Exercise 3.3 Affecting the way a space is experienced

Aim

 Historically, a two-dimensional artwork acted like a window. The viewer knew to focus on the space inside the frame and allow themselves to be transported imaginatively into that space. With the advent of the expanded field and installation art, we have the potential to use devices and experiences long used by architects and others to create spaces which can be experienced more immersively. This exercise asks you to see if you can affect a room (and the way it is read or felt) by using a three-dimensional drawing. (EDM Handbook)

Method

1. Find a room to make your ‘drawing’.  You might be able to make a temporary drawing in a room somewhere interesting like a castle or a shop.

2. Choose a material you can easily use to ‘draw’ a line. It might be wool, florist’s wire, bean canes or even flour or sand. You might even use water. Does the room you’ve chosen suggest a material?

3. If possible, take photos of the room, sketch it or use an iPad to plan your proposed intervention in the space.

4. Make your drawing, responding to the physical properties of the room and your thoughts on how it is experienced by visitors or even just by you.

Interlude

I note that the brief focuses on drawing a ‘line’. I have imagined all kinds of possibilities for this project but have not yet come up with anything that I feel any excitement about. Feeling desperate I googled ‘drawing a line in space’ while on the train to Leeds (heading for Settle, north yorkshire) last weekend. Up came the Leeds University Art  and Design school and an exhibition there called ‘What is a space of a line?’. This exhibition is curated by Eirini Boukla, artist and lecturer on the BA Art and Design at Leeds University. It is on from the 13 feb -12 March 2018. Artists from around the world were invited to engage with two well known idioms “drop me a line” and “answers on a postcard”, alongside the notion that:

a line is a mark that spans its distance between two points taking any form along its way.

… Boukla is interested in contemporary drawing practice. Her research interests are built around the practice of tracing and notions of reuse, reassemble, recombine.

SO, I decided to miss my train to Settle and track up to the University, (on the way passing  the window in Leeds General Infirmary behind which I spent an unhappy year working as a medical secretary when I was 19, and Leeds Metropolitan university where I spent the subsequent three years training to be a teacher). Only to find the doors to the exhibition firmly locked (the site neglects to say the opening hours – and this was still 9.30 am on Saturday morning – I caught the train at 6.30 am). The good news is that the exhibition was in the foyer, and I could peer through the glass doors to make out the postcards – more or less. Basically people had sent drawings on a postcard to Eirini. Hmmm. I am not sure this takes me much further in relation to impacting on how a space is experienced. Perhaps I can use postcards too? Here are some poor photos – remember I am excluded: an outsider – and  they are taken through glass doors  – in fact I have mostly photographed the large screen inside the foyer on which the postcards were being shown, and the grid on many of the postcards is actually the greed on the screen not the postcards themselves.

 

 

8 March 2018

I have made a decision to focus on outdoor space rather than a room for this project. At the footpath entrance to the car park from Duke Steet, through which I walk up to my collage in settle on my way from the railway LINE, there is an old beech tree that the council have given the adjacent rugby club permission to fell because they argue it impacts on the drainage work they want to do in the corner of the pitch abutting the tree. The tree is not on the rugby club’s land but on the public footpath and it DOES have a tree protection order (TPO Number 174 2009.

 

 

 

There is some local opposition to the felling of this beautiful tree and the argument has been put forward that there are alternative ways of draining the land that do not require a long standing and precious tree to be destroyed.

I have decided that my ‘line’ will be related to this environ and the issue of tree felling generally, and probably involve chalk,and hopefully might involve some other protestors. That is about as far as I have got at the moment.

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18th March

I have decided to develop Boukla’s postcard idea and today wrote to all my peers -posting both on gmail and Drawing1 Facebook, and asking for contributions to this project in the form of drawings, poems, myths about beech trees . My idea is to fasten them to  yellow ribbon, instead of using chalk, and tie the ribbon between the beech trees (there are a couple of adjacent smaller beech trees). The idea of yellow ribbon comes from the old song – tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree if you still love me. I will photograph any images sent and post them on this blog. I will also laminate the images before using them. I will also try to contact the campaign members in Settle to ask them if they would like to contribute (I have having difficulty finding any contact details for those involved presently). I will also make drawings myself. My initial idea was to try to get 150 images to represent each year of the beech’s life, but that is probably overly optimistic!

23rd March

I am blown away by the generosity of my fellow artists at OCA. I have had lots of responses to my request (put out on our group email and also our group email page. Jo, from the OCA also offered to post a request for more drawings/poems/collages on the OCA weekend bulletin which comes out today. I have already had one kind person contact me as a result of this. Here are the works that have arrived so far. Most of them have come through the post and this is a lovely welcome change to receiving bills and catalogues, which these days make up most of my mail through the door.

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IMG_5308lynnderriman30th March

All week I have been anxiously waiting for the post and then excitedly opening the beautiful contributions that have continued to arrive. Some people have sent their own poems, or collages, or poems and songs from others, or knitting, or lovely drawings. All are precious. I have photographed them below. My next step today is to finish laminating everything. I am using a matt laminate pouch and ironing it to seal. It works well on paper so you can’t really tell it is there. On knitting, and on the canvas, for example, it seals round the edges and will protect the work. I recognise the contradiction of using a plastic material in a project focused on the environment and this has been a real dilemma. I felt I had to use it because otherwise the messages for the tree will be destroyed within a day or so in the fairly harsh north Yorkshire environment. I am open to comments on this from the artists who have contributed – do email me with your thoughts. IMG_5310IMG_5311IMG_5312IMG_5313IMG_5314IMG_5315IMG_5316IMG_5317IMG_5318

4th april

tree

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The stunning image above, submitted by Janet is made from the photograph of the actual beech that I put up on our drawing fcebook page. Janet has photocopied it onto paper that she has previously worked on with watercolours and then worked on it more with pencil, before cutting it into four separate images.

And here, I think is my first one from Germany, to remember a brother/sister tree destroyed there:IMG_5396

15th April

This weekend I went up to Settle expressly to  make contact with the campaigners for the beech. This was surprisingly difficult, with everyone I spoke to telling me they knew about the campaign but didn’t know who was involved. In such a small place this seemed odd.  It began to seem like a big secret. But on my last day I finally spoke to two people who were part of the campaign group. I explained this project and asked them to share it with the others. I also passed my email details on and a link to this blog for more information with a message to say more submissions from them also welcome. I want to make sure that the people who have already worked so hard on behalf of the beech do not feel in any way concerned by my intervention. I think that any art project that involves others must consider ethics and I have tried to be careful regarding transparency, inclusion and appreciation for everyone involved. (I will reflect more on this at the end).

A couple more fabulous drawings/collages/poems were waiting for me on my return from Settle this weekend:IMG_5454IMG_5455IMG_5456IMG_5457IMG_5458IMG_5459

louisemeeIMG_546916th April

For my contribution I want to add some information about beech trees, and about this beech tree in particular, for example, exactly where it is. I got the idea, because beech wood was used to write on before paper, that making a ‘book’ with information about the beech would be a good idea. The word for beech and book is the same word in several languages (boch in German and bok in Swedish). The first idea I wanted to convey is that the beech is considered the queen of trees (the oak is considered the King of course!):IMG_5377

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(the paper used for the ‘book page’ above is Japanese washi paper that I first put in a bath of water, then dipped a piece of wool in ink and twirled over the paper. The map base is cartridge paper painted/dripped with black quick ink, slate blue and turquoise water based dr. martins and then spray bleached-run under the tap/ironed – it seems to have survived ok).IMG_5461IMG_5466IMG_5471

19th April

I am still receiving drawings – one yesterday and another today, however I feel I probably won’t get many more. Last weekend when I went up to Settle I managed to make contact with the campaigners and shared the link to this blog. I have had some positive feedback on the project and offers of help to put it up, including step ladders. I was told that the campaign had slightly lost its momentum as these things are bound to do, and that this may help reinvigorate it. It will be great if so.  I am now organising a date to go up there to ‘install’ these messages in support of the beech tree. I have thanked each individual for their contribution and shared all drawings on our Facebook drawing page, along with regular updates. The only thing left to do  now before I go back up to Settle is to buy the yellow rope (I have decided yellow ribbon is not strong enough). I will tie each work to the rope with yellow ribbons. It’s going to look fabulous. I already guessed, and one of the campaigners confirmed, that we might expect vandalism. My feeling about this is that while our work may be damaged or destroyed,   the love that artists bear for nature and, trees particularly, will live on and protect the tree. In the end it is not our art but our collective love  that makes a difference. (I use the term ‘love’ in the sense of Eric Fromm who defines love as focused attention and care). Love lingers and lives on, while destruction in the end will only damage the destroyer.

Here are the 46 outcome – ready to go – of our collaborative love for the beech tree/s (one is under threat but others nearby may be damaged) in Settle. I hope if you contributed, you will be able to spot yours. I will of course post photos of the works installed.Thank you!IMG_5472

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Exercise 3.2. Back to two dimensions

Aim. The process in Exercise 3.1 was one of distillation and simplification. You had to make difficult decisions and simplify tones and forms. Taking the source imagery through that extra process may well have abstracted it quite considerably.

Method 1. Position your three-dimensional drawing at eye level and make sure it is well lit.

2. Use your sketchbook to make some preliminary sketches of it, identifying interesting viewpoints and moving it if necessary.

