Essential Elements

It’s quite challenging to capture proportion and the three-dimensional feel but these two sketches go some way to attempting both. I like the first pose, perhaps because I was able to get the face in a loose way although she is floating a little. I like the twisted posture, I can feel the position quite well and the proportions aren’t too far off.

The second image I also like, I think I captured the volume of the body well and the proportions look good to my eye. The head is possibly too small as she had that turned so I need to look at the head closer going further.

Photo 13-10-2017, 11 24 32

10 minute sketch in charcoal

This was quite a closed posture so was tricky to draw, there was a lot of crossing of limbs which was pretty challenging to know where to start! It was a tight pose and I have drawn it too small. I should have drawn her bigger, somehow in trying to capture it I have drawn smaller without realising. I’ve made her look a bit cross too but that’s because I am not good on the details yet but I am quite happy with the overall drawing. There are a few elements of error but overall I think it works because the pose is an interesting one.

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10 minute sketch

Normally I start the drawing from the head and shoulders but this time I decided to draw the legs first. As a consequence I have made them too long in length so I had to compensate by giving her a longer torso. However, I like the stance, and the turn of her head, in spite of the proportional errors I think I have captured her leaning posture, maybe the arms are not long enough but I think she looks quite elegant in my version!

Photo 13-10-2017, 11 25 54

1o minute sketch in charcoal

I really like this sketch, I think I have captured a good pose, complete with foreshortened legs, which are always tricky! This model did a few yoga poses for us, she really was sitting this upright. There’s a little bit of confusion around her tummy and right arm but this paper does not erase well so there is a bit of smudging, but I don’t mind that. is her neck too long? I notice sometimes I don’t allude to the neck much so not sure if I am overcompensating or not looking properly, it’s hard to reflect on something that happened a couple of weeks ago but I should take the neck into consideration also.

I think this may give the best sense of the pose as it is quite straightforward, fairly simple but captures the essence of the pose perfectly. I didn’t overwork it either which can be a problem for me sometimes.

I missed my class this week so decided to try one of the online videos from the Croquis Cafe for a sixth pose. I was able to find a model posing for ten minutes. The first problem I found was that I needed to use a smaller pad (A4) to sketch from so I could see the screen well enough. I actually found this harder than drawing from life. I usually draw on A2 in class and I like the freedom to move, the smaller size does make me feel a little confined. I think it’s good practice though to try and draw on different sized paper from time to time.

I also chose to do a male model as I have only drawn females so far.

Photo 13-10-2017, 14 12 15

10 minute pencil sketch

It takes a few quick sketches before you get the sense of the body so it took me a while to get the shape of the body here. Typically I don’t use an eraser as I am focused on finding the line, an eraser slows me down and distracts me.

The arms look different lengths, and I’ve lost his neck (this is obviously an area to think about in future, I’m only noticing it now as I’m writing up this exercise). This drawing is the one I’m least happy about it, I did find it harder than drawing from life. Before I launched into the ten minute sketch I should have done some two minute ones to get familiar with the body first.

It takes a little while to become accustomed to the models’ bodies so I think the model I have drawn most has been better represented here. I will get the opportunity to draw the male model in a few weeks’ time so I am looking forward to improving on my male figures!

Generally speaking I am happy with all of the poses, I think I have captured the movement and posture fairly well. I am enjoying this part of the course so far.

 

 

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Basic Shapes

Starting with a two minute sketch of the model seating in a chair. As always with a fast sketch like this, I’m just trying to capture the basic shapes, attempting to get the proportions right. When there is a complex pose, i.e. anything with crossed limbs, it throws me off a little to begin with, and there is no time to capture detail.

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2 minute charcoal

The legs aren’t too bad, the arms not so good but I feel like I got the positioning of the legs almost right.

This next one is a seated twist posture.

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3 minute pencil sketch

The proportions are off here but the twisted posture seems ok but doesn’t flow that well. Something about the shoulder seems wrong but not too bad an attempt, I actually managed to get the head facing in a different direction which helps give the appearance of the twisted body. At a quick glance, I feel the essence of the pose is there but when you look more closely there are a lot of errors here.

Another model, another twisted position, in a four minute sketch:

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4 minute sketch

This feels more realistic to me than many of the other drawings, I feel like I got the solidity of the figure with a nice twist to the side.

