Category Archives: Part 2

Reflections on Report for Assignment 2

The summary and key points of the report read as follows:

  • Don’t forget your strength of using expressive media and being more gestural as you have shown previously.
  • Be careful not to be too pictorial all the time.
  • Use your sketchbook much more and the main concern is that there is not enough work for each part. As well as doing work in your sketchbook, do larger pieces, which use the whole space of the surface sufficiently. You are starting to understand the technicalities of the fundamental elements of form in this submission. Keep practicing this.
  • Do more attempts of the exercises, techniques and mark making works so you can push a more personal style. Be more expressive and not so pictorial to give a sense of mood and narrative to captivate the viewer. Combine successful techniques to make for more mix media works.
  • Don’t forget the suggestions from your pervious report in terms of being more expressive and fluid. At the moment you have a variety of techniques, which you are not always pursuing. Be more focused on your style and your strengths.
  • Look back at your sketchbook and enlarge the more expressive works so they are more gestural.

There is a lot in the report that really made me think.  I have been torn between my natural tendency to draw accurate pictorial representations of a subject (which can be lazy in terms of using my imagination or investigative skills) and being more experimental.  I had not really understood what the course wanted from us, but think this feedback represents a step forwards for me in this.  I realise now that experimenting and working through ideas in both my sketchbook and as larger pieces helps me to develop and explore my own direction and voice.  In the feedback about loosening up- I realise that my work is so much more fluid in all my prep work and then I tense up for the final drawing.

My tutor has suggested I experiment more with Frottage as this will help me to loosen up and be more expressive.  She also pointed out that abstraction helps you to see the world differently;  I really like that idea and can see it will be fun to explore this further.

I suppose I had thought I should know my personal style by now, but realise that this will only come by experimenting as much as possible and seeing what pattern reveals itself as my way of progressing.

I looked at the Henry Moore Sketches https://twatmough.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/henry-moore-sheep-drawings/ as suggested and realised how much I rely on line/outline in my drawings.    I need to try to avoid this and learn to see negative shapes, tonal variation and texture….

Things I had not been doing that I want to develop from now on:

  • Gestural drawings
  • loosening up-  expressive drawings  (Trying Frottage)
  • Developing work for each exercise further to a larger final piece wherever possible
  • Less pictorial- thinking more expressively to give a sense of mood and narrative to captivate the viewer.
  • Focus on my strengths and successes.
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Frottage

Frottage is a surrealist method of creative production that involves creating a rubbing of a textured surface using a pencil or other drawing material.  Tate.org.uk explains:

The technique was developed by Max Ernst in drawings  from 1925. Frottage is the French word for rubbing. Ernst was inspired by an ancient wooden floor where the grain of the planks had been accentuated by many years of scrubbing. The patterns of the graining suggested strange images to him. From 1925 he captured these by laying sheets of paper on the floor and then rubbing over them with a soft pencil. The results suggest mysterious forests peopled with bird-like creatures and Ernst published a collection of these drawings in 1926 titled Histoire Naturelle (natural history).

Max Ernst L'évadé (The Fugitive) from Histoire Naturelle (Natural History) 1926

He created these images by rubbing various materials—wood, crumpled paper, crusts of bread—with a pencil or crayon through a sheet of paper, then allowing the resulting textures to inspire him to invent strange landscapes, objects, and animals.

He went on to use a wide range of textured surfaces and adapted the technique to oil painting, calling it grattage(scraping). In grattage the canvas is prepared with a layer or more of paint then laid over the textured object which is then scraped over.

Part Two, Project 6, Exercise 5 -Mixed media

Assemble a range of drawing media including coloured media such as oil pastels, watercolours, ink and coloured pencils. You might also incorporate small areas of collage (using found images, scraps of newspaper, etc.). You may need a heavier paper if you intend to use watered down PVA glue or flood large areas with wash. Glance through the studies you’ve made so far and notice which have been most successful in terms of pictorial effect. Work either from direct observation of your interior view or from one of your exercise studies. Try mixing media you are less familiar with and experiment with several studies of the subject, looking at it from different viewpoints.

I looked through the sketches I had done in exercise 1 of this project and decided I liked the concept of this sketch of my husband’s gym.  I like the clutter and the way that things are not arranged aesthetically, but practically!  It is actually in our basement so there is limited light down there which I though i could also play with.

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I worked from the sketch rather than the actual interior view as I thought this would give me more freedom to play around rather than getting caught up in facts!  I did a couple of experimental drawings, mainly to explore the potential of oil pastels.  I discovered using oil paint thinners to melt the oil pastel into the paper and which also intensified the colour which i really liked.  I also liked mixing lots of colours to create tonal areas of lots of mixed hues.  I also liked the slightly ethereal effect in the lighter sketch and how the running machine blends with the background.

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“Steve’s hideout” oil pastel and soft pastel on A3 smooth 330gsm Aquafine Daler Rowney hot pressed watercolour paper.