3. Select your materials (charcoal would work well) and make a drawing directly from observation.

4. Pin your drawing up next to the original collage drawing from Exercise 2.2 and place your three-dimensional drawing in front.

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Reflection

  1. Do you feel that making a three-dimensional drawing helped you discover new qualities about your subject?

I think that the three dimensional construction has helped me find more weight in the subject and grounded it more effectively as a solid object. I see the plane of the squash in my original charcoal sketch and subsequent collage is not quite correct.

2. Which drawing do you prefer?

I don’t like to choose one work over another. I like aspects of each. I guess if I must choose one I would choose the original sketch: I like the sense of light and the contrasts in the charcoal sketch (bottom left). I like some of the texture, for example the seeds in the squash, and the mushroom and onion skin. On the collage I like the tonal contrast too as well as the different colours and textures. I least like the three dimensional construction, but it is a useful exercise and gives me ideas about how to introduce a three dimensional quality into drawing by using paper mache (which I have been wondering how to use in my drawings for a while).  I like the composition of the drawings of the construction, and the introduction of red.

3. How has this switching back and forth supported your understanding of a possible art process that encourages experimentation, investigation and development?

This is a great way to follow Jasper Johns dictum of ‘draw something. do something different to it. do something different again.’ Obviously it is a useful way to encourage experimentation, investigation and development of a drawing, and to try to get at a more simplified representation of the essence of a subject – if that is what one wants. Does the essence of something always have to be simplified? Isn’t the essence of something in fact far from simple, and should we try to capture its complexity rather than attempt to simplify? This is a question I will think about following this exercise.

4. How has your understanding of drawing as a discipline been informed by the course so far?

My understanding of drawing as a discipline has become far more confused and I am questioning the use of the word ‘drawing’. If drawing can include sculpture and work in 3D as well as work on video and installations in space, why call it drawing? Why not just call it art? It could be argued that it is the process of working things out that is the drawing element. However I think that working things out could be called preparatory work or art enquiry or art research. I am not sure that it is helpful to stretch the definition of something so far that it no longer is helpful to recognition of that concept. This is not a critique of the course. I love the course – it is a critique of the usage of the term ‘drawing’.

Exercise 3.1.Constructing a drawing

Aim:   construct a three-dimensional drawings.

Method 1. Go back to Exercise 2.2 where you made a drawing that modelled tone as precisely as you could. Take that drawing and pin it up at eye level.

2. Take a sheet of card . Cut it into thirds. Paint one third very pale grey, one third a mid-grey and the remaining third a much darker grey. (or greys which are a better match).

3. Observe the objects and patches of tone in your drawing, and cut shapes from your card to correlate. join these shapes together to make a spatial construction.

4. Photograph your three-dimensional drawing in black and white at close range so that it fills the frame.

Reflection Rather than making a drawing of an object, you have made an object of a drawing. How accurate were you able to be in terms of capturing the tonal relationships in your drawing? What occurs to you when you look at the photograph next to your drawing?

This exercises reminded me that Clement Greenberg, writing about collage (http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/collage) stated that:

‘Synthetic Cubism began with Picasso alone (nb. he is speaking of Braque here), late in 1913 or early in 1914 … It was as though, in that instant, he had felt the flatness of collage as too constricting and had suddenly tried to escape all the way back–or forward–to literal three-dimensionality. This he did by using utterly literal means to carry the forward push of the collage (and of Cubism in general) literally into the literal space in front of the picture plane.’

He goes on to explain that Picasso cut out and folded a piece of paper in the shape of a guitar; to this he glued and fitted other pieces of paper and four taut strings:

The affixed elements of collage were extruded, as it were, and cut off from the literal pictorial surface to form a bas-relief. By this act he founded a new tradition and genre of sculpture, the one that came to be called “construction.” Though construction, sculpture was freed long ago from strict bas-relief frontality, it has continued to be marked by its pictorial origins, so that the sculptor-constructor Gonzalez, Picasso’s friend, could refer to it as the new art of drawing in space” (my emphasis)–that is, of manipulating two-dimensional forms in three-dimensional space. (Not only did Picasso found this “new” art with his paper guitar of 1912, but he went on, some years afterwards, to make some of the strongest as well as most germinative contributions to it.)

Neither Picasso nor Braque ever really returned to collage after 1914. The others who have taken it up have exploited it largely for its shock value, which collage had only incidentally–or even only accidentally–in the hands of its originators. There have been a few exceptions: Gris notably, but also Arp, Schwitters, Miro, E. L. T. Mesens, Dubuffet and, in this country, Robert Motherwell and Anne Ryan. In this context, Gris’s example remains the most interesting and most instructive.

For an insight into how Picasso built his ‘still life’ constructions see:http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/11/technical-study-of-picasso-construction-still-life-1914

I also came across the work of Gus Cummins whose art is being exhibited at the Jerwood in Hastings currently. The exhibition is called ‘Off the wall’. Cummins has lived and worked in Hastings for a considerable time. Several of the works are what he describes as ‘two and a half D’ which I think is probably a more accurate description because we can still only see the front, side, bottom and not  the back although clearly the work changes as one changes one’s position. The works are big – probably 6 feet across, and made from wood and other materials. Like Picasso’s guitar above I think this can most acurately be described as a ‘construction’ and I think this is a useful term for when I ‘construct’ my own 3D work. (I don’t need to call it a drawing!)

0 R

I began with the squash in my collage with squash, onion and mushroom. This is much harder than I thought it would be.It would be so much easier if we were making the construction from paper mache, but I guess the object is not to replicate the shapes exactly. Or it would be easier if the shapes were square or rectangle  but to make spherical and rounded shapes from cardboard seems impossible . This is where I have got so far.

sunday.

This morning I added the onion

And in the afternoon I just went for it and added the mushroom:

I removed some of the white paper background to include my red floor in the photos below. I also painted out some of the black in the onion with the same pale grey acrylic paint used for the cardboard.

REFLECTION

In this exercise we are asked how accurately we are able to capture the tonal relationships of the drawing in the construction.I think pretty accurately.

What else occurs to me when I compare the construction with the drawing? I think that the construction obviously has a better sense of the three dimensionality of the objects, particularly the squash – in reality however the squash is not in fact so high. The photograph above left is in any case from an angle that is lower down and if I compared the drawing with one of the photographs from a higher angle above I am not sure this is the case. Obviously, too, there is less detail in the construction which is made from only three colours of card plus black and white. The simplicity of the mushroom is appealing, although the onion bears no resemblance to an onion- if I had time I would redo it in paper mache, but then the exercise using three shades of grey card would change. Generally what I like best about this exercise is the idea of taking a drawing, making a collage from it, making a construction from collage and then drawing the construction for the next exercise (3.2) – this is a good example of Jasper John’s suggestion to do something, change it a little, change the changed result a little more and so on, until one arrives at a different place altogether from the starting point, but the essence of the thing is still there. I will see if I arrive at this in 3.2.

PART THREE: 3D DRAWING: CONTEXTUAL STUDY: Roman Ondak and Karina Smigla-Bobinski

This study is about how an artist might affect a specific space. The first video we are asked to watch is about an installation by Roman Ondak at Tate St.Ives.

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/ tateshots-roman-ondak-measuring-universe

‘Measuring the Universe’ started as an empty white room. Visitors were asked to measure themselves against the wall and use a black pen to make a mark of their height together with writing their name. The video is of Martin Clarke, artistic director at the Tate, showing us and talking about the ‘installation’. At the point of making the video the ‘installation’ had been installed for 3 months and 90,000 visitors including children, had added their measurement and names. The installation had a further month to run, at the end of which period, it was to be painted over. Martin Clarke described the ‘installation’ as follows: it….”challenges ides of space and the universe and infinity in interesting ways but also very personal ways…..it makes you you think about the universe differently….its almost like a constellation of stars…its a universal and profound installation. ” He explained that when the gallery is painted white again there will be “a sense of closure” but that for the time it existed it is “a dynamic,growing, living,artwork.”

I doubt if I were there it would make me think about the universe, and I do not think it is profound. I do not believe that the people who added their measurement found the experience profound either – they might have found it brief fun. And in my view it is not ‘installation art’ because nothing is installed.  The artist does not step inside the room and does not make any personal impression on the room. In fact we can liken Roman Ondak to the taylor in the famous story of the Emperor’s new clothes. Martin Clarke is the Emperor. Like the taylor, Ondak persuades the artistic director of the Tate into believing that he is an artist and will make a wonderful art work. The people of course believe the director when he calls it installation art, because it (the imaginary installation) is in an art gallery of which he is the powerful director. Ondak like the Taylor gets recognition and perhaps money? Ondak meanwhile is having a laugh at the ease with which he can become known for doing nothing. Isn’t this the problem with contemporary culture in which fame can be had for possessing little talent or skill?

The second artist we were asked to research for how an artist might effect a space is Karina Smigla-Bobinksi, ADA – analog installation / kinetic sculpture / post-digital drawing machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcNtvfALW1Y http://www.smigla-bobinski.com/english/works/ADA/

An interview with Karina can be found here: http://www.smigla-bobinski.com/english/works/ADA/index.html

The image below is from the same address.

