Tutor Artist Recommendations from Part Two

In the feedback from my tutor from Part Two, I decided to look into the artists she suggested and my findings are as follows:

Juan Gris (1887 to 1927)

Juan Gris’s actual full name is José Victoriano (Carmelo Carlos) González-Pére. He was a Spanish painter who specialised in Cubism.

Combining Drawing and Subtle Mixed Media

Whilst Gris was influenced by such artists as Picasso and Braque, he distinguished himself by providing his pieces with crisp and precise details, where as the others were much more expressive within their work, not so much relying on a ‘realistic’ appearance.

My tutor advised me to look into Gris’s combining of drawing and mixed media and I can see why from the pieces chosen. Whilst I do struggle somewhat to understand the concept of Cubism correctly (something which I hope to work on in the future), I can appreciate its beauty and do think Gris’s work my favourite by far of the three Cubists mentioned. I really like his crisp lines, shadows, muted colours – even the orange of Fig. 3. is rather soothing as it is balanced out by the checkered squares and the general lightness of the lightness to the bottom of the piece.

I can see that compared to Picasso and Braque, Gris’s work has a much more delicate and controlled touch. I like how his work also appears rather cartoon-like with its black outlines as this is quite contradictory to normal as they still look rather realistic. I think this is perhaps because detail contained within the lines is very delicate and controlled, combining realistic with cartoon-like. This is definitely something I think I need to consider when creating my own pieces. I think I will experiment with a few pieces of mixed media to create a similar piece as a reference point for the future.

Georgio Morandi (1890 to 1964)

Whilst I have already done some research into the artist, Georgio Morandi and focussing on his still life work, I decided to look at his landscape pieces when considering my tutor’s suggestions.

Economical use of Space and Subdued Colours

Looking at the pieces shown below, I can really see what my tutor has tried to express to me regarding how few colours the artist uses in these pieces. All are kept practically to three or four colours at most, with only minimal and subtle changes to the shades to create depth and texture within the objects in the pieces.

The clouds are not pure white, merely a lighter shade of the blue which is used. The leaves only two or three different shades once again. In Fig. 6., there is purely just green which has been used in differing layers (again, as suggested I attempt by my tutor and reminding me somewhat of my potatoes in a bowl piece where I applied the same technique).

Whilst the pieces seem almost childish on first appearance to me, when I look at them closely, I can see the very delicate detail within – almost minute and indistinguishable. It is really impressive! I really like the detail in the tree in Fig. 4. and think I will bear this piece in mind when progressing within my course.

Avigdor Arikha (1929 to 2010)

Arikha was a Jewish painter, printmaker, art historian and draughtsman, who was born in Romania. Having endured and survived the horrors which occurred in a war-time concentration camp during his youth, he became quite the master of several different styles and in using different media.

Arikha moves through different methods during his lifetime, including abstract work, representation, figurative black and white drawings and included a wide range of subject matter.

Omitting Detail and Giving Attention to Tone and Objects

I really do like the first two pieces (Fig. 7. and Fig. 8.) as they are purely black and white. The first piece (Fig. 7.) is extremely expressive and I absolutely love it! I can feel the intensity felt by the artist at the time of creation and his eagerness to complete the piece.

The second piece (Fig. 8.) is much more controlled, however, there are still many parts which hold expressive mark-making. I really like how he has created a sense of foreground (the tree’s trunk and foliage), background (the whiteness representing the sky) and middle-ground (the lighter tones and spacing of detail to create more foliage) within just this black and white piece!

Whilst I am not overly fond of Fig. 9., I really like Arikha’s use of strong angles and minimal colouring. Again, Arikha has been able to create a sense of the three grounds. The background holds a blue sky which, with no clouds and against the almost desert-coloured foreground, really shows the heat the artist must have been surrounded with and adds a sense of atmosphere to the piece. Again, similar to Morandi’s piece (Fig. 4.), the piece does look somewhat childish in how minimal its detail is upon first appearance, but then when you look closer, there are a multitude of colours, hues and shades to be found, ranging from grey, pink, blue, brown and so on. All of these colours are very, very subtle and do not try to dominate the piece. Again, I think this is something I need to try and master. Sometimes less really is more!

