As part of the detailed observations of natural objects, I decided that I wanted to examine dead animals. Of these I found that the ones I was drawn to were mackerel and other sea life, and hornets.
In this blog post I will be writing about The Hornet Chronicles- studies in monochrome.
My aunt found a Hornet on the patio one morning and immediately knew that this was something that would interest me enormously!
I immediately wanted to draw this beautiful, dead creature. I have no desire to be around living hornets, but dead, though a little freaky, I felt that it took on a delicate yet somewhat sinister beauty. I must admit that handling the creature- even though dead- was somewhat scary! I had an irrational fear that it would somehow spring to life and get me on the finger or worse, face! but obviously it didn’t….
My initial study of it was in regular hornet colours. which is here:
I was really pleased with this although it was very tricky to draw, they seem huge when they are flying round my head threatening to kill me, but when I came to draw him, all of a sudden the detail seemed minute and intricate. I purchased a magnifying glass. This helped.
This drawing really, really piqued my interest. There was something morbid, curious and beautiful about this creature. They are so scary when they are alive, they are ruthless and horrifying. Dead though, it was amazing to see that the whole creature is covered in hairs, tiny little fine hairs, and the markings are terrifyingly beautiful.
Moving on from this I started to draw the hornet in blues. I drew him first just in solitude as a hornet on a page:
I mixed the media that I used with pencil, colouring pencil and biro and think that this is a very successful study, I am really happy with it. Again, I really enjoyed drawing this. I am realising that my loves for drawing are largely organic items, animals, faces, the human form, living and dead creatures, wood, leaves, life.
I decided to draw the hornet in a matchbox to give it some context and intimacy, given the title of the module. This is here:
I drew the hornet literally just nestled in the corner of the box. I just wanted to ground it rather than have it suspended in space. As it happens I was not as happy with this depiction of the hornet, it just wasn’t as successful as the first blue hornet.
I decided to explore the idea of having another object or subject in the drawing and as I had struggled so much with holding the dead hornet, I decided to draw myself holding it. Holding the hornet, though it was dead, was actually really scary. Like I said, I was somehow afraid that it would spring to life and sting me, even though this was irrational. I wanted, therefore, to portray me holding the hornet in the most uncomfortable way possible. There was a real push pull to the way that I was having to hold the creature. I needed to have it close enough to be able to see the detail on the hand and the hornet, but my instinct was to hold it as far away form me as possible. So I had to contort my hand in a very weird and uncomfortable way to make both of these things possible.
This actually works really well as it happens, I think, because it allows the whole picture to LOOK as uncomfortable as it felt. The push pull I think comes from the pulling the hornet close to me, then pushing it further away in the same movement. The picture really shows this weird relationship.
I was really happy with the way that this turned out. It is really effective. I think that the detail and the tone on the hand is really well portrayed.
Having now established that I wanted to put both my hand and the hornet together, I needed to place it in some kind of background.
I wanted to have a wash or some kind of ethereal looking background that would contrast with the jarring image of the contorted hand and the dead beast, somehow making the conflict even more obvious, the background I wanted to be serene and calm, whilst the blue hand is stiff and contorted and the beast, though dead was once dangerous. I set about trying out different colour combinations for backgrounds using an ink wash. To add to the ethereal nature of the ink wash I splattered tiny dots of masking fluid onto the paper before putting the wash on it, so that it looked almost other worldly.
Out of these colour combinations I decided that the ones that worked best were the yellow/blue/green combination. I felt that the red and yellow was too much like a warning which wasn’t offering enough of a conflict. The purple and blue and black were too dark and brooding and the pinks and blues looked too pretty. The green and yellow and blue seems very serene and that would really conflict with the contorted hand and scary hornet. I wanted it to be a drawing of conflict and each part of the drawing to make all the other parts increasingly less likely and comfortable.
So I went for the green, blue and yellow.
I did a small piece of paper with a wash and the masking fluid. Once the ink wash was dry, I peeled off the making fluid and then drew the hornet over the top of the wash. This was the mock up of what I hoped would be an effective piece.
Next I wanted to do the drawing of the hornet on the background in more detail. I was happy with the way that that the mock up came out and felt confident that it would work on a bigger scale and started out confidently.
One thing I did decide to change was instead of using the masking fluid, I found that when I was trying to peel it off, it was lifting off layers of paper as well as just the dry fluid. Instead I decided to flick tiny spots of white ink which was not as effective but worked out ok.
As it happened, it wasn’t as successful as I had hoped. I found it really difficult to achieve the same kind of wash as I had in the mock up, it came out rather a lot darker than I wanted and though the hand and hornet were obviously more clear and the colours more pigmented, as I had intended, making them more striking and stand out better, the overall effect was not as pleasing.
I think that the idea is good and I think that it would benefit from further development and thought. I would really like to use the hornet as I LOVED drawing it, it would be a shame to leave it behind completely and I am hoping that there will be an opportunity to ise it again. But I am not entirely happy with the finished article and think that it is definitely still a work in progress.
for this part of the course we were asked to draw a still life composition using just monochrome to imply texture and tone without excessive shading.
To start with I decided to draw a bag of apples.
I decided to draw a bag of apples on a small table. I used white ink on black paper. Even though this is a pretty good representation of what I was looking at, I am not really that enamoured with the outcome. It could be a cabbage or a pile of rags, there is nothing that determinable about it that makes it shout apples! So I decided to add in the bunch of bananas again to give it some context which then made the apples make sense.
I drew it again on black paper with a white pencil crayon. It was difficult to avoid blending and shading as this is something that I do a lot of when I am drawing.