ADA is a giant helium balloon floating in a white cube. the balloon is spiked with charcoal tips so that each time it hits the wall, ceiling or floor it leaves a mark. The installation was first commissioned for an art gallery in Brazil.

ada-01

ADA is an interactive machine and gallery visitors can manipulate and push it around.The first link shows visitors doing so.  On the second link above I read:

The globe put in action, fabricate a composition of lines and points, which remains incalculable in their intensity, expression, form however hard the visitor tries to control «ADA», to drive her, to domesticate her. Whatever he tries out, he would notice very soon, that «ADA» is an independent performer, studding the originally white walls with drawings and signs. More and more complicated fabric structure arise. It is a movement exprienced visually, which like a computer make an unforeseeable output after entering a command. Not in vain « ADA» reminds of Ada Lovelace, who in 19th century together with Charles Babbage developed the very first prototype of a computer. ..Ada Lovelace intended to create a machine that would be able to create works of art, such as poetry, music, or pictures, like an artist does. «ADA» by Karina Smigla-Bobinski stands in this very tradition…

I am not tremendously keen on either installation, however if pushed I would express a big preference for ADA over ‘Measuring the universe.’ Both start in a white box, and both end with black marks covering the walls of the gallery. My reasons for preferring ADA are as follows:

  • the marks themselves are more richly varied and extend to the ceiling and floor, as well as the walls.
  • ADA demanded ingenuity and was constructed by the artist.
  • Both are interactive, but ADA involves the gallery visitor in a new experience. ‘Measuring the universe’ asks them to repeat a familiar behaviour and does not require that they reflect on, or make that behaviour strange in any way (i.e. why height should be so important to us. If this additional question were built somehow into the activity it would be much more interesting).
  • ADA not the gallery visitor makes the marks on the walls, thus raising questions about whether a machine can be an artist as well as the relationship between man and machine in this process. Therefore in my view ADA creates a  more satisfying and  richer intellectual and artistic experience.

PART THREE: 3 DIMENSIONAL DRAWING: CONTEXTUAL STUDY: Extending a line into space.

Method: Spend some time exploring the links below and make some notes on your initial thoughts about the relationships between 2D and 3D drawing as it is expressed in the exhibition:
https://drawingroom.org.uk/exhibitions/drawing-sculpture

Drawing : Sculpture

The first link is to an exhibition about the relationship between drawing and sculpture at the Drawing Room, Tannery Arts, 12 Rich Estate, Crimscott Street, London, SE1 5TE, between 14 February – 6 April 2013. The exhibition brought together 21 works by 7 international contemporary artists.

Below are  images from the exhibition:

image courtesy Drawing Room, photographer Dan WeillInstallation image of Drawing: Sculpture

Drawing Sculpture Alice Channer, Sara Barker, KnutHHenricksen installation small

Title : Drawing Sculpture Alice Channer, Sara Barker, Knut H Henricksen installation

Drawing Sculpture Knut Henrick Henricksensmall

 Title : Drawing Sculpture Knut Henrick HenricksensSculpture Drawing Room  High Res 51
 Title : Sculpture Drawing Room High Res 51
 The exhibition explores whether the languages of drawing and sculpture are intertwined or simply parallel.

The exhibition curators explain that drawing has always been an essential tool to the sculptor. However, for many sculptors there is a clear demarcation between the two disciplines, and many sculptors make drawings that are autonomous, and independent of their work in three dimensions (I think of Henry Moore, for example). The curators suggest that in this exhibition the practice of drawing and of sculpture is intimately linked: the point at which an artwork becomes a sculpture as distinct from a drawing is blurred.

The curators  write:

 The pre-fabricated and the hand-made are combined seamlessly in works that challenge artifice and celebrate how the work is constructed. The works appeal to the tactile and optical dimensions that drawing and sculpture share. In the work of each artist there is a fusing of opposites – inside and outside, objective and subjective, bodily and ascetic – and a consideration of in between, discursive spaces. The works articulate a contest between formalism and conceptualism and the exhibition investigates the interplay between an attention to surface and material and attention to line and form’.

The second link (http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/drawing-sculpture) is to a review of the same exhibition.
Drawing : Sculpture
The Drawing Room
14 February – 6 April 2013
Review by Ariane Belisle
Throughout the Renaissance, sculptors adopted drawing as a preparatory or auxiliary practice. Centuries later, Julio González, Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder released sculpture from its erstwhile monumentality by ‘drawing in space’… While media hybridity has intermittently punctured the history of art, there has been a notable resurgence of interest in drawing and sculpture’s boundlessness in the twenty-first century. Contemporary artists are now shrewdly working across various disciplines, as medium specificity has been rendered anachronistic.Far from restrictive, Drawing : Sculpture includes sculptural works that extend beyond drawing’s familiar realm of linearity, exploring four alternative parallels between the two practices – namely, structure, scale, surface and slightness.  …Through the use of humble materials, such as wood, paper, charcoal, graphite, aluminium, steel, watercolour, tape, felt, fabric, brass, thread and rubber, the facture process is immediately apparent in all the works. Vacillating between formalism and conceptualism, a unique dynamism between the art’s material surface and its linearity is established.Unified under an expansive overarching theme, the exhibited artworks converse in harmony from an aesthetic perspective, creating a visual ribbon of dialogue that runs through the gallery. The various undercurrents of Drawing : Sculpture are perhaps more difficult to discern. With the exception of the final room which clearly provides visitors with a cohesive argument as Barriball and Shaw-Town both lend a pictorial quality to the surface of their works, the first two rooms are left to explore the many other facets of this transmedial union. Hence, the initial spatial division seems haphazard and the display of works, random. 
I rather dislike the language used to describe the works here. I think it is alienating. I believe we should be able to find words to explain anything that a child of 5 can understand. What is the facture process? What does ‘A unique dynamism between the art’s material surface and its linearity; mean? what is the ‘transmedial union’? (I have cut much of this befuddling language above) And is medium specificity really anachronistic. If so I wonder why I am doing a degree in Drawing.
 The review reminds me of ‘pass the parcel’ : a good metaphor for anything fairly insignificant that needs to be in layers and layers of wrapping to make it seem exciting. But I am being critical of the review here, not of the exhibition and the works in  it.
At exhibition to explore the relationship and open up a debate about the relationship between different art forms should be interesting. What is clear to me here is that it is HOW the work is constructed, rather than narrative, content, meaning, engagement with social or political issues, exploration of subjectivity, identity, invitation to see the world differently, challenge perceptions (other than what is drawing/sculpture) or explore theme that is the central purpose of the works exhibited here. I have a negative reaction to this focus on process. An investigation of Materials  and their properties is of course important, but in my view, not as the end point for artistic endeavour. I guess my belief is that it is not enough – the works seem to be in some indeterminate stage of  becoming; the artists to have stopped their work at a point before they ask  interesting and important  questions about themselves, others and the world.
In a world where the material is so important anyway, as opposed to the relational or the spiritual, a focus on no more than the material is troubling. People and their relationship to themselves and the world are absent from this exhibition, and in any works that focus only on the properties of material.
I guess it is not surprising that art should move in this direction in a neoliberal consumerist society in which ‘things’ rather than relationships are most important.

 

I came across The Drawing Book, a survey of drawing edited by Tania Kovats:

Charting drawing’s recent history since the second world war she (Kovats) discusses how the Abstract Expressionists felt it unnecessary to draw whilst nevertheless incorporating the characteristics of drawing in their paintings. In the 1960s the purity and simplicity of drawing was celebrated by the likes of Sol LeWitt and in the 1970s drawing, along with writing became the medium of choice for expressing art as an idea. Whilst painting and sculpture became dominant in the 1980s, Kovats suggests that it was in the 1990s that drawing has had its status re-evaluated. Since then the focus on the special attributes of drawing, namely directness, simplicity, expressiveness, immediacy, rawness etc and “their application to all manner of working methods is key to the changing and elevated status of the medium.” (2007, p.14-15)

One chapter in the Kovats book is called:  “In Parallel: Drawing and Sculpture” .  The first artist discussed is Antony Gormley.  Kovats quotes Gormley as saying, “Drawing is analytical but it’s also expressive in its own right, it has a duty to bear witness, not simply by making a representation of something, but taking things apart and reassembling in a way that makes new connections. It is entirely experimental.” (p.26)

Gormley uses drawing to test out ideas. He discusses his use of drawing as a form of thought-process as well as being about the medium, “using the intrinsic qualities of substances and liquids: a kind of oracular process that requires tuning in to the behaviour of substances as much as to the behaviour of the unconscious…” (p.61) Unlike sculpture which is an inevitably slower process that takes forethought and planning, drawing allows for spontaneity.

Another sculptor discussed in the book is Whiteread:  “Whiteread’s drawings are not sketches for future sculptures.” Whilst in Berlin for eighteen months Whiteread drew to explore the city, rather than a specific sculptural project. (2004, p.46) Interestingly Whiteread, like Gormley, also talks about the role of experimentation within drawing saying, “I sometimes look away from the drawings when I am making them, playing with the element of chance. I also make other drawings that are meticulous. It depends on my mood.

Again the expressiveness of drawing as a medium is really highlighted here, although interestingly the link to sculpture is not necessarily always a direct one for Whiteread. A third sculptor discussed is Lucia Nogueira. Kovats  describes Nogueira’s drawings as “a crucial process of discovery… throughout her career. She filled hundreds of notebooks with images, texts, thoughts, and philosophical writings.”