I got to do this again in a slightly longer, 15 minute sketch:

Photo 06-10-2017, 10 07 25

15 minute charcoal sketch

I encountered some issue with the foreshortening of the legs but I am happy with the body’s posture. I feel this is a good representation of the model and the pose. I am happy with the solidity and volume here, overall I think it is a good representation of the moment.

This is an earlier sketch from my first class, a 10 minute pose:

 

Photo 25-09-2017, 10 24 46

10 minute charcoal sketch

It is a difficult pose to capture, this is not too bad an attempt, I think maybe the proportion of the limbs is a little bit off but I like the twist in the pose.

Finally, a longer pose of 25 minutes allowed me to capture the model leaning over, whilst seated:

Photo 06-10-2017, 10 07 54

25 minute sketch

In spite of all the little problem areas here, I like this pose. The legs caught me out majorly, I think I have the right knee in the wrong place and it is too straight, even though it was very straight, it does look wrong. The left thigh also looks a little odd, again the foreshortening really messed with my brain even though I was really trying to think in shapes that I could see it’s a challenging position to capture. I think you can feel the weight coming towards you as the model leans in, which I like.

There are a few areas that need working on, still need to keep an eye on proportions but foreshortening is one to work on for sure.

 

RESEARCH Foreshortening

The Tate Gallery defines foreshortening as “the technique of depicting an object or human body in a picture so as to produce an illusion of projection or extension in space.” Essentially it is a technique to create the illusion of depth.

We were asked to lounge on a couch with a mirror at the foot end and then attempt to draw the body. This was not an easy exercise. I don’t actually own too many mirrors and none of them were really suitable for the job at hand, being too small to see much. Anyway, I endeavoured and here is a quick sketch:

Photo 09-10-2017, 10 47 51

foreshortening sketch

The mirror wasn’t big enough to get much more than the feet in so I struggled to get some context in here. The feet are obviously larger than the rest of the body, my left foot in particular seems larger then the other one, that’s because I had to bend my right foot to see into the mirror! It was a bit of a disaster but it illustrates the foreshortening effect created by looking at your feet from a distance so that they are closer and therefore larger than the rest of the body.

Afterwards I watched this short video from the Croquis Cafe website which is quite useful, see this link. This website is also useful to practice drawing models and has tips on foreshortening.

Perhaps the most useful advice I received was to focus on the negative space when drawing the difficult parts, i.e. foreshortened limbs and hands and feet. I am still working on these as they are notoriously difficult. I think these areas are especially challenging because we know what they look like but when looking at them front on they don’t look how we think they should.

Probably a better way to look at foreshortening is to look at well known examples from art history.

The Lamentation over the Dead Christ, Andrea Mantegna, 1490

Believed to be painted around 1490, the is a brilliant use of perspective to create the sensation that we are standing at the foot of the bed, with an incredible view of Christ’s body, so that one of the first things we see is the holes in his feet. It creates a very dramatic effect which serves to emphasise the tragedy. It was an unusual perspective for the time, but a very effective one, it makes us feel cramped as if we are in the tomb with him. Foreshortening creates depth and we can feel the physicality of the body from the feet to the face, we see the suffering and pain and are reminded of Christ’s humanity.

Luca Signorelli, Man on a Ladder, (1504-5)

This is a fragment of a much larger work of the Lamentation of Christ, this is the man who took the nails out of the body. Signorelli was clearly a master of foreshortening and the human body as he perfectly captures the man on a ladder, in a fairly complex pose.

A Supine Male Nude, Turner, The Tate, (c.1799-1805)

Turner made a few studies of foreshortening, probably as pre-sketches for paintings.

Pere Borrell del Caso, Escaping Criticism (1874)

This painter used the device of trome l’oeil to look as if the boy is climbing out of the frame. He tricks the eye to create an optical illusion that blurs the boundary between make believe and reality.

John William Waterhouse, Saint Eulalia , 1885

Eualalia was martyred for refusing to honour the Roman Gods, and her young body lies half-naked in the snow. The foreshortening technique is again used for dramatic effect, the body of Eualalia points directly towards the centre of the painting which is empty, an effect that leads the eye straight back to the stricken Eulalia. She looks pure and serene, surrounded by doves despite a rather cruel death in reality that Waterhouse did not depict.

