A record of my learning on the OCA Drawing Skills course.
This is the post excerpt.
A record of my learning on the OCA Drawing Skills course.
My tutor kindly commented on my additional piece of work and advised me to ask myself ” How much of what I am responding to is being conveyed to the viewer?” There is a lot missing from the picture and I don’t know what it is or how to convey it. What I had forgotten to include in my previous blog were my feelings of being so thankful and glad to have the freedom to go to the place and spend time there but how to express those feelings in a drawing are beyond me at the moment.
My plan now, as I go on to the next unit, is to try to depict what I see in a looser style rather than aim for the abstract and let this emerge as I become more experienced. I must remember to try to put more of me into my work rather than just representing what I see.
The feedback from my tutor was complimentary about my research process and this was pleasing because one of my objectives for the course was to learn about what research is in terms of art rather than science. In addition to this she threw me a further, optional, challenge to go back to the scene where I had drawn from for the final piece and approach it in a different way. This time I should think about how the scene made me feel and how I could apply those sensory experiences as colours and marks on the paper. On reflection I had concentrated purely on the visual and felt quite excited about discovering more.
I packed a bag with various drawing materials and set off. I drew several sketches of the scene and to each side, features that I was drawn to. I sat looking and listening for a long time. I didn’t have any artist’s work in my head I just tried to follow my own thoughts. I came to the conclusion it was the patterns on the land that interested me, the lines were like a map. I heard sheep and lambs bleating, the whistle of a shepherd, birdsong, curlews and lapwings and a kestrel came twice and hovered a few feet away before diving for its prey.
Back in my art room, on A3 hot pressed watercolour paper, I drew lines with masking fluid representing walls and marks in the fields where the colour of the land changed from green to ochre and the sheep grazed. Then where to go, how could I express the information I gathered on paper? I struggled for a few days before deciding that spring was the theme I had to go with in the colours evoked. I didn’t want to paint the colours I could see exactly as they were quite dull and brown. using a flat brush I painted a watercolour background with simple strokes, layering in a kind of patchwork effect like field patterns, trying to balance colours overall. An area where pathways/tracks met was a bit like a bird shape and this became my focal point, the shadow of the kestrel symbolised on the ground. Watercolour pencils were used to add shading to some lines giving a 3D effect and distinguish between stone walls and landmarks. The clouds were impressive on that day and it was quite breezy, sometimes their shadows scooted over the landscape. I wanted to depict this in my picture but didn’t want to end up with a muddy wash that disturbed the layers underneath. I played with tissue paper putting a strip over one section to give an impression of a dulled down area, which colour was best? Was it a silly idea? I think it was.
This picture is based on the scene to the right of the previous one. It is quite different, more me, I didn’t have Barbara Rae’s work in my head I just drew what came to me, this was my intention. Sitting and looking for a longer time is something I must continue to practice before committing to a picture, otherwise I won’t get the most out of the scene. I have learnt it is hard for me to create an abstract drawing. Does that mean I will stop trying, perhaps. I am looking forward to being able to use paint freely and will try to remember to check out all my senses and feelings when creating a picture, it can only enhance the outcome.
35 x 35cm on 200lb Saunders Waterford High White watercolour paper. Media used- watercolour, coloured pencil, collage.
Creating a drawing of a landscape that makes me smile.
Beyond our everyday concerns is a beautiful and powerful physical world. Within a tiny flower or a panoramic vista, I see the sublime filling me with delight and awe. Having retired from a stressful job and years of being at the service of others I am giving myself the luxury of exploring my appreciation of the natural world through art. This drawing skills unit is beginning to enlarge my understanding and challenge my experience of what is possible. In Part 5 I feel freed up to play with materials and follow ideas further with an unforeseen outcome.
There is a yearning within me to create work that has impact, that is interesting and gives pleasure. Landscapes distant and close by, simple and complex, influenced by light are a challenge for me to capture on paper. On the course so far, my drawings of landscapes on the whole have been lacking in joy and exuberance and my aim is to produce work reflecting these attributes. Artists’ work I enjoy looking at tends to be loose and expressive, abstract rather than realistic and has colour, either bright zingy colours or a calm, limited palette.
The semi-abstract work of artist Barbara Rae has the qualities to which I aspire. Her work is vibrant, has texture, variation in marks and contrast in the dark and colourful. She uses various methods including printing to achieve her results. Paul Klee’s work also fascinates me, his use of lines and textured backgrounds.
I have little experience of using mixed media and exploring new ways of making work will both challenge and help me to achieve my goal. I will use; inks, watercolour, oil and chalk pastels. Collage is a new concept in drawing for me and another medium to try and incorporate. Discerning appropriate media and materials is a learning curve I am balancing on with excitement and anticipation.
After looking at the definition of abstraction and its development within the history of art, it is clear there is a continuum from work clearly influenced by nature to the purely geometric. My practise will begin with the drawing I submitted for assignment 3. For me this drawing although fairly competent in depicting the scene, is devoid of the qualities I would like to see in my work. After going back to the original location, I will look for patterns, shapes, textures and graphic lines. With the help of photographs and simple editing tools I will examine colour to help me substitute the natural palette with one of vibrancy. There will be a large element of unplanned discovery and following of new paths and ideas as they open up before me in my reading and practical experimentation. Intuition will be my guide therefore I have no vision of the final outcome. The process of completing this assignment I regard as one step in achieving my goal.
The process to this point can be seen in the previous posts in my blog.
As far as the process of making this work for assignment 5 is concerned, I have done what I set out to do. I started by studying what abstraction is and have a clearer understanding of the many different types but I am no further in knowing what this means for me. In the past, before this course I never repeated a picture, in this exercise I overcame this barrier and focussed and repeated scenes using different media. I used collage, gesso, watercolour, ink, oil and chalk pastels and acrylic paint to make scratch boards (which lead me back to Paul Klee’s work). I have expanded my practical experience and learnt something about how to handle these different media but there is still much to learn when applying to paper to achieve a satisfactory outcome. Drawing sketches to explore the different elements of a scene has also been a new way of working for me, in this case it helped to see the dominant shapes of a scene. However I didn’t draw preliminary sketches in watercolour prior to starting on the final piece which may have been helpful. The full characteristics of watercolour were not shown in this drawing, it was chosen to attain strong transparent colour and a sense of light, some texture was achieved by granulation, dry brush strokes and layering.
The final drawing leaves much to be desired. It is vibrant but unrefined. There is a sense of distance and perspective, of land and sky, of path, fields and walls so it isn’t abstract at any point on the continuum, neither is it loose and expressive. My drawing is a landscape created in bright mostly unnatural colours. On reflection I think the reason for this outcome was the decision made to reject experimental work I made around my assignment 3 scene which was abstract. I think I did this because of my admiration of Barbara Rae’s work and the desire to create something in the same vein. I looked for a scene with similar elements to some of her pictures. For me this is the down side of looking at other artists’ work, trying to emulate them or at least having their work in mind.
Despite my self critique, I have created a landscape that makes me smile.
Having carried out several experiments I felt ready to pin down my thoughts in the final piece. I was feeling confident and having analysed what I had enjoyed about them started with a very large piece of 300lb watercolour paper and my watercolour paints. I tussled with which landscape view on which to base the work. I decided to go with that from my art room window????? A sloping green field with a bank of winter trees along its far edge and industrial buildings silhouetted behind them. Tyre tracks made luscious patterns in the grass. I made sketches of the shapes I could see.
It went wrong quite soon after I started with the blue wash which was too dark. I carried on for sometime before abandoning it, this was not where I wanted to go.
Back to my sketchbook and some sketches of two landscapes I have already done some work on.
I decided a more abstract colourful drawing of the view I did for assignment 3 was too difficult to achieve and opted for the less complicated landscape seen on our journey home from Hebden Bridge. I had stopped and got out of the car and looked at the patterns on the hillside. It was a peaceful still scene. It felt like an ancient scene though no doubt changed by agriculture in previous centuries it felt timeless and solid to me.There is a sense of being above and beyond the troubles in the world looking on this countryside. No technology in sight just the land and tiny traces of habitation engulfed by the expanse of surrounding fields. The sky above constant but changing. The land is rough and wild, sheep country.
Exhibition visit – New Light 2018 at Huddersfield Art Gallery. new light-art.org.uk
I visited the New Light exhibition currently in Huddersfield Art Gallery, last Friday 13th April with two arty friends. We were in agreement there was an overwhelming sense of darkness and gloom. To be fair there were works that were not dark and seen on their own would have given a different impression perhaps. Certainly this showcase of northern artists would leave visitors thinking it is “grim up north”. Dark colours, concrete landscapes, industrial equipment. If this is a reflection of life as experienced by the represented artists I feel sad. I could appreciate skilled work in producing the images but the exhibition did not inspire me and made me wonder where my place could possibly be in this art world.
Assignment work continued
I rediscovered some watercolour pencils and decided I would use them perhaps having more control. I also went back to A3 sized paper which seems to be my optimal size to work on.
This is still not “It”. The colours are not right, it feels unrefined. My friend said it reminded her of Hockney which surprised me, the colours in his digital works perhaps.
I started again from memory with a square format and watercolour paint.
I got so far then felt lost. I needed texture and lines but didn’t know where to start. I looked at some Barbara Rae works, how does she know what marks to make? I put in a few black lines thinking about the dry stone walls round the fields. I came across a discarded watercolour piece, the colours and shapes were congruent with my work so far. Maybe some collage would bring this flat landscape to life?
What am I doing? Am I forcing myself into a style again and getting it wrong as I did for my still life assignment? The other day before starting this work I tried to free myself up by closing my eyes and drawing randomly on A1 sheets of newsprint. I enjoyed the sweeping arm movements and found the results quite pleasing but I don’t feel it has helped.
I like the calm palette and the watermarks. The left hand dark area went a bit out of control and isn’t pleasing but it wasn’t meant to be a serious picture. I felt the need to play.
2. Back to abstraction, I had discovered how to draw on top of a photograph on my computer and created a simplified line drawing over a photograph of my winding lane drawing. I traced the lines onto an A4 piece of thick paper drew the lines with white oil pastel then filled in the spaces with watercolour paint.
I like the combination of straight and curved lines and the shapes made as they intersected. I call it “the chalice” not only for the way it looks in 2D but in vivo the scene is a valley in a bowl of surrounding hills. Water runs into it people and animals walk into and out of it. It is open to receiving the weather. I feel this could be developed further but I don’t know how at this moment. If I drew it again I would draw the curves without heavy pencil as I cannot remove those lines now and the colours would be different.
3. We rearranged our bookshelves at home and I “found” a book called “Painting Abstracts” by Rolina van Vliet. How come I had forgotten about this? I spent an evening skimming through it and had a play with different media.
Random shapes were painted on a smooth A3 watercolour paper then, when dry, I drew round them with a black watercolour marker.
I tried to balance up the distribution of colours on the page to give a harmonious whole. I do love the accidents watercolour creates. This drawing is not based on anything.
4. On an A4 sheet of strong smooth paper I began a collage, randomly gluing coloured tissue paper, newspaper, gift bag paper and kitchen roll then over lapping to disguise straight edges. I painted dabs with watercolour using the palette I had from the previous pieces. I then rollered over the top with white gesso and drew a few ink lines on top of this when dry with a pointy stick dipped in black ink and sprayed ink from a toothbrush.
The effect was a very interesting piece, too busy perhaps. It resembles a landscape although I did not set out to create any kind of composition. Through this process I learnt what effects can be created using different types of paper and wet media. I have not done an exercise like this before.
I noticed the roller had quite a bit of gesso etc on it and rolled it on a piece of black paper a few times. While parts of the collage piece were drying I did some playing on another sheet with watercolour, oil pastel, masking fluid and Brusho.
Where does all this experimentation lead me? I could go on but feel I need to get down to making the final piece for this unit. Will I go back to Barbara Rae or Paul Klee? I think I will create my own work using some of the methods I have tried, aware that all will be influenced in some way by other artists work.
Moving on from the last picture which was small I attempted a similar version on A3 140lb hot-pressed watercolour paper without the etching method. I first drew on the page with masking fluid using a ruling pen which allows a fine line then blocked in colours.with watercolour. Further lines were applied with a black gel ink pen. Oil pastel was drawn over the blue section in the top third.
I feel as though I am getting nearer to my goal of creating a semi-abstract landscape. The inspiration was a view across wild hillside farm, walls and paths, lanes, fields and small copses. This view seemed easier to use than my previous “down and round and up drawing” (assignment 3) with large trees, as looking across from the road the slope looked flat and the trees were just tiny dark areas. I haven’t tried to reproduce the grey/green/brown scene exactly but taken elements to combine in a harmonious but vibrant whole. For me it is the best so far amongst these part 5 experiments. I made a mistake in putting a layer of cadmium red over the cadmium orange so tried to remove it and repainted with orange but the red and orange areas are too similar. In hindsight I could have used more different colours in the beginning or I could have glazed the red with a bluish red. I had already removed the masking fluid to reveal the white graphic lines which could have been reinstated with a white acrylic pen but I am reluctant to do this and risk a worse mistake.
Following a suggestion from a fellow student I tried black oil pastel over coloured oil pastel to provide an etching surface. Here is a record of my process.
As you can see I found the black oil pastel didn’t fully cover the coloured layer. You could just see the etched lines on it but it wasn’t a success, so I went on to paint over it with the acrylic+ washing up liquid mixture (no peeling paint this time). I drew lines with reference to my recent photos using a ruling pen and then scraped paint off using a craft knife. I think the method has potential if different colour combinations are used. I have pursued this as I like combinations of blocks of colour and graphic lines. I find some of Paul Klee’s works appealing in this respect. Here are some examples I found on Wikipaintings.org. after doing the above etchings.
Fish magic 1925-Paul Klee
In the current, six thresholds 1929- Paul Klee
Tale of Hoffman 1925- Paul Klee
Cote de Provence 1927- Paul Klee
Looking at these works, I am going to use masking fluid to make lines and marks next or maybe a combination of etching and masking. I am enjoying my explorations, where will they lead me?
Hall writes Klee aimed to
“fuse the architectural with the poetic or at least to establish harmony between them” , (page 9).
“He tried to define the relationship between art and nature” (page 23).
Hall, D. (1992) Klee. 2nd edn. London: Phaidon Press Ltd.
I am trying to portray my relationship with nature in my art.
29th March 2019
I bought a brush pen to try out and did a couple of line sketches
It worked a bit like a felt tip pen of old but I could perhaps vary the marks more. I am looking at lines and shapes in the landscape and trying to work out a way to make a semi-abstract/abstract drawing, this is my objective for part 5.
The grandchildren came for a sleepover and I came across a drawing exercise to do with them inspired by Paul Klee, using crayon etching. Following the instructions we each used oil pastels to cover a piece of card in a variety of solid colours then painted over the top with black acrylic paint. When it had dried we etched into the paint with sharp tools revealing colours underneath. Unfortunately the paint peeled off in uncontrollable pieces rather than making neat lines. The effect was not what we hoped for but attractive in the contrast of vibrant colours against the black.
This is my effort below ( 26.5cm x 17.5cm) I rubbed a little chalk pastel on a small area to see the effect.
I searched online for ‘crayon etching’ to find out how to improve the drawing potential of the surface. Other artists added liquid soap to the paint. I wondered how I could use this etching method to create a more sophisticated abstract picture on the lines of what I was aiming for in part 5. I decided to reverse the colour and cover the card in black oil pastel and paint in colour on top. So as not to ‘waste’ oil pastel a smaller piece of card was used. After painting onto the black oil pastel with acrylic spontaneously, but inspired by a landscape photograph taken a few days ago, on my way home from Hebden Bridge, I dried it then used a nail to draw into the paint . I only did a small amount of this because I liked the effect of the brushstrokes over the black wax. The outcome is very different.
The picture is 16cm x 12.5cm. The washing up liquid had helped in that I could make smaller marks with more control. I like the overall picture but I am wondering whether there needs to be more interest in it or whether more marks and texture would make it too busy. The green came out darker than planned. Would the effect have been the same if I had just painted on black paper?
Exhibition visit on 29th March- “Almost Abstract” by artist Moira Benoit at Artsmill, Linden Mill, Linden Road, Hebden Bridge. HX7 7DP. 28th March – 15th April 2018.
Moira is a local artist trained at the Glasgow School of Art. She has worked as a theatre designer. Her exhibition attracted me because of the title. The exhibition included; life drawings in ink (some line with splashy ink), watercolour landscapes, acrylic landscapes, bronze sculptures of family members and painted gauzes representing theatre work she has done in the past. One painting was a “shoe landscape”, where the features of a shoe had been abstracted to resemble a landscape, I found it interesting. I was impressed with the variety of artistic skills and the work on show inspired me in a way I cannot articulate. Somehow it was liberating.
Aim:- To create a picture in a colourful semi-abstract style using the same scene as I used for assignment 3.
My original pencil drawing
I started by laying down some watercolour washes, let them dry then drew with chalky pastel over the top. I tried to be loose and spontaneous, not too considered but bearing in mind the notes I made when visiting the site yesterday. The scene had changed, snow in the distance, ploughed fields and later in the day.
The result is not what I had in mind. There is lots of colour. There is distance and depth, blocks of colour and contrasting marks, lots of interest. Elements of the scene are depicted. Some of the colours don’t feel quite right I think it’s the orange branches and violet colour behind. It’s not really abstract just drawn loosely and in colour. Does it matter? Not really. Is it any good as a picture. I don’t think it is. Compared with the pencil drawing it catches your eye but not in a good way.
I read about artists spending time in galleries copying old masters on Artsy.com and this prompted me to look again at Barbara Rae’s paintings posted on my blog. I drew a version of one of them in my A3 sketchbook using Inscribe pastels which are highly pigmented.
Although pastel was not as versatile as the materials Rae used in her painting the process helped me to see in more detail the layers of colour and individual marks which give the picture its personality. I was trying to distinguish what it is about her paintings that make them so much more interesting than the sketches I have done so far for part 5. The colours are layered, some blended and some as individual marks. Where the main blocks of colour meet the edges are soft not hard. Although the colours are exaggerated from the natural there is still a sense of distance created by shapes getting smaller and colours fading near the ‘sky’. The scene has depth.
For my own picture I am struggling to ‘see’ those vivid colours in the landscape and went outside back to the original position to look and sketch. One field has been ploughed another dug up by a developer, brown and more brown. I squinted and screwed up my eyes, the clouds were looking purplish and there was a pinky/orange tinge to lower layers. Distant hills were a faded indigo, the sky was pale blue. The sun would be going down soon and after doing a quick oil pastel sketch I watched to see the colours appearing and jotted down some notes. I will think about the colours and the complimentary colours that would zing with them. Where will my blocks of colour be and where the interesting marks/lines?