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?

Context
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.

Assignment 2

As I had worked through this unit I had kept a sheet in my sketch pages and jotted down ideas for the assignment.  I now looked though this sheet in order to decide if any inspired me to make a drawing that would fit the assignment brief.

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I kept coming back to my still-life theme of man’s impact on the environment.  However, I wanted to be more positive in my drawing for this assignment and document that in spite of man’s impact, nature is able to fight back and overcome our presence.  I suddenly had a flash of inspiration and thought about an old Hoverport I often visit that was closed in the late 70s or early 80s, most of the structures removed and has been left to nature to recolonize, with part of the site designated as a National Nature Reserve.

I therefore visited the site and wandered around looking for inspiration.  I knew that this assignment was about a still-life or interior so kept this in mind as I looked around the site.   I made some sketches and returned to the site after a couple of days to focus on a steel footbridge that had ivy and brambles growing up through the stair gaps and had been surrounded by other vegetation.

Once home I played with the images to try to get a good composition for a still-life of the stairway and vegetation.  I decided that a close-up view would be best to avoid the image becoming a landscape.

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I decided to take a mixed media approach to the drawing and wanted a slightly smooth finish to the steel of the bridge (apart from the rust patches) and a more expressive, free feel to the marks of the vegetation, to echo the notion that nature was moving to take back the structure.

I had also recently been on a visit to the British Museum Drawing Study Room and seen a drawing by John Napper – Dried Plants, 1958.  In this drawing he had defined the shape of some of the flowers and leaves in some parts of his drawing and had been much freer in other parts, giving a vitality to his drawing which really caught by attention.  I wanted to echo this in my drawing of the vegetation in some way.

I tried out the background first, applying a wax resist to parts of the walkway structure and then adding ink with a brush.  I then added ink for the vegetation, dropping in different colours wet-on-wet.  I liked the effect so decided to push on with my final drawing.

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I initially made a pencil outline for the drawing to establish the various areas and ensure I got the perspective correct.  Although I thought it was correct at this stage , I subsequently had to make corrects to the perspective as the drawing progressed.

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I then added the wax resist and the ink under colours.

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Once these were dry I used soft pastels for the vegetation in the background between the handrail uprights and coloured pencil for the walkway details and rust patches.  I also ued pastel pencils for some areas of the walkway and free leaf shapes within the patched of ivy and brambles.  There were gaps between the stairs where you could see the dark shapes of twigs and some leaves and I used graphite pencils for these elements.  Finally. I added pen and ink lines fairly freely to both define the shapes of the leaves in the vegetation on the stairs and to create that sense of the vegetation gradually moving along the stairs.

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I am happy with the result of the approach I have taken.  I feel the drawing does portray the hard, smother steel structure against the more loose, random shapes of the vegetation.  The drawing is also much larger, more colourful and has more layers than I would normally work with so I feel I have stretched that element in myself.

I could have been more daring in my approach and moved more away from the visual appearance but with this drawing I wanted the finish drawing to communicate my idea that nature will gradually erase man’s presence and that whilst our impact might seem great now, eventually nature will prevail and take back the environment.

Proj 3, Ex. 2&3: Composition – An Interior and Material Differences

I looked at my quick sketches around the home and found no ideas emerging which inspired me to create a drawing.  I have found my best time for thinking about art is either when I am in bed or in the bath.  As I laid in the bath thinking about what to do for this exercise I caught a glimpse of myself in the stainless steel knob which raises and lowers the plug.  I then looked at the reflections in the tap and realised that this could be my drawing.

The next time I was in the bath I made a couple of quick sketches of the viewpoint and a couple of days later some more drawing without any water in the bath.  These drawing were on A5 paper as there is listed space when laying down in the bath.

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I liked the image so decide to use this as the basis for my drawing.  I decided to use ink for my drawing and to heighten the colours I could see to add that warmth to the drawing, echoing that warm and relaxing feel you get when taking a bath.  I also darkened the white bath to add a contrast against the warm colours of the feet, bubble bath and sponge.  I chose a letter box format as when I thought about laying in the bath I realised I was often looking at this fairly narrow view.

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Once the base colours had been added with brush and ink, I wanted to bring out the detail using fine-liner coloured pens.

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Overall I am happy with the drawing, especially as I do not normally work in colour.  I worry that it is becoming a bit ‘painting-like’ but the line for the detail and media I think keeps it firmly within the context of drawing.

The one major thing which did not turn out right was the blue flannel.  I over-darkened the fold lines and I think it is too strong for the image, drawing eye to the left side of the image.