This is my final piece for Assignment 5:
See the artists statement and development work for my preparatory work for Assignment Five.
Assessment criteria points:
Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%).
My approach to this project allowed me to test my ability to work in a more energetic, relaxed style than is my usual safe approach, using energetic, expressive lines and tonal variation without being afraid of “going outside the lines”.
I worked hard to accurately observe the subject and did a variety of studies to explore composition, media and approach. I used a variety of media, trying to focus mainly on those that facilitated a looser style. At the start of the process I did some detailed studies of the lock-gates so I could work from them later on. The final piece deviated from the strict accuracy of the early sketches; I tried to focus more on creating bold energetic lines, defining shapes and creating depth of tone, than on completely accurate perspective and measurement.
I chose to focus in on the lock-gates and to draw them from close-up, rather than to draw them from a distance with more background and context showing. This was in part because their structure was what interested me, (this was lost in drawings with a wider perspective), and also because they presented an almost still-life subject from close up- with increased focus on shapes, line, tonal shadows and form.
The final work was on A1 size paper to challenge myself working in large format, and on the image as a whole, rather than as a sum of its parts, without being afraid to leave areas of the paper blank or with minimal detail. I deliberately did not labour over the railing on the pathway at the top of the drawing, which i think, looking at the final piece, was the right decision.
Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%).
I wanted to capture a visual energy in this final drawing to bring the (essentially static) lock-gates to life. Since my “go-to” style tends to be fairly restrained, detailed and realistic I hoped to be able to “let go” and allow the subject to speak for itself. I think I achieved this through an absence of details, overlapping lines, gestural lines, marks and blocks of tone.
My thought process was logical because I had freedom to explore the subject in this personal project. This led to a logical sequence of experiments and approach. I hope that my intention shines through without being overly laboured. I wanted to capture the rusty iron, oily chains, overgrown weeds and cracked wooden plinths, and their reflection in the murky canal-water; not only how they looked but also the atmosphere of the place. There is a solemnity and solidity to the structures, which I think I successfully portrayed.
Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%).
I tried to use expressive mark-making in this piece, whilst also being sensitive to tonal variation. The lock-gate structure is almost sculptural, so I aimed to create 3-dimensional form through tonal variation, as well as using vigorous marks to depict angles and shapes. I think there is a part of me for which this is an honest expression- but which is often held back and smothered by a fear of relaxing around the details of what I am trying to draw.
I was pleased that the outcome is definitely much looser than I would normally achieve. I felt this was in part due to the artists’ work I admired, that influenced my approach. I used a set of large coloured charcoal sticks, which varied in tone, but only within a narrow pallet. I liked the colour variation, which I thought brought the picture to life, compared with other large size drawings I did using just black charcoal. Charcoal is definitely a good media for me- as it presents me getting bogged down in detail and allows energetic mark-making, rubbing out and layering of tone.
I think in retrospect that I could have developed deeper tones in this drawing. I struggled to introduce tonal contrast in the middle of the image: in reality the lock wall behind the gates were mid-tone, so I struggled to create tonal contrast. When I left the spaces between steel plates too light, the picture lost some of its gravity. Maybe if areas were darker this might have been less of an issue?
I keep asking myself if it matters that there are some inaccuracies and errors in perspective- is a sense of the place lost? Are the wheel and chain convincing? I didn’t want to get bogged down with the detail of the chain, and hope it still has a weight and solidity.
I heard someone say “if you are not taking risks you are not being creative……” and I really tried to apply this sentiment to this assignment by going against my natural grain to explore a new approach. Basically- to introduce more spontaneity/ fluidity/ energy/ abstraction/ narrative.
Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%).
I looked at a number of artist’s work during the development of this project and found a number of artists works who I admired and wanted to influence my final outcome. I hope that this is evident in the final piece. I am pleased at how the research informed my approach to the work as it loosened the hold my usual approach would have had over me.
I think my awareness of my style and the direction I would like to develop has also increased during this project and I hope to continue this journey as I move forward.