There is a lot of experimentation in this picture which at times I really struggled with.  I had an idea what I wanted but not how to use the medium to achieve it.  There are distortions in the shapes of the bike and the running machine and I have drawn the window incorrectly, but I enjoyed exaggerating the light streaming in through the window (which i real life it can’t really do as the window is submerged a little below ground!)  I hope that the light creates a mood though- gloomy, a bit of a secret place- but warm and welcoming.

I went a bit overboard on colour and nothing is as it really is in real life!  the vibrancy and the awkward, unwieldy nature of oil pastels seems to encourage the use of vivid bold colours, for example in this picture of a lady by Greg Mason Burns http://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Oil-Pastel-of-a-Lady/411235/1662175/view.  I still have a lot to learn about how to keep that intensity and bold vibrancy.  I was finding that putting the pastels on thickly resulted in strong colour, but also in clumping, while using the thinners to smooth it down also wiped away some of the oil pastel layer.    In the end I added a top layer of soft pastels to create light streams and to intensity some of the colours.  I am pleased but frustrated with this but have raised issues that I now know I need to research, experiment and overcome in future.

Assessment criteria points

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%).
  • Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%).
  • Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%).
  • Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%).

Part Two, Project 6, Exercise 4 -Line and wash

Select a range of media including pen, soft pencil, oriental brush pen, charcoal and oily pastels. Work on any scale but be aware that small paper will limit your gestures. Warm up by drawing continuous line in different media without looking at the page. Try to maintain a loose approach and keep working until you feel confident that you understand the different qualities of each medium.

Work on creating interesting tones by using just one or two colours mixed as a wash (watercolour is best for this).  You could use Indian ink for the darkest areas for dramatic effect.  For the lightest tone, you could try a wax resist technique using a light coloured oil pastel or wax crayon overlaid by a darker wash. This technique is most effective when used sparingly.  Experiment and enjoy the freedom of drawing loosely with wet and dry media.

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Blind contour drawings using various media:

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Then I went on to do a more carefully observed ink drawing using a bamboo dip pen and indian ink on A2 cartridge paper:
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I used sepia ink as the wash.  I thought I had finished (See picture above) but when I looked again, I decided the picture was too flat and similar in tone, when in reality the statue and pillar at the front are much darker and sit in the foreground.  I added some Indian Ink to create contrast and darken these areas:

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Was I able  to convey mood and feeling by making rapid statements?

Assessment criteria points

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%). I think I captured the perspectives and feeling of the hallway, where the light falls from a central atrium in the ceiling. I made an effort to use rapid statements with both the ink line drawing and the wash- accepting and tolerating where mistakes were made and incorporating them into the finished picture.  I successfully captured the light coming from the top, becoming darker with increased depth of wash towards the bottom.  I managed to stay free in my application of the wash and some of the accidental runs and mistakes add to the interest of the picture.  I think I started with too dark a wash for the mid-tones and would have benefited from lighter tones in general, so that the main feature stood out more.  Application of black shadow at the end helped with this.
  • Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%). In the end I felt the outcome was good.  I worked loosely and had a good idea how to approach the task.
  • Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%). I had to be creative about how I represented some of the areas before me, whilst still giving the picture life and depth.  For example I didn’t want to get bogged down in details of the bannisters or the actual stairs, while still making it evident what they looked like.
  • Context reflection – research, critical thinking (learning logs and, at second and third level, critical reviews and essays) (20%).  The medium lends itself to a loose interpretation as demonstrated in classic art such as this picture by Rembrand called Interior with Saskia in bed: 1640-42+Interior+with+Saskia+in+Bed+pen+and+brown+ink+with+brown+and+gray+wash+and+some+additions+in+red+and+black+chalk+The+Frick+Collection,+New+York.jpg  Here the loose drawing and wash give a atmospheric, evocative sense of the dark room with light falling from a window to the right.

Part Two, Project 6, Exercise 3 -Tonal study

For this tonal exercise, work on a large scale (A2 to A1) and use light marks to map out the composition. Be sure to use all of the picture space.  Notice the lightest areas and map them in. Using charcoal, soft pencil, conté or pastel, work out the mid-tone areas and the darkest. Find a way to convey the subtle gradations within these areas. All of the media mentioned will give you problems of smudging, so work from the centre of a dark area outwards so that your hand doesn’t rest on an area of heavy charcoal or graphite. Don’t worry if you lose lighter areas; you can use a putty rubber to pick out highlights. You could also use white paint, chalk or conté for this, but be careful not to overdo it. Look for the lightest tones again when the drawing is almost finished.  Keep looking from your subject to your drawing while squinting to check on tonal values.

This is the view I was working from (as sketched in exercise 2).

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Firstly I did a light pencil drawing to map in the main areas.  I used charcoal powder to smudge in the main tonal areas- medium and them dark areas (ie. the back of the sofa, shadows on the walls and the piano etc).  Then I worked in shading and detail using willow charcoal.  I tried very hard to respond to the tonal information before me rather than focusing on details.

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“Music Room” Charcoal on Daler & Rowney 220gsm heavyweight A2 cartridge paper.