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For Nogueira drawing was: “a distinct part of her practice…, intimately bound up with her sculptures and installations.” For some drawings the relationship with sculpture was direct, “how things are placed on a page is very similar to the way in which she would place an object… her work had a connectedness-between her own body and a sense of touch… there was a continuity.” Whereas other drawings were more abstract and seemed to relate to thoughts and psychological states. (2007, p.29)

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In reviewing Nogueira’s exhibition at the Drawing Room gallery in 2005, Adrain Searle, writing for the Guardian said the following: “While some drawings depict the kind of thing she often used in her sculpture – retorts and test tubes, plastic funnels and bits of science apparatus – others relate more to the transformations of an inner imaginary process: rows of buttons become heads, heads are suspended from the wires of headphones, or are transformed into laboratory glasswear. Bodies are reduced to blobs of black matter on a row of folding chairs… We might be reminded at times of Thomas Schütte’s drawings, of Eva Hesse or of certain drawings by Beuys. This is because drawing is both a shared and direct language, and as individual as handwriting.”

Notes and reflection

I guess the question for me relates back to my comments in my last blog after visiting the History of drawing exhibition. The question  is not so much when is a drawing a sculpture, or when is a sculpture a drawing, or how they relate to one another, so much as why one would wish to draw in space. How might ‘drawing in space’ be necessary or useful to a specific exploration  (unless the exploration were a purely abstract one e.g how does one draw in space? But a I wrote before, I tend to think such an enquiry, related to materiality alone, might be colluding with our neoliberal materialism). After reading these posts about the relationship between drawing and sculpture I tend to think a focus on materiality and abstraction, along with a lack of narrative, content, or beauty is consumerist. It seems  slightly narcissistic in the way of all materialism, and I don’t think, but might be mistaken, that it sets out to challenge the very materialism with which it is engaged. Perhaps I will change my mind as I become more educated as an artist.

I do not believe that artists, such as Henry Moore, whose sculptures and drawings are in my eyes equally beautiful, would have been excessively concerned about the relationship between his drawing and sculpture. I imagine he just got on with trying out ideas for his sculptures through drawing, and that this sculptures were informed by these drawings. I imagine he saw his sculptures as sculptures and his drawings as drawings! And those drawings, like his sculptures, were often concerned with humanity and relationships.

I can imagine, in my own practice, exploring a line of enquiry,  and finding a drawing becoming three dimensional as part of a process of resolution. But I’d like to hope the line of enquiry, while including questions about materiality, would go beyond. Perhaps questioning materiality itself. And it would be great if the drawing in space would  not be an end in itself, but a contribution to solving problems beyond how materials work. Oh dear.I am setting myself up to fail here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFLECTION ON PART 2: COLLAGE

I would like to start with the reflection that I am very glad I switched my degree pathway from painting to drawing. I do not of course know anything about contemporary painting, and no doubt it is as exciting as contemporary drawing appears to be. In ten days I plan to visit the exhibition ‘A history of Drawing’ at Camberwell art college and in the afternoon I have booked to attend the three hour seminar on teaching drawing in art colleges. I think this will be a wonderful opportunity to understand more about both how drawing is conceived in contemporary practice, and how those who teach drawing in art colleges think about their practice in relation to teaching drawing. I am also an educator (I teach teachers from all fields) and so how we teach others in any discipline is a key interest. I feel very privileged to be able to attend and am sure I will learn a lot that I can feed into my own practice. I will write about the day on this blog.

Part two of this module focusing on collage has been great fun. We have explored collage in relation to mark making, tonal variation, juxtaposition and dissonance (both through extending found images, and adding other elements to drawing). All of these exercises have been challenging, but all have supported my thinking about drawing. I like the work I did for exercise 2.1 and 2.2 (mark making and tone), and can see that using ‘found’ paper to add pattern and mark to my drawing will be a useful addition. I must not forget about this. I didn’t use this idea in the final assignment, but did revisit it in one of the sketches for 2.3. (in fact in the first one where I successfully used a found image of curtain material for the wallpaper).

However, it was the work for 2.3 and 2.4 that generated the most excitement. Taking a found image and extending it certainly made me think. I immediately saw the potential for commentary on contemporary social and political interests. I am interested in the notion that art has potential for drawing attention to dystopian aspects of society through the immediacy of imagery. Also the idea that imagery is a more direct and immediate way of communicating ideas than language. I also like the potential for art to draw on humour to communicate about serious issues. My research lead me immediately to Hoch and Dadaism (see essay under ‘research for exercises’ and to new understanding about the ways artists responded to facism in Germany and Europe in the early half of the last century. These artists used collage to make direct and highly critical commentary on social and economic policies. My search for contemporary collage artists making equally brave and critical works has been disappointing. There are artists commenting on environmental issues (and this is great), and on gender and race issues, but these works seem a little tame in comparison to the all-out political condemnation of artists such as Hoch and the other Dadaists – particularly given the time and the personal danger they must have placed themselves in.

My decision to focus on issues relating to aging, and particularly to older women and  their ‘performance’ of age (drawing on my interest in Judith Butler’s theory of performativity) lead me, after a lot of searching, to images of older woman participating in sport. I had a lot of fun extending these issues and finding song titles to complement the finished drawings. I hope the final four drawings make humorous commentary both on  age and how we see ageing in society, but also on wider issues related to age and femaleness, for example ‘If you want to be young’ uses the wonderfully titled  ‘Keep young and beautiful’ serum for aging skin. Finding this product on line felt like a God -send for the drawing.

On reflection I feel exercise 2.3  allowed me to bring humour to art in a way I have not done previously, and rather surprised me. I had many a chuckle as I was working. Of the four images  ‘Jump for my love’ is the least interesting, but I find the other three equally worthy of further thought. I am not sure how I might develop them. I like them as they are. (I do wonder about the legal aspect of taking someone else’s image and changing it?) This way of working is certainly something I will think about bringing into my practice in the future: the idea of taking one image and its message, and transforming it into a different image with an entirely different message is very important learning. Perhaps what I need to consider is how to extend the original image to make the same new message, using more interesting and ‘drawerly’ (if there is such a word – the dictionary thinks not) methods. i.e. I tend to have chosen methods that echo the colour and pattern of the original image rather than dissonant mark making/colour/line.

Exercise 2.4 was brilliant. Again it took me a long time to decide on what to focus, but once the decision was made I enjoyed so much both deciding on the perspective, the materials and the collaged element. I think it is likely that this process, of all the four exercises in part two, will be most influential on my future practice. I find it so interesting to think about how a collaged element can fit into a drawing to enhance/change/juxtapose ideas and add dissonance.

It is no surprise therefore that this was the exercise I wanted to develop for the assignment. I posted the work off for the assignment yesterday and woke this morning with the heavy feeling of disappointed in myself. I don’t like the 4 drawings for the main assignment nearly as much as the 6 smaller sketches done for both exercise 2.4 and the assignment itself. I am particularly disappointed with the two I was most excited about – the patchwork quilt and the sindy wedding dress. I feel I ruined a beautiful artefact (the dress) by cutting the netting from the underskirt and part of the fabric from the back of the dress so it wouldn’t stick out so much. And I felt ‘precious’ about the quilt too – because I made it and thought it really lovely. Overall both sketches are much too ‘pretty’ and have a ‘colouring in’ effect. When I get them back I plan to attack them with charcoal, pencil, graphite powder – anything to get rid of the colour, roughen them up and damp them down.

My learning from the collage part of this module generally is not to rush. But then I am short of time! I really rushed the assignment. Of course I didn’t have to do 4 drawings. I could have done one. My reason was that I liked the small series so much I thought it would be great to do a big series. I would like to have spent a year on part two, rather than three months part-time. I need to remind myself that we are just being introduced to ideas. I can come back to any of them later in the degree. Nothing is final. Nothing is finished. Nothing cannot be done again. I can find another pretty sindy dress on eBay!

I will finish with reflecting on time – which is a major preoccupation of my work as I explain at the start of the assignment. It is in fact the theme of  the assignment for this part of EDM. All my life I have had the feeling that I am in a room with a long tressle table. Along the table are high sticks with plates rotating on top of them. I spend my time running along the side of the table, back and forth, giving each stick a bit of a twirl to keep the plates from falling off. I don’t want to do this any longer. In fact I have not felt I am doing it on the art degree until assignment 2, which felt a bit like that as I rushed from one drawing to the next. Last night, after posting them off, I felt exhausted. My learning is, again – work slowly, do one thing at a time, finish it, move onto the next. Do it with thought, determination, concentration, and complete immersion.

Addendum to the reflection above. 15 Feb.2018.

Today I visited the history of drawing exhibition and attended the seminar, which I understood as an opportunity to hear about contemporary drawing education. This is what the blurb said:

Kelly Chorpening will be speaking about the changing needs and interests of students today studying drawing today. Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of our current moment is how more diverse perspectives within the art school have influenced a healthy degree of disobedience (using Walter Mignolo’s definition of the word) in relation to the received histories of Modernism, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. Where the art for art sake’s ethos of Modernism and pared down aesthetic of Conceptual Art led to a fear of narrative content, this reappraisal has given figurative work new vitality and revived other modes of practice where an end game had seemingly been reached.

