodfine (born 1968) won the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2004. She originally trained as a sculptor, as is evident in her work, which is often presented in 3-D. Her drawings – in particular her cut-out landscapes in Perspex boxes and snow domes – depict imaginary worlds which evoke fairytales and theatrical illusions. Presenting these drawings as three-dimensional self-contained worlds, she creates spaces which are spatially plausible yet ambiguous and contradictory. They have the precision and clarity of a perfectly observed reality, but also of an obsessive fantasy.
This interest in landscape, architecture and optical illusion is a central theme in Woodfine’s recent work. This exquisitely-drawn scene is immediately reminiscent of the card models of castles and forts that used to be popular children’s toys. Newfoundland takes the potential of these models one step further, and the cut-outs are assembled as elements of a miniaturised stage-set, exploiting the allusiveness which comes from using a part to suggest the whole, with each element standing for something larger.
Her drawings have obvious affinities with illustration, especially children’s book illustration, with theatre and with cut-out toys, but also with architectural drawing and architectural models.” (Collections.vam.ac.uk, 2018)
Collections.vam.ac.uk. (2018). Newfoundland | Woodfine, Sarah | V&A Search the Collections. [online] Available at: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O128657/newfoundland-drawing-woodfine-sarah/ [Accessed 28 Jul. 2018].
Research Point ~ Vija Celmins
Just watched the video of Vija Clemins and her work on the dessert, sea and stars at Museum Ludwig Cologne. What I found particularly interesting was her describing her installation of stones collected from Mexico as a ‘painting’. The stones were displayed laid out on board and encased so the viewer could walk around them whilst Vija’s charcoal drawings were displayed around the walls in groups. It’s confirmed my thoughts that a painting doesn’t have to be two-dimensional and created with paints, oil pastels or the usual mediums.
The detail in the drawing of ‘Ocean Surface’ is astounding and I really appreciate the patience and time it would have taken to make being a woodcut print. Vija Clemins in the Tate film (below) demonstrates how she works for years on one piece of work such as her works of the night skies. It really is a love she feels while making her work as she describes it as ‘being there’.
Exercise 1 ~ Cloud formations and Tone
The sky was perfect for drawing clouds with the bright blue and the heat of recent weeks has made the clouds more wispy. I feel the most effective drawing is the one here; I used white and grey pastels on blue pastel paper. Using a blue paper created the backdrop so well where the pastels could be easily smudged and drawn into the light shapes and also including the vapour trails from planes.
The oil pastel on white paper weren’t so affective as the first drawing, however I did like layering the colours and drawing, scratching into them.
This drawing was made on a very hot day with the sun behind the cloud and the sky was a vey intense blue and the sun illuminated the edges of the clouds so I chose to use charcoal to try to capture the contrast. I like the contrast between the highlights and dark er tones however the subject almost looks like a natural sea sponge rather than clouds…
Evening at ‘The Retreat’ pub for live blues and folk music
I enjoyed an evening of live music at a small pub in my home town and after a glass of wine started to do some quick sketches. I would normally shy away from drawing in such an intimate place, however I felt comfortable with the small crowd and was happy with what appeared on my folded up piece of paper…
Exercise 2 ~ Sketchbook Walk
Sketching from my garden as there are quite a few interesting subjects and I’m spending quite a lot of time in there due to the lovely summer we are having.
I focused on these subjects being the favourite areas of the garden. I used 2B and 3B pencils to try to work freely, although I was getting caught up with detail. The foreground in these drawings is the statue in the first drawing and the seat in the second drawing. The eyes is drawn to the sculpture in the drawing on the right and then moves to the wall mirror. It was quite a bright sunny day with the sun high in the sky so there weren’t any deep shadows.
Exercise 3 ~ 360° Studies
I visited Wycombe Hill with my son to see the ‘Hell Fire Caves’ and up above was an amazing view towards High Wycombe and over looking a valley with Wycombe House in the distance. Behind me was the Mausoleum and a church so it wasn’t an expanse all around from my view point however including the parts of the Mausoleum made the sketches interesting.
