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 3 – Reflections 3 – Assignment 3

Thoughts on the context and content of the Assignment 3 pieces.

Matisse table

matisse table

raoul_dufy_littlepalmtree

Raul Duffy – Little Palm Tree

When I had decided to work on the image of the garden I was thinking of the tables and chairs as they appear in many of the impressionist and post-impressionist paintings.   The only difference is that these seem mainly to have been painted in high summer or at least in strong light.

I wanted to feature the table which had erupted over the winter and was trailing its edge, the surface now undulating with damp.   On top of this is the pot with a plant that is just stem and no leaves.  Finally there is the bare earth in parts of the border.

revised view Assignment 3

Since this photograph was taken there was a big storm during which the pot fell and broke and the table has now been taken to the dump!  Transitions.   In a way this is what I think the whole of this Part 3 has been about – getting me out and re-connecting to the outside world.   In some areas this has had a strong response and in others i.e. buildings no response at all.

Also I suppose there was context and personal connection in the assignment piece but it does not come through as strongly as in the last 2 assignments I think.

Learning:-

  • A lot of frustrations which sometimes pushed me on to do things I would not have previously undertaken
  • Re-connecting to outside, trees, nature, landscape etc. personal places
  • Need for greater planning and thought in preparation for going out to draw
  • Still struggling with keeping work fresh and spontaneous
  • Challenging myself to use different materials and combination of materials.
  • Necessary to undertake more time planning at beginning of the modules so that I can fit in reading and research in a more structured way
  • More patience – I can’t achieve everything at once – but keep trying!
  • Stay open to opportunities and my responses to subject matter
  • Keep more notes on what rises to my consciousness – it doesn’t have to fit.

 

Part 3 – Project 3 – Reflection

In some ways I have found it hard to work on these exercises at this particular time of the year – October – February.   Certainly I have learnt lessons about taking information that I can then use to develop further studies in the studio something which I had not understood how artists did until now.

It has been frustrating because having done early studies I was not then able because of the weather conditions to visit the sites again to further develop my studies to a degree that I felt satisfied with.   However I have learnt that I enjoy landscape which is something which I have never tried before.   In particular I have become fascinated by the trees, their shapes, proportions etc.   The winter has been a good time to focus on the outlines of the trees which are bare of leaves at this time of the year.

Furthermore I have been frustrated by having to stay with the particular exercises – as you will see in the sketchbook I have taken time out to do some other studies which were particularly triggered by the Paul Nash exhibition as well as looking at some hard pruned trees near the Tate Britain gallery.

project-4-review-1

 

project-3-review-2

These are a combination of collage and drawing from items collected along the beach during the drawing process.   Strong influence from the Paul Nash and Eileen Agar period of combining imagery.   Would have like to develop these further but worry about getting sidetracked away from the projects in the coursework.

project-3-review-3

 

project-3-review-4

These two studies and spin-offs were from triggered by looking at some very hard pruned trees outside Tate Britain which looked like fingers angst like projected towards the sky and freedom.

Distance and form were not difficult to construct but chancing light and weather conditions when outside make it difficult to pin these down.   I think I realise you have to make decisions about the moment you want to capture put in the strong shadows and light conditions and stick with it.

I enjoyed building the layers of the drawings but once again felt inhibited by the conditions to take the time I would have liked to achieve these more successfully.

Note to self:-    Spend as much time out of doors when the weather permits taking as many notes as possible and different colour, light, tone studies so that when I return to the studio I have ample material to work with.

These studies and exercises have certainly whetted my appetite for future outdoor work!!   If only there was the time…..

Part 3 -Project 2 – Reflections

reflections

I am definitely finding it difficult to try and pull ideas together and hence uploading the above image of ideas that are currently running around.

Since seeing the Kentridge exhibition I have been frustrated by the inability using something like this linear learning log to harness the multi layered thoughts/interests/research/reading/imagery which is around at the moment in my head.

This has really slowed up the work I have been trying to do to follow through on the exercises in the course.   I am both distracted and disorganised again because of this.   I am finding that the reading that I am doing takes time and space from actively drawing but that the thinking process is very important too.