This sounding  interesting. I was really heartened to read about the idea of ‘healthy disobedience’ to modernist, minimalist and conceptual art (I critiqued what I saw as ‘unhealthy obedience’ and ‘conformity’ to conceptual art in the Royal academy student exhibition at the start of EDM). In fact  I felt the stated objective for the seminar was not fulfilled and left feeling disappointed. The seminar did not expand on this quote from the seminar blurb or really focus on contemporary drawing education at all. Instead there was a 5 minute introduction by Kelly, which only touched on these issues – from which I gleaned that we are in an era where narrative,content and illustration, and realist aspects of drawing are again perfectly acceptable (which is good news) and that drawing is valued as a way of thinking in any discipline and people interested in using drawing in these disciplines are welcome on the degree, therefore interesting cross -fertilisation of ideas  (e.g. science, medicine,botany, geography, sociology, dance choreography). I also picked up from the choice of seminar speakers, as well as the accompanying leaflet (but not from the exhibition) that the BA Drawing, and Kelly herself, is very interested in the politically and socially transformative aspects of drawing as a contribution to investigating social problems. This is exactly my interest so I felt slightly misled that this was not discussed explicitly.  Perhaps it could be suggested that the ‘hand made’ book by Brigitte Mierau :  ‘Preliminary notes to  self for the making of the Brexit tapestry’ (image below) was an example of politically and transformative aspects of drawing (although this is a sketchbook and not the finished work) . I thought this tapestry was a great idea, and I commend that its author is engaging with contemporary issues, but am skeptical about its being transformative. I wondered how far the ideas were borrowed from familiar and simplistic slogans, such as ‘Unity in diversity’,  and perhaps buying into an uncritical acceptance of  media propaganda about  brexiteers having a fear of ‘the other’ and being racist. More challenging concepts of brexiteers, including the Marxist and communist party argument, and support for Brexit, as a challenge to neoliberalism and global capitalism; a critique of exploitation of both cheap labour brought to the UK and lowering of pay to local workers; the voice of the working class compared with the more mobile ‘european’ middle class; self-governance as the fundamental tenet of democracy; the European union as an unregulated market, seemed ignored in ‘the notes’.  Surely art needs to ask critical questions of common discourse about social and political issues, as well as about art itself? Then there were four presentations.

  1. Using the british library archives and recorded interview exerts to focus on the history of Camberwell art college (more so than on drawing specifically) and making the point that  in the 1930s, under the ‘Euston roaders’ and the leadership of William Coldstream (a former ‘Euston roader’), and then his student, Euan Uglow,  students were directed to be objective and to measure: to draw what they saw rather than what they perceived they saw. Later this was opposed under the direction of Frank Auberbach, when students were encouraged to be subjective, and to draw on their emotional response to the subject.
  2. The international exhibition co-ordinator from the royal botanical gardens at Kew gave a fascinating account of Margaret Mee. born in 1909 and a student at Camberwell at age 38 in 1947 before leaving to spend many years living in the Amazon basin as an intrepid explorer and documenter of plant life. Beautiful botanical drawings. Inspirational woman and keen, brave activist regarding conservation of the amazon basin. I admire Margaret Mee greatly and loved the presentation, but it was no help to my quest to understand contemporary drawing and the fact that she became a political activist seemed unrelated to her training as an artist at Camberwell .(she used gouache and fabriano paper by the way).
  3. A former Malasian student who completed the BA Drawing in 2014 came to talk to us all the way from Malasia. First, about asking fellow artists what they would do with a piece of land. Then buying the land in the middle of the forest, then extracting rubber from the trees and planting plants. I have absolutely no idea what this had to do with drawing but he did show a couple of badly drawn birds and I think the connection was the forest and Margaret Mee.I did not get the impression that the artists were changed by the land, or the land changed by the artist. Indeed it seemed rather a failed project.
  4. A former London born student, Adam Farah, who completed in 2015 talked about his dissertation and showed us images. The dissertation focused on cruising (not the boat round the caribbean type, but the gay scene type). He talked about his research method as ‘performance’ (in other words he took part in the cruising scene to some extent although to what extent was not shared). Of course immersion in a specific culture is a well trodden path in ethnographic interpretivist research. This does raise worrying ethical issues about exploitation in the arts, but these were not discussed (although mentioned and I got the impression were certainly of concern to Adam). I am sounding cynical but I enjoyed this presentation a lot. I just didn’t see what it had to do with drawing. He explored intersections between sexuality, ethnicity, class and sexuality. And showed video, photographic images, occluded objects (Ha. I have leaned this from EDM), and a music video. It left me with a lot of questions: what is the role of drawing in a BA drawing degree? If drawing is not a specific discipline but cross-disciplinary (involving performance art, photography etc), why call it drawing? why not just call it fine art? Did the use of visual imagery extend knowledge/understanding about the cruising culture? A research dissertation is to understand something about the subject and the media that was not understood previously. Of course I am sure that Adam understands more about this culture now. However, the images he chose did not extend my understanding. Words would have helped me understand better. Perhaps I am being unfair – there was something about the frantic quality of the video showing the path to a hotel with water jets, and the way that Adam manipulated his different images,switching back and forth between them, that suggested disconnection and superficial excitement – but this was to do with Adam’s skill as a presenter as much as the individual images (perhaps this sense would have been put over with any other images used in this way?). So my other questions is about how visual imagery extends our understanding in a research enquiry, more than and in addition to, words.

The history of drawing exhibition itself was similarly disjointed. It was not helped by the fact that nothing was labelled or numbered. So no information next to the drawings about who did the drawing, when or medium used (this info was in a leaflet but difficult to connect back to the work, because no map ). The ‘drawings’ included sculptures, animated cartoons, botanical drawings, ceramic works and a drawing machine. If the definition of drawing (or painting) is that it hangs on a wall, then all works hanging on the wall, could be defined as drawing (or painting). I am not clear why, or if, the items in the cases were drawings. My view is that if a concept such as ‘drawing’ becomes so stretched and distorted that it can no longer be categorised as anything we would recognise as a ‘drawing’ then the concept is no longer useful. We might as well call this an ‘exhibition of hand-made things on the wall and in cases’. And we might as well have a BA in Hand Made Things. Because anything hand-made leaves a human thumb print which seems to have become the definition of drawing. On the other ‘Hand’, drawing according to Focillon’s definition as “the mind in the hand” (attributed to Focillon, cited in Maddoff, 2009, p. 64 and referenced in the accompanying booklet to the exhibition on page 3) can be attributed to the drawing machine, since it was conceived in the mind and made by the hand. So could any machine, made with the sole intention of making a mark, go in the exhibition? I really couldn’t be bothered with making a machine with no further function that to make a mark – this seems like human creativity, time and ingenuity being badly misused for the purpose of ‘art’ when there are so many important things it should be used for (and I inwardly groan to see that this is indeed what we are asked to do in one of the drawing courses on the BA drawing). I came home thinking that Drawing really needs to reclaim its place in fine art, and clarify what makes it distinctive.

Below I have added 2 images from the exhibition. The first is by Kelly Chorpening herself (the BA drawing director, and included because I know that the next part of EDF includes extending a line into space, AND THIS IS A FREESTANDING SCULPTURE using pastel and pencil) and the second the ‘notes to self on making of Brexit tapestry’ mentioned above. My view is that if a ‘drawing’ is to be extended into space there needs to be a reason for this and the drawing in the 3D space should communicate more than in a 2D space. The ‘drawing’ below could be equally well hung on a wall. The best reason I can find for a drawing such as this not being hung on a wall, would be that there is another drawing on the back of it – which there isn’t. Of course, one might equally ask – why hang a drawing on a wall? The answer seems to me clear – a drawing IS 2D by definition. A sculpture does not hand on the wall because it is 3D.93

I am left with the reflection that I am not terribly impressed with the slogan ‘ART FOR ART’S SAKE.’ For me art should have purpose beyond finding out if something is possible, and certainly not for entertainment. This purpose does not have to be social or political. It could for example be spiritual or or to foster relationships and love, or wonder at the world or to ask questions about the world and help us perceive it differently. I would wish for it to go beyond pure materiality and exploration of the media (although I think it should do this too) to contribute to the world being a better place. And at this current  point in time I believe we are crying out for art to do this.

 

PART TWO: COLLAGE. Exercise 2.4 Adding a collaged element

Method

1. Collect together  work to date from Part Two. pull out  ideas for a new artwork that builds on some of the things you’ve already achieved. Make brief notes in your learning log about your choices.

2. Work in your sketchbook or on loose sheets with compositions that set a single collaged element into a drawing. Experiment as widely as possible with scale and all the other aspects of the composition. Try to avoid making too many decisions in advance – let the process speak to you.

3. Experiment with different materials  – both for the drawing and the collage. In particular, consider the relevance of how the collaged element is attached. Is it embedded? Does it read as being part of the same space? Is it stitched on? Is it a liftable flap?

4. Reflect on the relative compositional weights of the two elements. How powerful, for example, would a small photographed figure be in a simple line drawing, or a leaf skeleton embedded in a drawing made with encaustic? Make notes in your learning log.

5. Review all your experimentation and make a final piece in response to this exercise, or select one or more of your exercises as being the most successful.