Charlotte Verity (1954 to Present)

Charlotte Verity is a German observational painter whose passion is recreating the beauty found within her garden at her home in London. Her works are created as soon as she finds her muse, either in situ or in her studio. Whilst she works ‘from the moment’, she takes time and delicacy over her pieces and the details within.

Sensitive and Subtle use of Media and Limited Palette

From the pieces below, I can see how delicately Verity’s work is. She has a very gentle hand and uses the layers of colour very delicately. There is a strong use of positive and negative space to assist in creating depth, for instance, in Fig. 10., the bend in the wall behind the plant is very apparent and the inverting of the colours of the leaves assists with this depth creation.

I really enjoy how, considering she uses a limited palette, Verity’s pieces hold so many different shades of the same colour and also seem to hold different hues in parts, but extremely subtly.

I think going forward I will bear these pieces in mind and try to recreate them when delicacy is needed, as opposed to always using a heavy hand. I think I have felt for a while that the deeper and more intense the colour, the better result, whereas these pieces completely contradict this theory. This is definitely something I want to bear in mind when completing my assignment piece.

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1. Gris, J (1913) Glasses. Newspaper and Bottle of Wine [Mixed media] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=7787# (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 2. Gris, J (1914) Glasses and Newspaper [Collage] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/full.php?ID=7791# (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 3. Gris, J Fruit Dish with Bottle (c.1914) [Mixed Media] At: http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=7793 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 4. Morandi, G (1927) Paesaggio [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 5. Morandi, G (1943) Landscape [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 6. Morandi, G (1957) Landscape [Painting] At: http://www.italianways.com/giorgio-morandi-the-landscape-painter-with-a-telescope/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 7. Arikha, A (Unknown) Landscape [Charcoal] At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/avigdor-arikha/landscape-k5Eun2aZP4s-Ej8Y-KHFVA2 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 8. Arikha, A (1975) [Lithograph] At: https://il.bidspirit.com/ui/lotPage/source/catalog/auction/2871/lot/68623/Avigdor-Arikha-1929-2010-Tree-in?lang=en (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 9. Arikha, A (1976) Jerusalem Landscape [Watercolour on paper] At: https://www.the-saleroom.com/en-us/auction-catalogues/tiroche-auction-house/catalogue-id-srtir10004/lot-2a5f38c3-df88-440c-ab3a-a4b100eb464c (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Fig. 10. Verity, C (2015) Birch Leaves [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Fig. 11. Verity, C (c. 2016 – 2017) Rosehips [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Fig. 12. Verity, C (2017) Vine and Window [Watercolour] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/works (Accessed on 8 July 2019)

Bibliography

Art Practical. (2006) ‘Giorgio Morandi’ [Online] At: https://www.artpractical.com/review/giorgio_morandi/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Blain Southern. (Unknown) ‘Avigdor Arikha’ [Online] At: https://www.blainsouthern.com/artists/avigdor-arikha (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Charlotte Verity. (Unknown) ‘Biography’ [Online] At: https://www.charlotteverity.co.uk/biography (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Galleries Now. (2019) ‘Charlotte Verity: The Seasons Ebb’ [Online] At: https://www.galleriesnow.net/shows/charlotte-verity-the-seasons-ebb/ (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Guggenheim. (Unknown) ‘Juan Gris’ [Online] At: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/juan-gris (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

The Art Story Foundation. (Unknown) ‘Juan Gris: Spanish Painter, Illustrator and Sculptor'[Online] At: https://www.theartstory.org/artist-gris-juan.htm (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

The Wall Street Journal. (2015) ”Giorgio Morandi’ Review: Still Lifes that Find the Sublime’ [Online] At: https://www.wsj.com/articles/giorgio-morandi-review-still-lifes-that-find-the-sublime-1447107116 (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Avigdor Arikha’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avigdor_Arikha (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Giorgio Morandi’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgio_Morandi (Accessed on 21 June 2019)

Wikipedia. (2019) ‘Juan Gris’ [Online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_Gris (Accessed on 5 July 2019)

Research Point: Odilon Redon

Bertrand ‘Odilon’ Redon was born in 1840 in Bordeaux, France and died in 1916 in Paris.  ‘Odilon’ was given as a nickname to Bertrand by his mother, whose name was ‘Odile’. 

