Part five – Personal project and written element

Self-assessment of the previous assignments

Part one: I used shadow and tone and developed my visual skills by observing the space between objects as well as the objects themselves. I experimented in my sketchbook with texture and collage. I learnt a lot about light and dark tones and their ability to make my work more realistic and 3D. I was really happy with my still life final drawing and used the skills I had learnt to place the objects successfully as a group.

Part two: This was my favourite part of the course. I think I was more experimental in my choices of media and composition. I tried to use interesting angles and foreshortening. The mixed media still life worked well and I like that I chose to leave some parts untouched. The monochrome exercise was more difficult and I repeated it which I think was an improvement because I used a greater variety of tones. I absolutely love the sketches of the dressing table both in fine liner pen and in ink and wash. I think the simplicity of line works particularly well. For the final piece I wanted to use an experimental angle and to zoom in on the clothes rail. The different fabrics gave me the chance to use a variety of media to show the textures.

Part three: This was definitely the most challenging part for me. I enjoyed drawing the trees but I found the landscapes so difficult. I think I found it hard to capture an atmosphere and to translate it onto paper. The buildings were better as I enjoy perspective, but again I found my work was a little rigid and I found it difficult to add my personality to the work. The drawing of the statue was my personal favourite from this part because of the more experimental angle and my choice of media. I think I managed to capture the atmosphere here. My final piece was again quite a struggle. I think I could have been a lot more experimental with the texture and maybe it would have worked better with brighter colours.

Part Four: I really enjoyed the figure and the head. I love figure drawing anyway but I had never drawn portraits before. I found that the quick studies really helped with a looser style of working. I loved the foreshortening exercise as I had to look at the proportions to get it right. Of the figure drawings I really like the mono prints. Because I had to draw straight onto the paper and there was no chance of corrections there was less control over the outcome. I learnt so much from the portrait drawings and also found that there was a great difference in outcome depending on the media used. The tonal study in pencil was great for picking out highlights and shadows on the face. The pastel on coloured paper meant I was more experimental with my use of colour and I loved that the drawings faded into the background and the looseness of line around the head.

Exploring Paris flea markets using line, mixed media & mono-print

Looking at the work of Nathan Ford, Colin Smith, Kari Terrell & Tracey Emin

The inspiration for this project came from my love of Paris flea markets. I knew I would be visiting Paris in April so I thought it would be a great opportunity to gather lots of information and photographs. As well as local street markets in Montmartre I went to Porte de Clignancourt and Marche Aux Puces. These are amazing markets which first began trading in 1885 and they are absolutely rich with inspiration and history. In their early days the markets were run by rag and bone men known as ‘pecheurs de lune’ or ‘fishermen for the moon’. I love the romanticism of the markets here and the fact that every time I visit there is a brand new source of inspiration with so many beautiful, unusual objects. I think that the history of antique objects adds to their story and one can imagine where they have come from or who has owned them in the past which gives them a kind of life of their own. I was thinking about this and about the programme which I watched in part four, John Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ and it made me look at individual objects and wonder where they had been before. How had they been displayed and perceived by others? Now they are awaiting a new home and owner and so may be seen in a completely different light or have a completely new meaning to that person. I really like this idea.

Above are some fine liner sketches of objects I found. I have randomly placed them over the page to show the variety of things for sale. I love the fact that they are all so different. They are simply a collection of things that I picked out because they appealed to me aesthetically.

The influence of the work of Tracey Emin

Here I have made mono-prints in the style of Emin using simple line and black ink. I love the simplicity of her mono-prints and her use of basic lettering. Above I have linked the words I used to the flea markets. The second picture translates as ‘old is beautiful’ which reflects my love of antiques and the fact that I really like imperfection. I think it’s much more exciting to look at the imperfections in things and people as this is what gives them individuality and personality. I really want to reflect this in my own work. After drawing the mono-prints I pressed lightly in some areas to create dark patches adding to the imperfect, old impression. Below are some of Emin’s mono-prints that influenced me:

Emin’s prints can have quite a dark subject matter and are often sexual or feminist. This is often backed up by a message which is printed in capital letters with spaces in between. I think this gives an innocent, childlike effect which is in contrast to the subject matter. They are printed in black ink onto a plain white background and the main image is usually central. She creates the prints using single lines in a variety of thicknesses which I think adds a variation of tone. The shapes are basic and I think that she creates texture by the roughness of line which is quite jagged in places. In my opinion she has used the medium of mono print to show a simplified message. Thoughts can be recorded quickly and are easy to view and process. I think that had she used a different medium such as paint, the message may have been lost as there would have been other things to consider such as colour or texture. I also think that a lovely quality of mark making can be produced with mono print.

 

My work inspired by Colin Smith

For this piece I have used water colour paint to recreate a photograph which I took in the flea market. I have done this in the style of Colin Smith by leaving the top of the rail out of the composition. Just as he does, I have made the lower part of the composition dark in order to show off the edges of the clothes as they hang down. I used light and shadow to show the overlapping of the garments which helps to add shape and form. When the base layers were dry I applied the different patterns on the fabrics which really brought the picture to life. The picture at the bottom was made using coloured pencil. It has quite a different effect to the first with the colour being less bold and more grainy. It was easier to control the pattern on the clothes as the pencil had a fine point and could make more detail.

IMG_1850

IMG_1851

Below is a painting by Colin Smith

IMG_1828

I discovered this artist on the Tate Instagram by chance and was immediately drawn to his work because it reminded me of my rail drawings from Part Two. I knew it would be great to look at because of the photos I had taken of vintage clothes. I was struck by the vibrant colours and how these worked with one another. The patterns on the clothes are really beautiful and varied and I love that the rows of clothes are regimented on the rail and yet have such an eclectic mix of colours and patterns together. I think this contrast is really effective. I love the use of light and shade on the fabric to show the folds and overlapping and I like that the top of the rail is not seen. The darkness at the bottom of the composition really shows off the delicate edges of all the fabrics as they hang down.

Smith uses bright, vibrant colours including primary and secondary with contrasting colours next to one another. I think these have been applied in quite a spontaneous manor because there appears to be surface texture. The textures of the different fabrics are shown by the brush strokes. The black background however seems very smooth in contrast. The shapes he has used are soft and realistic and the garments seem fluid and tactile, as though you could reach and touch them. The shapes of the folds help to create form. I love the patterns he uses in such a variety including stripes, flowers, squares, dots and semi-circles.

Nathan Ford

My work inspired by Nathan Ford

My first response was in pastel in blue and purple. It was a quick study and I feel it didn’t capture the beauty of the artists work. I wanted to experiment with the blocked in background colours and the pencil lines. I don’t think that pastel was the right medium to use as it is hard to get clean edges and accuracy. I then used acrylic paint for my second response and found this a much more suitable medium. The colours were easier to blend and I was able to make a wider variety of colours and tones.

IMG_1854

5EFCBBDA-4610-4B4F-8B50-22A8471FBAB6

I think Ford’s work is absolutely beautiful. It links to my project because he paints everyday objects. What I love about his work are the plain, understated backgrounds as they push the objects forward. I also really like the areas of block colour that he places behind the objects, often leaving pencil lines in place. These lines help to move the eye around the work, taking the eye up into the negative space which I think is just as important as the object itself. He uses a limited colour palette and works with neutral and pastel colours. He uses large, textured brush strokes on the objects which I think show the reflections and different colours on the glass well. Also the colour he uses around the jar has been applied to look quite flat which is in contrast with the texture of the object. I think it is really lovely where the paint smudges on the left side of the jar so that it begins to disappear into the background. this contrasts strongly with the solid yellow paint line on the opposite side. There is a kind of mix between delicate and bold in his work and I really like this.

IMG_1809

Kari Tirrell

Tirrell uses overlapping objects piled up. She often uses old toys and objects from the past. The colours are bright, bold and realistic. Generally the same type of objects are put together. Her work links to my project because the flea markets I visited were filled with boxes of random, old objects. The bright colours are eye catching and fun and the eye is drawn around the page from one object to another making the work really exciting. The objects are odd and imperfect which I love and they have lots of detail. Again the work has a contemporary look which will be a good contrast with the antique objects.

