66. Drawing 1, Part 4, Project 4: Structure.

June 18. Studies of body parts and underlying structures:

 

Standing, seated and lounging, life studies:

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The standing figure was done in black charcoal and, just for fun and to experiment, I added a couple of pieces of torn newspaper. I think it worked well and made the image more interesting.

The seated figure is sepia conte stick, black charcoal and white pastel. I’m satisfied with the end result and the fact that I’ve ended up with a drawing that appears realistic in the sense that it conveys the weight of the seated figure well.

The lounging model was done in charcoal and pastels. Again I think I managed to make an accurate drawing of the pose even though in a foreshortened view. Luckily the pose ended before I had the opportunity to spoil it by doing too much!

I’m much more aware these days of the underlying bones and muscles when drawing the  human figure, and that has made a big difference to my work. I’m still looking for different ways to indicate the curves and solidity of the body. I came across this image in the catalogue of an exhibition held in New York in 1979/80 entitled, “Henry Moore Drawings 1969-79″,

Reclining Mother and Child – Maquette IV” Pencil and charcoal:

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Moore says the catalogue introduction, “Around the late 1920’s, I found a personal way of describing three-dimensional form, using line, without light and shade. I let my pencil follow an imagined horizontal section of the form I was drawing and then change direction, at right angles, to follow the vertical section. these ‘sectional lines’ are a shorthand method of describing three-dimensional form ………..”.

I’ve sometimes during life drawing found myself doing something similar, when the part of the body I’m drawing seems too flat. I haven’t yet taken this method as far as Henry Moore did in the drawing above, but I will experiment with it in future.

 

65. Gallery visit, YSP.

29 June 18. Went to see these exhibitions:

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Both exhibitions concern human interaction with nature. Giuseppe Penone’s “A Tree in the Wood” has works from 5 decades of the artist’s career. I don’t remember hearing of the artist prior to this exhibition. He’s a leading artist in the Italian Arte Povera Movement. There are some impressive sculptures of trees cast in bronze, some with river boulders suspended in them.

I liked this one called “Sentiero 6” (Pathway 6) which has a living tree growing through a human figure (bronze).

The Common Ground exhibition charts the 30 year story of the arts and environmental charity. Features the work of many artists, sculptors and poets. This is a series of drawings by Peter Randall-Page, “Wayside Carvings” 1986 Charcoal on paper:

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Wondered over to see the Elizabeth Frink figures again and made a sketch (I made the head too large):

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64. Drawing 1, Part 4, Project 3: Form.

June 2018. Basic shapes and essential elements. Various poses in pencil, ink and charcoal:

Seated poses from life, charcoal and pastel, the last being charcoal with some white acrylic paint:

Foreshortened studies, the first 2 from life, the third from a magazine. The second I thought I had right at the time then only later saw that lower limbs and feet should have been larger.

Various standing figures from life, pencil and charcoal:

 

Various life studies of twisting and bending figures attempting to describe “energy” in the body with more dynamic poses:

My life drawing continues to progress and I’m becoming more and more confident of achieving a good representation of the model.

63. Drawing 1, Part 4, Project 2. Proportion.

June 2018. Life drawing quick sketches – attempts to draw the body in correct proportion, at the same time considering the weight and balance of the model:

Longer studies in different mediums with more tone:

Longer study:

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Perhaps in this case I drew the body and right arm longer than they actually were, and the hips too narrow, nevertheless I’ve managed to capture the posed it doesn’t look too bad.

I’m finding that I prefer to start on a toned paper rather than stark white one – in this case it was white paper rubbed with black charcoal before starting to draw.

 

62. Gallery visit: Grayson Perry at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery.

19 Jun 18. Grayson Perry’s tapestry exhibition, “The Vanity of Small Differences”. The 6 tapestries were created alongside the Channel 4 documentary series, “All in the Best Possible Taste (2012) in which Perry explored three different regions of England and their “taste tribes”. The tapestries are inspired by religious art and most importantly, William Hogarth’s series of images, “A Rake’s Progress” (1733) – copies of Hogarth’s engravings were also on display, as well as prints of David Hockney’s version.

The tapestries tell the story of the imaginary Tim Rakewell, from birth to untimely death.

I don’t normally like to use audio commentaries in art galleries, but this time I used one and found it very useful – there was so much to see within each tapestry and I would have missed some key references without the commentary.

Some of the preliminary sketches for the tapestries were on display – drawn in cartoon manner. I found it very interesting to see the differences between those and the finished tapestries (which have been produced on a computer-controlled loom).

Preliminary sketches:

Sketch and finished tapestry (detail) comparison:

Detail from the final tapestry in the series, “Lamentation”:

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A fascinating exhibition with much to say about our lives and class differences.