Rodin Gallery Visit
I visited the Rodin exhibition a few weeks ago at the British Museum which was good to see his sculptures again, although I was a little disappointed with the exhibition as half of the exhibits were of sculptures from the British Museum it self. The exhibition was delivered in the context of Rodin’s inspiration having come from his visits to the museum while he studied the classical figures of Ancient Greece. The curators of the exhibition were demonstrating the connection giving a comparison of Rodin’s work with the Ancient Art of Greece. The ‘Gates of Hell’ 1880, was projected on the wall (as the sculpture is situated at Musee Rodin in Paris) and indicated some of the figures within it that are individual sculptures in their own right; such as ‘The Thinker’.
Rodin was largely inspired by the work of one of the great masters Michelangelo which is clear to see in his figures with exaggerated feet and hands. Rodin was an incredible sculptor working with clay, plaster and stone. ‘The Age of Bronze’, 1877 is so realistic that art critics at the time believed it was a life cast of an actual figure accusing Rodin of trickery and discredited Rodin of this piece of work. It wasn’t until photos of the model a soldier stood by the sculpture were presented that Rodin was recognised as being a successful sculptor. This scandal led to Rodin being commissioned to produce the ‘Gates of Hell’.
Rodin is also known for capturing movement in his work; there is a fluidity in the figures as they merge from lumps of clay or stone. Rodin was interested in movement through dance and he created a body of work of moving figures. I visited ‘Rodin ~ The Essence of Dance’ exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House at the beginning of last year. The exhibition was great with a good collection of terracotta and plaster maquettes and watercolour sketches full of movement and dance.
Looking at the work of some historical and contemporary artists working with landscapes; one of my favourites is Paul Cezanne. ‘Chateau Noir’ 1904, was studied and painting often by Cezanne. I enjoy the bright vivid contrasting colours of yellow ochres and deep blues and greens. The sky isn’t just a mid blue but a mix of purple, turquoise and yellow. The brush stokes keep the art work lively, the painting is interesting because of how the paint is laid down and not just about the composition.
‘White Canoe’ I remember seeing in the Saatchi Gallery in 2003 as part of ‘100: The Work That changed British Art’. The dark background I felt was unusual at the time being of a deep blue/black, but is a good background for the other patterns of coloured splashes of paint marks to stand out from. The white canoe stands out in centre stage amongst the collage of patterns, the composition is lively yet at the same time the scene is tranquil. i imagine the canoe to be floating in a wooded lake.
“Themes of magical realism stream through Peter Doig’s work, capturing timeless moments of perfect tranquillity, where photo-album memory flits in and out of waking dream. Drawing from his Canadian childhood, and one of the spookier scenes from Friday the 13th, Peter Doig’s canoes have become a seminal image in his work; their reflection in the water, like a double life, is a fantasy mirror to the unknown. Canoe-Lake is rendered with unsettling perfection: capturing not just a spying view over a fence, but the strange echoing silence of drifting on a lake, the impossible stillness of the current, and the cloying warmth of late-summer air.” (peter doig, saatchi gallery, 12-09-18).
Book Ref: ( 2003, 100 – The work that changed british art. Jonathan Cape, p110)
Another landscape artist John Virtue (who I hadn’t heard of before) is known for his monochrome work of cityscapes and landscapes. Born in Lancashire in 1947, John Virtue studied at the Slade School of Art. My initial response to seeing his drawing is that they are very rugged and dirty looking, resembling the ruggedness of the land or cityscapes. Virtue lives in Exeter, Devon working from his studio he still creates landscape drawings and is also an associate artist at the National Gallery, London.
I actually like this artists work which is surprising as I usually like bright vibrating colours! But I love the calm feeling this work evokes. The subdued muted colours and with a very matt texture looks earthy and display movement of the atmosphere. Nicholas Herbert explains “I use my physical and emotional experiences of this area to capture within these works the essence of the landscape, its enduring mass, transient atmospherics and ephemeral qualities of light, as well as to express my own meditative thoughts, personal memories and those subconscious responses that I inevitably take from having been there.” (Herbert, Silent Spaces)
Project 3 ~ Composition
Exercise 1 ~ Developing your studies
I chose to work from one of my sketches from the 360° studies choosing the Mausoleum building at the top of Wycombe hill. The Mausoleum is the focal point of the composition which due to the angle and its perspective draws the eye in towards a seat and a path that disappears by a wall with shrubs and trees. The Mausoleum is primarily made with flint with contrasting light stone pillars. The building is very imposing so I filled half the composition with the building with its interesting forms of arches, columns, decorative roof line and flint walls. I built up with colour using acrylic paint as underpainting and drew with charcoal to complete the drawing. The angles of the building were a challenge with the perspective, however I feel it is a lively drawing with atmosphere and texture.