 

My response to Tirrell’s work

F1A434A1-5023-43B6-BF76-758B3C2BF0C8

Using my photograph of perfume bottles from the flea market, I have worked with acrylic paint to give bold, bright colours. Coloured pencil on top adds shadow on the glass and white chalk adds reflections and highlights. The gaps between objects are dark, solid colour which makes them stand out more from the page.

 

Mono-prints of objects found at Flea markets

 

Cutlery in acrylic and mono-print

 

Mono-prints using a variety of backgrounds

 

Below is a piece I made which mixed the monoprint words and objects with paintings of the cutlery and buttons. I added collage by ripping up some of my photographs.  I was thinking of this being a final piece but I decided that it didn’t quite work, possibly because of the placement of objects and lettering. I put it to one side while I began my large final piece with the rail and then realised that it would be a good idea to combine the two. I decided to tear sections off and add them around the composition and I’m really happy with the result as it has lots of interesting parts scattered around the work.

D6BED253-72E1-41A0-BE0C-61C5BF512A48

 

Final Piece One – Triptych using acrylic

 

Final Piece Two – Ink drawing with mixed media

5EE3E0D5-C781-48BF-930A-F70CA2FEF208

 

Final Piece Three – Mixed media with layers

IMG_2009

 

Final piece following tutor feedback

I decided to create a new piece of work which is influenced more by the delicate prints and ideas in my sketchbooks. I have chosen an arrangement of objects which were piled up outside a market stall and have mono printed directly onto white tissue paper. This really shows off fine lines and mark making. I have used loose, continuous line for much of the print which gives an organic, flowing feel. Underneath the tissue I have placed small pieces of collage including newspaper to give subtle colour and to add interest. Along the base of the print I have dripped yellow ink which I think adds to the vintage effect. With mono printing I really like the areas of the paper which inadvertently pick up soft tone, usually where the hand has mistakenly brushed the back of the drawing. I think these areas of tone add depth and warmth to an otherwise plain background. The colours underneath the tissue paper give the impression of all the different layers of objects which are piled together and gives depth to the work because the eye is being drawn further into the image. I am much happier with this piece because I think the free, simplicity of the delicate line works really well and I also feel it has captured the atmosphere of the flea market.

3EBAA20A-CE84-48BA-B1A8-7A2E03C2CEBD

Artist’s statement

Exploring Paris flea markets using line, mixed media & mono-print

The starting point for this project was my trip to Paris where I knew I’d be visiting flea markets as they are one of my passions. I made notes on everything around me including the sounds and feelings as well as taking many photographs. I wanted images of unusual, plied up objects. I made sketches in my book.

Using this research I will build my personal project. I also plan to look at four artists in particular and link these into my work as it develops:

Tracey Emin will bring the lettering element to my work with mono-print. I want this to be simplistic and possibly to convey a message/connection to the work. I think this may be in black and white.

Nathan Ford will help me to look closely at the individual objects I saw and put a modern twist on the old things that I found. I will look at his use of negative space in particular. I think this could work well alongside the style of Emin.

Kari Tirrell will be a very useful artist because her work looks closely at how objects are piled up together.

Colin Smith should be inspiring if I decide to work on the antique fashion and jewellery. I really love the pattern work on his paintings.

There was such a variety of antiques to look at so I had to think about compositions and how objects sit together on tables or on the floor. I wanted to explore with mono-print, not just with lettering but with objects too. I’d like to include collage as part of the mixed media as I think it will be a good way to show the eclectic mix of things.

Working in two different sketchbooks I looked at mono-printing, trying out different objects and compositions and printing on to a variety of surfaces. I made ink and brush drawings and used Brusho inks to bring a zing of colour. I worked a lot on tissue paper as I really like the texture that is created as the ink is thick and the paper so delicate. The little creases added interest. I found that certain objects worked better than others and had particular success with the cutlery and the plates with birds. I experimented with collage, adding different backgrounds  and mixed with the printing. I made line drawings of shoes and birds and mixed these up with a variety of French words and phrases. I had to practice the lettering a lot as it had to be written backwards onto the printing plate so I discovered the way to solve this was to write onto tracing paper first and then flip it to print. All this experimentation was to help me decide on the content and composition of my final pieces.

For the triptych final piece I began with the painting of cutlery. I used acrylic and I made some small areas textured and 3D by adding tissue paper underneath. I used grey colours and tones but also decided to add some areas of yellow ochre in the background which I think adds warmth. I like the fact that the cutlery in the background fades gently into the canvas. White acrylic was used to show the shine of the metal. For the other two parts of the triptych I also used the tissue paper to create raised areas which helps to link the three pieces together. I wanted to show the buttons off because they are so bright and colourful and I like the repetitive circular shapes. I liked how they appeared in the earlier sketchbook mono-prints and thought that they would look great if brought to life in colour. For the clothes I zoomed in on the rail and used bright, bold colour to make it eye catching. I think the contrasting blue and yellow look particularly good next to each other. I was then able to add pattern on top. The tissue paper became like folds in the fabric showing lots of texture. As a triptych I placed the grey tones of the cutlery in the centre with the bright colours either side. I think the choice of three different types of objects work well together and are a good representation of the things I saw.

For the next piece I chose to work on a large scale. I wanted it to be predominantly a line drawing so I used ink and brush straight onto the paper. Using Colin Smith for inspiration I added bright colours and patterns onto the clothes. I used Brusho inks because of their high pigmentation. They are also great for sprinkling onto wet areas as the colours bleed beautifully into one another. Below the rail, the objects from the markets are smaller in scale, almost like dolls house furniture. I picked out small areas here in Brusho colour to move the eye around the piece. For the collage I ripped up a previous piece of work which I felt hadn’t quite worked and added it in areas around the piece. Images of birds from the antique plates were printed and are scattered around with one at the top holding a label in its beak. The labels were mono-printed onto fabric using French words relating to antiques and in the style of Tracey Emin. I wanted these to appear to be clothing labels. I think this piece works because of the diversity of line and shape and the different textures add interest and fun.

For the third piece I began with the idea of things being piled up and drew upon my research into the work of Kari Tirrell. I made a drawing of a pile of shoes which I had seen at the market and used a selection of media to colour them. Tonal pencil, oil pastel, charcoal, coloured pencil, acrylic and watercolour gave a variety of finishes. The background has tissue paper and an antique turquoise colour painted on which I rubbed over with a gold oil pastel to pick out the texture. I also collaged on pieces of sheet music. In my sketchbook I really liked how the shoe mono-prints turned out so I knew I wanted to incorporate these. I decided to print in black and red and to make them more 3D by sticking them to cardboard before attaching them to the piece. Again I have played with scale and the monoprint shoes are much smaller. The influence of Tracey Emin is added by the use of lettering which links to the theme. Finally I added images of birds which were decorating the antique plates I had seen. I drew these, then photocopied onto acetate making them transparent before adding to my work. I feel these bring a sense of delicacy to the overall piece which is otherwise quite bold.

I feel I have created three very different pieces and I used a wide variety of mediums. I have learnt that it’s ok to use a piece that doesn’t quite work and add parts of it that do to a new piece. Sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect and part of the learning curve is to see how you can re-work things to make them better. With the mono-printing I discovered that using less ink was much more successful as it created finer lines which were especially good for the lettering. Experimenting with different background papers and fabrics is really helpful and can change the appearance of the print. I found that the placement of lettering on the composition can make or break a piece of work; placed wrongly it can look awkward and unbalanced. With mixed media you have to be experimental and rearrange the different components and mediums until they sit well together. I have learnt though my painting of cutlery that acrylics can be delicate and you can create bold and fine detail. I added shadow onto the objects using contrasting colours. For example with the orange buttons I added blue to create the darker shade which is much more subtle than using black. Oil pastel can be tricky! The metallic ones that I used on one of the shoes in my final piece was too soft and I found it quite difficult to blend the darker tones.  I hope that as well as representing the kind of objects that I saw in Paris, I have managed to capture a feeling of sentimentality and an element of fun. I would hope that when looking at my work one would get a sense of the diversity of the markets and I think I have shown antiques and ‘vieilles choses’ in a contemporary way.