I decided to try doing this same image, either as a whole or small sections of it using different colours and different materials.
I was finding it more challenging to do this exercise than I thought I would. I have enjoyed it though.
I did the same colours and the same composition but using white ink again and using a stiff paint brush.
I think that this worked better than the white pencil drawing of the same style and type.
I like the flow of the ink and the way that it sits in some lines much more thickly and with greater saturation and in others more thinly and more delicately. I have not drawn much with ink in the past but I really liked using it.
I decided to try doing something a bit more different later on with various pens and also a couple of drawings that were more abstract and then a picture with different subject matter.
The next couple were felt tip pens in different colours on differently coloured papers. I also had a go at pointillism.
I added a paper bag and moved the composition around slightly and drew on white paper with a fountain pen with purple ink:
This one I did as a preliminary sketch for the final piece for the playing with colours part of the module.
I decided to draw a few different monochrome pictures with different subject matter. This one is of three mackerel heads.
Although I really do like the effect of pointillism it is very time consuming and a bit tedious. I have to remind myself whilst I am doing it that the outcome will be very pleasing and striking so that I don’t get fed up and give up. This is a small drawing (A bit bigger than A5) stuck in my sketch book and it took around an hour or so to draw! All those tiny dots instead of shading takes absolutely ages!
Having said that is IS very striking and effective and a good way to use monochrome to achieve a totally different effect.
This one, above, was a change of subject again, black and white pencil on black paper of a sheep’s skull.
Above is a still life composition of sheep’s skull and various other shells, bottles and paint brushes which I drew using the black and white pencils on black paper. I really liked this one. I like the composition and think it looks very effective. I didn’t pursue this one any further. I wish that I had all the time in the world to pursue loads of the things in this module, there is so much scope for developing nearly everything that I have done!
This one on the right is an abstract line drawing of a capsicum pepper.
I decided to use lots of colours for this one just as an experiment. It was just a bit of fun, but it was so effective and fun that I decided to stick it in my sketch book after all! I also did a row of a few colourful garlic bulbs in a similar style.
I used loads of different ink pens, biros, felt tips, gel pens and fine liners and a fountain pen for the pepper and a mixture of coloured felt tip pens for the garlic.
Although I deviated from the initial brief for these ones, I think that they are really effective and they were great fun to draw too!
Again this was a most enjoyable part of the course and something that I really could take further. It will be really difficult to decide which parts to develop when I am finally ready to prepare to get things wrapped up and ready for assessment. Although it has taken me a long time to get things sorted out, this has been a hugely important and exciting journey for me, where I have come up against a lot of my own demons, barriers and walls but also been enormously inspired and excited by what I have done so far!
Leading on from the artists that I chose to look at earlier regarding their use of negative space, the course literature suggested that I look at the work of Gary Hume.
These are the images that I have chosen to look at:
the image that I chose first, ‘Love Loves Unlovable’ I thought was relevant to the work I have been doing as it involves the use of large areas of black and the use of foliage. I really like the way that the colours pop out so much in contrast to the large areas of black.
The second Image that I chose was ‘Pinks’ which again I decided to look at because of the use of organic matter.
I have been working on my own pieces using apples and bananas and foliage against a dramatic black background, using the foliage in relief rather than adding detail, much like the work of Gary Hume, I have done a number of sketches and have a rough idea of what direction I would like the drawings to take.
FIrst off I have done a number of sketches of the fruit in detail using various different media. These are in my sketchbook and I have included some here.
I decided to carry on and work with the apples and bananas and foliage and had a lot of thoughts about the composition of the drawing. I want the eye to be drawn in to the middle of the drawing and have explored the best way to do this in my sketchbook.
I first practised the foliage in the background once I had decided on the composition of the final drawing. I wanted to have a range of different sizes of leaves but also not to complicate the foliage aspect of the drawing too much as I want to have the focus of the final piece to be the fruit and the foreground and for the foliage to enhance that aspect not drown it out.
I decided to keep the colour completely flat and blocked so that the detail of the fruit and the colour really stands out. Much like the work of Gary Hume. I decided to do a mock up of the final piece in rough so that I could see what the outcome might look like.
I have decided after much deliberation that I want the size and shape of the drawing to be tall and narrow rather than a typical ratio. I think that this will be more interesting and quirky, almost as if it is a view through a door that is not properly open…
After all the sketches and preparation for the final piece this was what I ended up with. I am not entirely happy with it, as I think it would be better much bigger, additionally I think it would work well in paint rather than pencil. I did draw some of the preliminary sketches using oil pastels and soft pastels and mixed media as well as exploring other vegetables and fruits but this was what I decided on and I think it is something that would benefit from working on the idea more and exploring more ways of presenting it.
I do really like the composition of the piece and loved drawing apples and bananas and have decided to concentrate on these as a subject for further parts of this module, though I have explored lots of other subjects too.
I love how warm the colours are on the fruit, and think that it works really well. having said that it definitely needs work.
FOr this part of the module we were asked to design a still life composition and to play around with colour to achieve texture, tone and depth, using colours that were not what we would expect to use, rather than ‘just’ drawing in the regular colour scheme.
I was really looking forward to this part of the module and was developing something of a real respect for the humble apple and banana. I had also become aware of the importance and significance of texture in drawings and therefore decided to stick with my theme of apples, bananas and carrier bags.
I have done extensive drawings in my sketchbook of these things using various different materials and achieving varying levels of success.
I decided to go all out and use bright and garish colours to depict these subjects and dove right in with my first attempt.
