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Hi everyone,  I know I don’t know you all yet but I’m hoping I soon will. I have recently started a Fine Arts degree with The OCA and I want to share my journey with you. 

I have never done a real blog before so I’m unsure what I’m supposed to write yet but I’m starting from the fact that anything is better than nothing right?  I’m already on Instagram as lindseywhittle_artist, so I’ve kind of got the jist about what I need to do. Please join me on my art journey, I need all the friends I can get.

My first assignment with the OCA was to do a temporary drawing so I tried this flower/ firework thing, it went ok though, I kind of ended up liking it ūüėÖ

Thanks for watching and any constructive criticism is welcome but please be gentle because I’m new to this. Have a great day and here’s to getting out our comfort zones!  ūü漠

Assignment one.

You spent a little time at the beginning of this course considering how artists convey feelings through their artwork, and also practice in creating believable shapes through the use of tone, using light and shadow. In this assignment you are asked to find a few objects that trigger a response for you. These objects can be funny, practical or ornamaental or a mixture of all these. They can be natural objects, made objects, big or small. Place these objects together to form a still life. Set them up in a space so that they create interesting shapes and angles. Make sure you set the objects up in a way that they make the tones of the object obvious and the lights and darks clear. A window with natural light is probably best but you could use a lamp to throw light onto the objects instead. Look at the spaces between the objects as well as the objects themselves.

Take the two experimental mark making sheets that you did exploring texture and gesture and pin them up nearby. Working on a sheet of A3 or A2 paper, and using a range of drawing tools create a drawing using your still life that utilizes some of the experimenatal mark making that you have discovered. Use a focus on the original impetus for the selection of the source objects to help you make decisions about the drawing as ypu proceed.

Write a paragraph about why you picked the objects you picked as well as reflecting on the drawing that you have done and what you think went well and what did not, and why. Use this as an opportunity to introduce yourself to your tutor and what level your drawing skills are at this point in the course. These notes can go into your learning log (or online blog).

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I spent a long time choosing this composition. I chose at first some rubbish that I collected off the street because litter gives me quite a strong reaction of disgust/ disappointment but I couldn’t decide on how to arrange them in a way that looked interesting, so then I changed my subject to toys because they have lots of different shapes and textures to them but I still had the same problems in finding a set up that I could make interesting. I swapped my ideas round a few times until I settled on this one. I had been walking my dog earlier that day with my son. He is only 3 and we had put our wellies in front of the radiator to dry. I liked the contrast of how small his looked compared to mine and I thought this made an interesting composition so with the lead I attempted to create some effective shadows.

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I used a 2B graphite pencil, willow charcoal, light, medium dark and white charcoal pencils a plastic, and a kneadable eraser.

In hindsight I should have used a viewfinder to work out how the image was going to fit onto my paper. I wanted to crop the image more as instructed in Exercise 4 but I didn’t make it work well on the paper and it looked wrong. At the time I thought that if I zoomed out a bit and included the radiator the pattern of the shadows would help make the height of the wellingtons stand out, I’m not sure if it worked though.

I don’t like how I shaded the radiator compared to the rest of the drawing. they don’t feel like they belong on the same page. I did this because I was trying to get the highlights the right shade but I only ended up filling the tooth of the paper. I haven’t done anywhere else, and it looks like a drawing of a radiator with some stuff in front of it rather than the focus being on the foreground.

I do like how the pattern of the wood flooring leads you into the picture though, I think this gives a good perspective.

I am a carer in the day so I don’t get to draw in natural light that’s why all of my work so far has been under some sort of artificial light. I have made a few practices of drawing the shadows that are made in these conditions but I got lost somewhere on the boots in this composition. I think this is because I was unconfident in my work. I have up to starting this course only practised drawing what I see, and the most part of that was from photos. I will draw this again after I have sent off my work and record it in my learning log to see if I can understand for myself where my errors were.

As I complete each exercise so far I am noticing that after some time away from it I go back to look at it again and I can see big changes that I would like to make to each of my drawings. I understand better what the question is telling me to do, hopefully as I progress through the course I will have a better understanding of what I am expected to do the first time I read it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise 4. Shadows and reflected light 

For this composition I was instructed to choose two objects with reflective surfaces, such as stainless steel coffee pot and a ceramic sugar bowl. The different reflective surfaces will provide an interesting interplay of light and shadow. The exercise said to use charcoal and a putty rubber on an either A1 or A2 piece of paper with a tooth that will allow bold strokes using the side of the charcoal or cont√© stick. It said to fill the paper with the objects. Show the reflected light and shade of one object falling on another and leave as little negative space as possible. 

