Part 4: Project 5: The Moving Figure

Every Friday evening, I attend a local Karate class. However, this week, I had given myself whiplash by taking my inhaler (seriously, I couldn’t even make that up!) and so was unable to participate. This was actually a blessing in disguise though, as I was able to take the opportunity to concentrate on the following two exercises. Whilst I only created the sketches briefly whilst at the classes, I then finished them off at home later that evening so that the details were still fresh in my mind.

Once I had completed the first exercise (whilst still at the class), however, I realised I was actually putting too much focus on the actual end result and how those depicted were clearly human and defined etc. I then decided to continue with the second exercise using more rapid mark making and forgetting about the inclusion of any detail. I also decided to make a couple of larger pieces using the same method for the first exercise to attempt to correct my error!

Exercise 1: Single Moving Figure

As stated above, I think I misconstrued the instructions in the Exercise (I do tend to find the wording used in the manual rather difficult to interpret sometimes and as though they can have several interpretations and finding the correct one is sometimes rather difficult, so I try to cover all my bases!) and so created very rapid sketches from an instant of looking at people in specific poses and then filling in the blanks with memory.

As appears to be my signature now, I know I have pressed fairly hard in all of the studies. My first interpretation of the Exercise was to show people in obvious movement, shifting their weight in a way which would not be practical to hold in the long-term and so would be believable as movement. I tried to emphasise the fact that the hair of those who had ponytails was swaying and moving in tune with the movements being made.

I enjoyed these studies and tried to hold on to specific images of interesting positions as opposed to simply walking around, for example. I think I have been successful in recreating such things as the proportions of the limbs and body parts, foreshortening, depth and tonal changes to direction of the material and flesh of the subject.

My favourite is by far Study 11 as I think I have portrayed the above traits the best here. In fact, the girl’s mother has actually asked me to recreate it for her as she liked it so much! Whilst I know I have been heavy-handed here again, I think I have been rather successful in the placement of imaginary (from my memory of the moment) shadows, placement of limbs etc so they are believable.

Larger Studies of Single Moving Figures

I decided to create my larger studies in ink due to its fluidity and focussed on two different poses those who were taking part in the class were carrying out.

The first stance I focussed on was what is known as the ‘horse’ stance, where the student will sit down as though straddling a horse, to then use their arms for punches or blocks. I created the study mid-movement, where the student was just about to reverse their stance to face the opposite way in the same position.

The second stance was of a student in Kamae, thrusting with one hand and ready to punch with the other. Again, I created this study as the student was about to carry out their punch.

I was rather surprised by the outcome of the studies and how I think I was rather successful in creating the movement of the moment. The ink was very flexible and seems to hold energetic qualities without requiring much effort of the user.

I prefer the second study due to the increased amount of activity within the piece and the fact I feel I have shown movement with lighter marks and an indication in their positions as to where the movements will / have happen(ed). I also believe this piece holds more information and definition as to the fact it is a human’s figure and the stance in question.

I think I got a little carried away on the first study and trying to show an indication of the face as I feel the two horizontal lines and the curvature of the body almost make me imagine Golem as opposed to a karate student! The student was actually facing away and the horizontal lines were to represent one eye and an ear.

Overall, I think my initial reservations of creating something in this manner were rather unjustified and unfounded as I think this was actually one of my favourite studies so far!

Exercise 2: Groups of Figures

By the time I had reached this exercise, I had realised my error and had not created any group images in a similar manner to those of the first exercise. I was still at my karate class, so I took advantage of the remaining time to continue these studies.

I was actually secretly relieved by my realisation; the idea of drawing more than one person in a crowd-like situation seemed daunting to me. I do not enjoy finer details and imagine a crowd of several people to draw to include a similar level of detail and involvement as drawing something such as a skyscraper with hundreds of windows.

Sketchbook Studies in Charcoal

I began this exercise in the same way as my larger studies from my earlier exercise, using purely line. I then continued to include more and more detail (to a certain degree!). I also decided to mark a couple of pages with a layer of diluted ink to add a sense of a background.

I think as I moved through this section of the exercise, I found more and more enjoyment in it and realised it wasn’t as daunting as I had first thought! My fourth study in this media is by far my favourite due to the background colouration, the accuracy of the measurements, the definition in the seated gentleman in the foreground, the ease the viewer has in understanding the story being told and the depth of the piece.

Sketchbook Studies in Ink

I then decided to do several studies in different coloured diluted inks. I began with just one colour and then changed this to another colour to see how different the results could be. When I used the red, due to it having been diluted, I was rather disappointed with the result and the faintness of the study. I decided to go over the faint red with a blue, but I was then surprised to find that I really enjoyed the result! The colours worked so nicely together and so I decided to create the next one in a similar way, except by using blue and then grey over the top to add a little shadow to the piece.

Whilst I know my tutor does not think my colour work much good, this was something I was really impressed by the result and could see how the colours overlapping created a more interesting dynamic to the piece. I also think they added a little more insight into the movement and energy being used.

Sketchbook Studies in Oil Pastels

Next, I chose to use another of my favourite media for two further studies, oil pastel. I decided to create the first study in black only and then to follow on from my previous ink studies, using two colours for the second study.

I was very pleased with the first study as I think the outcome is very realistic, as is the depth of the piece, much more so than any of the previous pieces. I am aware of the heaviness of the pressure used in certain parts of the study, however, I do think this only helps to increase the depth of the piece.

As for the second piece, I do not think the outcome half as good as that of the ink in the same manner. The image looks cartoon-like and poor in comparison. Whilst I think the placement and measurements of the students helps with the illusion of depth, I do not think the grounds are very well portrayed or separated.

Sketchbook Studies in Acrylic Pens

Finally, I decided to create two studies using the same new-found enjoyment of two colours to assist and to find out whether these would also work well in acrylic pens due to their versatility similar to that of the ink.

I began firstly with gold and then brown over the top but, again, do not think the outcome interesting or believable enough. The depth is poor, similar to that of the coloured oil pastel study.

However, I actually really like the study created in black and silver as I feel the depth and information is actually much more believable and the colours work much better together.