I was getting along nicely with this one and thoroughly enjoying it, then massively overworked the carrier bag in the middle of the drawing. I was disappointed because until then it was working rather well. I was having fun playing with alternative colours and thought that it was going to plan, but got a bit obsessed with the carrier bag handle and over did it!
So I started again…. same subject but honestly, lost all interest in it because I think that the colours went from being quirky and fun and a bit different to just looking rank and offensive …. time to try again…..
number three started, I was a bit happier with the colours but then realised that as I had shifted my position without realising it whilst drawing the initial sketch for the shapes, I had inadvertently and unknowingly caused the apples at the back of the carrier bag to appear as if they were floating and not sat on the table top properly. Completely unsatisfied with that outcome, I decided to stop again and start a new one…..
Also reflecting back over this exercise, I had not done a very good job up until this point in terms of making the apples look shiny and round, the way that i have drawn them, the very shiny, round parts of the apples look like they are actually flat and shiny.
drawing the outlines again, I managed to sort out the floating apple issue and get that part of the drawing right, but then managed to pick colours for the bananas which were in danger of triggering a migraine. I am all for creating challenging pieces but added to the frustration at having started the same drawing 4 times was the fact that the colours that I had chosen were making me feel nauseated…. I decided to sling it to one side and start again…..
Studying the still life composition carefully for the 5th time, I managed to draw what I thought was an accurate depiction of what was in front of me, I accidentally ended up with a floating apple. Not deterred, I persevered and finished the outline then plucked possibly the most disgusting colour out of the 200 or so colours that I have to choose from and coloured in the wall behind the fruit all in that colour.
By now I was tearing my hair out somewhat as this previously pleasurable and enjoyable task was now becoming a migraine-inducing, nausea promoting pain in the backside!
I decided at this point to take a hiatus from the carrier bag of fruit and leave it well alone for a couple of weeks and get on with something else.
WHen I came back to it some time later I decided to do things a bit differently. I swapped the plastic bag for a paper one and put a bunch of bananas (obviously not the same ones) on the opposite side of the composition instead.
This actually was way more pleasing on the eye!
The I set about taking into consideration everything that I had learned from my first five attempts at drawing this picture and set to.
This time…. IT WORKED!!!
I think that this works really well. I much, MUCH prefer the colours that I have chosen to use. The only part of the drawing that I am not happy with is the dark shadow on the left side of the apple at the front of the drawing looks like a hole and not like a shadow…
I like the use of light and dark and how I have managed to achieve some quite striking differences in tone with out using obviously contrasting shades of black and white. I am having something of a love affair with brown paper, I LOVE drawing on it and think it gives a really great effect.
Over all this was a really interesting if a little frustrating exercise at times. I think that I have met the required outcomes and I am happy with the result.
Looking at the work of Escher, David Hockney, Anthony Green and Philip Pearlstein and their work on interiors. Also my own slant on this subject. Not my usual choice of subject matter but very enjoyable nonetheless!
for this stage of the module, we were asked to draw different parts of the home in short sketches. I started off drawing in the bathroom and kitchen using pastels and charcoal, just quick sketches and I very quickly realised that I was NOT having any pleasure from doing it in this way. I think it shows in the quality of the work that I produced. Though it fulfilled the criteria for the short sketches it was like pulling teeth and I HATED it!
this is what I produced:
the first sketch is obviously my bathroom and the second one I chose to concentrate on the kitchen sink. It was very apparent to me that I would need to find a way of adapting the task to suit my way of working and to make it an interesting and fun thing for me to do, in order that the quality of the work would be better, I find that when I am drawing something and really not enjoying it, the quality definitely suffers.
I thought for a while about this and realised that the things that I love drawing, people, faces, animals, plants. abstract shapes, all have one thing in common…. none of them have straight lines! this is completely the opposite when drawing things that are manufactured and built to an architects design around the home, there are a multitude of precise angles and straight lines.
On realising this I decided that the way that I would be able to inject something exciting into the work, I would observe the room through my digital camera’s fish eye lens.
At first I frew a very quick sketch of the kitchen with pencil, whist standing with the
camera, but realised very fast that this would just not be possible fot eh other drawings. I am disabled and standing or even sitting with lots of equipment and trying to draw simultaneously without anything to lean on, would be impossible. I was viewing the room from an elevated view point so this was proving to be very difficult indeed.
I decided that I would need to take photographs using the fish eye lens and work from those instead, offering me the opportunity to get some really quirky angles and throw myself into the task with much more enjoyment and fun!
I went on to draw the living room using biro and pencil, I took a photo from high up looking down on the living room from the corner, and then focussed back on the kitchen sink with the tap running.
I was actually really, really enjoying this work now and I am certain that this is reflected in the quality of the work, which is miles away from the initial sketches that I did.
The research point in the course materials presented two drawings. The first is Anthony Green’s “Study for Mrs Madeleine Jocelyn with her son” (1987) and the second is Philip Pearlstein’s “Male Model with Kimono and Female Model with Mirror” (1985) seen here:
The first thing that strikes me about these two drawings is that despite the fact that they are very, very different, both of them play with perspective, whether we look at Anthony Green’s study, which is obviously drawn in such a way that it disregards perspective in the typical sense completely, by presenting the whole room in one go , even though it would be impossible to see it in that way with the naked eye, or looking at Philip Pearlstein’s work, where the perspective is actually accurate, the nature of the composition makes it appear that things are somehow not quite right.
I love the ‘push-pull’ feeling that I get when I look at Pearlstein’s work, the legs going in opposite directions and in such a striking diagonal placement, almost draws the eye in a kind of ‘roller coaster’ way, moving the eye around the page drastically and dramatically.
