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!



Part 4 – Project 2 – Exercise 2 – Longer Study

30 minute sketch seated

With this drawing I was trying to spend longer on developing the detail but I am not sure that I have achieved a lot more than the shorter studies.   I feel that it is overworked in some areas and underworked in others.    Proportions are not accurate enough and the emphasis of the pose has been lost because of this.

30 minute sketch 2 I tried to work on this again.   I have been reading about other drawing techniques and was attempting not to do too much too early but to build up the lines and tones more carefully.

I think this is more accurate than the previous pose although far from perfect.   There is more a sense of the weight of the figure actually sitting down and bending forward.

I need to practice going slower – doing more looking and plotting before putting anything on paper.

Research Point – Foreshortening

Quick sketch with mirror at end of sofa.

foreshortening feet mirror


A lesser know version of  the much damaged Anatomy Lesson of Dr Deijman (1656) –  this is the remaining part of a much larger painting.   “not literal representations of their public acts, but are allegorical proclamations of the surgeons as the renown masters of the secrets of the body (Kemp & Wallace p25)

Rembrant anatomy lesson


Andre Mantega (1431-1506) – Lamentation of Christ

Michelangeo sistine chapel

Michelangelo – Sistine Chapel Ceiling – created 1506 – 1512 – the use of foreshortening was very prevalent in fresco painting.


Paolo Uccello 1397-1475 – The Battle of San Romano – an early example of foreshortening – the fallen figure on the left.

A Supine Male Nude, Seen Foreshortened c.1799-1805 by Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851

JW Turner – life study


Salvador Dali 1904 – 1989 – The Ascension of Christ 1958 – a wonderfully theatrical painting from a unique angle.


Lucien Freud  1922-2011- Reflection with two Children (detail) 1985

Part 4 – Project 2 – Proportion – Exercise 1 Quick Studies

5 min study 1

Above is the first 5 minute study.  I was using pencil and trying to get the sense of slump in the figure.  There is weight in the folds of the torso and the back.

5 min study 2

Using charcoal and conte stick endeavouring this time to use tone to build the shapes of the model.   Although this is not accurate in terms of proportion some of the marks and contrasts are more interesting than in the first 5 minute sketch.

5 min study 3

The 3rd 5 minute pencil sketch of a crouching figure.   I like the dynamism of the lines although it is more outline than solid form.

5 min study 4

Standing figure drawn with pencil lines for 5 minutes.  Although it is also just lines like the previous sketch it feels more solid and with weight.

10 min study 4

With the last 5 minute sketch endeavouring to make the outlines more interesting and visceral.

10 min study 1

There are 3 10 minute sketches for a longer sketch later in the session.   Worked with pencil, then conte and finally charcoal.

10 min study 2


10 min study 3

I found it a very awkward pose as one leg is not visible and the width and length of the back difficult to define.   I didn’t measure any of these but continued to lay them down quickly.

35 minute study

This final drawing of the pose was for 35 minutes.   I should have done more measuring and checked the angles and relationships of the limbs etc. However I enjoyed and had more success in building up tonal layers creating more weight to parts of the drawing. Used all the drawing materials on this single drawing.

10 minute study 4

Quick 10 minute tonal study  – this perhaps works better because it has context i.e. something for the model to sit on and the background.

6 min end of session

Final 6 minute study where I tried not to draw outline and create less marks and be more thoughtful about what to include.


  • It is difficult not to just draw outline
  • I found it a challenge whether to measure proportion or just go for immediate response especially with the quick sketches
  • Less is more in a lot of cases but need to build discipline in order to hold myself back
  • I enjoy the darker media especially the conte sticks rather than pencil – makes it easier to create weight and tone to the drawings.
  • Need to remember to include some context in the drawing – background, seating etc which helps to begin to develop a sense of place to the sketches.



Part 4 – Research – The Nude

In the Beginning…

Early roots via the Greeks with their idealised body forms but where the male figure is nearly always heroic and often the female denoting victim hood (Sanders 1989). However the Greeks thought nakedness mainly attached to nobility whereas by the time Christianity took hold this was attributed to shame or sin – via the biblical story of Adam and Eve. “With the coming of Christianity, bodily suffering acquired a new spiritual value”. (Sennett p 124) He goes onto discuss how the development of Western civilisation and in particular its cities has been hugely influenced through historical eras and their response to the human body – in particular male and female.  “This legacy contains deep internal contradictions and strains…the master image of male nakedness could not fully control or define the clothed bodies of women”. ( p373)  Via the rise of Christianity and the creation of the Venice Ghetto, through the French Revolution  he concludes:- “Lurking in the civic problems of a multi-cultural city is the moral difficulty of arousing sympathy for those who are Other .” (p376 )  He could be describing the UK today with Brexit looming, migrants at our gates and the masses (Grenfell Tower) making their voices heard.