Making comparisons between two artists, one contemporary and an earlier artist. The initial similarities between these two pieces of work are the monotone contrasts of light and dark tones. The light tones are highlights of the subject such as Tacita’s mountains stand out as white against the black back ground, while Seurat’s houses replicate the Tacita’s mountains which are high lighted in the lighter tones. The mountains on the right almost reflect the shape of Seurat’s houses in terms of composition. There are loose strokes in both drawings, however Tacita’s chalk drawing looks more finished especially with the black surround. Seurat’s drawing in conte crayon is more defined in areas of the houses but has a loose grained texture perhaps due to a more textured finish compared to the chalk board. Both works are tonal rather than being line drawings. Tacita’s drawing has harsher edges to the drawing while Seurat’s is softer around the edges which almost merge into the back ground.
Exercise 2 ~ Foreground, Middle Ground, Back ground
For this exercise I chose one of the drawings from the 360° studies which focuses on Wycombe House in the dip below from the top of the hill. The composition clearly shows a foreground, and a middle ground with the house in the middle; I wanted to make a textured drawing with layers to depict the layers of the landscape so I used a collage of torn paper to give more texture an layering. I thought it may help to give the illusion of distance especially to demonstrate the steep hill behind the house. I used yellow ochre, wedgewood grey, emerald green, prussian blue, cadmium yellow and white for the under-painting to give some dimension to the drawing. I like to use a grainy mixed media paper as it gives me more texture to work with. I then used charcoal to draw the landscape and define some detail of the house and the foreground trees. In the foreground there are tall golden yellow grasses which I included to also try to give a sense of distance and to bring the foreground of the composition towards me.
Reflecting on the last couple of drawings I think I’ve been able to define light and dark in certain areas, such as the pillars of the Mausoleum, the flint walls and the dark areas to the right where the graveyard was behind the wall. The flint effect of the walls and the leaves became patterns. I used the Mausoleum as a focal point with its strong structure and simplified the trees and leaves to the right in contrast. The drawing of the house in the middle of the landscape I tried to draw quite simply without too much detail, the windows and house feature are also patterns to form shapes, as well as the trees are created with charcoal patterns on top of the colour. I’ve used more detail in the foreground in both drawings to create some distance and hopefully some perspective. Such as the grasses I’ve created strong strokes in light golden conte which standout agains the green backgrounds of the valley.
Project 4 ~ Perspective
I know this project is going to be a challenge for me as I usually shy away from drawing buildings especially perspective.
Exercise 1 ~ Parallel Perspective ~ An Interior View
I chose to attempt this drawing of the grand hall at Osterley House while out on a Sunday morning with my parents. This room in particular was great to do for parallel perspective with it’s high ceilings and doors and rows of chairs.
I think this is one of the hardest subjects I’ve drawn, especially with the perspective. I noticed this by how many chairs I actually managed to drawn in compared to how many that were actually there.
Exercise 2 ~ Angular Perspective
This drawing angular perspective I arranged a few books to create an interesting composition that would demonstrate angular perspective. I used contes which I like to use as they are loose in style.
Exercise 3 ~ Aerial or atmospheric perspective
Here I’ve used conte and pastel pencils to do an atmospheric perspective study of Wycombe House. I kept the background hazy and a bit blurry without detail in subdued colours to push it into the distance, while the foreground I drew in more detail and used brighter colours to stand out and come forward. I like the texture artist Nicholas Herbert creates in his landscapes and I tried to do this in the study above.
Caversham Court Gardens atmospheric drawing was drawn on a lovely sunny day, colours were bright although there was a haziness to the scenery. Again I used pastel pencils and conte to achieve this sketch. I drew more detail in the front using bright colours and more subdued colours for the background. I wanted to try to make the drawings feel hot so I made the brick wall a warm salmon tone.