I can also see how the fish eye lens that I have been using reflects the same sort of effect and is a pleasing way of viewing more of the room in one drawing than you would normally see. The addition of the mirror in Pearlstein’s piece offers this same depth, giving us the opportunity to view things from more than just the ‘standard’ perspective.
Looking at these two pieces also reminded me of David Hockney’s work around interiors and the work of Escher who messed about with perspective, perhaps more than I was planning to, but again offering more of the landscape to the viewer than would be there ‘naturally. There was one drawing by escher that I was thinking of in particular.
With this one I like the way that it almost has the fish eye lens effect, with none of the lines being particularly straight and the feeling of the drawing is that it curves around a centre point. I also like the colours and the way that the eye is drawn straight to the centre of the picture.
I also like the fact that it has loads of detail and content but is somehow really naive and simplistic at the same time! I also liked another of his pictures which I chose to add here too.
This one is along the same lines, the curve of
the drawing pulls the eye into the centre of the picture in the same way as the first one, perhaps even more so. It also has the same quality as the drawings by Pearlstein and Green, in that it offers more of the room to the viewer than you would normally find in a picture of a room, the edges of the room are pulled in to include more detail and space and again, despite the content and detail being very rich, it has that same naive quality.
The drawing that I had in my mind by Escher is the following:
I love how this drawing includes both the room and the artist himself. I actually had wanted to find a large reflective ball to draw in the same way, but had to compromise with the fish eye lens instead because I was unable to find one. Again, this drawing, though actually done with less space, and with a smaller area to fill, still offers much much more to the viewer of the room and the space it is depicted in than if it was just a reflection in a flat mirror. I love how we know that those shelves are straight and parallel, but in the drawing they are not. The curves I find really pleasing and exciting to look at and I feel that I have managed to bring something of the same effect to my own drawing.
I initially decided to draw my fish eye lens final piece in oil pastels, and After drawing around a huge bodhran drum to get the size and shape that I needed to draw the lens aperture, I plunged in using a blue colour scheme, after playing with alternative colours in a previous exercise in the module. However this was a huge failure.
It looks clumsy and clunky and messy and I was really unhappy with the result. I did endeavour to stick it out and finish the drawing but it became clear after some hour or so of drawing that I was on a hiding to nowhere in terms of making a decent looking picture and I decided to discard that effort (I have included it in my folder though) and move onto a medium that I felt would offer me the opportunity to add detail, but still retain that naive quality that has been a feature of the works that I have seen that I particularly enjoyed looking at.
I actually did not expect to enjoy drawing this last piece as much as I did. I had fleeting memories of the initial room sketches that I had done in soft pastel and charcoal and shuddered at the thought of trying to make something staid and architectural like a room enjoyable and pleasing to look at in picture form. It really wouldn’t be my usual choice of subject and definitely something that I would not have thought would be a fun way of spending an afternoon! To my absolute amazement, I LOVED drawing the whole picture and was a little bit sad when I had finished as I would have liked to have spent more time doing others. I think it would be a really good thing to have a set of three or four of these fish eye lens drawings, in different colour schemes and either different rooms or different perspectives of the same room.
I chose to use blues and purples on the whole but added in the warm yellow of the standard lamp which I think draws the eye even more to the centre of the picture. I also used the warm tones of the yellow in the light cast on the wall and the sofa in parts. I think that I have managed to capture the light and dark of this interior really successfully, the light that is prevailing is the stark bright outdoor light coming through the windows which has cast some really nice shadows and added a lot of contrast and silhouette in places which is very pleasing to look at and could appear gloomy, but I think presents itself as rather striking. I’m also really pleased that I have managed to make the fabric of the curtains have a somewhat translucent effect, with the bright external light behind them. I love the curved lines and the way that the walls draw you into the room, and again, like the work that I have admired so far, the way that the perspective that I have used allows so much more of the room to fit into the picture than if I had just drawn a flat, regular perspective drawing.
Overall I am really satisfied that this is a successful drawing and meets the criteria and outcomes that are expected of me, and I very much enjoyed making this.
More Sketches For Drawing 1 Part 2- Intimacy, Exercise 1. Further Studies and Experimental Drawings.
I started to share in my previous post some of the detailed observations of natural objects that I have chosen to work with. This has been a riot of mess, colour, fun and ideas. Manly I have chosen to work with seafood, fruit and vegetables and this will continue through the next project -I have already made a start to this, and there is a lot of continuation from one project to the next as I read forwards to the next on and find that I have been doing some of it anyway! I like to keep the next project as a surprise. I don’t read forwards at the beginning because I want to be able to approach each topic with my own ideas and not just be led by what is in the folder so that I can see how things develop organically for me. It is interesting how much of what I have been doing already then shows itself in the next project!
I have been doing lots of sketches of natural objects paying attention to the object individually and as a group if there is more than one- as you can see form my perevious post, looking at background as well as subject (something which I have now discovered comes up in project 2!)
I used different materials, papers, drawing implements and styles.
I re-drew the apples from the first part of my sketches using oil pastels to see if there was any improvement on the soft pastels. I actually think that this works really well.
I included this doodle in my sketchbook after reading about ‘Memento Mori’ and being inspired somewhat by the subject matter that these artists paint and draw. I decided to keep it in my sketchbook as it was interesting. What amused me greatly though was that when I photographed it and looked at it as a whole picture and not just the individual aspects of it, I realised that the silhouette in the middle bottom of the doodle looks remarkable like a female bottom wearing slinky knickers. This was quite by accident, though I wonder what my unconscious mind was trying to tell me!!?
