Reflection – Part 4 – Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Materials

  • I have tried to extend my use of materials as I have worked through this part of the course but unfortunately found myself drifting back to those I find most comfortable.   I don’t think I have been very successful in using free flowing materials and struggle to find the composition and form rather than the more emotive possibilities of different kinds of drawing materials.
  • It would be useful to be pointed towards different kinds of drawing and I remain confused about where drawing stops and painting begins.  Is there are dividing line – I don’t think so but fail to apply this to my own work.
  • In terms of trying materials I enjoyed going out on a limb and using edible stuff and spices. However felt constrained by time limits and the push to get through the different exercises.
  • Pleased with working on heavier paper and the wet on wet technique – could use this more and with a greater variety of media

Techniques

  • My technique has developed in some areas but it remains patchy.   It is still hard for me to pause and consider rather than dashing in to get marks on paper.   This is somewhat driven by the format of life class itself.
  • I did surprise myself with getting the essence of the figures in some of the quite short poses – I find that the longer I work on a pose the more it tends to deteriorate  learning to work in stages on a drawing – particularly ones of up to 2 hrs or longer is a challenge for me.  It is a bit like the experience of doing the Assignment 4 seated pose.    The studies are far more vibrant alive and energetic than the final piece.

Observational Skills & Visual Awareness

  • Again the issue is consistency – sometimes I can manage to hold my concentration. I think the skills are developing even if it is to notice more accurately what is not working. I don’t always know how to rectify this.
  • I believe I am still easily distracted by what I think is there rather than really effective looking.   It is easy to get carried away with an exercise or study and loose the essence of piece.

Design & Compositional Skills

  • Interestingly I think this has been less successful in this part because the body gets to dominate my thoughts rather than how the body or head is in the landscape/frame of a piece.
  • I have tended to draw whole bodies because that is what I think is expected although we have been encouraged to look at other artists where obvious dynamic compositional choices have been made.  I don’t think I have done this I have just centred on drawing the form of the body.

Overall although I have loved completing this part of the module I don’t think in terms of these components it has been as successful and I would have liked.   Maybe it is about identifying all the issues and hurdles initially before I can move things forward.   A body/head is so much more subtle a subject to capture and therefore needs more than I have to offer at this stage.

Quality of Outcome

I think key words for this whole part  4 are patchy/unpredictable/inconsistent.    This refers also to the quality of the outcomes.   I think my work is coherent but as commented in the previous section sometimes hits the spot and sometimes does not.

Again this is due to the way I consciously or unconsciously approach the exercises.   Sometimes I start out with conscious intentions and can sustain through the piece but this is not always true.   There is still not enough stepping back and reviewing.  It is not that I over judge my own work as being successful when it is not but have not found a way to take the lessons forward and incorporate them into the future work.

I believe that the necessary review before I make choices for Part 5 will be critical in becoming more discerning.  I will need to build in some key learning and development targets into this.

Demonstration of Creativity

Not surprisingly some of the comments related to the previous sections are also relevant to these area. There are ideas bubbling away through this section particularly those that link my interest in the dolls with Hans Bellmer and my own image (self-portraits) designing myself as a package.

Experimentation has taken place not only within the course exercises as with the food stuffs and packaging but when taking the short course about textures and surface.  These have all fed into my moving forward thoughts about areas of interest to explore further.

Context

I have aimed to look more widely at sources and images to give greater depth to my understanding of the context surrounding the body in art. There are books etc that I wish to tackle but have found some of the writing rather opaque and don’t believe I have enough understanding of the way art historians think about artworks.

My reading has though made me more aware of the cultural, historic, economic, social, gender and identity aspects of art – particularly in relation on women’s’ artwork. Though as yet I am confused about what is being talked about with feminism and post-feminism.  My last foray into being analytical about the arts was in the 80s not at the height of the feminist era but when many of the first wave of feminist art history was emerging as well as development of philosophical thinking i.e. Griselda Pollock, Rozsika Parker etc. Some of these books are now coming out again as “classic” editions. Presently I would like to tackle this as part of the Part 5 study but need time to think about how to approach this without being sucked into too much theoretical analysis.

Seeing work like the Cathie Pilkington exhibition has encouraged me to believe that there is some good/successful/strong women’s work out there that does not pander to excessive response to male stereotypes.   I don’t precisely know what I mean by this but that is how it came out.