Quoted by Sanders (1989) Aristotle claimed:-

“Man is active, full of movement, creative in politics, business and culture.   The male shapes and moulds society and the world.   Woman, on the other hand is passive.   She stays at home as is her nature.   She is matter waiting to be formed and moulded by the active male principle.” 

In the modern sense “men act and women appear” (Berger 1972)

Throughout the classical period and up until the 19th century the female nude; “may avert her gaze or hide her eyes, or turn away from  the viewer…..Sometimes the head may be covered, or perhaps unfinished , even cut off from the edge of the picture – all these devices render their subject anonymous, denying individuality and status, and reducing the body to a stereotype”. (Sanders  p24)

She further argues that “Women are caught between two conflicting ideologies both founded on male control and definition of female sexuality.   On the one hand there is the pressure to conform to the male ideal of display and availability in order to function in society, and at the same time society expresses its fear of women’s sexuality by teaching women to be ashamed of their bodies, to regard them as both sinful and imprefect”. (Sanders p 132)

Little has changed since 1989 when Sanders were writing.   Now we see much more of women’s bodies but they have become more and more idealised through advertising, social media,  and general availability though mass media culture. A few photographs collected from recent Daily Mail (May 2017) online images.


An idealised posterior?   Or a subject of debate?


or fashion…. how much to expose or not…


Boticelli (1445 – 1510)

Raphaël_-_Les_Trois_Grâces_-_ Raphael (1483 – 1520) 

Courbet 2

Courbet – The Origin of the World (1866)

From the idealised Renaissance to the realism of the “market” via Courbet.   So over the centuries through the lens that is beauty, gender and power via the cultural experiences of identity, sexuality, politics and history itself women continue to struggle to realise their own reality.    More recently the feminist literature has sought to define “lived experience” as the axiom with which to describe womens’ state (Young 2005).

Trying personally to move forward I was struck by the fly sheet of a book I recently bought:-

feminist culture 001

…to be continued (Carson & Pajaczkowska 2000) (See current sketchbook for further discussion)

Understanding the Body

From the time of Leonardo da Vinci when dissecting cadavers was a criminal act but one that he and many of his Renaissance fellow artists pursued in order to further understand the workings of the human body.

Rembrandt – Madrid

I was lucky enough last year to visit Madrid for the first time and to see the lesser know partial Rembrandt of the lost Anatomy Lesson.   With the foreshortened body similar to Magnata (????) the surgeon is dissecting the skull.

Rembrant anatomy lesson Part of the lost Anatomy Lesson

Rembrant anatomy 2  Rembrant detail (detail)

Bologna Istituto di Anatomia Umana Normale

1 2 4 3

One of the ways that knowledge of the body was learned and shown to the medical profession was via the use of wax models which reached its zenith of creativity in the 18th century.  A little know but wonderful museum in Bologna, now attached to the university is available for viewing as we did about a year ago.   These exquisite sculptures whilst being macabre in a way are very beautiful and worthy of artistic admiration.

Edward Muybridge (1830 – 1904)

EM 1  EM 2  EM 3

And then came the camera.   Muybridge’s iconic work allowed artists and the public to see for the first time how movement actually happened in his extensive studies of the human body.   Whilst I say in movement, actually the men were very active whilst the women photographed were mainly just passively changing position with very demure downcast eyes.

The Fetishised Female

The Fetishised Female a phrase used by Sanders in The nude a new perspective  (1989) looks particularly at the way women’s bodies were truncated, denied heads, arms, legs, certainly faces at times.   This has become something of the norm in media images particularly for advertising.   Recently a bodyform ad has been banned because it concentrates on women’s crutch areas and never shows a whole person.

Bill Brandt (1904 – 1983)

BB 1  BB 2  BB 3

Richard Pearlstein

phillip pearlstein     phillip pearlstein 2

Regain Our Bodies

Jenny Saville

download (2)   download (1)

Writing as a female I am aware that some artists have worked at moving away from the idealised “painted lady”

…Or Not

Euan Uglow

Euan Uglow 1  downloadEuan Uglow 2

Euan Uglow 3  Euan Uglow 4

Whilst for others  you could say that a woman’s body is a prop in an artistic landscape.

Story so far….