Fig. 1. Self-Portrait (1880)

Redon won several prizes throughout his lifetime, including a drawing prize at school and the Legion of Honour, awarded in 1903, but was a relatively unknown artist until 1879, gaining further exposure in 1884 when he was noted in a cult novel.

Redon was instructed by and studied under Jean-Leon Gerome (painting) and Rodolphe Bresdin (lithography and etching).  Redon enjoyed poetry and was a great fan of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, with their darkness and sinisterism.

In his earlier years – after being drafted into the army and the war ending in 1871- Redon focussed solely on working in charcoal and lithography, and focussing on the contrast and constant battle between light and dark.  He called these works his ‘noirs’ and continued to create this type of work until he was around 50 years old, creating no more noirs at all after 1900, when he had entered his 60s.

In the 19th century, the Symbolist movement came into full flow and this shows clearly in Redon’s work with his subtle emphasis on the spiritual image behind the physical image.  Whilst Redon was not a Christian, he was born during the time of the French Revolution when the Catholic Church was no longer seen as a legal obligation, allowing other religions such as the Protestant Church and Judaism to begin to thrive and allowed people with minds such as Redon’s, to explore more mythical and supernatural philosophies.  Redon created a great number of works focussing on Jesus Christ, both as a noir and in colour.

Two Trees, 1875

In 1875, when Redon was in his mid-30s, he created the piece Two Trees.  I believe the name for the piece is very fitting as it is literally what you see when first looking at the piece. 

Fig. 4. Two Trees(c.1875)

Upon first briefly seeing Two Trees, I was not very moved by the piece at all; I found it rather bland and would have simply carried on walking if I were on the apparent path in the picture, ignoring what appear to be ‘just another couple of trees’. 

The piece itself is rather timeless; it could have been drawn in a woodland somewhere 400 years ago, in Redon’s time or even yesterday.  A woodland’s age moves much slower than that of other areas of life (i.e. fashion or architecture) which would be more definitive clues as to the era depicted.

The more I looked at the piece, however, the more I seemed to become enlightened as to the mystery and sinister invitation behind the initial ‘normal’ façade.  I began to imagine where the ‘entrance’ between the two trees would take me if I were to be lured into it; would there be goblins and elves waiting for me?  Perhaps a monster or even a parallel universe?  It seemed to whisk me back to my childhood and fairy-tales of such creatures, I became suddenly enthralled by the piece and the magic which was hidden beneath the surface.  I imagined it as a world in which mere mortals (as I had been initially) would simply continue past the gap and not give it a second glance, but those with ‘the sight’ (as I now find myself to have) would be able to find the hidden entrance between the inconspicuous trees.  This excited me and made me feel almost magically powerful myself!  My inner-child was in her element! 

Moving on to the piece’s creation, I think Redon created the piece outside and that he actually was in front of these specific trees physically, however, I do think he played with the contrast between light and dark to emphasise the sense of supernatural and create a more sinister response.  I believe the piece was somewhat planned to have included the layer of paranormal to it and the result is perfect.

The piece was created with charcoal and paper.  Redon’s skill with the charcoal is fantastic to behold.  I really like how he has included what appears to be a little frottage in the piece (in the bark of the trees and the clear dots at the base of the straight tree).  Whether these were intentional or not, I am unsure, but I think they add another layer of texture to the piece.  Other techniques I can see in the piece are lines and marks going in several directions to show the way the form is moving, blending to create the smooth pathway and stippling (mostly within the leaning tree).

Comparison to Redon’s Other Works

I decided to look into other pieces of Redon’s work and tried to choose pieces from different times in his life, but of a similar composition.  I decided on two pieces: Tree and Stars (date unknown, but obviously pre-1900), created in charcoal, and The Barque (1900), created in oil on a canvas.