After some hesitation I have decided to try to implement a 3 layer sketchbook/notebook/thoughts book?

3-level-book

This I have started in a very crude form.  I think that as I move along the 3 layers will intermingle and separate depending on what is going through my head/what I am reading/ and what studies/drawings I am making.    This is now an A3 size as I was feeling restricted by the size of the earlier book.

Assignment 2 – Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills

I believe that my technical and visual skills are improving particularly if I look back at some of my first exercises.   By slowing down and greater planning my accuracy has improved overall.   There needs to be much more drawing generally and outside of the development of the exercises in the course.

As commented on various posts I still find composition a difficult concept and really cannot assess at this stage how I am doing in this area.   Working through building a composition as in Assignment 2 by photographing different layouts helps me to move through the stages fairly quickly.   And although it is suggested that we make sketches as we go along  I am finding this rather inhibiting.

Looking at other artist’s work helps me to appreciate good composition and this does not yet allow me to analyse why certain layout’s work and other’s do not.   The problem is that we tend to see the compositions which work and only with Guernica have I seen evidence of an artist working through their compositional challenges.

Quality of Outcome

The quality of the work which I have produced has become stronger and more defined as I have worked through this module.   Doing lots of sketches and using different media sometimes in a fairly loose way has allowed my work to become more considered generally.

I am pleased with the outcome in terms of overall drafting and I have used mark-making in an expressive way.   It is a challenge to find the skill to bring spontaneity into the work . In a way I have surprised myself by deciding to use the water soluble wax crayons for the final piece as they are not something I have used extensively before.

Demonstration of Creativity

Whilst I am aware that there is a creative voice struggling to get out this has not been achieved as yet.   My reading, research and gallery visits have greatly enhanced my awareness of other artist’s personal voices though I am not sure how truly analytical I am being when writing about their work.   Interestingly the exhibition which I went to where I was advised to see something that I would find challenging “Conceptual Art 1964 – 1979 –  Tate Modern” was for me one of the most thought provoking.

I certainly made a great many judgement calls working towards the Assignment 2 composition.   Again I am not sure yet whether this comes from the gut or are conscious responses to trying to gain balance, interest, content, context etc.

Context

I think I have at times been near to overwhelm with what I would like to read and research and what it has been possible to fit into the time I have available.   Certainly visiting Madrid just before I was ready to put my final Assignment 2 piece together has brought up many more questions than answers in relation to where I am intellectually in relation to understanding my own creative processes.

This time I have tried to keep more up to date with my learning log and completing each section as I have been going along – apart from the phase where I failed to take notes after a reading week!   Big lesson learnt.

Overall – I would assess my position at the moment of being good/average

Moving Towards Assignment 2

Background & Context

I am moving towards Assignment 2 but I need to work through a lot of thinking before I can finalise my subject matter and materials.

Recently I have returned from a week in Madrid where I was overwhelmed by the work in the 3 main galleries which we visited;  The Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza. There is so much to think about but initially I thought that I would concentrate on those painters and paintings which I feel at this time have most relevance to the next assignment.

To back track slightly I was (see Assignment 1) very affected by the paintings of Cotan and drawings by Redon whom I continue to be mesmerised by.   The format of the drawing which I submitted for Assignment 1 was based on my thinking in relation to these artists as well as the format of early medieval imagery.

Before leaving I started to read Goya by Robert Hughes (2006) which hugely enhanced by understanding when I saw the selections of Goya’s paintings, etching/aquatints and murals (transferred to canvas).

Of course I also spent time with Velasquez: Les Meninas (1656) but not enough to really take in all its genius.

Finally Picasso’s – Guernica (1937) had an enormous impact on my understanding of composition.  More later.

The only way I believe I can rationalise – or maybe not- my interests, understanding, emotional response is to summarise my responses to the particular artists mentioned.

