Assignment 4. Reflection

I enjoyed Part 4 partly because I enjoy the process of setting down on paper what I see before me. While I produced some good drawings, I do feel I moved away from experimenting with media in this module and this is reflected in my final 3 pieces which I executed in oiled charcoal, charcoal and graphite.

Having said that. My research into other artists did influence me and the processes of Jenny Saville and Frank Auerbach were especially influential. I also found Alice Neel’s portraits fascinating for the way they conveyed character and personality. This led me to experiment with processes rather than media, using techniques to remove what has gone before (painting over, erasing) and looking at how working from photographs changes the way I approach an image.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I worked with pencil, charcoal, pastel, ink and brush/pen/masking fluid and I feel that although I was less experimental with my media I produced some interesting drawings using media I had learned to use in previous parts of the course. This included drawings in ink with masking fluid, charcoal, drawing pen, pencil and pastel. A lot of the drawing was from a life model so was constrained by time which developed my drawing skills.

Quality of outcome

Having felt confident about many of the drawings I produced during the exercises, I was frustrated in my final Assignment pieces to find I wasn’t as good as I thought I was! This was partly because I had only produced one A1 piece of work during part 4 so the size of these drawings was a challenge. To work at this scale and retain the spontaneity of life drawing was really hard. In Figure Study using line (seated), I attempted to use a technique I had already tried – underdrawing in pencil then overdrawing quite quickly in oiled charcoal to try to retain the spontaneity of a quick life drawing. I feel I was only partly successful in this.  In Figure Study using tone ( reclining) I followed up on an interest I had in drawing my son and worked in charcoal from a photograph. I am interested in the fact that he is always moving and tried to “recline” him while capturing that he was poised to slip off the sofa and run away. I think this is a successful composition though it was hard to get the darkest tones and I used conte crayon to deepen the darks. In my portrait the final drawing was a bit conventional but the process I went through to produce it – drawing then erasing the drawing – was interesting and I’d like to carry on with this.

Demonstration of creativity

In Part 4 I have experimented with processes for producing work including preparing paper with emulsion and graphite or pastel and working by erasing and overdrawing. I have also experimented with drawing the same thing in different media to study the effects of different media on an image.

Context reflection

I found looking at how other artists tackle portraits and the figure really interesting. There seem to be so many approaches to drawing the figure. I enjoyed researching Jenny Saville, Frank Auerbach, Richard Hambleton, David Haines, Alice Neel, Elizabeth Peyton, Graham Little, Euan Uglow and Leonardo da Vinci.  This was the area where I felt most inspired by the work of other artists and adopted techniques based on their work.





Assignment 4. Self portrait using line and tone 

Two things influenced the way I approached this self portrait. The first was the work of Frank Auerbach and Jenny Saville who use reduction as part of their drawing method. They draw then rub out, then draw and rub out over and over again in theory getting to the essence of their subject. The second was a friend’s reaction to two self-portraits I did earlier in Part 4. “Is that how you see yourself?”, she asked, sounding surprised.

It made me realise I had tried to draw how I looked rather than who I was.

I decided to do all my work on one piece of paper.  Drawing and rubbing out and hopefully getting closer to who I think I am.

I based the work on some preliminary sketches I had already done. Taking on board my friend’s comment I decided to try to look more cheerful and to include my hands, drawing pad and pencil in the picture.

It was only after I had rubbed out the drawing the first time and drawn over the remains that I realised I should be photographing each stage so here are the next stages.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 6.

When I reached Fig. 5. I had to decide whether to rub out again or carry on to a completed piece. While it would have been interesting to carry on with the process I was conscious of a deadline approaching. I would also have found it much harder to rub this one out as I liked it much better than the other drawings. I decided to complete the drawing (Fig. 6).

I slightly regret stopping here as it would have been a real challenge to carry on deleting and redrawing. I’d like to develop the stamina and confidence to do this. I also originally thought I might start incorporating different media and deleting by painting out marks to erase them. This is something I’d like to look at in further work.

Assignment 4. Seated figure using line.

Fig. 1. I erased “mistakes” in the drawing with white emulsion and redraw the hands, feet and face. The line is more balanced but the face has less character.
Fig. 2. First drawing from life

In this drawing, I was influenced by Jenny Saville’s large scale drawings based on Leonardo de Vinci’s Madonna and child. She draws with charcoal on watercolour paper primed with emulsion.  I used the technique of priming paper with emulsion over soft pencil lines and like the way it disrupts the surface. I drew in pencil and when I felt that the structure was accurate I drew in oiled charcoal. This gives a dark black line which can’t be erased with a rubber and doesn’t smudge easily. I  used this technique in a previous life drawing (Fig. 3). In this drawing I liked the way the drawing looked quite quick and spontaneous even though it was A1 size and took about 50 minutes to draw.

Fig. 3 Life drawing using line

I wasn’t completely happy with my first attempt at the seated figure which was drawn from life (Fig. 2) the lines weren’t as flowing as I’d hoped and the feet and head seemed tentative. I decided to use white emulsion to erase areas I wasn’t happy with and redraw them. I redrew the face, hands and feet. While I’m happier with the overall drawing (Fig. 3)  I feel the face has less character and the feet are too big. Painting over and redrawing the features I want to change is an option. Artists I have looked at like Jenny Saville and Frank Auerbach use this technique to trace the process of drawing and to reveal the interaction of artist and subject.

Project 4. Part 6. Exercise 3. Portrait from memory or the imagination

This is a picture drawn from memory of a woman who works in our local optician. Needless to say, it doesn’t look anything like her! I think I haven’t got enough shadow into her face and her hair is not solid enough. I can see the benefit of drawing individual features to compile a catalogue of eye shapes to draw on.

Part 4. Project 5. Exercises 1. Single moving figure and 2. Groups of figures.

In these exercises I sat in the window of a local coffee shop and drew people walking along the pavement outside. Sometimes there were single figures and sometimes groups so I have put these exercises together.

I started using a drawing pen but then found a pencil seemed to create a quicker, more lively drawing. On this page I also drew the figures smaller which meant I could get the whole figure down in the short time I had to do the drawing.





Part 4. Project 5. Research point. Compare Richard Hambleton “Osaka” and David Haines “Balance Sneakers vs KFC Bucket

Fig. 1 Osaka, 1981, Richard Hambleton
Fig. 2. New Balance Sneakers vs. KFC Bucket. 2007/8 David Haines

These two pictures show two very different approaches to depicting movement. In Fig. 1. Osaka, Richard Hambleton shows movement through loose, blurry brush strokes and spattered paint while in Fig 2. David Haines uses the positioning of the figures and objects in space to show that things are moving. David Haines work is much more photographic depicting a frozen moment in time while Hambleton is attempting to show movement by the energy of his brush strokes as well as the shape of the running figure.