Monday, 17 October 2011

Assignment Two

A fish on a dish ...

Having enjoyed the fish on a plate project I determined to repeat the challenge for my assignment - really focusing on different mark making and detail, whilst representing the form of the subject and creating an interesting drawing with the simple line representation of the plate.

The piece took me about 5 hours to complete and has been thoroughly absorbing - using a variety of pencil markings including outline form, hatching, squiggles, circles, shading and smudging I have created a reasonable sense of contrast and representation of the wonderfully varied shapes of the fish skin. Having learnt from my original sketch in my note book I resolved to repeat the use of ink tense pencil for some colour to add some interest to the picture but much less so as not to distract from the pencil drawing itself. I also considered drawing directly on newspaper to have the fish 'laid' on it but dismissed this idea in case the type of the newspaper detracted from the drawing. I'm pleased I made this decision.

I built up detail using multiple layers of drawing, smudging and then drawing further - and again became utterly absorbed in the detail. The pen outline of the plate is deliberately placed to add further interest and 'set' the fish in some context yet one which could be interpreted in anyway that the viewer chooses ... again I considered alternative approaches and thought about using a shrimp as an outline repeated in the background but again dismissed this as I did not want to over complicate the view.

I am happy with the final piece although I do wonder if it is good enough for the assignment and will keep my fingers crossed!

Check and log

Drawing animals are not easy! An understatement...why are they difficult? The accurate representation of the anatomy and the fur or skin is really important to convey a picture that is recognisable as that which it should be - there is no 'hiding place' if things are inaccurate as we all recognise animals and have a sense of how they 'should' be!

I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed I used drawing with simple hb and 3b pencils - I really valued the control and different marks that can be achieved using them - I think I almost forgot about them, having enjoyed the fibre tip pens so much!!

I am incredibly lucky to be going on an african safari adventure in a fortnight and it is my intention to take my sketch book and attempt to capture some creatures - on the move! Whether this will be possible, doable or indeed successful is another story and one that I shall report back on!

Exercise: Fish on a plate

I have been looking forward to undertaking the project - never having tackled a fish before. Deciding to use my sketch book to help me feel that it was 'less important' to get it right I approached this exercise using pencil and ink tense pencils - thinking the latter would introduce some fluidity to the form.

I tried a different technique of 'smudging' the pencil with my finger to develop a 'smooth' impression of the fish and was surprisingly pleased with the result. The detail within the fish and the markings were utterly absorbing and I simply kept going for hours - using different marks to convey the skin of the fish as best I could. The inktense pencils worked reasonably well yet I think on reflection were a little over powering and the colour detracted from the potential of the different mark making.

I so enjoyed undertaking this exercise I have decided to abandon my original plans for my final piece for submission as my assignment and use the fish again!

Project: Drawing animals

I have broadly failed at this project principally through a lack of animals! Sadly my dog, Zouga died recently and hence have not been able to draw her and the only other people I know with a furry pet are away on holiday.

So, I cheated and sketched some donkeys that I took photos of on a recent break to the new forest. This is not work I am proud of but very much respect the challenge of drawing animals. I have drawn my Zouga in the past, including 'catching the moment' but despite hunting cannot find my pictures.

Having explored George Stubbs' work I also very much recognise the value of being aware of the anatomical structures of the 'creatures' being drawn - the same being applied of course to humans - the skin being the drapes to the muscle and bone structures. This is an aspect that I did (albeit hopelessly) consider with the donkey drawings - considering where the hip bone and how everything connects. Being a psychiatric nurse by trade I have a rudimentary knowledge of skeletal form and the necessary connections but I cannot pretend that this has made my 'furry' drawings more successful.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Exercise:drawing with other coloured media

Developing my thinking from the previous exercises and that distilled from exploring Ben Nicholson I decided to take a slightly different approach to this exercise.

Using acrylic inks (which I have had for a long tie but not really played with much) I loosley drew the chrysanthemum plant heads and some foliage. I paid attention to detail in the form and positioning but stuck to loosely drawn forms. Woebegone at this appalling presentation I then picked up a charcoal stick and started to sketch in the forms of the flowers a little more fully yet still outlines the sprayed the surface to hold the charcoal. I then returned to the ink and loosley blocked in some colour and re drew some forms and shapes of leaves etc.