Project 5 ~ Townscapes
Exercise 1 ~ Sketchbook of townscape drawings
I spent many days here in Caversham Court Gardens as it really is a tranquil spot that is calm and relaxing. There are unusual objects to draw as well as unusual buildings and ornate gates. There is plenty of inspiration here and I felt I would concentrate my assignment piece of this location.
Hot summer’s day in Caversham Court Gardens. I wanted to created the warmth of the gardens so I used ink water based pencils which are great to sketch with and finish off with water and a fine brush to create a colourful sketch.
Exercise 2 ~ Study of townscape using line
I’ve made a drawing of Henley-on-Thames, one of my favourite towns to visit, my preliminary sketch in pencil evolved into this line drawing. The focal point of interest is the Church in the distance and slightly to the left as the eye is drawn in towards it. The next point of interest are the tudor buildings to the right with hanging signs and A-signs. To the left is a group of people sitting outside having coffee. I started with pencil then reworked in pen and finished by adding in some mid-tones to give some more depth and to differentiate the different colour buildings. I’m pleased I’ve achieved some perspective and depth to this drawing.
Exercise 3 ~ A Limited Colour Palette Study
The brick wall creates the strongest horizontal and vertical focus for this drawing and the darkness behind the wall and through the gate create depth and perspective. It’s pretty amazing how much colour, tone and detail can be achieved working with only three colours. I used the ink water-based pencils for this sketch and was able to get some fine detail in the wall and plant texture with the pencil marks and then by working into it with a fine brush and water brought the sketch to life with lightly painted strokes.
Exercise 4 ~ Statues
I felt strange to be drawing a figure that isn’t a life model. Something that is rigid and also its an artefact created by another artist. It was a good challenge to try to draw this from looking down onto it with the foreshortening and perspective of the angles. I preferred using pen to do the quick sketches rather than the pencil pastels. My sketches were perhaps a bit small to use with pastels.
Spitalfield’s Goat Statue sketches
I did a few sketches of the goat while visiting the other weekend and then drew from the photo I’d taken. I love the angle looking up at the goat. It’s very smooth in appearance and I’m not sure what it’s made of. It was great to draw with its angular structure and character which is almost comical.
For this assignment I’ve chosen to draw one of my favourite scenes at Caversham Court Gardens, Caversham near Reading. It’s a challenging view which includes natural objects of shrubs, trees, a stone sculpture in the foreground, a wrought iron gate and a church in the distance. This view gives plenty of scope to create a drawing that demonstrates both aerial and linear perspective. The Statue in the foreground sets the scene standing strong slightly to the right and draws the eye through the white gate and up to St Peter’s Church up on a hill in the distance. The positioning of these objects creates the linear perspective. While the hazy church in the distance I’ve drawn in fainter to push it back into the distance.
It was a very warm day in the summer which I made sketches in the garden and decided on the view I liked the most. I worked from my sketches and photos I’d taken. The sun was bright and reflected off the sand stone of the griffin sculpture and the stone slab pathway. The garden is a relaxed calm place where people wander through chatting with friends and family, or often sitting on their own with a book or in thought looking across to the river. I wanted to create a calm piece of work that radiates warmth and calmness.
I made sketches in charcoal and pencil, acrylic to gain some colour. I felt this piece needed colour to create the warmth of the summer’s day so I washed in quickly areas of colour in acrylic then used pastel pencils for detail in the foreground and charcoal for mid-tones and shadows on top of the colours. I learnt this technique was quite successful when I worked on my drawings of Wycombe Hill in ‘Project 3 ~ Composition’. I felt having seen my charcoal drawing it was too dark and wasn’t creating the warm calm feeling of the gardens I wanted to achieve.
I’m pleased with the final piece and think it does reflect the heat of the day and calmness.
“For your final assignment in this chapter you identified an interesting and varied scene which included different elements from grass to trees to stone and iron all of which you wanted to convey with a warm sunny atmosphere. The photograph of the scene is particularly helpful in understanding your interpretation of it. The painting of course has to stand on its own and convey your personal message and to a certain extent this you have done.
Using the limited colour palette is good. Deciding on the distribution of the tonal values is important – how light or dark should one area be against the other. I look at the stone base of the Griffen sculpture and feel its too light and not enough attention has been paid to emphasising the blocks of stone. There is too much of a jump from the foreground grass to the base and one should lead naturally onto the other so the base needs to be slightly darker.