Andre Dunoyer, Nude with a Newspaper, 1921

It gives us an intimate view of this nude with real focus given to the body, the face is covered with the newspaper. This also seems to have been a preparatory painting for another work.

Even now it is a technique used to great effect, and Jenny Saville uses it for distortion, a statement on bodies and how we see them. In Plan, the viewer looks up, the body looks large and it’s a comment how how women are made to feel enormous in today’s society. It’s interesting because she uses her own body to work from, she’s a regular sized person, she is the artist and she is the viewer. She’s purposefully moving away from the idealised nude that has dominated western art for centuries, painting women in a realistic but exaggerated way. There is no background, the emphasis is on the body, discussing beauty in a man-made world.

RESOURCES

Andrew Wilton, ‘A Supine Male Nude, Seen Foreshortened c.1799–1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, May 2013, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, April 2016, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/research-publications/jmw-turner/joseph-mallord-william-turner-a-supine-male-nude-seen-foreshortened-r1178136, accessed 09 October 2017

Davies, Hunter, This is Jenny, Independent, 1st March 1994,

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/interview-this-is-jenny-and-this-is-her-plan-men-paint-female-beauty-in-stereotypes-jenny-saville-1426296.html

 

A Longer Study

In my life drawing class the longest pose available is thirty minutes so I am going to post a few that I have done.

This is a fifteen minute study, using charcoal, no erasing:

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15 minute charcoal sketch

I like this pose and I think I captured its characteristics quite well, it has the volume and presence that makes it a believable study. The proportions look good to my eye. I find that in class it takes a few attempts to get anywhere near the proportions and this was done after several quick studies.

A longer study of the same model, this time 25 minutes, also in charcoal:

Photo 06-10-2017, 10 07 54

25 minute charcoal sketch

Whilst I am quite satisfied with the body, I encountered a few problems, the legs don’t look right, the model’s right knee looks too low and the left upper thigh doesn’t look right, the dreaded foreshortening has caught me out here. I did have a problem getting the chin right as she was looking down so the angle was difficult to recreate accurately, but I am happy that I managed to get some facial features in at all as I have been having problems with this area too. Feet are also challenging and her left foot looks a bit awkward here so plenty of things to work on but overall I think I have given a good sense of the pose of the body.

This is my longest study so far, which was for thirty minutes. My main aim here was to focus on proportions and line. I did not use an eraser but instead used a white compressed charcoal stick to ‘erase’ errors and highlight some areas.

Photo 06-10-2017, 10 18 40

30 minute sketch in compressed charcoal

This shows improvement, I couldn’t see her right foot so well so that seems a little incorrect and I’m not sure I got the size of her head in proportion but I’m not far off so am pleased with my progress so far. It is a very challenging exercise as is there a lot to think about. I have a tendency to just launch into the drawing but I am trying to take time to look first, especially in the longer studies, and also pretend to draw the figure on the paper before committing with the charcoal. I think it is helping. I also found it quite helpful to place the shoulders first for some reason, and draw the torso before I do the legs. In another drawing I did the legs first and she ended up with super long legs, where I then had to lengthen the torso to make it look realistic! I need to do a bit more reading. I got a great book from the library called Anatomy Made Simple for Artists by Jonathan Freemantle which looks ideal for this topic.

 

Quick Studies

I was absolutely delighted to finally find a life drawing workshop after looking all summer. I had a two hour introductory workshop and afterwards was so happy to discover the tutor organised a regular life drawing session, so I can only hope to get some great experience from this.

We didn’t quite cover exactly what was prescribed in the instructions but more or less followed a brief of quick studies followed by longer studies.

This is a one minute sketch:

Photo 04-10-2017, 11 47 17

1 minute sketch in charcoal

These sketches were all done in 2 minutes each:

 

Sorry for the bad quality images, I have such bad lighting for photography. The first one is in pink crayon so it very pale.

The two standing poses were a little more successful in representing proportions, the seated one is a mixture of sizes.

These were also two minute sketches from a different class:

 

 

Then two longer studies, both for ten minutes each:

 

It’s funny how changing the position leads you to making errors, the torso is too long in the lying down sketch and I didn’t have time to draw the blanket she was resting on.