I think I have taken from this that I seem able to work colours together when they are used in inks, but not so much in other media, where blacks, greys and silvers are my strengths.

Inverted Sketch of a Group of Figures

After the success I found in creating the inverted piece for the foreshortening research, I decided this would be a fantastic opportunity to use this method again as I could focus on just the main outline of the people with only the slightest of hints as to the detail within. As with the previous effort, I completed this in white chalk and willow charcoal as I really liked the results of the other piece.

Inverted sketch of a Sensei and her students

I was rather pleased with the result again, however, I think I the white areas are too white in places. I think I have managed to execute the little boy turning to look back at the Sensei rather well and that the weight and measurements throughout are well controlled. I think, perhaps, that I should have included a break-off line somewhere to ground the figures somewhat. However, I think I have been quite successful in creating a sense of depth with the placements and measurements of the figures.

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Part 4: Project 4: Structure

Exercise 1: The Structure of the Human Body

For this exercise, I decided to work firstly in black drawing pens, but they soon ran out of ink (I have more on order though! Phew!), so I then switched to black biro. Looking at the exercise again, I think I was meant to look at the muscles and such, however, I decided there would be far too much detail for me and chose to work on the different positions created from the view of the surface.

There are a few studies which work much better than others; for instance, I think the hands, arms legs and torsos work best overall, whereas there are a few which have gone slightly awry, including the top right foot, bottom right neck and central skull.

For the skull, I think I may have kept changing my angle unknowingly and, once I finally sat back to actually look at what I had put on the paper, I was then able to see where I had gone wrong, i.e. the left side of my skull being too stretched and the nose twisted slightly. I struggled with the teeth in the skull, however, I improvised by only creating the shadows in the ‘gum’ area and the natural gaps between the teeth. I thought the skull would be the easiest to recreate due to the big empty spaces and basic shapes, however, I actually think it was the hardest due to the lack of ‘instructions’ provided and indications as to where this and that should be in relation to other sections.

I think the issues with the feet and other such failed attempts was due to the fact they were created on a small scale, whereas when they were created on a larger scale, they appear more realistic. I definitely agree with my tutor’s comments (and hear them again and again) that to be expressive my style definitely suits a larger scale.

Research Point: Historic and Contemporary Artists use of the Body’s Underlying Structure

The results of this Research Point can be found by clicking here.

Exercise 2: Three Figure Drawings

For this exercise, I attended a local life drawing class. The model asked if there were any preferences as to positions, so I advised about my course and the requirements of the exercise. The model attempted to assist me as best she could, however, there were also other regularly-attending members who had worked in similar ways recently, so the model tried to compromise somewhat.

I tried to carry out quick observations of each pose in my sketchbook before moving on to a larger study with more time. For the quick studies in my sketchbook, I chose to work very fast to get as much information down on the page as possible, but to also try and see interesting areas which stood out with foreshortening aspects or deep contrasts in tones etc.

Standing Quick Close-up Studies

For the first study in this pose, I was aiming for the sketch to be more like that of the second study, however, I found I had drawn the main focus (the breast and chair contrasts) too small and continued to fill the page with the rest of the detail. I recreated this again, but zoomed in much more this time (second study). I then tried to zoom in on the foreshortening of the bent leg and foot, as well as the contrast in tonal values in the third and fourth sketches.

I definitely struggle with recreating a foot which appears to bend back and touch the leg when facing away from me. This is something I think I should really try and work on and to figure out why it is that they do not look realistic – perhaps it is where I have laid my shadowing?

I think the depth, sense of direction and flow of the flesh is well recreated in the drawing pen pieces, however, again, I have pressed too hard. I think these would perhaps be better in biro and in very concentrated areas with varying pressures.

I also think the wax crayon is much more capable of producing softer end results for me, but I also really enjoy the oil pastel as it allowed me to show such things as the slight cellulite in the leg, however, I definitely press too hard when creating the outline. This is something I need to work on also – that fine line between outline and cartoon.

Seated Quick Close-up Studies

For these studies, the model had moved to a seated position on a stool so, again, I tried to focus on foreshortening and tonal aspects. I did not find this pose as interesting as the rest, potentially due to the lack of twists in the body creating interesting areas?

Again, the wax crayon was the more delicate of the media used, though I do really like the contrast created by the oil pastel.

The model moved slightly throughout this pose, so some perspectives are slightly skewed – something I need to bear in mind when drawing from life.

I also think the study of the face was rather unsuccessful at showing the tilt in the model’s head. I think I needed to increase the size of the size of the chin and reduce the size of the forehead perhaps?

Overall, I think it becomes apparent that when I have to work quickly, I focus more on getting the information down than ensuring it is in the most accurate position etc.

Lounging Quick Close-up Studies

The model then moved to a lounging position and I really enjoyed this one. There were several areas of interest to me and in which I was able to show the twists and turns of the flesh over the bones below.

Again, the model moved slightly in this pose, however, I think I was slightly better at correcting my studies to suit.

The third study is by far my favourite due to the contrasts between the flesh and shadows. I think I have managed to accurately measure the feet and have placed them in a believable position.

Longer Studies

Looking back at all of the studies created, both large and small, for this exercise, I think I have a long way to go to being able to create life in the face and to prevent it from looking too flat. With more time, I think I could have concentrated on the tonal contrasts to build the detail of the face up.

Looking at these studies and larger pieces, I can see that I still apply a lot of pressure when working rather quickly. I wonder whether this is something I can actually learn to control or whether this is just who I am? I actually really enjoy putting emotion into my work and the deep pressure and darker marks created have a certain ‘release’ effect on me. However, I am determined to show my tutor that I CAN reel myself in (even if I feel uncomfortable doing so) and have every intention of creating final pieces for this Part of the course which are of a much finer quality, taking time to stop and reflect several times and remembering my tutor’s comment of “less is more”!

Research Point: 4.2.1: Foreshortening and the Human Form

For this piece of research, I tried to begin by seeing foreshortening in the world around me; my husband relaxing on the opposite settee (creating an illusion that his furthest arm was much smaller than his closest), my daughter resting her feet on me and her head further away (creating the illusion that her feet were a lot bigger in scale than her head).

