A lovely afternoon so went up to a small farm and drew horse and sheep in the field. Used charcoal to begin with and then blue/black ink and pastels – very challeging using the ink which required water, brush, reed and nibbed pen. Sun was beginning to set so worked quickly hoping to capture something of the dusky atmosphere – felt I did to some extent. Love drawing from live animals but extremely challenging – want to do more of this and learn more about their skeletons which will help me define the forms. Felt though a good afternoon.
Decided to look at Renaissance paintings that include animals. With this in mind looked again at The Artists Eye –in which Bridget Riley looks particularly at the composition and colour of 6 ‘Masterpieces’- not a fashionable term thesadays! Riley looks at one painting each by Titian, Veronese, El Greco. Rubens, Poussin and Cezanne -it is an absolutely fascinating criticism of these works in which much of Riley’s language could apply to music. For example she talks of rhythms, counterpoints. orchestration, beats, modulations and pitch. Diagonals , horizontals, verticals and ‘circular movements’ are also pointed out. I looked again at one of my favourites by Titian , Bacchus and Ariadne and made a quick transciption of the animals. An example of the informed, intellegent analysis is Riley’s response to how the unity of the painting achieved. ” (to paraphrase- Titian achieves unity “by building the painting up according to those very factors which would seem most likely to tear it apart. What I mean is that he works through an intuitive logic of oppositions, distinguishing and simultaneously relating every inch of the canvas in a continuous web of contrasts, echoes, reversals , repetitions and inversions….” This seems to be to show how painting is a creative process that cannot be broken down into rules. Transcription in sketchbook of the animals in Titians Bacchus and Ariadne. Painted between 1520-22. The painting is held together by the great ‘shout’ of blue, each part interlocks with the other so there seems to be a ‘pulse’ going on throughout the painting – all linked to a narrative but, as Bridget Riley shows, can be talked about solely in abstract terms.
Camel skull drawn in Canterbury museum – the only skull they had. Used watercolour pencil which seemed a good medium as tones defined by these and good to use on the spot.
Drawing of shellls and stuffed bird in Canterbury library.
Drawing of Skeleton that inhabits the painting studio I go to on Saturdays at the Mary Ward centre in London.
Fascinating and very difficult to draw but managed to fit it into an A2 portait sized paper using inks. Inks created a sense of drama as did the directional lines.
Exercise 1 -Line drawing of animal done after several studies. Chose one of my two cats – found this difficult and whenn
finsihed that it would have been better to make the chair and cat smaller and put them within a more recognisable environment.
Quick drawings of chickens at Hackney City Farms- as suggested start with one and then go back and forth as chickens move around.
Research point. Paula Rego- Disturbing images-even the cat and guinea pig are disconcerting in their affinity to pictures for children but one feels they are totally unsuitable for youngsters. Every picture does seem to tell a story. The central image here-and potentially violent- rendering of a girl and dog uses darks in the foreground and lights in the background to dramatic effect. The position of the dying man and woman in a setting that has gone amok highlights the drama here as does the cat crossing their path.
Other Artist’s work on animals and birds.
Michael Rothenstein.Lots of movement created by rapid curving lines -scale creates a sense of the cockerel as a dominant force.
Line drawings of sheep by Henry Moore give a sense of their volume and texture of their wool – different directions of the line delineate the different spaces.
Chagall and his renditions of animals with figures, Gwen John’s drawings of cats plus Gwen John’s work also comes to mind.
Animals are often used symbolically.
Chagall Green Donkey
Berthe Morisot: Young girl with cat.
Mixed ochre, sienna and brown to get the tone i wanted. Probably a mistake as then found difficult to stick to strict monochrome. Find monochrome expressive. I worked up the tones gradually starting with dark, medium and light tones and then extending these. The spotlight that lit the still life was useful creating shadows that helped give a sense of 3 dimensions.
Had two attempts. First try was a still life using lots of media – pen and ink, wax crayon, charcoal, coloured pencils,
pastels, felt-tip pens. Enjoyed mixing the media but used one after the other – on reflection felt it would have been more creative to constantly interchange the media – and more difficult. Paper was too thin and quickly wore through in place so had to patch up – result was disappointing not sure why – possibly subject matter not quite right but experimenting was fun.
Second attempt. This time had a more organised approach. Based on the experience of the last attempt I decided to mix the media all the time – so one line created with ink followed by a patch of tone in charcoal and so on. This made me very attentive to the surface and had to adapt all the time as things were suggested. More satisfied with this attempt although felt the composition was not quite right in that there were too many things along the base of the picture. Liked the squarish format though.
Had 3 attempts at still life with line – two on dresser (a found still life) and one setting up natural objects – conkers, apples etch.
Loved using dip pen and ink which I find expressive – this is maybe because of the different weights of line . Compostition of dresser worked best but did crop it – natural objects – had to add to it to make the composition work as felt too much space initially in the foreground. Tempted to put in washes but resisted this and hatched areas where I wanted to suggest more depth.
Tonal study – not used to pastels and found them difficult to use – missed the line. 3 tones – this was also difficult to stick to although felt on completion had roughly got a dark, medium and light tone – confusion is with colour so working in monochrome will make this clearer. Overall thought this study was a bit monotonous perhaps because not enough variety of marks.
Coloured pencils to create a tonal drawing with strong darks.
Cross-hatching, dots, sprirally lines overlapping all produced different effects.
Which drawing media was most effective for which effects?
Coloured inks with felt tips produced the strongest contrasts and most dramatic effects.
M ore interesting compositions might be by bringing the objects closer and making the background recede more.
Diagonals make interesting compositions.
Could have a large foreground space and objects in the distance.
Coloured pencils were softer and produced a lighter effect. Black marker pen good for detail and strong lines.
A short but inspiring bit of writing in Guardian Review on Sat. Oct 3rd to celebrate drawing events throughout the country.
Starts: ‘The best sort of activity is one that combines mental effort with sensuous delight. That’s why I love drawing. The sheer physical pleasure of making a line with a good pencil on paper with enough tooth, or roughness,to put up a little resistance is inexhaustible……….’