Monday, 28 March 2011

Assignment 2 - final pieces

This assignment required 2 final pieces. I had to work up quick drawings and decide on the most interesting view before I started the bigger drawing at least A3 size.

Line and Shape
This was a seated pose focusing on line and shape rather than colour. I chose an ink pen for this as I felt it would be good for describing the shapes of the figure and I would be able to use bracelet hatching to describe the roundness.
I tried a couple of poses and decided I liked when the legs are crossed slightly side on and relaxing back into the chair. Unfortunately I didn't recheck the brief at this point as it asked for the model to have their hands resting on their thighs so I've made an error here. I liked this pose however so hopefully it wont make a difference. 

Final piece A3 pen
 I'm a bit disappointed with this final piece becasue I messed up the size and shape of the head. Pen is so unforgiving when I tried to correct this it just made it worse. I do however like the rest of the figure. I think I've managed to convey how she was slumped in the chair.I'm also happy with the legs and feet.

This was a reclining pose with suggestions of lying back in an arm chair or a sofa but I really wanted to try full lying down pose on the bed. I wanted the feet to come towards me so I could have a go at foreshortening.
Because this drawing was supposed to show tone, I wanted to use a soft medium that I could layer on to get darker areas. I chose a Conte pastel pencil in blue as I though the colour gave some atmosphere to the drawing. In the end I found that just the one colour on its own couldn't be applied dark enough for the darkest tones. Using the colour wheel I though that adding the opposite colour to blue (orange) would create shade. In the end however this didn't seem to work, whether it was the particular colours I tried I'm not sure. I ended up using a purple colour in the darkest shadows which I think worked quite well. So the colour theory didn't work!

For the final piece I chose the position where he was almost straight on which was not what I intended. I had expected a more slanting pose would be better but when I did the sketches they just didnt seem as pleasing. I think the angle of the light coming in had a lot to do with my choice as well. It's possible the other poses would have been better if the bed was in a different position or if I could have placed myself in a different position (other furniture and wall were getting in the way).
Final Piece A2 Conte pastel pencil
I am pleased with my final piece however, and I like the blue colour. I think I've managed to get the legs coming towards me which I was worried about. The only thing I'm not happy with is the bed itself. I started doing to wrinkles on the cover and found once I started I had to finish. They took agaes and I was getting really impatient. I think they detract from the figure and confuse the picture. Maybe they should have been done in a different colour or at least in a lighter tone.
Now I just have to send everything to my tutor! I really enjoiyed this assignment.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Portrait from memory

For this section I decided to draw my mum. The brief asked to draw someone you have seen momentarily or draw a self portrait from memory. Firstly I had to make brief sketches and observational notes.

I tried to draw as much as I could and include the important details I would need. I forgot that the two sides of the face had different shadows so I had difficulty with the left eye. If I were to do this again I would do one overall sketch of the shape of the head. then do sketches of the nose and each eye and the mouth.

Although my sketches were quite lifelike the final drawing done from memory and using the sketches didnt really look like my mum.

Check and Log

1. Did you find it easy or difficult to convert your sketches into a portrait? I did find it difficult. I think it would always be difficult to do this but maybe with practice I would learn to look for the small characteristics and put them down in sketches quickly. At the moment I think I still see the overall face so I need to really observe and pick out the important shapes.

2. Would you spend more time on preliminary drawings if you started this excercise again? Yes I would pay more attention to certain details however I think if you did this a hundred times you would always miss something out. There is no doubt that the more information how can put down initially as quick as you can is best. Ideally, this was for a specific study you would make sketches and take photographs too.

The self portrait

This section asked for 5 sketches of my face from different angles. I'm always surprised when I first draw someone I know well, how ignorant I am of their features. Drawing a portrait makes you really look at someones face, like you have never looked before. This is also true when doing a self portrait. I guess most people don't scrutinise every single lump and bump normally so when you have to draw yourself it's actually quite interesting.

Then I was asked to draw 5 more sketches of the head only focusing on the shape of the head. When I actually spent a lot of time looking at the measurements of my face I got a much better likeness (bottom left).

After that do some sketches of the neck only which I initially thought was a strange request and I didn't think I would be able to draw a neck and make it look like a neck. In the end it was fine though.

The next task was to do 2 self portraits using a different medium and position for each.
I found that by the end of this section I was getting a pretty good likeness and it was much easier to do that on a larger scale but I struggled more with the likeness when drawing face sideon. I was pleased with the pencil drawing. This one looks like me the most but the eyes are a bit starey!

A3 Charcoal

A2 Pencil
Check and Log

1. Could you see the head and face as overall basic shapes? Yes once you looked closely you could see all the lumps and bumps which make the drawing a good likeness but overall the basic shapes are there first.

2. Does the head and face look solid and convincing in your drawing. Some more than others. I think in most of them they look solid due to shading and highlights.

3. Are there any assymetrical lines and angles on your face? Obviously the symmetry is lost when side on which is maybe why I struggled more with these ones. Overall I didn't notice much asymmetry when straight on which indicates I've not been totally perfect because noones face is symmetrical.I don't think I was looking for symmetry when I was drawing though. Because of shadows each side of the face is totally different from the other so I tended to focus on each individual part on its own.

