Group Drawings: Scaling Up

This final drawing day with John Bentley for the term was a great departure from the loose and simplified style we had been exploring. However a common thread seemed to be in that here, we again manipulated perspective and composition. John gave us each a numbered fragment of an image which in their isolation were extremely abstract. He said the drawings would be joined to create a much larger whole but from this pixelated matter it seemed impossible to imagine this end result. He stressed the importance of accuracy, in the marks as well as how it scaled up onto the A1 format. My section was very complicated and rendering a copy became vey time consuming as I had to be conscious of tonal range and the various mark qualities. It was incredible to see how my drawing was given meaning and realised within the context of the collar. The collaboration of the exercise I feel was really successful as we were all able to share in the sense of achievement when the piece was revealed.

For our second drawing day with Will Stevens we looked into the possibilities of primary colours. Although this is a very simple concept, constantly evaluating how colour works against and with others is hugely important. Using a chosen image we played with combinations of two primary colours, one as the base and the other in the line drawing. I was most intrigued by the blue on the red as they are very different but communicate well in a subtle way. For the next task we manipulated the LIDL logo that featured these three colours and produced some humorous but exciting pieces together. Taking this simple logo and dissecting the colour into blocks and the logo as a pattern each group achieved a complex and unique representation of Henry VII for the large portrait. With the translucent quality to the plastic carrier bag we realised there were dual possibilities to each colour, with the reverse being more muted down and explored tone with this. This reflection made me consider the materials we use to draw with through collage as well as fabric and the possibilities they posses when viewed in a more open way.

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And we continue to draw..

The last drawing day of the week was with painter Will Stevens. With tutors coming from various backgrounds in art and design, it is exciting to see the different and sometimes similar takes they bring to drawing lessons. Drawing is a practice that unites us through our creative practice and I find it engaging to explore drawing in these new ways. Will questioned the idea of control through his workshop, commenting that often working very tightly can sometimes produced quite stale drawings and when we push ourselves to loosen up, the results are much more exciting.  Using rolls of paper we began drawing a series off interpretations of a chose object, working from true to size and very detailed to much more expressive and larger scale. On top of this came the time constraint, as we had reduced time to work and larger ground to cover, the mark had to be exaggerated and suggestive. I enjoyed immensely working on a much larger scale, often within textiles I find we forget to work much bigger than A2 but these drawings can hold some really provocative ideas and inspiration. It was exciting being freer, even if it was just sitting on the floor, sprawled over the drawing, with urgency pushing to create sweeping gestures that ended up being lively, fluid.

Our second task of the day was a group exercise that moved away from our objects. With the rolls of paper laid across the room overlapping each other, we faced a partner at the other end of the roll, our drawing tools joined with string.  The idea was now to draw a portrait of the other upside-down, starting  from their knees and moving upwards.

Before we began this exercise Will had us practice drawing a portrait without any of these obstacles and made us think about how to capture the subject, what were their defining characteristics? With Francesca I immediately noticed her striking curly hair and this was helpful in the second drawing as it was difficult to get a likeness with the facial features due to the tension and erratic pull however this made for really exciting and wild marks of their own when I moved onto capturing the hair. This whole workshop was really exciting and probably for me the most enjoyable so far. I am definitely going to continue to work larger scale and be experimental with how I approach drawing, considering levels of control, possibly within a single drawing also.

 

Paramaters

Our second drawing workshop with John Bentley was more about the concept of drawing rather than working form observation of our objects. By putting away our boxes, he wanted to show to us to think about drawing in new ways and how to approach it from a different persecutive. He briefed us for the day with the quote:

‘Parameters are not instructions but opportunities that can liberate you from decision making…’ (P. Nencini)

This ideas was fascinating to me and I was nervous but excited to see how this message would unravel itself once we got started with the drawing. The idea that rules allow us to think less about one thing and explore another in more depth is something I had never really considered before.  In a way this is what we had done with the boxes in the first drawing week. With that given format, it set the emphasis to be on the actual marks and how to embrace this challenge.

