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.




Part 5 – Assignment 5 – The Personal Project

Notes sent to Tutor prior to Telephone Conversation.


On Becoming Myself


  • What I have done is build up some notes myself under the 4 headings, subject, research, artists and techniques.   I have then added to these from your recent tutor report on Part 4.
  • As far as subject is concerned you are entirely correct in that I am engaged in thinking about identity and particularly femaleness, femininity and am further interested in using the dolls and doll parts as a part of this enquiry.
  • One of the ideas that also interests me is that of the containment of the female – particularly via dress.   This sparks with me the more recent popularity of women’s shapewear which are the modern textile equivalent of the corset and other “shaping garments”.   I am partly interested in getting larger women squeezed into such garments to look at how the excess female flesh behaves in these circumstances and the absurdity of the aim of the ideal  “outline” . Or even thin women with the garments hanging off them. Or myself – but I don’t really want to work from photographs.
  • My reading, study list gets longer and longer and feel I will have to be more specific in themes that I follow. I have already commented that I need to look at how I study and make notes in order to find clarity in taking on theories and ideas and be able to use them critically myself.
  • As far as the artists to look at are concerned again I have added your brilliant suggestions to these.
  • As far as techniques and materials I have been thinking a lot about the materials which were involved in doll making in the past including, fabric, linen, plaster of paris, sawdust, leather, wood, rubber and am looking at different ways to try out and work with these materials. As well as many others on my list.
  • I am aware from your comments that I have to think more critically about my own work and analyse what is happening in my head as well as the physical work itself. Obviously I do find this hard to capture and acknowledge that it is something I have to work on.



All images from ebay adverts.

training corset

The training corset – I like the concept that even as you are running as a completely liberated woman in your vest and shorts you still need your corset!

The wasted flesh like quality of the discarded garment

maternity spantex


Through inanimate dolls or through my own body


Using my own anatomy as a metaphor for investigation into the self through drawing. ..exploring the human condition and its vulnerabilities of what it is like to be human.


Work much harder when writing around my own working ideas from a more visually analytical viewpoint….Develop a deepened critical viewpoint to support my own work and don’t be afraid to consider context in regard to housing my work.


Trees and me…body parts

Doll body parts and trees


notes in the self via doll parts

becoming a woman sex and all

Others labeled me…see word list

The body…personal political cultural economic

Dolls…female objects of affection substitute

Male convicted for importation of child inflatable dolls.

Containment..corsets.shapewear….fashion…high heels

Different parts of me different parts of the doll body…different signifiers.

What am I talking about… investigating myself via still life and self portrait.

Noir..darkened room…seclusion.unspoken…hidden..misunderstood…unknowing.. keeping silent..muzzled…


Looking into mirrors a bit else to tackle.

Develop a  more established voice when it comes to unpacking my own drawings – write and analyse much more…..

Visual impact of my own ongoing artists research against my own work.



What is allegory?

Explore Academically around the purpose of Drawing

post feminism etc

Female feminine woman…back to De Beauvoir….

One becomes..on becoming.

Semiotics – signs and signifiers

What are the signs and signifiers… semiotics..try to understand.

Feminist Political Theory

Feminist Visual Culture

Literature, philosophy and experience

Questions of identity…

Giles Deleuze – The Fold

Tate online

Jstor (via toby’s library ticket ) particularly academic journals



Hans Bellmer ..erotic normal age sex

Hans Bellmer became a surrealist without knowing what that was… others labeled him

Louis Bourgois

John Currin

Ana Mendita

John Coplans

Annette Messager

Joseph Cornell

Hannah Hoch

Herman Bas

Jean Debuffet

Carlos Alonso

Ergon Schiele

Rebecca Horn

Robert Rauchenberg

Glenn Brown

Helmut Newton

Allen Jones

Man Ray

Laurie Simmons

Lucio Fontana

Jo Spence



Be experimental, enquiring and ambitious

Depth..layers must investigate this more…

Lots of different techniques combine.

Box within Box

Rust – Iron Filings

Oil Bars – in-bed things into the surface

Latex liquid – hand stones (I have for years collected stones from the beach that fit comfortably into the hand) – elbow joint, knees, underarm, behind ear etc…..

Crayon Shavings

Reverse Oil Pastel – Klee

Household Paint – matt /chalky/flaky


Wax resist -+ ink or watercolour


Photo Transfer



Burn – Destroy –

Sawdust, leather, plaster, glue – composite – traditional materials for doll making, wax, corn husk, rubber, topsy turvey doll.


Using parts of dolls for drawing instruments

Creating “pinkness”

More wet on wet with other materials


Telephone Discussion:-

  • Clearly my interests lie with women and identity
  • Particularly in relation to control and limitations
  • idealised figures based on gender stereotypes
  • dolls and their influence on female self-awareness and fetishistic responses
  • body parts – the de-personalisation of women

We talked about:-

  • pinkness
  • flesh and signs of ageing
  • wrinkles
  • imperfections
  • enhancements – clothing/surgery

Materials:- particularly those used in doll-making (historically)

  • leather
  • linen
  • plaster of paris
  • latex
  • sawdust
  • wax
  • plastic etc.

It was agreed that I should make Part 5 :-

  • An enquiry looking particularly at material exploration using the subject matter as text
  • Series of drawings and makings
  • Responses to drawings – lots of self critical analysis and reflection
  • writing about why I am interested in this material 
  • looking at other people’s work about identity and ask myself a series of questions.
  • maybe become voyeristic with a camera and focus in on skin.


From Roll-on to Shapewear – My Bodily Journey