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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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