I'm not sure it qualifies as a good drawing but I really do rather like the effect - the looseness of the ink against the definition of the charcoal makes for interesting viewing, I think. It adds a bit of something extra that makes a pretty mundane subject matter more interesting. I notice I'm more relaxed with charcoal than with ink or paint and yet combining the 2 helped my loosen up with the ink. I'd like to work on this a bit more as my painting is often very 'wooden' and perhaps combining these approaches will help both my painting and my drawing.

I've started to think how these may combine in the future fish drawing as I could see some real value in introducing the fluidity with the fish due to it's nature. I may of course be being way over ambitious!

Plants and flowers in coloured pencils

OK, confession time - I HATE drawing plants and flowers ....I really struggle to get 'in tune' with them - namby pamby things. However .... deep breath, went outside to draw some in situ to make it all a bit more interesting, then it started to rain so returned dispirited inside. I do really like sunflowers and sweetpeas but sunflowers have long gone and I have only a few sweet peas in the garden left and am desperate to hang on to them for my final piece (which is brewing in my head ... a combination of line drawing using fibre tip pen and perhaps acrylic ink for the flower heads perhaps; an inside piece that would also help develop my next painting assignment ... not finalised yet as am looking forward to the fish drawing ... however, I digress). So, set about my detailed drawing in coloured pencil, lasted 2 hours and then declared NO, enough. So I have not completed this exercise and am not going to. I don't enjoy or like the effect particularly of coloured pencils - they simply are not 'man' enough for me. They don't offer the depth of colour that I enjoy or the vibrancy that I feel a subject deserves. Of course it may just be that I am feeling particularly bolshy at the moment!!

I have decided that this is important learning ... in developing my drawing skills I do have to want and need to draw the subject with the media I wish so decided to 'abandon all hope' and moved on to something else .... I sat and spent many happy hours drawing the plant in detail with fibre pen and then painted over it which wrecked it completely but it was interesting and prepared me for the next exercise.

Project : Drawing plants and flowers

Exercise: Negative space in a plant

Throughly enjoyed tackling this exercise and used a fibre tip pen as my media - in fact fibre tip pen is rapidly becoming a firm favourite. There was a time I would never have drawn without pencil or charcoal but fibre tip pen is right up there now!

I am very aware that I am consciously considering the negative space when drawing at the moment so this came easily although it is equally easy to get distracted by the detail which I worked hard to avoid.

Research point

Ben Nicholson 1894 - 1982

Originally a cubist artist and abstract developer Ben Nicholson is a celebrated cornish artist heralded as developing new approaches to modern art in the UK across the 20th century, whilst generating income through painting more 'traditional images' superimposed by his own unique abstract outlines and approaches. Pragmatic in the need to satisfy audiences to sell work and yet continuing to develop his own style I have found myself a little unsettled in trying to consider his work.
I notice that I recognise his pieces and I understand how/why he was a friend of his contemporary Henry Moore and drawn to his 2nd wife Sheila Hepworth as all share an exploration of form and representation in different media. I personally love Henry Moore but am left 'wanting' by Nicholson's work. They leave me confused. I love the simple forms yet am frustrated by the inaccuracy often portrayed which appears more careless than 'artistic', which makes me not like them. I love the portrayal of simple forms on landscapes yet am frustrated by the lack of distinction in the landscapes which seem lazy. I love the principle of being different and pushing the boundaries yet am left puzzled by the question of which boundaries are being really pushed and what is trying to be said!

I'm moved to note all this because his work leaves me wondering and questioning what I think - I am a decisive confident person who normally knows what I like and I can't answer the question in my mind of whether I like Nicholson's work .... the fact that it leaves me questioning is quite powerful in its own way and has made me start to think about my final assignment, my own like of outlines, how powerful they are i there own simple way and an approach perhaps that I could incorporate in my own final piece. I don't know ... yet again I am left wondering.

Exercise: Drawing using oil pastel

I have used oil pastel previously in drawing but never have known really what I am doing with it - just applying it over and over again so was interested in tackling this exercise - despite it being wretched fruit or vegetables again!!

