Six sketchbooks have been used for Drawing 1 of different shapes and sizes. Besides these a lot of preliminary work has been done on paper.
Six sketchbooks have been used for Drawing 1 of different shapes and sizes. Besides these a lot of preliminary work has been done on paper.
Overall Evaluation of Drawing 1. (paper copy also included in my assessment submission ).
The daily habit of drawing that has been fostered by this course has meant increased fluency and a growing confidence in being able to make a work based on observation. I need to continue to work at technical skills that are my main weakness. This means closer looking and slowing down. Accurate proportions, angles and perspective are all things to work on to make my drawings more life-like.
Drawing 1 has made me aware, with the help of my tutor, that a reasonable level of technical ability is necessary to move forward and produce dynamic drawings based on observation. These can then develop creatively in various directions. Previous to this course I had at times fallen into a way of working that was repetitive and produced monotony. The projects have helped me become more objective in my judgements whilst confirming that imagination and intuition are important. I love playing with materials and have done quite well with using diverse media. Ironically, a spontaneous looking drawing is often only rendered through careful control.
For some time I have been a keen visitor of art exhibitions but I had not looked carefully at drawings before this module. Frank Auerbach, Giocometti, Nikolai Astrup, and the British museum exhibition of silverpoint drawings made over the last 400 years have been highlights and shown me how versatile drawing can be.
A self-assessment of each part of the course was made in my log for Part 5. Suffice it to add here that although I have an interest in the figure and the environment I would like to develop drawings on all aspects that the course has covered and do not yet wish to follow any one line of enquiry.
So overall my awareness of composition, line, shape and texture has improved and my observational skills are developing. I have produced some expressive monochromatic work and had some success with collage and mixed media. Drawing 1 has set me off on a challenging path.
Child in a Garden.
My penultimate mixed-media drawing was more sombre than I wanted which may have been because there was not enough tonal variation. So, because of this, I chose a warm background to lighten up my final drawing . White tissue stuck onto thick paper was stained with an ochrish pink. I decided not to use gouache paint this time as there was a danger of this media making the surface too dull. Instead I used watercolour pencils ,green and pink painted newspaper, sepia, ochre and black ink plus pens and brushes, oil pastels and soft pastels, charcoal and chalk. It was a challenge working with all these materials, rather like a juggling act. I became absorbed and after the initial drawing let my intuition take over. Fom time to time I made objective assessments – was the drawing developing? Was there enough contrast of tone , line and shape? Were shapes and textures working? Were proportions right? Was there a mood? Was there a feeling of recession and , most importantly, did the whole thing continue to be kept together by a strong design? I eventually arrived at a point at which I felt line, shape, texture and tone were working dynamically to produce an atmospheric drawing. I had needed careful control to reach this point.
I was reminded when working of what Philip Pullman said about drawing:
“The best sort of activity is one that combines mental effort with sensuous delight. That’s why I love drawing”. (Oct. 3rd, 2015, Guardian Review )
Feedback from my tutor was that both my penultimate and final assignment ‘showed great possibilities for further development’. As I wanted these works to be the best that I could manage I decided to work on both pictures again. I started with the penultimate study and , as was suggested, made the figure blend in more with the background and enriched the tones.I followed the advice to darken the left hand top of Assignment 5 so that there would be greater tonal contrast. This led to other alterations and a more dramatic final piece. The two re-worked coloured drawings are below.
Penultimate study that has been re-worked.
Final re-worked Assignment 5.
I felt enthusiastic about this project so decided to make a concertina book of prints of Child in a Garden. This required another lot of drawing. I particularly wanted to capture the child so did several more studies then traced the one I thought might work onto a drypoint card and pulled some prints. I did six different drawings hoping to link each one in the concertina format with the path and have the child at the beginning and the shed at the end of the book. I was pleased I did it as it has set me off on other ways of developing this subject.
Using my drawings I made some drypoints which gave me ideas for my final project. I tried colouring one and immediately realised this would be a good way to proceed with my drawing – but using mixed media. I now became excited about the possibility of creating something fresh but aware I must keep in mind the observational work, the sense of a garden and a moving figure. Composition would always be a major concern. The complementaries of pinkish/red and different greens worked well but the drypoint also showed me that tonal contrast created atmosphere.
Now I felt ready to try a preliminary work on glued tissue .
I became stuck as to how to proceed and had a break from the project -I wasn’t satisfied with the preliminary work and was worried it was uninteresting. I wondered if I had picked the right subject. I was behind with my log and had computer problems so decided to write notes by hand and write up later- as I am doing now.
After a few days I tried a charcoal and pen and ink drawing of Rosa moving – had to be quick and also took a photo for quick reference. Her concentration as she carried an apple in one hand and a biscuit in the other was something worth working on.
The charcoal drawing worked better than the pen and ink one. From this I tried a monoprint and I began to feel I had something. I tried more monoprints of the garden using a pencil but these were a bit messy – however I could now see that my subject had expressive potential.
White tissue was glued to a heavyweight paper and left to dry overnight. Then a blue and ochre ink wash was brushed on and left to dry. This created a textured background with folds, dips and lines. By this time I knew the drawing quite well from memory -and I also I had the drypoint print by me for reference plus the 3 paintings , referred to in my artist’s statement, by Palmer, Colquhoun and Eardley.
I painted various greens in acrylic on newspaper as this surface tears well ,is thin and easy to stick. I also collected a few ‘found’ patterns from magazines. A few bits of this paper I stuck onto the ground at random and was ready to go. I worked between media as much as possible, so a line of ink there, a charcoal smudge here, paint, oil pastel and so on. I think this is important because if one works over the whole of the picture say in pen first, then moves to charcoal, then pastel and so on, there is a danger of producing a monotonous effect. I had discovered that working with a lot of media means working thoughtfully and slowly.