This is a bit of a study on just the negative space aspect of the drawings that I was doing initially after researching artists who use negative space in still life. I used a piece of plain cartridge paper and a black felt tip pen for speed. I wanted to have an experiment with negative space in more fine detail as I think it would work better with the style of drawing that I prefer.
These were some really simple doodles on the back of the cabbage study that I included in my first blog post of this part of the course. I used different colours of felt tip pen and a white pencil just to get some idea of colour choices.
This is a group of garlic based on the study that I did of the garlic. I used garish colours of felt tip pen just to try something new. I actually really like this drawing even though it is nothing like I have ever drawn before and is not anything like the kind of thing I would normally have in my house, I would actually really love to have this on my kitchen wall, it’s great fun and quirky and quite a joyous little sketch!
Another experiment that I did with the drawing of the pepper that I drew (example in the previous post) I decided to experiment with lines to imply the shape and form of the pepper. I actually really like this one too. It is fun and colourful and I like the way that it gives a sense of looseness but in actual fact is really carefully drawn. I used fine liners an biro and just layered up lines and colours to make this effect.
This is a sample sheet of some paper that I made. I used pieces of crumples greaseproof paper which I painted a square of white acrylic pain. I had planned to just do that and draw directly onto it but the paint made the greaseproof paper really flimsy and thin and it would have been impossible to make any kind of marks on it that were pressed harder than a very delicate touch. I decided to persevere with the idea of making this paper and tore up a piece of plain cartridge paper into small pieces and layered them up onto the greaseproof paper with the acrylic paint then finished it with a thick layer of white acrylic paint to make the drawing surface. This made a really robust drawing surface once it had dried, albeit a little bit shiny. I experiemented with a dozen or so different drawing implements (from top to bottom):
Broad black felt tip pen
Colourful artists ink pens
Soft pastel (I had to put a layer of stick tape over this to stop it smudging as I couldn’t use fixative)
Oil Pastel (again added sellotape)
Regular HB pencil
Ink Fine Liner
Gold Permanent Ink Paint Pen
The most successful of these with this drawing surface were the HB pencil, the biro, the colourful artists ink pens, the fine liner and the roller ball pen.
With this in mind I did a few sketches on the handmade paper:
This was the first, a whole mackerel which is not that successful. I was really getting to grips with the surface ass I was drawing on it. It was really lumpy and shiny and hard to use but I thought if used in the right way could produce some interesting results.
Mackerel head based on the larger drawing of the mackerel that I did in soft pastels (further down) I think that this is much more successful. I used biro and artists ink pens, smudging and blending the colours for different effects. I used the white background to pick out shiny parts of the fish… And finally:
A brown crab. I think that this one works really well! Again I used biro and ink pens. It looks like watercolours and I think works really well. This drawing is based on the sketch that I did of a crab that I bought from the fish market. I really like this one and think that it is the most successful of the three that I did.
This is a detailed sketch of one of the whole mackerel that I did then cut out and mounted onto a crumpled piece of greaseproof paper which I mounted onto a piece of heavy brown paper. This was not without difficulty as the greaseproof paper did exactly what it was designed to do and wouldn’t stick! In the end I had to use gorilla glue which kind of leaked from behind the sketch and left some weird discoloured patches. I need to look at different types of glue rather than just relying on pritt stick!
This is an A3 sketch of a brown crab bought from the market. I don’t normally have an issue with dead animals, I love skulls and such like, but this felt rather macabre drawing something that actually still looks alive once it is posed. I did this by just drawing in the dark patches and the shadows using cross hatching.
I decided to do a more detailed drawing of just the crab’s leg which I had to pull off. I think this is rather successful though it looks better in the photo than it does in the original drawing- as is the same with the whole crab sketch. I included more detail of the tezture and tone in the crab’s shell.
And finally…. This is an A2 sketch/drawing of the mackerel head done in soft pastel. Though I had sworn off soft pastels I decided to give them another go on a much bigger piece of paper. Gosh, I love this drawing! It is beautiful to look at, really love the detail, which I have struggled to achieve before. What I did differently was to draw it and blending the colours then putting a bucket load of fixative on it to stop it from smudging but also to give the drawing a rough texture again. I have always found that after a while the grain of the paper becomes saturated with the soft pastel and it becomes impossible to get detail onto the paper. From experience I know that fixative makes the surface rough again in the right quantities and I was able to draw onto the fixative with a small amount of biro and then another layer of soft pastel and then more fixative. I think the colours look sublime and I am really pleased with it. My partner really loves this one. It is big and bold and colourful and rich.
Beginning part 2 of my degree course, with lots of sketches of organic subject matter, really exciting to be moving forward with this and getting ready to release the might of my passionate self! Hear me ROAR!!!
Starting part 2 of the first part of my degree has been somewhat easier than the first part. I seem to be finding my pace a little bit and enjoying the process a LOT more.
I am really happy with the comments from my first assignment, lots of positive feedback and comments that I can work on (such as adding a separate menu to my blog for the assignments and learning log relevant to the degree course and several artists who I will go and research who might inspire me and be relevant to my studies!). I was amazed most of all about the fact that my tutor said that I had submitted a lot of work, when I thought for sure I hadn’t done nearly enough!
One thing that I was really thrilled by was the suggestion that I might do more of the personal art that relates to my feelings and enjoy doing so, connecting more with whats going on and being more passionate. I feel that I have managed to do that more in this second part and also stay more relevant to the degree course in the process. Athough still life is not something that I have really felt that I could throw myself into in the past, I have REALLY enjoyed the process so far and have heaps of ideas that I would like to explore moving forwards.