Bibliography

The art of Tracey Emin

Thames & Hudson, 2002

 

Printmaking and mixed media

Dorit Elisha

Interweave Press LLC 2009

 

http://www.tate.org.uk

http://www.karitirrell.com

http://www.traceyeminstudio.com

http://www.nathanford.co.uk

Advertisements

Part Four – The Figure & The Head

Project 1 – Fabric & Form

Exercise 1 – Drawing fabric using line and tone

img_1463.jpg

I used different drawing materials to zoom in on the folds of my scarf. Obviously when you zoom in it is hard to tell what you are drawing so you have to look closely to create realistic folds. The use of different dark and light tones help to give form to the fabric with the dark areas looking like the deepest folds. I think the fineliner pen worked well because it also enabled me to show the texture of the fabric so that it was more realistic. The best tones though were produced with the charcoal as I was able to blend well and create softness.

IMG_1465IMG_1466

Exercise 2 – Emphasising form with cloth

IMG_1486

Research point – the depiction of the male & female nude over the centuries

The depiction of the nude in art began with the paintings of Adam and Eve and in renaissance times leonardo da Vinci began to produce anotomical drawings of the human form. ( below : Leonardo Da Vinci, male nude 1504-5)IMG_1707

Churches and other places of worship began to paint nudes onto their interiors. This meant that they were seen as things to be adored and worshipped. A lot of da Vinci’s work  showed the muscles and structure of the body and in this respect was more realistic. As time went on the depiction of the nude changed greatly. Cezanne created very linea nudes, often in groups which had less detail or accuracy than those of the past.

Picasso created cubist nudes made up of separate shapes which gave just an impression of the figure and often showed different viewpoints of the figure in one drawing. Colours were sometimes muted in flesh tones mixed with blues but later these became vibrant, bright and unrealistic. In the early 1900s Egon Schiele showed us the nude painted in a sometimes grotesque way and often his paintings were very erotic. His nudes had strong outlines and I think they were more about showing the personality of the model rather than the figure.

Inspiration from this kind of work was taken by modern artists who realised it was ok to paint the human form in all its shapes and sizes and realism was taken to another level. We can see this particularly in the work of Jenny Saville who often paints very large figures and also uses foreshortening to create quite shocking work.

In conclusion I think it has become acceptable to depict a more realistic human body than it was in classical times. All the nudes painted at this time were idealistic and beautiful.

I watched the series John Berger’s  ‘ways of seeing’ and found it made some really interesting points about the depiction of the nude. Episode one talked about how the introduction of the camera changed the way we view art forever. I had never thought of this connection before. The fact that before the camera it was only possible to see a painting if you were standing in front of it. Now we can have a copy of that painting in our homes, surrounded by our own belongings so it becomes viewed though our eyes and our life amongst our personal possessions and is not being seen in the place that the artist intended it to be seen. This really got me thinking a lot about how the meaning of a painting can be changed by the environment it is put into. In episode two it was interesting to hear how real women viewed the depiction of nude paintings in the past. The overall view was that right from the beginning women have been judged as nudes and a nude is seen as an object. Most of the women felt these nudes were idealised and unrealistic and didn’t recognise themselves in the work. I wonder how they would feel now looking at Jenny Saville’s work? In episode three I learnt that paintings have become treasures and that oil paintings have preserved unrepeatable moments. I particularly liked the analysis of the painting of the woman counting the pearls. The light shining on her seemed to be preserving that very moment in time. I found episode four very interesting and actually quite sad. The use of publicity pictures to sell a lifestyle which is mostly unattainable and will not ultimate lead to the life which it promises. I found it very moving that these pictures advertising wealth and a better life were interspersed with heartbreaking stories of human desperation. It really made me think about it. The programme showed how oil paintings of the past were often made to show status and wealth and it is quite sad that we are still feeling the need to do this in modern day living.

 Project 2 – Proportion

Exercise 1 – Quick studies

IMG_1364

 

IMG_1361

I think this was a really useful exercise to do because I was able to experiment with lots of different poses in a short amount of time. This meant that I quickly came to understand which poses would be more challenging to persue. I really enjoyed looking at the model from different angles and it was quite surprising how different the same pose can look when viewed from different sides.

Exercise 2 – A longer study

IMG_1366

I think that I have captured the characteristics of my daughter in this drawing and I can definitely see that it is her. I think it has quite a thoughtful atmosphere enhanced with her placing her head on her hand. I think the weight of the figure is good and you can feel this by the strong tones on the seat of the chair. Also the weight of one leg on top of the other is good. My daughter is very slim so I think that I have bulked her out a bit here! This may be due to the difficulty of showing the body’s outline under a baggy jumper. Possibly the head is a little small but overall I am happy with the drawing.

Research point – foreshortening

IMG_1640

Project 3 – Form

Exercise 1 – Basic shapes

IMG_1632.JPG

Exercise 2 – Essential Elements

IMG_1442

From the six figures I think that the best sense of pose can be seen in both number one and number five. This is because the balance of weight is good. In number one you can feel the stretch of the pose as the weight moves onto the back foot and the arms stretch upwards. In the fifth drawing weight can be seen on the front foot as the body leans forwards. Being limited to 10 minutes per pose made me look carefully at the main lines of the body to get an accurate shape. The poses have lots of movement and gesture and I wanted to show a 360 degree effect from the figure moving position.

Exercise 3 – Stance

IMG_1613

Exercise 4 – Energy

Project 4 – Sructure

Historic and contemporary artists whose work involves the underlying structure of the body:

Leonardo Da Vinci

These sketches are the work of Da Vinci and date back to the early 1500’s. He used pen and ink wash on paper and often black or red chalk to depict accurate proportions of bone and muscle structure which was very atonomical.

Fabien Gautier

IMG_1713

The artist above worked in the early 1700s and was a French anotomical artist. His work was developing at the time of the first colour printing and so it can be seen in many of the early medical journals and books. It has a great sense of realism and was amazing for that period in time. I really love the colours in his work, especially the way he emphasises the blood vessels by using red.

The three artists work above shows different mediums used in a contemporary style.  The first is an artist called Nuazio Paci, an Italian born in 1977. In his work he wants to show the relationship between man and nature and tries to create a balance between reality and imagination. I think it is really thoughtful and clever work the way the blood vessels and bone of the figure go on to become branches of trees.

Danny Quirk’s work is quite different. He studied an anatomy course and now paints classic human poses dissecting their own bodies. He does this using watercolour paint and the effect can be seen as quite gruesome with the organs of the body being seen as the skin is removed.

The third artist Dan Beckemeyer is a graphic designer and illustrator from Illanois. He draws human skeletal illustrations onto hand made paper and then uses hand felting to add muscle mass. I think this technique is very different and creates a very tactile piece of work. The contrast between the flat hard drawn structure with the softness of the felting works really well and also I think that the red colour stands out beautifully against the neutral hand made paper underneath.

telegraph.co.uk

rcseng.ac.uk

dazeddigital.com

artistaday.com

juxtapoz.com

Exercise 1 – The structure of the human body

Exercise 2 – Three figure drawings

I think I have done quite well in capturing accurate proportions. For the standing and sitting drawings I did use an element of foreshortening which of course changes the usual proportions of the figure. In the sitting portrait I think I have exaggerated the difference between the head and the feet a little too much for accuracy but in a way I quite like the overall effect that this gives the work. The figure is definitely too small to be sitting on a sofa that size but again I think it makes the picture quite quirky. With the standing portrait the hands are stretched out in front of the model. I think that this is quite a dramatic pose and that is why I added lots of bright colour and mark making to the background, as if the model is almost pushing her way off the page. I found the seated drawing the most difficult, mainly because lots of the figure is covered by the chair, making it tricky to work out proportions. It is definitely not an accurate drawing but I hope that it has atmosphere to it. It is a very central composition with the newspaper layered beneath the drawing and just a few lines to move the eye around the page.

