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)

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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.

Research Point 4.6.1: Depiction of the Face throughout History

The face is a part of the body which has been the focal point to a lot of artwork throughout history. The first thing you look for when seeing a human figure is their face; taking into account their eyes, nose, mouth, hair colour and style, as well as the general face shape amongst other things. It is how we identify one person from the next and how beauty is generally measured before taking into consideration the rest of the physique of the person.

The measurement of facial beauty has altered throughout history and is different to each viewer. For instance, my own version of ideal in a male partner is dark, glossy hair and dark sparkly eyes. However, another may find this unappealing, preferring for instance blonde with blue eyes as their ideal.

The general ideal beauty of the face has also varied immensely throughout time; the Ancient Egyptians portrayed the face from the side as this was deemed the perfect angle, the hair was black, they wore heavy black eyeliner and their skin was a golden hue.

Fig. 1. Anonymous Fragment de la décoration d’une tombe : femme à une cérémonie. Règne de Thoutmosis IV ou Aménophis III. (Unknown)

Much later, in a different part of the world, the ideal for the female was seen to be that of pale skin with long blonde curls and a fullness to the face, all of which were seen to symbolise the virtue and daintiness of a woman. In the piece, below, the woman’s face is very dainty and angelic-like, with a rosy glow to her cheeks and lips.

Fig. 2. Borovikovsky, V Portrait of M I Lopukhina (1797)

The face has not only been used to represent the beauty of a person, but also the more sinister aspects. Munch, for example, created a whole piece appearing to show several people on a bridge, with the eye immediately being pulled to the brightness of the red sky, but when the eye finally moves downward to the figure in the foreground (whose colouring is very muted in comparison to the sky), they are met with quite a frightful sight. The face appears on a head in the shape of a skull. There are no eyebrows or hair to the face and the lips look as though suffering cyanosis. No eyelids can be distinguished over the bulbous eyes which appear to be looking at something just to the side of the viewer, leading one to wonder what they may see if they turn around! I have always found this piece to be the stuff of nightmares, but I am also strangely drawn into the fear of the piece. I really like the movement of the colours and how the foreground is much more muted than the background, creating that suspenseful moment before you see the actual horror within the piece.

Fig. 3. Munch, E The Scream (1893)

Below is another piece which I find rather disturbing due to the solid black voids where the eyes should be and the stark contrasts of black on one side and white on the other. I also really admire the artist’s capability to exclude outlines on the white side and create almost a straight line on the black side, as well as the different pressures used in the mark-making, yet you are still able to determine that this is a face and also the sense of depth in the piece. The addition of red towards the bottom of the piece is also intriguing and helps to draw the viewer in, leading to an imagining of blood, causing the viewer to wonder whether the subject has been attacked, is hurt or has hurt someone else.

Fig. 4. Juliussen, O Face (2016)

With the comments from my tutor in her feedback that I should look for works which I can relate to, I decided to look for more expressive pieces of the face and came across an artist called Naji Chalhoub, whose work is shown in Fig. 5 and Fig. 6. I was instantly drawn to these pieces and can really see a similarity between them and my 360 degree sketches.

In the two pieces, I can see quite a difference in the amount of pressure applied in each. Fig 5. has been created with a very heavy-hand (and is actually my preferred of the two!) and really emphasises the features of the piece much clearer than those in Fig. 6. Again, there are several colours included in the composition. I think they definitely add a little extra depth to the piece and make it more interesting. I am somewhat less drawn to Fig. 6 and think it is because it is much lighter and without the bold tones. The lines in this piece are much gentler and softer but somehow appears a little more sinisiter. I cannot quite put my finger on why this is? Perhaps it is because its faintness leads the viewer to imagine it in a more ethereal way, like the face is coming through from a different dimension? Perhaps the darkness of Fig. 5 helps the viewer see a more solid existence to the face and makes it that little bit more believable? Regardless, I will try and replicate these pieces in my own sketchbook and see if I can achieve the lighter touch!

