Category Archives: ASSIGNMENT 4

Reflections on Assignment 4

In tutor feedback from part 4 of the course my tutor suggested that I look at a number of artists.  She suggested that I should try to develop more confidence in handling media, especially with more dynamic/ aggressive mark-making.  To highlight what she meant by this she pointed me towards Tracy Emin and Richard Hamilton’s work.  I had already looked at Richard Hamilton’s work whilst carrying out research for part four Research Point- Energy in drawings.  I can see her point, as both of these artists produce works that contain a huge amount of energy.

Tracey Emin works in a wide range of media including painting, drawing, film, photography, sewn appliqué, sculpture and neon text. Her art is primarily expressionistic, a cypher for memories and emotions that can be frank and poetic, intimate and universal.  Using her own experience – and frequently her own body – as source material for the work, she explores ideas of self-portraiture and narrative disclosure, both intimately bound up with her own biography. She grew up in the seaside resort of Margate and her work often refers to traumatic episodes from her childhood  in a unique form of confessional art that often deeply resonates with her audience.

tracy-emin-2005-i-think-of-you-all-the-time

Tracy Emin- I Think of you All the time, 2015, Acrylic on canvas

This picture is radiates a sense of frenetic freedom in the application of paint on the canvas, whilst still managing to capture a sense of its subject and  accurate physical proportions.

German artist Kathe Kollwitz began her career as a painter until, inspired by the prints of Max Klinger, she began creating etchings, lithographs and woodcuts, eventually abandoning painting for graphics. She is an inspiring example of an artist whose content and technique merge to create deeply affecting works of art. Her weighty subject matter is made only more potent by the way in which she chooses to render her images.

Her subjects were “rough” as well, often drawn from the poor and downtrodden in Berlin, who her husband attended as a doctor. She remained committed to pacifist and socialist ideals throughout her career. Much of her early work in particular was shaped by the death of one of her sons in the First World War.

kathe-kollwitz-woman-with-dead-child-1903
Mother with dead child- 1903

In the drawing above, the way in which it is rendered underscores a moment of terrible anguish. The features of the child’s face are just barely visible, almost as though they become less solid and more ghostly by the minute. The softly rendered, quiet areas of the drawing are juxtaposed with areas of urgent, scratch-like hatch marks, creating tension and a sense of desperation.

Käthe explored the human condition not only by connecting with and depicting those around her, but through a life-long practice of self-portraiture as well. Her intimate self-study resulted in over 100 self-portraits between her early formative years and her death in 1945. She often depicted herself in isolation, the surrounding white of the paper becoming a kind of abyss. Kollwitz had the rare ability to communicate visceral aspects of her inner life through her outward appearance, leaving the viewer with a vivid impression of her state of mind. Looking at her self-portraits, we catch intimate glances of her awareness of mortality, her commitment to depicting the social injustices around her, her strength and her compassion.

Her use of harsh lines and intense marks somehow lift the images from mere depictions of an image to pictures radiating a deep sense of emotion and intensity.  This is all the greater for her use of a monochromatic palette and the lack of a background in which to contextualise the image.

Further artists to look at regarding line making is Henry Moore.  I already did some research on his sheep drawings Henry Moore- Sheep Drawings, but I wanted to look further at his work following my tutor’s recommendation.  He

During World War II Moore was asked by the War Artists Advisory Committee to document life on the home front. He drew people sheltering in bomb shelters in London underground stations. These drawings, along with those he made later in the coalmines, are considered among his greatest achievements.  The picture lacks detail of individual faces and limbs, but radiates a strong sense of the crowded gloomy conditions in a tube station during an air raid.

Shelterers in the Tube 1941 by Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986
Shelterers in the Tube 1941 Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986 Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1946 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05712

henry-moore-recto-heads-fish-and-standing-figure-1950-1951

Henry Moore- Heads, Fish and Standing Figure, 1950—1951 ( Pencil, wax crayon, coloured crayon, chalk and watercolour wash )

I love the loose marks in this page from Henry Moore’s sketchbook.

henry-moore-the-artists-hands-1974
Henry Moore- the artist’s hands 1974

The looseness and delicacy of the marks in Henry Moore’s hand pictures are beautiful  You can almost reach out and expect the picture to have 3D form.  At the same time, he doesn’t about over detail- giving the viewer just enough to fill in any blanks .

Throughout his career, Moore utilised a wide range of techniques and media, such as line drawing and cross-hatching, gouache, chalk and crayon, to bring two-dimensional forms to life, creating impressions of movement and radiance and carving human forms from a sheet of paper in a similar fashion to the way in which he carved expressive forms from slabs of stone. With these works on paper, Moore was not drawing simply as an exercise. Instead, the artist was drawing for ‘the pleasure of looking more intently and intensely’, emphasising that these works on paper are not simply sketches, but instead illustrate important stages in Moore’s development as a draughtsman and sculptor.

Advertisements

Assignment four

For this assignment, you should complete two large figure studies (A1 size) and a portrait or self-portrait (any size) – three drawings in total, together with supporting studies, experiments, etc.

For each drawing, consult your preliminary studies and make notes on what you plan to do. Think about composition, medium and approach. Write a few notes on the artist(s) that have inspired you to work in a particular way. Be inventive in your approach and in the materials you use. You’re not restricted to working with black on white. Try reversing this to white on black, or consider monochrome, perhaps dark blue on pale blue paper, or ink and charcoal on newspaper – the list is endless, so be inventive. Allow around two hours for each drawing.