Fig. 5. Tree and Stars (unknown)

Tree and Stars, at first glance, appears to be a piece showing a lone tree in an open space slightly more overgrown than that of Two Trees (perhaps a marshland?) with several bushes and floating orbs surrounding it during a late-evening or night-time.

Fig. 6. The Barque (c.1900)

The Barque, at first glance, appears to show a tree on the edge of the land, surrounded by a flowerbed, overlooking a body of water (perhaps a lake?) which then fades off into the skyline.  There is a boat in the foreground with two pale, barely visible passengers aboard during the daytime.

My initial observations of the three pieces and the reason I chose them were how they all contain at least one tree – either leaning to the right or stood tall and straight.  I noticed how the straight trees were both located to the right-hand side of the pieces and the lone leaning tree in Tree and Stars was also placed over to the right-hand side.  I tried to fathom some reasoning as to this – perhaps it was a hidden message from Redon?  Personally, I think it may be an indication of his hand dominance belonging to his left side potentially.  I say this as, if you were to actually be the two trees in the image, the tall, straight tree would be the left-hand side and the weaker, leaning tree would be the right-hand side.  I also noticed in Redon’s self-portrait that his left-hand side is proudly displayed in the light, whereas his right-hand side is hidden in the darkness – perhaps another indication as to his dominant side? This got me thinking as to what messages I would like to put across to my viewers – whether directly or indirectly – and what I would like people to know about me and my private life that I would not necessarily always say aloud.

All three images seem to have a clear three-way divide also; Two Trees and Tree and Stars both have a sparse background and foreground as well as a cluttered middle-ground, but The Barque seems to create this divide in its colouring – the background is mainly blue, the middle-ground rather white and the foreground very bright and colourful.  I wondered whether this was an attempt by Redon to include his love of Japanese art and their technique of splitting images three ways perhaps.

Similar to Two Trees, these two pieces seem rather unremarkable upon first viewing them, but hold more intrigue and mystery the more you observe them.  I noticed how Redon has used darkness and light within these pieces in slightly different ways; where Two Trees uses shadow to create the sinister image of an entrance between the trees, Tree and Stars and The Barque appear to focus more on the light to emphasise the magical qualities of the pieces – the ethereal people on the boat and the floating orbs. 

I decided to make a list of all similarities and dissimilarities I noticed between the three pieces and have shown these in the grids below:

Similarities and Dissimilarities

Two Trees Tree and Stars The Barque
Pre-1900   Pre-1900 1900
Two trees: leaning tree (left) and tall, straight tree (right)     One tree: leaning tree (right), no straight tree One tree: no leaning tree, tall, straight tree (right)
Focus drawn centrally to the trees and the dark space between them Focus drawn centrally / right-hand side to the leaning tree   Focus drawn to the right-hand side to the bright and colourful tree
Open expanse to the foreground and background, busy middle-ground   Open expanse to the foreground and background, busy middle-ground Open expanse to the background and slightly to the middle-ground
Daytime – to create a false sense of security and peace in the mystical setting?   Night-time – to create a false sense of eeriness when the stars actually appear so gentle and peaceful?   Sunset? Representing the approaching end of the ethereal couple’s time on this plane?  
Texture created by lines     Texture created by lines Texture created by colours
Bushes but no flowers     Bushes but no flowers Flowers and slight greenery
Two apparent directions: from the bottom left and top right, but no obvious source seen in the piece   One apparent direction, but no apparent source One apparent light source from a setting sun in the background
No supernatural beings or objects visible in the piece, only what is conjured in the mind’s eye   Ethereal floating ‘heads’ which must represent the stars?  One of which appears to be glowing, as informed by the lines moving outward from it in a circle around it.  I think this confirms the suspicion of it being a star.   Ethereal beings on the boat which are not immediately clearly visible when first viewing the piece but become clearer upon closer inspection.  The beings appear to be in conversation with each other and rather closely located given the apparent space in the boat.  One appears to be a male and the other a female, so I believe this represents a married couple perhaps making their way to the next life / plane?  
Monotone and subdued colouring focussing on the contrast between light and dark as opposed to colours.  The darkness between the two trees is, I feel, in competition with the two trees as to the main focal point of the piece. Monotone and subdued colouring throughout, offering little assistance in finding the viewpoint of the tree besides from its physical-being.  The stars, even though in contrast to the darkness, appear somewhat subdued and do not immediately jump out as a main focal point.  This also adds to their intrigue as, as with the Two Trees, humans would not immediately see the mystery of the stars.   Vibrant colours within the forefront with slightly mellower colours in the background.  The figures are very subdued and are clearly not meant to be the first focal point before the vibrant tree. This adds to their intrigue as, as with the Two Trees, humans would not immediately see the magic within the piece.  

