Latex and Layers of Skin Sketch

4 – Layers of skin with latex layers

latex layer 1

The detail of the marks and the negative and positive space feel strong.   Using the simplicity of mainly one colour but in different ways i.e. pen, brush, .   also where the latex has been laid on but the ink has found its way through has expressive simplicity.

Very hesitant moving onto the next layer – very ambivalent feelings of covering, or spoiling the original image.    Anxiety around not knowing what is next although I had planned to work through 7 layers of this process.   Is it about trying to get through a barrier – or about the endless pressure to “make a nice picture” .

It is the pre-birth with the torso – corseted and the child free floating in the middle. Does the baby have arms here?  But the mother remains headless.

latex layer 2

Now looking more like a dirtied day/tea literally dress from the Edwardian period with the Suffragette’s banners of BULLDOZE and STUBBORN emblazoned across the chest. The child to the right is almost totally obliterated as a blotch of grey – her facial features non-existent.  the pure white of the first layer has been obliterated and have used walnut ink for the detail.

The longer I lived with this more more significant this felt to me.   The strong sense of issues being over-layed and over-layered as well as the positive and negative spaces being used.   This together with the marking and obliteration of marks – shapes, images, letters, words is beginning to resonate about the fragments of memory real and imagined as well as  thinking about that which survives, in terms of photographs and family stories.

Does what is important get remembered, imaged? Or is it totally random?

Moving onto the next layer is again a struggle as I am again emotional about loosing aspects of the drawing as if it is loosing aspects of myself – instead of shedding the layers of skin I am building up the layers of skin/story/camouflage/shell.

This time I am concentrating on the “Mother” body – relaxing back and headless – feet towards the viewer.  Across all the examples I wanted to lift the textural quality of the pieces (realising even with the “frottage” (See research Max Ernst) I have not used different textures.   Created a monoprint which I uses across most of the sketches

mother layer

These two monoprints flank the main layering sketch.

mother plus mono prints

Additionally 4 different sketches in the sketchbook working into the texture/around the textures in different ways.

There is a more robust quality to these not only from the texture of the paint itself but the way it does and doesn’t take up the ancillary material. The fight to gain image or not has a visceral reaction

Note to self:- what is the question

Which part of the investigation am I pursuing – what is the next question.


4 Ways Forward

2 Layers of Skin – Layers of Life – Layers of Body Experience

Thinking through passages from Drawing Now and the quotation from Joseph Kosuth about naming “a more complex process of seeing , thinking, relating and remembering.”

So I set about naming my parts, or parts of my life from the images I have been building up:-

-1 – Pre-birth  –

There is a Talmudic Saying that a child knows everything of their life, what comes before, during and after and at the moment of birth this knowledge is snuffed out only to be re-experienced in the lived life of the individual.

For this I started with the image that I had taken through the “lens” of the doll part..the far away, distant but still visible.

1 – Birth

Through the legs literally of the headless torso – who needs a head when you are giving birth?   An instrument of creation.   The child inert.

2. The Childhood

Again the armless doll but in the background images of the ageing skin out of focus and also the legs of the mother – still a presence, in the background, being in control.   The doll is a cut out and can move around the stage of life – like one of those cardboard theatre pieces on a stick being pulled in and out by another.

3.The  Pubescent

Peep Show – the experience of being at the same time curious and afraid.   What can I see? Do I understand? What do I feel? What is happening to my body? Will it be like hers (the mother)? What does that make me feel?

4. The Woman

Laying back as if sun bathing, at ease with her body or is she? She is still headless but presents herself as confident and knowing but inside is uncertain and hesitant. Additionally she has tags – like the fold back tags that paper dolls used to have to attach their clothes to them….

4. The Mother

Using the maternity shapewear bodysuit have cut out the dark shadows – why there are no dark shadows in motherhood or are there?  The enveloping garment and its collapse upon birth.

5. The Menopausal

A Topsy-turvy headless body with dark blood issuing for the last time….There is a sense of freedom as well as lack of direction and control. She floats around unable to right/write herself.

