I decided to tackle the outdoors in the final assignment. I have reviewed part three of the course looking at the various exercises. There are a number of charcoal drawings, which I like for their increased freedom. I am constantly encouraged to be more abstract/ energetic/ spontaneous/ innovative and experimental in my work. I aimed to develop some of the above in the final assignment of this course.
I started work on this assignment by looking at different media. I wanted to see if I could be more energetic and spontaneous using bold colours, so I tried using ink and marker pens. I chose to draw a garden summer house purely as an exercise in using the media rather than because this would be a subject I wanted to develop.
I did not really like the effect of the pens. They are rather garish and messy- not allowing for much sensitivity, and I did not think they were appropriate what I was hoping to achieve in a drawing of an outdoor subject.
In choosing what to draw, I spent some time considering my options, and explored the possibility of looking at various wrought iron bridges over the Manchester ship canal as my subject. Whilst visiting these locations I found myself looking in closer detail at parts of one of the locks and its surrounding buildings.
I was particularly attracted to the heavy industrial engineering of the lock-gates; the rusty iron, oily chains, overgrown weeds and cracked wooden plinths, and how they were reflected in the canal-water. There is a weight and solidity to the structures, which, although engineered, I hope could be portrayed loosely and energetically. I liked the interesting subtle contrasts in colour, shape and texture. It invited a response and a reaction from the viewer and I hoped this might be depicted in a drawing.
I did some detailed pencil sketches of locations around the locks. The huge lock-gates themselves, when viewed from the other side, lost some of their impact- presenting a solid wall of wooden beams which were tonally similar across the structure. It was much harder to identify an interesting focal point from this angle and I had no emotional reaction to the view.
I returned to the first lock-gate view I drew and attempted it again in charcoal to try to introduce a looser response to the subject. I was disappointed though that I felt the outcome was very dark and unsubtle/insensitive, with insufficient mid-tone. Rather more like an etching than a charcoal drawing with 3D form!
My next experiment was to try using ink. I was interested in whether I could retain the sensitivity of mid-tonal variation using shading and hatching with a fine pen. I rather like the end result here, but it was not really what I was wanting to achieve in the long term. It is rather “busy” with a myriad of marks and lines. The gates present a fairly complex subject in themselves, which I felt needed to be reduced or simplified by the style of the drawing, not added to with a multitude of lines and squiggles.
In thinking about this I decided to try an alternative view (an adjacent building on the lock) which is interested me because of its graffiti and functional nature. I wanted to look at using pens in a different way- trying not to outline, but to concentrate on shading to give a sense of form. This was difficult in areas where there were straight lines of stonework to define, so I did not think this would ultimately be successful for the lock-gates. I also decided to use coloured paper, which allowed the introduction of some white pencil to lift highlights. I enjoyed the effect of this drawing, but not for this subject.
In returning to the lockages I drew a detailed sketch just focusing on outlining shapes. I then decided to have a go at introducing colour. whilst being a “nice picture” I felt this was returning too close to my “usual style” however- more realistic and more restrained- and was not pushing my boundaries.
So my next attempt was to try being more relaxed. I returned to the location and had a go sketching in both pencil and charcoal.
I was trying to look at the predominant shapes and tones rather than getting bogged down in finer details.
I also experimented with an alternative view: I wondered if the shapes of the bridges retreating into the distance might give me scope for more freedom, but I felt the view was a much more conventional one, which in many ways restricted my creativity. When tackled in charcoal it became inaccurate rather than loose- the subject was not forgiving of lines that were not in the correct place. The coloured Ink drawing lacked depth (the bridges actually receded into the distance) and was too busy with lines/shapes etc.
Returning to the lock-gates I did some more stylised sketches in a small sketchbook, looking at shapes and trying to be a bit more abstract.
This small sketch is in response to looking at the drawings of Dennis Creffield. I felt my sketch, unlike his, was too hard and defined. His drawings are more layered, and more subtle, whilst still having an energy and boldness- leaving greater room for the viewers imagination to fill in the gaps
However, I thought I might try adding colour in a similar style sketch. Maybe because it was in a small size, the resulting business of the colours seemed to detract from the image I wanted to create.
I finally moved onto a larger piece of paper. This uses charcoal and chalk on A1 cartridge paper. I was really pleased with the result, but on reflection, decided it was still rather stilted and exact. However, I enjoyed the composition and the opportunity to explore reflections, texture and shapes/tone in the subject. I was pleased to have captured the same sense of place in the larger format- I know I often struggle on larger paper and sometimes lose myself in small areas, failing to keep the overall effect coherent. I felt I had made the right decision to keep areas of the paper blank so the eye is drawn to the focal point in the centre.
Just to explore this further, I tried an alternative A1 charcoal sketch, of a different perspective of the gates. From further back I confirmed in my mind that the main “interest” of the subject was lost. This is amici less successful drawing- losing both detail, texture, contrast, and accuracy – in manners which detract from the overall effect.