At the first glance of reading the theme choice options for project 5 a personal project, my attention was drawn right away to “Line, Shape and Space” an open type theme that would allow me to give my own personal interpretation based on my theme concept. I have always been fascinated by spiritual concepts and through this visual inquiry I hope to gain a better insight into what angels perhaps are, breaking away from the stereo type preconception and images thus through serious reading (bible, literature, and serious reference books) and research together with my sketchbook theme development journey hopefully manage to capture my personal comprehension of such abstract but complicated concept. I am hoping to break the theme into two parts. Part one liberating the line and form of the angle image within the compositional space; picture plain and in Part two I will try to free the line and form breaking away from the confined drawing space (the limited imposed stereotype preconception) allowing it to escape out of the compositional space. I have all these ideas that I am excited to explore….materials and media to experiment with. Fingers crossed…….x
Understanding what Angels are?
In Christianity the word angel derives it’s meaning from the Greek Language; Angelos – άγγελος from the verb aggelo – αγγέλω, meaning to announce; and hence an angel being a messenger. This range of spirits, superior beings which God has created have a significant role. Although in the Old Testament the word angel “Malak” is mentioned 180 times it is not clear understanding what they look like and what the definite number is but assumed to be a great one(Daniel 7:10).
According to Dictionary.com the definition of angels is the following:
- One of a class of spiritual beings; a celestial attendant of God. In medieval angelology, angels constituted the lowest of the nine celestial orders (seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations or dominions, virtues, powers, principalities or princedoms, archangels, and angels).
- A conventional representation of such a being, in human form, with wings, usually in white robes.
- A messenger, especially of God.
- A person who performs a mission of God or acts as if sent by God:
An angel of mercy.
- A person having qualities generally attributed to an angel, as beauty, purity, or kindliness.
- A person whose actions and thoughts are consistently virtuous.
- An attendant or guardian spirit.
There is no direct mention in Genesis 1 of the creation of the angels but reading through the bible one will get clues of their creation and significance.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”. (Genesis 1:26).
There is a lot of debate as to what angels look like; that they were created in a manly appearance with or without wings. The truth is that no one really knows what the true nature and form of these divine beings is, simply because the human mind in the process of perceiving such abstract concept is limited to his or her panoramic bios, meaning based on their human life experiences. Therefore, I think that the first step to this visual and spiritual journey to be embarked on will be to explore all the possibilities of what form angels take taking into consideration their characteristics and functions while at the same time breaking away from the static, stereotype angel image concept to a more abstract.
As mentioned in my previous projects I try and challenge myself into taking into consideration the aesthetics of the presentation of certain sketchbook pages while in others I keep it free and spontaneous and rather informal.
For the first page of my sketchbook initially I had drawn a seraph (top of the angelic hierarchy rank); visual reference to and early Christian depiction of the seraphim and on the top left corner beginning with the letter “A” I began to spell the word “Angel” in English and going vertically the Greek word for angels “Αγγέλοι”. For the first two pages the writing was added later on together with the collage section of one of the preliminary artworks.
Through the research I found out that in the Christian religion it is believed that there is an angelic hierarchy rank system that consists of three spheres. In the first sphere, top of the rank are the seraphim, then the cherubim followed by the thrones. In the second sphere, the Dominions, Virtues and Powers, and finally in the third sphere the Principalities, Archangels and Angels. In my sketchbook I quickly sketched the 9 ranks into one strip on top of the other not giving it too much thought. By now having read some books I decided to refine my research and to begin with mostly concentrate on the first two ranks the seraphim and cherubim. I also thought it was a good idea to research into the angel image reappearing through ancient historical time and cultures. An inquiry from where this stereotype image of a human with wings comes from. An answer to this is that during the Byzantine era the church having created the first icons of the angelic forms played a key role in this.
A Brief Reference to the Angelic Human Form in Ancient Times
When looking at history this hybrid concept of winged humans dates back to ancient times and in almost every major culture.
In 3,000 BC, in ancient Mesopotamia, the Sumerian civilization is the oldest society that has left clear evidence; through the relief carvings on stone and temple wall mural paintings depicting the winged human form. This ancient society had a particular belief in these “messenger gods” and that each person had a ghost. When it was conquered in 1900 BC, by Semitric tribes, due to the cross-cultural influence, they borrowed the concept the winged human.