The next problem is the centre piece of the composition, the gate. Being white makes life difficult. To make it stand out it needs to be against something dark. In the photo there is a directional shadow, which psychologically is very important as it leads the eye towards the church. It also sharpens the appearance of the ironwork.The tiles on the red roof also are darker which also helps. However, the easiest way of coping with the problem is to outline the intricate ironwork with a thin black line carefully or using a ruler and then add white on top, so leaving some of the lines where they are needs or loosing them against the darker background.
I like the way you have drawn the trees and I notice you have avoided a bright blue sky so I presume not to overwhelm the picture.
The solution would be to rework what you have done and reinforce the gate with a black outline as described above.
A good artist to look at is Stanley Spencer . Here are two gate or metal work pictures I found.”
I’m pleased with my tutor’s feedback and decided to rework parts of the drawing as described above. I darkened the base of the stone statue stand with a slightly darker paint and charcoal to merge the grasses into the stone. I worked the iron gate by using a fine liner as suggested to define the white of the gate against the background. I used charcoal to define the shadow leading to the church some more. I then used a little more white on the iron gate to come further forward. The sky I did enhance with a little more blue to suggest further of the scene being on a hot summers day. However I didn’t want to make the sky to bright as I intended for it to be in the background to create the perspective.
Part Four ~ The Figure and The Head
Project 1 ~ Fabric and Form
Exercise 1 Drawing fabric using line and tone
Making studies of draped cloth was quite interesting in looking at something in its simplest form while trying to make the drawings look interesting.
I found it was easier to created the folds using a 2B pencil enabling me to blend the tone and shadows into the folds.
Above are studies using pen fine liner, pen and water and ink, ink pencils and charcoal. The most effective medium I found was the pen and wash, ink and charcoal. Using ink gave me more contrast, while the pen and wash has a more delicate feel and tones can be easily created.
Exercise 2 Emphasising form with cloth
My daughter Georgia sat for me on the sofa for this exercise in here dressing gown after a bath. I found it fairly easy to draw her figure and the folds of the fabric helped to create the shape of figure. I used pencil for this sketch.
Earlier this year I visited the Klimt & Schiele exhibition. It was quite amazing to experience Klimt’s drawings first hand especially seeing pre parity sketches for ‘Judith II’ which I have hanging in my lounge. I found it quite moving that I was stood there viewing his drawings from the same perspective that Klimt himself would have whilst drawing. The drawings were loose in style with a very free hand depicting the whole figure but only concentrating on some of the detail such as the face. It wasn’t his aim to make a complete drawing but to draw in information sketchily and then focus on the important areas in more detail.
This sketch shows clearly how Klimt sketched very basic lines to give information and then focused on the face detail where he has captured a stern expression. The plaque next to the drawing explained how many of his drawings broke off the edges of the paper making the composition a column structure, this can be seen in many of his drawings. Klimt’s drawings are delicate and created with beautiful curves of the female figures.
Again in the drawing Klimt has concentrated very carefully on the face and head to capture a gentle, serine expression and as your eye is drawn down the drawing the pencil lines have been drawn in quickly and spontaneously.
Schiele’s work is energetic with strong pencil lines and there is an ugliness to them. I feel there is a confidence in the drawing in the angular composition to capture the curvy female figure. Schiele used colour to pick out particular areas he was interested in and to highlight the drawn lines. Some of his drawings he used white gouache surrounding the figure, it almost looks awkward. I noticed some of his painted studies were of green and brown hues but it looked like his pallet of colours had become muddy and he continued to paint.
An interesting read below in Timeout’s review of the exhibition:
It was good to see this nude sketch being created showing how to work quickly and to map in the angles and proportions of the composition. Also seeing this gives me confidence that I start my drawings in a similar way.
Amazing how the artist has captured the likeness so well.
Following the Klimt and Schiele exhibition and seeing these tutorials of sketching a portrait, I decided to go to a life drawing group which I very much enjoy doing. It’s good to see that many people use pencil however I like to use charcoal especially for the quick 3 and 5 minute sketches which are very spontaneous. The studio for the life drawing is in an old victorian building with a log fire to keep the model warm. There is good directional lighting to highlight the form of the figure. The overall ambience of the venue takes you back the the early 1900s where you could imagine the likes of modigliani or picasso sketching away.
