29 Nov 18. Another session, with 3 x 15 minute and one 45 min poses. I didn’t start so well – a bit out of practise as I’ve neglected my drawing recently. I’d intended to use brushes and ink, but I wasn’t prepared – next time I will be.
27 Nov 18. Hell in Paradise. In April this year I visited the home of my son and his wife in Paradise, California, and painted murals with a Peter Pan theme in the bedroom of my future granddaughter Penelope, who was born in May. Earlier this month the town of Paradise was destroyed in a devastating fire which claimed many lives. My son and his family escaped in time, leaving behind all their belongings. Everything was consumed by the fire. It’s a very sobering reminder of the relative unimportance of personal property, including art, when compared to human life. Nothing we create will last forever, be it a home or a work of art. Is that something worth bearing in mind during the creative process? Probably…………………….
30 Oct 18. Catching up on blogging after a fallow period. Had a couple of hours in Carlisle during a day trip by steam train, and visited the gallery for the first time. As well as works from the permanent collection, I saw the “New Light Prize” exhibition, and I was impressed by this work by John Whitehall – “The Past Repackaged II” (after Lowry). Oil on canvas:
I’m always interested in works by Stanley Spencer, particularly ones I haven’t see before; this is “Washing Peter’s Feet” oil on panel, 1922.
Among many Pre-Raphaelite works on display, this is a drawing in black chalk on paper by Edward Burns-Jones, “Voyage to Vinland the Good”. It is a design for a stained glass window:
But I thought that this was the most impressive of all the art on display was one of the oldest – a granite Celtic head, found in Bulcamp, Suffolk in 1991 – a simple carving which manages to be expressive:
25 Oct 18. Finished the Drawing 1 module now and just have to select and prepare work for assessment. There will be a delay before I start Painting 1 so that I can get on with other work.
These drawings are from the usual evening life drawing at Westgate Studios, Wakefield:
Next time I intend to use coloured pastels.
15 Oct 18. Had a video chat with my tutor, which was followed by his report:
The chat as always was very helpful. I need to allocate set days/hours to devote to my course, because other jobs and commitments are disrupting my work for the course.
As to my next module, I will probably chose, “Painting 1, The Practise of Painting” and then decide at a later stage if I should switch from a Fine Art to a Painting degree.
10 Oct 18. Exhibition entitled, “Rembrandt, Britain’s Discovery of the Master”.
Fascinating – the exhibition was curated around the theme of British art collectors and their importance in popularising and preserving Rembrandt’s works.
Looking back at my viewing experience of the exhibition, three things stand out:
1. Rembrandt’s mastery of the printmaking process.
2. The detail (or rather the lack of it) in the treatment of the hands in the painting, “Portrait of an Elderly Man” 1667 (Collection of Lord Cowdrey).
I was struck by Rembrandt’s painting technique – loose and free, with an unfinished look, but very effective.
3. Self-portrait 165(9?) Scottish National Gallery.
One of over a hundred self-portraits that record Rembrandt’s ageing process – in this case he was aged about 51. Unimpressive perhaps in this poor reproduction, but I found the actual painting to be mesmerising – it was worth the entrance fee just to see this one picture, and I had to keep going back for another look.
3 x 15 minute drawings from my last life session. There should have been a fourth but it ended in frustration after much rubbing out and 3 re-starts, and then I ran out of time …… but from that I learned that, rather than rushing into a drawing, I should take some time to consider the pose of the model beforehand.
26 Sep 18. I settled on the following as a title for my assignment:
Title: Using the theme of a “Fallen Warrior”, develop an image to mark the coming 100thAnniversary of the end of The First World War.
