1 Figure study using line – Seated model in an upright chair
The main objective of this part of assignment 4 was to create a three-dimensional using line, gradually with every build up attempt to describe form, detail. This part actually took me a whole week to complete as my lovely niece patiently posed for me starting with every preliminary sketchbook drawing leading up to the preliminary A2 and final A1 size drawing.
Working in the sketchbook was about becoming acquainted with the figures taking different poses from different angles for me to draw using and experimenting with a range of media; traditional and non-traditional media. What I have come to realize is that as much as one tries to stay loyal to that something borrowed from an inspiring artist; being the character of the line marking, it will still come out as a personal response and therefore outcome. With time and persistent determination one’s line will one day find its own voice and personal character.
As a starting point I made reference to Giagometti’s cross –hatching, scribble like line where he gradually gives shape and form to the features of the human form. It is these lines that are build up on layer upon layer that gives the illusion of tone. I had used Giagometti in the “three figure exercise”, particularly the standing figure.
“Three Heads”, 1962 by Giacometti
(photo taken of the image from the Giacometti’s art book)
Having used a soft black pencil I began to shape the using initially lighter and thinner line and gradually graduating to a thicker and darker more expressive line marking. I then switched over to using color pencils applying them in the same frantic manner. For this part I was determined and hoping to achieve that fine art expressive drawing result.
Looking at the contemporary artist Hubert Tereszkiewicz distinctive use of line where his human form is a result of a composed mesh of lines that are arranged in a particular rather discipline rhythm. Although his artwork is a result of a linocut I basically tried to borrow the character of his composed lines, realizing as well that it is this collectiveness of all the lines that creates the successful whole.
Linocut artwork by Hubert Tereszkiewicz
As I am always seeking adventure into experimenting I decided to attempt his line using a black relief liner to draw my seated model. And although I appreciate the uniqueness on his work I soon found myself drifting into a not so loyal study attempt as I found the thickness of the relief liner too thick to control in relation to the A3 size. Had I decided to use an A2 I would have been more successful but as I felt that this was not my line, once dried I applied a diluted layer of white acrylic paint with the intention to tone down the line and take away that certain degree of superficiality.
The next artist that I looked at was Jason Thielke whose art work (laser etched wood with the use of other materials) definitely stands out. Even though his line takes a linear premeditated architectural character it is within this axis line chaos that he achieves a balance between the more condensed and less line marked areas of his composition. It is within his composition that line plays the intermediate between the positive and negative space, without hesitation escaping or cutting across the subject matter form.
Even though I made an attempt to imitate this artist, something was captured but it was not what I was looking for. I will though definitely come back and restudy this artist developing more experimentation in the future. In my attempt I painted the hair and leggings a flat black color, onto which I applied an ochre coloring pencil to juxtaposition some suggestion of his line marking signature. For the remaining figure I used the soft black pencil to create more line rhythm.
The next two sketchbook pages confirmed for me the need to move onto a larger scale paper if I were to achieve more expression in my line making process. Even though I simply used the thinnest charcoal piece of stick I still felt restricted and put this drawing down to just a warm up exercise.
Using a hot glue silicon glue gun with a black silicon stick to create a minimal outline formation of the figure form and then applying a layer of acrylic white paste marked the need for more experimentation. I later came back and continued experimenting by adding ink line marking with thinner bleached marking. Definitely something interesting going on here which given the opportunity I will try and develop but for another art project.
Before proceeding into using a larger scale paper size I found the need to look once more at the drawings of the artist Nikloay Blokhin’s drawings and wishing that I could someday reach that level of fine art fluency and total command of the use of line. What I find absolutely breathtaking is how he centers in one focal area giving detail with both line and tone. Whatever appears in the forefront of the pose has a more definition as a result of the darker line use. The body parts that fall in the background become faint suggestions of a broken up line that is lost into the oblivion of the negative space. Looking at the scale of 100x130cm it does not come by surprise that the scale of the paper permits this expressive line marking result.
Preliminary 1 A2 size
As I felt that the A3 size paper of the sketchbook was restricting me I considered working some preliminaries of a large size that would allow more expression as this scaling up in paper size would be a closer preliminary practice to the final A1. For this preliminary I used a colored pastel paper; a ciel grey onto which I started drawing with charcoal and a white soft pastel for light contrast. I decided to wipe away some line but this created tone and as the specification of assignment 4 requested to use only line. Even though the Giacometti lines came instinctively it was obvious that I was nowhere near Nikloay Blokhin’s drawing style. On the other hand one must find her own voice and that will come with lots of drawing practice and time.