I then turned to the internet to try and find some images of historic pieces of art where the artist has been rather successful in creating the illusion of depth with foreshortening within their pieces.

Fig. 1. Mantegna, A The Lamentation over the Dead Christ (c.1490)

The first piece I came across was the above piece by Italian Renaissance artist, Andrea Mantegna. I was instantly drawn to this piece due to the quality of the illusion created. Whilst I know it has been created on technically just a flat, even surface, I feel as though I am looking through a square window, into the room and directly onto the subject, Christ. The artist has been very successful in taking the vertical figure and making it appear almost horizontal. I am a little confused by the fact the feet do not appear massively bigger in scale than the head, yet it is clear that the feet are in the foreground and the head in the background of the piece. Perhaps it is the shortening of the limbs and torso? Or perhaps the delicate shading and tonal changes? Perhaps it is a combination of both? Whilst I do not think I will ever have the skill to be able to compete with this level of skill, I think I can definitely learn a lot from it regarding being subtle with my mark making and exaggeration of limbs and features. Whilst I think I would still enjoy creating a little too much over-exaggeration, I will definitely try to do more in moderation.

Fig. 2. Caravaggio, M Supper at the Emmaus (1610)

Next I came across the above piece by the Baroque artist, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. At first glance, this piece also makes me feel as though I am looking through a window and eavesdropping on this deeply-heated conversation. The artist has somehow made the depth of the piece so realistic, with the arms looking as though they are literally coming through the flat surface in a 3D method.

I then tried to find some contemporary pieces but, taking into account my tutor’s comments regarding personalising, I decided to find works I felt I could recreate somewhat. In Fig. 3., the piece has a strong outline (though not with a solid line), yet is rather expressive inside. I decided to dissect the piece in my sketchbook, cutting the parts of the body into easier shapes to assist in measuring the differences in scale due to the foreshortening aspects.

I really like how the artist has used the direction of the line to show the contours of the surface, such as the depth and shape of the breasts and the flesh of the leg. I decided to recreate this in oil pastel on a black piece of paper.I tried to recreate similar colours seen in the original, using line and expressive marks to show the contours and highlights of the flesh.

This piece focuses on a completely different part of a female than other pieces seen in this Research Point; the bottom. The artist has laid the model in a somewhat diamond shape on the chosen surface. The bottom has been magnified greatly compared to both the head and feet of the model due to the foreshortening of the chosen angle. The shadow above the bottom and towards the feet help only to emphasise the highlighted mass of the buttocks and upper thighs. I tried to recreate the piece using charcoal to try and garner a better understanding of the artist’s intentions. I really enjoyed recreating this piece, with its diamond shape and strong tonal contrasts. I think I have left the buttocks much darker than the original. Overall, however, I think I will consider this construction technique when I create my own pieces and also how this artist has created the piece focussing on tone as opposed to details.

This piece is somewhat similar to the piece created by Mikawoz in respect of the composition used. I like the use of a different colour than just black to create this piece, and also how there is an outline and rather controlled markings inside those lines, but then some rather expressive marks around the outside of the piece. Again, this piece has been constructed focussing more on tone than detail. There are hints at detail, but no complete sections.

This piece is by far my favourite piece. I really enjoy how large the foot and toes are compared to the head and hand. I like that the indication of a hand is there but is not detailed. The smaller foot also has some detail, but is nowhere near as much as the larger foot. I think, if I were to try and recreate this properly and for it to work efficiently, I would be best suited to using a large surface, such as A1, so that whilst the smaller details of the piece would be small, they would still be much larger than if I were to create them on A3, for example.

I chose to recreate this piece on a black surface with chalk to lift the highlights from the shadows and then used some willow chalk to put some of the darker areas back in. Whilst I had difficulty with the face and then decided to work the features back out, I am actually rather pleased with the outcome, even if somewhat different to the original. I actually really liked the process used to create this piece and think I will use it again in the future.

Mirrored Self-Portrait

Self-portrait through a mirror

As instructed in the textbook, I sat myself in front of my wardrobe mirror and drew what I could see of myself. I was sat on the floor with my knees bent in front of me. I wore a black vest top and a black pair of leggings.

I think overall I have managed to scale the different parts of my body rather accurately as I tried to bear in mind that those things whcih were closest to the mirror would be larger, whilst those which were further away would be smaller, such as my facial features and elbows.

I think I have been rather successful in recreating the shadows and other tonal patches within the piece as well as the general measurements of the body and limbs, whilst considering the foreshortening aspects as well. I do, however, think I have created the head a little too small and the resemblance to me is not very strong, though this was not my prime focus within this piece. I also think the purple adds a little something different to the piece and makes it a little more interesting than just the black and white. I think this may hopefully assist me in working on the hues of the colours if just using them in a limited palette method.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Mantegna, A (c. 1490) [tempera on canvas] At: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/glossary/glossary_d_i.html#foreshortening (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Fig. 2. Caravaggio, M (1610) ‘The Supper at Emmaus’ [oil on canvas] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supper_at_Emmaus_(Caravaggio,_London)#/media/File:1602-3_Caravaggio,Supper_at_Emmaus_National_Gallery,_London.jpg (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 3. Hatt, F (2010) ‘Dynamo’ [crayons] At: https://fredhatt.com/blog/2010/09/26/end-on-extreme-foreshortening/ (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 4. Mikawoz, S. (2013) ‘61745766923’ [unknown] At: https://felixinclusis.tumblr.com/post/61745766923/wasbella102-by-s%C5%82awomir-mikawoz (Accessed on 20 August 2019)

Fig. 5. George Dawney. (2016) ‘George Dawney’ [conte] At: https://georgedawnay.tumblr.com/post/143542835392/recliner-sanguine-tumblr-conté-strathmore (Accessed on 20 August 2019)

Fig. 6. Hankin, J (2017) ‘Foreshortened’ [Photoshop] At: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/oKDXL (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Bibliography

Essential Vermeer (Unknown) ‘The Essential Vermeer Glossary of Art-Related Terms: D-I’ [online] At: http://www.essentialvermeer.com/glossary/glossary_d_i.html#foreshortening (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Supper at Emmaus’ (Caravaggio, London) [online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supper_at_Emmaus_(Caravaggio,_London) (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fred Hatt (2010) ‘End-On: Extreme Foreshortening’ [crayons] At: Fredhatt.com/blog/2010/09/26/end-on-extreme-foreshortening/ (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Research Point: Historic and Contemporary Artists’ use of the Body’s Underlying Structure

When I first looked at this Research Point, I was rather hesitant to look into it as I thought that, whilst I really enjoy drawing the exterior of the figure, the underlying structure did not really appeal to me too much. However, I decided I had to look deeper than I would have by choice and was surprised to come across a few pieces which actually caught my intrigue.