6. The Aged Crone

Just used a shot from a friend one of the few who allowed me to photograph her skin up close.   Resistance from others has been strong – could use myself here later.


peep thorugh 1

Interested in finding ways through the layers

peep through 5

What kind of surfaces or marks would project the sense of the different body experiences?

frottage of sketchbook layers

Created a random “frottage” drawing from all the different cut-out layers using a variety of materials  and then rubbing back.

This says to me there are different parts of a whole, but the whole is not clear, some are more dominant than others and others have been transformed in the process – like the menopausal torso which is now a bodily form – strong and clear.   The womb still exists as does the channel of birth…but other parts are less clear. Aware as I read back that I am distancing myself from these images using “other” when I perhaps should be staying in the me and mine.

sketchbook and frottage and drawing

For the moment the final shot of the sketchbook looking supra – 3D in front of the two drawings. In a sense a cinematic set of life with the stage props and drops awaiting in the wings or centre stage?

Looking at Samples – Making Decisions

Having made a number of samples/sketches for the “skin” element of my studies decided to review and make some decisions.

Plaster sample

The sample above I used plaster of paris bandage onto board with gesso.   There was a layer of iron filings which I rusted with vinegar.  Finally added some inks.

sample tracing paper

This second chosen one was in imprint or mono-print off a canvas I had drawn on with water soluble crayons and pencils.   This was onto tracing paper. Although I like the effect of this piece and the beginnings of interest in the one above I realise I am just attempting to copy using other materials.

Having finally got around to reading “Drawing Now” (2007 TRACY) and spending some time trying to get to grips with the density of the text am beginning to realise that I now need to find a place where I am aiming to get beyond the purely representative.   In some senses I have started to do that with the previous drawing (charcoal of the maternity shapewear).   Here these is another layer in the words as well as the style of drawing and the depth of the darks which give me more a sense of the profundity of the subject matter behind the piece.

So although there are  a number of other samples I have decided to re-evaluate at this stage – see sketchbook.

 4 Ways Forward

  1. Imprinting/Embossing 

Working forward from the charcoal drawing and using my words this technique presents an interesting way of layering the thoughts behind my subject matter.  Imprinting is a very primal process and animal behaviour implicit in the bonding process.   Though I am aware that my experience of bonding was  not complete the imprinting is still there.  so what are the questions that I am asking in looking at this?  What underlying messages are embedded in the body experience? How have these manifested themselves? How can I “contain”these in a visual sense? Do they get covered over, break down, obliterated?

Layers of the skin – collage

Thinking about the 7 layers of skin and 7 ages of woman.   In a very literal sense this could be 7 layers of work or 7 kinds of mark/image that encapsulates these thoughts.   What does the skin represent in the life of women? So much.  Enormous connotations about the perfect skin, flawless skin, young skin, like peaches and cream…..etc. But reality is that with each decade the collagen breaks down and wrinkles are inevitable unless you go for the great “uplift” – as in corset treatment for the face!

3 Distortion – paper

Thinking about the distention of the belly with pregnancy, getting fatter, getting thinner, memories of my mother’s belly without a corset/roll-on. Finding ways to stretch or distort paper so that it then collapses – what would that achieve? Different media on which to work.   Could be cloth but that is almost cheating.

4 Layers of the skin – latex

From a sample in the sketchbook put on some latex solution and then drew on top.  when dry peeled off the latex.   This could be something that is done 7 times – literally the 7 layers and working up from the beginning…..    In some sense this relates also the 1 Imprinting – Marking, imprinting, embossing, marking, over working, rubbing back, …..