Preliminary 2 A2 size
As I tried to experiment with the paper background onto which I would apply line, I considered using different colored tissue paper and started collaging them onto the previously simple outline drawing of the seated figure with the intention to come back once dried and work expressive line over the collaged paper surface. Once dried I realized that I had been working tone…… too much tone but I also could appreciate what had been done. Had I continued with applying line I could have lost this stage of work and decided to leave it and continue on another preliminary. After all we develop through persistence, lots of mistakes, unsuccessful attempts but also surprising accidents.
Preliminary 3 A1 size
Although this was intended as a final as I got carried away with the ink tones once again it became apparent that I was struggling with this simple concept called line. Not so easy after all. This is when I looked into the work of IL LEE.
IL LEE, IW-105, 2010
Where most of his drawings are a result of ball point pen and the gradual build-up of line marking that appears to have been set in motion, on a journey of evolution. What is captivating is how the density of the applied line creates eventually tone, dark or light. I particularly looked at his 2010 large scale drawing where he a white line over a black negative space background. This gave me the idea to apply a highlighted line over the ink drawing even though there was tone. The decolorized lines created by the use of diluted bleach created and interest element of aesthetics on the figure and composition in general. This would also act a catalyst for carrying on with the ink and bleach media.
Preliminary 4 A1 size
Before I would attempt to use a dark background and create the build-up of line marking that would give the seated figure shape and form I would first carry out a quick ink sketch using a dark fig brown tone and a medium small sized flat brush and hence the size of the line marking created. Then the small round brush dipped in diluted bleach would start to take away from the ink line marking but at the same time create more line. This drawing was done in 10 minutes more as a warm up before I would start my final.
Final A1 The Moment of Truth
The first step to my final A1 was to cover the whole paper surface with ink. I actually mixed the fig brown with the coal black ink tone. Every applied bleach line started to create highlighted lines. I would use this decolorizing technique mostly in areas of the composition where there was light. I tried to maintain a level of free expression being aware at the same time that this was about controlling the amount of accumulated line marking. Too much would destroy the artwork. I kept the receding left hand simple with just a simple outline as this would suggest lack of light and give the drawing depth. I also tried to apply a bit of foreshortening; with the one bend leg in the forefront appearing larger in scale.
Although I struggled with trying to separate the line from the tone I think that in the end keeping it simple helped somehow achieve this separation. I am ok with the end result as it became apparent my Giacometti inspired line marking kept reappearing throughout the sketchbook A3 drawings and larger scale preliminary studies. On the one hand I was trying to discover what form this line marking would take and on the other the choice of media that would allow this. It is from the 3rd preliminary study onwards that something started to happen that would lead to my A1 final outcome; an honest result that is about me and from me.
2 Figure study using tone – Reclining model
For section 2 of the assignment 4 I decided to use a model that was between lounging and in an almost reclining position. Since I had already used the sofa in my house on a previous exercise I thought that considering a different setting would narrate a different atmosphere; that moment when you have your most comfortable clothes on trying to keep warm as you begin to drift into a state of sleep. This different setting would be the bedroom and my model my kind and patient niece. The garment props were fitted black leggings, pink socks with a white top for contrast and then a bright red white polka dot robe that would add an element of fun but also become a challenge as one the one hand I would try and draw the folded and pleated fabric form using tone and on the other add the white dot design feature. This actually takes me back to the first exercise of Part 4. From the left side of the model I would have an artificial bright warm light and from the right the natural remaining cool sunset light that entered from the bedroom window.
Having researched on a previous research point about foreshortening, from that moment on I was flirting with the idea of using this for my final assignment as I find this exaggerated enlargement of the body sections that appear in the forefront gradually receding into the background and reducing in scale fascinating. As mentioned in my research point, I had looked into the historical artist Andrea Mandegna’s 1480-90 painting “The Dead Christ”. Apart from the foreshortening in this composition, I think the most captivating aspect of this painting was the real sense of atmosphere; a room filled with silent emptiness, of the dead Christ whose pierced hands and feet would become a testimony to the torture and pain he endured as the facial expressions of the two weeping, grief stricken figures on the left side of the composition add to the dramatic scene.
‘The Dead Christ ‘, Andrea Mantegna, 1480-90
In another painting, that of Salvador Dali’s “The Ascension of Christ”, the even more exaggerated foreshortening perspective effect together with the suspended Christ into an aerial perspective negative space of the composition added depth and a dramatic effect to the whole scene. In this artwork one could acquire a great sense of real form and atmosphere. Also looking at the source of light that falls on the elevated Christ’s body gave a good insight as to how light can be captures in a figure form.
