Part 5 – Theatre of Skin Drawing

This is the multi-layer drawing – 20 minutes each layer – admittedly I only got to 6 layers as I did not know what I wanted to use for menopause/crone/old age.  Worked on pre-ink dyed paper, water soluble crayons, pencils, graphite pencils, charcoal, rubber, craft knife.

My immediate response is that I am drawn into this piece.   I am particularly intrigued by the mood, lighting which recalls the noir drawings and my interest in this genre.   There is something of the ancient about the tones which have been kept within quite a tight range.   The drawing was produced under controlled circumstances in order not to over-draw any section.   Although time was taken after each section to reflect and in some cases adjust or reassert small sections.  Some concern as to how readable the images are or indeed whether they need to be at all remains a question.

This asks further questions about what is happening and why certain parts are more distinct than others.  Looking into the piece the lower right section appears to be complicated anatomy. I am not sure what is inside and what is outside.   The beguine armless doll in the background lies inert on a stage that is a hive of action or if not action supposition.   The “tags” of the womanhood figure here elongated anchor the figure within the space and define different areas of the composition.

There are crevices and dark caves within the structure that may hide truths or memories and could be further excavated. Building up the layers and definition has achieved a bolder conclusion.   However there could have been decisions about single or multiple lighting – as in stage acts – that might reveal more interesting aspects of thought. and intention.

Further by keeping to a general similar method of drawing limits the emotional aspects of any particular layer.   On the one had that could indicate a similar flat, un-demonstrative, repressed existence.    Alternatively building using different processes could add a richness – print, collage, ink, etc.

tos detail 3

Detail of the top half  – where a skull seems to be emerging below the doll. – with a light-lance through its cranium.

tos detail 4

Complicated anatomy of the lower half , child resting on the large footprint of the past. Also possible to see the effect of the graphite on sections.   This contrast in finish and its response to the light need more working to achieve a glistening finish.


Part 5 – Life Drawing – Drawing Multiple Perspectives

This week at my life drawing class the  task was to draw on the same piece of paper 3 images of the model for 20 minutes each finding ways to bring the images together.

Not sure why but chose in each place to use 2 sheets of paper which I had pre-inked.   this way there is already a dimension of perspectives to work with.

3 x 20 minute 1

In this first drawing it seemed important to build in the perspective of the space both inner and outer in order to add further dimension to the drawing.   I had been looking at images by Dorothea Tanning and thought that I have brought this surrealist element into this image.  As I built the layers the context of the space became more and more important.   However I have lost the dimensionality of the figure – except in the head – over the whole figure.

What interests me is the concept of the over drawing so that not ending up with a single significant outline or edge the drawing seeks to extend the “space” of the figure into the environment.   This has not been as successfully achieved in the final piece – perhaps I should have taken images of the different stages so that I can analyse in retrospect the important dimensions. Whilst turning towards the viewer the figure achieves some movement which is contrasted with the stability of the stuffed fox dummy (cast template for a taxidermy fox).

3 x 20 minute 2

In this second drawing I have chosen a 2 directly contrasting pieces of pre-inked paper and have endeavoured to leave more of the lines of the 3 different poses in tack.   I think this is more successful and interesting. Detail of lines and edges are more deliberate and the “memory” of the earlier poses are not completely obliterated as in the previous example.


2 x 30 marc sitting

(Couldn’t resist putting this extra drawing in which was 2 x 30 minute poses on the same sheet – the following week)

Looking back at these various Dorothea Tanning paintings and through the experience of the 3 x 20 minute poses I see a way forward to working with the 7 ages of woman or The Theatre of Skin.   It leads towards a deliberate way by working with the layers :-

  • superimposed but deliberately thought through in order to retain the multi-dimentionality of the whole
  • more careful selection of the imagery of the “ages”
  • distinct choices of the materials to use and the background supports to employ
  • use more specific references to the space and context of the individual stages – this may also refer the the colour choices
  • meticulous cataloguing of the different stages of the drawing in order to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the stages and overall piece

Inner and Outer

When doing these drawings I caught for the first time a means of capturing the inner and outer experience through drawing the body – a body, my body.     Making the vestigial marks part of the memory both of the drawing and of the experience of a phase of life and skin.

Also becoming more particular in choices brought to the concept of the drawing, i.e. materials and supports, as well as consideration of the stages undertaken.    This I believe is an influence of looking at the lithographs of Kathe Kollowitz (see Exhibitions).   The remarkable but often spare use of different mark making devices.   Struck by how the non-worked space adds drama and contrast to the overworked parts.


Unemployed – Kathe Kollwitz

Having experienced the beginnings of an idea of the way to bring together the 7 layers of skin/women through working on different layers of a drawing which is time limited and worked on top of each other. Have decided to do one more drawing of The Theatre of Skin working on this principle.

I will complete a drawing working for 20 minutes on each layer – probably using the same materials on a pre-inked sheet. My aim to to see how to incorporate or obliterate pieces of the “story”.   Because of the timing I will not seek further images to depict the stages but stick with the ones I have for the moment.

This will be the final drawing in the series.

Reflection – Part 4 – Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills


  • 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


  • 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.


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.