Juan Sanchez Cotan

I had done my research before the visit and was looking forward to seeing the 1 Cotan in The Prado – but it was not on show – great disappointment.

still-life-with-dead-birds-1602

Still life with lemons – 1602

What fascinates me about the still lives of this period is the way that the everyday objects are given a reverence by putting them in a setting which could be a kind of altar.   In a time when people were still attached to the source of their food as well as their connection with the religious thinking and growing philosophical theories about life and death.

(The theme of life and death or more specifically the story of life and death seems to run through my interest in all the artists mentioned.)

As I have charted previously for Assignment 1 the still life tradition became more and more elaborate and more and more opulent as the decades progressed and then regressed via the Impressionists and Cubists to everyday themes and content.

The super-reality and the dark darkness also pertains to available daylight and the possible use of camera lucida. Containment is an issue within these compositions which was something that I found useful when working towards finding deep tones and shadows.

I  must admit that my notes to myself after seeing all the epic art in Madrid were:-

MARKS- DIRECTION (light) – DEEP DARKS – GESTURE

Francisco de Goya

Robert Hughes’s Goya (2006) was an exceptional accompaniment to my visit to Madrid.   From an artist I knew absolutely nothing about to becoming fascinated by the different phases, materials, content and context of his lifeworks.

For the purposes of the relevance to my choices and interests in putting together my Assignment 2 composition I would like to highlight the following pieces or phases of his work.

The “Black Paintings” –  frescos/murals which he painted onto the walls of his home

goya

Pilgrimage of San Isidoro

goya-3

These murals/paintings which Goya undertook between 1817-1823 on the walls of his house following his first and then subsequent severe illnesses are the artist’s personal depictions painted in what Hughes cites as “very strange times, both for Goya and for Spain” (p376).   That they were painted directly onto the walls of his home without the requisite preparation of the surface (which Goya had the skills to render as he did in other settings).   That they are very emotional, dark, even horrific renderings of different themes places them completely outside of his former works:- playful bright cartoons for royal tapestries, formal court portraits and different series of prints marks them out as a distinct personal series of works not destined for public eyes.   They were eventually taken from the walls and transferred to canvases is the only reason they were preserved.

“He had no audience in mind.  He was talking to himself. He never imagined that the Black Paintings would be seen anywhere except where he was.” (Hughes p 379)

Furthermore Hughes calls them a “freakish, vivid precursors of modernity”, (p 379 and that is how they struck me.   They emanate a very visceral, deep, dark world.  Figures are often grotesque, contorted, screaming and reminded me of some of Francis Bacon’s work. In a working life where nearly all of his work was subject to wealthy patronage these stand out as something very out of the ordinary.

The subject matter includes ordinary people often in dire circumstances battling against themselves, the elements, life and the fates are what Hughes calls “populacho, or pig-ignorant mob”. (p382) Also the physicality of how they were rendered adds to the aggressive, brutal depiction of Goya’s personal state and the state of Spain at this time.

Without going into details I wanted to note that Hughes also makes the connection with Picasso’s Guernica 1937 (on which I will comment further) (p383) as well as Salvador Dali’s Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) 1936 both artistic responses to the Spanish Civil war.

For me these pieces show an artist working beyond his own era in ways that did not become common practice until some 200 years later.   They convey an honest outpouring of Goya’s personal experience rendered with a bravura that I find truly astonishing.

These paintings for me show an artist laying out his deepest fears and responses to a world in turmoil, his own inner world and that of his country.  I want to use the word “heroic” but in some ways this relates, historically to a different tradition and these paintings are not in anyone’s tradition but his own.  The human condition being grappled with via epic themes and painted in emotionally bold gestures.

The Caprichos

goya136

“What Rembrandt did for line etching, Goya and his colleagues did for aquatint, and they did it with one astonishing burst of creativity: a series of eight prints that Goya entitled Los Caprichos.” (Hughes p 179)

Again these were not created with patronage but at his own cost and in large numbers, 300 sets.   They are fantastically rendered satirical comments on the society in which Goya lived covering the church, society, the inquisition, moral themes, scatological content, witches and witchcraft, marriage, wealth etc. The use of the aquatint and newly discovered addition to the printers art allowed him to create depth and tone in a much more subtle and successful way than in the past.