John Berger ‘Ways of Seeing’ write up here…..
Project 2 ~ Proportion
Exercise 1 ~ Quick Studies
I started off with some quick sketches of my daughter Georgia sitting in a kimono on the sofa. So it was good having a sofa to form some of the background and to put my model into context. I divided the composition into the space using the size of the head and drew guide lines from the top of the head to the knees using the pencil to measure visually while observing her siting. I tend not to draw from the middle as I like to map out the position of the figure within the page using the scale of the head to get a good composition.
Exercise 2 ~ A longer study
Model from life drawing group. A3 using conte, I’ve chosen red to break away from using charcoal and pencil and to get used to drawing in colour. I mapped out the proportion and composition again using the head as a scale and used this as a measure to make sure the drawing fitted on to the paper. I feel I’ve used a good range of line and mid tones to create the depth of the figure, I think she has presence and weight, although her legs almost get confused with the chair structure.
For this research I sat on my bed in front of the large mirror. There is foreshortening on my legs and I think this shows with the curve of the mattress. there is also foreshortening with my hand holding the pencil while sketching. I did a self portrait sketch of myself also (which looks absolutely nothing like me!).
Here are some good examples of foreshortening where the artist Jenny Saville has used foreshortening to compose striking compositions with her self portraits. This one called ‘propped’ was first shown in 1992, set an auction high for a living female artist when it sold for 9.5 million pounds, or about $12.4 million, at Sotheby’s “Frieze Week” evening sale of contemporary art. (Nytimes.com, 2019).
Nytimes.com. (2019). A Landmark Achievement for a Painting by a Woman, Upstaged by a Man. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/12/arts/-jenny-saville-banksy-sothebys.html [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019].
I particularly love this painting in particular Saville’s pallet of colour and the depth of the paint on the canvas. I like her technique of drawing into the layered paint to create further drawing marks in the paint.
“Jenny Saville rose to art stardom under the patronage of Charles Saatchi. Fresh out of art school, she was contracted to produce work that would then be shown in his gallery. The Royal Academy’s Sensation exhibition in 1997 followed, and she became a fully paid-up member of the YBAs.” (Guner, 2019)
‘Fulcrum’ by Jenny Saville displays foreshortening with the position of the legs coming forward and bending at the knees and the way the head disappear away behind the chest and shoulders.
Project 3 ~ Form
Exercise 1 ~ Basic Shapes
Exercise 2 ~ Essential Elements
In these Basic shape 10 & 20 minute poses there were more than one line of movement or angular twists. I drew guide lines of these angles very lightly to help draw the figure quickly. some of the poses were a challenge in the areas of foreshortening they created. In particular the lower legs and feet in some case were tricky to achieve.
Exercise 3 ~ Stance
Exercise 4 ~ Energy
Project 4 ~ Structure
Exercise 1 ~ The Structure of the Human Body
Sketches below were created in a life drawing group which were drawn at different speeds. These sketches show studies of the figure as a whole but also depict the formation of part of the human figure such as the angles of legs, arms, feet and the formation of the knees and elbows in their positions.
Looking for historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body.
Visit to the ‘Renaissance Nude’ Exhibition at the RA, London.
It was a beautiful early spring day for a visit to the RA, for the Renaissance Nude exhibition. which I thought would be good to look at historical nudes. I found the display of rich oil paintings and some sculptures inspiring. I was fascinated with the ‘Temptation of Saint Anthony’ by Flemish artist Jan Wellens de Cock, who was associated with the Antwerp Mannerists. The painting illustrates Saint Anthony kneeling in prayer wearing a habit while he is tempted by the devil. There is a group of graceful nude women who represent sensual temptation. They are wearing a very thin veil that displays their bodies. The scene is set in a landscape evoking a fantasy land with imaginary creatures which reminded me of the work of Hieronymous Bosch, although calmer than Bosch’s usual work. The use of female nudes in this painting are demonstrating the power of the temptation the Saint is being subjected to. I loved looking at the fine detail in every part of this painting.