4. Did you have any difficulty putting in the shadows? Yes I did have some difficulties getting the different tones correct and I think these subtle changes across the face are what gives a likeness. I found the most difficult part was getting the nose right when side on.I always have to sit back and look at the drawing and then make the darkest tones darker.

5. Did you readjust the size if the head? Yes I had to readjust the size of the face a lot because I would make the features too small. The forehead was always higher than I thought it would be.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Moving Figure

This section is more of a work in progress and involves me filling a sketchbook with fast sketches of the moving figure. In order to do this I've been taking every opportunity to sketch people. The instructions say I should carry a sketchbook whenever I go out and about. I gave this a go but found that it stayed firmly in my bag. I guess it's pretty impossible to expect to sketch outside when I'm permanantly attached to a newly crawling baby. I'm going back to work soon so I'll be a bit more independant although getting the time to sit and sketch might be the problem then!

Meanwhile I've made use of the people around me, the TV, magazines etc. Obviously photos and even images on the TV are easier than real life so I've tried to get as many real people in as possible.

Sitting in front of the TV and sketching people, I was pleasantly suprised at how interesting this can be. There is a never ending supply of interesting poses which in themselves can create pictures that tell a story. Someone simply standing, about to push open a door or reaching out to pick something up could make a great composition for a final piece. Where does the door lead to? What is the person reaching for etc etc? I've always struggled in the past to do this, with my figures ending up very static and boring. A little preparatory planning of positions would make all the difference to a picture.

I've found it quite challenging to draw these fleeting moments, which is the purpose of this section I suppose. Suddenly you spot an interesting pose and then the person moves and its gone. I'm learning quickly to accept a multitude of unfinished squiggles in my sketchbook and you have to just move on to the next squiggle. It does make me look out for the same pose next time if I spot one that's interesting. I've found myself asking people to stay still for a minute which kind of defeats the purpose but stops me getting stressed!

This is a bit of a deviation but one artist I really like that captures fleeting moments and makes the viewer wonder about the figure in the painting is Richard Whincop. I discovered him in a local gallery and fell in love with his paintings and was lucky enough to get one for my birthday a few years ago. To quote his website.......

"My oil paintings explore the relationship between people and artworks, and the way this is affected by the context in which they are seen. They include works inspired by the environment of Art Museums, which bring together people and objects from different cultural worlds. I have also depicted paintings or sculptures in unusual settings, or juxtaposed them with apparently unrelated objects. This approach can throw up dramatic contrasts or forge unlikely connections, with each element shedding new light on the other. I have explored the symbolic role of the picture frame as a gateway to another world, a fictional "artistic realm" that seems just as realistic as the real world. In these works I have depicted figures and objects apparently entering or emerging from framed paintings, suggesting two-way traffic between art and reality."

Consider Phlebas II, Oil on Board, 60 x 42.5cm

That Which We Seek, Oil on board, 44 x 60cm

To get back to the assignment though, I had a quick look at some sketches of moving figures on the internet. There's certainly a lot of sketches on the internet mostly from unknown artists. One artist that springs to mind is Degas. He is most well known for his paintings of ballerinas and galloping horses. He also did many pastel drawings of nudes bathing.
His ballerina paintings were the result of copious sketching to the point he was able to change the dancers positions in his final paintings only using his memory of the dancers complex postures. He also used photography.
Four Dancers, Charcoal

Ballet Dancer Standing, Conte crayon
He repeatedly drew the same pose until he mastered it. The sketches above show his corrections and how he would focus on one aspect to perfect it. He would have to make these sketches very quickly while the dancers where in position which wouldn't have been for long.

I recently visited a local gallery that had an couple of large scale drawings by Hazel Bowman. I was really impressed by these charcoal drawings of dancers. The artist has conveyed a sense of movement not only through the subject and the actual drawing but also I think though the positioning of the figures off centre. I studied the drawing, trying to figure out how she managed to catch the sense of movement. She has mainly left the ends of the limbs unfinished and in some places there are lines remaining where it seems as if she has started to draw but the model has moved. The charcoal is laid down following the twist of the torso or the clothes.

Hazel Bowman

So here are a few of my efforts anyway, I'll be working on this all the time........

Check and log

1.Did you manage to identify and to catch those fleeting moments? I hope so. I think the fleeting moments are conveyed in the positions of the limbs mostly. the rest of the body is fairly static. I think in some of my sketches, you can see the figures are in the process of doing something and they are just about to move. Even the seated figure above looks like he is unsettled and about to shift.

2. Did you find it difficult to retain the image and draw later? This is very difficult. I guess practice and experience will help this. The more you draw a particular pose the easier it will be to do from memory.

3. Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the movement of the person? This was also difficult but depended on how long I had to look at the figure. If it was a fleeting glimpse I was more economical with the lines. The tendency is to draw more than is needed. I think I need to find the key lines which would describe movement quickly. I think the arms and legs show movement and if you redraw without rubbing out then this shows a change in position.