Exhibition: Degas to Picasso, Creating Modernism in France

I really enjoyed this exhibition as it had a high number of drawings and works on paper, many of which I had not seen before.  It also introduced a number of new artists to me.  The title of the exhibition is slightly misleading as it begins with a drawing by Jean-Honore Fragonard, so that it can put the rise of modernism into a historical context.

As normal with exhibitions, I choose four images to write about in my sketchbook pages.


As I finished writing this page it stuck me that I should also pick images that were less successful for me and explain why.  You can often learn as much from these images as my favourites.  A learning point for the future.

Exhibition: Queer British Art 1861-1967

Queer British Art explores the connection between art and gender/sexual identity from 1861, when the death penalty for sodomy was abolished, to 1967, when sex between men was partially decriminalised.

The exhibition reflects both the changes which have occurred in attitudes to being queer (although with current events in America and Russia this is questionable) and the changes in art generally.  I particularly enjoyed seeing the small drawings of Duncan Grant and Keith Vaughan as these are so rarely displayed and have a great sense of movement and power expressed in just a few lines.

I picked out four paintings which I included in my sketch pages to record my thoughts about the exhibition.


Venue:  Tate Britain

Date of Visit:  25 May 2017

Assignment 2: Reflection Against Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills

During this unit I have again experimented with a range of materials and techniques. I mainly drew in black and white prior to commencing this course and so during this unit have tried to use colour in a variety of different mediums (where appropriate). I have used collage in an exercise and a mixed medium approach in my second assignment,

I have started to sketch more and have found that rather than using small pages I am better at using A3 paper. This stops in being so tight in my drawings and I am slowly getting over that fear of sketching in public. I continue to use loose sheets for sketching which I attach to an A3 Drawing Board. I have started Life Drawing Classes and this is developing my observational skills and visual awareness.

Quality of Outcome
Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment

I am very satisfied with second assignment outcome. I have pushed myself to make a mixed media drawing, in a larger format I would normally attempt. I like the composition of the image, the colour range and the different mark making in the drawing, from the smooth of the steel frame to the freer, more gestural marks in the vegetation.

Demonstration of Creativity
Imagination, experimentation, invention, personal voice

Throughout this unit and in my assignment submission I have struggled with the still-life genre. I have therefore tried to think beyond the usual coffee-pot type images and engage with a subject matter/idea which interests me, as well as fitting the criteria for the unit. In this way I think I may start to develop my personal voice more. However, in many ways I wonder if I have over-thought the unit and should have just done the exercises using the normal suspects as my subject matter?

In this unit I have also tried to concentrate more on the final image which portrays my idea rather than it be more about the process of making the drawing. This was a deliberate move on my part as I am trying to discover which camp (if any or both) the making of my art and my interest lies. Perhaps it is too early to look at either?

Reflection, research

I have visited exhibitions, Study Days and undertaken a number of areas of research and then experimented with what I have discovered. I need to develop my academic writing more and to write more on what I am discovering. I still struggle with the on-line blog and am keeping exhibition and some other research notes in hard copy with a brief summary entry on my on-line learning log. I am hoping this will develop into more of a visual diary, learning log and sketchbook combined so that it is easier to look at some form of cross-fertilisation of ideas. As this is my first Level 1 course I think it is the ideal time to find the right format for me.

Research: Dadaism

‘Before Dada was there, there was Dada’.

Dada is a movement which in many ways defies a definition.  There seems to be no one unifying force (apart from there is no unifying force), no one group behind the movement, with many manifestos published.  Indeed, it seems to have grown up across slightly different time frames during the early twentieth century, in different cities.  It also crossed a number of different disciplines, although much of the work eventually became concentrated in the literary and visual arts spheres.

One of the elements I found interesting for my own drawings were the sound poems of Hugo Bell.  In these he dissected the words into individual phonetic syllables and recombined them, thus taking meaning away from the language and creating a new sound picture.  I wondered if the same could be done with one of my drawings – cutting it up and then recombining it to take away the original visual meaning and thus creating a drawing.  I thought I might try this out in a future drawing.  In many ways is this similar to Rauschenberg erasing a de Kooning drawing?

I have mixed reactions to the Dada images.  Some are humorous, some visually engaging (some not), some the idea is intriguing whilst others it is the final image that is intriguing.  As with most art, the more you look and gain an understanding the more you can engage with the image.

Research: Henry Moore

Due my feedback from Assignment One my tutor asked me to research the drawings of Henry Moore.  I choose to mainly concentrate at this stage on his World War II Shelter Drawings as I have always admired these drawings.  After seeing a couple of the original drawings at Tate Britain and Pallant House Gallery and also reading a couple of books on Moore, I made notes in my sketchbook.

At the same time I have just visited Herculaneum, Italy and decided that the skeletons in the Boat Sheds looked like the people in the Shelter Drawings so decided to try a couple of drawings in the style of Moore using pencil, pen & ink, wax crayon and a watercolour wash.  .  The last two drawings are of two people having lunch at Borough Market, the first just the pen & ink outline with the second adding wax resist and a watercolour wash.

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Exhibition: Robert Rauschenberg

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008)

‘painting relates to both art and life. Neither can be made…. I try to act in that gap between the two.’ Rauschenberg, 1959.

I visited this exhibition at Tate Modern on an OCA Study Day on 21st January and again on 14 March 2017. It was a retrospective of his work and follows a loose chronology, with eleven rooms each containing a shift in his technique or mode of working.

The exhibition was vast and had an amazing variety of work on show which at times was overwhelming (hence the second visit).  On the study visit the tutor asked us to think about what made Rauschenberg a ‘radical’ – his technique, changes of style, attention to American culture, or collaboration?  At the end of visiting the exhibition I don’t think it was any one of these which made him a ‘radical’ rather a willingness to do all four and many others, continually changing and adapting.  Many artist develop a style or made of working which they become ‘known’ for and end up working in that manner for the remainder of their careers.  Rauschenberg shifting styles, collaborated with many other others in different disciplines and continually challenged the accepted view of what made a work of ‘art’.  Whilst artist such as Duchamp have done this in the past with his Readymades Rauschenberg took this to a new level, always challenging conventional views.

As there were so many works I could select to write about I have picked four works which particularly appealed to me either because of the finished piece or the idea behind the finished work and wrote about these in my sketchbook.


JMW Turner – Adventures in Colour

I visited this exhibition in January at Turner Contemporary, Margate.  The exhibition explored Turner’s use of colour, his experimental techniques, his engagement with colour theory and use of new paint pigments.  I was hoping to see his watercolours and sketchbooks and was not disappointed.  I wrote about two of the pictures in my sketchbook.


One of the things that came out of this exhibition for me was how the simple nature of the marks in his sketches would still make the image recognisable and how he could capture the atmosphere of the place by his use of colour.  These are both aspects I need to incorporate in my own sketches in order to remove that feeling that I need to produce a perfect image of the visual appearance.