What I am trying to achieve through my learning process:-

  • Don’t jump on the first good idea that seems viable – Delaying Closure – hard to resist the automatic reaction and stay in the discomfort zone longer without answers
  • Keep finding different ways to approach the ideas – not head on – so the 4 suggestions above – Actively searching for contradictions
  • Working slower and with more thought to what is significant.
  • Thinking more analytically about the purpose of drawing by reading and working out how that relates to my experience – so far it has been a bit leap of realisation to get beyond the “copying” – now realise why so much of what I have done has not satisfied – lacking in depth and context – Rejecting the Familiar

Moving Forward

For various reasons I stripped my display boards and have started from a different point.

drawing board 24 Sept


There are various thoughts that prompted this choice:-

  1. Looking back at the mind map the who scope of the investigation, particularly for the purposes of this assignment at this point in the course, seems immense. There fore I decided that I need to think about ways of keeping the tasks achievable whilst keeping my investigations open.
  2. There seem to be 3 main components that are uppermost in my mind at this time:-
    1. Skin – particularly older skin
    2. Constraint of the Female – as in relation to body shape and presentation
    3. The Dolls – idealised but inanimate – also in pieces
  3. Size/Scale – for some reason this has become important and is about making visible the invisible, the undervalued, the easily ignored, –ageing/change/

So for this next stage I have blown up a photograph of my own hand and the maternity bodysuit.


In an effort to stay on track, in planning terms, whilst loose in the drawing/making I have worked on a number of samples on different materials:-

  • watercolour paper, tracing paper, handmade paper, old brown paper carrier bags, silk, sized canvas, wet canvas, upholstery linen, plaster of Paris bandage.

in the first instance these have been worked on in a variety of ways:-

  • ink wash, water soluble crayons, latex/glue/face foundation mix, imprinting, bleach, iron filings and vinegar.

they are currently proving and drying.


  • What is it about the relationship between these 3 subjects that I am trying to capture?
  • Want to bring these together but how? why?
  • How important is structure in all this – skin has 7 layers – a life is 3 score years and 10 what is it about 7 that keeps coming back – seven ages of woman……(look at numerology)
  • Where does Drawing come into all this:- different surfaces, depth, animate, inanimate – continue to ready and investigate.
  • Also the politics of the gaze:-
    • being the viewer – viewing others – outward
    • being viewed – incoming
    • viewing myself – both – directly and via a mirror or other material/photograph/paper/canvas
  • What about feminism/sexuality/gender/fetishism?

Starting with my words:-

I often hear one of my daughters saying to her children “I can’t hear your words” when they are upset or angry.   She is trying to help them articulate their strong emotional responses and by helping them move away from sounds gives them the opportunity to be heard.

So I started working with the words that I had gathered in the beginning of my  Part 5 sketchbook as words of repression, frustration, anger, etc.   These represent very strong emotions and my idea was to literally imprint them on the page.

Using a very hard pencil I wrote my words onto the page and then rubbed them out…in this way they are there and not there.   The experience of being visible and invisible at the same time.

  • Concentrate on ways to render the imprinting in different ways so that the words are more visible and less visible but in a chosen way rather than be random.  Black on white, white on black and other colours.

Having obliterated the words it felt important to signify the child who is/was restrained and denied.   Drew by imprinting from oil pastel sheet (a la Klee) my small armless doll. She feels like someone who has been curtailed in a way..she has no hands to hold, be held with she is marooned, isolated, inarticulate (we talk with our hands as well as our voices.

  • Maybe more imprinting with different colours – images – words

Then covered the whole page with charcoal and rubbed back so that the words could stand out again – the 2nd reveal – become visible by physical effort.

with tone

Finally worked on the drawing in various stages to build up the tones and emphasise or eliminate parts.   Thinking am I trying to create a mimesis (reading Drawing Now )?   Actually working to move on from merely representation.

Going right back to mark making, tone and the deep darks from the beginning of the drawing module.   Referencing the Redon’s which I became very attached to and then had to leave.

Cactus Man Odilon REdon

Also John Virtue in my struggle to find the landscape or structure of this drawing


And Piet Peere…his beautifully rendered tones and form of the figure.