Project 5 – The moving figure

Exercise 1 – Single moving figure

With this exercise I have found that the most successful way to create movement in the figures is by using the continuous line technique. When I did this and kept the lines more sketchy and messy, a more interesting effect was created. This was most successful with charcoal I think, although it also works well with fine liner pen. The figures I like best however are those I drew using ink and brush. It was good to apply this straight to the page because I had to think carefully about the most obvious shapes which is difficult when someone is moving!

Exercise 2 – Groups of figures

For this exercise I felt I needed to take photographs to work from as it was really difficult to deal with the movement of a lot of figures at the same time. Legs and arms constantly cross over and move and it’s really hard to keep track of it all at once. When I got home and came to draw these I found that it helped to add some loose colour and sketchy lines around the figures to help create a bustling atmosphere. I made the figures that were further in the distance much feinter and with less detail, in the same way that I learnt to do in the landscape assignment.

Project 6 – The Head

Exercise 1 – Facial Features

 

Research Point – Contemporary and historic artists who work on the face in different ways:

Graham Little

Little’s portraits are realistic but with a dreamy atmosphere about them. I think they have a slightly ‘cloudy’ effect to them. He uses fine pencil marks that are blended to give a smooth appearance. The flesh tones are particularly lovely as they have so many different colours making them up. There is incredible detail particularly in the facial features and the hair and in ‘The black necklace’ the detail can be seen on the fabric of the dress and in the background. The artist uses a lot of light and shadow which gives form to the face and adds to the atmosphere of the drawings.

Elizabeth Peyton

Payton’s style uses blocks of colour and fewer areas of tone. There is also less variation in the skin tones. Blocky areas produce large highlights on the figure. There is less accuracy in her work and it is more about the suggestive marks that she uses. It is noticeable that there is not much detail in the facial features which again are more suggestive rather than accurate. The colours are watery and muted giving a kind of transparent feel to the portraits. They are very soft and easy to look at.

alisonjacquesgallery.com

itsnicethat.com

Exercise 2 – Your own head

IMG_1574

My main challenge with this first portrait was that initially I made the whole face and features way too long, particularly the chin. Also the nose was and still is I think too big! Once I had moved everything up it looked a lot more like me. The nose was quite a challenge because with a side profile there had to be a distinct outline and the cheek behind the nose could be seen slightly but this was really difficult to depict in the drawing without looking like it was part of the nose.

IMG_1577

For the second drawing I chose a front facing portrait. Proportion wise, one eye is definitely bigger than the other and they are probably a little far apart. Again I had to reduce the length of the whole face. From the two drawings I have learnt to be aware of my tendency to elongate things and this will make me measure more carefully. I think both portraits look like me and because this is a new challenge for me, I’m really happy with the results. With the pencil drawing I loved using the rubber to pick out highlights on the face and hair. I think this helped greatly with capturing the shape of the face. The pastel drawing is much softer and makes a warmer portrait. Through research I have seen other artists who use blue paper as a background and I wanted to try this as I knew it would help with the underlying blue tones of the skin. I did find the finer detail such as the eyes more difficult with this medium because of the thickness of the pastel so next time I’d probably invest in some pastel pencils for this.

Research Point – Artist’s self-portraits

Above are two historic portraits, the first by Leonardo da Vinci was made in around 1512. It was made using red chalk and most of the dark tone is around the facial features with light, suggestive marks creating the hair. It seems to be a very serious, realistic portrait . The Van Gogh was painted in 1889 and is an oil on canvas. The artist has chosen a cool blue colour palette, probably a reflection of his mood at the time. It is very distinctive as a Van Gogh because of the large, expressive brush marks which swirl around the body. The oranges in the hair and beard contrast with the blues making the viewers eye draw towards the face.

IMG_1722
Frida Kahlo self portrait with monkey 1938

The portrait above was made in 1938 in oils. The monkey is symbloistic as, after her accident, Kahlo had monkeys as her constant companions. Her self portraits were always full of symbolism which reflected the troubles in her life. She had a very unusual, distinctive style of painting which was not always flattering. Her paintings are definitely more about feelings than accuracy.

Marc Quinn created the self portrait sculpture above using his own blood. He gradually froze 10 pints of his blood and then poured this into a silicone mould of his head. The result is this gruesome sculpture but how symbolic that it is a self portrait made up of his actual DNA .

Tracey Emin’s ‘Self portrait in mirror’ is her interpretation of her naked core. It is made up purely of a number of rough lines which map out the basics of her face. I think it is quite an angry portrait and has no softness about it, mainly due to the lack of tone.

Chuck Close began as a photorealistic portrait painter but following a spinal clot in 1988 he became semi paralysed and was unable to paint in the same way. This was when he began to create work made up of tiny squares in grids creating a pointillist style of abstract work. He worked by taping the brush to his wrist and I think that the results are amazing. This self portrait was painted in 2007.

The images above are some I found on Pinterest when I was deciding what I really love in a portrait style. I love the way that the face disappears gradually into the background and that the portraits are seemingly unfinished. I think that the use of blocks of light or tone behind the face is really beautiful, especially on a coloured paper and I’d like to try to use this idea for my portraits.

totallyhistory.com

nga.gov

fridakahlo.org

artofericwayne.com

artnet.com

theartstory.org

marcquinn.com

Exercise 3 – Portrait from memory or the imaginationIMG_1584

IMG_1616

I really went for it with this one! Initially I had created a full portrait of a gypsy woman using pastel. I wanted to portray a free spirit with a touch of magic. On completing the drawing I just felt that it was really boring and was not capturing any kind of imaginary elements. So I decided to cut out the face because I really like the eyes. They seem to have a certain allure and mystery about them. I knew this young woman had to have a headscarf or headdress of some kind so I came up with the idea of collaging flowers and trees onto her head and I like the fact that it’s not really clear if they create part of the hair or a headpiece. Ink was added to give dark curls around the face and she has a necklace onto which I have collaged birds. I have chosen warm yellow and orange to contrast with the cool blues on her face, perhaps suggesting two sides to her personality? I also added words in collage which represent the characteristics of this imaginary woman. I think that the collage shows that things other than just facial features can influence how we view a person. We can learn lots about the woman in the portrait,  not only by her face, but by what surrounds her and makes her who she is.

Assignment Four

Figure study using line

IMG_1648Figure study using tone

IMG_1656

A portrait combining line & tone

IMG_1645

For assignment four I have tried to take three quite different approaches. For the first A1 figure study I used charcoal to draw a foreshortened study of my sister in a rattan chair. I also added ink washes to create some shadow and tone in certain areas of the line drawing. The charcoal was great because I was able to use it to pick out all the detail on the chair and I used cross hatching for darker areas. I did struggle with the hands and found it really difficult to make them accurate. I’m happy with the outcome because of the unusual angle and also I think the chosen medium works really well with strong lines as it is quite an imposing piece of work.

With the A1 tonal figure drawing I have chosen a much softer approach using charcoal and chalk. It was quite a challenge to get the legs right as they were tucked up behind the model. I used the white chalk to create a real sense of lighting as the fairy lights behind had a certain glow which reflected on the model. I think the overall mood of the piece is relaxed as the tone is soft and blended. I put darker tone to the right of the sofa to help it stand out and I left some of the lines of the sofa and floor unfinished to continue the softened effect.

I am so happy with my final chalk pastel portrait. I actually couldn’t believe that I had done it and it made me realise how much I must have learnt from this assignment. My niece is the model and she has bleached white hair and I just knew it would be great to draw. I chose a neutral paper so that the bright hair would stand out more and I wanted the face to kind of fade into the paper. Although it is not an exact likeness, because the eyes and mouth were difficult, I still think it totally reflects who she is. The angle of the face was quite challenging, particularly the eye behind the nose. I love the soft colours I have used, they are really fresh and cool in tone and I think the blue undertones work particularly well. I really enjoyed making this piece of work.