The second sketch isn’t too bad considering the differing angles. The proportions are slightly better.

Two more from a later session:

 

There were obvious difficulties in getting the proportion right as this is new to me I tried not worry too much about the details but rather focused on getting the volume and general body shape right. I really tried to observe well before drawing and also look at the model a lot whilst drawing. I haven’t really considered planes before but I did encounter a few problems with the different body shapes. Am so grateful though that the models are so different, they have different bodies but are both so great to draw. The models have blown me away with their posing skills, it has been such a great experience.

Life drawing clearly requires lots of practice so I am trying to attend this informal class weekly, going forward I will need to learn how to do hands, feet and faces and also foreshortening is going to be an issue!

 

How the Depiction of Nudes has Changed

The depiction of nudes has changed somewhat over the centuries, an important factor seems to be the context in which they were created. They are a visual product of their time.

One of the earliest depictions of a female nude was the Willendorf Venus (30-25,000 B.C.), which has been assumed to be a fertility figure. It soon becomes clear that the male nude, although popular in Ancient Greece and Rome, is not as evident as the female. It will also become evident that the way the nude is depicted is different for both sexes.

In ancient Egypt women were considered to be equal to men and held positions of power, yet in the artwork from that time they were more frequently pictured nude whilst the men were clothed. Females were idealised, shown as youthful and attractive, how they aimed to be in the afterlife. Later on they became linked to their fathers and husbands, surrounded by family to underline the role of motherhood and their procreative purpose in life.

Even in Indian Temple Art of the 1st Century B.C., females were represented by voluptuous nudes as a religious representation of fertility deities. The woman’s role is very clear.

For the Greeks the female form was not as important as the male, who epitomised the best in humanity. Men were muscular and attractive, showing off their strength and youth, setting ideals physically and morally. The male nude was a champion, triumphant and glorious, so admired that he came to represent the Gods of their religious beliefs. Women were baby-makers and homemakers so the same ideals did not apply to them so they did not feature much.

It wasn’t until 4th Century B.C. that the sculptor Praxiteles created the first life-size female statue in the form of Aphrodite (of Knidos), based on mathematical ratios and idealised proportions. The pose suggests she is observed whilst bathing which suggests a possible erotic element.

By the Middle Ages, when Christianity became the dominant religion concerns of morality made the nude fall out of favour, chastity and celibacy became a theme. Nudity was used to show weakness and shame, especially in the case of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where the woman is allocated the role of the temptress.

It was during the Renaissance that the nude became acceptable again as interest grew in Greek and Roman culture. The nude became symbolic of this antiquity and its rebirth.

Donatello was able to use this Classical view in the biblical figure of David (c.a. 1140, Bargello, Florence), which was the first free-standing nude male for centuries, and also seen in Michelangelo’s statue of David (1501-4, Accademia, Florence). Certainly the male nude was deemed worthy of artistic pursuit. Nudes then started to be added to religious paintings, as in the Sistine Chapel’s frescoes.

In thirteenth century Italy nudity became a respectable art theme but it wasn’t until the fifteenth century that drawing from life became a regular part of art school practice. It was only men that were allowed to be models, artists used them for female representations also by modifying them slightly.

By the sixteenth century Leonard da Vinci became very interested in anatomy. His Vitruvian Man demonstrates his understanding of proportion, combining maths and art. It was suggested that the workings of the human body were representative of the workings of the universe.

Thus the idealised nude became the norm to represent great historical, mythological and religious scenes in order to extol heroism and virtue.

By the sixteenth century Titian used nudes to recall the lost Golden Age and introduced them to landscape settings. His work was also idealised but increasingly sensual.

Females nudes saw a comeback too in the form of Venus, mythology was a way to incorporate the female nude into art. See Titian’s Venus of Urbino (c. 1534, Galleria deglia Uffizi, Florence). Interestingly, the Goddess is shown reclining in a domestic interior, we see no signs or symbols to represent Venus, but mainly this is a sensual rendering, she is  lying, waiting,  appealing to the (male) viewer.

Hereafter there were numerous nudes in various poses but the majority were designed to seduce the male viewer, notably in the work of Lucas Cranach. In the Judgement of Paris,  his three nudes show us different poses, still not naturalistic but reflective of the times.

