- Figure study using line (A1)- Seated model in an upright chair.
I had done several preparatory sketches of my friend, Lois, so developed these into an A1 (or thereabouts) study. I made two attempts because in my first try the head was too big but, after quite a long consideration, I decided this first try was the better work because it expressed her strong personality. Although Lois is petite (nearly 5ft) she has a resonant voice and expressive eyes ; she is someone who is difficult to ignore.
I have also been influenced by cubist and expressionistic portraits by some notable artists. Here are two (of many) examples from Picasso, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.
2. Figure Study using tone (A1) Reclining model.
I tried a combination of tone and collage for this study because the model’s particularly languid pose suggested pattern as well as tone. I tried to capture the particular slant of the body and the way her hand flopped down in a distinctive way. This presented a problem and I found it very difficult to get the hand as I wanted it.
Preliminary study .
My final piece .
I tried a portrait from memory of a girl in my art class .
She is young and bubbly and creates (mostly with paint) unusual pictures that seem to come from her imagination. She is always keen to tell people stories about her work. Looking at my attempt I think I have captured something of her liveliness but perhaps a background of the art room or of some of her pictures would have been a good idea. It was difficult drawing Tina from memory but made me think about qualities she had that make her unique.
I tried some drypoint prints from drawings of my son, daughter-in-law and my first grandchild. In each print there was a resemblance to the sitters. I made several versions -all different.
Exhibition visited – Nikolai Astrup at Dulwich picture gallery.
I was struck in this exhibition by the way Astrup linked paintings and prints. The coloured prints looked like paintings and the paintings at times inspired prints. The large garden oil paintings with figures reminded me of the work of Vuillard.
I found the black and white self-portrait interesting with its range of marks that added up to an expressive figure. It’s encouraged me to have a try at making some lino prints from one of my self-portrait drawings.
I stood for one portrait and sat for the other. I found it helpful to start with the eyes otherwise the shape of the head was difficult to get accurate.
My first attempt – in my sketchbook was with black and grey inktense pencils to which I added a wash. I felt this first sketch was too square on and background was minimal because not much was visible although standing in a hall.
2nd attempt was rendered in charcoal and decided on a different spot sitting at a table with a wall quite close behind me. This time the tilt of the head was exaggerated but still nearer to the way I hold my head. Other people thought there was a glimpse of a likeness .Research point – self-portraits.
Joan Eardley when young – the light touch and colours gives it a feeling of time passing.
John Minton – self-portrait. Tone and line combine to create this portrait of
a troubled artist.
John Constable- self-portrait.
John Constable needed two mirrors to make his graphite self-portrait in 1806 – the freedom of line that he used makes it look quite modern .
I looked at some of the many self-portraits by Rembrandt – it inspired me to try many different expressions for my own self-portraits. Rembrandt’s portraits are direct and truthful and have a sense of humanity about them.
I found this self-portrait by Bonnard moving – the undefined features and stark colour create an emotional intensity.
Kirchner and Karl Schmidt -Rottluff are two Expressionist painters who have interested me for years. The Kirchner self-portrait with model has impact created by the colours and composition.Also looked at Tracey Emin, Graham Little and Elizabeth Peyton among others.
The Tracey Emin portrait was amusing and showed her playing with expressions. This contrasted with the Graham Little highly skilled and atmospheric portrait.
Ex. 1 Facial features – drawing separate features was weird because one always sees them within the context of the whole face. The exercise revealed the enormous variety of features. Here are some of my attempts – put in the back of my home-made sketchbook.
I drew a face from a model in my life class and then her profile. The face is not symmetrical. Thinking about portraiture what defines the person is more than the sum of her/his features- something intangible hat maybe no other art form can match. Unlike a novel in which the complexities and contradictions of a character can be explored a portrait has an immediacy that creates a presence.
Ex. 1: Single moving figure. 1) Sweeping and 2) Computing.. Both involved a figure moving which was difficult to capture because so quick. Slightly easier with the computer as movement less vigorous – felt I had got the figures upright posture that defined how she sat – and the concentration.
Ex. 2: Groups of figures. I have a friendly new Italian neighbour who is a belly dancer and she invited me to come and draw the class she runs – this was challenging but goodpractice. It was very difficult to capture the dancing and found quick , almost abstract marks the best way..
Also , over several weeks, I did a lot of drawings of figures moving around the art room at the Mary Ward centre . I found it useful to repeat the drawing of the environment and of course each time there were different figures moving around. Each drawing was different but built on the others as I became more certain of what I wanted to put in and leave out. For example the pop-art poster was something I wanted to include each time as I felt it added a light hearted touch and also I got interested in including different stances – there was often someone leaning over for instance and pulling out a board. These different stances added to the composition. I used different media -one below in pen had a cartoon character.
Research Looked at Richard Hambleton – movement works well with silhouette type drawings – rather like ink blobs The lines also add to the sense of jumping.
Edgar Degas in his chalk and pastel drawing of Seated Woman Adjusting her Hair captures the movement through the way the back is twisted round and the arms. The medium lends itself to this by having no defined edges.