Tutor Feedback on Part One Coursework

Thank you to Cari, who quickly responded to my email with links to the drawings I had made for Part One of the Coursework. Here are her comments in full, followed by my reflection and response.

Tutor Feedback

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The “Feedback at the end of Part One” asks you to choose 10 drawings, in response to which I give you brief feedback (because it’s not a formal assignment point), but I’ve got carried away looking at them all rather than asking you to select, so here’s the feedback!

Here’s the feedback:

– Overall: You’ve developed a good range of drawings demonstrating a range of approaches and a lovely playfulness! I want more mown lawn drawings or similar! Your mark making is particularly strong and playful. 

– You seem most confident with mark making and line to depict the subject but you are also starting to explore using larger swatches of media to create the image, rather than relying on linear elements to outline the information. (e.g. larger patches of media without an outline – the block of colour provides the outline.)

– The blind contour drawings in 1.4 are lovely – they capture the sense of repetition in the quilt but in a more fluid, lively manner. Consider blind touch drawings too so you try to capture what you feel rather than what you see . You can see either look at neither object nor the ground on which you are drawing, or you could look at the surface but not the object.

– I love the mown grass drawing! Yes, it’s not as successful as you’d intended but it’s a great idea. The idea of drawing by carving into tufted surfaces would be a lovely one to return to.

– The collage drawings are great – there’s evidence of a sensitive use of colour and all are really evocative of the textile techniques you are drawing from. (ex. 1.5)

– The more graphic drawings that emerged from ex. 1.6 are really striking – I look forward to seeing you work with such bold, flat colour in future, as well as continuing the more subtle approach demonstrated in 1.5. 

Few suggestions to consider in future drawings:

– Vary the ground on which you work: consider darker coloured papers and alternatives to graphite / black media. For example, many of your beautiful textural mark making would look striking if made with a white chalk pastel pencil or a white chalk pen on a grey or similar coloured paper. You work well with colour, as demonstrated in 1.5 + 1.6, so start being more selective with the ground you choose to work on. 

– Consider more varied drawing compositions. Your close up photos of larger drawings demonstrate the potential of zooming in to capture close up sections (of e.g. cuffs, edges, details.) Try making a viewfinder to help you explore which sections of your subject make the best compositions. (You can, if you wish, draw these test compositions as small thumbnails before choosing the ones you like best / think will be most successful.)

– Stand back regularly from your compositions and consider the scale of marks and how the composition works overall. Ex.1.4 The Quilt has a lively almost naive quality with a range of bold linear pattern and mark making – the varied scale and density of the marks made me want to see a more exaggerated scale of mark in other drawings – both larger and bolder and quieter and delicate, and both within one drawing. 


My Reflection and Response to Tutor Feedback

The first thing is to rectify my error of not highlighting 10 specific drawings, but rather linking to the sets of drawings. Here are the links to the 10 drawings I should have picked, with the reasons for choosing them.

1 Quilt Blind Contour Drawing Use of large size of ground (A1); different technique explored.

2 Quilt Mark Making Drawing Use of variety of mark making tools; different ground used: tissue paper, making link with object qualities; mixture of different marks in one drawing

3 Rag Rug Mud Drawing Use of unusual tool (boot); unusual media (mud); connection to subject matter.

4 Grass Jumper Lawnmower Drawing Playful approach; use of texture; focus on outline of subject.

5 Rag Rug Collage Use of different media (paper collage; paint); introduced texture and pattern.

6 Detail Drawings of Rag Rug Use of different scale (3″ squares); graphic, exaggerated style of marks and colour.

7 Digital Flower Drawing Use of digital app and fingers on tablet screen; different types and speeds of mark making; working on bright orange background; use of colour.

8 Slug Drawing #3 Original flower drawing in flour/dog food/water is left outside overnight and altered by slugs; working on a black background; experimental approach.

9 Flower Ball #1  Drawing on a 3D surface; use of different media (papier mâché, pen, felt fabric); combined use of different types of mark (abstract, drawn and collaged); use of colour; working on bright, multi-coloured background.

10 Digital Wallpaper/Textile Design Use of software to transform and translate digital drawing into possible textile pattern.