The Ossett War Memorial, which I had drawn during an earlier project, was chosen as a starting point. Looking for a suitable support for my picture, I had a piece of A1 cardboard that came with a delivery of paper – it still had brown packing tape on it and I decided to use it. The position of the tape led me straight into a composition, with one of the pieces of tape becoming the base of the memorial. I then played with various printed images, some from photos I’d taken of buildings and the memorial in Ossett marketplace, and others cut from contemporary pictorial magazines (“The Great War”). I’m interested in the phrase, “The Great War”, which is what the First World War was known as before there was a second one. When “The” is removed, “Great War” seems to allow a different possible meaning, and I decided to use “GREAT WAR” in my picture. I included a copy of the current statue in a “fallen” position at the base of the monument. This is how it looked at the end of the first day, after sticking down some images, painting some areas and adding some wallpaper samples:
I learned of a plan to install stones around the memorial with names of 315 local men who died in the First World War, so I decided that somehow I had to include the number 315.
I wanted to include an actual contemporary item from the War and chose the cover of a “Soldier’s Testament” of the type given to British troops, and I stuck it on the memorial.
During the glueing process I became interested in the way that spray adhesive leaves patterns and decided to use it on the sky, with powdered charcoal and pastel sprinkled on it before it dried.
After considering including the words, “GREAT WAR” 315 times, I chose to indicate 315 by choosing 315 words from the Soldier’s Testament and writing them in brown ink on the picture. I later decided to change that by covering it up with wallpaper and writing some of the words in pencil in a different place, shortening the writing to 315 letters.
I added an image of Ossett Town Hall after changing it in Photoshop and the silhouette of Ossett church in red wallpaper. I also changed the gas-masked figure on the monument.
I drew some converging lines inspired by the paving in Ossett marketplace.
Two photos during progress:
During the process I was keen to keep the war images at the top of the picture separate from the Ossett town images below – the only part connecting the two areas is the monument itself.
This way of working gradually to progress to a completed picture by experimentation and alteration suits me well. I’m slightly concerned that I haven’t done much “drawing” in the picture, but the way it developed as collage seemed best.
The finished picture:
During recent research into First World War art I came across this image by Francois Flameng which shows the church at Albert, France in 1916, and the famous, “Leaning Virgin” as it was known. This led me to thinking that I could include a similar leaning figure on my war memorial:
After a growing interest in soldiers wearing gas masks I decided to include one in my picture. This is a picture by J.H. Valda (detail) showing men wearing early (1915) gas masks:
I’m interested in the way gas masks change the character of the men into anonymous creatures.
13 Aug 18. I began this session in a much more relaxed manner than the previous one, and with only a few pencils rather than my usual varied box of materials. There were four poses as usual but two models rather the usual one. I used a sketchbook and just took it easy, concentrating on getting things in the right place, and before I knew it we were finished for the night.
8 Sep 18. Some progress on my personal project. Working on the idea of the Ossett Marketplace as a war scene with the memorial in it.
My current thinking is along the lines of:
The statue as it currently is but hanging off the plinth.
The statue replaced with a different figure, perhaps sitting with head bowed and face hidden, as in a drawing I made from a war photo.
Replacing the plinth and statue with the same seated figure but the “plinth” would just be another of the benches that are currently in the marketplace.
The statue wearing a gas mask.
Include some collage – photos and/or other items such as original First World War documents.
30 Aug 18. Didn’t really feel that I got into the flow on this session and I was constantly aware that I wasn’t really producing good work. Looking at the four drawings that I made during the session I can now see some merit in them but I know I can do better.
I think I would be better off taking a limited amount of drawing materials to these sessions, instead of a box with a large assortment, so next time I’ll limit my choices.
26 Aug 18. Joined several other OCA students for this visit led by my tutor Dan Robinson. It was interesting to meet other students, who are studying a variety of courses including photography and textiles. We visited three exhibitions that I’d seen before but I found fresh things to be interested in and talk about.
I was reminded by seeing maps in the Common Ground exhibition that I’ve worked with maps in the past to create something and I’d like to do so again, especially since I have collection of them.
Picked up what I think may be a useful motivational tip from another student – leave a work unfinished before beginning a new one, that way it is easier to make a start by first finishing a work then moving on. I’ve done this unintentionally in the past without realising that it probably helped.