Bronzino’s painting of Saint Sebastian is a soft portrait of him as a seated figure rather than contrasting harsh paintings depicting Saint Sebastian being tied to a tree.
At first glance I thought this sculpture was pigmented terracotta, and I was amazed to read that it was created with wood! The detail and fine sculpting of the Saint is so realistic showing his long-term exposure to the desert. The sculpture shows the Saint scrubbing himself with a stone to try to quell carnal desire.
The above paintings are quite harrowing in their content, but beautifully painted with beauty in the detail of rich fabrics, jewellery, flowers growing in the ground and the rich gold background to fit in place as an alter piece. The brutal subject is in such contrast to the beauty of the painting that at first it goes un noticed. Saint Barbara is shown here as a nude juxtaposed with her brutal suffering. Saint Barbara’s nudity depicts her vulnerability against the clothed vicious men. The top panel shows Saint Barbara trying to run away from her father who threatened to kill her for her Christian faith. I noticed that the style of the flowers, and detail of the figures clothing are very much like Sandro Boticelli’s ‘Primavera’ painting.
This engraving is amongst the iconic images of the Renaissance, where Durer’s engraving of Adam & Eve depicts a moment from the Book of Genesis, after God had created the Garden of Eden.
Exercise 2 ~ Three Figure Drawings
I chose to draw these figures in charcoal for the flexibility of drawing large scale on A1 sheets. Also the charcoal lends itself well for sketching proportions quickly and for blending mid-tones and drawing over with final lines. The first drawing, the standing figure has a great pose with a twist through the hips and waist where the arms are behind her back. The angle of the shoulders is going in a different direction to the angle of the hips where the model is standing with her weight on her right leg. This pose creates great curves to draw.
The second and third drawings, sitting and lounging poses show some challenging foreshortening lengths and angles. I think these have worked quite well and are quite convincing so I’m pleased. I think I could have put in some more mid-tones on the lounging figure particularly for the breasts. I imagined the structure of the skeleton and muscles while drawing and I think it has helped to create some of the beautiful curved shapes of the arms and legs.
Project 5 ~ The Moving Figure
I found for this project it was easier to watch people going about their business, chatting, walking with families and observing. I took photos of the main high street in Reading and the Forbury Gardens to capture people moving and draw from them later. I also used imagery of dancing people and couples from images on line. I recall an exhibition ‘Rodin & Dance ~ The Essence of Movement’ in 2017, I visited at Somerset House displaying Rodin’s work on the moving, dancing figures in terracotta clay maquettes and watercolour sketches of Cambodian Dancers.
While people watching for these sketches it was very apparent how many people are glued to their phones, while walking and chatting.
I found it was successful to create a sketch portraying movement by drawing it quickly. By using speed with the quick drawings it gave the essence of movement.
I drew these sketches quickly in 2B and 3B pencils to create movement with the speed of the pencil stroke. Also the movement of hair, dress detail and stance helped to achieve a sense of movement.
Even though these people are sitting, there is still movement and a story to tell, such as the girls chatting and eating crisps, Guys contemplating and discussing something while the man in the foreground is lost in a book.
I created these sketches using online imagery as a reference rather than take photos like I did previously. The focus her is with the three girls shopping, walking and chatting; also on the phone. It’s really apparent since people watching how many people are attached to their phones!
I chose to draw a group of people using a concert to set the scene. Although there isn’t much detail I like the atmosphere of the drawing and I think this has worked well to depict movement and people altogether in a simplistic way. Again phones are used to record and take pictures or even as a way to view the band at arms height if they couldn’t see properly.
Project 6 ~ The Head
Sketches of mouths and noses can be difficult to achieve. I chose to draw and black male feature as well to try to capture a skin tone with the pencils.
While I was sketching these ears, i realised how weird ears actually are and how intricately formed they are. They were quite difficult to draw and I had to really concentrate.
I love working with charcoal as it gives so much depth with line and tone so quickly. It can be worked and worked over and over.
Gallery Visit ~ ‘Van Gogh & Britain’
This was an inspiring exhibition seeing how he worked his drawings. I was impressed with the figure drawings which were created using gouache, charcoal and chalk. I realised how good his earlier work was as well, the landscapes with land workers and the prisoners. It was interesting to see his own inspiration during his time in England and thought provoking that he had walked the same areas of London that I have.