Conclusions

I have hugely enjoyed working through the part of the module and would like to have stayed longer with some aspects of my work.

I am clear that I need to:-

  • Think more before I act
  • Make more conscious decisions at different stages as I am working through a piece
  • Stand back more
  • Review more
  • Experiment more
  • Mix up the media – extend my vocabulary
  • Become more analytical about artists work – ask myself questions

 

 

 

Part 4 Bibliography –

Betterton, Rosemary, 1996. Intimate Distance. 1st ed. London: Routledge.

Carson, Fiona, & Pajaczkowska, Claire 2000. Feminist Visual Culture. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Cumming, Laura, 2009. A Face to the Wold: on self-portraits. 1st ed. London: Harper Collins.

Hall, James, 2014. The Self-Portrait: A cultural History. 1st ed. UK: Thames & Hudson.

Kemp Martin & Wallace, Marina (2000), Spectacular Bodies, 1st ed, London, Hayward Gallery

Marion Young, Iris, 2005. On Female Body Experience. 1st ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Saunders, Gill, 1989. The Nude: a new perspective. 1st ed. London: The Herbert Press Ltd.

Sennett, Richard, 1996. Flesh & Stone. 1st ed. London: W W Norton & Company Ltd.

Simblet, Sarah, 2001. Anatomy for the Artist. 1st ed. London: Dorling Kindersley.

Webb, Peter, 2004. Death, Desire & The Doll. 1st ed. UK: Solar Books.

Woodall, Joanna, 2005. Self-Portrait: Renaissance to Contemporary. 1st ed. London: National Portrait Gallery.

Exhibitions – Part 4

Phoenix Brighton – MEMORIA – Alex Peckham

memoria

This is a multi-dimensional piece created in an almost dark space surrounded by a sound recording of birds and external noises.   It is therefore both internal and external but when you are in the space itself holds you between the two.   Dominating the environment is a huge moth which appears to be breathing – not because it is moving but because of the sound-track and the assumption that this is the only living thing in the environment.

Scattered around are different pieces including tables and chairs – set with specific objects, dried trees, flowers – in retrospect I don’t know if what I “remember” are part of the exhibition or part of my own projection into the space and the experience.

Whilst the piece represents “dynamic sound and light to reflect upon life and death” my own response was of a tranquil, restful, allowing experience.   I found the piece thoughtfully expressive of acceptance – or maybe that is just me!

University of Brighton – Cathie Pilkington

CP 4

The Life Rooms

Anatomy of a Doll & Harmonium

Provocative and ambiguous, Cathie Pilkington’s sculptures make use of dolls in unexpected and challenging ways.

Exhibited for the first time since its debut at the Royal Academy, Anatomy of a Doll responds to Degas’ famous figures of ballerinas, playing with ideas of form and representation: is it sophisticated high art or the mechanics of a handcrafted work in progress? Showing alongside is Harmonium, which transforms a humble wooden shelving unit into the framework for fascinating individual tableaux.

Figurines, textiles, lightboxes and domestic items each tell their own story, questioning expectations of ornament, storage and display. A Royal Academician since 2014, Pilkington is acclaimed for her often unsettling sculptures that question how the female figure is represented. (brightonfestival.org/event/11032)

 

CP 5

I had not come across the work of Cathie Pilkington before and was thrilled by the diversity of her work.   The ready-made pieces collaged together and over glazed as well as the more macabre created items like the one below I found very resonant with my interests with different ways to examine the female experience.

CP 6

“Storytelling, myths, norms subverted, using “female” materials objects of the home and girl-hood.  Sexualised, desexualised, curiosity, dressing table, femininity? who am I, couples/ceramic maids and partners, obliterated, covered, brown – colours of the 30s-50s”.

CP 7

I loved particularly this dressing-table tableau with the child in 70s browns examining herself in the mirror but surrounded by over gazed idealised shepherds and shepherdesses.  Personally I remember the fascination with my mother’s whole dressing-table “alter-like” specialness – the place the ordinary face became the extra-ordinary or the private became the public.

CP 8

Is the girl willing herself to become adult or more female or different?