At this stage I am not clear what post-feminism is saying to us about the body.   I will continue with my reading of Feminist Visual Culture – although the “signs” are that it is already out of date…..



Part 3 – Exhibitions

Paul Nash – Tate Britain

Before I went to see the exhibition at the Tate Modern I was reading Paul Nash – Landscape and the Life of Objects (Andrew Causey).  He worked very much in the same genre as Samuel Palmer and William Blake – also a painter/poet.

1 Dreaming Trees

Working from he 3 trees series and many depictions from the two images below of Wittenham Clumps  (1913) he began to conjour up the feeling of place which he returned to after his WWII experiences.



2 We are Making a New World (1918)

Dramatic sunrise/sunset with red clouds overlooking dramatically ruptured earth and trees – uncompromising not heroic.   This he repeated in many of his wartime paintings moving into an almost abstract/realist phase.

“Nash’s war experience transformed his work: he painted in oil for the first time and discovered a new artistic language of powerfully simplified forms which both conveyed the appearance of ravaged landscapes and suggested violent emotional experiences”. (exhibition handout)

3 Places


“In the 1920s Nash became emotionally attached to significant places which inspired sequences of works.   He responded both to the specific qualities of these landscapes and the feelings and memories that they prompted”.  (exhibition handout)


“Nash’s paintings rapidly moved in 1928-9 from popular landscape to emblematic representation…suggests an elite visual langue that can work…by means of surrogates. ..Nash appreciated in full for the first time how defunct standards of representation in art had become”. (Causey p63)

4 Room & Book

Reflections, intersecting planes, multiple perspectives

“Yet I still need particularly organic features to make my fixed conceptual image” (1937)

5 Unit One

For Nash Unit One was important in publicly stating his commitment to international modernism…alongside other leading British avant-garde artists

I found this section the least interesting apart from the Stone Tree and Druid Landscape paintings 1934 where he refers to ancient stones he has visited at Avebury and other sites.

6 The Life of the Inanimate Object

” Nash explored the idea of a life force in inanimate objects and created encounters between them, arranging flints, bones driftwood and small geometric objects into his still life compositions”.

Worked with Eileen Agar – one of my favourite unsung heros of collage, avant-garde imagery.   With her he created assemblages using photographs, sketches, paintings and other objects.

7 Unseen Landscapes

Post 1936 he works on intensly surrealist landscapes where reality & dream co-exist.   (Even on the Downs)

International Surrealist Exhibition

Circles of the Monoliths

Land of Dreams

Monster Field

8 Aerial Creatures

9 Equinox

“The mystical association of two objects which inhabit different elements and have no apparent relation to each other”.

More painterly depictions beautifully rendered – some of my favourites.



I was moved by many of Nash’s paintings in ways that I didn’t expect to be.   However I was mostly drawn to the closing of the circle the meeting as it were of his  very early pre-war drawings of trees and particular places and the later equinox cycle.


Project 2 – Exercise 1 – Still Life Using Line

Project 2 still life - line drawing 2

This was generally a difficult exercise for me.   Chose 3 round objects:- a melon, a tennis ball and a small round pewter (silver reflective) vase.  Worked with ink and a stick on Khadi paper.

I had previously tried a number of experiments in sketchbook on using line both in white ink and black ink on different papers.

Composition –  I don’t think this is very successful but had tried different placements and was trying for something more “contemporary” . However I do like the variety of marks  particularly on the melon and tennis ball which can be achieved. After a while I got into more experimentation with mark/line than being effective about being able to build up the tones and drawing the composition together.

I am interested in the pewter vase but it does not “read” as what it was/is.

Project 2 still life - line drawing 1

Moved on to depicting 3 stones gathered from the beach. Each are interesting in themselves and drawing the objects together makes the composition more effective but still not that interesting.  Tried so many placements where I could see the contrasts in the types of rock: 1 chalk, 1 flint, 1 smooth with variety of tones.

Again drew with ink and stick on Khadi paper – all laid on a piece of paper which had folds on it.  Actually think that the folded paper added quite a lot to the piece and helps with definition. Altogether it is a more successful piece of drawing and the media suits the subjects to an extent but not entirely.

Learning: Could spend more time on this type of drawing but perhaps using different materials combined.

Project 2 - still life line drawing 3

Final piece using the same 3 stones + 1 more and used a drawing pen with washable ink.   This was on plain white paper.   Composition less successful – is there something about odd numbers and composition : 1,3,5 etc.

I suppose this is a bit of a cheat by using water to create tone.   Some of these stones are really interesting and could achieve a better outcome.   Not sure that the use of line for this project works for the subjects I have chosen.