My final drawing of assignment 5. I’ll probably carry on messing with it though. My aim was to focus on “poised for movement”. While I think the composition and pose work in this respect I’m not sure the drawing is fluid enough to really capture a feeling of movement. This drawing was a huge challenge and while I’m happy with some aspects of it, the repeated over-drawing perhaps means some of the lightness of touch I value is lost. I had a lot of trouble with the position of the arm so I drew it over and over again.
I feel like I need to call it a day on this drawing now.
I have continued to think about the way forward with my final assignment piece.
I had reached a point where I liked where I was (Fig. 1)
However, I realised some people who saw this weren’t sure about what they were looking at. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I wanted to know why and posted on the Drawing 1 Facebook forum. Feedback was very positive and suggestions involved making the feet clearer, drawing his left arm in a more obvious position and focusing in on the figure.
I did a few sketches (Fig. 2 & 3)
I liked the composition in Fig. 3. and decided to explore this further.
In Fig. 4 I used pastel on a coloured paper. I like the closer perspective on the figure. I wondered about the effect of cropping for an even closer view. (Fig. 5)
This has made everything much more intimate but maybe has lost the sense of movement in Fig. 1. I would also have to get the drawing of the figure very accurate and I am working off a blurry video still.
I did a new drawing using the closer viewpoint. (Fig. 5)
I like the tension of the pose and I think the closer view works well. I also like the non-blended pastels on the figure. I think this is the composition I will try to take forward to my final drawing.
A day trip to London and I chose to look at some of the free exhibitions at Tate Modern and to visit the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican.
At Tate Modern I enjoyed an exhibition on artists’ working practices. I would have liked there to be far more information but it was great to see some pictures I had researched in real life. A painting by Bonnard that I looked at for Part 2 was paired with some preliminary sketches and there was also a Morandi painting which I had looked at during Part 1.
The first two exhibits were an Anthony Gormley figure ‘Untitled (for Francis) 1985. and an Agnes Martin ‘Faraway Love’ 1999 which were contrasted for their approach to realism/abstraction. From the gallery guide: “Martin was one of many twentieth-century artists whose work turned away from the recognisable world and towards abstraction. Gormley’s sculpture shows how, at the same time, artists have continued to find new ways to represent the human figure…Gormley sees his sculpture as a tool to link ‘inner and outer worlds’ while Martin believed strongly in the power of abstract painting to elicit experiences of beauty.”
There was an interesting room full of photographs and videos of artists in their studios which I enjoyed. I always like seeing videos of artists working on YouTube.
Basquiat at the Barbican in ‘Boom for Real’ was a fascinating insight into a unique artist. Again, the artist’s practice was an interesting part of the exhibition. From early graffiti art as Samo, Basquiat moved very quickly and very young into a successful career as a painter. He channelled a mass of cultural influences into his work from race history to Gray’s Anatomy, Picasso, Michelangelo, jazz, sport. He was prolific and seemed to work straight onto canvas seeing himself as the art equivalent of an improvising jazz musician. I think his work is appealing because he was so direct and so much himself when he made it. It is fascinating but also quite alien. I felt there were few points of connection between Basquiat’s mind and my mind. It was a very odd feeling.
There was no photography allowed at Basquiat.
In the weeks after seeing these two exhibitions I have frequently thought about the way different artists make art. Agnes Martin, Morandi, Bonnard and Basquiat are all artists who have produced important, influential work. But their approaches are so very different. Considered or spontaneous, abstract or representational, symbolic or realistic, political or domestic.
Following Assignment 4, my tutor suggested I look again at a self portrait.
I did a sketch each morning drawing on top of the previous sketch.
I like the way the echoes of previous drawings are retained in the picture.
I enjoyed working like this and wanted to carry on. The problem is that it gets harder and harder to draw over a picture, both emotionally as you erase more and more work, and physically as it gets harder to lift off previous marks.
I had intended to take this further on a larger scale. Maybe paint out marks and perhaps prepare the paper to make it stronger.
These sketches (Fig. 1 & 2) were A3. I decided to try an A1 sketch (Fig. 3). This turned out to be a bit of a surprise. I started drawing in charcoal, intending to lay down some broad compositional shapes before priming the paper with dilute acrylic. Instead I ended up with a completed drawing 2 hours later.
There are several aspects of this drawing I like. I like the texture of the hair and jumper. The face is generally well drawn but the right eye as you look at the picture doesn’t look directly at the viewer despite my attempts to correct it. I also like the abstract background which does relate to what was behind me at the time. I think the image is quite unsettling especially the way the jumper trails off into lines then charcoal dust (it’s going to be hard to retain this even with fixative). The jumper also looks like feathers and maybe looks a bit constricting as I haven’t drawn my arms.
I also want to note that I listened to music while I was drawing Fig. 3. ‘This Mortal Coil’ was an 80s/90s band playing an ethereal indie goth type music. ‘Song to the Siren’ is fairly typical. Did this influence the way the drawing went?
Finally, following tutor feedback I tried propping up my drawing board on a chair and sitting on another chair to draw. This freed up my arm which, I think led to more expressive mark-making.
Following on from my previous sketches, I decided to look at other poses from the same video. This is probably something I should have done earlier!
Fig. 1. I liked the upside down drawing at the top and also the close up bottom right.
I like the cropped drawing (Fig. 2.) which has an interesting contrast of dark and light. I think it still conveys a feeling of movement through the pose and the tension in the muscles. It will be very difficult to do on a large scale and might be even harder for a viewer to understand, but I am intrigued to see how this will turn out.
I drew an A3 drawing based on my previous sketches. I was drawn to using pastels to bring more colour and warmth into the picture (Fig. 1).
There was a lamp in the corner of the room but when I drew this in, it became confused with the figure however I felt the composition would be better if I put a lamp against the wall. The lamp shade would then create a diagonal down to the knee, forming a triangle with the head (Fig.2). However, the table is unrealistically tall to put the lampshade where I want it.
I decided a standard lamp would be better. I wasn’t able to set this up during this session but I drew imaginary one for now to try out the composition (Fig. 3). I was quite excited about how this helped the composition so I am going to sort out drawing one in situ.
Even though I was feeling quite positive about how the sketch was progressing I was concerned because a couple of people found it hard to work put what was going on in the picture. I posted it to the OCA Drawing 1 Facebook page asking for feedback. The comments were really helpful and suggestions included: look at the proportions of the feet, make the feet clearer, crop the image to focus more on the figure, choose a pose which shows both arms.
Going forward, I am going to explore the issues raised in this Facebook conversation through more sketchbook work. I cropped the image (Fig.4) which does make the figure more central, but loses some of the compositional elements.
I suffered a slump after realising the trampoline drawings weren’t working in the way I wanted. I videoed my son again, this time in the house and found a still from this which I liked because of its dynamic pose. I did a couple of sketches which I felt were more on the right track.
It’s slightly annoying when your first sketch does pretty much everything you want it to. I like the composition, the combination of line and tone and the sense of movement- especially in the feet. I wanted to explore using some colour.
I did some background pastel in warm tones which reflected the colours in the room. Then I painted into this with a thinned acrylic. I was aiming to give some texture and movement to the drawing. Then I drew over with pencil and used thinned acrylic to block out the figure a bit.
The composition wasn’t quite as satisfying in the second drawing and the figure is too upright. I like the small amount of pattern on the rug and the loose drawing of the figure.