Draw the basic pattern of shadow first with sweeps of charcoal and /or hatching marks and spots. The white paper will represent your lightest tonal value so start with the midtones and build up to the darkest tonal value. Observe the reflected pattern of light and shade and work it into the surface of the object. Lift out the smallest lightest tones with the point of a putty rubber, and use the sharpest edge of the charcoal or cont√© stick to add the smaller finer marks. 

I spent quite a while choosing this composition, I wanted to use two different types of materials but I couldn’t find anything that gave me a range of lights and shadows so I chose these two stainless steel pots because they’re both very reflective.  The one on the left is a teapot and i think the right one is used for milk and although in reality is smaller than the teapot I like how the perspective of the angle makes it look bigger because it is closer. I could have cropped out more of the background but I wanted to keep the spout of the teapot in because I like it’s shape- I think it is giving off some interesting shapes in the light it is reflecting because of the bend in it but also because without it the drawing didn’t really make much sense.  I didn’t think it was very clear what I was trying to draw so I kept it in to show what it was. 

My paper is roughly 88cm √ó56 cm I’m not sure of how big A1 is but I don’t think it is far off. I used lining paper because I like how the tooth of it holds the pigment of the charcoal, I found I could use many different techniques on this paper with it.
After drawing the jug on the right I had to have a break for a couple of weeks due to illness but when I returned to it I felt like it had been going on for far too long and was anxious to catch back up to where I felt that I should be. In hindsight I should have scrapped this drawing and started freshly again but I was too aware that I had fallen behind and wanted to get back on track.  

Usually I don’t like to blend with my fingers but I found it very helpful here, I could create a range of shades by going over what I had already blended. The reflections themselves were the hardest part of this drawing because every time I moved even slightly so did the reflection I was trying to draw, so I couldn’t get up close to check details,  if I shifted my weight slightly or moved for any reason I lost my reference and had to start again. I found that instead of getting closer to the pots for a better look it was better to shut one eye and focus carefully on one shape. If i do this again I will draw round every object before moving it and also put marks on the floor where my feet need to be. 

Research Point 

Odilon Redon was born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine to a prosperous family. He began to study drawing formally when he was 15 but his Father insisted he change to Architecture. However when he failed the entrance exam he returned his focus back to the Arts. He took up sculpture as well as  Rodolphe Bresdin taught him etching and lithography.
After a break in his artistic career to serve in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 he again returned to study art and worked almost exclusively in charcoal and lithography.  He called these visionary works conceived in shades of black his Noirs.

He explained his discovery of charcoal in a letter.  “This everyday substance, which has no beauty of its own, aided by my research into chiaroscuro and the invisible. It is a neglected material, scorned by other artists. I must say however that charcoal does not allow kindness; it is sober and only with real emotion can you draw results from it.”

This is a beautiful drawing with great atmosphere. Odilon has been very expressive with his tonal work. The darkest darks of the background make the trees pop and their definitions even more. That combined with the gradual tones of charcoal against the sepia background give a dark atmosphere and great depth to the whole scene. The twist of the left tree is all pointing towards the other tree as if it has spent it’s whole life to grow towards it. It is very knarled with age, and this is defined by the marks in the medium. This left hand tree is also a lot darker than the right which suggests to me that death is creeping up, that combined with it’s bare and baron branch suggesting dieback gives the whole drawing a very somber mood. 

The right tree stands tall and strong, is well lit, and even has some small flowers growing up which suggests that its  still has a lot of life yet to give. 

Without all the tones that Redon has used here, this drawing just wouldn’t work. The background wouldn’t give so much depth and the foreground wouldn’t be able to create so much interest without all the ranges that he has used, even the highlights of the grass and the trees, without those the trees would be very wishy-washy and blend into the background. 

“Those were the pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pearwood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannon-ball with his finger; a spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams. Here, on an enormous die, a melancholy eyelid winked; over there stretched dry and arid landscapes, calcinated plains, heaving and quaking ground, where volcanos erupted into rebellious clouds, under foul and murky skies; sometimes the subjects seemed to have been taken from the nightmarish dreams of science, and hark back to prehistoric times; monstrous flora bloomed on the rocks; everywhere, in among the erratic blocks and glacial mud, were figures whose simian appearance–heavy jawbone, protruding brows, receding forehead, and flattened skull top–recalled the ancestral head, the head of the first Quaternary Period, the head of man when he was still fructivorous and without speech, the contemporary of the mammoth, of the rhinoceros with septate nostrils, and of the giant bear. These drawings defied classification; unheeding, for the most part, of the limitations of painting, they ushered in a very special type of the fantastic, one born of sickness and delirium.”