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Assessment criteria points

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%).  I was very pleased with  this piece of work.  The charcoal and moody tones echo the victorian feel of the room.  I deliberately chose this interior because I liked the play of light in the room and I worked hard to observe and capture this.   I think the composition adds to the success of the work- I like how the sofa is situated perpendicular to the fireplace.  By leaving the white paper to shine through (e.g. on the mirror and cushions) this creates highlights which contrast strongly with the deep shading, to lift the picture.  I haven’t been over-obsessive about detail, and in my opinion, this looseness gives the picture life.  Careful observation of where shadows fall lends objects in the room a sense of form and mass.
  • Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%).  I felt quite confident using charcoal for this drawing as I had developed knowledge of it’s limitations & its use from part one of the course.  It was the correct choice for this exercise, and achieves the effect that I wanted.
  • Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%).  I had a strong feeling that I wanted to play with the light/shade in this picture before I started it.  Creativity was mainly in how I used the media.

Part Two, Project 6, Exercise 2 -Composition – an interior

Look carefully at the angles and areas of your chosen interior view and note where objects are placed. Keep shifting your viewpoint until you find one that pleases you. Look for strong tonal contrasts, textures, linear qualities and strong positive and negative shapes.  Establish your observational position – standing, sitting on a chair or on the floor. Ensure you can work comfortably and see clearly.   

Make four quick sketches to outline basic shapes and map out tonal areas using a soft pencil, conté or charcoal. In each sketch shift your viewpoint or eye level. You’ll notice the apparent distortion of certain forms due to foreshortening. Vary your studies by shifting the viewpoint up or down, or moving in and out.

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The exercise instructions suggested doing these studies in both portrait and landscape format. As suggested I did find that the portrait format was more interesting in terms of perspective while the landscape format produces more of a sense of intimacy. In this case the landscape format definitely worked best as it gave more of a sense of the room and the context of the piano within it.

What worked: The landscape format was more of a complete composition.  The portrait look a little bereft to me- the piano standing alone.  I enjoyed using all three media- pencil, charcoal pencil and pen and liked that the effect produced by each one was different.  I enjoyed playing with the dramatic shading in each case.

What didn’t work: I should have taken more time to change my view more drastically and maybe to home in more on the objects in the room.  I think cutting off elements of the composition (like a photo does) would have made it look more interesting and less predictable.  I chose this interior view because I liked the light- it is fairly dark around the piano as natural light comes from windows at the other end of the room- but there is a sofa next to it which made it difficult to change my view too drastically without cutting off the piano completely.  the fireplace perspective in the landscape sketch  is not right- it slants away too steeply!

Part Two, Project 5, Exercise 4 -Using source material

The aim of this exercise is to start with a found image but then build on it to createsomething more personal. Find scientific and biological sources for animal anatomy in libraries and online; look for images that clearly show the mechanics of different animals’ bodies. Copy interesting images loosely, but make them into something more than a replica of someone else’s work by adding your own touches. Think about the parts that make up the whole, and about movement and stillness, emotion and detachment.

I used as my source material a picture of a Storm Petrel skeleton from a fabulously beautiful book called The Unfeathered Bird by Katrina van Grouw:    wilsons_storm_petrel-unfeathered_bird.jpg  (see link for book review http://www.birderslibrary.com/reviews/books/biology_behavior/unfeathered_bird.htm)

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I did a few sketches to explore the anatomy of the skeleton within a bird’s wind and to explore the shape of the wing when clothed in feathers.  I played around a little with coloured pencils to see if I could represent the texture of a feather but was a little disappointed.  I think my pencils needed to be sharper and I needed more patience to render the small details of the feather.

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Wilson’s Storm Petrel- Sepia charcoal pencil and coloured pencils on recycled cartridge paper (A3).  I enjoyed making the sketch of the skeleton, but got quite frustrated trying to put the feathers on the wing.  I just wanted to “clothe” the skeleton in one or two places, but having struggled with the wing I didn’t pursue this any further.  I had expected to enjoy this exercise but I found it frustrating and uninspiring.  This is probably reflected in the finished drawing- I had also intended to spend time making the water look beautifully still and lush!

As you work, think about some of the things you’ve already learned about – positive and negative spaces, measuring, gestural and expressive line, etc. – to help you create more interesting drawings.

Assessment criteria points

  • Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills (35%).  I did not use any devices to scale up the picture onto the A2 paper, I just drew by eye and the result was pretty accurate.  I struggled with the colour pencils- maybe it was because I wasn’t inspired by the subject matter?  Its a chicken or egg question- maybe I wasn’t inspired because I couldn’t get the effect I wanted out of my media?  The final drawing lacks life and is rather childish.
  • Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas (20%).  I think I had ideas- in my head this was going to be amazing, but it never got off the ground.  I enjoy looking at anatomical pictures (I studied Biology!) and am frustrated that I did not make more of this.
  • Demonstration of creativity – imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice (25%).  Maybe I chose the wrong picture?  It was difficult to make it my own because it was already drawn as if the bird were living and in action.  In the event I didn’t feel very creative and the picture reflects this.  I wish I had experimented more with media and concepts- I came at it with a strong idea of what I was going to achieve and when it didn’t work I was very deflated.