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Life Drawing

May – December 2016

For my record, as a learning exercise and experience and for comparative purposes over the next 6 months.

I am playing with materials, and tools, remembering old lessons and picking up new techniques and approaches.

My goal is to create at least life-size life-drawings, using blocks of charcoal.

The next step is to work on sheets of A1 and to study anatomy more closely.

All works created at sessions with Sussex Arts Club or at Charleston. Sessions typically 2 hours with drawing periods ranging from 5 x 1 minutes to 45 minute sessions. In 2017 I will also be trying the longer pose held over self weeks.

Simple lessons learnt:

  • Less is more
  • Size matters : hands are the size of the face
  • Shade not lines
  • Essence, mood and feeling
  • Pair up up the right tool and paper
  • Study the artists I admire.

https://goo.gl/photos/nkwD7LyRAq3yfoT18

Pen and ink drawing class at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Fig.1 Chair and shade

It was like being back at school: though the ratio of 15 women to 3 men felt like I’d gate-crashed the girl school’s class down the road; I was educated in all male schools from 4 to 19. Of the 15 two were under 20, two were under 30 and the others above 60 and 70. No difference. Just like school. I recognised this swimming with Masters that given any opportunity to be the child that we were we are.

My relationship with art is an odd one: a mother who taught art, had an MA from Durham University in Fine Art, but who discounted at as a career for any of her children. I took it as far as A’levels (under her tutelage).

In 90 minutes we has some history, so thoughts on kit, then we got on with it. I found a secluded spot in the central courtyard (Jerwood Gallery, Hastings). And picked first on the climbing plants on a wall, and then the chair I’d taken out of the class. My challenge was to look at different ways of adding shade. Eventually I found that changing from pen to cotton balls and ink would differentiate between the object and the shadow. This’ll take further work.

Other learning opportunities over the last few days have included:

Power Boat II (Refresher)

It is eight or more years since I did the course and seven years since I’ve been in a power boat. A bit of it came back. And new stuff was added. I need this so that I can operate a ‘rib’ during ‘racing week’ at the local sailing club: laying the course, keeping an eye on the fleet to rescue and assist. The sea can be choppy, the winds strong. Dinghies go over and their mast can pin them to the shallow sand and grit of Seaford Bay.

How to train a pigeon

In her wisdom my daughter has rescued a pigeon with a broken wing. The RSPB and animal sanctuaries aren’t interest. ‘Ralph’ is now accommodated in a garden shed; shits everywhere but is eating from my daughter’s hand. Muggins will be looking after it shortly of course. The volume of pebble-dash shit is impressive as every shit is onto a fresh patch of shed floor – it will be one shit deep, like a carpet by the weekend.

Graphic Design

The exhibition on the designer Ivan Chermeyeff at the De La Warr is so good I’ve been back three times. There is no book on this exhibition, though many of his books are nailed to a table to admire (the page it has been opened at), with a few books you can browse. There is an insightful video too – an interview with the designer talking about how he got into fine art and graphic design from an inspiration father. One of the things he talks about is ‘learning to see’. Had photography not been banned I would not have got out a pad of paper and looked more closely at his collages. Had I not taken such a close look I wouldn’t have seen, with magical surprise, that one was made from ephemera collected at the inauguration of JFKennedy as US President on January 20 1961.

Drawing

 

Fig.1. Copse – Lewes – Snowfall January 2010

I did a dozen of these and still mean to complete a Triptych on a grand scale with Lewes Castle above the tree tops. Who is going to give me the space and three months to do it?

I’ll keep posting drawings until someone remembers I could draw before I could write or read.

But Mum would put 6B pencils into our hands and even age 4 we had a drawing board and cartridge paper.

 

 

Would you like someone to look over your shoulder?

Fig.1 Sheila Wilson – sketching  c 1974

Imagine taking a desk and chair and sitting down in the concourse of Liverpool Station with a large computer screen. You are researching and writing up an assignment. People are going to look over your shoulder – some will give.

What makes this more or less likely to happen?

I used to sit and draw.

This attracted attention. Sometimes I would draw people who sat for me – I was ‘getting my hand in’ for an A Level in art.

If my mother, an art teacher, were around then she would offer some gentle suggestions, sometimes taking out a sheet of paper to show me how.

Would you like someone to look over your shoulder?

With family around this is inevitable, from the indulgent love of a grandparent and the snide teasing (potentially) from a sibling.

  • Where do we recreate such ways to learn online?
  • What more can we do to help this?
  • What is it about the human nature to help each other along?

What’s going on in there?

Fig.1. Self-Portrait – early 1977 – age 15 – 6b pencil drawing on cartridge paper

Before and after …

Fig.2. Self-Portrait – early 2010 – age 49 – 6b pencil drawing on cartridge paper

But what does it tell you about what is going on in that head? This is what interests me. I am still the boy and always will be. I am the child who can remember his first day at school age 4 years and 11 months, who can remember two nursery schools before that too.

Creative Problem Solving : Finger Painting

B822 Techniques Library : Drawing

Tried on Day Two of Residential School

Finger painting

My turn to bring a problem to the sub-group and to use ‘drawing’, which in this case was finger painting. I took an non-work problem, of lack of swimming teachers for a planned swimming session expressed as blobs of various colours.

* Needed to let go more before hand to conjure up an abstract image of the problem.

* Became too left brain by explaining rather than simply expressing. I should have suspended judgement more. Could have associated with words.

The painted response removed a gate/fence, turned sad faces into sun’s and put a fish in the water with the swimmers. The perceived problem of swimming teaches locked away became a trip to the beach (good if you. Can plan in advance).

A table used for validation was successful, cross-referencing multiple pool related features to see what this offered in the way of an answer.

* There are other ways to use images to prompt comments.

* Could have created a rich picture (even hired a cartoonist or artist to do this).

To cluster or aggregate the ideas this chart was used (akin to those mileage charts in the back of an atlas). Objects/themes could then be matched and mis-matched for possible combinations and insights.

‘For many of us drawing a picture is closer to how our thoughts grow naturally’.

REFERENCE

Adapted from: Miller, W.C. (1987) The Creative Edge: Fostering Innovation Where You Work, Reading, MA, Addison-Wesley, pp. 91-5

Buzzing in Ga-Ga- Googleand – creativity on the fly

I’m not tired, which is the worry; it’ll catch up with me. When I wake up with a clear, original thought I’ve learnt to run with it. Time was I could have put on a light, scribbled a bit then drifted off again. 17 years of marriage (and 20 years together) I’ve learnt to get up. And once I’m up, then I know it’ll be a while before I can sleep again.

(I’ll sleep on the train into London; at least I can’t overshoot. I once got on the train at Oxford on the way into town and woke up in Cardiff).

I have the thought nailed, or rather sketched out, literally, with a Faber-Castell Artist Pen onto an A5 sheet of cartridge paper in Derwent hardback sketch book. This seems like a waste of good paper (and a good pen), but this doodle, more of a diagram, almost says it all. My vision, my argument, my persuasive thought. My revolution?

Almost enough, because I then show how I’ll animate my expression of this idea by drawing it out in a storyboard. I can do it in seven images (I thought it would take more). I hear myself presenting this without needing to do so, though, believing myself quite capable of forgetting this entire episode I’ll write it out too.

I once though of myself as an innovator, even an entrepreneur. I had some modest success too. Enough to think such ideas could make me. I realise at this moment that such ideas are the product of intense mental stimulation. To say that H808 has been stimulating would be to under value how it has tickled my synapses. The last time I felt I didn’t need to sleep I was an undergraduate; I won’t make that mistake. We bodies have needs. So, to write, then to bed.

(This undergraduate thing though, or graduate as I now am … however mature. There has to be something about the culture and context of studying that tips certain people into this mode).

You may get the full, animated, voice over podcast of the thing later in the week. I’ll create the animation myself using a magic drawing tool called ArtPad and do so using a stylus onto a Wacom board.

(Never before, using a plastic stylus on an a plastic ice-rink of a tablet have I had the sensation that I am using a drawing or painting tool using real ink or paint. I can’t wait ’til I can afford an A3 sized Wacom board … drawing comes from the shoulder, not the wrist and certainly not the finger tips. You need scale. Which reminds me, where is the book I have on Quentin Blake?)

Now where’s a Venture Capitalist when you need one at 04.07am. That and a plumber, the contents of the upstairs bathroom (loo, bath and sink) are flooding out underneath the downstairs loo. Pleasant. A venture capitalist who is a plumber. Now there’s something I doubt that can even be found if you search in Ga-Ga Googleland.

Scrambulation

I think I did the equivalent of throwing the files out of the window yesterday afternoon and no doubt the TMA grade will reflect this.

I reached a stage of total scrambulation.

Currently doing a 24 hour spring clean, pack the car, find wetsuits that no one can get into, fix the box on car roof, get keys that work for the car … listen to Pepys dramatised on the radio (see the blog) … while feeding teenagers and accommodating my wife whose computer died when it was purloined for World of Warcraft duties 🙁

(P.S. I am advised that my avatar remains wondering this world in her underwear. Meanwhile, after three weeks of doing a paper round my son has purchased a virtual motorbike for his World of Warcraft avatar – think Harley Davidson – he also has an upgrade on his pet –  an Elephant.

Both impress I am told.

Educators enter here at their own peril.

My advice would be to so so with an experienced 13 year old to assist and you may end up like me, female, in your underwear, doing dances for your living. Seriously, this is my experimental taste of virtual worlds.

I learned that my son has several characters online, somehow, and each has a distinct personality and I suspect gender. I am ‘Val Desire’ her twin – is creation – is ‘Not Val Desire’.)

And the dog is on heat 🙁

And my 15 year old daughter has decided the contents of her attic room are childish and is currently bagging it (while my wife is going through said bag convinced that everything has a value and ought to be put in our lock up garage for the next decade or two. A garage that is 11 miles away and we took possession of temporarily when we moved house … four years ago.)

Otherwise a normal day.

Pencils and pastels I have, but I need cartridge paper and a new drawing board.

I’m disinclined to over use the digital camera as it will require immediate downloading to a laptop then editing, then uploading and all that eJazz. Do I go with the flow, indulge this? Maybe I should, passing on some basic craft skills along the way in relation to shot size, editing, action cuts and so on.

I realise too that this desire to go off and draw is akin to being behind a computer screen.

A sort of hunkering down escape into my own head. Though drawing is likely to be less distracting than being online.

Basically, what I crave, and did for decades with my Dad is a boat, to sea with all those challenges and absolutely NO contact with the outside world.

On these trips I took books, paper, guitar. I am inclined therefore to need the iPad that now is the books, the paper and all the sheet music my heart could desire.

Impossible of course because he is long dead and the boat sold.

 

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