Salvador Dalí’s “The Ascension of Christ”
It is contemporary artist Duarte Vitoria’s artwork that captivated my interest. It was that extreme foreshortening of the exaggerated scale of the feet that deliberately captures the viewer’s attention “In your face” concept. The feet actually occupy almost more than a half space of the composition. It is this inspirational aspect that I would try to attempt.
Duarte Vitoria, oil on canvas, 2009; Oporto, Portugal
As I was a bit restricted with trying to control my light source but content. I could not really navigate the artificial light stand as looking for that extension cord was a failed attempt to find that something when you really need it and the natural light coming from the right hand side of the figure was just there as I have no roller blinds to block out that light completely…… and to show the variation in light sourcing. But as I mentioned previously I did not mind this. On the contrary it would pose as a challenge for me to try and capture that bright warm light and the natural cool light.
As my model took a pose I began to sketch her using first the soft black pencil together with the color pencils gradually building up on tone and color intensity. It was also the beginning of trying to draw the red robe with all its folds and pleats that I found contributed to the composition in an interesting way.
Doing a close-up of the head area gave me the opportunity to focus in and resolve some anatomical issues as well as changing into a different media the charcoal and soft pastels where I had used this in exercise 2 The three figure drawing.
The next quick sketch was about changing angle with less foreshortening. Same pose but drawing it from a different angle.
Once again changing the angle using the water soluble black pencil with a wet brush and some colored pencils this time going back to the idea of using foreshortening.
Throughout the various exercises of this Part 4 I had the chance to work and reuse some mixed media techniques such as using ink, bleach and charcoal with soft pastels. This curled up figure drawing composition was freer in the use of tone. I tried not to think too much but enjoy the moment of combining the effects of the mixed art materials.
For some reason I am always attracted to the color red. Taking the red and white polka dot design element I used it in the next sketchbook page with red card and cut out white card circles that would act as a background for the sticking of the prints of the finals with the comment.
Once I had worked the preliminaries in my sketchbook coming back the next day with the same timed light conditions I began my final A1 first using charcoal to work with trying to capture tone. The charcoal would allow me to wipe away and replace the figure until I would achieve the foreshortening effect.
I then moved onto the soft colored pastels trying to achieve that real sense of figure form and bedroom atmosphere. For the warm light I used the warm color tones gradually building up to the even lighter one and eventually the ultimate white tone. For the natural light source I used the lavender blue tone which I can become quite obsessed with at times.
Realizing and Self –Assessing
Although the artwork in general appeared to be interesting for me there was an element that was missing and that was it was a bit stiff and it lacked spontaneity and self-expression. There was too much emphasis on trying to capture an academic real sense figure form through the use of color tone but I was not completely content.
Redrawing an A2 Post Final Drawing
As I was not completely contents with the final outcome of my A1 final I decided to redo another one on an A2 scale just to see If I could capture what was missing in the final but at the same time taking into consideration the use of tone as requested by the assignment 4 . Here I would try and capture more of the sense of the atmosphere and human form with a more liberated approach to drawing using this time beginning with color ink tones.
Adding bleach to create smoother transition to high lights.
And then charcoal to achieve definition although not too much though a better understanding of how tone works to achieve contrast of light but also depth. Everything in the forefront of bigger scale would have darker tones that would gradually lighten up as the figure receded into a smaller scale towards the background. Although I was considering of using soft pastels to finish it off, I decided that this is where I should stop as I felt something more had been achieved here.
3 A portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone
I felt that it was wise that instead of starting my assignment 4 with the figure studies to continue with 3 a portrait or self-portrait combining line and tone as I decided to continue from the theme “Mad facade” to the “Concealed Identity”; an attempt to visually narrate my ongoing “facade” of concealing my identity. And it all goes back, way back to not having fulfilled my life’s passion of studying fine art. It wasn’t my choice, there were just no funds for this…. For me. I would have to settle for a second choice for the time being….. and wait until the opportunity should rise again…..How many times I dreamed that I was at the airport ready to leave for my fine art studies but that last minute some obstacle always came up….. and I would wake up to realize once more that both in reality and my dreams it was not meant to be.
This assignment is in a way a self-aware art therapy where I am able to excavate into the past gain a better understanding of what really happened, and hopefully stop having to carry this sad nostalgic pain anymore. Don’t get me wrong I have been blessed in so many ways that I am grateful, a family, a loving husband, beautiful children, and a wonderful job (you would be shocked to really know what my job really is but sorry I cannot reveal this to you. Ask my tutor. It is definitely not club animation anymore . I have travelled and in a funny way with my life everything has occured the other way round; first the marriage, kids, the job, the travelling and now the studies.