Firstly, I knew from general knowledge garnered over the years that a keen lover of the human figure was da Vinci, with his Vitruvian Man so I decided to look into whether he had studied the underlying structures (as I was not aware of this side of his workings) and was rather surprised to find the below image.

Fig. 1. da Vinci, L Pen-and-Ink Studies of Human Fetus (1510)

Whilst the fetus appears to be intact and covered with skin, it is clearly shown as though from within a woman’s womb. This fascinated me as clearly da Vinci really was interested in all parts of the human body and I think these notes and sketches and the delicate techniques used to create the baby shows his admiration for the whole process of our coming into being and his respect for nature’s powers and beauty. Da Vinci has used hatching and the shadowed areas to show the depth of the sketch’s details and also and the roundness of the fetus’s enclosure. The only detail in the sketch is created purely by shadowed areas. I think this could be really useful for me to recreate in areas I struggle with, toes and fingers for example.

Fig. 2. del Barbiere, D Two Flayed Men and their Skeletons (c. 1540 to 1545)

I came across the above image and found it rather interesting. The piece shows two men whose muscles are all exposed, standing next to what appears to be their own skeletons. Whilst there is a lot of detail in this piece, I really like how the artist has, just like da Vinci, used shadow to show the parts and finder details of the men instead of having drawn each part individually. I like how the artist has used more of a solid coloured approach in the piece, using the side of the pencil as opposed to the point. The artist has also used a broad tonal range throughout which, again, I can bear in mind for my own pieces.

Fig. 3. Rubens, P Anatomical Studies: A Left Forearm in Two Positions and a Right Forearm (c. 1600 to 1605)

I find the piece above slightly disturbing for some reason; I think perhaps it is because it appears unnatural and malformed. The index fingers also appear to be placed in unnatural positions; I think these are natural positions, but without the overlay of skin, they appear somewhat disjointed. However, I really like how the artist has used very light and precise cross-hatching and other techniques throughout to bring depth to the piece. The darkest areas of the piece have also not been created in too heavy a hand and do not appear to be as dark as they possibly could. This is something I definitely struggle with as I really enjoy creating the darkest parts, however, it is something I need to work on controlling to better myself.

Fig. 4. Dine, J The Side View (1986)

When I came across the above image, I was instantly drawn in and mesmerised by it. I just love how dark the darkest areas are, how the whole top right-hand corner is very shadowed and the lower left corner rather light. The markings used to create the shadowing to the depth of the skull are very expressive. Before I started this research, I was not very keen on the skull as a subject, however, since seeing this piece, I have become fascinated with it and consider it is something I think I will really enjoy working with. I think the reason I am drawn to it is because there are hardly any fine details besides the teeth, but there are several angles and deep hollows in such places as the eye and nose cavities. There are also areas where shadows do not really hit, such as the bulk of the bulbous part area and the fore-front contours of the teeth. I can really see myself creating something very similar to this and use the skull as a focal point within my work.

Fig. 5. MalteGruhl 196978999515 (unknown)

Again, when I came across this piece, I was instantly drawn to it but for slightly different reasons. Whilst the artist has also used the skull, this time the marks have been made using more of a brush stroke technique and the paint applied rather liberally. It appears almost as though the skull has been covered with material and the lower part removed. I really like the block colours and contrast between the darker and lighter areas. The top of the skull does not quite look right to me. The outline looks rather wrong and cartoon-like. I think the piece would have been much better without the addition of the outline. However, it does work to create a sense that the outline is somehow above the rest of the piece, for example as though it has been drawn on a sheet of tracing paper and placed on top of the original.

I like this method and think I will give it a try as it will come in rather handy when I have to create pieces which have blocks of tonal values.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. da Vinci, L (1510) Pen-and-Ink Studies of Human Fetus [Pen and ink] At: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-da-Vinci/media/1/336408/15647 (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 2. del Barbiere, D (c. 1540 to 1545) Two Flayed Men and their Skeletons [engraving] At: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/49.95.181/ (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 3. Rubens, P (c. 1600 to 1605) Anatomical Studies: A Left Forearm in Two Positions and a Right Forearm [pen and brown ink] At: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1996.75/ (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Fig. 4. Dine, J (1986) The Side View [etching, soft-ground etching and drypoint on paper] At: https://i12bent.tumblr.com/post/705695652/jim-dine-the-side-view-1986-etching (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 5. MalteGruhl (Unknown) 196978999515 [painting] At: https://www.designspiration.net/save/196978999515/ (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Bibliography

Arcy Art. (Unknown) ‘Structure – Arcy Art Original Oil Paintings Art Dictionary’ [online] At: https://www.arcyart.com/ad-structure.htm (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Britannica. (Unknown) ‘Leonardo da Vinci: Italian Artist, Engineer and Scientist’ [online] At: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonardo-da-Vinci/Anatomical-studies-and-drawings (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

The Metropolitan Museum. (2002) ‘Anatomy in the Renaissance’ [online] At: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/anat/hd_anat.htm (Accessed on 15 August 2019)

Part 4: Project 2: Proportion

Exercise 1: Quick Studies

Two-Minute Studies

For the first part of this exercise, I decided to work in charcoal again due to its flexibility, ability to move quickly and my growing confidence in the medium overall.