Piet Peere

I have taken some detail of the drawing as there are elements in here I would like to engage more with:_

  • Scale:-    What would happen if I go even bigger with these – I have an thought of breaking it up into 4 parts and working on different techniques in each.
  • Method:- other resist and imprinting techniques as well as different supports
  • I am seeing anatomical elements within the drawing – almost a pelvis, a pouch (to hold what/whom/ also Hebrew letters (my heritage)

Thoughts  & Questions

What I like:-

  • I particularly like the fact that I have moved away from the purely representational drawing.   Having finally beginning to read Drawing Now have given myself permission to go beyond copying into another level of interpretation.
  • There is a glimpse of the essential in drawing and not drawing for drawing’s sake – driven my another – mother (I see this later).   With this drawing I have found a way to own my process. A path opening up.
  • The resumption of using black and white and particularly spending some time with charcoal is fairly successful . I have mastered some tonality in the work which has eluded me at times during the course.  There is depth as well in the piece.
  • I find the final piece intriguing even though I know what went into it.   Particularly the shapes and the galleries of marks and shapes. The details allow me to imagine this as almost another world of caverns and crevices each hiding something significant or in the past hidden. Tempted to go deeper. What will I find.   Thoughts of folklore and
  • The use of the words as the starting point freed me up to finding some empathy and connection even before I had made a mark on the paper.  This has given context which I have found fairly lacking in a lot of the work which I have produced so far.
  • Finding connection with artists like Redon,  Virtue, Peete and also Sickert.

What I think I need to think about:-

  • Critical place to keep trying different ways to approach this material i.e. my skin and the shapewear bodysuit – not to close down my ideas too quickly.
  • Stay loose and open.
  • Continue to research drawing in order to find what questions I want to ask of myself when undertaking the work.
  • Will my skin be different from the shapewear.   How will the one relate or not relate to each other.   Finding sense in ambiguity.

How will I do it:-

  • Experiment with different combinations of materials and support but not – like I first started out doing being about materials without context.
  • Going back through the techniques I tried in different exercises through the course i.e. oil bars/conte/credit card.

What am I trying to achieve?

  • Stopping drawing for replication
  • Asking myself what am I trying to convey in reference to  time, (past,present, future), place ,  myself, my history…..





Having reviewed the material explorations on skin I have become aware that I don’t know where I am heading and don’t know if I should know what I am trying to achieve.

Thoughts initially that by getting the ideas out by drawing the mind map below I would have a clearer picture.  However this just made me realise what an immense topic I am dealing with and cannot tackle it all.

So the questions are:-

  • What particular aspect of this enquiry am I trying to clarify?
  • How will I go about it?
  • What tools do I have in order to achieve this?
  • What do I need to find out about in order to move forward?
  • How do I manage my own learning/doing/thinking processes?


So as you will see from the sketchbook I went back to the HE learning package on the OCA website in order to review where I am in relation to this learning model – particularly reflective practice.

Conclusion:- if not nowhere very close to it.


  • I have not changed the way I work since starting the course.
  • I still tend to dive into activities and however many times I tell myself to slow down it is not a habit.
  • I tend to hop about between tasks, writing, sketchbook, reading etc. without stopping to think how things connect together – if they do
  • I still want to make a “pretty picture” even if it is a sampling of materials
  • I am not analysing what is happening in the work
  • I do not have an action plan
  • I do not “look” enough at artists work in order to learn from them
  • My tendency is to do everything quickly and believe in an innate ability to absorb information and learning.
  • I read a lot but do not make notes and do not review what I have understood/not understood in order to make connections if appropriate
  • I am so hungry for learning and doing that I devour everything without tasting


  • Review my learning processes and look for help to assist..

Found an amazing article after some considerable research :- Understanding the Artmaking Process: Reflective Practice, Sydney Walker (Art Education, May 2004)

What I have struggled with so far is the abstract notions in the reflective learning models and needed to find something that explained how this relates to making art, learning, moving forward and making more art….

His questions were:-

  • What is it that artists do when they create artworks?
  • How do artists pursue meaning?

He concluded in 2001 that artists use of big ideas as a major conceptual factor that shapes the artist’s practice…characterised as themes, issues or perhaps questions…often for years”.  