The same cross-cultural influence occurred in ancient Egypt.
“There are certain elements in Egypt’s Early Dynastic Period which seem to betray unmistakable Sumerian influence. Egyptian hieroglyphic writing may be one. Another is the so-called ’paneled-facade’ type of architecture found in Egyptian tombs from the First to the Third Dynasties (3200 to 2800 B.C.).
The most remarkable evidence of cultural connection is that shown in the architecture of the Early Dynastic tombs of Egypt and Mesopotamian seal-impressions showing almost exactly similar buildings”. Leonard Cottrellin The Quest for Sumer (http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vida_alien/alien_watchers14.htm)
The “winged humans” appear in Egyptian iconography, where Isis, queen of all the Egyptian goddesses, is represented as a woman with wings.
These angelic image forms kept reappearing through more civilizations as time progressed such as the early Persian civilizations (Zoroastrianism). Among the ancient Greek gods depicted as a human from with wings included Hermes, Nike the Winged goddess of Victory, Icarus, Eros all considered messengers of the gods. It was the ancient Greeks that came up with the concept of interpreting holy texts in an attempt to make sense of “the word of the gods’ and retaining the idea of facilitating a dialogue between the above divine world and the below human one.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam
With the rise of the monotheistic religion Judaism intergraded some of religious concept of previous polytheistic religions and later on Christianity as with Islam share some common ground on the concept of angels.
There is far more research to this as more intergraded religions before and after Christianity but my intention here is to gain some sort of substantial knowledge before I start the visual research.
Back to the sketchbook
When we hear the word “angel” the first image that pops up in our minds is this human form with wings. So the first element I wanted to make a quick visual reference to was the wings in particular the feathers which was also the beginning of experimentation with traditional and non-tradition art media such as the glass paint relief liner (black and white) with acrylic paint, ink, frayed fabric that resembled a feathered form and white graphite pencil on black card. At the beginning I always tend to start at random and see how the theme will develop and accordingly use the experimental effort. But there is a possibility that not all the experimentations will be used for the final outcome.
As my intention was to try and escape from this static pre-conceptual image and deciding that I would tackle the first two ranks the seraphim and cherubs I decided to do a double sketchbook page of collaged images links to the characteristics of these two ranks of angels where I applied acrylic clear texture and then black and white acrylic paint in a dry brush manner with the intention to create some abstraction to the flow of the collage aesthetics. The white dry brush strokes came in as interruptive line markings where in some areas of the collaged double page composition it changed the images entirely. I think the general intention here was the liberating process of both pre-concept but also moving away from the static line marking of angle image to that of a more abstract expressive one.
Since abstract expressive line marking requires a larger scale drawing background I actually worked simultaneously in my A3 sketchbook and on loose A2 sheets of paper. After looking at early Christian (Byzantine to early Middle Ages era) art imagery of the Seraph angels; a depiction of a human head with a halo without a body with three pairs of wings my initial reaction was to just draw this static image using charcoal and a limited color palette of soft pastels. The result was indeed static, as the subject matter was too central in the composition. There was consideration to exclude this first attempt but I decided against this since I have to show the journey of my work progression not forgetting that the pre-concept of the seraphs is depicted static to begin with.
Again I took the opportunity of including a sample of experimentation with the use of a clear acrylic grainy texture that once dried gave this translucent effect. With a palette knife a feather like rhythm was applied on nature paper and white acrylic dry brushing on top…….; An experimentation to perhaps consider for later on.
