Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Assignment 3 - Detailed Observation of Nature

Line Drawing Detail

For my first attempt at this I drew a sliced open cabbage and I used a scribbly technique to depict the bumpy texture of the leaves. I think this worked out quite well but then I re-read the brief and felt I had but in too much detail and tone.
So I started again with a piece of brocolli and I tried to focus on the lines without focusing on the tone. I found it quite hard and had to keep stopping myself doing this. Also drawing in one continuous line was a new and difficult test. The instict is to lift the pen constantly so this was a good excercise.

A4 sketch book - Rotring Artist Pen and Fabel-Castell Pitt Artist Pen
Getting Tone and Depth in Detail

For this excercise I chose a shell. I brought lots of lovely broken shells back from a holiday in Ardnamurchan a couple of years ago and they have been sitting in the garden looking messy so this was the perfect use for them. The shell I chose was almost all broken away and I loved the s-shape of the central spine.

A3 various soft pencils
 I enjoyed this excercise and I'm please with the result. I thought I would get frustrated with the detail but it was enjoyable. The most difficult bit was gettting the darkest shadows dark enough. I found I had to keep reevaluating the tones and going back to make them darker. I tried to use hatching as much as possible rather than the softer build up of graphite on the paper. I think the hatching actually helped show the curved shape of the shell, particularly the inside.

Stipples and Dots

I struggled at first trying to find a suitable subject but then I found this old branch when I was out for a walk with the dog. The bark was peeling off and moss was starting to grow on it so I though it would be great for this excercise. The bark, the wood underneath and the moss gave 3 different textures to work with.
The bark was smooth with lots of little bumpy marks. I had to be fairly random and "uncontrolled" when doing these marks in order to make it look natural. The wood underneath needed a more linear style to show its texture.

A4 smooth paper Rotring Artist Pen
I am pleased with this drawing and I like the fact I let it run of the page. I enjoyed using the scribbly style with the pen.

Detailed Observation of Nature - Check and Log

1. Which drawing media did you find most effective to use, for which effects?

I found the Rotring Artist pen was best for the scribbly style of drawing what is good for showing a textured surface. It also flowed enough to draw in dark shadows which some fine pens struggle with.
Soft pencil is good for drawing tones and gradual changes in shadows across smooth surfaces.

2. What sort of marks work well to create tone, pattern and texture? Make notes beside some sample marks.

Tone is best shown with layering of the media. If you are using pencil, hatching maybe isn't the best method becasue the gradual changes in tone are best shown by soft build up of the graphite. With pen, tone has to be shown by going over the area again and again until it is dark enough.
Pattern is best shown with a light touch. You can lightly sketch the pattern without putting down too much detail and it gives the impression of pattern.
I found fine pen really lent itself to drawing texture by doing a stippling, scribbly effect. I think its important to keep this as random as possible as styles such as regular hatching give the appearance of a smooth surface.

3. Did you enjoy capturing details or are you more at home creating big broad brush sketches? Find drawings by two experienced artists who work in contrasting ways: from tight, rigorous work to a more sketchy, expressive style.

I did enjoy capturing the details although I thought initially I would get impatient and frustrated. I find it quite hard to use big broad strokes even though it appeals to me more when I look at art. I don't have the confidence to be more expressive yet because I always think I'll ruin the drawing.

One expressionist artist I really like is Munch. He is of course famous for his paintings like "The Scream" but I was able to visit an exhibition a while ago of his prints. Most of these were woodcuts and lithographs including many of his famous paintings. He used limited colours and few lines. He was so expressive with his brushstrokes and able to convey so much. His common themes were love, anxiety and death.
Vampire, 1895  Lithograph  38.2 x 54.5 cm
Woman in Three Stages, 1899  Lithograph  46.2 x 59.2cm
The Scream Lithograph 1895
The lithograph of "the scream" above is particularly expressive. The lines create a distorted chaotic feeling. The persons mouth open in an "o" draws the viewer in. His now famous quote from his diary explains his inspiration (and opens a window into his tortured mind).....

"I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature"

For an artist who draws in tight, rigorous way I didn't want to go for the obvious choice of someone who was typically a realistic, photgraphic style of artist. Instead, a very different style of artist is fellow Glaswegian, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Mackintosh (1868-1928) was primarily an architect, and interior/furniture/textile designer who had a professional influence on the development of the Modern movement. He is also known for his beautiful drawings and watercolours of plants and flowers and his watercolours of French landscapes. His style was heavily design led and he tried to unite natural forms with an architectural and design vocabulary.

The Little Bay, Port Vendres (watercolour, 1927)

"Larkspur" August 1914 (pen and watercolour)

"Willow Herb, Buxstead" 1919
(pencil and watercolour)

Each line seems to be carefully thought out and while the drawings maintain their lifelike qualities the subjects are paired down to their essential elements with no extraneous "confusing" features. The lines remain loose however and the beautiful curves are characteristic of his manner.
These two artists have very different styles. You can imagine (rightly or wrongly) Munch standing at arms lengths using sweeping gentures to paint, while Mackintosh would be sitting rigidly over a book correcting every mistake. Both styles I find very appealing in their own ways.

4. Look at the composition of the drawings you have done in this excersise. Make some sketches and notes about how you could improve your composition.

I'm quite pleased with the composition of these drawings especially the one of the branch because it
runs off the page. The only problem is the drawing of the cabbage which is a bit of a strange composition. If I had to do it again I would change this composition so it is landscape rather than portrait. It would also be better to rearrange the 2 halves so they don't look like they are on a slope or to just concentrate on one half. I like the idea of zooming in to the middle and making an abstract drawing but that wouldn't have been suitable for this excercise.

5. Did doing a line drawing get you to look at space more effectively?

I think it did help in hind-sight although I wasn't aware of it at the time. With a line drawing your references change because you are focusing on the outside line rather than the shading and looking at the whole object not just one small part of it.

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