I have never really felt inspired by the still life genre, although I am looking forward to having this view changed when I do the research point in Unit 2. There is something about selecting a group of objects and setting them up as a composition which does not appeal to me. Perhaps it is all those pitctures of fruit and dead animals that have coloured my view of still life.
For this exercise I decided to draw groups of objects just as I found them. Nothing was moved or changed in creating the drawings. What I did have control over was the angle at which I viewed the group. The first two drawings are of items in my kitchen food cupboards and the third drawing is of kitchen waste waiting to go out into the recycling bins.
This drawing is on brown craft paper in ink. Drawing on anything other than white paper is a new departure for me and I quite enjoyed the experience .I wanted to show the contents of the jars, tins and packets as well as the containers. I like the ends of the sardines showing in the tins, the nuts in the bags and the sagging of the pasta bag. However, I think this is probably my least successful drawing in this exercise. You get no real feel for the textures of the container or contents; it may be the medium was the wrong choice for this exercise.
This next drawing is on heavyweight smooth drawing paper using an H2 pencil; this is a more successful drawing. Whilst the contents are harder to see (most were liquids apart from the peppercorns) I think the drawing better conveys the texture of the containers – the stainless steel pepper and salt mills; the glass of the vinegar bottle, the OXO tin, etc,. The different types of lids are also better represented and the jumble of different containers stacked within the cupboard is a better composition. I especially like the different text fonts on the labels. I strayed into shading on some of the containers to separate them from each other and give an indication of form and texture.
The final drawing of recycling waiting to go out to the bins is on a brown fast food carrier bag using Conte crayon. I would never have considered using this as a support before beginning the course but I really like the result. It seems quite appropriate to use a bag from the recycling for an image of recycling. Whilst some of the perspective angles are not correct I like the way the face of the ‘Colonel’ comes through the image and this is mirrored by the drawn faces of the cows on the milk cartons. I also think the bits of text on the bag add to the overall result as does the folds of the bag. .
This exercise has certainly opened up the possibilities of using different supports for my drawings and the unexpected effect this can have on the final image. It has also shown me that still-life groups can be found anywhere and do not have to be arranged.
This week in my sketchbook I drew an image of toothbrushes in a holder. Once I have finished the drawing I began to think about the image of the toothbrush. Did it tell the story of what the toothbrush did or how it was used? I therefore began to think about how I could express this in a drawing. The next morning I was brushing my teeth and looked up into the mirror and noticed the movements I was making with the brush. I thought about how I could replicate this in a drawing. I decided to use an old toothbrush and make the same marks on the paper as if I was brushing my teeth. I starting to think about the medium to use. Ink was my first thought but it would not give the texture I wanted in the drawing. I thought that crushed charcoal would be more useful but was worried that it would just rub into the grain of the paper and not leave the right marks. I ended up using crushed charcoal mixed with slightly diluted PVA glue; this gave me the effect I was looking for in the drawing.
You can see the various movements made with the brush – circular, side to side, up & down, etc., and at the edge of the middle section is an accumulation of the charcoal dust, giving texture to the drawing.
The next day I realised I have been influenced by Julie Brixey-Williams’ drawings in Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art, which I had glanced through a couple of days earlier. Locationotation is a series of pirouette drawings performed simultaneously by 52 dancers. They are made using graphite powder on watercolour paper. Artist’s website here.
Weekly Images from my Sketchbook. I often have an issue deciding on what to sketch. So I thought that each week I would have a theme for sketches. This could be related to the subject matter, method of drawing or something else. I am not going to be so rigid that if I see something outside my theme I would not sketch it, but, should I have problems deciding on what to sketch I would revert to my theme of the week.
Theme of the Week: Everyday Objects
I decided to continue to look at frottage as part of the texture exercise. In my frottage image in the previous post I had particularly liked the effect the Nikon lens cap gave as a rubbing. I decided to try to combine this with a line drawing of the camera and then add the frottage.
- This the pen line drawing of the camera with spaces for where I intended to use the frottage. I first drew the camera outline in pencil and then went over the lines in pen.
- I added the frottage of the lens cap and the textured grip of the zoom ring. In my head this had looked better than in the final image; I don’t think the texture used in this way is very successful as it contrasts too much with the line drawing. It looks disconnected.
- I then remade the image this time adding shading to the ink drawing as well as the frottage. Again, I don’t think frottage worked very well with the more realist, traditional style of drawing.
- I then tried a more abstract drawing. I used frottage of various parts of the camera to create a background texture and then drew in pen various parts of the camera in a disjointed manner. Overall I feel this is the more successful image as the frottage gives the clue to the image and then the eye moves around the drawing trying to reconstruct the camera. However, I do feel the final drawing is a bit too busy.
I then tried another image, this time using frottage of bamboo leaves as the background texture and a pen drawing over the top.
I quite like the effect of the larger frottage leaves behind the pen drawing of the smaller leaves, although overall I think frottage probably works better in more abstract drawings.
I enjoyed investigating using frottage in drawings as I had never considered this technique prior to the exercise. It is something I would like to revisit in later drawings.
I decided to focus in on a small part of each object so that I could concentrate on the texture.