By the seventeenth century nudes became a little more naturalistic in the work of Gentileschi’s Susanna and the Elder, perhaps it took a woman to observe more closely the realities of a woman’s body.

In the eighteenth century nudes were treated in more frivolous surroundings, and more provocative poses. Manet’s Olympia was intended to shock rather than idealise, the model looks defiantly at the viewer, it is suggested she is a prostitute, perhaps the realism of the situation is the shocking part.

By the nineteenth century Impressionism, often regarded as feminine in style with its diffuse romantic light, Renoir’s sensuous Nude Seated on a Sofa was depicted in a modern setting.

Modigliani’s nudes saw a changing representation where the body became simplified into a set of shapes, lines and colours. Yet they were not realistic with their swan necks and blank expressions, set in angular faces. Their lack of expression means they are still inactive objects.

By 1907 Picasso with his Demoiselles d’Avignon, deliberately subverts the Classical idealisation of the nude with the depiction of four prostitutes in provocative poses, wearing masks and allusion so classical drapes. He also starts to study form in his Cubist works, representing reality in a new and different manner.

Egon Schiele’s figurative and distortive style fully embraced nudes, male and female, his sexual works  edged towards pornography with his graphic depictions of nudes and self-portraits. His Kneeling Nude With Raised Hands is considered one of the most important nudes of the century. His works also contained a psychological element, the viewer is almost challenged to really look at the subject and look beyond the superficial.

Schiele was hugely influenced by Klimt, who was one of the few artists to depict women at different stages, not just the young and beautiful, but showed pregnancy, aging and loss of beauty to express the normal, more realistic cycle of life. Klimt’s works were considered more peaceful than Schiele’s, see The Three Ages of Women.

The twenty-first century saw artists looking for different ways to represent the nude. Lucien Freud with his complete lack of idealisation, his almost stark, realistic style suggesting contemplation and vulnerability in his subjects. See his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping.

Jenny Saville, a contemporary artist taking on a new realism with her figurative representations of the female body. Her works are large scale and seem to specialise in texture. In Branded, we see an obese women holding her skin, showing it off. Saville has painted her own face onto the body, its features exaggerated. See also Plan, the body has pre-surgery lines drawn all over it as if seen before plastic surgery.  The very physicality of her work suggests the difference between how we look and what we really think about our bodies.

There are so many great paintings of nudes it is hard to include them all. The way the female nude has been depicted has changed more than that of the male, from representing fertility and motherhood, to being synonymous with sin, guilt and shame, and later sexuality. Nearly all of the women were depicted for men to look at them, to be available to men. The male were simply lauded for physical strength and moral rectitude.

It’s funny to think that initially women were hidden away, behind clothing and then always with their families or husbands, attached to the family in a possessive way, as in the patriarchal family.

Yet women were also seen as caretakers and mothers, before they seem to have landed on the most popular one that is hardest to shake, that of the sexual object, the object of desire whilst men were warriors and leaders, women were objectified and sexualised.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, going back in history women did not have the same rights as men, they couldn’t even study art in the same way and not seriously, that was not appropriate. Women had a lot of different barriers to climb over.

It surprising how many female bodies are displayed in galleries but not that many female artists are represented, even now. Museums and galleries are still set up to be looked upon by the male eye, suggesting that creating art has been, and remains a mostly male pursuit.

 

References

Berger, John, London, BBC and Penguin Books, Ways of Seeing

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/nuan/hd_nuan.htm

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/numr/hd_numr.htm

https://www.dundee.ac.uk/museum/exhibitions/djcad/lifestudy/graves/

http://www.belmont.edu/burs/pdf/Art%20History-Samuelsen.pdf

http://www.widewalls.ch/artist/egon-schiele/

 

 

Emphasising Form with Cloth

I was trying all weekend to get somebody to pose for me and, with one thing and another it didn’t happen.

I decided to try drawing from a photo but could not find anything suitable online until I found something I could work with in a women’s magazine.

The woman seems to be wearing a soft jumper and silky skirt, it could even be a dress, I’m not sure.

Photo 25-09-2017, 14 48 27

pencil sketch

 

I had a few problems as not all of her body was shown so I had to finish it off using my imagination, in the photo there is another woman leaning into her so the right hand side of the image is hard to distinguish.