Fig. 7. Audrey Anne (2018)

The final piece is somewhat more cartoon-like than the previous pieces, however, there is a lot of blank space, difference in pressure applied and a range of tonal values throughout the piece. The eyebrows and lashes are much darker than the shadowing to the neck, for example. There are also several different methods of application; for example, the colour to the cheeks has been applied using the flat side of the pencil and the general outline using the point, as well as areas of hatching, such as the shadowing to the neck and the hair above the ear. Overall, the piece is extremely delicate and has not been overworked. Definitely something to bear in mind!

There have been so many interpretations of the face over the centuries uses of media, line, tone, colours and methods. I have taken from this that I should be adventurous in my choice of surface, media and application as, as my tutor has previously said, the finished piece does not always need to look like a ‘pretty picture’. I would like to complete a piece in a ‘pretty’ way to be able to measure my skills correctly, however, I will also look at creating pieces of this kind without having to fully recreate what I see physically, but include emotions felt towards the subject to create something different and interesting.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Anonymous (unknown) Fragment de la décoration d’une tombe : femme à une cérémonie. Règne de Thoutmosis IV ou Aménophis III [unknown] At: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Egypte_louvre_223_femme.jpg (accessed on 5 August 2019)

Fig. 2. Borovikovsky, V (1797) Portrait of M I Lopukhina [oil on canvas] At: https://www.wikiart.org/en/vladimir-borovikovsky/portrait-of-m-i-lopukhina-1797 (accessed on 5 August 2019)

Fig. 3. Munch, E (1893) The Scream [oil, tempera and pastel on cardboard] At: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Edvard_Munch,_1893,_The_Scream,_oil,_tempera_and_pastel_on_cardboard,_91_x_73_cm,_National_Gallery_of_Norway.jpg (accessed on 5 August 2019)

Fig. 4. Juliussen, O (2016) Face [ink on paper] At: https://www.beautonart.com/art-posters/art-prints-glicee/expressive-monochrome/ola-juliussen/face-1 (Accessed on 9 August 2019)

Fig. 5. Chalhoub, N (unknown) [drawing] At: http://inagblog.com/2016/09/naji-chalhoub/ (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 6. Chalhoub, N (unknown) [drawing] At: http://inagblog.com/2016/09/naji-chalhoub/ (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Fig. 7. Audrey Anne (2018) [pencil] At: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bl5FThQDkGB/?saved-by=lpremratnam (Accessed on 21 August 2019)

Bibliography

The Guardian (2014) ‘The Top 10 Unforgettable Faces in Art’ [online] At: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/may/08/top-10-unforgettable-faces-in-art (Accessed on 9 August 2019)

Part 4: Project 1: Fabric and Form

Research Point 4.0: Depictions of the Human Form throughout History

Please click here for my findings in this research.

NB: I have merged two of the research points together due to their similarities. These research points are 4.0 and 4.1.1.

Exercise 1: Drawing Fabric using Line and Tone

For this exercise, I did as was asked in the course textbook and draped the closest I had to drape a plain sheet across a chair to create some folds with shadowed areas.

Chair with draped towel

Line Sketch

I used a page in my sketchbook to create a sketch in line of the draped towel. I decided to draw the outline of the chair in pencil so it was somewhat invisible compared to the charcoal, but was still there to provide a guide as to the weight of the fabric draping downwards. I decided to use charcoal due to my growing ease with this medium and its flexibility with movements across the page. I have discovered it can easily be smudged out (though not completely) to allow you to correct your measurements etc when using it to draw in line sketches.

Line sketch in charcoal

I enjoyed this task as it was nice to focus purely on the lines I could see, regardless of the concept that there are no actual outlines in real-life, so it was nice to look beyond so many ‘rules’ and just draw the lines I could see. I found it a little hard in some places to ‘read’ the lines correctly and work out if I was placing them in the correct position. I think I did a believable sketch here, however, I do think there are definitely sections in which I could improve my sketching skills. It was my intention to put across a believable sketch for the viewer to be able to see clearly enough what it was and where it was going.