Overall, I really like the three pieces.  I am more drawn to Redon’s earlier work, with its darkness and moodiness as opposed to his later almost happier and eerily peaceful works, almost as though Redon had moved along a sort of spectrum throughout his life’s journey.  Whilst I do not know for sure when the Tree and Stars was created, I believe it must have been either around the time of the Two Trees or maybe not too long after it, as it still has the same eeriness, however, it seems less sinister in its outcome, leading me to believe, perhaps, that he created it toward the more peaceful part of his life, if continuing along the train of thought regarding a spectrum.  I think Redon’s work may indicate a potentially troubled childhood and fear of the world – he did, after all, endure a war – moving more towards a calmer sense of being towards the end of his life.  Whilst I do not think his appreciation for all things dark and mysterious ever left him, I think he may have found some inner peace towards the end and that perhaps the two people on the boat were meant to represent him and his wife and how they had come to terms with the mysteries of the world and would welcome the next adventure with open arms.

Moving Forward…

I definitely want to create some pieces with Redon’s work in mind – adding a touch of the sinister and darkness to my own work – and it is definitely something I want to experiment with further down the line in my journey.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Redon, O (1880) Self-Portrait [Oil on canvas] At: Wiki-Art (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Figure 2. Redon, O (1894-1895) Christ (also known as Head of Christ Wearing a Crown of Thorns) [Drawing – Charcoal]  At: The Athenaeum (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Figure 3. Redon, O (c.1910) The Crucifixion [Oil on card] At: Bridgeman Education (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Figure 4. Redon, O (c.1875) Two Trees [Charcoal on paper] At: Bridgeman Education (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Figure 5. Redon, O (unknown) Tree and Stars [Charcoal] At: Bridgeman Education (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Figure 6.  Redon, O (c.1900) The Barque [Oil on canvas] At: Bridgeman Education (Accessed on 19 February 2019)

Citation

Wikipedia (unknown) ‘Odilon Redon’ In: Wikipedia.org [online] At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odilon_Redon (Accessed on 20 February 2019)

Odilon-Redon (unknown) ‘Biography of Odilon Redon’ In: Odilon-Redon.org [online] At: https://www.odilon-redon.org/biography.html (Accessed on 20 February 2019)

Encyclopaedia Britannica (22 July 2010) ‘Odilon Redon’ In: Britannica Library [online] In: https://library.eb.co.uk/levels/adult/article/Odilon-Redon/62986 (Accessed on 20 February 2019)

Project 2: Exercise 3: Creating Shadow using Line and Marks

Basic Shapes and Forms

Before starting this exercise, I wanted to experiment using lines and marks to create shading on the basic shapes (circle, square, rectangle, ellipse and triangle) and forms (sphere, cube, cylinder and cone), as shown below.