61. Drawing 1. Part 4, Project 1, Fabric and Form.

24 Jun 18. My drawing has been progressing but not always in the course project sequence due to the model poses in my life drawing classes which I have no control over. However, my life drawing has become much more confident and I’m continuing to experiment with supports and media.

For this project I began by drawing a blanket draped over a chair, first in line and then in tone:

Although the tone drawing has more depth it was still relatively easy to convey the fabric folds in just line.

For the second exercise I drew a clothed model from life in two different poses:

The seated model was drawn mainly with charcoal, at times mixed with water. Having taken it to a conclusion I then decided to add colour by using blue pastel pencil and wax crayon to the jacket, which I think improved the overall effect. The second drawing was done in sepia conte crayon. In both cases I think I was was fairly successful in conveying the human form beneath the clothing, but in the case of the seated figure I noticed that it was made easier by having a strong light source which helped with the modelling.

 

60. Visit – Stanley Spencer at Sandham Memorial Chapel.

16 Jun 18. A bit of a pilgrimage for me this one – I’ve long wanted to see Stanley Spencer’s wall paintings at Sandham Memorial Chapel, Burghclere. I wasn’t disappointed. Spencer was an admirer of Giotto, the Italian painter and architect of the early Renaissance who painted the frescos in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.

Giotto’s nativity scene in the Scrovegni Chapel:

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Spencer’s paintings in the “Holy box” as he called it, is based on his memories of his First World War service as a medical orderly in a military hospital in Bristol and on active duty on the Salonica Front, in present-day Greece. It took Spencer eight years to complete.

Some images from the chapel:

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The massive altar wall features “The Resurrection of the Soldiers”, where the dead rise from the battlefield and return their grave crosses to Christ. I’ve always been fascinated by the way that Spencer depicted the human form – often in an unrealistic, distorted way, but somehow it seems right.

Marvellous.

Sandham Chapel is owned by The National Trust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

59. BBC TV Documentary: “Ego – The Strange and Wonderful World of Self-Portraits”.

12 Jun 18. Laura Cumming presented this excellent study of self-portraiture through the ages, beginning with what she described as first great self-portrait in Western Art, Durer’s self-portrait of 1500, painted when he was 28. It is generally thought that he has depicted himself as Christ. The eyes have a mesmerising stare that apparently can be quite unsettling.

Durer 1500

Tintoretto also featured with a self-portrait that the contemporary artist, Tai Shan Shierenberg used as a reference to paint his own self-portrait from. I like this idea, and may draw myself in the style of another artist.

The Tintoretto self-portrait and one by Shierenberg (not the one shown in the documentary), “Self-Portrait as Janus” – interesting because he’s painted himself with two heads:

Rembrandt, being a prolific self-portraitist, couldn’t be left out, and it is interesting to see his face painted at various stages of his life as it ages. I like this one from 1660, “Self-Portrait with Two Circles”:

Rembrandt - Self-Portrait with 2 Circles 1660 Kenwood House

I was impressed by a startling self-portrait by Gustave Courbet from 1845 which he called, “The Desperate Man”:

Courbet - The Desperate man 1845

The programme finished with contemporary artist, Mark Wallinger, “Self (Times New Roman)”. This is a sculpture in the form of a life-size letter “I”, which pushes self-portraiture to, and perhaps beyond, it’s boundary:

Mark wallinger - Self (Times New Roman)

 

58. Gallery visit – The Granary, Berwick – “Spirited”.

7 June 18. The exhibition featured drawings, paintings and sculpture by female artists. I was impressed by paintings by Laura Knight and Barbara Rae, but to stay focused on drawing, I will pick four that interested me.

Barbara Hepworth “Two Figures” 1947. Pen and black ink, green crayon and pencil.

This is one her hospital series of drawings and I was very interested in the combination of mediums and the surgeon’s face and over-large hands.IMG_8439

Rosemary Rutherford “VAD Nurse” 1940. Pen, ink and wash.

I liked the combination of hatching and wash to model the face.

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Elizabeth Frink “Adam and Eve” c.1968.

This is probably a self-portrait with her then husband. Easy to see a connection between this drawing and her sculptures.

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Bridget Riley “Woman at Tea-Table” (not dated). Coloured crayons and pastel.

Riley became an exponent of the “Op Art” style using black and white geometric patterns, but this drawing is an early work. I was interested in her use of crayons and pastel, and the fact that it is basically a still life and a figure.

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56. Life Drawing 24 May 18

24 May 18.  Westgate Studios, Wakefield. Prompted by my  tutor, I decided to make a large number of quick drawings of the model. Armed with 100 sheets of cartridge paper and a variety of pencils, pens, crayons etc., I timed each drawing to exactly 1 minute.

There were 3 different poses of 15 minutes, and 1 of 40 minutes. I managed 11 drawings during each of the 15 minute sessions, and 30 drawings during the 40 minute pose, so a total of 63 drawings.