CP 9

I have over the years collected pieces of embroidery with crinolined ladies depicted as the epitome of femininity – usually surrounded by hollyhocks in a country garden.  Such a static depiction retained from previous centuries always struck me as an anachronism…..

crinoline lady

The second part of Pilkington’s exhibition was the creation of an art studio – fitted with lecture theatre like seats, mirrors and individual pieces of “sculpture” in the likeness of Degas’s “Little Dancer” but made from a combination of ceramic, fabric etc fixed on apertures.  These are subversive in their depictions of the female form – not idealised – heads back to front, limbs asymmetrical etc.

CP 11

I really enjoyed this exhibition which opened up a different world and a variety of methods.  However Harmonium though challenging I was not all together clear about what she was referencing on the different shelves – there were elements of Louise Bourgeois but maybe that is just the use of fabric.

Fabrica, Brighton – THEY

An exhibition by respected Turkish artist Ipek Duben comes to Brighton this Spring. THEY/ONLAR, a multi-screen video installation, previously seen at SALT, Istanbul, Turkey, will be presented at Fabrica for its UK premiere.

THEY/ONLAR focuses on how Turkish society views They or the Other. Through the stories of several individuals the artist goes behind the scene in Turkish society, allowing us to glimpse her country’s diversity of ethnic, religious and gender positions, the perceptions of members of the Sunni majority, and the everyday discrimination and resistance that it engenders.

In Turkey They covers many ethnic, and religious groups: Kurds, Alevis, Armenians, Jews, Rum (Greek) and Romanis. They also refers to LGBT people, women, covered women, women subjected to domestic violence.

Through their personal testimonies Duben’s subjects discuss their histories, attitudes, prejudices, hear-say and personal experiences concerning each other. But in portraying Turkish society Ipek Duben ultimately invites us to examine ourselves in our context: to listen; to learn; to understand; to be generous to, rather than threatened by the Other.

Co-produced with Brighton Festival and with the generous support of SAHA Foundation

Fabrica  images

The statement above was part of the PR flyer for the exhibition.   Spending quite a lot of time watching the films I became more and more intrigued by the individual stories and what was the same and what was different one to the other and to my own experience.   There was a great deal revealed about the culture and politics of gender which I could identify with as my experience from 50s – 70s .   The difference was the attitudes of the ethnic groups to each other.   There had been times which they clearly lived amiably side by side but more recently a sense of separateness and fracture.

I am not sure how to respond to this as a piece of artwork -clearly there is a documentary format, biographical.  What I enjoyed was the way each person was caught as it were mid sentence and mid discussion – each following the previous and phasing into the next.  It left you wanting to hear more and certainly becoming involved in the narratives.

In conclusion I was reminded of the Jo Cox quote “more similar than different”.

 

 

 

 

Part 4 – Project 6 – The Head – Exercise 3 – Portrait from Memory or the Imagination

The idea of creating a portrait from memory or imagination really freaked me out.   I don’t know why and couldn’t think how to start.   So I began by making a couple of quick collages using images from recent colour supplements.   In fact I really rather like the one on the right with the cat ears.   Started to draw from this but not in itself very satisfactory – trying to make it a face instead of what it is.

And then I remembered seeing on the bus a very young mother with a new born baby.   It was a particularly poignant scene because her mother was sitting next to her and the new mother was breastfeeding her baby.  In order to retain her dignity her mother was holding a scarf over the baby whilst her other hand rested on her daughter’s shoulder.   I was really touched by this scene with one generation supporting the next in this very protective but not overwhelming way.

imagination girl on the bus

Anyway with this image in my mind I started to draw and am interested and intrigued by what I have produced.   This does look in some way like a Madonna and child and more surprisingly there are aspects of the face that are reminiscent of the young mother I saw the day before. It is not her, it is not the best drawing (proportionally) but I have captured something of the moment that I witnessed.

head dix style

Otto Dix style head

single figure and head sheile

Egon Shiele style figure

Just added these two drawings in because I like them!

 

Project 4 – Research – Self-portraits

In my sketchbook I have looked at elf-portraits by many artists from the “early masters” to early 20th century painters in order to try to understand the cultural, visual, and historic context of the work.