In this article he describes how a group of undergraduates and graduates over a 10-week period  “maintaining reflective documentation…recorded decisions, changes and insights which shaped their art-making and thinking in regard to the artmaking process.”   Observing that “students who  were judged to be more creative tended not to utilise pre-conceived ideas or principles, but rather let the artmaking solution gradually emerge during the process”.  Furthermore they did not “seek out familiar landmarks “, and were “able to tolerate ambiguity and contradictions“.

His concluding remarks were enlightening:-

“artistic practices that characterise more inventive and critical artistic activity such as delaying closure, risk-taking, actively searching for contradictions, rejecting the conventional and familiar and exhibiting tolerance for ambiguity“.

As one student concluded:-

“the course has given me the vocabulary to clearly communicate my ideas to others. In a discipline where all to often the process is based on feelings, it is extremely helpful to have a model that demonstrates the concepts of the artmaking process.”

So at last I have if not the answer but a method of utilising the reflective practice model in a way that makes sense of the process. The five new mantras:-

  1. Delaying Closure – stay in the process without looking for immediate gratification and outcome.
  2. Risk-taking – this is probably obvious but not easily carried through
  3. Actively Searching for Contradictions – if this then this or if this and this then….
  4. Rejecting the Conventional and Familiar – OK this might be “good” or acceptable but is it saying anything to me?
  5. Exhibiting Tolerance for Ambiguity – not sure how much I understand this one at the moment.   Am aware that many writers on feminism and philosophy talk about ambiguity  but not yet at a point of understanding.

I am sure that my response to these 5 will alter over time. Thoughts to take forward.

So having reached this point I am now going to look at preparing an action plan based on what I have looked at so far in my work.


I started by taking fairly random photographs of parts of my body emphasising areas where my skin is showing signs of ageing.   This had me concentrating on texture, colouration, differences on different parts of my body.

When I stand back and look at “myself” I am surprised at how much I enjoy the contrasts these photographs show up.   I have blown them up and in some cases re-positioned the images so that they have become fairly abstract representations of what?  Ageing skin, me, myself or my outer-self?  I am drawn to myself, my surface, my container, my vessel.

First layer of sampling using different materials and surfaces.  So far the initial realisation is that I am still drawing even if I am not using a traditional drawing object.   Here I have included, stockings, tights, plaster of Paris bandages, florist paper and cellophane, shammy leather, vilene, nylon fruit netting usually attached to the support with gesso or household paint.

Having added different layers to these skins I hesitate.   I don’t know where I am going with this.  What am I trying to achieve?

  • Am I trying to reproduce skin in other materials
  • Am I creating a version of myself
  • Am I looking at contrasts between myself and the dolls/doll parts
  • What questions am I looking for answers with these

My response to these original enquiries is that I am interested in parts of them for their texture and detail but in the main still have a tendency to try and make a picture…there is a tension between parts and wholeness and a reluctance to deal with parts of myself. Although I am willing to deal with parts of the dolls….how does this interact /play out.

In contrast I am drawn to the photographs of my skin and its “lived in” quality.   This is obvious in terms of years but looking at the detail of the surface, texture, colouration etc is exciting, tells a story.  What is the story I want to tell via my skin?

It is said (I will have to check) that your skin completely renews itself every 7 years. In which case I have had 9.285 skins.   Perhaps that is why three score years and ten is the perfect age of man/woman as by then you will have had 10 skins…..

From Roll-on to Shapewear – My Bodily Journey

From Roll-on to Shapewear – My Bodily Journey is the working title for the Part 5 Personal Project work.

First Review of Drawings & Sketchbook

Hans Bellmer page

“Anagrams are connected to pseudonyms, by the fact that they may conceal or reveal, or operate somewhere in between like a mask that can establish identity.


In this Part 5 of Drawing 1 I am aiming to investigate my response to bodies, particularly mine via diverse media in terms of drawing and endeavouring to become more analytically critical of my own work and my response to the work of others.

I believe that the most effective way to enter this adventure is via my own sketchbooks and notes made during the course so far.  Therefore I have chosen a number of images which interest me at this stage which I will aim to evaluate.