I fear I have made her a little bit shapeless, and possibly a little broader than reality but it’s not too bad. I have erased her left side and reworked it a little to make her a little slimmer.

I did not pay too much attention to head or hands just focusing on the body shape through the fabric. Somehow I have managed to make the fabric a little bulky but I think I have got her posture correct and the limbs don’t look too bad!

 

Drawing Fabric Using Line and Tone

I was quite relieved to change subject matter after a prolonged part three that raised mixed emotions that I am still battling.

The first drawing I used pencil, 2B, to attempt to capture the folds of a tablecloth.

Photo 19-09-2017, 14 25 55

15 minute sketch in 2B pencil

It was difficult to just use line, although that was what I did. Not a bad attempt, I got a little lost in some of the folds which I found confusing and hard to follow, I tried to capture  too much in fifteen minutes and would have been better to concentrate on fewer folds perhaps. I need to simplify somethings as I am battling to draw everything I see.

For the second sketch, I used conté stick and I was allowed to shade this time.

Photo 20-09-2017, 09 01 52

15 minute conté sketch

This was more successful but I confess I did try to simplify the folds a little as the first one was a little complex. It was easier to use tone to define the folds than just line.

I then spent about half an hour drawing six different versions using the 8cm square boxes and different materials.

Photo 20-09-2017, 10 27 18

5 minute sketches in assorted media

Working from top left to right, I used 2B pencil, then vine charcoal. Middle row conté stick then soluble graphite. Bottom row graphite stick and brush pen. I quite enjoy drawing fabric, and like the conté stick and charcoal but perhaps the most surprising outcomes were the brush pen. I have been somewhat fearful of drawing with ink and had varied results but was satisfied with this outcome. I had to work on using line more and be careful not to make errors. I also enjoyed the soluble graphite. Using the different media was good for me and I should do this more.

I think I have managed to create volume in the folds of the fabric, although I used the same tablecloth throughout. I have enjoyed drawing textured things in previous exercises and assignment two so I don’t find this too difficult, rather the opposite.

UPDATED:

I don’t feel happy with my recent work and decided to take another look at it and was disappointed with it. I feel I can do better but have lost some motivation. I’m genuinely not sure if the format of this course is pushing me enough, I suspect I would learn better in a classroom situation.

I decided to work into the conte drawing some more and so this is the newer version. I find it hard to finish the drawings to my satisfaction in the limited time. Yes, I could spend hours on them but that leads to frustration about how long it takes to get through them and obviously means less time for the assignments. I prefer to give myself longer on the assignments which may mean that the exercises suffer sometimes but that’s the dilemma.

Anyway, here is my updated version

Photo 04-10-2017, 10 11 14

updated version

One of my problems is probably being too literal in interepreting the exercises and rigidly adhering to instructions, I need to work on that.

Assignment 3 Expanse

Initally I had planned to draw a seascape, after being inspired by Vija Cilmins and John Virtue but, on reading the directions for this exercise, I realised I would need to include a man made object which made me reconsider. I really had no idea where to start with this assignment, nothing immediately came to mind.

By chance I happened to read a quote by the writer Olivia Laing about loneliness. I immediately googled it and came across an interesting article, How Art Helped me See the Beauty in Loneliness. It talks about the connection between creativity and isolation. It struck a chord as I had always liked Andrew Wyeth’s work and had recently come across a Monet painting, The Red Cape, which caught my attention. I haven’t thought about loneliness as a topic but, living away from my home and family and friends, it is something I understand. This led me to a little research. I had already been interested in the theme of absence and thought maybe windows would be interesting to consider.

I was really surprised to learn that Andrew Wyeth made over 300 hundred images of windows, I also discovered there is more to windows than light, having symbolic value too. In some of the research in expanse we learnt about artists using trees as an obstacle, to stop the viewer coming too far in. I liked this concept and it made me think about the view outside my back window, the back field can just be seen but the trees in front block the way. I drew a quick sketch of this in crayon, just to see how I felt about it. I quickly realised it was missing a man-made element so dismissed this idea quite quickly.

Photo 14-09-2017, 09 52 29

crayon sketch of back field

I still couldn’t figure out what to draw and, thinking about isolation, remembered visiting a beach where there was a cottage, right next to it. This appealed to me as it is quite a remote beach and it’s very wild and windy there, it would be quite lonely to live there. I did a quick charcoal sketch.