Listening to other students talk about their work space or rather lack of it, made me realise how lucky I am to have a dedicated studio. The fact that it is 30 miles from my home is a slight problem that I may resolve next year.
24 Aug 18. I began this drawing several years ago and abandoned it because I wasn’t pleased with how it was looking and I couldn’t see a way to progress with it. It was after a few months of my OCA course that I began to see what I needed to do with it. This is how it looked until recently:
The image developed from my memory of seeing dead soldiers during my army service, body in particular was played on his back with forearms raised. I imagined his death and tried to create a picture that conveyed the noise, danger and confusion of the battlefield. It was drawn on watercolour paper with charcoal, pastel and some paint. I was fairly pleased with the composition but not with the overall effect, which I thought should have been darker and more threatening.
Looking at other examples on the same theme, I’ve been impressed with Henry Moore’s “Falling Warrior” since I first saw it many years ago at Leeds Art Gallery. This is it, with my drawing of it below:
During recent research on the theme I discovered Henry Moore’s “Warrior with shield”, which I find equally impressive:
It seems likely that Moore was influenced by classical Greek carvings, particularly the fallen warriors from the Temple at Aphaia:
I didn’t want to give my fallen warrior a shield, because I wanted him to appear totally defenceless in the face the artillery and small-arms fire. I began to change the picture by cutting and tearing parts of it and then decided to paste some of the pieces back on in different positions, after glueing the whole drawing to a larger piece of card:
I then worked on it with black ink, charcoal, some acrylic paint, including silver and gold. I made the legs more defined and added some other abstract elements until I decided enough was enough. I’m pleased with the end result:
I think I may have been unconsciously influenced by Picasso’s “Guernica”, which, bizarrely enough, I used to see regularly near my Grandma’s house in Batley when I was a boy – someone had painted a copy of it on their garden wall! It depicts the Fascist bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War:
Now that I’ve got the picture finished I feel better able to continue with my project, so I will progress on the same theme, using the Ossett War Memorial as a starting point. My current thoughts are:
- Draw the memorial as it is, but change the market place it stands in to a battlefield, probably a night scene, with shell bursts and flares illuminating it.
- Draw the same plinth but change the statue, either to a “fallen warrior”, or a badly wounded soldier.
I will start with some research of other war art and photographs.
29 Jul 18. I’ve given myself until the end of September to complete this “Personal Project and Written Element”. My starting point is the human figure, but in a military context; specifically I’m keen to draw a soldier or group of soldiers that will show the effects of battle in some way. This choice of subject stems from my own experiences during a long military career, and the desire to try to make images that will somehow convey what I feel about warfare from a soldier’s point of view. I realise that this is in some way a form of catharsis, and this won’t be the first time I’ve made this sort of image. I also took many photographs (but made no drawings) during the Falklands War, some of which featured in a book I wrote about my experiences. But I still have a head full of ideas for drawings/paintings/sculptures on the general theme of war. I agree with my tutor that I will only be able to cover a small part of this theme during this assignment, so I will try to focus my thoughts and concentrate on the Ossett War Memorial and use that to develop my work – this memorial featured in my work earlier in this module . This is a photo and two drawings (detail) I made of it:
I’ve dragged out one particular old drawing on a “fallen warrior” theme I did about ten years ago that I’ve never regarded as finished, and I feel that I have to attempt to do so now before I can concentrate on the memorial. This drawing will be the subject of my next blog.
24 Jul 18. Video Tutorial. A very useful chat (without sound from the computer at the tutor end so we used screen for visual and telephones for voice – don’t know what the problem was). We discussed my Part 4 work, plans for Part 5 and also options for my next choice of course – I’m thinking I might change from Fine Art to a Painting Degree and choose Painting 1 as my next module, but I need to study the various option details further before making a decision.
Also cleared up my concern about “painting” and “drawing” – pleased to hear that I can use anything at all even though this course is “Drawing”. I’m often tempted to grab a brush and use paint in my drawings, so now I feel free to do that.
A written report followed, and I intend to take note of the very useful comments made, especially in “Areas for Development”:
Figure study using line – seated model (A1).