I noticed the instruction to leave some of the paper to 'come through' rather than simply covering the whole amount and paid attention to that. Indeed it has brought things more alive.

i like oil pastels - I like the immediacy of them and I like the vibrancy of colour. I would also like to be much better at using them - and I have no idea how to seal them and can't seem to find answers on the net about that.

In my drawing I think the pastels have represented the red onion well which was something of a surprise and the courgette isn't bad but the tomatoes are lacking. Some of the failure there is lack of confidence, difficulty capturing the colour tones well and not a great representation of from.

The overall drawing lacks much depth - I was drawing outside (it was a lovely day) and the sun kept moving so I had trouble with the shadows. And in truth I am now a bit bored with the whole fruit and veg thing and of course behind in getting my assignment in so a little less focused on the task in hand. I shall return to pastel in the future but definitely want to learn more about applicatin. Perhaps there is a book that could help .... and will be a question for my tutor!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Exercise: Using markers or dip pens

Delighted in buying new markers but groaned slightly at yet more fruit!!!!

Thoroughly enjoyed drawing the exercise however - I absolutely love the immediacy and the necessarily fearless approach to drawing with markers and pens. Completely illogical really as I always worry that I can't 'pull it off' but I think it probably appeals to the sense of immediate satisfaction of 'no going back' and having a product - even if it doesn't work!

I like the colour mixing effect on the paper of the markers and using different nib widths to create a heavier effect. I really feel like my drawing is developing and looking back over previous assignment I can see a noticeable difference, practice is definitely the key.

Project: Drawing fruit & veg' in colour

Exercise: Using hatching to create tone

I got a bit carried away with this exercise and ended up trying a variety of fruit with a range of media covering many pages in my sketch book! In fact it is only now having re-read the exercise instructions that I didn't need to do quite so much to fulfil the exercise but clearly I needed to in my head to fulfil my exploration!

I became really interested in the different impression that different media rendered and so repeated the same fruit with a 2b pencil, an ink marker and finally coloured pencils - sometimes using a mixture of 2 or more. I dug out the coloured pencils my mum bought me when I was 11 (they will be antiques now) but found them too hard so went and bought some more and some new felt tips at the same time!

The fact that lines and building up the lines can create a real impression of depth fascinates me and I'm a little embarrassed that I've never really discovered this before. It has challenged me to think more carefully about my painting course and need to consider how to apply this learning into those exercises.

I completed my final composition in coloured pencil and am satisfied that I have created the illusion of a 3 dimensional body. I do however need to continue to learn and be aware of the sensitivity of the line as I can frequently be too heavy handed - which is as much about impatience as it is skill. I am genuinely learning to trust my process of drawing and to trust that "it will come' at the stage in hatching when it just looks like an indiscriminate mess!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Check and log - Project Still Life

As noted in my previous postings I have had difficulties with the exercises within this project, yet perhaps not as much so with previous exercises.

My use of pastel as a medium in conveying deepness of tone, on reflection, was not wise as my lack of skill inhibited my ability to convey the deepness of tone I was seeking - however on the plus side I am at last becoming able to recognise tone!! In previous exercises I have really struggled with this and was unsure I ever would. I can feel myself genuinely improving yet remain frustrated that I cannot simply depict that which I can see. I have also discovered the value of getting the light right to develop an interesting picture - an area that requires far more practice. I will also continue to practice with pastels.

I feel the still group using line has been reasonably successful although I perhaps could have made the picture more interesting my adding more items - whilst also introducing items I have not previously tackled. The depiction of the stone in simple line however has not worked effectively - I feel it would have been better drawn in tone, with effective lighting helping to illuminate the gentle curves. I cannot be confident that a real sense of depth was conveyed by the simple line drawing either, whilst the tonal drawing was far more effective in this area.

I find myself really enjoying my drawing exercises and projects (even though the subject matter is not something that I would be naturally attracted to!) and am really appreciating how much it is impacting on my painting course as well. So, on with the next project - drawing fruit and vegetables!

Exercise: Still life group in tone

I completed this exercise using pastel pencil on a prepared board as I had them both available - although I am not very familiar with pastel, so it was a double whammy of learning!