I rather enjoyed doing this activity, but found it rather hard to keep some of the shapes looking flat (such as the circle / stippling) and to create enough depth in some of the forms (such as the sphere / stippling).  I tried to imagine the light’s direction coming from the right, casting shade to the left.  One thing I noticed here is my reluctance to let go of an outline in my work – for example, the circle / line and cube / line combinations did not feel obvious enough without the outline to the right-hand side.  Thinking back, I think I should have perhaps just added a little bit of delicate shadow from the right-hand side of the shape / form heading inwards to show the outline, or created a bit of delicate shade to the right of the outline, heading outwards.  The latter of the two would be the most realistic in real life I believe, as it would be shown in the detail of the background.  I really like how the cylinder / line and cylinder / cross-hatch combinations work – the end of the shape does look very flat and blunt, which I think is quite a success.  I was not too keen on the stippling as this took quite a toll on my hand, but I was able to let my tremor help quite a bit with creating the dots, which I found rather humorous!  I came to decide to only use stippling in small areas in future to avoid over-straining myself.

Single Object

I decided to work quickly for both parts of this exercise; not focussing on the finished piece fully resembling the real object or even realistic in appearance at all.  For the first part of the exercise, I chose a frosted glass vase and to work in pencil, willow charcoal, drawing pens and oil pastel.  I divided a page in my sketchbook into four and chose to draw the vase purely based on tone, using lines (both straight and curved), cross-hatching and stippling. 

I then went on to do a similar activity with three different mini plant pots.  I chose a different media (drawing ink, soft pastel and ball-point pen) for each plant to help me choose which media I preferred for the second part of my exercise.  I was quite frustrated with this part of the exercise.  My skill with the ink and pastel are somewhat limited and I found it hard to manipulate them well enough.  I was pleased with the outcome of the ink in the end as I think I managed to salvage the piece – I love the contrast between the darkest tone of the side of the pot and the lightness of the front of the pot and how it has come together to look like the actual shape of the pot instead of just flat on the page.  This is something I would like to work on and improve on.  I think I need to try a few more experiments with ink and pastels in the future to improve this skill.

With regard to the soft pastel, I was rather disappointed with this.  Again, my skill in this media is somewhat limited and requires practice.  Regardless, I allowed myself to use line freely and the end result does resemble the actual object somewhat. Again, I will work to improve my skill in this media.

The ball-point pen, however, I really enjoyed and allowed myself to get lost in.  I fully allowed my eye and my hand to go wild here.  I used line to show the wall reaching upwards in the background (perhaps I should have been lighter to avoid drawing the eye from the main focus of the plant).  I used cross-hatching on the vase to create a smooth appearance, but also to add depth and tone, whilst using a mixture of stippling and free movement of line to create the plant and shadow.  I think I should have done stippling for the shadow on the ground as there appears to be too much outline around the shadow which I believe makes it slightly unbelievable.  I decided to attempt that for my final piece for this exercise.

Group of Objects

I decided to create the final part of this exercise in drawing pen as this was a mix of ink and pen, together with a slight wash to help practice my ink skills some more.  I chose to work in expressive marks for the flowers and did not focus on the actual shapes in the flowers, but allowed my hand to just flow as it felt necessary.  I tried to recreate the cross-hatching for the vases and uses stippling for the shadow on the middle vase and a mix of stippling and expressive line for the soil in the first vase.  I thought the water would mix quite well with the ink, but was disappointed to find that it only lifted the ink very slightly.  Again, I put this down to a learning curve!  I was also rather disappointed with the mild shadow coming from the plants / vases and up the wall.  I think I had, again, included too much outline instead of blending them better.  I drew the objects first for this piece as they were my main focus, however, I think I should have mapped out on my page what should go where first as when I included the lines for the joining of the ledge to the wall behind it, I noticed it did not tally up with the real objects in some places.  I think by doing this I will also increase my skill of scaling and placement. 

This exercise strengthened my belief that my skills with charcoal and ink are still at a very novice stage and require more practice, which I will carry forward with me, whereas my strength in drawing pen and ballpoint pen is rather more advanced.  I don’t believe I have fully mastered the concept of light and reflected light, but have just been recording what I have seen.  My least favourite part of the exercise was definitely the stippling due to its demands on my arm and hand, so I do not think I will use this often in my work going forward, however, I do find it much easier with looser and broader media, so perhaps if I were to do more work in charcoal or ink (with a brush), it would be less demanding.  I have also learned that I need to stop drawing what I think should be in the piece (shadow’s outlines) and simply draw what is actually in front of me.