First I just put a load of natural objects that I found in the house in a still life arrangement to do some preliminary sketches. I photographed the still life from several different angles to see what they looked like at a glance, some of which I have included in my sketch book, then I did a sketch of the whole thing from above and front and then a few more sketches of the angle that I most liked the look at and refined the idea of using negative space. I have researched several artists using negative space and still life subjects online and really enjoyed looking at other artists work.
I chose this hugely famous and enormous piece of work by Picasso as an example of work to look at and explore because of his use of lots of contrast, though it is not a still life piece, I love how he has managed to create such an imposing piece of work that feels oppressive with so few colours. I have not seen the originals to any of these pieces of work that I have chosen, sadly, though can only imagine how completely overwhelming this piece of work that he created must feel in person. It is absolutely huge for one thing and the subject matter, though disjointed and in the cubist style is disturbing and feels almost aggressive. I am not fully “au fait” with the actual meaning of the piece of work as I refrained from looking at the intention of the piece until I want to look at it in more depth wanting more to explore my reaction to it and understand how it makes me feel just by looking at it and absorbing the feeling that it evokes. Honestly it reminds me of the feeling that is in the world around me at this point in time, in a political sense. I can feel a real sense of despair when I look at this painting and feel exhausted and despondent, there is a really impactful aura of loathing that I can’t tell if maybe I am feeling because of what is happening in the world in real time and I am looking for in this painting, or if it was actually the artist’s intention to evoke that kind of real visceral response?! It reminds me of people being forced to do things against their will and being hurt in the process. This is the first time that I have really allowed myself to look deeply into a cubist painting, (which is probably shocking for an artist!) and I must say that I am surprised at the level of the feeling that it has triggered in me. I feel almost breathless with the heaviness of the feeling of being almost crushed.
I love this painting, the peaches are so soft and real looking. One thing that I thought looking at this picture was that when I am drawing a still life picture, something that I would like to do is marry up the detail and realism of the subject matter- fruit, vegetables, fish, seafood maybe? with the stark and plain negative space. I love how the focus is all on the fruit and the foreground- in this case the fruit and the leaves and the plate, but if the background was detailed or a lighter colour, the fruit and plate and the leaves would lose all context and vibrancy. There would be a real sense of things being lost if there was a paler or detailed background in this picture and the heaviness of the negative space lends a real warmth to the peaches that I think would be lacking if there was any more detail in the background. This is something that I would really love to use for my own work. I will explore more about negative space and incorporate this into my own work. I adore drawing organic objects and would love to tun out something with this much warmth and gentleness.
This is the only drawing (as opposed to painting) that I have included in this selection of other artists and I included it partly because of this fact and partly because I liked the effect of the use of negative space (again) and the mixture of shapes in the subject matter. It is somehow a combination in some ways of the Picasso piece and the still life above, in as much as it is very geometric (such as the cubist Guernica) and it includes really good use of negative space. I have never heard of this artist before and though this is not a piece that I particularly enjoy looking at, it is useful in terms of how I can use it to influence my own work. This really makes me interested in using negative space and actually at the point at which I saw this drawing I started to sketch my still life with more negative space in the background which was an effect that I really like. Again I find this piece rather bleak and depressing and heavy, which I am surprised at because I wouldn’t expect to have an emotional response towards a collection of jars and containers drawn in blacks, whites and greys… I have decided for sure that I am way more interested in drawing and depicting images of much more organic subject matter. I love the twists and turns and curves and dips and divots and beauty of natural objects and the human form (though I will have to wait my turn to get into the drawing of bodies jsut yet!)
I’m a huge fan of Bruegel, I studied some of his work for my A-Level, and wasn’t so much aware of his still life work as I have really only looked at his more sinister scenes of death and destruction with skeletons and mounted warriors and their wholesale murdering of crowds of people in bleak and depressing landscapes. This was a surprise and I saw the picture and selected it before I even knew who had painted it. Again, flowers are not something that I would necessarily choose to draw myself, I love them and have painted hundreds of them but they are not something that I have drawn many of, the reason I chose this painting was because here Bruegel has chosen a very organic subject matter and as I said, this is what I like the best. I also was really keen to seek out more work from artists who place emphasis on both the detail and tone and feel of the subject matter using colour and realism to depict the flowers in this case- the peaches in the painting above- and the heaviness of the background and the monotone of it which in relation to the detail of the fruit I would have imagined would have almost ‘drowned out’ the colour and the tone of the natural object but in actual fact I am amazed that rather than the background jumping forward and obscuring the beauty of the natural objects, actually helps to bring them forward and define them, making the softness even more so by way of being such a stark contrast. Almost as if in juxtaposing the softness of the detailed fruit with the blank and stark darkness of the background, both are emphasised and compliment each other. This is a surprise to me and something that I hope I can do justice.
So this is the still life that I put together on a board on a Lazy Susan so that I could move and turn the still life to get an angle and frame it in a way that I liked best. I took a good number of photographs and sketched a couple of different angles until I found the one that I liked best.
This was the first sketch I did of the whole still life. I hadn’t really given much thought to the idea of using just a section of a still life composition before, pretty much always just assuming that if I put together a still life set up, then I had to draw the whole thing in one go! when I started looking at the photos that I had taken I realised that the reason that this sketch is not very successful, for the most part is because there is no sense of a focal point in this sketch, there is too much going on, the eye is not drawn to any particular part of the drawing, there is just too much going on. I realised that there doesn’t even have to be an object in the focal point of the picture for it to work either as I moved forwards drawing different sections of the composition, there simply has to be a flow and a place to which the eye is drawn. In later sketches I used the lines of the bananas and the framing of the apples and the negative space to being a sense of completion to the pictures.