Still in the experimentation mood this time I took the brownish tone nature paper and tearing them into individual feathers to later on reassemble them into a wing that stretched across the double sketchbook page plane. Before continuing further I had to understand what these Seraphs angles are. By this research I would take the main aspects of their characteristics based on the so called appearance and divine role and use them as elements for my theme development. I would remain optimistic that it is these elements that would suggest and guide the choice of media and concept theme development. After a researching into books, the web I started to build a profile of the Seraphs. They are spirit beings, fiery burning ones. Burning would involve some sort of light, glow, warmth, fire, fire consumption. This is where I used the white acrylic paint to dry brush over the paper collage feathered texture, as the color white represents light and is the highest of the lighter tones. I was reading that the wings are actually radiations of the rainbow color. If it is light that they omit, just a thought…… when science breaks up white, light all the colors of the rainbow appear. They have six wings covering their faces out of respect and hover over God, so there is movement involved and their role as with the cherubs, while hovering over God they sing (as they are the closest to Him) and they are responsible for the cleansing of sin, taking away the sin (subtraction) and here is what interests me…… the word Abstract in Greek is called “aferesi” meaning subtraction as you take away something. In the process of abstraction detail is subtracted and abstracted. I have come across in YouTube a piece of music that has been slowed down 800% so you get this concert of angels singing….. an overwhelming audio experience. I intend to use this audio element to back up the visual, towards the end that is. And while all this audio, visual, experimentation research is going on I get these quotes in my head……
“It is an interplay between what I imagine, what I think, trying to comprehend of the abstract, unknown”.
One of the requirements of assignment 5 is that as a starting point I have to make connection to the previous covered parts. I realize that I am going back to the anthropomorphic, half animal human concept, so as a starting point reference I am referring to the animal the dove in particular and the human form. The dove appears symbolically in the holy trinity, the Holy Spirit. I still felt that I wanted to use the tearing nature paper feather collage and this time I collaged them onto a dove, bird in flight but this time introducing the charcoal as well as the soft white pastel. I carried out quick sketches of doves hovering, with wing fluttering movement. Since angles have wings, I tried to look at the mannerism of the fluttering movement of the birds (at different angels and poses) with the use of quick expressive line marking and combination of mixed art material such as charcoal, the black water soluble soft pencil and white soft pastel. At the same time while sketching away I tried to capture tonal transition but also the sharp contrast between the light and the dark tones.
I then had the idea of maintaining that element of fun in my sketchbook and create interactive sketchbook pages as I have previously done in my other sketchbooks. I considered creating two folded inward pages of wings that would open and close. When closed to reveal the paper collage texture with charcoal and soft pastels of wings. Upon opening the pages outwards to reveal some studies of historical artists’ depictions of the angels and in particular the seraph angels. My intention was not to create copies but use drawing material in combination with other media to carry out visual studies. I did not just want to make a written contextual reference to the artworks of these historical painters but attempt to study them by drawing. Also upon viewing them I tried to work the aesthetics of the four connected sketchbook pages creating some sort of visual image flow.
Abbot Handerson Thaye
Angel, 1887 by Abbot Handerson Thaye
In his 1887 paintings “Angel”, Handerson Thaye portrays his “ideal female figure” where his subject matter, the female figure is presented as an embodiment of virtue, adorned in white flowing tunics and feathered angel wings which occupy most of the compositional space. Here the dominating variation of white light tones together with the soft facial expression further emphasizes the need to capture the essence and importance of the divine purity. The half open arms suggest a revelation of honesty and absolute intention to giving. After some research it was interesting to find out that this artist was using eccentric non-conventional technical means to execute his artworks that in a way contradicted the whole angelic concept of divine pureness. An example of this is where he used parallel mixture of traditional academic techniques and non-traditional innovative “unorthodox” means by mixing dirt into the paint or instead of using a brush to paint he would use a broom to minimize the sense of rigidity of the still wet painting.
A quick study of Abbot Handerson Thaye’s 1887 painting “Angel” aimed at looking at the human figure form with wings but using drawing media instead of paint. The combination of acrylic paint, dip pen with ink with water and soft pastels was a quick means of experimentation but carrying out self-critique the choice of media did not capture the softness and luminosity of the subject matter. That dark ink lines came out too harsh adding certain rigidity and stiffness to the drawing attempt. Because this was just a quick visual hands on inquiry into the artist’s work I did not want to spend too much time as I have to give more emphasis to the original development and outcome of my work.
And here is where it becomes interesting. How could the white, pure divine paint media tone be mixed with dirt? Or the use of the broom that sweeps the dirt off the floor be used in the whole concept of the ideal purity? When decoding the Greek word for angel the double letter “ΓΓ” symbolizes the earthly world as I will further on attempt to explain. The same can be implied to the use of the dirt, referred to the earthly sand so in a way he was not far away from philosophical concept of the angel, that is using the color white as it is light in its sense, feathers radiating from the top of the canvas as the placement of the arms shape the Greek letter L “Λ”.