33 drawings from the 3 short poses:

30 drawings from the long pose:

I found the experience challenging and worthwhile. The results varied greatly, but the longer I stayed at it, the more sure I became that something interesting was starting to emerge. There are several drawings from the 63 that I’m quite pleased with, particularly from the 40 minute session, and I think that’s because I’d become more relaxed about the process by then, and also because I found the pose to be more pleasing. At times it felt like I was drawing on “automatic pilot”, almost without thinking about it. I began to be reminded of drawings by Picasso and Matisse as I drew. Sometimes I was surprised to find that I had “finished” before the minute was up.

During the next life drawing session I intend to draw longer studies of the model, and compare the experience with this one. It will be interesting to see if my method has been affected by this fast drawing experience.

55. Gallery visit – YSP – Chiharu Shiota

17 May 18. Went for a quick visit to YSP to see Chiharu Shiota’s exhibition, “Beyond Time” in the Chapel. She explores connections between body, space and memory. The main part of her work on display is an impressive installation using white thread connected to and appearing to come out of a wire framework representing a piano. Entwined with the thread are sheets of musical notes that are known to have been played or sung in the chapel in the past. She chose a piano because of the lack of a musical instrument in the chapel and because of a childhood memory of seeing the burned out remains of a neighbour’s piano after their house was destroyed by fire.

 

Shiota has worked with thread since 2000 when she wove it around her bed to gain a sense of anchoring her life after moving home 9 times in 3 years. I was also interested in 4 of her drawings which are on display, each of which include some thread woven into the paper. This is “Red Coat” 2018, oil pastel and thread on paper, courtesy the artist:

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54. Reflection.

13 May 2018. Now awaiting tutor report for Drawing 1, Part 3, and about to start Part 4.

At this stage I feel that I’m doing fairly well and showing some improvement in my work.  I progressed quickly at the start of Part 3 but then lost some momentum when I went to America for 2 weeks. I had intended to continue my course work during my USA visit but only managed 1 sketch, although I was spending many hours a day painting a nursery mural for my future grandchild. Even so, I ought to have been more diligent. On my return other things needed my attention so I was slow to catch up with course work, having to extend my deadline by a week. I’d progress more quickly if I could make myself draw faster, perhaps if I limited the time I allowed for each drawing, but at this stage I don’t seem able to do that and be confident that I’ll get a satisfactory result.

I ended Part 3 with what I think is a good assignment piece, but I was conscious during the drawing of it that I was taking much longer than the suggested 2 hours.

Overall, I feel my confidence growing, particularly with outdoor sketching and life drawing. I booked for a 2-day life drawing class with the WEA which was cancelled due to lack of student numbers, but I will try to attend as many life drawing sessions at the Studios in Wakefield on Thursday nights. These sessions are without instruction but still very useful and will help with Part 4 of the course.

I’ve just been reading a biography of Andrew Wyeth and a passage in it struck me as something that I ought to take note of – the biography, “Andrew Wyeth, A Secret Life” was written by Richard Meryman before the artist’s death. “Wyeth believes that egotism might inhibit him as an artist, make him timid, afraid to splash paint and risk wrecking a picture. He believes that to be successful, a picture must at some point be what he calls ‘out of control’. An example is the big 1957 tempera Brown Swiss. He had spent months painting the Kuerner house seen across the little pond ………… ‘I had the literal truth, the workmanship almost overstudied’ Wyeth says. ‘But I’d never gotten wild during it, given it the fire I felt. One evening just before dinner I mixed up a huge bowl of ocher color and raw siena, very watery. Then I stepped back and threw it all over this huge painting, color dripping down. Then I rushed out. If I’d seen it drying, maybe all patchy, I’d have doubted and tampered with it. The next morning I found I’d made it. I take terrible chances like that. Sometimes I miss and it’s awful – chaos. But I’d rather miss sometimes and hit strong other times, than be an in-between person’ “.

I’ve been lucky enough, due to having relatives living in the area, to have visited the superb Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania many times and seen many of the Wyeth family paintings and drawings. I intend to go again.

Meanwhile, on with part 4.

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Figures from my collection.

53. Drawing 1, Assignment 3.

Based on my recent sketches for “Townscapes”, I chose to draw a picture of Ossett marketplace, to include the Town Hall, which I like to look at, and the War Memorial that I’d sketched in the “Statues” exercise. That lead to selecting a market day for the picture, and  I became particularly interested in a stall selling hats, so decided to make that a feature. After sketching and taking reference photos I quickly arrived at a composition by moving the hat stall to a different part of the marketplace, and by inventing a stall to the right of it. In the process I noticed that the signpost and a feature on the base of the war memorial formed a cross (just as I’d found a cross in window frame whilst sketching the war memorial statue), and I decided to make that a focal point.