Actions and Improvements

  • Respond precisely to written instructions. I realise now that the reason for choosing 10 drawings was to show my skill in selecting work for appraisal; and also to avoid wasting my tutor’s time ploughing through dozens of images!
  • Make more adventurous and unconventional drawings (eg lawn drawing).
  • Practise blind touch drawings: looking at neither object nor drawing surface; or looking at drawing surface but not the object. [Two pieces practising this technique.]
  • Draw by carving into tufted surfaces. [Two more pieces based on this technique:- Dipped Grass Paper Manipulation; Dense Grass Paper Manipulation.]
  • Choose a greater variety of grounds to work on (eg darker papers with white media). I did make 5 drawings on black paper; one on orange (digital); one on turquoise (painted papier mâché) and one on a multi-coloured, collaged background for this part of the coursework, but I will certainly continue to expand the variety of grounds that I work on. [More works on darker paper.]
  • Make more varied drawing compositions (eg capturing close-up sections). [example drawing].
  • Make a viewfinder to explore different areas of interest in a subject. Draw test compositions as small thumbnails. [I have now made a number of different sizes and shapes of viewfinder in readiness!] The experimentation with small drawings is a great tip that I will certainly use in the next part of the course. [Here they are in action.]
  • Stand back from work to consider overall composition and scale of marks used. [This tip is now in use!]
  • Use more variation in marks made (eg larger/bolder combined with quieter/more delicate in one drawing). I agree that this would add more interest to my drawings.

Some very useful feedback that I will be implementing as I move into Part Two of the course.

Written Reflection on Part One

Decision-making

I decided to continue my exploration of a range of media for this part of the coursework, using different sizes of paper, different surfaces and tools, (including drawing on 3D objects) and even some slightly weird examples, such as my grass pullover, mud rag rug, and slug drawings of plants. I made multiples of some drawings to try out different aspects with each: (different views/focus/backgrounds/media etc). This gave a range of ideas (and much-needed drawing practise!) that could be taken forward for development into completed art works.

 
New knowledge

Further research into ways of drawing, and other artists’ work has been an inspiration to try new media. I now feel that there is no limit on what a drawing can be: any ground, any media, any tools, any marks or combination of marks. Using a feather or a bunch of twigs, or collage, or fingers on a digital screen to represent the objects; varying the speed and size of the drawing can reap a variety of ways of representing the subject. Researching companies that design wall papers and textiles sparked a line of experimentation with repetition and pattern. The more I practise drawing, the greater the range of ideas and options that open up for future work.

 
What I’ve learned from observing and drawing textiles and plants

To draw from life, is truly to explore and understand the subject. Choosing a particular type of mark, media and surface can be more or less representative of the original, or can express some particular feature or emotion that you wish to exaggerate or highlight.

 
Reference material

I will continue to work on different ways of drawing (I’ve just made my first lino print block) to add to my growing library of techniques and media. Drawing an object with close attention to the details can help immensely when producing a simplified version, which I particularly like to feature in my work.

Project 3: Picking and Portraying

To continue the plant drawings for this Project, I took inspiration from my latest research on drawing, and Russell Crotty‘s drawings on three-dimensional surfaces.

Using florists’ foam forms: two balls and one cone shape (the latter, I thought resembled a bunch of flowers when inverted), I gave them three different papier mâché surfaces: crinkled tissue paper; a patchwork of brightly coloured paper scraps; and newspaper.

Flower Ball #1, 11 cm diameter, florists’ foam ball, papier mâché, pen, felt

I did not think that this drawing was very successful. The pink abstract shapes were meant to represent the everlasting sweetpea flower heads, but were not quite right in shape or colour for my liking; also the colours used for the background bled into each other and appeared rather muddy. The combination of marks, materials and shape makes for an interesting object to handle, however.

Flower Ball #2, 11 cm diameter, florists’ foam, papier mâché, conté

I tried for a more realistic representation of the flowers in this drawing, spreading them out around the sphere. The surface was rough and quite hard to draw on. A speckling of quickly-made black marks was added to represent insect life.

This was my favourite of the the 3D drawings: I think that the delicate whitish grey of the crumpled background suited the more delicate drawings and colour palette, and gave the piece a vintage look.

Flower Cone, 24.5 cm x 11 cm, acrylic paint, papier mâché, tissue paper, felt pen, yarns

I tried a smoother, but brightly coloured background for this drawing. Painted flowers first, then additions made of tissue paper coloured with felt pens, and various yarns. I particularly liked the acid green yarn that split into two different textures – smooth for the stem of the parsley and a bobbly thread for the seed head. The 3D elements certainly added interest to the piece. The shape was hard to work on until I speared the cone on a barbecue stick.