The first exercise was to draw from memory outlines of all the things that we own in the world. When we all displayed our drawings on the wall I realised I had included too much internal detail in my drawing. However I loved the simplicity of everyone’s drawings and it was very obvious the different ways people had thought about this task, either very meticulously or quite spontaneously laid out. The shapes varied from those that were quite ambiguous to others that were immediately recognisable. I would really like to do this exercise again, with a much simpler outline than I made originally.

As we moved however I did reduce the shapes I had to these simpler forms as we explored scale and layered these objects in lines and also within each other. Although this was very different to how I usually work I loved being free and working without worrying what would come of the drawing afterwards. One process that I really enjoyed was using ink and a rolled up cone of newpaper as drawing implement. As John called out objects we began to draw, he pushed us to consider the line, and to move past a generic drawing of that object and add something more personal to a simple outline. For example instead of any old chair I thought about one I had at home in the kitchen. As we continued drawing the lines became less controlled as the newspaper grew soft with the ink. It was then exciting to look at these lines and recreate the thickness with the fine point of a pen, then enlarge a chosen one on a much bigger scale. The drawings were really facinating and I am excitied to try and use some of these tchinques to explore my box clever objects in a different way aswell. I was also really interested by John’s appreciation of everyone’s work when we reflected at the end of the workshop. It was amazing to see how someone else sees something that we ourselves do not appreciate. This has made me look at drawings in a different way and really consider what a ‘beautiful’ or ‘good drawing’ truly is?

Colour in the Cookhouse

We started off the second drawing week with an exercise looking at colour in more depth. Working in the cookhouse room was really refreshing, with the abundance of light pouring in through the massive window and the open space. I personally prefer to work on the floor or to the wall as I feel more free and open rather than stuck at a desk. This workshop was very helpful to me as within my tutorial Kathy liked the neutrals I had explored within stitch and suggested I thought about bringing in some contrasting colours in preparation for the next technical block. Going back to my objects and visual research, having collected many more fragments from before I had developed a growing area to visual research to pull from.

Claire, encouraged us to begin by mixing up the exact colours, moving away from the generic and focusing on creating matches that convey the specific mood of our object. We also considered how different media could create these colour qualities with watercolour giving a much lighter fluid line than that of the matt plastic of acrylic. This showed exactly why it was so important to be prepared with different media and tools for drawing. As I saw in the previous technical block in stitch, the materials explored in drawing lend themselves to the further materials to explore within the technical making processes.

By mixing these colours within small colour palettes I also thought about the proportions of one against another. Whether this was through a slither of red in the midst of grey rock or the rich layering of tones of blue, greens and brown within my crystal plates. I explored the greys and peach tone colour palette above with the stitch and found it very inspiring to work with as it lent itself to the subtlety in my processes. Going forward I would really like to be bolder and explore some larger bright areas of colour, whilst still also maintaing this sensitivity.

From these palettes I was able to push forward and use this information to begin drawing. Having explored the colour in such depth the tones I had to work with felt fresh and vibrant whereas I felt stuck in a bit of a rut before, with some colours becoming lack-lustre or dull. I am always trying to maintain and express a curiosity in my drawing, with my aim always to be using drawing as a means to understand the object I am looking at. I try to do this through a consideration of marks but also as I went to onto draw I also considered the papers I was drawing on and the effects that they brought. As I made these drawings I used the ideas I had explored within the mark making exercises in the first drawing week but pushed it further to consider shape and the composition of the object outside of the confines of the box. With some of the drawings I wanted to explore the whole form however within others I tried convey a selected area of interest such as textured detailing. For me some drawings are more interesting in their ‘unfinished’ states, where a mark or line breaks off suddenly or fades away. This is also significant as I consider the beauty in what is ‘incomplete’ or has broken off.

With these ‘swatch’ style drawings below I was responding to the fragility and translucent qualities I saw in some leaf forms I had found fallen on the ground and collected. By creating many drawings on different types of surfaces I wanted to consider the depth of textures and marks that featured within the crisp layers of the form.

Gridded

The idea that it is often through breaking something up that we get closer to the true being of the original, is one that is becoming central to my concept for the Box Clever project. We explored this idea in drawing with Kathy through a consideration of grids, cutting up and dissecting chosen forms with our imaginations. It also seems to be relevant within the drawing process as we pull from an object to extract information. As a personal development I went on to further pursue this idea and decided to use the photocopier as a ‘drawing’ process of its own.