I wanted a substantial support so I chose a watercolour board. I began by drawing in pencil until I was happy with the layout, then drew over that with a permanent black marker. I changed the format slightly by shortening the height and width. I then decided to get rid of the white areas by washing over the whole board with a mix of mainly yellow acrylic paint, before lifting out some areas that I intended to be paler.

I then worked mainly with hard and soft pastels, and some charcoal, to build up to the colour and tone.

I had hoped to work much quicker but it took me longer than expected to bring it to the point where I was satisfied with it, which was after almost 7 hours of total work, done in 2 sessions. I’m quite pleased with the overall result, which is pretty much as I’d imagined it at the start.

Assignment 3:

Ossett Marketplace

52. Research – John Virtue.

12 May 18. John Virtue creates landscapes, often on large canvases in black and white. He uses mainly white acrylic paint, black ink and shellac. His work has an abstract look but retains figural elements. The reproductions look intriguing, but I’m sure that they need to be seen in the flesh, which I haven’t yet done. I’m interested in the fact that his paintings are more of an emotional response to the landscape, rather than an accurate depiction of a scene. John Virtue:

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John Virtue’s way of working reminded me of the talk I went to by artist Phil Reynolds (Blog 43), who’s work, as described on his website, “explores the ground between abstraction and figuration where forms emerge from a fluid use of acrylic paint”.

Phil Reynolds, “Turnaround”:Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 17.48.54

And again, I was reminded of paintings I’d seen by another Yorkshire artist, Katherine Holmes (Blog 2). In her case there is less abstraction but still there is an expressive response to the landscape that gives her work an added dimension.

Katherine Holmes, “Summer, Malham Cove”, Mercer Art Gallery, Harrogate:

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I’ve been reading the book, “Graham Sutherland, Inspirations” by Rosalind Thuillier, who says of Sutherland, “Although certain places may have provided the source of his inspiration, he never intended that any painting should specifically represent an exact place at a particular time”.

This way of working is one that I intend to experiment with more often.

 

51. Gallery Visit – Hepworth Wakefield – Anthony McCall: Solid Light Works.

4 May 18. I heard very good reports about this exhibition before seeing it, and I was initially disappointed, but after taking some time to move around and interact with the light it gradually grew on me. I haven’t seen anything quite like it before – moving light beams are projected through a vapour which gives, from certain angles, a solid appearance. I found that the best feature of the works is the fact that by moving into the beams of light you can be involved in the creative process by changing the effect.

50. Drawing 1, Part 3, Project 5 – Townscapes.

Apr/May 2018.

Exercise 1 – Sketchbook of townscape drawings.

On the spot drawings done in York, Ossett and Wakefield. Some drawn very quickly The church drawing in felt-tip pen took longer than I’d intended but I became absorbed in the process and carried on with details.

Exercise 2 – Townscape using line. 

Chose to draw the Wakefield skyline from Thornes Park. The initial drawing was done on the spot in pencil over a previously prepared page in my sketchbook – it had brown and green watercolour washes on it and seems to fit the subject. It’s not entirely accurate – for example the 3 tall trees between the town hall and the cathedral I managed to draw twice! But I think it gives a fair impression of the view. Perhaps the cathedral is too dark.

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I drew the same scene in ink indoors from the sketch and a reference photo using a fine-tipped drawing pen. I decide to add a man and dog for some middle-ground interest, and then I decided that the sky was too blank and added some overhanging tree foliage – I’m not sure that was a good idea – probably better to have drawn some clouds.

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Exercise 3 – Limited palette study.

I drew this on the spot in Wakefield with pencils, adding blue and red afterwards. I like the composition and the way the darker red draws the eye into the narrow street between the buildings, but I think that the composition would benefit from some some human activity.IMG_7881

Exercise 4 – Statues.

For these I chose the Ossett War Memorial and the Queen Victoria statue in Wakefield. Bothe were done on the spot, with some refinements later from reference photos. I like the War memorial one best. As I drew it I noticed the cross of the window mullions behind the statue that appeared to suggest a memorial cross so I decided to put that in and some of the building behind. Although I got the top of the building in the correct place I didn’t manage to get the ground floor of the building in, but decided to leave it rather than rubbing out. I’m pleased with the statue itself, but the perspective of the plinth could be better.

The Queen Victoria statue was done in graphite pencil and coloured pencils on a pastel paper – not the best choice as it was too rough.

The process of these drawing exercises has led me to chose Ossett marketplace for the assignment, and the statue will be included – and maybe the ground floor of buildings!

48. Own work – Nursery Mural

12-24 Apr 18. Some extra-curricular activity in California painting the nursery of my future grandchild. A Peter Pan theme. Household matt wall paint mixed with tempera paints. Time on Big Ben will be the baby’s birth time.

Before and after:

Course work was interrupted and I’ve been trying to regain some lost momentum since my return.