It is believed he had seen in the collection of his friend when he was recovered from his first illness prints by some of the English and French satirical artists including Rowlandson and  Hogarth.   Spain was due to its historical position in Europe and the work of the Inquisition cut off from the wider artistic developments.   There was hardly any access to works from beyond its borders and Goya was little travelled (only once to Italy at this point).

There are so many of these prints I respond to not only because of the diversity of his subject matter,  his “black” humour and the outpouring of creativity they are a testament to.

Desastres – Later war related etchings/aquatints (1810 –

goya-the-folly-of-fear

The war with Napoleon saw Goya’s response in a large number of aquatints as strong, emotional and acerbic comment on the experience of Spain at the hands of France.

“At the end, the Desastres de la Guerra open outward, beyond mere human stupidity and detestable cruelty into a pessimism so vast and desolating that it can fairly be called Shakespearean”. (Hughes p 302) Goya did not print this series.  They were not published in his lifetime and did not appear until 1863.

Odilon Redon – The Noir

redon30

I am only bringing the work of Odilon Redon (Assignment 1) back into this context in order to point out my growing awareness, having seen the Goya’s, of the tradition out of which Redon’s work is drawn.

Noir, the Romance of Black in 19th Century French Drawings & Prints , Lee Hendrix (2016) is the next book which I am going to read in order to further understand these connections.

the-mask-of-the-red-death-1883-redon

Picasso – Guernica

dora-maar-guernica

As epic as it is seeing the real painting of Guernica what really caught my attention were the photographs taken by Dora Maar as the work progressed.   I don’t know whether it had occurred to me before but this series of images show how the composition of the painting shifted and changed over time as Picasso created the work. Alongside these are other works which reference the figures, crying woman, bulls, fallen hero etc.

When I was struggling with putting my own composition together I am trying to be less anxious about how this happens and the time it takes.

What’s the Story? – Content & Context

Even a week on from finishing the Assignment 2 drawing I am not clear yet how all this is referenced by what I have seen in Madrid and my recent reading and thinking.

There are themes however that I am starting to recognise:-

  • There is a story behind the drawing or painting.   Though I am as yet not clear what mine may be I am now aware the more I understand the stories of other painters the more possible it is for me to articulate one of my own
  • I am drawn to the darker more introspective aspects of pieces of artwork
  • I also go for humour and a did at the status quo
  • I like the idea of metaphors but do not yet feel confident about using them myself
  • I appreciate both the detailed and larger gestural aspects of the artists
  • I still struggle with what a composition might be

Project 2 – Still Life – Intermediary Reflection

Exercise 1 & Exercise 2

Between the 2 exercises it was a case of being able to create some aspects of the drawing easier in one i.e. Exercise 2 was easier to produce tone and depth using the colour and build up of the cross hatching than with just one media, pen and ink.

However the variety of mark making in Exercise 1 was more interesting, diverse and inventive than with the coloured drawing.

Definition of the objects and their relationship to each other is more effective in the coloured drawing.  However some transitional detail in the line drawings particularly the 2nd one of 3 stones has intriguing passages.

The difficulties of choosing just line or tone are usually in those transitions between one object and another or the background/table.   Also in creating individuality of the objects like with the 3 stones in the line drawing.

Colour initially seems easier but allows me to get lazy about looking at what is happening in relation to tone – shadow etc.

(However at this stage I do need to re-do exercise 2 based on the actual instructions).

exercise-2-tone-using-colour

Exercise 2 – Still life in tone using colour

Actually slightly cheated as I used 4 different colours if you include white!

Found it much easier using colour rather than just line to build tone. Although I am aware I can become lazy by relying on the colour to do the work and my inventiveness with mark making tends to suffer because of it.

Creating tone with just line needs greater precision I think – it is easy to overwork a particular area and then the whole object can become too messy and confusing.

I would like to be more dramatic and dynamic when working with colour – particularly as I tend to choose coloured pencils. Need to think about trying more with pastels but past experiments have not been successful because I tend to loose the precision.