This was an interesting exercise for me, because I nearly always work in two dimensions. I will certainly try and think more three dimensionally in future, if appropriate, and consider mixing media more often to give added texture and interest to a piece of work.

I had considered adding stitch to the cone-shaped piece, but it wasn’t suitable for that. It might be possible to work on a flat textile skin to put over an inner form, to make it 3D after working on it.

I took some of my earlier drawings and altered them digitally using one or more programmes: Picasa, Paint Shop Pro and Gimp. I experimented with adding or altering colours, brightening backgrounds, adding distortions and tiling or using the pattern function. These are the ones I liked best:-

Summary

Working in three dimensions felt a bit unnatural to me, but it is something I would like to develop in my work in the future.

I have just scratched the surface of what is possible with digital alterations and will continue to experiment with this medium.

Project 3: Picking and Portraying

I decided to continue with my exploration of different media for this exercise, as mentioned in this article.

Coursework Part One

For my first arrangement, I picked some feverfew and sage leaves and tried different coloured backgrounds and various viewpoints. Having recently researched Elizabeth Blackadder’s work, I decided to go with a ‘table top’ arrangement including other objects, but using collage, felt pens and acrylic paints.

The collaged aspects included fabric, plastic, and photographic paper. The flowers, button, and vase, I was quite pleased with, however the perspective and sizes of just about everything else were wrong. I liked the white flowers and other colours against the black background: It reminds of me of folk art.

A blind contour drawing in black pen. I like the scribbly flowers and may try to do something with these in Paint Shop Pro later on.

The next two drawings were a sort of background nature print (rather like the Japanese Gyotaku). First I laid out various pieces of plant material: parsley heads, sage leaves and feverfew flower heads on the paper, then sprayed with silver paint from a can. This blew the subjects all over the place and did not result in the neat, plant-shaped voids that I was hoping for. It might be possible to temporarily stick them in place with blue tac or similar. A lesson for another day. I tried spraying the plants with the paint and printing directly. The leaves came out quite nicely, but the thicker pieces did not. It might be possible to press them flat first, and I may return to this technique again – but with different paint: I still have silver sticking to my hands days later!

I drew (with felt pens) some of the separate pieces of plant material with a view to adding them to a digital picture later on.

Aquilegia Seedpods drawing, made from Aquilegia seeds and glue. I had to work quite fast with this one, to get the glue drawn in first before covering the whole piece with the seeds. I liked the simplicity of this piece seen from a distance, with the added surprise of finding that it is made up of seeds when you view it close up. I’m sure the seeds would germinate if the drawing was ‘planted’. Might be a possible idea for greetings cards – but the trick would be to find a biodegradable glue that also dries quickly: anything too wet would germinate the seeds.

The Slug Drawings: a Collaboration

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Slug Drawing, Control A4 size, flour, water, slug marks

I made four drawings in flour and water, one of which, shown above, was a ‘control’ piece, just covering the paper with the mixture. My idea was that I would leave the drawings outside overnight and see if the slugs would eat the flour and leave their own shimmering trail ‘drawing’ in its place. On the first night, only the control piece above had been touched, leaving a continuous rasped pattern across the page. An interesting abstract piece!

On the second night, I added some smears of dog food on parts of the drawing to tempt the slugs over the blank space surrounding the plant drawings.

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Slug Drawing: Three Turnips, A4 size, flour, water, dog food, slug marks

The first image shows the ‘before’ drawing, and the next three the finished picture with slug additions. The macro shot shows the little rounded, scythed shapes that the slug makes as it eats. It looks like it took the top layer of the paper in some places, too.

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Slug Drawing: Parsley Seed Head, 59 x 54cm, flour, water, dog food, slug marks

The original drawing is made using a dropper. I felt that this piece had an ethereal, ghostly quality and I liked the zig zagging trails onto and off the mount board, taken by the slug. The seed head now looks like it is suspended by gossamer threads. I love the random element that this introduces to the drawings.

The third piece (now shown below) was less popular with the slugs, probably due to the greater expanse of blank space, but I will give it one more outing as soon as the weather dries up!

