Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dirty Boot - Still Life

Dirty Boot
Acrylic - A3
"Dirty shoes and roses can both be good in the same way." - Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lilies - Still Life with Flowers

Acrylic - A3
'There are always flowers for those who want to see them'
- Henri Matisse 

Monday, 8 July 2013

Drawings: OCA Part 4: Proportions II - The Longer Pose

 The Longer Pose
Oil Pastel on Green Paper
Thank you to my mother for once again offering (involuntarily) to be my model for this exercise. I ended up doing two drawings instead of the intended one as I wanted to experiment further with a different medium after finishing the pencil and wash piece and produced the oil pastel piece above as well. I employed the time tested artists method of holding a pencil at arm’s length to judge the right measurements and learned a valuable lesson – always ensure you’re using the same pencil for this.
The Longer Pose
Pencil and Wash
Learning Log
Have you managed to make a complete statement in this time? What were your main problems?
In the majority of my drawings there is a compete statement but I have to admit not necessarily a totally accurate one.
I find that the main problem that I am encountering is with the details of the face and hands. Working with larger mediums like pastels of thick charcoal this is not so noticeable; there is less room for details so fewer marks. However I really struggle when using finer utensils such as pencil or ink pen to record the details of faces and hands smoothly and succinctly. I know his is all down to a matter of practicing it so practice it I shall do.
How well have you captured the characteristics of the pose?
When I stayed focused and concentrated on each mark that I made the character of the pose definitely came through much stronger and produced a more satisfying drawing. However sometimes I would get bogged down in certain areas and loose some of that individual personality.
Do the proportions look right? If not, how will you try to improve this?
Surprisingly I think the proportions of my figures are generally quite good, at times the faces and hands are a bit off as mentioned before, so I shall practice to hopefully improve in the future. Otherwise I don’t think they are at all that bad I found that using objects in the background to relate to really helped to get the scale right.
Preparatory Sketch
Biro and Marker Pen

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Drawings: OCA Part 4: Proportions I - Quick Poses

Marker Pen on Scrap Paper
Now onto the fourth part of my drawing course and it is time for some figure drawing, a subject that always seems to be very hit and miss with me. I know I can produce some very good figure drawings but at the same time I’m prone to some awful ones too, shall just have to see how it goes.
Producing these quick drawings in a few minutes was quite refreshing after spending hours on the same drawing of a tree and such like. Although it was challenging to capture the character of the subjects in such a short time, sometimes it started to come through surprisingly quickly with just a few well chosen lines.

Biro Pen on A4 Cartridge Paper

Marker Pen and Biro (L) - Soft Pastel (R)

Biro Pen (L) - Pencil (R)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Exhibition: Becoming Picasso - Paris 1901

- The Blue Room -
I visited this exhibition quite a while ago, and blogging about it has been a task long overdue for completion. So I thought just before I began my project on figure drawing would be an excellent time for finally tackling it.
First of all I have to say that this was my first trip to the Courtauld Gallery, the Picasso exhibition may no longer be running but it is an excellent place anyway and with their new Gauguin exhibition I shall definitely be returning very soon.
The exhibition was, in a word, brilliant! As pretentious as it sounds, you can really see the beginnings of one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists in this collection of the nineteen year old Picasso’s paintings.
- Dwarf Dancer & Bibi-la-Puree -
I found it really interesting how different each one of these paintings were, Picasso’s constant experimentation shines through with so many pieces in close proximity to compare against each other. Influences from Degas, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec seem to appear as artistic ideas mutated to Picasso’s own will.
The first room is a perturbing group of grotesques; dwarves and clowns glare at you, violently out of focus (‘Bibi-la-Purée’ and ‘Dwarf Dancer’). ‘Seen through the bottom of an absinthe bottle’ is an apt description from the exhibitions curator. The pieces have that bad sickly taste of too much alcohol and yet they are morbidly fascinating studies.
- Child with a Dove & Harlequin and Companion -
Escaping into the second and final room Picasso’s work has transformed, hitting you with intensity like sunlight, piercing the absinthe hangover from the first room. This intensity, much like sunlight and hangovers, starts to mellow and cool as you head towards Picasso’s famed blue period, there’s more emotion but less rush. The mania turns towards the melancholy.
- Casagemas in his Coffin -
His self portrait ‘Yo – Picasso’ (I- Picasso) doesn’t just grab your attention it smacks your round the face until its sure your paying full attention, There is undeniably something cocksure about the frenzied brushstrokes and the orange eruption of his cravat. He confidently stares out at you and surveys his work as if to challenge any doubts of genius, he says ‘I did all this, I - Picasso.’
- Yo - Picasso -

Friday, 21 June 2013

Drawings: OCA Part 3: Assignment 3

Assignment Three - Drawing Outdoors Final Piece
Graphite and Chalk on Coloured Paper
First off I have to say that this assignment was hard, or more specifically finding the right view to work from was the hard part. I needed a view from a window or doorway that included natural objects (i.e. plants, trees etc) had a sense of depth to demonstrate some perspective as well as some straight-lined objects. I found looking out of any window covered a couple of these criteria but they all seemed a bit, well, bland. So when I finally found this view I knew that this was the one I was going to work from, it had a linear perspective in the buildings and some trees in the foreground and the church gave an interesting background.
So, having found my chosen view I set about playing around with the composition and decided on a portrait format that I felt showed the depth of the drawing well. I then experimented with the perspective of the buildings to ensure that I had it all right. After this I decided to eliminate one of the background buildings and I am glad I did this as it helps the church to be more dominant in the background.
I experimented with a watercolour and pen drawing that I decided not to pursue, it did not feel like the right media for the piece; I wanted to work with something that showed off the setting better. After a bit more exploration I decided I really liked the way chalk and graphite worked against each other, especially on the coloured paper as a mid-tone. The media manages to capture something of the feel of the place quite well.
I ended up spending a couple of hours creating the final piece and I am really satisfied with the result. My only concerns are that I may have lost some of the depth in the final drawing and that I should have explored some more choices of media that may have showed certain elements off better.

Experimenting with Composition
Biro on Paper
Pencil Sketch (left) and Working out Perspective (right)

Watercolour and Pen Piece (left) and Charcoal Sketch of the Same Tree (right)
First try with Chalk and Graphite on Coloured Paper

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Drawings: OCA Part 3: Drawing Trees III - Study of Several Trees

Study of Several Trees
Ink on Paper - A3
Study of Several Trees - Silver Birches
Fine Liner on Paper - A4
Learning Log
How many different tree types have you drawn?
I am definitely no expert on trees but I’ve definitely had a go at drawing quite a few different types, oak, elm and birches at least.
What techniques did you use to distinguish each type?
I was not really focusing on analyzing the type of tree I was drawing but more on the individual tree itself and the way it had adapted to its own environment. To achieve this I concentrated on its own particular characteristics i.e. the shape and direction of its branches and sometimes detailing some of the leaves, this acts like a fingerprint to identify the type of tree it is.
What did you do to convey the mass of foliage?
Once I had plotted out the basic shape of the tree and all its elements, I would identify how the branches interact with the foliage, how bits clumped together and the direction they went in. I did a bit of experimentation but I found that being loose with the detail works best, just enough to give an impression of the foliage. I think this works best because when viewing a tree you do not register all the leaves and twigs individually, you tend to think of it as one united object.
I used very simple marks in the fine liner drawing of the birches, slightly messy marks because the foliage seemed to scribble its way around the trees.
How did you handle the light on the trees? Was it successful?
In the individual tree drawings once I had described enough of the rough details, I shaded with the intention of seeing the entire tree as one object. This allowed me to keep similar levels of light and dark continuing through the entire drawing, so the darkest points stayed as the darkest points without getting lost. I also attempted to capture the way the light shone through the clumps of foliage in places, almost glittering amongst the greenery, by concentrating on the details.
In the group of trees I produced in ink there is a much starker contrast because of the media, although less subtle this did allow me to maintain a consistent level easily. In the fine-liner drawing of the birches, the second colour of the green sort of acted as a mid-tone in places.
Did you manage to select and simplify? Look at your drawings and make notes on how you did this, and what could you do better?
After finishing this project I can conclude that knowing what to select and what to simplify is really quite tricky, include too much and it will make for an uncomfortable drawing, too little and the piece will seem unfinished, wanting more.
In the study of the oak tree and the elm tree in the second exercise I think I did this quite successfully, I spent a lot of time picking out the important details to include and eliminating those elements that seemed less important. In the group studies I think I may have simplified possibly too much in places, though I am very happy with the texture the ink was able to convey.
Overall I think I have done quite well in this project I am pleased with the results and I have definitely enjoyed working through it. Trees are still one of my favourite subjects and I shall no doubt return to them in the not too distant future.