At this point of my research journey apart from researching into historical artist I also researched into the Philosophical ancient Greek symbolic meanings of the Greek Alphabet so that the above statement makes more sense.
Decoding Hidden Meanings of the Ancient Greek Alphabet Letters
Even though the Greek language has undergone significant modification compared to the original form, the Greek alphabet still carries the decoded traits revealing the intellect Grandeur of the whole philosophical construction of the language that reveals operations and functions of Nature. http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/10/12/decoding-hidden-meanings-of-ancient-greek-alphabet-letters/
As the letters take the form of “ideograms” they begin to narrate the philosophical explanation of the concept of each word constructed. I will attempt to decode the word angel “ΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ” but before doing so present the symbolic break down of each letter.
The first process of decoding is to look at the consonants and then proceed to the vowels.
“Taking under consideration that language is a living organism, we could imagine that it has “flesh and bones”. This part of “bones”, which is the main structure of a word and the basis of its meaning, is played by the consonants. So the part of the “flesh”, which is the voice and the light of the word, is played by the vowels. The Greek Language has more vowels than any other language, so, when talking in Greek, we emit more light, using all range of 7 colors. We hear 7 musical notes, we see 7 colours, we have 7 energy centers and the vowels of the Greek Alphabet are 7.” http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/10/12/decoding-hidden-meanings-of-ancient-greek-alphabet-letters/
A= the Primary Force through solar radiation or through a more spiritual approach the Primary source of Power/Energy
ΓΓ= earthly elements
E=motion – movement –course – expansion of
Λ=a double great quantity of solar radiation (enlightenment)
O= particular space of area of all sizes
Λ ΓΓ Α
ΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ= (Light)(and procession of earthly elements) (from the primary source of
Ε Ο ΣΣ
power) (where is radiates, expands) (onto a particular space) (on the earthly world.)
I find all this information very inspiring as I hope to use this as part of my theme development. Decoding the word definitely gives a better understanding and in a way hidden definition within the word.
Seraphim, 1885-1896 by Victor Vasnetsov
“Each one had six wings. With two he kept his face covered and with two he kept his feet covered and with two he would fly about…………” Isa 6:1-7
When looking at Victor Vasnetsov’s 1885-1896 gouache, watercolor artwork of the Romanticism, Art Nouveau style, and of religious painting genre, it becomes apparent that his depiction of the seraphim angel is literally loyal to the bible verses. What becomes the most captivating aspect of the subject matter is the shyness of the facial expression of the seraph which covers his face and feet, the reason for this explained as out of respect. The eye features that are aligned throughout the wings sustain a rhythmic pattern adorn the composition in the Art Nouveau style while the angelic figure form appears to be floating within the decorative gold negative space giving the impression of a divine presence.
When I attempted to do a study of this artwork I tried to keep it more sketchy with some suggestion of expressive line marking with a soft black pencil on top of a watery layer of acrylic paint. I was content that I captured the shy expression of the angel hiding behind the wings.
Seraphim by Wilhelm Kotarbinski
While Victor Vasnetsov’s angel depiction bares the complete human figure form Wilhelm Kotarbinski’s appears in a partial surrealistic partial human head upper torso wrapped within the encasing of the winged structures. There is argument as to why the Christian church allowed such visual abstraction of the original Seraphim form; that is the complete human like form with the addition of the wings. I find it rather interesting comparing an older wall mural painting of a Seraphim (lacking the ¾’s of the lower body) of the Byzantine era. When looking in general most of the Greek orthodox religious artworks especially the iconography one does notice an obvious tendency to stylize a standard approach to painting the religious characters which does appear rigid, static. On the contrary with Victor Vasnetsov’s seraphim angel there is a softer and more realistic approach to painting even though it falls under the decorative Art Nouveau painting style category. Here the facial portrait of the angel holds an idealistic element of romanticism while in the Byzantine depiction the angel almost lacks facial expression. I remember having asked a priest iconographer about this stylized tendency of painting and his answer was that the aim of iconography is not to capture the realistic fine art depiction but rather concentrate on the religious content of the narrated image. The importance of this this was this strict style in a way serves as a “safety measure” so that there is no emphasis on the iconolatry but the real essence of the Christian faith. It becomes apparent that lacking the ability to comprehend biblical texts people resort to a visual means of inquiry.
