Saturday, 25 February 2012

Assignment 5 - Research Point - Giacometti/ Hockney


Giacometti Standing Woman 1958-9
Giacometti Caroline 1965

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) was a Swiss sculptor, painter, draughtsman, and print maker. He is known for his distinctive elongated figures both in sculpture and paintings.

His portraits are as distinctive as his sculptures. He would repeatedly draw over the same lines and rework  lines while erasing others until the paper would become worn underneath. He typically would draw his sitter front on and  and use a rapid energetic technique encircling the eyes with heavy lines.It looks like he has drawn the figure using a continuous line as in this exercise, possibly not looking at the paper much while drawing or lifting the pen from the surface. His lines are full of energy and action e.g the lines describing the sitters neck in the drawing below (Portrait d'homme) are very expressive and appear to have been carried out in seconds with little effort but are hugely descriptive.

Giacometti Portrait d'homme

Giacometti Femme debout et tĂȘte d'homme, 1960-63,

Giacometti Silvio 1950

Giacometti Tete d'homme I (Diego) 1964

Portrait De Jean Genet 1955
Giacometti - James Lord
The above portrait of James Lord took Giacometti 18 straight days of sitting to complete. He reworked and reworked the figure till he was happy. The sitter, James Lord wrote a book about his experience and Giacometti's technique. I've not read it but it's definitely on the list for the future.

From looking on the web it seems that Giacometti had a specific technique for drawing and painting figures. I've not been able to find out specifically what this was but he was certainly interested in the space around the sitter and how they are placed in it. He often included horizontal and vertical lines in the background which seem to place the figure in the setting but with no detail. I would definitely like to find out more about this and try to understand what he was trying to achieve.


David Hockney (born 1937) is described as one of the most influential British artists of the twentieth century. He is most famous for his Pop art paintings of the 60s and 70s predominantly concentrating on figures but recently he has become known for his large landscape works and his use of digital media to create works of art. He currently has a major exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts of new landscape works. This exhibition includes vivid large-scale paintings inspired by the East Yorkshire landscape and a display of his iPad drawings. Recently the OCA held a study day at this exhibition and there is a report of this on the website.

I hadn't really seen many of Hockney's drawing before and I found them quite interesting in their style. I found many examples of "contour drawing" style where he has described the outlines of the figure but there is no shading. They couldn't be more different from Giacometti's style of over laying lines on top of each other and never erasing anything. I find Hockney's style to be quite deliberate and thought out which is very different from Giacometti. Interestingly from what I can gather, while Giacometti appeared to work quickly and very spontaneously and Hockney seems more rigid and slow, Hockey is a very fast worker while Giacometti would work and rework and spend a lot of time pondering his drawings.

Hockney - Charles Alan 1969 ink 17x14 in

Hockney - Sheridan sleeping and cushion 1968
These drawings have pared the figures down to their essential elements. Small lines can describe the fold in clothing perfectly and uninteresting sections are just left blank.

Later Hockney starts to draw portraits with more detail but sometimes keeps the work on the face but leaves the rest of the body with very little detail.

Hockney - Portrait Henry XI 1985 pencil 30x22in
Hockney - Jeff Burkhart 1994 crayon 30x22in

Assignment 5 - Drawing Figures - Continuous Line, Giacometti, Hockney

Continuous Line

I enjoyed this task, it was good fun to try and draw the figure without looking at the paper. It was really difficult to stop myself glancing down, it was automatic to look at the paper. I used a variety of pens or pencils but I found that pens were better and gave more movement.

Check and Log

1. This challenging exercise is likely to frustrate you. Instead of worrying about it reflect on what you have gained from it and make notes in your learning log.

I found overall my drawings were OK but sometimes I would look down and I had got something completely wrong. I found this particularly with the facial features. I guess this was because I must have been lifting the pen off the paper too much without realising, in order to place the features in the middle of the face.

In some of the drawings I tried to show the shadows in order to help describe the form but I found this didn't work very well with this technique. I noticed that it was sometimes helpful to concentrate on the negative spaces which helped to pick out the forms correctly. I also found that using a wiggly line to draw the folds in clothes was quite effective to show the form.

Overall this technique was really good to help me pick out the important shapes in a quick way. A figure can be described with sometimes only a few lines and this section helped to focus the mind on the essential lines. I found that I wanted to go over the same area again and I had to try to stop myself doing this as it would create a mess and ruin the first lines.

2. Find some examples of artists such as Giacometti and David Hockney, who work fluidly with loose line and note them down for reference.

See research point in next post... 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Assignment 5 - Drawing Figures - Quick Studies

Quick Studies

For this assignment I chose to go back to figure drawing. Some the other subjects might have been easier, both logistically because I need a model and also small mistakes seem so much more noticeable in figure drawing. This is, however, the subject I enjoy drawing and painting most and I think when you enjoy it you're more likely to do it better.

I like these short sketches as they are easier for me to fit in when I get a spare half hour (not very often at the moment) but I had to chop and change my models because of this.

I tried to keep these sketches as short as possible but I would invariable lose track of time.  I tried to be as fast as I could.

Check and Log

1. Think about and write up the challenges you met in doing these studies
The biggest challenge was to draw fast and get the essential lines down fast and then leave it. I find it hard to do this and some of them are too detailed which defeats the purpose. I think this is a skill in itself and I do think that I am much better at this than I used to be.

2. In what way has your drawing improved from earlier assignments?
To continue from the above question, I think I'm faster than I used to be. I seem to be able to judge sizes and angles better so that I don't have to rework things as often. This is something that I have noticed throughout the course compared with previous courses and it's so rewarding to be able to draw more accurately

3. What are your current biggest challenges in drawing figures?
My biggest challenge is the face, I really struggle to get the face to look like the person I'm drawing. It's very frustrating. In the past I've had problems with limb lengths and angles or foreshortening but I always find that if I keep looking I'll eventually get it right. The face however is so hard to do this. It's easier on a larger scale as you can measure easier but if the face is smaller e.g. on a full figure study I find it very difficult to draw a couple of lines and pick out the features accurately.