I’ve had an idea for this project that was inspired by exercise 2.1, 2.2 and 2.3. Part of my search for images for 2.3 took me to a web site of derelict properties. In 2.1 I made a collage of a ‘rich’ interior (in terms of colour and texture).   In exercise 2.2 I was reminded that I like working on both buildings and interiors when I found other collage artists that I admired. I was also reminded in 2.2 from these other artists that collage is useful for narrative work. Both interior and exterior buildings are good topics for narrative work because they are human constructs and particularly interiors, make us ask questions about the people who live there. Reviewing these earlier projects also made me think about contrasts between old and decrepit objects and very beautiful objects, for example, textiles. I  like the idea of using fabric in collage, as well as sewing (I experimented a little on Drawing 1 with incorporating stitch into drawing on washi paper). I’m thinking of developing some of these initial ideas for this project. Here are some possible interiors that I feel inspired to work on:black and white

And another one to which I have added a white silk chair – I like the contrast of the white with the shabby interior:big_thumb_872882e6337d22716195536b5bd872ab copy

At the moment I am undecided between the top and bottom images. The bottom one is simplest to draw. But the top one provides rich inspiration both for mark making, but also for adding one collaged element (the project brief). Actually part of the photo has been cropped in the above image and to the left is a jacket handing on a hanger on the wardrobe. This might be an excellent idea for the collaged aspect. I am feeling very excited about this project.

Note to self: think about using wax for this project – it might give a good sense of mystery to the decay. Also build up lots of layers. think about a combination of drawing using pen/ink and fluid media. Keep the colours very muted apart from the collaged element?

thurs 30th nov

I have been searching for more collage art that I like and gave across these works by a German collage artist: Kathrin Kuhn. I particularly like the series ‘Estate of Mind’ which three of the images come from. The third is a collage called ‘Midnight’ and is on the top right:

I like the use of monotone greys above and in the top right collage. And I like the opulence of the pink velvet chair as a contrast to this. I am thinking that most of the drawing for my interior will be monotone, with touches of a grey/blue and grey/brown, perhaps on a greenish-grey background.I also thought of Rauschenberg’s ‘bed’ which I saw in the major Tate Rauschnberg exhibition in the summer:robert+rauschenberg+bed+1955

I like this much less than the Kuhn work above. Largely because her work is beautiful and delicate, and this quilt is crude and derivative – did he make the quilt himself? If not it is also damaging some beautiful craft that someone else did, rather than celebrating it. It does make me wonder, though, whether it should be the bed quilt that is the collaged element in my drawing, rather than the jacket, and I could make a miniature patchwork quilt for it from silk.

Monday 4 dec

I like incongruity and the chair is even more incongruous here. Oh dear – I am confused about which to work on! I like them all. art-and-light-at-papierfabrik-wolfswinkel

I also wanted to remind myself of the interiors I did of the chapel vaults for assignment 3, both of which contain collaged elements (orange tissue paper and also pink tissue paper in the second drawing):

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14th December: collaged element – wallpaper.

It has been full on at work for the last two weeks but from this weekend I am taking a couple of weeks break until the new year. I chose to focus on the bedroom and started work on the first sketch:IMG_5156

This is in my A4 sketchbook and is mostly pencil and biro. There is a little quink black ink, some graphite and the collaged element is the wallpaper (I found some images of curtain fabric on the internet and made 6 copies per A4 page to keep fairly small pattern. For bigger paper I could  try 2 or 3 copies per page). the curtains are just orange biro, then bleach then ironed. I rather like the amount of white in this. Perhaps I will add more marks to the back wall and the carpet and leave the bedspread. I like the colours. Or perhaps I will add more wallpaper in the fireplace and wax the bedspread.

Friday 15 December

I have added charcoal (carpet) and waxed the bedspread. In real life it has a glorious sheen which just doesn’t show in the photograph. I have also added some pink soft pastel over the bricks on the wall. The green discolouration on the wallpaper and yellow on the back wall purely come from the bleach/iron. The fireplace is charcoal. (biro at the bottom). Added ‘wallpaper’ to the fireplace also:

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December 16th. I  started the next sketch from a different perspective.

Collaged element: fabric bedspread.

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This is in my A4 sketchbook too. I started with a layer of shellac varnish. Then stuck a couple of bits of white tissue paper on top. Next a few black quink lines added with a chop stick and bleach/iron.  And then ‘lines’ drawn with a scalpel before covering the page with charcoal and rubbing out again. Some pencil and black felt tip pen. the great learning from this is how good the fabric ‘quilt’ looks. This has stuck down really well. I think I could also draw on it with black biro and maybe also experiment with covering with wax. Of course, perspective is the issue with fabric, but if I make a patchwork quit I am pretty sure I could get over that problems by making the squares progressively smaller.

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I have added another piece of fabric at the top for the ‘turn back’. I wanted to see if biro would work on top of fabric – it does! And also if wax would work on top of fabric – it does! (I thought it might just ‘sink’ in). . Again – the photo doesn’t do it justice. In reality it has a beautiful shine (I like the contrast in a drawing between matt and shine). I think if this is compared with the first step, above, it is clear that the waxed version  has a depth and richness that is lacking in the unwaxed version.

I have added some graphite and coloured crayon, then tried to get rid of the coloured crayon because I think it is too bright. I am wondering now about covering the whole thing apart from the quilt with gesso and drawing back into it. Or maybe a layer of very thinly coloured acrylic fluid media. I guess it doesn’t matter too much if it doesn’t work – it is only an experiment!

My next step is to finish this drawing (I really should have done so before adding the bedspread or wax) but was feeling impatient to try out the quilt. Then I will have a third go from a different perspective and for this third sketch may use ink with resist. I am not sure what the collaged element will be. Perhaps religious icons .

Sunday 17 Dec. Collaged element – dress.

My third start from yet another perspective:

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Currently this is only pencil, black biro and quink ink (dabs or orange coming through from the previous page in my sketchbook). I like the perspective here a lot. I can still just about see a curtain on the far right. As above, possibly I will add to this with  resist and coloured ink. I am not sure about the collaged bit yet – we will see – could be jacket or dress hanging on wardrobe. Could just be lampshade or could be religious icons. It’s crying out for the bedspread to be collaged – but that idea has already been used!IMG_5179

Above I have added compressed charcoal and more biro work. The left hand wall is dots of resist covered with mahogeny dr. martins water based ink with bleach painted on top, which turns it turquoise. There is a tiny bit above the fireplace too. The wedding dress has not worked particularly well = it is a sindy wedding dress that I have ‘lassoed’ from a sindy online photo and touched up to get rid of her arm in iPhoto. Unfortunately the glue turned it transparent. If I were to do a big version I would buy the actual wedding dress on eBay and use that. I like the wall.

18 december. collaged element – photograph

This time the collaged element is the photograph, which I have photo transferred using acrylic gel gloss medium.  Photo transfer already changes the photo by ‘distressing’ it. But I thought too that it would be interesting to play around with the idea of a photograph of a painting of a photograph, on a photograph (i.e. Gerhard Richter painted the murdered German woman, ‘Helga with her Fiance’  from a photograph, and I have photographed it and put it on top of the photo transfer of the room, (I think the room is also in Germany). To add to the reference to Richter – he too does a lot of painting on Top of photographs. (I note the word photograph or photo has been used 11 times in this paragraph!)

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I started by covering the photo transfer with clear gesso then worked on it in several layers, (with a spray of protective coating between) in black willow charcoal and shades of grey compressed charcoal. I was also thinking of Jasper John’s advice to do something, then do something else. I like the fact that the Richter painting – already painted to looked blurred – is now even more blurred:IMG_5178

Four perspectives from exercise 2.4 side by side for comparison. Hard to know which is my favourite. I like aspects of them all. I particularly like the use of wax both with and without the fabric on the top and third sketch. I like the wall to the right of the bed and the fireplace on the first one;  wallpaper, colours and perspective of the second one, fabric bedspread on the third, colours and atmosphere of the fourth. I am carrying on with this for assignment 2 and will do a couple of bigger drawings – the fifth and sixth drawings here are ones that I consider part of the assignment – but the assignment is a development of exercise 2.4 and all one thing really:

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These sketches are on our OCA drawing Facebook page and Janet pointed out that the photograph in the fourth one down above, catches our attention too forcibly and I think she is right. Perhaps if the whole sketch were on A1 size instead of A4 and the photo much smaller in comparison, then this would not be the case?

It is interesting to discover today that I am back to the same theme of emphemerality/time. I think that these room again reflect my preoccupation with the shortness of the human lifespan (as were assignments 2,3 and 5 in Drawing 1) . And particularly this is the case for the last drawing with the Richter photo included as the collaged element – since his painting is of a murdered girl. Perhaps too they are related to thoughts about human impact on the environment. The work on Norber (assignment 5) was very much about lack of human impact on an enduring landscape. Here humans have left an impact but they themselves are absent. Their absence means that their artifices are quickly beginning to fade and crumble. Interesting that I want to leave something beautiful (the patchwork quilt) in the middle of the decay – perhaps  a reminder that human beings are capable of producing beauty even when they are so destructive.

I also note that I have forgotten my original intention of keeping to monochrome with only a touch of colour in the collaged element and so I remedied this in the assignment work. In fact in the last sketch for 2.4 it is the collaged element that is monochrome. I have remedied this in one of the sketches for the assignment, which appears at the end of the images above, and which is my favourite of the six small sketches for a number of reasons (the most dissonance, the most interesting collaged element, the most tonal contrast). Of the four drawings for exercise 2.4 I like no. 3 the best – mostly because I think the silk works so well as the collaged element because it ‘fits’ seamlessly into the drawing, but also I like the mark making on the back wall a lot. However, I like them all and think they make a great series with a strong sense of narrative.