Edited 18/08/16. The third slug drawing is now complete! The first picture shows the ‘before’ drawing, the others show the slugs’ work. This turned out to be the most successful in the end: every trace of the original flour drawing has been eaten.P1270303P1270458P1270459

Just a faint outline of the original drawing remains. Well, I enjoyed trying this experiment and who knows where it may lead in the future.

[Edited 27/01/17 My husband saw an article about artist Daniel Ranalli today, and sent me a link. He makes art with periwinkles by placing them in a pattern – for example, spelling out the word ‘CHAOS’ – on the beach, then photographs their movements.]

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Three Turnips, 59 x 43.5cm mixed media collage (various papers, acrylic and watercolour paint, yarn)

I liked the turnips with their hairy, yarn roots, but was less happy with the background. I had folded and concertinaed newspaper, hoping that it would give small raised squares to represent the tea towel that the vegetables were resting on, but as soon as the acrylic paint touched it, it went quite flat, but I added a painted pattern instead.

Flowers Sketch 10 August 2016

Flowers and Foliage, Sketch App Drawing on Sony Tablet

After researching David Hockney‘s plant drawings and still lifes, and especially his iPad drawings, I decided to have a second attempt with a different drawing app and device. The one I used is called Sketch, and I found it contained more variety in the brush types and marks that I could make, compared to the ArtRage one I had tried last time. I also used colour this time, which was a delight compared to the monotones of Assignment One. I was very happy with this drawing, although there are some things I should have done differently: not enough stems in the vase, for example, and no shadow by the vase.

I enjoyed trying all of these techniques and will probably keep all of them in my ‘toolkit’ to use again in the future. Trying out different media has taught me lessons about the limitations of the materials, such as the amount of detail that is possible, which media are enjoyable to work with, which combine well (and which don’t) and the variety of effects that can be achieved.

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References:-

Websites:-

http://danielranalli.com/recent-work/snail-drawings-series/355 Accessed 27/01/17

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.

References:-

Websites:- 

http://www.hockneypictures.com/ consulted 10/08/16

http://www.tate.org.uk/ 10/08/6

Articles:-

Gayford, M David Hockney’s iPad Art 20 Oct 2010 The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-features/8066839/David-Hockneys-iPad-art.html consulted on 10/08/16

Media For Project 3: Picking and Portraying

I would like to start the next series of drawings by continuing to experiment with some different techniques, perhaps exploring some of the following ideas:

  • a stitched drawing on a collaged background
  • simplified versions of the plant, possibly printed
  • repeated patterns
  • drawing on a 3D surface (or making the flat drawing into a 3D object)
  • using cut out pieces that could be free standing in front of a background
  • slug drawings (more on this dubious idea in due course!)
  • bright colours on a black background
  • drawing app digital drawing

Depending on the outcomes of these drawings, I would like to take some pieces forward to try and make a stylised pattern that could be turned into a fabric, possibly using Paint Shop Pro software to digitally manipulate the image.

What is Drawing?

To answer this question I have been studying the work of artists such as those discussed in my earlier articles on drawing:-

https://juliakwalton.com/2016/06/03/assignment-1-research-on-drawing/

https://juliakwalton.com/2016/07/14/drawing-research/

My tutor, Cari, recommended two books on drawing:-

Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing London: Phaidon, 2016 (reprint of 2005 edition)

Kovats, T The Drawing Book London: Black Dog Publishing, 2005

These huge and inspiring books are filled with a vast array of examples of different styles, media, grounds and approaches to drawing, as well as different reasons for making the drawings.

Some unusual examples of drawing include:-

Joseph Grigely is a deaf artist who collects and presents vast numbers of carefully arranged collections of the written notes that people trying to communicate with him give to him. His work deals with communication: what is said and how it is said.

Russell Crotty makes drawings on three-dimensional forms such as globes, which can be viewed from all directions and feature detailed depictions of the night sky and landscapes in silhouette. He also makes books of drawings.

Shannon Bool makes multi-media drawings incorporating paper collage, paints, ink, pencil etc. Different images, some inspired by the past, are layered and built upon to make the finished pieces, which blend past and present into a new image.

Hayley Tompkins makes minimalist marks on pages from notebooks, walls and paper. The drawings resemble alien symbols, or edges of some architectural feature, or textured silhouettes.

Ian Charlesworth has used a cigarette lighter to burn patterns into a ceiling. In one drawing, the patterns contain the letters UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force), therefore holding a deeper, political message.