À rebours, chapter V

sources: moma.org; wikipedia.com


Exercise 3. Creating shadow using lines and marks

The assignment was to choose a simple single object to start with. It said to divide my¬†sketchbook page into four and make four distinct grades of tone using criss-crossing lines, hatching and spots. Try to make marks close together or further apart, short and long lines, curved and straight, large and small spots, and stipples etc. But looking back¬†the drawings I have done,¬†mine¬†aren’t distinct,¬†maybe¬†I should have put a gap between each gradation. I was to use four different drawing tools. I chose a ballpoint pen, a chisel tip pen, a 2B graphite pencil, and a calligraphy pen.

I enjoyed most doing the chisel tip pen drawing. I had fun making the wavy lines. The ballpoint pen drawing,¬†I was unsure what marks I wanted to make and I changed my mind half way through but I like how it turned out. The calligraphy pen felt at first like the hardest thing I had ever attempted to do in my whole life, but once I stopped thinking about it I started enjoying it. The pencil drawing I didn’t like so much. I felt uninspired and had no idea what marks to make. I started with spots but I didn’t like how they looked so I filled to sheet in with one big shading.

I chose this watercolour paper to see how the different drawing tools performed on the textured surface. Once I had finished these four sheets I saw that the calligraphy pen and the chisel tip pen were exactly the same technique so for the next part of the exercise I changed them for a brush tip and added a new tool which was the Faber Castell Medium sized Pitt Pen.

The next part of the exercise said to arrange three or four objects and make a very quick and loose line drawing. Don’t draw obvious outlines; use just enough line to indicate the objects three dimensionally, then work fast, using the hatching and / or spotting techniques to create tonal shadows that will make the sketches more believable as objects.

The brush tip drawing, which has come out as the last one on here wasn’t so easy for me.¬†I made a few attempts at it and this was the best result¬†I got.¬†I think¬†I was too hung up on not having so many outlines and drawing quickly, after this¬†I got better.

I enjoyed the Pitt Pen, I liked the marks that I was making on the watercolour paper although I wish now that I had done it bigger to fit the paper.

The ballpoint drawing I also¬†attempted a couple of times. I normally enjoy working in ballpoint but I wasn’t enjoying this so much and found myself rushing to finish it.

The pencil drawing was easy for me to do although I feel that I have spent a bit too much time on it than what the exercise says to.

I feel I have to say that I had two lights on in the room whilst I was doing this exercise and that is why is have two shadows, I’m not sure that this is clear in what I have drawn. Also I’m not sure that I did a good job on the reflected light because I was trying to be so sketchy and quick.

This exercise was not very easy for me. Although i do lots of prepratory work for my personal artwork, ¬†I am not used to¬†doing these exercises¬†to suit somebody else’s requirements and¬†I realise now, after having read onto the next exercise and assignment, I understand why this task is neccessary.¬†I have learned to read the whole course before i start any exercises to hellp me understand where the course is taking me and what I need to do.

 

 

Project 2, Exercise 2. Observing shadow using blocks of tone

The instructions were to place 2 pale and simple shaped objects together and position a lamp so that they are lit from just one side. It said to make some quick sketches in a large sketchbook, mapping out the broad areas of light and shade. Use a conte or charcoal stick on it’s side to achieve thick bold strokes; break these into shorter pieces unless your working on a very large surface. Also make sure your paper has sufficient tooth to capture the pigment- smooth and shiny paper won’t work.

Next, block in the gradations of tone. Look for variations of tonal value. Essentially this means the degree of lightness and darkness. Begin with mid tones, then work into lighter and darker tones, lifting and pressing down across the surface as you work.

Pause and take a long view to fully observe the pattern of shadows over the whole surface of the picture plane, then look for the smaller details, the interlocking shadows and the negative shapes between the objects.

Also try to find the tonal gradations that the light reflected causes. Try to get all the areas of tone to work together in a series of tonal shifts. Fill the entire sheet.

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I chose a cup and an apple. the cup didn’t have any pattern on it, just plain white and the apple was just  a light shade of green all over. This made finding the lights and darks easier because I didn’t have many colours to deal with

Above are the sketches I did beforehand. I prefer the pastel one better because I think the shifts of tone work better than what I did with the conte stick, although I really like the highlights on the conte stick sketch, I think especially on the apple it works really well. The cup however wasn’t so good.