A beautifully drawn portrait etching full of movement and character. Van Gogh’s style can be seen as though it has been created with paint. Below is a portrait of a seated woman in her long dress. The drawing is simplistic in drawing style and an inspiration for how I can do my assignment drawings. Van Gogh has used graphite and gouache, to create a mixture of line and tone.
Van Gogh made thirty-five self portraits in his life time. “They incorporated some of the principles of the British inspired ‘Heads of the People’ representing himself as modern, working man with dignity and psychological depth.” Van Gogh, V. (2019). Van Gogh and Britain. Exhibited at the Tate Britain, London, 2019.
I stood in awe looking at this portrait (above) and really felt I started to know what he looked like. He looks very serious and stern in this rich portrait of vibrantly deep colours; and as I looked I wondered how he must have felt to be an artist in that era. This particular portrait looks traditional in painting style compared to the portrait below. As the exhibition explains he suffered with depression and mental illness which became more significant in his later paintings which he became famous for. The portrait below is perhaps more representational to how most people know Van Gogh’s style with a mix of vibrant brush strokes that can be defined easily in his painterly manner.
What stood out to me while looking at various portraits, is how most artists struggle to draw hands; as can be seen in the portrait of ‘Madame Ginoux’. I personally think it is the hardest part of the body to draw.
Still need to write up 🙂
David Hockney portraits, Graham Little (coloured pencils), Elizabeth Peyton (colour blocking) both artist use colour to draw the face in a painterly way.
Tracey Emin Portraits – Dumas and Chantel Joffe.
Exercise 2 ~ Your Own Head
For this sketch of my own head I wanted to create something slightly more obscure to what I would usually draw. I chose an angle of myself looking up into the camera so my face appeared distorted with my eyes enlarged, and I think for the first time in a while it does actually look like me! I used the ink intense pencils to achieve different colour uses. I didn’t want this study to be pretty either as most of my work I try make things beautiful and it was quite liberating to think of doing this differently.
Drawing Own head.
Exercise Three ~ Portrait from memory or the imagination
This pastel drawing is a portrait from memory of a girl sitting in a waiting room at the hospital. I found it easier to draw a portrait from memory as there isn’t so much pressure to achieve an absolute likeness which I do struggle with; capturing that likeness!. I believe a portrait is to portray someones personality, perhaps using colours that say something about them. The background or an object could depict their personality. I remember this girl with red brown hair with a fair complexion and chiselled features and a petite frame. I actually enjoyed working this drawing as it was slightly imaginary while trying to remember how she looked.
The first drawing I did in dark brown conte to give more precise lines compared to charcoal. I wanted the drawing to be crisper. I was inspired by Van Gogh’s simple drawings of the seated women, although they were graphite and goache. As this drawing was large scale I felt using conte would be more achievable than with graphite. I found as I drew I was tempted to start working in tones and I had to stop my self and try to use smaller lines and cross hatching for the tonal areas.
1 ~ Figure study using line (A1) ~ Seated model in an upright chair
The preparation sketch (below) which is just over A2 in size I’m more pleased with as the proportions are better in particular the hands and her expression is nicer. It’s probably because I was more relaxed while drawing this one compared to the actual assignment piece that I feel is more successful.
2 ~ Figure study using tone (A1) reclining model
This reclining drawing is more of a challenge for me and I’m going to have another go at it! The preparation sketch is again better than the assignment piece. I’ve used charcoal as my medium on light blue paper but now I’m not sure I like it! The proportions aren’t convincing, the hands are way too small, although this could be the foreshortening, so if this is the case then I’ll chose a different pose for the model to sit.
The preparation sketch above is in better proportions especially the hands and arms. But a problem with the composition… ran out of paper for her feet! I like the drawing style though as freer!.
3 ~ A portrait combining line and tone
For this portrait I decided to draw a portrait from memory again and remembered a black lady in a cafe with a very striking head with a great jaw structure and her hair was an amazing mass of braiding and colour. I like using pastels for portraits especially for using skin tones. The composition I chose to do a side on portrait due to her face shape and to really focus on her hair and jaw shape.