I began the exercise by asking a friend to pose for two minutes (measured by the stopwatch on my mobile phone), before changing positions for another two minutes.

During this process, I tried to think how short a time I actually had and how much information I wished to include. I decided omitting any details was my best way of getting as full a picture as possible within the time-frame. I also decided that including the chair the model was leaning on was important to help ground her and explain how she was capable of being in the position she was in at that time.

I began each sketch by drawing a simple line through the middle of what would become the body, extending it down, up and across for the arms and legs, depending on their positions. I then moved on to drawing basic shapes for the different parts of the body , after which I worked on building the actual shape of the outline I could see, having decided to learn from my error with the towel in the first exercise. I also – whilst admittedly only very quickly – tried to bear in mind the model’s bone structure and muscle movements to help me measure things out as accurately as I could in the short time available.

I thoroughly enjoyed this process – possibly more than anything I have done so far in this course! I was able to be extremely cathartic and focussed whilst having almost no interest in the finer details seen at all. I think this will be extremely useful in the future for eliminating unnecessary detail, since detail really is not one of my strongest points, nor is it as enjoyable.

Whilst I think my first study is definitely the more ‘pretty’ and finished of the five due to the structure and – whilst still expressive – more controlled and tamed lines, I think it is clear to see from the progression of the sketches that I became looser and less controlled with each exercise, trying to include as much information as possible.

My least favourite sketch to create was the fourth as I found this pose rather difficult to measure as accurately as the rest, not to mention the model’s raised leg tiring as the time progressed and lowering closer to the ground, which then changed the model’s whole pose; the twist in the torso and the change in direction of the head. Whilst this is my least favourite and the one I would deem the weakest, I was somewhat pleased with the result due to it including some movement and my ability to keep working through that. I think this will come in handy when I reach the crowd and energy / movement exercises.

Ten-Minute Studies

For the first of my ten-minute sketches, I stayed with charcoal again to avoid the change in medium throwing me off slightly and allowing my focus to rest on how I would approach this task.

For this exercise, I admit I used a photograph from a book I have bought which is full of poses for artists as I did not have the opportunity to draw someone from real life at the time and did not want to waste too much of my allotted time for this Part of the course on the exercises since they are meant to be stepping stones to the final piece. I know my tutor has said that working from photographs has stifled me in the past, but I thought this would be ok for some of the longer studies to avoid too much time passing.

I began by drawing the line with its branches for the torso and limbs, then drew an oval for the head. From there, I drew the rest of the shapes in the body and then the outline as seen. At this point, I had reached a point where I had finished on the two-minute studies and I admit, I was a little dumbfounded as to where to go from here. I decided my next step was to include the darkness of the hair and the areas of tone I could see. I decided ten minutes was not long enough to remove the outline of the figure by blending it in, so left this be. From there, I began to focus on the facial features, which I had not been able to do before, besides an indication of the direction the face was facing. I was still working rather quickly on the details of the face, but wanted to get the direction in which the model’s eyes were looking. Finally, I added a darker layer to the model’s hair to try and consider my tutor’s comments regarding layering to create depth. It was at this time that my timer went off and I had to down my charcoal.

First 10-minute sketch

When I initially looked at the first ten-minute sketch, I was rather disappointed with the rather juvenile looking outcome; the outline was too bold – too much of a heavy hand! – the right arm’s weight was not even to that of the left (as was the weight of the left leg compared to that of the right), the head was rather too large for the rest of the body and the facial features too forced. Finally, I had spent too much time focussing on the finer details (for a change!) and had run out of time with the lower half of the model not looking half as complete as the top.

All this disappointment aside, I was able to see some successes within the sketch; the model’s gaze appears rather convincing to me and suits the direction and flow of the model’s general pose, the hair does hold some depth and shows a slight curl (though I think this could have been emphasised more). I think the seated position on the stool is rather believable too and the areas of tonal value work well in showing such things as the armpit and depth of the forearms.

Bearing in mind my over-interested approach to the details of the previous sketch, I decided to now swap to oil pastel since this was also a medium which is flexible and also one I am rather comfortable with. However, instead of using black for this sketch, I decided to use a brown oil pastel. My reasoning for doing so was because I had thought long and hard about my tutor’s comments in relation to my lack of skill with colour, yet improvements in monotone and decided to try and work on improving my use of colour without *actually* working using colour.

I decided to catch my husband unawares in a natural pose (he was fine when I told him about it afterwards! haha!) whilst sitting on the settee on his phone whilst, again, timing myself on my phone.

Again, I began with a very, very light layer of the oil pastel to create the basic shapes seen and slowly built upon this in the same ways I had for the previous exercises. Once again, I found I had reached the same level as the two-minute studies rather quickly but, having learned from the previous sketch, decided to work more on the blocks of tone instead of the finer details. I also included some of the settee where he was sitting to help ground him and create a bit of the backstory. I kept layering the oil pastel and even indicated the facial features with just the patches of tone until the timer went off and it was time for me to stop.

Second 10 minute sketch

I am rather pleased with this end result as I, firstly, I was actually able to bring it to a stage I felt it was quite ‘finished’ looking and, secondly, I think I have managed to measure the proportions rather well considering there was only a limited amount of measuring due to time constraints. I am really happy with the contrasts in the tonal areas and how by purely using patches of tone, I was able to create a sense of the direction in which the eyes were looking (at the phone). It just so happened that the lighting fell from our floor lamp to his right, so there was quite a few areas of really light areas and also very dark patches of shadow.

Doing this has really helped me understand the comments my tutor has made regarding eliminating unnecessary information by giving me the opportunity to work fast to fit in what I could in a short amount of time. Whilst I think the two-minute studies will be good to help choose interesting viewpoints and compositions, I think this method will be helpful to assist in working out the main areas of lighter and darker patches of tone within my chosen viewpoint.