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 – Project 4 – Exercise 2 – Three Figure Drawings

Lounging Figure

Project 4 exercise 2 lounging sketch1

Firstly I was thinking of using different materials and ways of depicting the figures.   This first study I wanted to use charcoal and rub back but unfortunately the paper was resistant and peeled away.

project 4 exercise 2 lounging sketch 3

Then tried brown paper from shopping carrier bags with chalks and conte sticks.   This is helpful in building up a better depiction of the figure.

project 4 exercise 2 lounging sketch 2

Finally used a combination of both on a watercolour paper.  Maybe would have worked better with a wet medium first and then working on top.

Lounging Figure longer piece

So for the final piece I went back to the carrier bag brown paper and different chalks and conte sticks.   Partly successful in terms of depicting the weight of the figure on the floor. I think I am still hesitant in getting enough distinction with the tones across the figure.

Standing Figure

Project 4 Exercise 2 standing sketch 1

Wanted to go for a completely different approach with this pose.   Using the not looking blind drawing initially and then building up with different materials.

project 4 exercise 2 standing sketch 2

project 4 exercise 2 standing sketch 3

I like the initial image best.   It has more character and its abstraction works for the pose.

project 4 exercise 2 standing sketch 4

In line with spending longer on the final image and using a different material I used red biro with a continuous drawing kind of technique. Very ambiguous about this.   Not successful.

Standing Figure - Auerbach

Went for the Auerbach technique. It is not that accurate but structurally it is more interesting than the biro drawing.

Seated Figure

SEated Figure - Degas

My final pose and technique was thinking about Degas and the drawing I had previously made of the standing figure. So this is water soluble crayons on pastel paper. I have endeavoured to be freer with the mark making.  This is a bit of a hybrid in that the form is there, the pose is there but something is missing.


The anatomy studies are definitely adding to the drawings by my growing awareness of the structures beneath the form.  However I am feeling driven by trying to achieve so much in such a short period of time.

I have been going to regular life classes but you can’t always get the poses and timings that suit the course exercises. I’m finding that my accuracy changes from week to week and depending on the model what I am trying to achieve.

Recently I was trying to create a large study of a naked lady in a long pose class and had clearly chosen the wrong materials and wrong angle to achieve an interesting outcome.   Going to take a step back and think more about the composition before I start and the possibilities of the materials being used.


Part 4 – Project 3 – Form – Exercise 2 – Essential Elements

2 seated 10 minute clothed


seated 10 minute clothed

These first two sketches the model was clothed as the proper model failed to turn up. So our tutor sat for us.   I really enjoyed depicting the clothes which helped to find the form and weight of the figure. These were 10 minute sketches.

10 minuted seated leaning


standing 10 minutes


seated 10 minute nude

Then one of the class agreed to sit for us in his underwear.   He was a good model and I tried the technique of going as slowly as possible building the form and the tone simultaneously.

seated 40 minutes

This last pose was longer – 40 minutes and I got a bit lost.   Firstly the proportions got out of focus so that I felt I was too far on and did not adjust them sufficiently. However I did work more on building up the tonal areas in different ways and with different colours – all conte, chalk and pencil detail. The fact that the sofa is more there helps him look more seated. The study of the upper torso is pleasing.  And the legs but somehow the middle is too extended.

Need to stand back and check proportions early in the pose. Different materials adds to the complexity of the image.



Part 3 – Project 5 – Exercise 1- Townscape Drawings


Initially I was trying to capture the shape and perspective of the view of Shoreham-by-Sea from the pedestrian bridge.   The tide was quite hight and the rig on the right was reflected in the water.   This reflection was what drew me to the scene much more than the buildings which do not interest me very much.


I then moved onto a more tonal approach which I is more successful in terms of showing the sober overcast winter day. The reflections and the foreshore come over stronger in this study. Little difficult trying to decide what to leave in and leave out.   There were a lot of vehicles and men but these seemed only to confuse the composition.


Finally I drew s more detailed drawing from the other side which is the road bridge.   Concentrating on the rig which was repairing the sea wall.  Unfortunately I chose a pencil which is very faint.


  1. Buildings and their environment are not my most natural elements
  2. I am interested in the river its ebbs and flows and the reflection on the water.
  3. Also I like the long view better than the detail – see next exercise.
  4. It is important to make early compositional decisions about what to include and what to leave out otherwise the images can get very confusing.

Part 3 – Project 3 – Exercise 2 – Foreground, middle ground, background


Again I chose to develop one of the sketches which I had drawn in the 360 exercise at the top of Highdown Hill.   Weather being what it was I couldn’t now draw outside so using sketches, photograph and grid I worked up the drawing to an A3 size on cartridge paper.

I am not sure now whether it was meant to be a black and white drawing but I used my water soluble coloured pencils throughout. This type of exercise is not something I have ever tried to do before taking something back to the studio to develop and expand.

In terms of a foreground, middle ground and background exercise it is not the best of subjects because the foreground is rough grass and  indistinct paths.   I think I stuck with it because I like the banks of trees and bushes and the tones still remaining from branches leaves and undergrowth.

I really like the structural elements of the middle ground and pulling out the shapes. I am disappointed by the background mostly because the paper I had used is not very good when water is applied and buckled.   Did not allow me to blend the pencils and sort of gave up because I didn’t want it to deteriorate any further.

What I learned:-

  • I learned about building up the layers
  • I learned about picking the right materials – paper for the job in the first place
  • I learned that I really liked doing this drawing which surprised me
  • I learned that I need lots of practice to render the 3 areas of a landscape successfully