PART TWO: COLLAGE. Exercise 2.3 Putting one thing next to another

‘ Collage is by its nature fragmentary: it can be used to juxtapose different ideas and perspectives; it speaks to the multiverse and to complexity and difference. Using found, printed or manufactured surfaces within a drawing can construct an intriguing relationship between what is drawn by the artist and what has been made by some other person or process.’ (EDM handbook).

Sequence title: Songs of the Ancients (finished images below and info about how developed beneath, along with reflections).

From top to bottom:

  • With a little help from my friends
  • Jump for my love
  • Keep young and beautiful (If you want to be loved)
  • It should’ve been me    IMG_5246

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  • IMG_5151
  • IMG_5144Method

1. Collect together four large pieces of found paper with an interesting pattern or image. You might use a Sunday supplement illustration, wrapping paper, graph paper or a poster.

2. Paste each of these to one half of a sheet of paper (A2 suggested)

3. make a drawing on the other half of the paper which complements, subverts or extends the found material.

4. Repeat this for the other three sheets. Will you use the same material? Do the works operate as a series or are they very different?

5.  Reflection: What relationships did you create with your pairings? Were the juxtapositions dissonant and jarring or harmonious and complementary? How does the character of your own drawing shift when it is placed alongside your collaged material?

I spent a whole day agonising over this and looking for images. I refuse to buy magazines any longer, but think I might need to for this kind of project. This morning I decided to stop worrying about what I will do and just go for it/play. I have a book (The wonder years . Rick Rickman and Donna Wares,  2009) with photos of older sports people and decided I’d focus on the theme of ageing/the aged. I started with a ‘brainstorm’.

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AND then tried to choose 4 photographs – a difficult task in itself because there are about 20 good photos in the book, but I tried to go for variety of activity, amount of movement, distance, and colour. I chose 8 below and then narrowed down.

I was also really interested to read Katherine Vaughan’s article on collage as a research method and her comment that it is particularly relevant for a post-modern view of knowledge (I will go back and add this to my model of knowledge and art in the earlier Kline blog). Theories of performativity (Judith Butler) are generally linked with feminism and postmodernism: my enquiry in this exercise draws on performativity. I am interested in relating Butler’s performativity theory to  the performance of older age.

Collage, a versatile art form that accommodates multiple texts and visuals in a single work, has been proposed as a model for a “borderlands epistemology”: one that values multiple distinctive understandings and that deliberately incorporates nondominant modes of knowing, such as visual arts. As such, collage is particularly suited to a feminist, postmodern, postcolonial inquiry.

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~bestler/arts_based_articles/2005_vaughan_pieced_together_collage.pdf

Before I get going on this (because I am anxious about it) its useful to remind myself that I did something similar with a drawing for my third assignment in Drawing1 – where I took a photograph of angels, transferred it onto washi paper and then added a tree and gravestone to the angel photo. I thought this was successfully and still like it:

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Another nerve calming approach is suggested by  Jasper John’s series, ‘REGRETS’. This fabulous (in my view) work was inspired by the photograph below of Lucien Freud. Johns has developed this image in many different ways, and it’s very interesting to see the development, illustrated by some from the series  below:

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original photo

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ink on plastic

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The quote below is taken from an article written about Jasper Johns by John Yau on 23 March 2014 (https://hyperallergic.com/115620/jasper-johnss-reinvention-of-an-old-and-familiar-subject/Reinvention of an old an familiar subject). The old and familiar subject in this case is Momenti Mori because the image in the centre of each painting is supposed to resemble a scull.  (Monenti Mori was my focus  for assignments 2 and 3 of Drawing 1. Assignment 5 was really about this too.  In fact I guess the idea of focusing on ageing in this activity is basically about the same issue of our preferring to not be reminded of death, and particularly of our own impending death). The quote is so useful for this project because its a reminder that the FIRST thing I do to each photograph, is just the FIRST thing. Therefore I should not feel worried about what it is. The quote is also excellent to read alongside the examples above of how Johns took his on advice:

While critics are apt to invoke Johns’s well-known statement, “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it. Do something else to it, etc,” they rarely mention the emphasis this dictum places on a commitment to process and experimentation, a willingness to try different methods and to embrace the necessary and accidental. Rather than establishing and plotting a strategy to arrive there, he dedicates himself to discovering where his recombinations of materials and methods might take him

Here is the start of my first attempt at putting ‘one thing next to another’;

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If you want to be loved

It may not be possible to read the label on the bottle here, but its pretty clear in the actual picture. ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’ serum. My idea was originally to have the older woman surfboarding toward the shore while holding a bottle of Keep young and Beautiful serum. Now I am thinking I might extend this idea to have the ocean awash with Keep Young and Beautiful plastic bottles, perhaps with other plastics too, and on the beach at the front I’m thinking there might be a pile of Keep Young and Beautiful bottles that she has apparently saved from the waves. I think the image is full of possible interpretations: for example, water always suggests the impossibility of holding back the tide (of ageing), or of drowning in a particular task (trying to keep young and beautiful), and images of plastic in the water also bring up the concern with use of plastic and its damaging impact on the environment, particularly the ocean. Additionally if there is other plastic and she only saves the Keep Young and Beautiful bottles that says something about her priorities. Also the image challenges the idea that woman are most valued in society (and only loved) if they look a particular way.

I’m also thinking about all the possibilities for developing this image, e.g. mono print, pen and ink/biro, ink on plastic, transparent acrylic medium. This is where I got to so far:

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If you want to be loved

I have used a fairly thin cartridge paper as the background and its bending a lot. I didn’t worry too much about this because I was thinking it was just a quick experiment, but now I wish I had stretched the paper properly. The background colour is acrylic fluid medium mixed with acrylic transparency medium (as I used in part one). I used the two shades of green and two of blue with a dash of violet in the foreground. the white is gel biro. This smudges rather well if rubbed immediately applied before it dries. I’m planning on doing the figure either as biro or coloured crayon or felt tip. I haven’t decided which.

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If you want to be loved

I decided to carry on with biro!

I’ve been thinking about drawing no 2. Here’s a kind of mock up:

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It should have been me.

I  manipulated this image by cutting and lassoing different models from another fashion shoot and placing them in a new location. I will resize and print/cut out and glue in the new context. I have also started by again using golden fluid transparent medium with a drop of golden fluid acrylic paint for the background (see below). I intend  drawing in the rest of it with biro. This is on A2 cartridge paper (like image 1) -I have trimmed about 3 inches off the side:

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It should’ve been me

Here is a slightly more developed image where I have added white gel pen, a brownish wash to the background and foreground, and stuck down the images.

Saturday 25th November

I decided to make a start on images 3 and 4 also and then go back and work on top of all 4 as the final stage. Here is the start of these next images. I am keeping to fluid acrylic with transparent medium for the backgrounds. I really like the layers you can build up with this medium (discovered in part one of the EDM module). And I like the fact that it combines well with biro as the drawing medium. I think the sky is working rather well in the image below – a row of washing will be added rather high up. In the fourth drawing below I intend adding a ‘Euthanasia van’- I thought this was my black humour, until I googled ‘Euthanasia van’ and apparently it is already a reality in Scandinavia! All the image titles are taken from well known songs.

And here are the worked on images. I found images of washing hanging on the line and also a bra hanging on the line that I used as inspiration. I drew them in white biro agin. The euthanasia van is the actual van used in scandenavia – all I have added is the web address to make it really clear. the additions are all either biro or ink in liquid form, apart from his trouser bottom/shoes which are in various hews of chalk pastel including white, yellow green, pink and brown (in that order):

Reflection

I have had so much fun with this exercise I have rather forgotten it is a drawing project, in the sense that I have not focused on mark making but on extending the meaning of the image to suggest something jarring and dissonant. Hopefully the viewer might also find something humorous in the extended image. In terms of learning about media I have been excited about using found images and distorting our perceptions of them, and have extended slightly my understanding of using fluid medium together with biro. Apart from this I have not really developed my drawing skills. In response to the question about how the character of my drawing has changed in relation to the found image, I think it has become more illustrative, but it has also become more inventive and humous.  Perhaps a next step would be to try to develop a looser interpretation of the new images, perhaps using mono print. I would need to bear in mind Jasper Johns invective: ‘Do something else to it’. this could be a possible development for assignment 5 (see another possible idea for development below).

In terms of which collage is most successful – this depends on what criteria are applied. ‘If you want to be loved’ is the most interesting to me because it questions both what older women can do, as well as environmental issues (she rescues only the beauty serum, not other plastics) and feminist issues relating to female appearance. However, this drawing extends the original drawing least, although it adds new detail so that we see it differently. ‘It should’ve been me’ extends the initial photograph most, and in my view, is the most funny. ‘With a little help from your friends’ has a dark sense of humour, I hope, and I think it raises interesting questions about the end of life, as well as what we expect from the elderly. I really like the fact he has a gun behind his back! I am annoyed that I did not make the euthanasia front van bigger – it is out of proportion. His legs were drawn quickly but I think work fairly well (He’s a tall guy in my imagination!).