Exercise 2: A Longer Study

Again, I had to rely on a photograph in the book I had bought to assist me with this exercise; I did not have time to get to a life class at the time (though I intend to do so when I am further into this Part of the course and have a little more understanding and I did not want to waste any of the invaluable time without practising more first) and also it has become really apparent to me just how little spare time I actually have to be able to fit such long studies in and how few people are willing to assist by modelling for you (even fully dressed!).

I set my timer again, but for one hour this time. Due to the fact I had an hour for this exercise, I decided to use pencil to draw out the central line of the model, the head, torso and limbs before committing myself with my pen. I also decided to use a black pen for this piece as I really enjoy working on a finer scale with this medium and feel as though I have the best control over it as opposed to the flexible fluidity of the charcoal and oil pastel.

Initial quick sketch of basic shapes

Once I had the initial shapes in place, I began to draw the outline in with my pen. I then built up the darkest areas; the section where the buttocks meet the legs, the hair and the shadow around the model.

From there, I then focussed myself on adding in the lighter areas of shadow and creating the definition of the muscles and bones underneath the model’s skin. I stayed rather expressive with regard to the model’s hair, however, I tried to be much lighter for the shadows on the model.

Finished piece

To look at, I am rather pleased with the piece as a whole; I think my measurements are rather even generally and equal on both sides and I think the shadows on the body as a whole are rather convincing and believable.

I am, however, slightly disappointed with the outlining shadows as I think the model does appear to be floating in midair. I think, had I had more time, I would have introduced more of a background (whilst the model was actually standing against a wall, I think I could have made it appear as though she were on a bed or even emphasised the wall in some way – perhaps by an indication of some brickwork? There is also too much empty, excess space within the piece but, having used my full hour, I decided to ignore my gut instinct to carry on and learn from my mistakes for my future pieces.

Finally, I really struggled with the hands and feet and creating them on such a small scale and decided to crop these off in the end. I find I can draw the basic shapes of them as a whole, but on a really small scale, I just cannot seem to get them right – perhaps it is because I am too heavy-handed (no pun intended!) or because I focus on the outline when I should be focussing on the tonal areas instead and allowing the digits to form naturally. I decided I needed to carry out some further practice with these things in a range of different sizes and poses.

Research Point: Foreshortening and the Human Form

Please click here to see the findings of my research.

Research Points 4.0 and 4.1.1: Ideas and Arguments Surrounding the Naked Form throughout History and Depictions

Ancient Depictions

The human form has always been of great interest to artists. In very early times, cavemen would draw images depicting humans with tools mid-hunt, the Ancient Egyptians would depict humans to record stories of real-life events and of their religious beliefs. The Ancient Greeks would create statues of their gods, but also of athletes and other notable beings. They would also depict people on vases to tell stories. Even before this time, the ancient Chinese people would create collections of terracotta soldiers to protect their deceased emperors in the afterlife.

Religious Depictions

Fig. 3. Van Der Goes, H Adam and Eve (c. 1482)

As time passed, opinions regarding the use of the human form in art changed with the differing beliefs and priorities of the times. A very common choice as a subject was Jesus Christ, who has been depicted in many ways throughout history and has often been the leading piece of several infamous artists’ bodies of works. Adam and Eve were also the subject of many famous pieces, mostly in their moments of weakness and their expulsion from the Garden. A lot of these works were commissioned by religious bodies to help people who were not able to read the Bible themselves, so these works would tell the stories for them.

Depictions of Beauty

The idea of what makes a person ‘beautiful’ is shown within pieces from different eras in many diverse ways; for instance the larger, more voluptuous figure was once seen as a symbol of wealth due to the availability of food, thus increasing the beauty of the sitter. One’s skin tone has largely been a symbol of beauty, with a history of people trying to whiten their complexion with powders and even drawing in blue veins to increase the illusion of the skin’s translucency. Both of these things would not be generally classed as typically ‘beautiful’ in today’s day and age, with people seeking a more sun-kissed and slender look as their ‘ideal’.

Fig. 5. Rembrandt Study of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra (1637)

It is interesting to me to see what is deemed beautiful in one country is often completely different in another, as can be seen in this article which I read several years ago, but which has been of interest to me ever since.

Fig. 7. Grossman, C Nude in Gold 2 (unknown)

I really do like this piece compared to the rest due to the differentiation between the pressures of the charcoal for different areas, such as the dark and heaviness around the back of the neck (the place of most shadow) and then the delicate whisps of shadow to show the underlying ribcage. Whilst very neutral in its place in time, I think the gold really sets the piece in the here and now due to there being a real demand for the marble effect and the gold touches in respect of today’s fashion and interior design preferences, which I think is actually rather clever of the artist. Whilst my tutor has advised me against using colour, I wonder whether this would work should I try it since the artist has only used the one hue? It is also interesting that Grossman chose to combine the softness of the charcoal with the solid colouring of the gold.

I also came across a video showing the gradual change in perception of the perfect form:

How Women’s Perfect Body Types Changed Throughout History (2017)

I am really intrigued by the fact that the female form has been much more scrutinised throughout history than the male form; the female, I feel, has had to adapt to suit the times and the desires of the male throughout history, whereas the male has almost always been seen to be ‘beautiful’ when muscled and chiseled.

Looking at the pieces I have chosen to include in this research, I admit I found it rather difficult to find hardly any works from earlier times which matched my style of working; the figures were generally in colour and almost precise in detail. Besides the piece I found by Rembrandt, there does not appear to be much in a similar approach to this from these times. AS we move forward in time to the 20th Century, however, it becomes more apparent that artists were now not so focussed on the realistic aspect of their pieces, as opposed to a more expressive approach, as shown in Modigliani’s piece above. This piece is still rather reserved with having a main outline of the general shape of the body and, again, using rather traditional colourings, however, when we look at the piece created by Grossman, the lines are much more expressive and better suited to my style of working.

Own Interpretations

I enjoyed recreating the two pieces shown above in my sketchbook. I tried to stay as honest to the original pieces as possible, but with my own little bit of a stamp on them. I really do find trying to recreate the pieces helps me understand the process the artist went through in creating the piece originally and to be able to fully appreciate the information held within it. I see it almost like reading a book; you can look at the front cover, but to fully understand the story, you have to read the words inside it.