For this I chose to work from an earlier life drawing in which I had used a combination of line and tone, some of the line being reminiscent of Henry Moore’s technique of indicating form by using line (Blog 66). I worked in felt tipped pen after drawing the outline in pencil, then rubbed out the pencil. The life study and the resulting line drawing:
This was an interesting way to draw and it was possible to give a good impression of form in this way using relatively few lines.
Figure study using tone – reclining model (A1).
I’ve recently drawn reclining models using tone:
I chose one of these to expand into a larger drawing with less line:
I worked on a darkened paper (charcoal rubbed in) with charcoal and white chalk. Although I achieved a fairly pleasing result I think the first of the three life studies is better as an example of a reclining figure using tone, and if I consider why that is the case, I think it is probably because the contrast in the life study is greater.
Portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone (any size).
For this I chose to draw a self-portrait on toned paper using charcoal and chalk:
It’s a good likeness and friends say it’s typical of “the look” I sometimes give. I think the combination of line and tone works well in this case, and some of the texture. e.g. the beard, I’m pleased with. Sandpaper was used in places. The light was just daylight from a window. The eye is probably larger than it ought to be but I think that adds to the effect. The background is invented – I originally intended to make it all dark but decided as I progressed to that it needed to be more interesting so added the corner of a wall. The hanging picture behind my head came later.
Facial Features. I’ve been making various studies of the face and it’s underlying tissue and bone:
I’ve made copies of heads from various art books, of varying sizes using different mediums and supports:
My study of the structure of the human and head and face has meant that I’m increasingly aware of the skull beneath the skin and flesh, and how the head is supported by the spine and the muscles and tendons of the neck. I can now draw a head and face from “memory” with some confidence that it will appear in proportion:
In this 20 minute study from life I’ve managed to get a good likeness, and a sketch like this would be good preparation for a more finished study:
Own face. Here are 2 self-portraits, one done in ball-point pen, the other in 3B pencil:
I had intended to draw my eyes in the first sketch, but realised that it was recognisable without the eyes (surprisingly) so I stopped. The second sketch was done with the mirror below my eye level and light from the side, so I was looking down, resulting in some foreshortening of the face which I had to be aware of, e.g. a short forehead area.
In this self-portrait I tried to work quickly and see if I could get a likeness without much detail. I worked in charcoal and chalk on previously coloured paper and I roughed it up with sandpaper at times. I like this way of working. I stopped when I thought the likeness was there, even though I could see that it wasn’t entirely accurate:
Portrait from memory. For this I decided to get colourful with soft pastels as well as charcoal. It’s based on me and although it doesn’t look much like me – even my head isn’t that big – I think it’s interesting as a picture and the pastel/charcoal combination in a loose drawing like this is something I feel I should explore further:
5 July 18. Life drawing just in a sketchbook this time, starting with 3 x 15 minute poses:
Then a 40 minute pose:
In each case I began either on bought coloured paper stuck in my sketchbook or I coloured the white pages first with water and powder from a brown conte stick.
The last pose, although over twice the duration of the first three, is not really more effective, and I think a little over-worked in places.
I’m finding that I can now draw a line with more confidence, knowing that it is in the right place. I seem to be more accurate with visual measurement, relating one point or angle to another and using the negative spaces as an aid.
June/July 18. I’ve been making drawings in my sketchbook when out and about of figures on the move. The impression of movement is best conveyed not just by the body posture but by the drawing method – less precise and controlled lines, imagining myself in the body of the subject as I draw. Using a variety of of pencils and colours within the same scene also helps.
The following drawings are of rugby players in motion, the first two from photographs and the third from imagination:
In the last drawing the sense of speed and action is helped by the lively background which was diluted black ink roughly wiped on the paper.
For a larger crowd of people in motion I started with a similar method of ink wash and then used charcoal, soft pastel and oil pastel. The figures are mainly drawn from my earlier sketchbook figures. I think the indistinct, messy drawing I’ve ended up with gives a good impression of busy movement: