I didn’t really understand the instructions for this exercise, but was advised by other students by email.
I did a continuous line drawing of some objects on a window sill. Not sure if this was what was required, but used pencil, charcoal, conte pencils, ink pens.
Then I stood in my bedroom door and drew with charcoal, adding ink mainly with a stick or brush. The result is very loose, suiting the appearance of the room which looks as if a bomb has hit it (as my mother would say).
Later, I found a drawing by James Boswell (1949) Man in an Interior, which I copied in my sketchbook. It is a simple line drawing with a very small addition of red and terracotta watercolour wash. It is very effective in its simplicity.
The perspective is not accurate. The table top and shelves are too flat, and there is little depth, but I like this inaccuracy, as I feel it is echoed by the roughness of the seated man, half off the page, with his cigarette between his fingers.
Initially I misunderstood the whole build-up to this exercise. It was not until I looked at the blog of anothet student that I realised my mistakes.
To start with, I wasn’t clear whether this study was supposed to be in monochrome, so I opted to use hard pastels. The result is not much good even though it took me ages. The pastels haven’t covered the paper very well. I think the perspective in this drawing is improved, however.
Then, on reflection, after some time, I went back to the exercise, and made a monochrome drawing of the interior view from Exercise 2.
I think it gives a fair impression of depth and tone and I was helped by the lead-in exercises.
I have some paintings by my Great Uncle, Denbigh Hilton, who was a lovely, gentle Unitarian priest, and a couple by my paternal Grandfather, Colin Hilton who was an embittered man who was forced by circumstances to work for years as a clerk when he wanted to paint. In spite of this, he produced many paintings, pastels and watercolours, which are still hanging in the home I grew up in.
The sketching around the house was frustrating, and some was done in my father’s home where I grew up. I find perspective very difficult still. The results below are also in my sketchbook, along with others.
None of these drawings were “fast”. I am too inexperienced still to do much quickly. the last plate was the quickest and is the most careless. By this time I was fed up.
This took me a great deal of effort, making sketches some of which were woefully out of proportion and perspective.
I tried to draw someobjects on the table. but again made mistakes with the proportions
I tried various views and compositions.
I finally did a fine line drawing sitting on the floor, which was better, but took me a very long time.
This exercise took some time to come together. It was a staggered creation, with some aspects added in as I discovered source material..
I found it difficult to access any good quality anatomical drawings of animals initially. I managed to borrow from the library a very old book ‘Animal Painting and Anatomy’ by Frank Caulderon (1936) London Kimble and Bradford, and some images online. These were drawings of mammals and I was not keen to try mammals at this point, as I was not sure how I would develop away from the original drawings.
Then I found some beautiful watercolour and collage works by Philip Gosse, and was led to a book by him containing his drawings of sea life: ‘A Naturalist’s Rambles on the Devonshire Coast’.
I made some chalk drawings on black paper from these.
I wanted to convey the quality of the floating weightlessness of a jellyfish and its watery environment, so I experimented with acrylic ink to produce the image below. I used an irregular wash of diluted blue acrylic ink onto damped watercolour paper, then added an equally dilute orange in spots and sprayed with water, to give the impression of transparency. Lastly I drew roughly with a stick, using less diluted violet to form the jellyfish and sprayed againg in places.
I think it is naive, but gives the impression of floating and transparency in a crude fashion. It is very far from the precise and delicate drawings of Philip Gosse.
This was very enjoyable. I was fortunate to be able to go to sketch some six month-old pigs at a friend’s farm, and had a lovely afternoon. They were such characters and wanted to communicate. The noise of their snuffling for apples in the straw and grunting in their sleep was just like pigs are supposed to be! They shifted and moved even when asleep and the flies irritated them.
The photos from my sketchbook have not come out well.
I took lots of photos whilst I was sketching and once home, selected a group to make a charcoal drawing.
I really like the portrait but wanted to draw a group, so opted for the second photo here. I considered the composition and chose to draw four of the five animals, as I liked the balance better when the animal in the foreground was left out.
I like using this approach with charcoal, giving the paper an initial covering and then adding lines and darker tones, picking out highlights with a rubber.
Then I thought I might try a similar approach using pastels on a coloured paper. I used a bright orange. I was nervous about the choice, but the other option I had at the time was green. I didn’t want the effect to be cold, and hoped the orange would infuse the whole drawing with warmth and give me a good base upon which to attempt the colour tones in the pig’s skin. It was a challenge and I was left with an OK result without much interest in the surroundings.
Although the original sketches and phots were taken in a barn, these pigs are usually “free-range” in some woods. They’d broken out a few days earlier, to my convenience!
I decided to take a walk to a pretty orchard and make some sketches and photos and then to try to incorporate something of the atmosphere onto the work, maybe using the gouache which I have just bought and never used.
I’ve taken a photo of the pastel drawing before attempting the background, in case I ruin it.
I think the orange is still too strong and the gouache spoilt the work, because I was too literal in the drawing of the background/foreground.
I want to move away from the attempts at realism but I don’t have the confidence, or the ideas, or enough experience of the media.
I was stuck to find any suitable objects that I wanted to draw for this exercise, so I went to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter and found a false killer whale jawbone. It was difficult to draw in the light from the cabinet, and I did not have much choice about the angle from which I could draw it. It took a long time and I had to go back a second time.
I am less than happy with the result.
Some time later, I was lent the skull of a roe deer and made two further drawings, one a rough sketch with pen and the second in pencil. I am much happier with these. I was able to control the position and light and am more familiar with the anatomy of the skull of a mammal.
I have been interested in drawing and painting sheep for some time, inspired by a local artist Sara Dudman whose exhibition Flock Together has just opened at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton Devon. She and her fellow artist Debbie Locke have been collaborating on a project observing and recording sheep and the interactions between the flock, the sheep dog and the farmer, in fields, barns, and crossing the yard to the pens. They use cam-corders strapped to the animals and to the farmer to take footage, and also take video themselves. The footage is fed into a computer programme and then into a drawing machine. They work in layers, Sara Dudman using paint, graphite, gouache, and Debbie using the drawing machine to make black marks across the paper, tracing the movement of the animals.
I have also been inspired by the amazingly beautiful drawings and etchings of sheep by Henry Moore.
To produce my drawing, I spent several hours on three days sketching the sheep in fields. They move about a lot and so most of the sketches were hurried and rough, but I found that I became more confident the longer I tried. The first two days, I sketched on a small scale in my sketchbook, using 4B pencil. On the last occasion I was fortunate to stumble across a farmer shearing his sheep in the open field, with the sheep in a small pen. This gave me the opportunity to be much closer to them as I drew, on this occasion using charcoal and much larger paper. I also took some photographs.
I used the sketches and one photo of my subjects once I returned home to produce the final piece.
I am pleased and also less happy. I am happy with the progress made in understanding the form and underlying anatomy, and especially in making a better (but by no means perfect) job of the sheep’s legs. I like the sketches as they show the fact that sheep move, often together and that they are interesting when in groups. However, the brief seems to require a portrait of a single animal. I compromised, and have drawn a study of a ewe with her lamb. It is rather a romantic picture, but is taken from a photo, so sheep and lambs are romantic in reality.
I think the result is rather static, and that is a shame, but I think inevitable when one works from a photo, even though I made so many dynamic sketches.
Charcoal was a good choice for me with the larger scale drawing. I find I can achieve the impression of texture of wool and shadow more economically than with graphite. The attempt I made at a copy of a Henry Moore drawing of sheep was very instructive. He used cross-hatching, heavier when the tone needed was very dark, and very sparse more wriggly lines for the larger areas of wool on the animal’s back and flanks.
Because I do not have very much confidence when making marks to accurately portray line, I do not think I would have much sucess with a drawing like the drawing of a pig by David Jones, which I tried to copy in my sketchbook. Charcoal is more forgiving and gives me more confidence in the result.
I wanted to be sure I understood the criteria for a monochrome, so I searched the Bridgeman Library under “Monochrome Still Life” and studied the results. I wondered how strictly the idea of a single colour had to be applied, and whether white and black were excluded as colours.
It seems that there is some lee-way, and some of the examples included browns, greys, yellow ochres and that the key is the subtly of shade differences. See Gillian Carnegie;
The Tate definition of a monochrome work is tight. It states that it is a work with only one colour, or shades of one colour. It gives a historical account of the approach, citing the fact that for centuries artists diluted black or brown inks to produce drawing in one colour. The French then used grey oil paints to make works which became known as grisaille. This exploited the play of light and dark to define form, a principal known as chiaroscuro.
More recent examples include this work by Toulouse Lautrec:
In the twentieth century, abstract artists experimented with the concept. Artists who are notable for their work in this style being Kasimir Malevich, Ben Nicholson and Yves Klein. Yves Klein was famous for his series of blue monochromes.
With all this in mind, I decided to try two different compositions, one in yellows, which would probably stick loosely to the definition of monochrome, and one in beiges, which I hope will yeild a more purist result.