Looking at Rembrandt’s piece, I found that using the media to block in the tonal patches instead of focusing on the details of the features really worked in bringing some form of realness to the subject matter.

Recreating Grossman’s piece really felt like ‘coming home’ to me; the lack of detail and hidden hands, feet and facial features I thought was very clever and definitely a technique I will use in the future. I think creating facial features, hands and feet as part of a larger whole just does not work for me; unless depicted as basic shapes, I feel they often look too cartoon-like or simply unbelievable, however, I think I am stronger at recreating them with tone than I am line, which is also something to bear in mind going forward.

I am extremely fascinated by this area of art and will definitely be taking it further in the future. As I move through this part of the course, I will consider the questions asked of me in this Research Point and how they may assist me in my future studies.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. (unknown) Serra da Capivara [Cave painting] At: https://www.touropia.com/prehistoric-cave-paintings/ (Accessed on 15 July 2019)

Fig. 2. (unknown) [Painting] At: http://www.fineartandyou.com/2014/01/ancient-egyptian-art-sculptures-and.html (Accessed on 15 July 2019)

Fig. 3. Van Der Goes, H (c. 1482) Adam and Eve [oil on canvas] At: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/291.html (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Fig. 4. Da Vinci, L (c.1495 to 1498) The Last Supper [Tempera on gesso, pitch and mastic] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Supper_(Leonardo)#/media/File:The_Last_Supper_Leonardo_Da_Vinci_High_Resolution_size_32x16.jpg (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 5. Rembrandt (1637) Study of a Nude Woman as Cleopatra [chalk drawing] At: https://www.wikiart.org/en/rembrandt/female-nude-with-snake-cleopatra-1637 (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Fig. 6. Modigliani, A (1916) Seated Female Nude [Oil on canvas] At: https://en.artsdot.com/@@/8XXN6E-Amedeo-Modigliani-Seated-female-nude (Accessed on 15 July 2019)

Fig. 7. Grossman, C (unknown) Nude in Gold 2 [charcoal and gold ink on paper] At: http://www.claregrossman.co.uk/from-the-model/4551445591 (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Bibliography

Artbible. (Unknown) ‘The Fall of Adam’ [online] At: https://www.artbible.info/art/large/291.html (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

How Women’s Perfect Body Types Changed Throughout History (2017) [user-generated content online] Creat. The List 27 March 2017 At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4ipUdS8Td4 (Accessed on 22 August 2019)

Jessica Brown of Indy100. (2016) ‘What being beautiful means in 25 countries around the world’ [Online] At: https://www.indy100.com/article/what-beautiful-looks-like-around-the-world-7364346 (Accessed on 15 July 2019)

Robson, D (1995) The Art of the Nude. Bristol: Parragon Book Service Limited

Visit Uffizi. (Unknown) ‘Venus of Urbino by Titan’ [Online] At: https://www.visituffizi.org/artworks/venus-of-urbino-by-titian/ (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Nude (art)’ [online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nude_(art) (Accessed on 15 July 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘The Turkish Bath’ [online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Turkish_Bath (Accessed on 13 August 2019)

Part 3: Tutor Feedback and Own Comments

Overall Comments

Thank you for your submission. You are working well with technical aspects of working with vast spaces when it comes to depth and perspective. Honing in and monochrome allows you to do this, as does working with expressive media like charcoal and inks. When it comes to colour, your work becomes flat and too generic with your colour choices. Sometimes your work is too over-complicated because you have included too much. Try not to include everything you have learnt in one piece, otherwise it becomes overwhelming. Rather, be more sensitive and subtle with freer lines and expressive applications. It’s time to eliminate techniques, media and applications that do not work and work with strengthening the ones that do.

I am pleased to see that my tutor now thinks the technical aspects of my work are improving, as it shows my hard work and perseverance is actually paying off! The more I am continuing with the course, the more I am finding out about myself and my ‘style’ of working and what does and does not work for me. I am finding myself zooming in to certain areas more so and am strangely surprised to find that charcoal, the media I was not too keen on in the beginning and which I felt I could not use as well as other media, is actually fast becoming my weapon of choice! I was rather pleased to find out that I could now eliminate those things and areas which I am not strongest in and focus on those I am. I was rather concerned with doing this as I was worried I would be criticised for not trying to improve in those areas and pushing myself more, choosing to play it safe with my strengths. I have decided to really streamline my methods, media and techniques to really work towards the best final piece I can create for my final assignment.

Feedback on Assignment

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome and Demonstration of Creativity

Project 1: Trees

The individual trees when done as an outline has been successful and you have looked at the character of the entwining of the trees. Using semi-abstraction has worked for you because it allows you to concentrate on textures rather than including everything you see in front of you. The finished piece of the single tree is successful with the detail. The studies of several trees in terms of composition are not too bad but, when working with this medium, overlap rather than being too heavy-handed.

I really enjoyed working with the trees and being able to allow myself to create expressive movements to create the trunks and limbs. I found the method rather similar to when I had drawn the figure in the past and was rather shocked at the similarities. I think semi-abstraction is definitely the way forward for me. I then barely see the actual object for what it really is and focus on the information within it instead. The piece of the single tree in pen was actually my favourite exercise throughout the course so far and I think it has shown through; the more I enjoy something, the more successful it seems to turn out. With regard to the several trees, I was a little disappointed with the comment as I had tried to do the best I could in overlapping, so this told me that I still need to work on this. I also really need to work on being lighter-handed. I will try to really work on this during Part 4 as I think I have garnered a much better understanding of this comment now.

Project 2: Landscape

The cloud formations have been applied in a heavy-handed way so think about subtle tonal qualities. The sketchbook walk is bold, expressive and free with the way you have used lines. Working quickly suits you so you are not overwhelming yourself with detail. The 360 pieces are also expressive, but make sure there is a distinction in tone of the main wall compared to the background.

Clouds really are not my strong point! I think this is, again, something I need to work on in the future, but something I will put to rest for the time-being. I really did enjoy the sketchbook walk and 360 studies exercises as I really just went to town working quickly and totally freely. I do see the lack of definition though, so I will bear this in mind for future exercises.

