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.