Project 3: Picking and Portraying

Research Point 3: David Hockney Drawings

This research requires me to focus on the plant life and still life drawings of David Hockney, paying particular attention to the range of tools he uses.

David Hockney Study of The Grand Canyon, 1998 oil pastel and gouache on paper, 12 3/4 x 19 3/4 in.

In this drawing from the 90s, the artist has used a variety of marks, a vivid palette of colours in mixed media, and has included the rocks in the landscape to give the tree some context.

David Hockney 3 Trees With Rock, 1991
gouache, felt marker, uni-ball pen on foamcore 12 x 29 1/2 in.

This piece, is completely different in approach, having a more primitive, child-like exuberance. The ground is foamcore, which has a glossy finish (if the piece I have here is anything to go by). Again he has used a mixture of media, and marks: fine, bold, blurred, scratched, representative and more pattern-like.

David Hockney iPhone Drawing, 2009

This is one of many iPhone drawings that the artist has made. I particularly love the way the falling, pooling rain has been rendered. The simple lines give an immediate picture of the scene and the weather when the drawing was made. The bright flowers and pots contrast beautifully with the muted background.

I read in a Telegraph article from 2010 that Hockney was drawing flowers daily on his iPad at that time, and then sending them to 15 or 20 people so that they had fresh and lasting flowers. An interesting point is raised in the article about the fact that this type of art can be passed on in almost identical form between devices, and presumably shared onwards infinitely.

Hockney says that he chooses luminous subjects such as the sun rising or bright flowers because they suit the medium of the iPad. He uses an app called Brushes for his drawings and makes the marks on the screen with his fingers. He says, that although there are restrictions with any media: with the digital app, the flow, variety of marks, potential for multi-layering, and possibility for making a drawing that can be ‘re-run’ (like a performance of a drawing) are all positives.

The Tate Online has an image of one of his still life drawings, showing a glass table with three unspecified objects on it, dating to 1969. Link here. The artist has used graphite, crayon and gouache on paper. The background is quite plain, with just simple shadows by the table legs, causing one to focus on the three ornaments on the table. Different marks are used for each object, and the legs of the table look rounded and shiny. The table top is quite plain, and I would perhaps not have guessed that it was glass, but its simplicity directs the eye to the colourful objects instead.

What can I learn from this artist’s approach? David Hockney is prolific in his output and experiments with many different approaches and media (for example:- photography, fax printing, iPad apps and mixtures of more traditional media such as gouache, oil pastels, pen etc). His work is continually evolving and therefore always seems fresh and relevant to the period. His subject matter is taken from the world around him, including intimate moments, and views of everyday scenes and objects.

I still find myself a rather slow worker, so there is more to do on the output side for me, however, through the exercises in Assignment 1 and the Coursework Part 1, I have tried many new (to me) media and will continue to experiment.


Websites:- consulted 10/08/16 10/08/6


Gayford, M David Hockney’s iPad Art 20 Oct 2010 The Telegraph consulted on 10/08/16

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