This was the second sketch I did, drastically decreasing the number of objects in the drawing and wiping out the background, giving the drawing a bit more negative space. Removing a majority of the objects in the picture immediately improves it, though i was still not happy with the overall look and framing of the objects nor the angle that I was happy with, I think that this drawing is much more successful than the first.
I decided to experiment with different materials at this point whilst I made my mind up about which angle I liked best. This drawing was done on a coarse graned paper using black biro and graphite pencil. This is in more extreme close up than the first and second as I was more interested in the look of the materials that I was using. I like the detail in the drawing but I think that it really loses something by not having any colour in it, I also really think that it needs more negative space in the background and a better sense of flow and direction to make it work.
This was the first picture that I drew with colour for this composition. I used a coarse grained paper again and used soft pastels. I was not happy with the result of using jsut soft pastels, though I liked the colours, I was unhappy with the level of detail that I was able to achieve using just the pastels because they don’t lend themselves to the kind of realistic fine detail that I like to portray in my drawings. I was really getting into the process of finding the materials and composition that I wanted to settle on at this point and really finding pleasure in the work. I decided to use the colouring pencils that I so love to use and try a different angle with more negative space in the background too.
For this first sketch using a different angle of the still life I just used pencil and did a quick sketch, for speed more than anything just to see if this change in angle was what I wanted to achieve. I was really pleased with the look and the feel of the picture and felt really excited about drawing the picture with colour. I love the use of negative space, mixing up detail in the foreground and then just drawing the outlines and using monochrome in the background leaves. As it turned out I really really like the composition of this drawing. It really works. So I decided that this was the composition that I would like to use if I take this drawing further. I went on to draw this using the colouring pencils and being a lot more heavy handed with the background negative space.
I love this drawing. I love these pencils so much! I think that the detail on the fruit works really well with the plain black background. I love the different colours in the apples and the cheerful bright boldness of the bananas. I love the way that the leaves and twigs pop out in the background juxtaposed against the heavy black of the negative space and really emphasise that space, without the colours and the warmth in the foreground fruits would be lost. I think this works really well, however I drew some tiny sketches in my sketch book, increasing the height of the background and making the overall feel and direction to the drawing much more pleasing. I don’t have a photo to share of those pictures. I plan to draw the picture larger and in those dimensions as a sort of ‘final piece’ as I think it works so well in a small sketch.
I then moved onto my next subject matter and drew a bunch of detailed veggies and some mackerel.
First up was this cross section of a red cabbage. I drew it using prismacolor premier pencils on brown heavy brown paper. I really loved drawing this cabbage, it was a really wonderful thing to draw. I was amazed at just how many colours were in the cabbage. It looks at first glance to be “just” purple and white, but on closer inspection there are all layers of purple, burgundy, mauve, red, white, grey, creamy yellowy colours, brown, it was absolutely fascinating to draw. I love how the lines are so swooping and curvy and the layers remind me of the cross section of a tree trunk. I love the way that the purple started to bleed more and more into the white with different tones of red and purple. I decided to draw more vegetables and other food with the same materials in order to study them more closely. I really love the effect of the lovely vibrant colouring pencils on the brown paper, though I will be exploring other drawing surfaces too.
After I had finished the cabbage, I decided to look at a red pepper in detail. I chose the same materials to draw with as the cabbage had been so successful. I realised that I have drawn multiple peppers over the years but never truly looked at one in great detail and just on a whim I decided that I would like to take photos at regular intervals whilst drawing this picture. I wanted to learn a bit about my own process, how I put together a sketch and the different stages of it. To my amazement, when I looked back over the photographs I realised that I am actually incredibly organised and methodical when approaching this type of drawing. In my life outside of drawing I am so messy, disorganised and somewhat chaotic at times. so it was a real surprise to see that there are also times when i am able to be very neat and considered. I think that this is something that I need to harness in other areas of my life, such as meeting deadlines for important events, both in and out of my degree course, and being more organised in general, I have the ability I just need to grab hold of it! I also thought a bit about how much I struggle to create when my home is in a mess. This has been something that has held me back enormously in the past. I have literally held the art of creating as being something sacred and had a distinct need to be organised and ‘proper’ about it. This really makes me sad because it contradicts what I know about my need to be creative… Yes it is a sacred and wonderful part of me, the ability to create, however, I think my need for perfection, that is unattainable for one thing, is so intense that I actually think that I hold myself back in so many ways. I think that particularly after the rape when I was 19, the fact that it revolved around my artwork has really thrown me off kilter. I have, since then, had a need, a genuine desperation to almost keep my art sterile, to stop it from bleeding out from its neatly contained edges. This has meant that the actual work that I have allowed myself to do is most often involving me really holding back and not putting all of that raw passion that I know I feel into the art work.
Being bipolar particularly has a huge impact on the way that I feel about my artwork, not just art in the classic, visual sense either, other disciplines such as music, drama, dance… All of these things move me deeply and I feel such a huge visceral reaction to hearing/seeing/experiencing beauty and pain and fear and sadness and love in a creative sense and I know that this is something that lies bubbling under he surface just waiting for an outlet to really get going with it. I have so many ideas and thoughts that I literally yearn to produce and make into a real tangible work of art, yet for the reasons I have said, the need for sterility is so pervasive. I can’t adequately describe using words the feeling of absolute euphoria that I get when I am manic nor can I find the ‘right’ words to describe the despair that I feel when my mood plummets. The contrast I guess like the fruit and the negative space, only more so. Maybe this is what draws me to the concept of the beautiful, natural raw warmth of the organic matter and the juxtaposition against the cold, hard, black negative space. It literally somehow describes me, albeit in a watered down kind of way.