Complete anatomy and figure drawing, John Rayes, Batsford 2007

Ways of drawing hands, Running press book publishers, 1994

Lucian Freud Painting People, National portrait gallery, 2012

The figure in action, Louise Gordon, BT Batsford Limited 1989

Self portraits, Peggy Roalf, Jacques Lowe Arts, 1993

 

Part Three – Expanse

Project one – Trees

Exercise 1 – Sketching individual trees

 

IMG_0924

 

Exercise 2 – Larger observational study of an individual tree

IMG_0893

 

Exercise 3 – Study of several trees

IMG_0899

For the larger observational tree study I chose a silver birch. This is because the trunk is so beautiful and distinctive. It has lots of texture and distinctive knots which I could show really well by using lots of mark making with the pen. I used different types of marks for different areas of texture. Being winter, there was a lack of foliage on the trees apart from a small amount on the individual trees in exercise one. For this I used the side of the charcoal to make much finer, softer marks to represent the soft foliage against the sturdy branches. For most of the studies I left out areas on the trees to convey where the light was hitting. However the easiest way to show this was in the charcoal study in my sketchbook where I used the rubber to remove the shape of the trees from the black background. I think this was really successful and quite atmospheric. I definitely think that I simplified the trees in exercise three successfully because I looked at spacing rather than detail and concentrated on the light and tone. I think I could have used more interesting angles for the trees in exercise one and would definitely try to do that next time.

 

Project two – Landscape

 

Research point – artists from different eras who use landscape as their main subject

I didn’t know a lot about landscape artists but the obvious ones that came to mind were Constable and Turner. Therefore it’s been great to find out more about the kind of landscape work which has developed through the ages.

Going right back to the beginning I have looked at the work of Albrecht Dürer. He was a German painter and printmaker born in 1471 and his watercolours made him one of the first European landscape artists. In his work he began to introduce the principles of perspective and proportion. I particularly like this painting ‘House on an island in a pond’:

img_1068.png

I think the colours are really beautiful and there are so many highlights, in the sky, the water and on the land. It is actually a very simple landscape and doesn’t have much detail. I think that what makes it successful is the atmosphere that is created by the light. Your eye is led to the little house on the island and the boat in the foreground is almost inviting you to go there. It has beautiful reflections too.

Claude Lorrain was a French painter and printmaker born around 1604. I have chosen to look at his painting ‘The Enchanted Castle’ because the composition appeals to me:

img_1072.png

I think there is a great sense of distance with the hills in the background being much fainter than the foreground. The castle is the focal point in the centre of the painting but the eye is led around the work by the placement of the trees, moving gradually into the distance. In this landscape we have the foliage of the trees, the softness of the water and the brightness of the sky. I think this painting is much more refined than that of  Dürer with much more detail and architectural structure.

L.S Lowry was born in 1887 and is best known for his industrial landscapes. However his early landscapes depicted the countryside near his home in Pendlebury. In the 1930s he bagan to paint his ‘lonely landscapes’ which were often views of hills and lakes. These were apparently imagined scenes and not true sites.

IMG_1079

In this 1936 painting ‘A Landmark’ there is a sense of foreground, middle ground and background with the landmark being on top of the furthest hill. There is no detail and Lowry has worked with tone to show different areas of light and dark on the hills. It is made up of a series of shapes set behind one another. He has represented the water by adding highlight and there is movement in the sky which appears to be a bit stormy. This painting is in great contrast with the previous two artists work. It does not show realism and in some ways is quite childlike.

img_1081.png

His drawing ‘Country Road’ made in 1925 is more realistic and I like it because it shows great use of perspective and distance. There is mark making on the grass which adds texture and leading lines draw the eye along the path to the figures ahead.

Moving to more modern work, George Shaw grew up in the 1970s in Coventry and he is best known for his paintings which show urban landscapes, often depicting how modern life ruins the natural environment by fly tipping and vandalism. My particular favourite is ‘The Fall’ 1999 in which we see a landscape cut through the middle by a row of industrial garages which are unkempt and vandalised.

img_1087.png

I really like the use of perspective which leads the eye through the centre of the work. The straight lines of the garages contrast with the softness of the trees behind and I think it shows the environmental message of humanity destroying the beauty of nature.

Born in1968, Sarah Woodfine works with landscapes in an unusual way by exploring imaginary worlds and there is some darkness in the way she works. Her work is influenced by childhood memories and her drawings are often 3D worlds with reference to toy theatres and castles. She draws in pencil and creates stories which enable the viewer to invent their own stories. img_1089.png

In this drawing ‘Wyoming’ 2003, Woodfine has drawn only a hut appearing above a cross section of land. The land is pure black which contrasts with the pure white sky. The hut is shown at two different angles and is made up of a series of lines in dark and light tones. I think this piece of work makes the viewer wonder what is in the hidden hut. Compared to the work of earlier artists her work is minimalist, using the simplicity of shapes and symbols to depict an overall atmosphere.

http://www.ashmoleanprints.com

http://www.prattcontemporaryart.co.uk

http://www.telegraph.co.uk

http://www.a-n.co.uk

http://www.thelowry.com

http://www.tate.org.uk

http://www.artble.com

http://www.claudelorrain.org

http://www.albrecht-durer.org

 

Research point – images by Vija Celmins

I really enjoyed looking at the work of this artist. Her work is so delicate and believable and has amazing atmosphere. The use of tone in her seascape etchings is just amazing and so detailed. The artist has considered every single wave to show movement in the water. It makes me realise how important the use of tone is to add realism to artwork. The artist has made the waves bigger in the foreground which really emphasises a sense of distance in the water and in the foreground the marks are clearer and larger. The white areas in the water add highlights giving the impression of light falling on the surface of the water.IMG_1034

‘Ocean’ 1975

I think with clouds it’s really difficult to create that seemless look whereby the clouds are part of the sky rather than sitting on top of it. I think her work is a great example of what is left out being just as important as what is put in. She has used darker tones which are really subtle under the clouds to add shadows and depth.IMG_1036.PNG

‘Sky’ 1975

I watched her video ‘desert, sea and stars’ and thought she seemed a very interesting person. I like how she said she wanted people to ” look without thinking too much” and how her work showed ” movement, spinning in another life”. What I took from this is that I should try drawing the clouds without getting bogged down in detail, because actually they are ever changing as they move through the sky.

IMG_1038

‘Jupiter moon – constellation’ 1983

http://www.vimeo.com/22299024

http://www.tate.org.uk

 

Exercise 1 – Cloud formations and tone

 

Exercise 2 – Sketchbook walk

 

Exercise 3 – 360degree studies

 

Research point – historic & contemporary artists who work in series with the landscape

For this exersice I have researched some artists who work in a series with the landscape. This is useful as it helps to show how different viewpoints of the same landscape can create varied results. This is also true of working in the same landscape at different times of the day, capturing the differences in light. This was particularly true of the impressionists and so to start I am looking at the work of Van Gogh.

Van Gogh created a series of paintings where he concentrated on wheat fields. He captured these from a variety of angles and viewpoints and in different lights. The three paintings below are good examples of this:

In the first painting Van Gogh has filled the foreground with the expanse of the wheat fields creating an amazing sense of distance. The movement of the wheat as it blows in the wind guides the eye towards the back of the painting where we see the farm buildings and the suggestion of the trees in the distance. The beautiful blues in the sky contrast well with the oranges in the wheat making this a very pleasing composition. In the second painting, Van Gogh has chosen to use a more zoomed in approach capturing the work of the farmer amongst the wheat bales. There is very little detail in the foreground , just very sparse mark making and texture which means the viewer is drawn further into the picture. By moving his viewpoint, Van Gogh has now made the bales of wheat the most important part of his painting. The buildings are again blocky in the distance and the sky is darker. Perhaps it was painted early morning? In the last painting we see he has use the rule of thirds, separating clearly land, hills and sky. The giant sun suggests sunrise and there is a very calm feel to the painting, helped I think by his use of flowing, directional mark making. In this painting, the sky is just as important as the fields.