I will re-paste a section from my written blog where I am explaining how I felt about concealing my identity:
“Just as I was ready to take my “selfie” that specific moment where I looked into the mirror to face this mad presence in front of me, I realized right there and then that the past was still hunting me. This Mad Facade took me back, way back and still linked to the now! How I had yearned to study fine art abroad instead I watched one by one my friends leave for their studies while I had to stay behind and work due to the fact that there was not possible to find funds for my studying abroad. What was my job????? I guess to make audience laugh……. Don’t take me wrong there were fun moments in the job as there was a good team of club animators. Every conscious disguise before walking on stage aimed at disguising my true identity. There was no way on earth that I would be caught clowning about because I was too supposed to be studying abroad. So imagine this. Imagine the pain of one of those challenging sad days, the overwhelmed complaining of the soul takes over but you still have to get on stage….. To make them laugh! Have you seen a mad clochard (homeless tramp) in full command of the audience, making them laugh to the point of peeing themselves as they fail to see the running tears of this sad animator and these were real tears….. visible enough to be seen by my colleagues once off stage….. “What is wrong Zozo?”(my disguised nick name)….. my reply, “Nothing don’t worry.” So fast forward to today….. to the now. Grateful for the opportunity that is given to me now to set this record straight to fulfill the dream my soul’s desire to get my BA in art. I am looking forward to that day when there will not be any more need for any facade, all the make-up will come off!”
My theme “Concealed Identity” would become an effort to come up with ideas to conceal a portrait using traditional and non-traditional media. Looking at artist’s work helps with the theme development. Before starting my sketchbook preliminary work I thought it would be a good idea to look at Gillian Lambert’s series of portraits where with the use of some sort of material, such as rope, plastic bag material, and garment she manages to distort and conceal the full visual scope of the human portrait. In particular in her psychologically enigmatic portrait artwork series, “Self-deception” it is that distortion and partial concealment of the face that creates a visual discord connection between the subject matter and the viewer, as curiosity set in, wanting to know what lies beneath.
Self-Deception by Gillian Lambert
What I find particularly interesting and intriguing apart from the partially revealed face is the important presence of the striped, pleated garment in the composition that creates some sort of rhythm and noise.
This whole idea prompted me to take a series of self-portrait photos under a sharp light dark contrast borrowing the idea of a striped garment to partially conceal my face.
In my sketchbook the first drawing was done using a black, soft drawing pencil with color pencils. Here I aimed at creating tone and fine line marking. At this point I was also focusing on the composition. Extreme comical facial expression that portrayed “The Clown in Me” my humor side was another element to consider. The emphasis here was to selectively reveal some of the face animating the clown. I later on tried to work just with line using a drawing pen.
Working in the sketchbook also allows me to do some technical drawing problem solving such as what media to use and how. Deciding on a different pose, extreme facial expression, this time I used a faint first layer of acrylic color tones to paint, charcoal for expressive line marking and then color soft pastels that would create a balance between tone and line.
The series of photos that I took, I pasted them in the next sketchbook page and on that same page I tried to draw again one of the compositions using color pencils on the black acrylic painting background; still in the mood to experiment. I must mention though that having taken a photo of this sketchbook page I have created further distortion with the aim to hide my identity for the uploading of my work on my blog. My tutor and the assessors will be able to view the photos with definition as they really are. On the other hand Photoshoping the sketchbook image adds a further touch and development to the concept of my portrait theme.
I always find fun in picking out an element from a composition or a subject matter and using it as a design feature for a sketchbook page which adds to the aesthetics of the sketchbook page presentation. Here the fund design element was the black and white stripes of the garment that was used in in the photo taking. Onto this striped page I added two cropped fine line drawing studies of close-up from photos that I took later on. I did not mind at this point of my visual investigation to become more acquainted with the anatomy of my facial features. Here I used color pencils and fine line marking to create tone.
The next day ironically by chance my niece was wearing a black and white striped top. She was kind enough to pose for me. The use of the soft black drawing pencil allowed me to work fast while at the same time work with both tone and line.
I am fortunate enough to have access to art books, one of which was the drawings of the artist Oldrich Kulhanek. The advantage to looking at an actual artist’s book gives one the opportunity to view a lot more work of the artist and get a better feel of the flow of the artwork being displayed in every page, not to mention the available reading material laid right before your eyes. A real feast!!!! The artworks of interest here that are a great source of inspiration and positive imitation were :
Face Stuck together, 1982 by Oldrich Kulhanek
(photo taken of the book page)
Torn-off face, 1983 by Oldrich Kulhanek
(photo taken of the book page)
Small window, 1987 by Oldrich Kulhanek
(photo taken of the book page)
I could not wait to try this concept of tearing away from the portrait photo image but also carrying out the reverse act, that is where previously the tearing was done to visually remove the eye latitude strip area of the face, the reverse was to cover everything else except the selected facial features that the artist choses to reveal. It becomes like a fun puzzle art activity.
In this next series of self-portrait photos “Between the Revelation and Concealment” there were photos that depicted the humor, comic clown extreme facial gestures and the serious photos that captured the true nature of the hidden emotion, the complaint of the soul. In Greek we call this word, “Parapono”; the word actually explains itself: beside the pain. By tearing away at the printed images of my self-photos and re-taking photos, all this was giving me ideas for the bigger A2 preliminaries and possible final.
Another art book that I got to hold, read and flip through every page was that of the artist Frank Auerbach. I found it inspirational the way he applied layers of paper onto which he carries on further drawing, application of expressive line marking, wiping away to come back later on and enhance his mission to capture the true essence of the character of his subject. In his 1960 drawing artwork, “The head of Julia” one could clearly distinguish the buildup layering between paper strips and drawing which give the artwork life and breath.
The Head of Julia, 1960 by Frank Auerbach
(photo taken of the book page)
In this last sketchbook page I carried out some preliminary work of trying to resolving the technical manipulation of mixed materials that I would use for the preliminary A2 drawing and final A2. The top left corner attempting to depict the interplay between the layering of the different types of paper and charcoal line marking. The second experimentation on this last sketchbook page transitioned into using tissue paper with gauze bandages inspired by Selahattin Yildirim series of wrapped in gauze portraits. In medical terms, the gauze is used to treat or conceal/protect an open wound. By wrapping the face in such material this would represent the protected concealing of the face or what truly lies beneath that; the soul, the “parapono” of the soul.
A2 Preliminary drawings
In the first A2 preliminary drawing I decided attempt to draw the torn print photo print; the torn strip of the eye area. I kept it simple first working the charcoal to produce tone, by smudging with a cloth and then reapplying charcoal line marks.
The second drawing was actually and A1 size where I decided to use the striped garment composition with an extreme comic facial expression. First the faint acrylic paint layer was applied giving some suggestion of color tone and once dried charcoal was used as a means of simple line marking, shading. Although initially I had intended to use sharper color and charcoal color tones in the end I decided to keep it light toned as I considered the artwork to be a different lighter tone variation to all the previous portraits that were darker and sharper in color and light contrast.
The third drawing would capture the extreme pain depicted on a portrait with the use of charcoal, soft chalk pastels and white acrylic paint. The layering of the gauze would narrate the attempt to conceal the pain. I think this drawing was all about moving away from the comfort zone and attempting to take a risk which would also prepare me for my final.
Final A2 self-portrait
I love the idea of showing the history of work progression which I did not hesitate to repeat again. The first layer of my final composition would capture the enigmatic complaint of the soul, the eye expression. In this first layer tone would be established using charcoal to draw and then cloth to smudge, to later come back and start applying thinner and flatter line marking.
And then, I let the layering, concealing process begin first with the use of white tissue paper that created a translucent layer half revealing the underlying tone and previously drawn lines. I actually did not hesitate to work with the charcoal directly on the PVA glued half still wet white tissue paper. At this point I felt something was starting to happen. On the right side I would maintain the realistic, revealed painful facial expression while on the left it would become a process of concealing that pain.
As more line marking started to accumulate on the white tissue layer and existing drawing paper, there was build-up of light contrast and intention to apply self-expression through aggressive line marking.
As previously worked in my sketchbook, I started to build up more layering this time using different types of paper but even so still maintaining a monochromatic effect.
More interplay and dialogue between the paper layering and tonal line marking which added more depth and life to the composition.
In the final layer I added white tissue paper once again which added to the white tonal variation of the drawing. The use of black, grey and white soft pastels added the final touches to the final A2 artwork giving it more tonal transition.
If I were to write that I feel that through this self –awareness journey, a means of soul catharsis something beyond drawing has occurred, which has contributed to more mature work being produced, would that make me sound conceded? Each of the pre-final drawings has managed to capture an aspect from the theme concept on one hand and drawing technical element on the other. For me the final displays a higher technical competence drawing level than the previous preliminary as there is more mature sophisticated use of the art material and clear display of the line and tone. And then I again I might be wrong. ….. ;p