I selected my blue enamel jug with some mugs and pastry and did as instructed - screwing up my eyes to see the dark tones. I definitely am learning to 'see' tone much better than at the beginning of my studies and remain surprised that a reasonable picture can emerge from focusing primarily on tone. I am also learning that lighting is really important to see the differences.

I used a mixture of shade, hatch and line in developing the picture but was frustrated in my lack of skill with the medium and attempts to capture the really dark tones eluded me - my board was an olive green which on reflection was a mistake and I would have done better to use a lighter tone.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Exercise:Still life group using line

I decided on the group for this drawing when I tackled pine cones in previous exercises as I principally wanted to test my former learning and to see if I could in fact replicate that which I had done before - my constant fear being (as previously noted) that If I walk away I won't be able to 'do it' again.

The group represents a collection of items taken from my recent holiday in Brittany and conjure strong, warm and joyful feelings - they being drawn in a fine drawing pen, a felt tip pen and a large marker. The fine marker was selected to represent the delicacy of the shells and the points on the chestnuts, whilst the heavier pens were for the heavier items. I chose pens as I welcome the immediacy and commitment that they demand.

On balance I don't think the mixture of the pens has worked particularly well as the chestnuts have become lost and the smooth stone is not well described - I would have liked to use more tone as the stone has so little texture. I perhaps should not have included this in the still life at all and would not do so if repeated. I do however continue to like the use of the pen itself as a variety of marks may be easily made.

Finally I absolutely recognise the value in using items that mean something to me - holding my interest and focus in a way that a non emotive piece would not.

A distraction!

Have been a bit delayed getting on with my course work as I yet again distracted myself with the joy of line!

Taking my favourite subject of baseball boots (why? only because I like wearing them - they make me feel like a trendy young thing!) I sat and drew some with the intention of painting them (which I did) ... got a bit carried away tho and decided to put my learning into practice of using just line and 'broke the drawing down' (I'm sure there is a technical term for that - deconstructed?) thinking I might be able to make a stencil.

Instead I ended up with an interesting line drawing of the boots, which I shall use as a stencil but then imported into my ipad and 'painted' it using "Brushes" - exported it back out and got a really pleasing result! Almost want to say "Ta daaah!!" My next step will be to have a go at putting it on a t-shirt.

The crucial bit of learning in this experiment however was the value and potential in taking one's own drawing and then doing a further drawing to 'make something of it'. I frequently read of 'prper' artists doing drawings of their subject and then taking a further drawing or painting of their drawing and have not previously seen the value in doing so. I now do. I recognise that my drawing is very crude and can hardly be held up as a good example of this practice but I have had a snap shot into the absolute value of creating something truly ones with an end product that is decidedly (albeit simplistically!) unique by doing so.

I shall remember this learning for future work - drawing and painting.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Check and log: Project detailed observation

This project has been a revelation for me as I would normally say I am 'not a detail person' - in either personal or artistic life.

In truth I found the title somewhat daunting in itself - recognising that I would indeed need to focus on detail. I have however found the focus on the 'small' highly satisfactory and revelatory in how the big picture literally grows itself from focusing on the smaller stuff - and getting those right.

I have enjoyed the use, and developed my use of the fibre tipped pen - broader nib rather than a drawing pen - and find it to be excellent in both line drawing and creating tone. The flexibility of pressure on the nib can create different emphasis of lines whilst also delicate stipple and curious shapes may also be attained. I also enjoy the unavoidable purposefulness and commitment of the fibre tip pen - one mark on the paper and you're committed! This was an 'accidental' find as it literally happened to be lying around the house in time for my use within the project - and a medium that I shall repeatedly practise with from now on.

I notice (particularly on the shell drawing) the value of the lines and marks being made echoing the nature of the item itself - there being a congruity of attitude almost. For example on the shell my initial inclination was to use lots of circles, spots and swirls (and did use many) however closer attention told me that the apparent stripe around the fan was made up of hard lines, which of course the shell itself is a hard item; subsequent use of hard lines not only gave the impression of the a 'stripe' but also, in my mind reinforces the solidity of the object, the congruence of attitude.