Nicholas Herbert’s series of drawings of the Chiltern Hills is a collection of mixed media landscapes. He has used an atmospheric quality of light to create very ethereal work. He conveys the raw feeling of the landscape and like Van Gogh, shows the varying effects of light in the same viewpoint.

In the two mixed media works above I think he has shown quite different interpretations of the landscape. In the first there seems to be more distance shown with what seems to be a tree in the background, perched on top of the hill. He has used areas of highlight to pick out the middle distance, and drips and mark making seem to represent foliage in the foreground. In the second picture I feel the viewer is placed more in the thick of the foliage. We see in the foreground the density of the grass and foliage while in the distance appears to be clearer and brighter. This is what draws us up through the picture.

I have chosen another artist who demonstrates working in a series on the landscape; Phil Whiting created his Post Industrial Cornwall series from 1989.

His paintings are very abstract and remind me of the style used by John Virtue. He uses a variety of unusual viewpoints which I think create a sense of vastness across the landscape. He creates this effect by his use of perspective. There is a lot of texture and roughness in his work and his paintings are very fast moving with the eye being deliberately drawn across the canvas. I think that he uses colour to interpret mood and to show the time of day. Often the sky is the smallest part of his paintings, with the land almost filling the entire canvas.

http://www.axisweb.org

http://www.nicholasherbert-drawings.co.uk

http://www.vangoghgallery.com

Project Three – Composition

Research point – contemporary artists who work with landscape and a range of viewpoints

For this exercise I will begin by looking at the similarities and differences between Tacita Dean’s blackboard drawing and Seurat’s Landscape with Houses:

Similarities

atmospheric, realistic, rule of thirds, focal point in centre, bright highlights, tone, shape

Differences

Although we see the similarities listed above, there are many differences also. Seurat has used much more mark making in his work, particularly noticable are the loose, scribbled lines in the sky. I think the texture of the paper/canvas that he used adds to the texture of the overall piece. Deans picture appears much smoother with a small amount of texture on the mountains. She has used sweeping upward movement on the mountains. The biggest difference is the use of tonal variation. Seurat seems to have used just light or dark tone whereas Dean has used an immense variety of different tones to show the large areas on the mountains.  Seurat has placed a tree in the foreground of his picture giving more of an impression of foreground than the picture by Dean.

I have chosen two other artists to compare; Neil Welliver, a contemporary American painter and Paul Cezanne:

I am looking at ‘Prospect Stream’ 1974 and ‘La Montaigne Saints- Victoire’ 1885

Similarities

mark making, trees, mountains, unusual angle, limited colour palette, leading line of stream, movement

Differences

Although the subject of these two paintings is very similar, they are quite different in their style. Wellivers painting at first appeared to me to be digital art in places because of its blockiness of colour, particularly in the water. However, this has been created by paint. I think that Wellivers work is much harsher compared to the soft brush strokes of Cezanne. There are no buildings in Wellivers painting. And those in Cezanne’s are represented by blocked shapes and colour. Cezanne has created a calm, happy atmosphere in his painting by the use of warm colours although a little unsettled by the feeling of wind through the trees. In contrast, Wellivers painting feels cool, almost icy, enhanced by the areas of bright blue which are repeated around the painting.

Both artists have used similar ideas to make their paintings successful, use of leading lines and choice of colour, but when you compare them you can really see how they have made different choices to create their own style.

http://www.metmuseum.org

http://www.mariangoodman.com

http://www.mmoca.org

Exercise 2 – Foreground, middle ground, background

IMG_0974

Project Four – Perspective

Excercise 1 – Parallel perspective – an interior view 

IMG_1002

I found this exercise tricky, mainly because I have previously learnt about perspective and vanishing points, but felt this was a different approach to the way I already knew. I was surprised at how wrong my diagonal lines were because of having to draw without measuring! This exercise showed me the importance of getting these lines correct in order to make a successful perspective drawing. As soon as I used the ruler, the exercise became much more successful. The room I chose was in a school building which was also particularly liney so there was a lot to get right!!

Exercise 2 – Angular perspective

IMG_1018

Excercise 3 – Aerial or atmospheric perspective

 

IMG_1229

Project Five – Townscapes

Research point – information on the work of John Virtue

IMG_1040

I absolutely love the work of John Virtue. It is so spontaneous and atmospheric and I think that the contrast of soft, smudgy marks against hard angular lines is just so effective. I would love to be able to work more in this way as I find I get bogged down in the accuracy of buildings. The works below from his time at the National Gallery are my favourites because I really like his townscape and that kind of grimy, industrial feel. I think that they capture perfectly the sometimes suppressive feeling of being in London:

My favourite is this piece of work below. It appears to be a sketchbook entry as it goes over two pages and I just really like the use of light in the sky and how it touches the buildings making them stand out from the gloomy background. Again, the artist has used soft marks alongside hard lines and edges which just works so well. It doesn’t look as though the buildings are perfectly accurate and sometimes just a suggestion of line has been used to demonstrate the 3D forms.

IMG_1046

 

Above are are two pieces of his work from his exhibition ‘The Sea’. These show an amazing sense of atmosphere and movement and how he has captured the roughness of the waves. All the marks here are very soft and I think it must be really difficult to capture so much movement using just black and white. Because they are close up works of the water and we cannot see the surrounding sky or landscape it must be really important to get these marks right and to give the impression of moving waves.

If found another artist who I really like who produces black and white pictures of urban environments. Sarah Padgett works with painting and collage to create these abstract style works.

The second of these is my particular favourite because I really like the blockiness of the buildings. They are almost childlike. I also like the use of shape, the circles in the sky which could represent the sun or smoke from factory chimneys? Again this work shows a confidence that although the lines are not particularly accurate, they still work. Also in the foreground the lines are unfinished and paint is dripping which is unusual because normally we would expect the objects in the foreground to be clearer than those in the background. I think it is a really fun, expressive piece of work.

Exercise 1 – Sketchbook of townscape drawings

IMG_1093

Exercise 2 – Study of a townscape using line

IMG_1013

My preliminary sketches helped with the placement of windows. I decided to add more shop fronts to the scene to make the building frontage more interesting. The wet, rainy day added to a fast, bustling atmosphere with puddles and wet pavements. It was helpful to sketch people as they walked by so that I could add them to my townscape. Looking at it now I feel I could have added more life to the street. I have found that my drawings of buildings are a little tight and I wish I could make them looser in style but this does not come easily to me and has been challenging. I used an ink wash in places to try to show the dampness of the day and I think this does help with a gloomy effect. I am happy with the structure of the piece but if I were to do it again I would definitely try to be more relaxed, possibly using a less restrictive media such as charcoal.

Exercise 3 – A limited palette study

img_1223.jpg

 

Exercise 4 – Statues

IMG_0978

Assignment Three

IMG_1230

For my final piece I chose to work in mixed media using ink, pastel, charcoal and colláge. I chose a composition that shows distance and perspective. The focal point is the little boat on the river. I chose to keep the colour very light and suggestive as I wanted the line of the drawing to be obvious. I hope I have reflected the sense of calm which was at the river whilst I was sketching and the quietness as it was a cold, rainy day. I planned to keep the piece black and white initially but felt it needed warming up a little. Tissue paper was used as a base under the drawing and I’m really happy I did this as I think that the creases resemble fine branches in trees. Also the pastel has picked up these raised areas creating interest. I feel I applied the knowledge I have learnt on this project to the final outcome by including the trees and the use of perspective and distance. I have found this project difficult. Mainly because, for some reason, I found it really hard to show a personal voice with this subject. I definitely enjoyed the tree and cloud exercises the most because I could work more easily in a loose style. I am still continuing to love pen and brush work the most and I think this is reflected in the work and in my sketchbooks. I found the landscapes way more difficult to the townscapes. It did however really help to zoom in on smaller areas to create a stronger focus in a large expanse. I loved looking at the work of Vija Celmins, including her video. I liked the way she talked about her work looking at things ever changing and developing and that it is ok to enjoy her work without too much thought about what it could mean. As suggested by my tutor I also returned to using my A5 sketchbook and this was very useful as I found I could keep it with me at all times and will definitely use it more in the next Part. I am really excited about Part four because I love life drawing and have already booked in for sessions in the next few weeks.