1 Figure study using line (A1) – Seated model in an upright chair

 

IMG_1378
Final drawing (charcoal on A1 cartridge paper)- more stylised than previous attempts. I am not 100% certain that it is completely in proportion but as a picture I find it quite appealing. I was trying to play with angles and minimise the number of lines. Proportions are still wrong- shoulders are too wide.
IMG_1377
Aquarelle crayons on A1 cartridge paper. Second attempt at Assignment 4- proportions are wrong and breast too dominant.
IMG_1380
Few quick sketches trying to develop pose
IMG_1379
charcoal sketch developing pose with the models wings! Shoulders are too wide.
IMG_1373
Multiple drawings done on top of each other in colour pencil. Trying to give a sense of movement in the static pose. Experimenting with mark making.
IMG_1372
Quick charcoal sketch- hard to keep foreshortening in her left leg looking natural. Shoulders are too wide again!
IMG_1371
Pencil sketch playing with angles
IMG_1364
Preparatory sketch for drawing of myself
IMG_1367
Pastels on A1 cartridge paper- first attempt at assignment 4.

I started this assignment by trying to do a line drawing of myself  but failed comically badly. My top half is much too bulky compared with the rest of me and there is a lack of reality about the finished drawing.  Surprisingly I rather liked the face as time went by and the result was definitely better than the rest of the body.  I found it difficult to drawer myself and to sit at the same time.  I don’t think my eye was particularly objective either!

So I attended a life drawing class and decided to develop the model’s seated pose.  She was  wearing fairy wings and holding flowers but I decided to drop these props from my pictures after a few sketches as they were distracting and not adding anything to the finished pictures.  I found it really hard to keep the proportions accurate because of the slightly awkward position the model was sitting in.  As a result I repeatedly ended up with shoulders that were too wide and the foreshortening in the other leg was not always convincing.  In some of the preparatory sketches the hands and face were quite nicely depicted but by the time I got to the final pictures the details seemed to be naturally reduced.

I tried very hard  to be as expressive and experimental with the large drawing as I was with the preparatory studies, trying not to tighten up or lose fluidity.  This was hard, and possibly not achieved, as I was constantly grappling with the challenge of transferring the images onto the larger scale paper.  I found this really difficult.

There is an artist called Fred Hatt that I frequently go back to as I am fascinated by his approach to figure drawing:

fredhatt-2013-clasp

I wish I could reproduce the effect he creates.  His influence informed my  attempt using aquarelle crayons.  Fred is very sensitive in his use of line- many of which define contours at the same time as light and shade.  I would need a LOT more practice to achieve this fantasyic effect.

2 Figure study using tone (A1) – Reclining model

IMG_1384

Pastels on A1 cartridge paper:  For this part of the assignment I had to default to life drawing models posing on-line because there were no willing models available at home!  Firstly, after a few loosening up sketches, I tried using pastels. However, in my mind this would have ideally been on a mid-tone paper, and as the only A1 paper I have is white, I did not feel the finish was very effective.  I also made my usual error of making the head too small- either that or the legs and body are too big!!  I struggled with the head and overworked it making the effect heavy and lumberous!  In places the picture is loose and in others it looks like I tried just a bit too hard!

IMG_1383

Charcoal on A1 cartridge paper.  I had another go at the assignment using charcoal.  I always enjoy charcoals; I like the fact that they stop me being too finicky about detail!  They also encourage me to focus on tone rather than line.  I was really pleased with this charcoal drawing.  I found it easier to do on the A1 format paper, which encouraged a more gestural approach.  This drawing mainly used tone, rather than line, to create a sense of form and atmosphere. I found I naturally looked at shapes.  I realise that I have unwittingly used a model who is not showing her hands. Also, by not over-working the hair, it’s lightness brings the head forward in the picture.  The light areas against strong shadows gives 3D form to the figure.

I have really struggled doing these drawings in a large format as they have often required scaling up from what I can see by eye so numerous errors tend to get introduced.

In all of these attempts my models are unclothed -I hope this still falls within the objectives of the assignment?

3 A portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone (any size)

Create a portrait a self-portrait where the features are believable and in proportion to the rest of the face, head, shoulders and chest. Try to find an interesting position rather than looking straight ahead. Use mirrors to view from different angles. In your sketchbook, experiment with some of the ideas you’ve uncovered during your research into other contemporary artists’ work.

Work with variations of tone and expressive line to create an interesting and atmospheric image. For your main light source, you might try using a candle, small lamp or torch in a semi-darkened room to exaggerate the contrasting lights and darks, for example. You might also work very close up with the features filling the sheet. Be experimental and ambitious in this drawing.

IMG_1352

Self portrait- Pastel on A3 pastel paper.  For this part of the assignment I did a drawing of myself in front of my dressing table mirror.  There’s something symbolic about that location since it is somewhere I often study myself.  I found this so interesting- the end result definitely has my features but I can’t decide if it has a likeness?  How much of that is due to the disconnect between what I think I look like and how others see me?

I struggled to get the light right- mainly because, looking at my reflection, the light and shadow was subtle because I could not work out how to create strong contrasts.  However, the resulting picture definitely has a sense of light coming from one side with deeper shadow on the opposite side.  I was surprised by how the image seemed to emerge by its own accord, as the layers of pastel were applied.  The hair is a bit fluffy and should probably hang straighter down the sides of the face.  Another place I struggled was to get the profile around my face correct- in the picture my cheek bones are a bit more rounded than in reality.
However, overall I definitely think this is a believable face in which the features are in proportion to the rest of the face, head, shoulders.  I ended up with a straight on pose by default- even though that was not my initial intention, but I rather like its intensity!
I did not do a lot of preparatory sketching before doing this picture.  I started it with the intention that it should be a sketch, but it took on a life of its own and emerged as a full complete drawing of its own volition!