Finished group of plant pots

Project 2: Exercise 2: Observing Shadow using Blocks of Tone

I decided to begin this exercise with a quick rough sketch using charcoal to depict light and shadow on the basic shapes and forms, magnifying my favourites to enable broader strokes. I really like the sphere (bottom right) with only a touch of the lightest tone and think I have created depth rather well in this object considering it was only a very quick, barely controlled sketch! I was rather disappointed with my cubes as

Quick sketches of basic shapes and forms in charcoal

Since starting this course, I have been obsessed with the simplicity and tonal range of the lamp in my dining room so, seeing this as the perfect exercise to experiment with this object, I wanted to begin by playing with four different media; HB pencil, drawing pens, oil pastels and soft pastels.  I decided to do this experiment in my A4 sketchbook.  I had some A1 black paper so decided I would choose my favourite of the four experiments and invert the colours for my larger piece to use the page’s natural darkness for the areas of the piece which held the deepest shade and to add in the rest with the lighter colours.  I thought my favourite pieces would be the oil pastels or soft pastels due to their easy blending capabilities.

Dining Room Lamp

When creating my pieces, I soon realised my previous belief that the lamp and its surroundings were simple due to there being only three or four parts to the composition was very much misled!  It soon became apparent to me just how difficult the most basic of shapes, tone and composition can actually be to recreate!  I was actually really surprised by this revelation but decided to persevere regardless.  I found the pencil and the drawing pen the easiest to manipulate into going where I wanted them to go when drawing a rough guideline of the shapes and shadow placements, and also when finalising the solid outline of the stem of the lamp.  However, the pencil did not allow for any very deep and dark shading which was rather frustrating – it felt that no matter how hard or vigorously I pressed, the page just would not darken beyond a certain point.  The drawing pens, I found, were fantastic for the deep darkness I was yearning to achieve; however, I did not think the shading worked to best represent the smoothness of the walls and the lampshade.  I suppose I could have used just lines, but I still do not think this would have been good enough.

Looking at the two media I had originally thought would be my most successful, I was frustrated with the inability to create solid, sharp edges.  The shading of both was brilliant as I could blend them really well (the soft pastels much better than the oil pastels), but I loved the warmth the soft pastels gave off.  The whole picture just looked cosy and inviting (if slightly distorted in the piece) – precisely how I feel when I think of my home.  I decided this was the winner by far.

I carried out my inverted piece and was rather pleased with the end result.  I don’t think it was immediately obvious that it was a lamp – in fact, I even posted the picture in a group on social media and received a comment from someone believing the piece to be a glass!  I found this rather comical – I could have been upset or offended etc, but I actually thought it quite amusing and intriguing that someone had seen something in my piece that I had not intended to be there or even seen myself.  It gave me a brief insight into just how differently people interpret artwork.  I was, however, slightly disappointed in the final outcome due to having, ironically, an inverted issue with not being able to get the intensity I desired, this time in white.  I loved the blending of the colours and did this using my fingers to really get into the piece.  I think perhaps I could have used fixative and then built the deepest white areas up layer by layer to intensify their vibrancy.

I looked at the exercise again and saw there was a requirement to use two or more objects, so decided to create another piece.  I wanted to work quickly on this piece and without too much restriction on myself – I have seen this whole process so far as just quick, rough experiments as opposed to official, structured drawings.  I have been more concerned with the process than the end result.  I chose three light coloured items: a food dish, a tissue and a candle and placed them on my kitchen worktop.  The lighting was poor in the surrounding vicinity due to it being night-time and the only lighting was high above.  My kitchen worktop, however, had spotlights just underneath the overhead cupboards, so I thought this would work much better in casting shadows, if only from an angle I was not so accustomed to. 

I had a play on an A2 sheet with willow charcoal and, due to the warmth and ambience of the night-time around me, decided to smudge the edging of the piece.  I chose to do this after seeing the result of my earlier piece of the lamp’s glow and the warmth that held. 