I felt particularly comfortable with the line drawings and recognise that I naturally 'see lines' whilst capturing the tone continues to be far more difficult for me. Indeed the project work on line drawings inspired me to try my hand at making stencils with which I may spray paint - so googled how to, bought a craft knife and acetate and did exactly that (example illustrated)! This is an aspect I may further develop and recognise this to be a further piece of learning directly attributable to this course work.

My skills of hatching have improved however and I can see the real value in this approach. I believe my pine cone reflects some improvement in this area. I am aware that I become utterly absorbed within a drawing when I 'commit' to it and am fearful of stopping in case I can't 'find my way back'. Logically I know this to be ridiculous (!) and hence need on occasion to stop and revisit sometimes and will do so in the next project.

Exercise : Stipples and Dots

In my excitement at moving forward I nearly overlooked this exercise and am pleased I didn't.

I determined to draw a shell I had brought back from Brittany and was surprised at how very difficult it was to get the basic shape right - so much so I abandoned the instruction to use a pen and did several sketches of the shell in pencil first, simply to get a sense of where the curves 'sat' and how the lines formed. I also toyed with abandoning the shell and finding a new subject but determined to stick to it as I am keen to combine the shells and the cones for a future piece. I am also (somewhat reluctantly!) learning that the harder I find things the more I am learning - generally!

I put away my earlier sketches and pencil (as per the exercise instructions) and determined a new approach. Concentrating on the pattern, line and shape of the shell I used a drawing pen and a black felt pen to create the image of the shell - approaching the picture not as a 'whole' piece but as a small section at a time to build up the shape and rhythm as naturally and interestingly as possible. Small stipples added the necessary 'pointy' bits raised from the shell surface whilst swirls and small circles emphasised divots.

I'm sincerely sorry that I added the strange criss cross shadow - big mistake. I am however pleased with the overall effect and will use stipples and other shapes in future work.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Getting tone and depth into detail

Golly - seriously thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew with this one.

I selected a large pine cone to draw depicting tone and depth - using simple pencils and quickly discovered an early mistake of shading too deeply too quickly and hastily rectified this. I primarily used 7b, 2b, H and 3F and became startlingly pleased with the effect of hatching. I've previously really struggled with hatching but am coming to appreciate the control possible instead of clumsily 'colouring in'!

I am not a natural 'detail' person and yet am pleased with the result of sticking with it - I found it easier to work on sections rather than the whole thing and am looking forward to the next project.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Project : Detailed observation

Line drawing detail

I'm back and thrilled to have picked up a pen again! I have spent the last 3 hours simply undertaking line drawing detail of peppers and fir cones and thrilled in it! I was initially apprehensive about drawing with a felt pen and also working with the challenge of trying not to remove my pen from the paper but quickly relaxed into it - and became absorbed into trying to replicate what I was seeing. Couple of pictures illustrated here.

I am particularly struck that I realise that I rarely draw from life - relying generally on photographs, and enjoyed this immensely. I also find it much easier drawing line rather than tone so this has been a lovely re-introduction into my learning. Focusing on the actual detail rather than that which one might think should be there is also absorbing and an aspect that I shall practice further. I find I also enjoy drawing with felt pen - I like the way different pressure changes line emphasis - again another avenue I shall pursue further.

Great stuff!


Despite my awareness that time was more pressured with additional work and life demands I have failed to maintain my learning commitments. The result being that I have not submitted any course work in either my drawing or painting courses. Following helpful dialogue with the OCA however I am back on track and more resolved than ever to complete my work as I am learning so much.

I have not stopped either drawing or painting (or indeed learning) however and continued to do both - examples of which I am posting. Sadly I haven't done as much drawing as I would like but all that I have done has been very significantly informed by my learning so far - suddenly hatching and shading is no longer a terror for me! I've also really valued the introduction of squaring up to help my positioning on the paper - which in turn has helped my painting to be more accurate.

I have also had the marvellous opportunity of visiting New York and viewing paintings within the Guggenheim and Museum of Modern Art. Thrilling and awesome.

I have also just returned from Brittany where I collected some really interesting fir cones and shells in preparation for my next stages...