 

 

Part two – Intimacy

 

Research point – Still life genre

Still life paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were often created to show people’s riches. They often had decadent objects and were realistic in their colour and composition. The artists of this time worked in oils and spent a long time studying shadows and highlights. The paintings often appeared to be dark, particularly in the backgrounds which meant that the shiny objects, which were often used in the foreground, really stand out. Generally the objects were placed in traditional compositions on table tops and cloth was used to add texture and interest with the folding material.

This painting ‘Still Life’ by Willem Claesz produced in 1651 is an example of  this.IMG_0747

The objects are placed on the table and they include fruit, meat, silver and wine which would all have been seen as a statement of wealth.

Vanitas paintings from this era are incredibly interesting. The artist would choose objects which represent them or someone else. Often in these paintings you will see skulls, alongside fruit, representing life and death. The whole idea of a Vanitas is filled with symbolism.

In the nineteenth century Cezanne produced still life paintings which, although still contained everyday objects including fruit or glass, worked in a much lighter, more relaxed way. Backgrounds became brighter and there was often less overlapping of objects with more space in between. The amount of detail began to lessen with shapes beginning to become more important than the realistic detail. Colour was blocked in more and the range of tones became less obvious. The painting below is Still Life Pitcher and Fruit, produced in 1894.IMG_0748

The still life of this era became less about showing off wealth and more about beginning to share new methods and ideas in painting.

Cubist painters such as Picasso and Braque took this to a new level. They began looking at the idea of multiple viewpoints of the same object and including these viewpoints in the same piece of work. As you can see in the painting below ‘Baluster and Skull’ painted by Braque in 1938, the compositions became more confused. Now it was not important to create a realistic likeness but instead to create an almost illusional, abstract piece of work which the viewer had to try to understand. IMG_0749

Braque used more blocked in colours, often unrealistic. The objects such as the skull became almost just an outline shape with no fine detail at all. This was incredibly experimental work and of course massively different from the still life of the sixteenth century. However similar objects were used and the paintings were still very much representational.

Contemporary artists now create still life work which is very different in style to their sixteenth century counterparts. Although every day objects are still used, the colour and composition has changed dramatically. Michael Craig Martin is one such artist who is known for creating groups of, or single objects, in this way. He creates shapes with no detail and outlines these in black line. As did the artists in the past, Martin overlaps his objects but he also plays with scale, making objects disproportionately large or small. IMG_0750

He used flat colour with no tone at all, as seen in the picture above painted in 1999, and chooses bright backgrounds.

Looking at the transition in still life painting through these images I think it is easy to see how the inspiration has moved forward throughout the years. Although very different in style,  they are all in fact very similar in many ways. I think it is so interesting to look at this transition and to realise how inspiring it can be to take risks and to make your own artwork evolve.

http://www.mystudios.com

http://www.paulcezanne.org

http://www.kemperartmuseum.wustl.edu

http://www.michaelcraigmartin.co.uk

 

Research point – Positive & negative spaces

The use of positive and negative space is very important to any composition. Sometimes it can be subtle and the viewer may not necessarily observe it straight away.

I have been researching contemporary artists who over exaggerate the negative space to create amazing work and I have found two who I absolutely love. They work very differently from one another but their work is so effective.

The first artist I had not come across before but I have to say I have absolutely fallen in love with his work. I think it is absolutely beautiful;

Henrique de Franca is a visual artist from Säo Paulo, Brazil and was born in 1982. He works only in pencil onto paper. His work is just so atmospheric and I think that this atmosphere is created just as much by what he leaves out of his drawings as what he puts in.

The first picture I’d like to talk about is from his stolen childhood drawing series. It is called ‘Pele Solta’. This translates to ‘Peeling Skin’ .IMG_0744

The drawing is of a young boy, possibly from days past. He stands alone in the centre of the composition and the space is broken up only by a single pencil line which runs behind the boy’s neck and crosses the whole page horizontally. There are a range of tones on the boy with the lightest on the arm of his shirt which fades into nothing, connecting the boy to the page. He holds an empty jug and looks sad. The emptiness of this jug only adds to the feeling of sadness and despair, as it almost drops from his hand. The detail on his face is quite clear as is the tone on the jug, giving it more form than perhaps the rest of the image. The artist has cleverly used shadow very gently surrounding the boy to make him stand out from the empty background. I am interested to know why the artist placed the straight line behind the neck, cutting the head from the body. I think it adds distance to the drawing which in turn adds to the feeling of loneliness. I love the way that tone has been added to the line behind the neck as it seems so spontaneous and I really like the looseness of the lines here as they contrast with the harsh, thick line above. I think it is a beautiful, thoughtful piece of work and it is amazing that this has been created with really so little content.

He has also used this scribbled line in the drawing ‘O Mesmo Santa’ (The Same Saint), next to the building.IMG_0745

Again, all the other lines are so controlled and delicate but then interrupted by this mound of scribbles next to the building which create a kind of confusion. The boy running away is again almost disappearing into the white space by the gentle use of fading tone.

The other artist, who I have come across before, is Cristina Troufa. She is a Portuguese artist born in 1974. Troufa describes her work as “something spiritual, a route between several lives…”. In her work she tries to portray spiritual beliefs and explores her “inner world”. This means the viewer has to imagine what her work represents. She works by leaving areas of her paintings blank, like missing puzzle pieces.IMG_0746

In the painting ‘Passion is a destiny” we can see a woman kneeling at the top left of the page. The centre of the painting is blank and at the bottom there is a pile of used matches. One of these, however appears untouched. The woman’s skin is painted in an abstract way using blocks of harmonious colour. Her hair and clothes however have been left blank and are represented by a bold outline, leaving the viewers eye and imagination to fill in the gaps. I think it is a clever composition because the woman’s arms create leading lines downwards towards the matches. I wonder if perhaps the unlit one represents one last chance? I think there is a feeling of desperation portraid in this work and a certain amount of despair. The cold purple tones in the skin add to this feeling. Again it is so clever because so much of the page is empty, yet what is there represents so much.

http://www.mymodernmet.com

http://www.saatchiart.com

 

Project 1 – Detailed observation of natural objects

Exercise 1 – Detail & Tone

IMG_0667

 

Project 2 – Still life

Exercise 1 – Still life using line

 

 

Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour

IMG_0706

For this piece of  work I chose to use the three primary colours. This meant that I could work with warm and cool tones in the picture so that the muted yellows picked out the highlighted areas. Layering red and blue also created violet tones which added further depth to the picture. The soft pastels blended really subtly together giving soft lines. However I did still want a clear definition of separate colours so I did not blend as thoroughly as I could have. It was quite difficult to stick to three colours and it meant that I really had to consider the placement of these and to keep looking really closely at the arrangement of objects in front of me. The objects could not be separated by their actual colour so I had to be careful to make sure they had their own individual shape and form clearly shown. It was also challenging to make them stand out against the cloth as this was also drawn using the same colours. If the tones are not carefully examined, it is easy for the objects, cloth and background to merge into one. This exercise has definitely made me study light and shade more closely. I am glad I used strong, individual colours for this as it forced me to be more confident with my piece and to lay the colours down quite quickly.

For the still life using line I ended up creating a triptic of work. This was a very experimental piece of work for me and I was intending to create one piece. However I found it quite difficult to work with line only as I am used to creating finished pieces. It was also my intention to work using unusual viewpoints as my tutor suggested that it is something I should do more. I was unsure initially about the success of these angles, particularly the foreshortening  piece and so I created two more drawings including one at a normal front-on viewpoint. On completion of the three the foreshortening piece has actually become my favourite because it creates an unusual composition and makes the viewer look at the objects differently. I used ink and stick for these line drawings which meant that they were very loose and could not be completely accurate. I really love the mark making that this looseness creates. The backgrounds work well with the black ink drawing because they are not stark white and create a subtlety. I used coffee stain to do this and dropped granules onto the wet stain to add extra detail and mark making. I think I have achieved a sense of depth, particularly on the foreshortening picture. I think that this composition leads the eye in to the page. I also added small areas of ink wash shadow behind the objects to add depth.