Project 3: Composition

Zooming in has worked for you in this piece because you are concentrating on perspective, which has worked. The two pieces of the wall without the green shows a diverse range of mark making and textures, which are convincing. The generic green in the final piece looks too cartoon-like.

In fore, mid and background, you are understanding the depth that vast spaces can create. This has been done with perspective and tonal gradients. However, when you use colour, the tones are too generic and become too forced.

I was actually very torn as to whether or not to include the green but decided to do so in the end. Looking back, I do think the piece just of the wall itself would have been much bolder an outcome. I think this is something I can consider recreating for my final piece for the Unit – perhaps in pen since I find that the best to control and to include finer detail and tonal patches.

Project 4: Perspective

This project is not the strongest in terms of outcomes, but what is important is that you understand perspective. The single line perspective is convincing and shows technical approaches. The angular perspective pieces shows convincing lines and depth. The aerial perspective needs more work as the viewpoints are distorted. Overall, this approach is not as exciting as your honed in, expressive work.

I think these comments really reiterate what I have said previously about the things I enjoy the most and which I find come more naturally to me are much stronger than those which do not. I’m glad my tutor sees an understanding here, but I do fully agree that it is not my strongest, nor is it half as interesting as the more expressive pieces I work on. I found this exercise really educational as to measuring things out correctly and taking time and effort at this stage of the creation of any pieces before moving on to the more expressive parts, so this is something I will definitely be bearing in mind as I progress through the remainder of the course.

Project 5: Townscapes

This subject is not your strongest as the lines and perspective is cumbersome. You are suited to more natural and organic forms so you can be freer with your mark making. There is an issue when working with colour, as it is tentative and is not reflective of the textures and surfaces we might see on architecture.

Again, I completely agree with this comment as I did not really enjoy this project. I persevered with it regardless, but I do think my lack of thorough interest has shown through. I note the comment relating to colour again and do believe this is something I will have to work on in the future – perhaps creating a separate sketchbook on a side project throughout the whole of the course to deepen my understanding of the use of colour as, whilst I think it wise to close this door for now, I do not wish for it to remain so indefinitely.

Assignment

Less is more! You have included many textures and applications in this piece and it becomes confusing. You have planned well but you need to be more selective. You have done this with the composition but not the techniques you have used. There are some expressive elements but they would be suited on a larger surface. The choice of colours (if you want to continue using colours) needs more understanding of tonal variations. As an assignment, it is not as successful as the individual tree studies.

Less is more! This has now been drilled very deeply into my mind and shall be at the forefront for every final piece! As I explained privately to my tutor, I was of the mindset that I should try to show as much as possible of the lessons learned through the previous exercises within my final assignment pieces so as to show I am learning these things etc. Clearly, this is not the case, so I have decided to only pick out the key points – those which I have felt strongest in the exercises – to develop in my final piece for the assignment. I was worried eradicating techniques etc would appear more as a weakness than a strength in choosing those things I am stronger with. Now I know this not to be the case, I am actually rather excited to see where this new knowledge leads me!

Sketchbooks

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills and Demonstration of Creativity

Your sketchbook shows good planning and dissecting of techniques and methods. You have analysed your primary sources well technically. There could be more evidence of improving the way you use media especially with colour. Do more practice with media to support your outcomes.

I am glad my use of the sketchbook has improved; At first, I found using it felt rather unnatural, but I have since tried to get past that and use my sketchbook more and more. I agree that I need to show more evidence of the use of media and my attempts to improve on this, so this is something I will bear in mind for Part 4 and in the future.

Research

Context, Reflective Thinking, Critical Thinking and Analysis

You continue to use comparative techniques to understand your subject and this is in-depth. Have more personal opinions to build up your contextual aspect of the unit. Also look at the artists I have suggested so you are more specific to your practice. Be independent and look at individual artists, which relate to your work.

I feel as though the feedback this time has been really eye-opening! I do like the idea of having a more personal touch to the research and choosing works I like and feel suit my working style best. I really enjoy reading and learning about artists, but I agree that it is time to begin focussing on artists whose work can actually inspire my own; as much as I enjoy the work of some of the Old Masters, I do not think I enjoy or feel as inspired by their work as much as some of the more contemporary and expressive artists.

Learning Logs or Blogs / Critical Essays

Context, Reflective Thinking, Critical Thinking and Analysis

You continue to describe your intentions as well and you have often been reflective. For this stage, scrutinise your work more, especially with picking out and unpacking technical and aesthetic elements, which have not worked. If you say something is successful – why and what part is successful?

I have noticed myself that I have not really been relying on the questionnaires I created as much as I could have, mostly due to time constraints, but think now is the time to go back to using them to be able to carry out the scrutiny which is needed.

Suggested Reading / Viewing Context

David Hockney iPad drawing of trees: Relating to honing in and colour.

Charlotte Verity: Her sensitive and subtle use of media and limited palette.

Henry Moore sheep drawings: relating to your linear and expressive tree drawings.

Anselm Kiefer: Simplifying vast spaces.

I have had a look at these artists and the results can be seen by clicking here.

Pointers for the Next Assignment

Strengths

• Line drawings and detail of trees and textures work well.

• You work well with monochrome and expressive media like ink and charcoal. This allows you to be freer with depicting the subject rather than being literal with colour.

• Organic and natural subject work better for you.

I agree with these comments and will strive to improve them further as I progress through the course.

Areas for Development

• Sometimes you include too much and the work becomes over-complicated.

• When working with colour, you need to understand your ranges of hues in one colour- sometimes the colours are too generic.

• Townscapes and architectural perspective needs work.

Again, I agree. I feel I have ‘heard’ my tutor much more clearly this time around and have a much greater understanding than before.

Whilst I do not think this my most successful Part, I do, however, feel that the piece of the single tree is one of my strongest so far so I am going to take what I have garnered from these comments and what I have learned so far and try to recreate the success of the piece again for my two final pieces in this Unit.