I do, though, totally agree with Katherine Vaughan’s suggestion (above) that ‘collage is particularly well suited to a feminist, postmodern, postcolonial inquiry’. I especially note the last word in her quote here: inquiry. I am very interested indeed in the idea of drawing as inquiry into the areas she lists. Here is one of the images I played around with and thought of developing as one of the drawings. I added the white graffiti on the house. It’s a possibility for a later project but I couldnlt work out how to get the angle of the houses and human to work so it made sense and we could still read the graffiti. .

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PART TWO: COLLAGE. Exercise 2.2. Using collage to be specific about tone.

COLLAGE WAS A major turning point in the evolution of Cubism, and therefore a major turning point in the whole evolution of modernist art in this century. Who invented collage–Braque or Picasso–and when is still not settled. Both artists left most of the work they did between I907 and 1914 undated as well as unsigned; and each claims, or implies the claim, that his was the first collage of all. (Clement Greenberg. http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/collage.html)

Method

1. Choose another subject matter. Consider using a still life or something smaller where you can control the light source. Using a highly colourful subject will make the tones more complicated to judge.

2. Collect together more collage material. Use found paper or a combination. Make sure you have plenty of tonal range. Work in either colour or monochrome. Include one piece of black and one piece of white paper.

3. Make a simple tonal collage. If a shadow cuts across several objects or an object is occluded or simply falls into shadow – let what you see stand. You will need to cut lots of shapes that operate inside your subject as patches of tone as the light falls on them unevenly and sets up shadows and highlights.  You may like to use a spotlight or table lamp next to your subject to keep the light constant.

4. Be specific about shadows and shapes that are cast outside of your objects. Shadows underneath things help to site them in space, as do patches of tone and shadows cast behind and around objects.

5. By the end of the process, get to a point where you can add one piece of white and one piece of black to your collage, no matter how small. In other words, try to ensure that you have the full tonal range from black to white in your collage.

It’s take  an age to decide what to do for this project. I wanted to do a face or the rock that I did for assignment 1, but decided that  both would take longer than I have scheduled. Perhaps I will do one or the other for the final assignment. I intended originally to work in colour but because it’s a tonal study I decided to work in black and white (perhaps with a touch of sepia or blue/grey). In the end I decided to go back to a charcoal drawing I made for Drawing 1 right at the very beginning. I think it will give lots of opportunities for exploring tonal contrasts and different textures too. The original is A2. I intend doing it on A3 mount board again. Now I have decided I am looking forward to it.

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Sunday 12 Nov.

I looked for monochrome papers and made some new ones: although a number  below look blue (well, ARE blue!) I have ONLY used black ink (the blue comes from diluting with bleach in part but it’s not only that because parts don’t have any bleach on it). I think I will use the blue papers anyway! Also they do not look as blue as in the photos here – I took them in electric light.

Monday 13 Nov

As before I started with a rough drawing on the mount board, which I then traced so I would have a reference point for the placement of objects as the original drawings gets covered up:

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I  started with the background and intend building up layers. I might also add drawing as I go along or acrylic paint. I plan to use wax on top of the final ‘drawing/collage’ either in parts or over the whole drawing, because I like the surface as well as its ‘veiling’ qualities. I also think for collage it will act as a ‘fixer’ so hopefully non of the paper  drops off. I used wax on a couple of drawings for DRAWING1, for example the A1 final seated line drawing for assignment 4, and the rocks in the foreground for one of the final assignment 5 pieces.

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I have used white printing paper on the top right with a little grey wax crayon draw on and then ironed. The rest of the first layer is a photo of a room with graffiti, printed on black and white ordinary paper – hence poor quality. The black layer is tissue paper that I have scratched through with a scalpel. I have also added a layer of black wax to the bottom right shadow (nb no white tissue on this) – candle wax melted with an iron and rubbed to a shine with my fingers. This works well on the right hand shadow – breaking it up more and giving slightly more subtlety to the edge of the shadow. The bottom of the shadows on the left are overlaid with white tissue and then waxed. the pumpkin is the next object to work on followed by onion in the foreground, back mushroom, and lastly front mushroom.

Wed 15 th November

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Well I’ve got the first layer down and so far I must say I prefer the drawing! perhaps this would be easier if I was using plain paper with no marks on it, but then I should be able to manage both tone and mark making! I will keep going to see if I can achieve anything better. I might decide to shift away from monochrome and add some sepia.

Fri 17th November

I’ve built up more layers below and I think the collage is starting to come more alive. I’m going to ‘polish’ most of it with wax but because wax doesn’t photograph well I will use this photo as the finished piece:

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I have added a layer of transparent fluid acrylic to the marrow centre and the onion, both to add an additional layer, particularly to the onion, but also to add some warmth to the colours, which I didn’t think were working. I have also added some navy blue oil pastel to the front of the left and centre black shadow which I thinks adds more subtlety to the shadow and reflects the blue in the marrow. There is a touch of biro work on the work too.

 

Here I have put the drawings side by side for comparison. Charcoal must be one of the most useful media to use for tonal variation and I think that the original drawing has some better tonal qualities, especially in the onion and where the light hits the right hand end of the marrow and top of the mushroom. The shadows are also easier to work on in charcoal because they can fade more naturally than can be achieved with collage. Generally I think that the drawing is more successful in terms of tone (which was what the exercise was about).I have tried to bring tonal contrast into the collage. The collage has nice  colour variation. The use of transparent acrylic on top of the paper works well, as does the tissue paper as a third layer on top of that. I like the newspaper on the mushroom. It would have been good to find words that actually said something meaningful and I wish I’d taken time to find something about the importance of a plant based diet – if time I will go back and stick different words on top (this would add the more radical connection that collage is so useful for). I like the use of wax, which doesn’t show on the photos but gives a beautiful final layer. I also like the numbers of layers that can be built up to make a more complex and intriguing composition. I should add too, that I am really enjoying this collage part of the module – it feels very freeing and fun.

I have been searching for other contemporary collage artists whose work I like. Julian Pacaud is mentioned on this site which lists another 9 collage artists too: http://www.topteny.com/top-10-best-collage-artists-world-2016/

I like his use of colour, his humour, and the narrative drive of his work – I would like to know what happened an hour ago and what will be happening when she wakes up:

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I also like the work of Edinburgh based collage artist, Lucy Jones. She has focused mainly on the Georgian terraces in the city (although I think her recent work might be shifting focus) and she uses a limited palette of black, white and sepia. I like the way she builds layers of transparent media.  She also uses acrylic, drawing and wax on her collage (her use of wax is another reason I am interested in her:

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The above artists inspire me to both do some collage work focusing on architecture, which I am really interested in and I like drawing buildings, as well as to try to use one of the collage projects to tell a story, as Pacaud does above.

I have found some of the most amazing contemporary drawing on the architects site: Koozarch.com

See the drawing/collage below, for example, take  from a thesis concerned with viewing the world from an alien’s perspective , ‘Alien Interfaces’ by Warisara Sudswong. I believe the text is taken from the work of Carl Sagan:

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PART TWO: COLLAGE. Exercise 2.1 Using collage to extend mark-making

Aim:

To use collage to extend mark-making (think about its potential for enabling more ‘brutal or radical connections’.

Method:

1. Collect together scraps of drawings or offcuts of your own work .

2. Choose something to draw that has a strong visual impact and, in particular, a variety of textures.

3. Work on A2 paper or above

4. Make a brief under-drawing, to help with placement. Mark out basic proportions and key relationships.

5. Now build up your image using pieces of your own drawings. Take as much care as you would normally regarding tone, shape and overall composition.

6. Once you have completed your collage, take some time to look at it – decide whether you would like to add some additional drawing. Take a drawing made before this exercise that you feel worked well. Now compare it to your collage. Which uses a broader range of marks? Can you see a way forward to incorporate a more inventive use of mark-making in your own drawing  – whether or not it is collaged?

I found it difficult to decide what to work on but in the end chose a corner of a room that I drew for Drawing1. At the time I thought it worked quite well as a perspective drawing but had little visual interest. In the drawing below right I have added colour in iPhoto to give some ideas for the colours I will use in the collage.

 

I collected together some old papers, and made some new that I thought might work in the room:

I have no idea if this will work.

tues 31 Oct

Here is the start of the drawing. I am working on A2 mount board, and having fun. It’s difficult to get tonal contrasts and the chair is looking a bit lumpy – but its all an experiment. I like the carpet, cushion and curtain a lot and I’m already much more excited about it than the original sketch. At this point I’m thinking about the instruction to think about both extending mark making, but also the potential of collage for making ‘radical and brutal connections’ and have an idea about what I might incorporate along these lines. What kind of people might live in a house like this? What would they hang on their walls?IMG_5068

I also love the wallpaper. This is orange sugar paper on which I have rubbed white oil pastel – starting with a lot of pastel toward the left and none on the right. Then I have added light blue windsor and newton calligraphy ink with a dry brush – not much on the left but poured on the right.Then I spray bleached and blotted with a sheet of white newsprint that I used for the ceiling, and ironed dry. the shadow under the settee is uniball black biro that I have smudged with a wet thumb. The darker underside of the settee is black non waterproof ink that I have applied then rubbed off again before dry. I wonder if I have used insufficient dry media? apart from the curtain, door and beam its pretty much all acrylic/ink. nb the table is a piece of black tissue overlaid with the bleached brown tissue.

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nb. this is not quite finished. I have still to do the window and the art work to hang on the walls. I will come back to it.