I think I have been successful in creating a believable fold over the top of the chair and in creating the sense of folding within the material with my use of the line. I also like the tonal change for the tassels at the bottom of the towel. I think I have been able to understand the underlying structure and successfully recreate an accurate measurement of the chair and that this has helped translate the draping better as a result.

Tonal Sketch

I then used another page to create a similar sketch but this time in tone. I, again, drew the chair in pencil first and then moved on to using charcoal due to its deep tonal contrasts and ranges of tonal values. I concentrated on the broad tonal patches in the piece and then I used a rubber to lift out all of the lighter areas on the towel. This exercise really is very different to the line exercise as there is so much more to consider in terms of the tonal ranges, light fall etc.

Tonal sketch in charcoal

I really enjoyed doing this exercise and think it will come in very handy for future exercises, especially when considering the structure underneath the drapery and how essential it is to first have an understanding of that structure and its weight and placement etc to be able to ‘read’ the exterior correctly.

Whilst creating these pieces, I found myself losing measurements of some of the folds as I was moving along and that some had to be eliminated or redirected to assist with continuing to create a believable illusion. To have avoided this, I think I would have been better off trying to measure the the main outline or ‘shapes’ within my subject and then building this up from there as opposed to just working my way downwards from the top of the piece. Also, I think I should have stopped every once in a while to remeasure things and correct things as I was going, as opposed to leaving it too late.

This exercise has also deepened my enjoyment in using charcoal as, when I first began this course, I did not really enjoy this media and could not really control it very well. Whilst I still think I have a long way to go compared to some people’s talent and skill, I think I have also become a lot more capable in terms of my use and capabilities with charcoal.

Exercise 2: Emphasising Form with Cloth

Emphasising Form with Cloth

For this exercise, I had someone sit on a chair with a length of plain material wrapped around them. I tried to work relatively quickly, but still took my time on the overall sketch. I worked solely in line and worked through the layers as required in the course textbook. I tried to concentrate on the fabric and overall shape of the subject as opposed to the finer details of the fingers and eyes etc. I decided to draw in some guide lines of the head and indicate the direction in which the subject was looking.

I really enjoyed this exercise and think I have done quite well considering I had not used any grids or other guides and had only really spent approximately five minutes creating the sketch’s layers. I found it quite interesting to create the folds and weight in the piece, but do think my overall balance is slightly off somewhat – especially in relation to the chair leg to the bottom right which does not appear to sit correctly. I also noticed that, if focusing on the outline more so than the general placement of each part as a whole, it is rather easy to lose the overall structure of the subject and to have one point correctly line up with another part.

This exercise has taught me the importance of seeing the basic shapes of the overall subject first and to then build on it with the details and folds etc. It really does become clear that the underlying structure is just as important – if not more so – than the outer detail in creating the final piece, whether organic or man-made. It reminds me of telling a story; you have to create the character’s background first and then build upon this within the story to make it believable and to be able to relate to the characters and see them as a whole.

Research Point: Depiction of the Human Form throughout History

Please click here for my findings in this research.

Part 3: Sketchbook Pages

This page is to highlight some of the pages within my sketchbook for the third Part of this course which do not correlate with any specific exercise.

Internal Box Experiment

Working on my tutor’s comments regarding bringing forth the many layers of tonal ranges, I came across this exercise on the internet and decided to have a go myself in my sketchbook. I was quite pleased with the result and enjoyed the piece and tranquility completing it brought with it. This experiment will definitely assist me going forward.

Colour Wheel Experiment

Following on from my tutor’s comments regarding understanding colour and its different attributes, I decided to carry out a creation of a colour wheel which, again, I had found on the internet. Whilst I could have just used their version to work from, I decided to create the piece myself and was happy that I did so as actually redoing it myself helped me to understand the mechanics and use of this wheel.

Perspective Experiment

I decided that, since I didn’t feel I fully understood the concept of perspective having read the course manual, I would do my own research into it and carry out my own experiments to help me comprehend it fully in my own way. Below are the three pages of my sketchbook showing these experiments and the results of the same.

Sketchbook List of Illustrations and Bibliography

Please see the below document for citation relating to my sketchbook for this Part of the course: