Because of the nature of this assignment and the whole of the Part 3 module I have decided to have a dialogue with myself whilst I prepare the piece.
6 March 2017
I have found the whole of Part 3 very difficult for a variety of reasons:-
- I had not tried drawing landscape in the past and was surprised how quickly I was pulled into particular places and views especially those which I am intimate with and are near to me. Places where I walk my dogs regularly and look at in different weather conditions and light.The span of the subject matter. Having not ever tried to do anything in the landscape I struggled to get going and then I had I found that I really responded to it.
Having engaged with this subject matter I really wanted to continue with my investigations and was further aroused by visiting the Paul Nash exhibition at Tate Britain. However the coursework requires you to move on which I did reluctantly.
2.The next major area for investigation was buildings and townscapes for which I have no empathy whatsoever. This was the biggest struggle of Part 3 for me. Although I did learn something about perspective I spent a lot of time getting myself very confused by it too.
However I was drawn to the drilling rig in Shoreham-by-Sea harbour which was repairing the sea wall. Rather than the town I liked the strong image of the rig itself and its size compared to the buildings. Also the reflections of the rig in the river as it ebbed and flowed through the tides was engaging and recalled the work of Monet and Whistler and their drawings/paintings of London and the Thames. Again it is not surprising that the most evocative for me are night or early morning sketches/paintings. I was not able to access the harbour at these times and now the rig has been dismantled.
(N.B. Brighton Festival is hosting an event – Five Short Blasts which will take place on the river Adur at Shoreham in May. The times of the events vary through the day depending on the tides. I have booked 6 am and one 7 am trips on different days. Looking forward to being on the river early in the morning.)
3. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the tree section at the beginning of this part and could have stayed with this subject matter for much longer.
4. My frustrations were further added to by trying to complete this part through the worst time of the year weather wise. I kept trying to get out for longer and being beaten back by the cold or rain.
This has led to the choice for this assignment piece being one close to home i.e. my garden.
Day 1 – getting into the rhythm
Because of various family circumstances I haven’t been able to draw much for the last few weeks so need this preliminary stage to get back into the drawing again as well as testing various media.
As usual I had done a lot of preparation thinking and looking at the garden and taken many photographs. I find I am using this as part of my process and preliminary decision making towards finding a composition to begin to work with.
This just looks boring although I have the man made and the natural elements. I was thinking about how to capture the garden in winter. The table which has come apart during the winter seemed to epitomise this thought as well as the flat cloud covered day.
Then the next day the sun came out…not sure that I find it any more interesting.
So I moved a few things about to create some layers, depth, colour and focal points.
Then cropped this down as well as taking a lower eye level to create a more intense composition.
So then attacked the sketchbook with this in mind. The first I tried to work in tones and then wanted to rub back to find the lightest tones of the chairs and tables.
Didn’t really get it in terms of the chairs but structurally it works with the flagstones and the walls receding which is something I will be able to emphasise with tones when I work the main piece. This was taken from the larger image and probably has too much in it to make it work.
Then I thought I would try working on watercolour paper so that I can load the paper more effectively and build up the layers. Unfortunately I put too much graphite/pencil in first so the whole thing has gone muddy. However I will work back into this one again.
Finally I worked on another piece of watercolour paper on which I used some inks initially to block in different areas. Over this I was drawing with the water soluble crayons.
Although I seem to have moved things slightly and ignored the chairs for the moment I like the start on this one better than the rest. I can see how I could build up the tones and work into this kind of media. However I am aware that I wanted to work much more freely on this assignment and want to keep this in mind as I test different media. Additionally I worked from the closer image and lower viewpoint which I think is going to be the better option.
Questions to self:-
- Am I aiming for a “real” copy of the scene – in other words like an exterior still life?
- Am I prepared to be brave enough to push my media and method more?
- Can I keep reminding myself that it is not only about surface texture but also mark too?
Day 2 – 8 March 2017
The challenge of day 2 is to keep my options open and not go back to tried and tested methods and media. I know I can make a good image with the ink and water soluble crayons – they are my tried and tested formula.
However I have promised myself that I will push the barriers on this one so today’s task is to try and combine different media and use in new/different ways.
At the beginning of the day I am resolved to try at least the following:-
- Oil bars/conte stick/turps
- Tracing paper + coloured pencils
Question to self:-
How can I remain loose whilst being deliberate about mark making/tone + colour?
I read about this method in The Sketching & Drawing Bible by Marylin Scott. I thought it was interesting that you could draw on both sides of tracing paper. However I added by own take by making the background page a collage of 4 different papers which I worked on in various ways before working on the tracing paper.
I could have worked on it longer but I had planned to do 3 different sketches in the day and decided to stop. I think it is more successful than I thought it would be and with effort – particularly in reversing the shading etc….it could be a very successful method. I like the way it is the one sketch which allowed to me to highlight the chairs and tables and allow the background to recede well. I think it would be a struggle to decide how much to work the background papers and both sides of the tracing paper but having said that apart from the foliage which I worked on quickly it is more successful that I expected.
This is the conte stick and oil bars. Again I gave myself limited time on this. But I like the way you can blend the colours and create the distance. I did not work on it long enough to introduce the lines which would have given it more perspective. I enjoy the messiness but need to be aware of how important t is to get the composition down accurately in the first place. Did not do enough standing back in the early stages.
First stage of the third sketch of the day. Ink base both water soluble and acrylic. Sort of indifferent about the piece at this stage. Do however like the way the chairs are there and not there.
Worked into with more inks and soluble crayons. Don’t know if it was just the end of the day but lost the composition and am a bit fed up with the chair in the foreground. Not feeling it adds anything to it. So probably taking it out.
Day 3 – 9 March 2017
Day to make decisions. So although there are elements in all of yesterday’s sketches that I like I have decided to work with the oil bars, conte stick and oil pastels. The other decision is that I have taken out the second, leaning chair, and added something else!
As I set to work I am thinking about how to retain liveliness in the drawing and not flattening out all the surfaces by too much blending and smudging. I also have to pay more attention to the composition as I set about the task. More standing back and assessing.
I have bought some A1 300gm HP watercolour paper as the surface. Have tried NOT before and it doesn’t work if you are stripping back) First stage was drawing with the black conte stick and then blocking in with the oil bars. I only have limited colours of oil bars so went with the best match. So far I think I like the composition better without the 2nd chair which added a lot of confusion and the statue added.
This second stage I blended in the first layer of oil bars. Started to use a pallet knife which kind of works and doesn’t. It strips the surface right back to just dyed paper.
AT the end of the day having thrown everything at it. Used oil bars, oil pastels, water soluble crayons, coloured pencils, pallet knife, craft knife, 7B graphite pencil and more. Some parts I like and some I don’t I had to reaffirm the composition again and again and in some parts it is still not accurate enough.
Spent quite a lot of time trying to achieve detail and then decided it was too fussy. I am not sure it is as strong structurally and some of the original sketches. Particularly don’t like the palm behind the chair. It is very soft and looks far too generalised in the outcome. I feel that some of the sketches had more life and spontaneity whereas this final piece is a bit mundane.
Day 4 – 12 March 2017
After some reconsidering I have decided I find the composition of the drawing above rather mundane and boring and have decided to try a different view and endeavour to keep the working much looser.
This drawing was worked on green pastel paper with water soluble crayons. I thought that the view is more dynamic with a higher eye level and more perspective angles. It is interesting to me because in some ways it is more successful and in others less so. Whilst the light remains flat grey cloud and overcast I am not sure that the drawing encompasses the mood of a garden before Spring has Sprung!
It has been some little time since I have completed the last 2 drawings and standing back from them I have decided to submit the 2nd drawing as the assessment this time round. My reasons for doing this are:-
- The composition is more dynamic than the first drawing The long view draws the eye into the distance emphasising the perspective.
- The position of the objects is more interesting than in the first drawing
- The rather subdued dull flat light is more indicative of the February weather and grey overcast days.
My overall thoughts on this Part 3 module is that it has been a struggle for me. Moving from one kind of subject to another without the time to develop my own relationship with the subject particularly landscape has been difficult.
I also have found that for the same reason though I connected strongly with Paul Nash and what has been called the “English Romantic Moderns” I did not have time enough to spend on this or increase my understanding with reading and research.
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
In some ways I feel that my skills have fallen off a bit in trying to depict all these different subjects. Also I have tried to extend my repertoire of materials but feel I am going back to the tried and tested ones too much. There is a vision to produce much more dynamic work where the mark making is strong and sensitive at the same time. I don’t think I am anywhere near this yet. Because of the nature of the exercises I fall back into what can be achieved rather than what can be learnt from failing to achieve. As far as landscape is concerned I certainly would like to have a concerted effort to pursue this at some stage as I have found myself responding in a way that I have found unexpected and joyous. Joyous to be outside in the air and relating to the world in a different way.
My design and compositional skills continue to develop but I had a real problem with analysing perspective in order to achieve a successful outcome. Somehow the more I thought about it the more difficult it became to achieve.!
2. Quality of Outcome
I am disappointed with the quality of the outcome on this assignment but partly this is because I was not particularly connected to the composition as I had been in the first 2 assignments. This was a compromise in order to achieve the criteria of the assignment given the weather conditions and my personal circumstances. However having said this it did push me to produce work that I would not have attempted.
In some ways I have learnt more about different media and materials but am still finding it hard to apply a discipline to myself when approaching a piece of work. It is as if I don’t ask myself enough questions before I start about what I am trying to achieve and just launch into the work. This is a two-sided issue on the one hand I want to remain and be even more spontaneous and on the other I want to apply what I am learning through the exercises in a deliberate way in order to achieve some mastery of my materials.
3. Demonstration of Creativity
This might sound like another moan but I don’t feel this time I have developed my creativity because of the different subjects. Whilst I became fascinated with Nash and his approaches and did do some work in my sketchbook that indicated this engagement moving onto buildings and townscapes flattened that enthusiasm. Experimentation has also been limited.
The most important idea that I have realised is that I do respond to the outside environment particularly if it is personal to my life. i.e. the views that I see regularly and the mystery forest where I visit with my grandchildren. How this then relates to a wider context particularly in relation to other artists I would have loved to have spent more time on eg Paul Nash, Eileen Agar and others. There are aspects of both their works that I are very pertinent to me:-
- combining media
- natural objects
- ancient sites
- personal imagery
- subjective/abstract relationships
- and much much more….
And also the discovery of Kentridge!