I became involved with this work as things were happening that I had not anticipated. Although not a transcription Ithe piece seemed to me to have similarities to Church Lench.
I had not planned it but I tried gluing the figure onto the picture and , to my surprise, it looked right . However in my final piece I thought the child would be more integrated if drawn in the garden.
I was worried there was not enough tonal contrast and the piece was too sombre, but I wasn’t sure about this so decided I would leave it for a day or two and then criticise it again. This I did and felt as the lead up to my final piece it worked ok and had given me ideas as to what not to do- the main one being not to use gouache as it had the danger of being too dominant a media.
To explore the subject of a child in a garden I first made a continuous line study and a tonal work- all quite quickly drawn.
I tried sketching a figure and could see that her placing would be important – certainly not right in this initial sketch.
I then went onto make a tonal study and felt there were possibilities for creating mood.
On another day I tried doing a sketchbook walk around the garden in the manner of John Virtue using a watercolour black pencil to create dramatic tones. I liked a particular angle with the shed receding and the foliage all around it. Robert Colquhoun’s Church Lench and Palmer’s A Hilly Walk are both a little mysterious and full of lush foliage.
Experimenting with Tissue. I had seen a work in a book that featured Craig Peacocks’, Rite f Spring, 1993, mixed media, in which he had created texture by gluing thin sheets of tissue paper onto the support.( Wright, M. (1995, An Introduction to mixed media, p. 34, Dorling Kindersley, London). The creases of the tissue created pattern and movement . I experimented in my sketchbook and could see possibilities for using this surface for my final piece. I also looked Craig Peacock up and saw that he often uses patterned surfaces. I printed out Flotsam and Jetsam (http://www.saatchiart.com/art/Painting-Flotsam-Jetsam-2/10483/2181218/view ) and put into my sketchbook for reference. Eardley, Colquhoun and Palmer all use texture in their work with stunning effect .
After feedback from my tutor that many of my drawings were lacking in tonal differences (apart from the sketchbook walk which he thought was successful ) I reworked many of the drawings to emphasise tonal contrasts. This made the drawings more dramatic.
Figure study using line
After feedback from my tutor I decided to have another go at the first task of Assignment 4. The tutor had pointed out that I had captured the models’ expression well but had exaggerated her smallness too much. This was a fair comment as the dimunitive size detracted from the face and made it rather like a caricature. On my third try I attempted to keep the face similar but I did a lot more careful measuring and went much slower. I tried to use different weights of line and kept more or less to the original composition.
Making a Transcription.
I liked Richard Diebenkorn’s Seated Woman, Patterned Dress, 1966. Diebenkorn is interested in diagonals and the main emphasis, although based on observation, is the way the figure divides up the rectangle. By leaving part of the head and feet out of the picture this interest in composition is emphasised.
I tried a transcription and was struck by the strong diagonals and the use of tone that Diebenkorn has used. It is the placing of the figure and the leaving out of the top and bottom of the model that produces such an arresting drawing – it had the effect of making me ‘look again’.
My proposal for Assignment 5 is to investigate line, shape and texture by making a mixed media study of a child in a garden. The starting point for this subject will be my own environment (part 2) combined with the figure and the face (part 5). The work will be made with reference to Samuel Palmer, (1805-1881) Robert Colquhoun (1914-1962) and Joan Eardley (1921-1963).
In particular the paintings A Hilly Scene, (c.1826-8)(http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/palmer-a-hilly-scene-n058051825-6,
by Samul Palmer,
Church Lench, (1941), by Robert Colquhoun, http://thorsteinulf.tumblr.com/post/28136446751/robert-colquhoun-church-lench-1942
Children and Chalked Wall (1962-3) by Joan Eardley, https://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/artists-a-z/e/artist/joan-eardley/object/children-and-chalked-wall-3-gma-853
are all works that have inspired me and which I shall have recourse to.
There are a number of reasons why I shall reference these three artists. Samuel Palmers’ A Hilly Scene Palmer has a decorative surface and a sense of rhythm about it. Tone and texture are important elements in this painting. In Church Lench Robert Colquhoun also conjures up an evocative mood .He concentrates on shape and a limited palette to create a semi-abstract work that speaks of the abundance of Nature. Joan Eardley in Children and Chalked Wall combines collage with mixed media . Her materials perfectly suit her subject of the slum children of Glasgow in the 1940’s . She portrays both children and their environment in a convincing and unsentimental way.
Drawing my garden and drawing my grandchild on the move is bound to throw up unexpected aspects of the familiar. I plan to do a sketchbook walk of the garden after the manner of John Virtue. I will also do several sketchbook studies of my garden and my grandchild and then combine the two. These drawings will require close observation. I will make some monoprints and drypoints as these often give me ideas. The placing of the child will be crucial given the importance of composition.
The format will be a near square. Gluing tissue to thickish paper should create an irregular textured background and I will experiment with this before embarking on the final project Collage, pen, ink, brush, ink tense coloured pencils, dry and oil pastels, charcoal, chalk and gouache will be the materials I will employ. I will try and limit the colour to the complementaries of red and green.
I will start by depicting a real scene but then allow my imagination to run. I will try and be objective as I progress. Some of the questions I will ask will be:
1) Does the drawing draw attention to line, shape and texture.
2) Is there enough tonal contrast?
3) Do the complementary colours of red and green bring about certain effects?
4) Does the composition work?
5) Does the piece have a mood?
6) What are its weaknesses? What are its strengths?
7) Would the spectator be drawn into the picture and be interested enough to ask ‘What is going on – is there a story here’?
Finally, inspired by the work of Palmer, Colquhoun and Eardley, I will try to translate what I see into a visual language that makes the ‘ordinary’ into something special.