Photo 14-09-2017, 09 51 07

charcoal sketch of Achill beach cottage

As I was still unsure, I also drew two other ideas, one of some cottages in a bleak landscape and another quite hard image of a ruined castle on a striking bed of rock.

 

 

Whilst I like the contrast of the ruin on the rock it didn’t seem right for this exercise and I felt like the three cottages was a more interesting composition.

By now my head was all over the place and I was still confused about what to focus on so I drew a number of thumbnail images that appealed to me. This was a slightly different approach for me as I usually like to work things out by drawing. Afterwards I realised they were all of cottages so this seemed like the obvious path to follow.

Photo 14-09-2017, 09 50 26

thumbnail sketches of cottages

I then decided to reflect on advice from previous assignments, one of which was to take time to develop my ideas. I may be in danger of taking too much time on this one, I do think about the assignments a lot. The other advice was to take creative and material risks, this is a tricky one for me and I know I need to do it but find it challenging.

On this note, I was quite taken with the Seurat drawings , and figured I would experiment by drawing in conté sticks like him. It was harder than I thought but I drew two drawings in this style.

The result was fine, the mood seems evocative and dramatic and I quite liked the composition of the one on the left.

In an attempt to try something else, I drew this scene in a soluble graphite to create a wash.

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cottage in soluble graphite

I’ve never done this before so it was new but I quite liked the monochrome aspect so thought I would investigate with a limited palette next.

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cottage in conte sticks, limited palette

This became my preferred subject so I decided to to a drawing in chalk pastels, taking longer over it.

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cottage in chalk pastels

Whilst I was relatively happy with the result it wasn’t what I wanted, plus it was a safe option, I do like drawing in soft pastels but decided perhaps it wasn’t challenging enough. Did I learn enough from drawing it? Probably not so I decided to go back to an earlier sketch and do an oil pastel version.

So I used oil pastels and then, perhaps because oil pastels seem so stark, I decided to use turpentine on it. I had planned just to use it on the background to smooth it out, to loosen the focus a little bit but, once I started I thought it would look odd to stop half way through. I quite like the end result. I left it to dry overnight before going back in with the oil pastels for some more definition. The middleground seemed quite weak so I needed to rework that some more.

Photo 13-09-2017, 11 18 39

final version oil pastels

 

The oil version is the one I’m choosing for this assignment. It’s not perfect but it is a much more interesting scene. It’s quite bold, which I like, the composition has strong lines, which I also like but, most of all, I like the dirty, grittiness, the overgrown, slightly uncared for aspect.

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I really considered the composition for this exercise and ended up choosing the one with a strong composition as I thought it was most appropriate for the exercise. I have learned about perspective and think I have achieved a competence in both angular and aerial here, although I would not say it was perfect.

I’m not sure I am learning as much as I would like when it comes to using new materials and techniques and this needs to be an area to work on. When reading other blogs there are always lots of things I am not aware of and spend time googling them but I feel quite unsure how to approach some of these.

I have struggled with part three so possibly haven’t made as much progress as I did in part three.

Quality of Outcome

I think I am logical in planning the assignment, I spend a long time thinking it over in different ways. This time I tried a few different approaches to trigger the creative flow and I got there in the end. I try to write clearly but expressively about my process.

Demonstration of Creativity 

Sometimes I think I lack imagination. I have tried to experiment but I need to develop this a lot more. I think I am discovering my personal voice, I have a lot of ideas that attract me and try to work on them. I’m only really getting into the habit of using sketchbooks now and I need to improve this but I think I am starting to appreciate them more so again, more focus required on this area.

Context Reflection

I think this is one of my stronger points, I do think a lot and do research. I try to read around the subject as much as possible. I use my local library a lot, even if it’s just to flick through picture books. I’m currently reading The Complete Artist by Ken Howard, How to Keep a Sketchbook by Michael Woods and Edward Hopper: Portraits of America by Wieland Schmied. I do have a process where I work from an idea or something that has inspired me and I work through it until completion.

References

Laing, Olivia, 28th February, 2016, How Art Helped Me See the Beauty in Loneliness, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/28/the-lonely-city-olivia-laing-edward-hopper-andy-warhol, accessed 14th September 2017