Charles Avery‘s art, featured in Maslen (2011), is drawing. His imaginary island of Onomatopoeia forms the subject for his work. I have seen some of these drawings in the Generation exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in 2014/15. Of the pieces I saw, they varied in size, up to approx 2.4 x 5 metres and were filled with fascinating detail that one could explore for hours.

Why Draw?

“Sometimes you would sit down with no idea at all, and at some point you’d see something in the doodling, scribbling… and from then on you could evolve the idea…” Henry Moore in Kovats (2005)

There seem to be many reasons for drawing, including:-

  • To remember a dream
  • To explore and better understand an object, person or scene
  • To convert the energy and movements of your body into marks
  • To express yourself
  • To make a finished artwork, a ‘handmade object’
  • To find solutions to problems
  • To communicate with others
  • To record or memorialise an event
  • To make a preparatory drawing for another piece of artwork
  • To keep a record of work, and interests, or a visual diary or journal
  • To make a political point
  • To bring into being an imaginary thought or idea
  • To explore and experiment with line, shape, colour, tone, texture, pattern and form
  • To analyse the work of other artists

The work may be purely for personal use, or for sharing with others. I believe that there is a cross over between drawing and making. As mentioned above, a drawing may be the finished artwork; or the drawing may be the genesis, or early ‘draft’ of what will become a finished piece.

How to Draw

The drawing does not have to be confined to a two-dimensional surface:  Diana Cooper‘s installation ‘Swarm’ 2003-2005 includes free-standing elements, mixed media, and hundreds of tiny chevron shapes attached to the walls of the gallery.

The ground can be of any size or texture: from miniature to (arguably) an infinitely large dimension; from all types of paper; card; natural and manmade surfaces. The surfaces may be flat or highly textured, decorated or plain; walls and even landscapes may be the background for mark making. Alison Carlier uses spoken descriptions of objects to make her audio drawings, so in that case, the listener’s brain/experience/imagination become the ‘ground’.

Marks can be made with anything: from traditional media/tools such as pencils, charcoal, pastels, inks, or paints; to improvised tools; found objects; the body; found or improvised media such as earth pigments; marks on the landscape (such as Richard Long‘s land art pieces); collage; photography; new media such as drawing apps on tablets; stitches over photographs; and any combination of these and other elements.

The marks made can be minimalist or hyper-real (and everything in between); representative or imaginary.

Summary

I think that Alison Carlier sums up the potential for drawing as a “..way of getting thoughts out.” in this quote from an interview she did with Cass Art in 2014 “It’s an escape-artist, less tied down by conventions and canons than neighbouring artistic mediums. This gives it huge potential to be wide and far-ranging; it’s that directness and closeness to thought that I love about it.”

The finished (or unfinished) drawing may be ephemeral, perhaps just used to crystallise a thought in the artist’s mind, before being discarded; or it may be an artwork to be displayed in a gallery and preserved for hundreds of years.

From ancient cave paintings; to the finger painting of a child; to graffiti; to marks made in the sand of a beach, it seems to be a natural human instinct to want to ‘make our mark’ in some way.

I have come to realise, through my research and experimentation, that drawing is the most flexible of art forms, allowing us to express ourselves in a limitless combination of media, surfaces and marks.

Thinking of my own practice: I have found drawing to be a useful research tool when studying an object closely, and for developing and refining ideas into finished artworks. My experimentation in Assignment 1 and Part 1 of the coursework has confirmed the importance it will continue to have in my work, and it has opened many new avenues of thought, possibility and options. As Jack Southern has said, drawing is the “…anchor point to creative process”, and a”descriptive visual language”.

References:-

Books:-

Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing London: Phaidon, 2016 (reprint of 2005 edition)

Kovats, T The Drawing Book London: Black Dog Publishing, 2005

Maslen, M and Southern, J Drawing Projects: An Exploration of the Language of Drawing London: Black Dog Publishing, 2011

Other:-

The Sound of Success: Interview With The Jerwood Prize Winner, (2014)

https://www.cassart.co.uk/blog/sound_jerwood_drawing_prize.htm, consulted 04/08/16

Drawing In The Expanded Field (Discussion Event), 2014

http://thedrawingattitude.tumblr.com, consulted 04/08/16

Please also see links to artists’ names in the text, which will link to examples of their work.