Clockwise from top left:
- This is the edge of a loofah sponge, drawn in ink. I used a thin ink pen and tried to bring out the thin, rough elements of the texture and the spikiness of the fibres.
- This shows the soft cord attached to the loofah sponge, used for hanging it up in the shower. This is drawn in a soft pencil to match the softness of the cord. Whilst soft, the cord was solid and I used shading to indicate this element.
- An edge of a ceramic vase with ridges is the next drawing, in soft pencil with a paper blender. I found a smooth surface the most difficult to depict as the pencil picked up the texture of the paper; the blender was used to blend the tones and rub the pencil into the paper to create a smoother appearance.
- This is black bamboo in Conte crayon. The surface of this is somewhat waxy with small area of rough and different pressures on the crayon helped to bring out this texture.
I then drew the loofah sponge again this time in white ink on black paper just to see the effect. It gives a more lacy appearance to the loofah and I think I prefer the original drawing.
Whilst I was happy with the drawings and they did convey the texture of the objects I kept thinking something was missing. Texture is made up of both the appearance of the object and what we feel to the touch. I therefore repeated the exercise, with the drawings this time trying to convey what the texture feels like. I closed my eyes and run my finger across the surface and then tried to convey the sensation.
Clockwise from top left:
- Loofah sponge, wide-nib pen with ink splatter. As my finger moved across the surface, it would come up against a fibre, stop and then jump forwards again. I have tried to convey this in the line, with added ink splatters to show the feeling of the pin-pricks on my finger when fibres are sticking out.
- Cord, wide and narrow ink pen. The cord felt soft and solid at the same time and I could feeling the individual threads in the ply of the cord. The soft wave forms indicate the soft folds in the cord with the repeating narrow lines showing I could feel the individual threads.
- Ceramic vase, ink smears. Again, the most difficult to represent, with the curve of the smear representing the curve of the vase.
- Bamboo, wax crayon. Wax crayon was used to convey the waxy feel of the surface. It is difficult to see in the photograph but the wax crayon is thicker near the edge of the ridge and then slips away.
I think these drawings are quite successful in conveying the texture and I would never have thought of drawing in this way before the exercise.
I moved onto the experiments with frottage. I used an 8B pencil on A3 70gsm paper to take rubbings of things around the house.
The list includes lino, paving slabs, cheese grater, leaves, file, camera lens cap, Kilner jar, bubble wrap, bird feeder mesh, wood, embossed mirror and picture frames, tiles, paint roller tray, wicker basket, etc.
Before I began this exercise I would never have thought there were so many different textures around the house. I am really happy with the result and especially like the two text rubbings from the Kilner jar and lens cap. It has started me thinking about how I could used frottage in images.
This exhibition of machine stitched line drawings shows the consequences of ageing and dementia on people Georgie Meadows has encountered in her work as an occupational therapist.
The line drawings, mostly in black thread on three layers of cloth (two layers of thin calico-like material separated by a layer of wadding) are really well observed. In one image, of a carer helping their partner to stand, you can almost see the weight being transferred from the partner to the carer. In other drawings long strands of threads are left hanging which brings a freer gestural quality to the drawing and also seems to represent the tangled memories associated with dementia. The fabric of some drawings, particularly when depicting a head on a pillow, is slightly discoloured which to me represented the strains from the head left after long periods in bed.
I left the exhibition with mixed feelings. The drawings are excellent but at the same time the subject matter I found depressing – is this what is awaiting me? It also brings into focus the very current issue of our attitude to ageing as a society, resources for the care of the elderly and the role of the carer. Finally, it highlighted the question of what is drawing and the need to be all encompassing in that definition.
Venue: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge
Artists Website: here
I visited this exhibition of the six tapestries created during the filming of the documentary ‘All in the Best Possible Taste’. Grayson Perry was inspired by William Hogarth’s ‘A Rake’s Progress’ as the tapestries follow the progress of a fictional modern day character, Tim Rakewell. The narrative through the six tapestries is how your ‘class’ within the modern age is defined by both your taste and ability to purchase a certain type of product; therefore you can move through the class system by purchasing items associated with a particular class. In effect, consumerism is defining the group to which you belong.
The six tapestries, with titles that refer back to religious works, are:
The Adoration of the Cage Fighters
The Agony in the Car Park
Expulsion from Number 8 Eden Close
The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal
The Upper Classes at Bay
The first thing that struck me on entering the gallery was the vibrant colours, large size and the illustrative nature of the images in the tapestries. As well as the story of the characters, the colours used in the tapestries linked the series, particularly a vivid red and pink. Also, motifs such as Make Tea, Not War in The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal and No War but Class War in The Upper Class at Bay, provide a visual link. At first the narrative presented by Grayson Perry seems quite obvious, however, the more I looked at them the more I saw, even down to the use of tapestry itself as a medium which was at one time only owned by the upper classes.
I think the depiction of popular cultural items (references to shopping, soap operas, etc.) and the stylised drawings is both a comment by the artist on the nature of modern society and a deliberate move to engage wider general public who may not normally visit galleries.
Venue: The Beaney House of Art & Knowledge, Canterbury, Kent