Doll pastels

This fast sketch above was made on handmade paper and with pastels and chalks.   This is one of the images that for me show that less is more in terms of being able to “read” the image without it being a perfect rendition.   I also think that using line and tone simultaneously has worked to give the depth and tone which I have fought to obtain at times during the course.   Tone has often been the most challenging of areas for tendency to keep in the mid-range rather than going for the deep darks and the light lights has hampered some of the images.

Doll free sketch

This is another sketch of the doll which I used in the first part of the course. I believe this was a sketch made without looking in a very few moments.   Although the tone of the lines is the same ie I have only used 1 pencil I find that when I work like this the work is more spontaneous, interesting and livelier than studies where I have taken a long time. One of the comments has been that I need to find a way to take this attribute into the more finished work without loosing the spontaneity.      My challenge is to find devises to achieve this.

doll assessment 2

Above is a part of the drawing which I completed for Assignment 2.  This was a milestone in that I had for the first time achieved an interesting composition which spoke to me through the metaphor of the different items which I had chosen.   Not only that but I also worked through some of the issues in relation to tone and balance which had eluded me for so long.   However this achieved a very static image which has lost the attributes mentioned in relation to the two sketches above.

doll torso

In my sketchbook this strong torso of a doll is achieved by using more dynamic mark making and stronger tones. This is much more suggestive of the body parts revealing their own dialogue.   I am not sure what I mean by that but it relates to the Bellmer quote above.     Being an anagram…..  There is a twist and energy here.

Double portrait

Compositionally I enjoy this life-study made of two models.   They are from the Otto Dix inspired cross-dressing day.   I have achieved the accentuation without distortion that characterises much of his work.

otto dix Otto Dix – Portrait of the Dancer Anita Berber 1925

In contrast the sketch below is more contained.   This has been worked on some other handmade paper which I have tried to leave bare but not as successfully as might have been achieved.

My endeavour had been to achieve the textural quality of the stone/concrete statue with its weathering a lichen. It is an example where I have lacked a context for the drawing which would have helped achieve a more grounded outcome.

cherub drawing



This self-portrait achieves some of the lessons which have been a struggle running through the course so far.   Namely there is tone and a much livelier variety of line and mark making.   When it came to the assignment pieces using purely line and or tone I was floundering because I have not yet achieved enough vocabulary within my drawing skills.   This was compounded by the scale of the pieces A1.    The aim of this personal project is to extend the use of materials and supports in order to add to my language.

aggressive head

head line sketch

I have included the two head sketches because the mark making is interesting to me.   The aggressive directional lines as compared with the rather loose thoughtful almost aimless quality of the second sketch.

The Challenge

To stick to the learning points outlined in the response to Assignment 4 namely:-

      Taking ideas from sketchbook to final drawings

…Sketchbook work very strong…keep the same approach if working larger

      Purpose of Drawing

..explore more academically around the purpose of Drawing

      Material Exploration

…there is still some way to go in terms of material exploration

  • try to act exactly the same when it comes to the final work.  Be experimental enquiring and ambitious at the same time.

    Critical analysis of my own work and the work of others

…develop a more established voice when it comes to unpacking my own drawings

  • keep going and remember to really unpack it in written form as you move through.. Underpin this with wider reading. You could expand your narrative through literature, philosophy and experience.
  • write more around this from a personal perspective ….what worked. what didn’t, what you enjoyed and so on…
  • please continue to research and analyse further the visual impact of your own ongoing artists research against your own work with more frequency
  • don’t be afraid to annotate more critically around this as you move through each page.

    The Activity of Drawing

….when drawing:-

  • hint at context
  • consider the form through a series of lines and measurements in the first instance
  • don’t forget to step back and decide when you think there is enough information.
  • devise strategies for success
  • try if you can to work more on tone and volume to allow for a more in depth enquiry overall.
  • …you are starting to ask yourself some important questions around identity

These 5 points seems to sum up the comments from my tutor’s report most succinctly.