Four hours later, with the first effort:
The photos are not great. I did the drawing a day before I took the photos and the light was very different, so the shadows in the photo are much stronger and the colours paler.
I started by experimenting with different media, trying to establish which were best for the tonal range and surface textures.
This showed me that fibre tips where not useful and that the best medium for blending was the soft pastels. I therefore chose to use acrlic paper with tooth as this was sufficiently robust to take the wet inks and the tooth held the pastels well.
I used an acrylic ink base for the drawing, this time managing to get the dark tones in first, but I did find it hard to mix and dilute the inks to differentiate between the tones and to represent the range.
I highlighted and further differentiated with soft pastels.
Overall, as a first attempt as a monochrome ever, I am quite pleased. I stood above the composition so as to see the tortilla chips in the bowl. The sweet corn was very pale and I have struggled to represent it , both in terms of its texture and the sheen on the nibs. I think the difference in texture between the shiny glass bottle and the chips is a fair result, but I have not really shown the texture of the glazed bowl, and am not sure how I could do this.
I didn’t see the slant to the right of the bottle. It wasn’t clear to me against the tiled wall, so the perspective is not accurate.
The tiles were really helpful in positioning the objects and getting their size accurate. This is something I still find difficult and frustrating.
I wanted to try again, with a diffent colour palette and using different media.
The composition is inspired by a painting exhibited in the Summer exhibition at the Royal Academy.
Colour test chart:
I used a watercolour wash and then drew with watercolour pencils, adding a few white highlights with an acrylic fibre tip pen.
I am pleased with the subtle colours and the airiness of the drawing. This was what I like about the Adrienne Blake painting.
I enjoyed using the watercolour pencils and I think they were a good choice for the subject and effect I wanted. The watercolour paper I had available is not A3, but I needed the surface and the thickness of the paper. I tried a watercolour wash on Fabriano paper, but it “buckled” , so I had to discard it.
The first word in the title of this exercise “Experiment” gave me freedom to play about.
I was, until starting this course, rather dismissive of collage, thinking of it as “cutting and sticking” like in primary school. But I’ve shifted my view significantly, having looked at the work of artists who use it successfully, for example Day Bowman. My impression is that it works best with a more abstract approach, and that is not the brief here, so I was unsure how to start, but knew I wanted to try.
As usual, I took some time to decide on my subject, and had to modify my initial idea as I couldn’t easily find any sunflowers! I so love them as a subject, along with thousands of would-be Van goghs, I know. i was surprised to see two works using sunflowers as their subject, in the Summer Academy this year. I opted for a maize cob, for its texture and dahlias, because they were there and have a similar shape to sunflowers, but are blowsier – quite impressionistic.
I have used torn newspaper, brown paper bag, straw and dried grass, glue, Liquitex acrylic ink, brush, biro, oil pastels and salt crystals in my work. My surface was brwon cardboard, as I needed the robustness to carry the materials .Given all of these materilas I’m confused about it being a “drawing”, but I understand this was what was required. I really enjoyed the experiment, but it took me a long time.
I chose the dark blue newspaper for a few reasons. It reminds me of Van Gogh’s Sunflower series where he always uses blue (the complementary of yellow) in his compositions. I was influenced by the example work in the Study Guide, and because there were several sheets of varying blue tones in the paper.
I wanted to create a rustic look with the straw, and have seen raised effects by sticking paper over objects, such as string, or creasing the collage paper, so I tried this, by using soem starw under the creased and torn brown paper bag. the colour of the brown paper blended well with the brown card which made life easier.
I started with a rough pencil sketch and then added the well-diluted acrylic ink, so it was like watercolour, except the lines dried quickly and were permanent, which I like. I tried to find the dark tones first and then add lighter.
I came unstuck (literally) with the maize, as I had an idea I wanted to capture the texture of the grains. I tried sticking rolled soggy balls of soaked egg-box cardboard, but it looked very “primary school” so I took them off, when they were partly dry and left the imprint. I was quite happy with the result.
The thing looked very washed-out at theis stage, with little coherence. I added oil pastel, using quite a lot of pressure. I used red biro to bring some dimensional quality to the dahlias.
The weaknesses are the peas in their pods which are barely recognisable and could be taken out, and the trailing cob leaf cover on the lower right of the composition. Also, the light was mostly from behind the composition and the shadows were weak, but on the right, yet the remaining light in the sky in the drawing, is coming from the same side. This is probably a fundamental mistake, but one which occured because I was using the collage paper, not the true background.
Overall, the drawing has an “impressionist” feel which I like and has very strong reference to Van Gogh, in the use of colour and the dark sky.