This assignment consists of three parts – a drawing using line, one using tone and a third combining the two.
I started with a bit of research and looked at three artists – Jozef Israels, Keith Vaughan and Frances Bacon. I made a few notes in my sketch book for inspiration. I particularly liked the pose of Keith Vaughan’s , Man in a Cave and also the white on black of Frances Bacon’s, Crucifixion.
For my first drawing I used my partner as the model. As this was meant to be a sitting pose I first tried out a few sketches with him on the sofa, either looking at his iPhone or eating a biscuit, both relaxed poses.
None of these initial sketches inspired me as they just looked too ordinary, they did not seem to say anything about the person. As my partner is a photographer, I asked him to pose with his camera. We have spent many hours together out and about, him taking pictures whilst I am sketching and I have often come across him squatting down looking at a small detail or abstract shape to photograph. The pose was also was inspired by the Keith Vaughan drawing shown earlier. It also brought to the fore some of the reading I have done on the female nude and gaze. By using a male photographer as my model I am putting the artist into the passive role.
I therefore completed a couple of sketches with this pose and liked these a lot better than my earlier sketches as they capture a moment in time just before he would take a photograph.
Of the two images I preferred the squatting pose with him leaning back against a bench to keep him steady. I think the shapes made by the legs and the downward glance, together with the drape of the shirt make a better image. I then tried out some quick sketches on various backgrounds and I was surprised that the stronger image for me was the white on black.
I did not want to dwell too long on this part as I have a tendency to over-think assignments so drove straight into making the image.
I used black paper with white pencil and white pastel for the drawing, making sure I concentrated on a line drawing, as per the brief. I also made sure I limited myself to two hours for the drawing to ensure I did not over-work the image and lose some of the energy of the marks. I lightly sketched the outline first to try to get the proportions right.
I then corrected a number of areas around the camera, hat and position of the hands, then began to firm up the lines and add some detail.
Finally I added some bolder marks, again corrected the hands and camera positions, soften the right hand edge of the figure drawing using a putty rubber so that the line becomes a bit lost as it was in shadow and added some white highlight under the figure to further indicate where the light was falling.
Overall I am pleased with the result. I think I have captured the pose and the concentration of the figure quite well and not overworked my lines. The hands are still not quite right, particularly his left hand. I thought about putting further elements in the background, making these up as he was framed against a plain wall but in the end decided not to add anything so the eye concentrates on the figure and the pose.
For my second drawing I wanted this to be from a life drawing class I attend. These last for two hours and I knew that the class on 2 February would be one pose for the duration of the class so this would fit the assignment brief quite well. At the previous weekly class I had tried out using charcoal powder on my finger to create the image, therefore avoiding my obsession for detail. First, I had completed sixteen A6 30-45 second poses, where line is shown this is where a bigger piece of charcoal was attached to my finger from not crushing the charcoal finely enough.
I then completed two longer pose of 15 and 20 minutes, again using charcoal powder on a finger. Both are A3 size.
I liked this technique and decided to use it for the second drawing of the assignment.
We had a different model in a sitting position. I used a viewfinder to compose the image. I again built up the tones using my finger dipped in charcoal powder, rubbing back the charcoal with a putty rubber to add highlights. I also included a faded sitting figure in the background, who was another member of the life drawing class, for context and to balance the image.
I think I have caught the way the figure is slightly slouching in the chair, the angles of the back, legs and arms together with the downward gaze. I have also soften the back edge of the figure to help with the perspective. Whilst I like the background figure, on reflection they do look a bit like they are playing a keyboard rather than using a sketchbook.
For my third drawing I want to do a self-portrait, perhaps giving the viewer a hint that I like to remain hidden as an artist. I have been thinking about this for a long time now, my reluctance to share my art on wider social media. I therefore decided to create an image with me dressed in a hoody, which could allured to my nature or could create a conflict for the viewer as an older man dressed in a hoody.
I used a mirror to me left at about eye level. I used a mid-tone green paper as I wanted to add a bit of red and yellow pastel dust to the charcoal powder I intended to use to build the tones. I choose green as being the complimentary colour of red it should make the face come forward more. I first built the image up gradually using the charcoal dust.
I then began adding lines and further tone, corrected the outline and finally adding some highlights. I again stuck to the two hours to avoid over-working the drawing.
For the me the final image looked a bit unbalanced with the large empty space on the right so I decided to add a faded image of a drawing, further adding to the narrative of me wanting my art to remain out of view.
I am not sure how successful this image is as it is difficult for me not to look at the image and not be critical as it is a picture of myself. Having put the picture in the background have I come too far in the narrative and does it distract from the main self-portrait? I think I need time away from the image to evaluate the result.
Response to Tutor Feedback
The main feedback from this assignment were on Drawings 2 & 3 and she also suggested looking at a video to improved my underlying technical structure of drawing the human figure.
I viewed the video and did practice further, using the RA Live video as a resource as my Life Drawing classes have finished.
I saw a clear improvement as i was able to better capture the likeness whilst still retaining an expressive quality.