 

Exercise 3 – Experiment with mixed media

IMG_0684

For the mixed media piece I decided that I wanted to use a textured background. I began by layering coloured tissue paper on areas of the paper. This meant that the creases in the tissue became marks adding interest to the piece. I then thought I would bring together mediums which I had used in the previous exercises and I chose charcoal and coloured pencil. Because of the texture of the background I felt that the depth of colour which I created with the pencils was not strong enough. I decided to add oil pastels on top which worked really well and gave much bolder colours. I wanted this piece to be about mark making and texture and to be really lively. I used charcoal and green toned oil pastels on the leaves to show the individual marks of the layered colours. As I progressed I decided that I would keep some areas untouched, so this was a conscious decision as I thought the piece looked more alive when the eye is moved around the page looking for more marks and colours. I hope this negative space makes the viewer focus more on the textured areas. The paper lanterns in the foreground are also filled with suggestive lines and are incomplete. Again I think this suits the piece best. There is very fine detail made with coloured fine liner pens, which I did not plan to use, but on studying the completed piece of work I thought these marks would help to focus on smaller areas of the picture. I also love the mixture of very thick, bold charcoal lines next to these delicate, controlled pen lines. I really enjoyed making this piece of work. I was able to work freely and to develop my use of materials as I progressed. I would say it is quite a fearless piece and I just went with how I felt as I progressed through the different layers. I loved seeing how the very different textures and materials worked together. I had to work around some of my choices, for example where I had used glue to cover the tissue paper, other materials would not layer on top of this because of its resistance. I had to choose another media. In that respect it was a learning curve and made me work in a more experimental way.

 

Exercise 4 – Monochrome

 

IMG_1225

Above I have made a second drawing as suggested by my tutor. I am much happier with this result. I have used chalk pastel in blue tones and chosen a more traditional still life. The pastel was lovely to blend so that a greater tonal difference could be created. I think the shadows could possibly have been softer? I love that the highlight could be both drawn on to with white pastel or removed using a rubber.

Project 3 – At home

Exercise 1 – Quick sketches around the house

 

Making these sketches had made me realise the importance of viewpoints and composition. Looking at areas of the room straight on, although technically easier, does not create a very inspiring piece of work. Perhaps this is because we view our rooms in this way on a daily basis? I think the sketches work well when being drawn from a low level looking up and also by standing on a chair and looking down on the view. Obviously perspective is challenging, especially with windows, door frames and cupboards and I think these lines alone are boring. What brings the sketches alive is the detail of the objects we keep in our homes, the things that make it personal to us and tell a story. I think my sketches worked best when I didn’t think about the accuracy of perspective, but just drew freely.

 

Exercise 2 – Composition – an interior

 

Research point – unusual or multiple viewpoints

After researching contemporary artists who create domestic interiors with unusual or multiple viewpoints, I have chosen to talk about three which I like the most.

The first is Paul Critchley and his work from the early 2000’s. Born in 1960 in England, many of his paintings are of interiors and open windows and doors. They have an air of mystery about them because the inside and outside are combined. IMG_0753IMG_0754

His paintings have a surrealness about them and have echos of Cubism with their many viewpoints. The paintings appear chaotic and fragmented which could be a representation of modern life. Perhaps he is referring to changes in life, or the business of the modern world. His subject use could be bringing to light the instability of modern living, maybe having no permenant home because no one can afford to buy houses and instead having to rent. His use of every day objects may also have been inspired by Pop Art. Critchley was a child in the 60s and 70s so this would have been an art movement that he encountered at a young age. In the top painting I think the style is similar to that of the surrealist painter Magritte, with the inside and outside combined in an almost dreamlike way. There is an air of fantasy and of the concealed, like Alice in Wonderland or The Secret Garden. There are opulent colours which draw you into the work and the windows and doors leave you wanting to explore the paintings more. In a way I think they are interactive pieces because the viewer is left feeling as if they have a choice of which way to turn first through these hidden passages and windows. There could also be links to psychology and mental health. Perhaps the confusion of the paintings is a reference to state of mind?

The next artist Ivon Hitchens was born in 1893 but worked up until his death in 1979. I love his work, particularly the painting below ‘Winter Stage’ created in 1936. IMG_0755

He used a highly distinctive style and abstraction. He had a highly developed visual sensitivity which led him to see multiple viewpoints. His solution was to combine several together. This was painted in the golden age, pre war, when there were few worries and life was good. It looks as though it has been influenced by abstract expressionism because nothing is quite as it should be.  It is breaking away from the traditional confides of the time. The inside and outside seem to have been brought together. I think this particular work has a slightly foreboding look about it, almost a prediction of days to come, perhaps the war? The colours are earthy and dark and remind me of the colour of the trenches and there is a sadness about the painting. The composition has a diagonal sweep which draws the eye from the left hand corner, upwards, across the painting. It is hard to tell if the frame in the centre is that of a mirror or a window but either way I think it has reflections from both inside and out. This frame is very large and solid and adds to the foreboding feeling of the work. There are lots of bulky, clumsy angles and none of the lines are straight. Like Cezanne and Braque, he did not use linear perspective and straight lines, to him, did appear to be subtly curved. This adds a dreamlike quality. I think it is a very emotional, disturbing piece but also incredibly beautiful.

The final artist works in a very different way. I chose him because his work shows an unusual way to look at the viewpoints of interiors. Fritz Panzer is an Austrian artist born in 1945. His early drawing work showed a resemblance to pop art by his use or linear shapes but I want to talk about his later work made with wire.

IMG_0756

These sculptures were made for his 2002 ‘Doubles’ exhibition where he looked at everyday urban life. He used wire to emphasise the outer frame of everyday things and interiors. Panzer wanted the objects and interiors to be “unemotional and stripped of functions’. His hope was that the viewer would fill in the spaces between the wire with the mind. I think the sculptures are such a brilliant idea and allow the viewer to look at them from many different angles and viewpoints, even stepping inside and viewing from the inside out. I love that they are so large and yet have such delicate lines creating them. IMG_0757

I particularly like the fine shadows that are created by the light shining on the sculptures. The artist has also left loose ends of wire so that there are no perfect edges and this adds a kind of ghostly effect, as if they are suspended in some way. The black lines of the wire stand out brilliantly against the stark white background and this is so effective. I think this is something i would like to experiment with in my work because I love the simplicity of line and the fact that it has so many viewpoints.

http://www.frameweb.com

http://www.galenekrobath.at.com

http://www.artmap.com

http://www.tate.org.uk

 

Exercise 3 – Material DifferencesIMG_0825

 

Assignment Two

IMG_0821For my assignment piece I have chosen to pull together interior and still life and to use mixed media. I have decided to zoom in on my viewpoint and chosen an unusual angle. I felt that the hangers on the rail would challenge me and would be something quite different. I knew I wanted the piece to remain fairly sketchy as I liked the way the hangers looked in my loose sketches. I felt that mixed media would be a great choice for this because the texture of the tissue and different materials used would be good to represent the variety of fabrics. I have used oil pastel to add mark making, showing stitching and pattern and also fine liner pen to pick out smaller areas of detail in places. There are strong lines used, particularly to show the curves of the hangers and these contrast with the tiny detailed lines. I thought about my use of colour and whether I should show the variety of shades on the rail but I decided that limiting my colour palette would work best. I chose contrasting shades of blue and yellow to make the colours stand out and added small touches of these throughout the composition to bring the piece together successfully.  I wasn’t sure when I started if I’d fill the whole page with colour but, as I did in my earlier mixed media piece, I decided that leaving gaps would make a more exciting piece. I felt that too much colour may detract from the lines of the hangers and rail. I looked carefully at shadows and think that the shadow from the rail onto the wall brings depth to the picture. I feel I have experimented and pushed myself with this piece of work. I have been less worried about taking risks and have gone with what I love. I think I have learnt to look more carefully at shadow and tone and have also been inspired by the artists I have researched.