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The above sketch is on A2 sugar paper, I liked how this turned out, the shadow of the apple on the cup works I think but the roundness of the cup doesn’t. I struggled with this because I am only used to drawing up to A3 and found transferring what I saw onto the paper difficult. At the time this was the best I could do but I realise I should have practised this more before I attempted the ‘real’ drawing for this exercise.  I wanted the challenge to do the real drawing even bigger. so I chose an A1 sheet for this.  It was a disaster.

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This is how far I got before I abandoned the whole thing. The cup is completely the wrong shape and the apple’s shadow doesn’t work either. I tried to put in the reflected light off the cup on the apple but I was struggling to make it clear that it was meant to be a highlight and not just a really bad drawing (which that is exactly what it is).

I have redone the exercise on lining paper because I have used this for sketches before and I always seem to do a nice sketch on it (and then beat myself up for not using better paper) but because it is a cheaper paper I don’t think I feel so precious about it and am not so scared of ruining it.

 

I found using this paper much easier than the drawing paper for charcoal work, my lines wearn’t so wobbly and I found it easier to get my proportions correct, although they’re still not perfect, that is something I need to practice when working so big. Because the pigment was so easy to work on this paper I found blending easier also. I know it’s not a perfect piece of art but I’m happy with it as a study and glad that I tried again.  

Project 2, Exercise 1. Groups of objects

The task was to choose at least 6 objects of different sizes and shapes. Some should be 3D forms made from rectangles and cylinders, e.g. a book, cereal box, jar of coffee, a tin etc, and others should be irregular forms like a loose net or loose plastic container. I was to use an A1 or A2 sheet that seemed appropriate for the image I wanted to make. I didn’t have to use a sheet of white paper, it suggested that I use a newspaper or brown paper as examples. I chose a blue/grey sugar paper because it gave a cool tone to the image and was easy to work with.

I spent a couple of days thinking and rearranging my composition. At first I set up a few objects that I keep at the side of my bed that I use when I want to practice quick sketches. This didn’t fit the brief though, there wasn’t enough variation in the materials. So I changed this idea and collected a few things out of my son’s bedroom, because small children are very good at collecting random objects! I chose a drum, his hat, a tub of nappy cream to get the idea of a cylinder, although the label looked almost straight from the side it does have a very slight curve, that combined with the lid gives it the round shape. There are a string of egg shaped lights that were left over from Easter in there, a cardboard box, a plastic one, 2 transparent video boxes that I use to store oil pastels in. I was hoping to draw the shapes inside to suggest that there is something inside but they didn’t show through, and a baby cup.  the top of the drawing looked empty and seemed to be missing something so I repositioned my desk lamp to make it shine on the video cases to highlight them. I think that had I done this as a painting this part would have made a good focal point because it lit up so well and gave a good light.

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I had to redraw my original lines harder so that they would show up against the coloured sugar paper on the camera but I like how they look. I think its given a cartoon style to the image which seems appropriate because it was fun to.

I chose A2 paper because I am not used to drawing so big and felt daunted by the whole task. I will push myself on the next one and use A1 because I enjoyed the challenge. The marks that I was making were easily smudged, but this worked well in my favour because it made erasing easy too. I don’t think I have made it clear that it is sitting on a sheet but without the use of shading I did not know how to convey the idea of lights and darks hitting the folds and creases.

I struggled to take the photo from the perspective I was drawing from which has shifted all the objects and made them look in the wrong places. I have also drawn the drum too big and the eggs too small which I didn’t notice until I had taken the photo.

The more I look at this image the more I want to paint it in bold colours with no shading at all to make it an Andy Warhol style piece.

 

 

Project 1, Exercise 2. Experimenting With Texture

I was asked to collect a range of objects with different surfaces and textures, e.g. pottery, clothing or textiles with interesting surfaces and skins, a bathroom sponge, fruit peel, woven material, tree bark velvet, silk etc. I then was told to experiment with frottage (rubbings) of these objects.

The exercise said I was to use my sketchbook but I thought this would have been quite cumbersome so decided to use separate sheets and glue them into a sketchbook. I might also want to add here that although I say sketchbook, I actually mean some loose leafs of paper bound together with treasury tags. I do this because I work on papers of all different sizes and textures, some in sketchbooks and some loose, so rather than have lots of sketchbooks and papers everywhere I find it much more organised to collect and keep them in order if I tie them together all in one place.

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