Contemporary Artists:- Jenny, Saville, Chuck Close, Lucien Freud, David Hockney, MarleneDumas, Elizabeth Peyton,

David Hockney – it seems like over the decades Hockney has investigated a huge variety of mark making and tonal qualities.   From his early line based drawings through more tonally based paintings and onto rather flat surface images – particularly with his use of the ipad.

Lucien Freud – was always essentially a mark maker whether in drawing or using the paint as mark and.  It almost feels like he hollows/chisels out the paint making very stark lines though the use of tone.

Chuck Close – has developed over time to produce his wonderfully colourful pixilated paintings which upon inspection are more and more complex.    The build up of the contours via the method of intricate filling in of each square/rectangle.  An amazing colourist.

Marlene Dumas – as discussed early she tends to us a rather flat tone throughout her drawings/paintings concentrating on the features as if penetrating the surface of the face.  Line is minimal.

Jenny Saville – Her very complex drawings and patintings often allude to multi-view images with surface layered on surface to create the depth and tones.   Drawing seems to be very traditional in her approach the compositions making them very contemporary in their structure and context.

juggling babies

I don’t know or don’t want to know what the title of this painting is but I call it “Juggling Babies” it is very reminiscent for me of the experience of motherhood – which is far from the idealised Madonna and child. I particularly like how she incorporates the painting with drawing adding to the density and energy of the image.

elizabeth peyton

Elizabeth Peyton describes her faces with flat application of line.  Tones in the main are implied rather than shown. There is a directness about the gaze that she produces from her sitters.

 

 

Part 4 – Project 6 – My Head – Exercise 2

Project 6 Exercise 2 - self head 1

I surprised myself with this drawing – only water soluble pencils which I have just discovered. The proportions are fairly accurate and lifelike. A bit generous on my mouth.  Like the way the tones and angles of the face work quite effectively.

Project 6 Exercise 2 head self 2

This second version came from an initial blind face drawing with red chalk and then overworked with charcoal and rubbed back.   Not as much of a likeness in fact more of my younger self but in some ways more penetrating.

detail project 6 exercise 2 self 3

Part of a further drawing using water soluble wax crayons.

Project 6 exercise 2 line drawing oil pastels.

A monoprint from an oil pastel covered paper and worked from the back. Could imagine working on layers on this with different colours and mark making instruments.

Project 6 exercise 2 self overdrawn

I like this in a way because it is me all over.   Getting into something and then loosing it completely.   Forgetting the basics along the way.

drawing 2

Was trying out different surfaces and materials – here inks on a heavy anaglypta paper I found in a local DIY store. I can imagine working further into this with different materials.

food head 1

food head 2

Wracking my brains to come up with different materials I mixed up solutions of different foods an spices for the two images above – chilli powder, turmeric, coffee, redbush tea, green tea and cocoa. Meant to add beetroot but didn’t have any to hand. Something of the first image I like very much – it reminds me a bit of Marlene Dumas.

In the sketchbook I went on to create other images involved in the idea of being packaged…this is not a lost idea but something I may work on in the future in Part 5.

Packaging 1

 

HOW DO I IMPLEMENT DISCIPLINE TO MY PROCESS WHILST STAYING LOOSE?

I believe the first pencil drawing was the most accurate and life like.   Perhaps because I was more accurate and took my time?    However I didn’t vary the angle enough or concentrate on different light sources.

However I have subsequently tried other materials and methods and am beginning to understand how I could become obsessed with capturing ones own image.   I am thinking that I might concentrate on this for the Assignment 5 but with other still life elements – i.e. the doll etc.

 

 

Part 4 – Project 6 – The Head – Exercise 1 – Facial Features

Project 6 Exercise 1 Heads

I am beginning to build up a collection of images of the head and features in my anatomy book.   This will be an ongoing process.

eyes etcmouthshead 2heads 2

Research – Heads – Historic & Contemporary

From da Vinci, Raphael and Rubens everything from very accurate use of line to very subtle use of tone.

Matisse, Corot and Degas – line, line and tone, tone.

From Graham Little through Maggie Hambling to Marlene Dumas – the last two my favourites.   I have questions about where drawing stops and painting begins or does it?

The really expressive marks that Hambling takes I find invigorating.  Dumas on the other hand uses different tones and marks in a very penetrating way.   Once again I am caught between the intensity and the simplicity of the images and how powerful both can be.