By taking 3d objects to the photocopier and reducing them to flat images I am able to explore surface as well as space. Although the image is 2d, the object still has a depth of shadow and form, almost trapped within the page. I was extremely intrigued by not only this new version of the object but also the machine’s interpretation of light and space. This interest came about due to the uneven, extended forms of the objects that obstructed the closing of the photocopier lid. This translated in a stripped pattern, often directed in a juxtaposition, against the lay of the object. This visual ‘interruption’ in the image was striking as it possessed a similarity to the original surfaces I created with the photos and tape peeling.

With this reflection there could be great potential in creating and working from imagery with this linear overlaid pattern. As I photographed the images I also played  with light and shadow to bring yet another layer to the surface. It is as though each new way of recording my objects, brings its own form of intervention and disruption to leave a transformed multi layered image. In a way the compilation of processes embodies the idea of trying to puzzle together the fragments of my objects. By combining these layers I feel this idea could become quite fascinating when I go on to try print and work on photoshop.

Adding Colour

Developing on from my black and white swatch drawings, I began experimenting with colour. The way I chose to use colour had to be more sensitive and selective, as the brief was to only use 2 colours per box. I really loved the rich colours and
texture of the photos within my box. To explore this within these focused constraints, I selected areas and juxtapositions of colours that struck me and cut them out to create small photo swatch ideas, responding to the matted and varied surface texture of some of my organic fragments.

As I began drawing I realised it was important to use not only the right colours, but the tones and shades that together would convey the essence of the texture I was trying to describe. I considered the interplay between the proportion of different colours. Bold block areas of  contrasted to more considered detailed marks. I was particularly interested to explore qualities of opacity and translucency through my media to show the layered depth of textures within my objects. From mark making within these swatch boxes I can now see how to develop my drawing in a more experimental expressive way going forward.

Texture drawings

Within our drawing week, the last workshop was with Chetna from Print/CAD, looking at mark-making to explore our objects from our boxes. The task was to analyse and interpret the objects within the constraints of different sized boxes, using media to convey compelling aspects of surface quality. Looking at my objects I immediately began thinking about how I could zoom in on the lines within a tiny crevasse or scale out and look at the relationship between form and dense texture from a larger area.

Chetna commented on not dismissing the miniature scale of the 2.5×2.5cm squares as a reason to rush and move on quickly. Due to the compacted space it grew more important to take time, looking at the objects with a sensitive eye and translating this with an equally considered mark. Moving from the the smaller blocks I enjoyed scaling up marks to create more expressive bolder impact in the larger boxes. With my boxes I was particularly focused on variety and being able to render controlled as well as looser, more energetic records from my visual research.

Although my objects were extremely textured, many of the rough surfaces  also had very similar aesthetics. . As I carried on, it grew more difficult to make different marks however this is why I think this style of drawing was important, it pushed me to look at my objects in more depth and explore marks I wouldn’t have ordinary thought to use. It also became about using the media I had in more unexpected unusual ways. Using the transparent quality of the pritt stick I looked to create ridges and gestural marks. By pushing the glue around in different directions, when I worked back over by rubbing the charcoal, I was able to create a more 3d texture that picked up the areas of relief I was transfixed by with one of my rocks. Simplifying down to more graphic lines and shapes in some of my boxes was refreshing as it is not the style that i usually go for. However it was throughout-provoking using a symbol like a dot or chevron-like line to convey cleanly the levels and areas of depth within my highly 3dimensional objects.

When working with the white media onto the black card I had a concentrate on extracting the negative areas and shapes. I was most fascinated by the translucency given by the oil pastel. It also gave a granular mark in areas where more pressure was applied that helped to emulate the broken edges to the fragmented pieces. This negative style of drawing also encouraged me to look beyond just where the colour influenced texture but to see and understand the form beneath. I found this workshop extremely inspiring and am fascinated to consider taking these textures and incorporating them into more drawings outside of the boxes. It will be interesting to see how they will feed into and inspire my technical work. Time will tell but I feel, due to my immense interest in texture, this might become a way of working that will influence how I approach drawing and projects going forward.

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