Besides a few issues with the structure of the objects, I was actually rather pleased with the final result as I think I caught the shading rather well.  I had a comment as to the kitchen tiles and that they were rather obvious in their description.  I noticed when looking back at the end that the shape of the square bowl could have been much better laid out and made to look much more realistic with some more lighter and darker areas due to the reflective surface which, again, I think is a result of not measuring or taking time and care in the planning of the piece. I also think there is a large element of ‘practice makes perfect’!

Overall, I really enjoyed the process of not so much drawing the piece, but drawing it through the block colours and shading and just adding the finer details of the outline in the end.  I will definitely use this again further on in my journey as I have always generally drawn first, added detail and then added shade and light, but actually found it rather refreshing to reverse my methods.  Even though my initial piece was misconstrued by a member of the public, I won’t see this as too much of a mistake but more a learning curve of perhaps asking myself how I can try and portray the piece more realistically and tell the viewer what its actual purpose is clearer, or to even work on enhancing the lack of instant recognisability dependent upon the piece I am creating and the purpose it is to fulfil.

Project 2: Exercise 1: Groups of Objects

Group of Objects

For this piece, I thought I would gather a few different objects from around the local art class I attend and sketch them whilst there.  I arranged some objects and, thinking the glass milk bottle would be the hardest piece to replicate due to its symmetry and difference in shade, tone and reflection, I made a sketch of it in my sketchbook to familiarise myself with the shape before continuing to the main piece.  I decided that, due to working on such a large scale, I would forgo the pencil and attempt the piece in willow charcoal instead.  I thought this would have a much bolder result on such a large-scale piece of paper than a pencil would and, since I was only concentrating on the outline, the pencil would be very fine and almost invisible if viewed from any amount of distance.  I was rather disappointed with the end result as I thought it had an almost cartoon-like appearance.  I was also disappointed that I had not managed to scale the objects properly in the beginning due to not measuring the objects out on the sheet first, but I thought it was quite good considering it was only a quick attempt and did not have much effort put into it really.

I then thought I would try a different group of objects due to the first not including anything loose and also wanting to try and draw the objects inside, as requested, which I had only then realised I had not done in the first piece.  I settled on my daughter’s bath toys and net bag.  I was rather dubious about the bag as I thought it much too delicate and intricate for my liking – I am not a fan of creating very fine, detailed work personally (and more so with my tremor sometimes deciding on the line’s direction and structure for me!) – and so expected to become frustrated by its delicateness.  I thought the pink jug would by far be the easiest object to recreate.  I began the piece by drawing two sketches in my sketchbook of the net bag and its enclosures to familiarise myself with the bag and the weight of the items inside it before continuing onto a larger scale. 

I created my larger piece in black biro on a sheet of A3 sketchpad paper.  I was actually pleasantly surprised by the end result of this piece; I had somehow managed to integrate delicate lines for such things as the net bag and the outline of the objects which could not be seen by the naked eye, but also deep, dramatic lines for the shaded areas.  I did not want to concentrate too heavily on the shaded areas due to the piece being mostly focussed on just an outline, but couldn’t help myself in adding just a little (and rather loosely) in certain parts of the picture to help clarify the depth and weight of the objects and their locations within the piece.

Final sketch of second group of objects

Reflection

I really enjoyed this exercise and have learned a lot from it.  Mostly I have learned that just because something looks as though it will be difficult to replicate, it is worth giving it a go as there may be different ways to recreate it without going very deeply into fine detail and precision. I think it is also important to try to visualise the items which are inside other items and understand their composure to appreciate how and why the final resting place comes to be. I think this will come in useful when drawing the figure; trying to imagine the placement of muscles and other tissue underneath the skin, why they are there, what purpose they serve and what impact they have on the image you see before you and also in architecture when considering the framework and foundation, and also who might inhabit each building, considering their individual stories. Finally, I think the structure of the objects and the spacing between items in the final piece is quite good compared to my earlier pieces. Perhaps this is because I am now beginning to see the importance of ‘reading between the lines’ so to speak. I will definitely be referring back to this piece in the future.