What I really want to achieve is the reality of those feelings-NOT the watered down version! If I can’t say them, I can’t sing them, dance them, describe them…. The obvious solution is to create them using art as my medium….
I feel like I am on the cusp of something wonderful, though maybe that is just my mood?!
Reigning in those thoughts for a moment and coming back to the methodical and purposeful creation of the pepper sketch, this was the final outcome of all those stages of creation:
I was happy with the pepper, I still am, but I really, really want to let loose, not be so controlled and contrived, let rip with all of that raw passion and joy and aching pain that I feel so much of the time.
I think that the next sketch, a small sketch of a garlic bulb with a couple of loose cloves that I pulled out of the bulb is rather sweet, but again lacks the passion and feeling:
I do like this sketch but I think it lacks definition, though again I was amazed by the number of colours that I had to pick out of my pencil tin in order to capture the true likeness of the vegetable. I think that I have also managed to achieve a good sense of the papery skin of the bulb, and I really like the natural sweeping curves and lines of the drawing. It is pleasing to look at and it is something that I would consider using in a final piece.
After I had drawn some vegetables and really examined them, I read onto the next part of the folder and discovered that I had wandered unwittingly into a wonderful part of the course, where I get a whole chunk of time to devote to drawing natural objects. It was suggested to me that I might look up the ‘Memento Mori’ arena of artwork. A short definition here: “Memento mori is a Latin phrase meaning ‘remember you must die’. A basic memento mori painting would be a portrait with a skull but other symbols commonly found are hour glasses or clocks, extinguished or guttering candles, fruit, and flowers.” (taken from this website here). All of these suggested objects are things that I am interested in and the idea of the memento mori style of working really appeals to me, especially in my darker moods, but not restricted to those times. I love skulls, animal and human and am desperate to procure more of them to add to my collection (currently consisting of a single sheep skull! So not quite a ‘collection’ yet, per say….) I remember drawing a skull several times when I was a teenager as we were lucky enough to have a real human skull in the art department at school, since then I have been on the look out to get hold of a real one myself. Though I guess a really good replica would suffice.
Anyway, I somewhat deviated from the subject matter of a typical memento mori piece of work, but feel that with the next couple of sketches (again using prismacolor premier pencils and and heavy brown paper. I bought and drew three whole mackerel. These fish are astonishing to look at. The colours that they are made of are absolutely beautiful and the beautiful gloss and shimmer of their skin is just a joy to behold.
This was the first drawing I did of the recently deceased trio of fishies, I was again amazed at the colours, this has been a theme so far in this part of the course, ans I was also amazed at how much the facial expressions varied from one fish to the next. Interestingly though several totally independent bits of feedback have been given to me that the fish look really sad and despairing. I didn’t draw them deliberately with this in mind, but with the political climate the way that it is at the moment with the calamitous outcome of the Brexit vote and terrorism being rife in all corners of our spherical home, then most recently the rise and rise of Donald Trump dominating the world media, I have really been feeling the anxiety and confusion that so many of us are feeling during these uncertain times. It is no surprise then that the objects that I chose to draw that were once alive and have faces show some of that anguish that is malingering in our communal headspace right now.
I was really engaged in drawing these fish, I truly loved the whole process. It was a joy, a real genuine exciting joy to draw them and to work at figuring out ways to do the beautiful animals justice.
This was the second mackerel drawing, again the same challenges, colours, the shine, the expression on it’s face, the last remaining vestiges of a short life, forever captured in my sketchbook!
They are a true rainbow of colour and a blaze of shimmering and fiery gloss. Simply beautiful, sometimes silver, sometimes golden, sometimes blue, sometimes green, Even their eye colour varies from fish to fish. I had no idea. I thought they all pretty much looked identical!
After drawing these fish I feel moved to draw other seafood, crabs, prawns, a lobster if i can afford one! Other fish, different types. And a HUGE urge to pursue my need for at the very least a convincing replica of a human skull….!
I have also decided to experiment with not only other drawing media but other types of drawing surface, fabric, different types of paper, card, plastic, metal, tin foil. After drawing the last mackerel I actually created my own drawing surface out of a piece of screwed up grease proof paper, onto which I painted a block of white acrylic which I planned to draw directly onto. This was not actually possible as the acrylic was wet and made the grease proof paper very flimsy and thin. So I used my imagination and tore up a piece of white cartridge paper into small pieces and stuck it in layers onto the acrylic paint with layers of paint in between the paper and finally a thick layer of white acrylic over the top of it. I was planning to draw on to the dried rough surface with graphite pencil, but when I tried to make a mark on the ‘paper’ that I had created with a graphite pencil it barely left an impression on the shiny surface, I decided to have a go at drawing a rough sketch of the mackerel directly onto the paint with blue and black ball point pen. This was somewhat successful, however I plan to experiment with making more of these alternative drawing surfaces and trying out other forms of drawing materials on them, ink, pastels, oil pastels, charcoal if it will work. I will include samples in my sketchbook and upload photos when I have them.
Over all I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the degree course and my art studio is nearing completion at long last, so in the near future I will be able to move in there with all of my materials and a huge dose of enthusiasm to get things moving….
But that’s another blog post entirely.
For anyone who has stayed with me to read til the end of this enormous blog post and stream of consciousness, I thank you and I am grateful for your time.