Studying the Seraphim angel by Wilhelm Kotarbinski, involved using a combination of media; acrylic paint, charcoal and soft pastels. Here I tried to concentrate on the different color tones that the artist used to paint the wings instead of just using white. I appreciated how the combination of the three media worked quite well together to produce the impression of the artwork.
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
“Abraham and the Thee Angels” first half of the 18th century by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
I also considered looking at the 18th century artwork “Abraham and the Three Angels” by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, in Rococo style. The main two aspects of this artwork that I find considerably interesting is the cropped section of the whole painting composition giving the impression of the foreshortening effect, where the viewing is from the lower forefront of the composition looking up; the illusion of perspective. This gives further depth to the cropped composition as the spectator looks up in awe. The other reason why I chose this artist’s work is that the angel is depicted in full human form; an idealized version of perfection, with the wing structures. The particular focus here is the way Tiepolo creates a delicate quality in the tonal transition of color as the chiaroscuro effect adds a dramatic effect to the narration.
This was the last of the historical drawing references I did in the sketchbook using charcoal and soft pastel. Coming back to write about this sketchbook drawing and assessing it, I am aware that there is too much charcoal outline going on which ends up trapping the color tones. The aim was to just draw the angel figures and manage to capture some of the color palette. I could have carried on but the effort here was to just draw a study and not produce a copy of an artwork.
As mentioned previously for my assignment 5 I would just concentrate on the first two highest rank angels. Since I had created a sketchbook page where I brainstormed the characteristics of the Seraph angels, I wanted to take the time and do the same for the Cherub angels. Looking at historical renaissance artist who painted the cherub angels as this cute chubby childlike figure with small wing structures it taunts on me how far away this depiction is from the tetra morph biblical descriptions; of human form of glorious beauty with four faces, the human face, the ox, the lion and the eagle. These four faces represent the four attribute of God; the human face bares the God’s love, the ox projecting God’s power, the lion representing God’s justice and righteousness and finally the eagle God’s wisdom.
Each Cherub has two wings that spread upwards with eyes all over their bodies. This brings to mind Viktor Vasnetsov’s Seraph angel and once again I find myself wondering if he has deliberately combined the Seraph characteristics with that of the Cherub; specifically the Seraph six wings with the repeated eye covering the bodies and wings of the angels. Or is this a misinterpretation and why has the Christian church allowed such misguided interpretation?
The cherubim could move in any of the four directions they faced, without turning as they moved. … The cherubim had eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, their backs, and their wings. Each of the four cherubim had four faces: the first was the face of an ox, the second was a human face, the third was the face of a lion, and the fourth was the face of an eagle.
— Ezekiel 10:11-12,14, (The Bible Societies (1976). Good News Bible. New York: Collins. 798-851)
None the less in this Cherub sketchbook page I found an image of the renaissance cherubim chubby child angel statue and drew it using and HB and soft pencil, disciplining myself to achieve a finer tonal transition line marking with the face and bottom wing as the focal point. Moving outwards from these focal points the line marking began to take a lighter, scattered and sketchy form.
Inspired by the French contemporary painter Jena Bazaine
As the intention of the concept of my assignment 5 was through the means of expressive Line marking within the confined compositional Space (stereotype misconception of imagery) break the stereotype misconception of the angel Form.
Going back to the painter Jena Bazaine’s artwork “La Chambre de Musique VII” featured in the art magazine article “”, once again I looked at his contemporary technical approach to achieving the overlapped rhythm of each brushstroke of paint or the counter wiping effect. In this artwork Bazaine depicts the harmonious build-up of layers of color tones that take the form of expressive bold paint markings. Each marking taking its place on the picture plane music bar where the darker, intermediate and lighter tones take the role of harmony and melody, low deep notes transitioning to the higher pitch notes with crescendo and decrescendo tonal transitions and hence creating the musical rhythm. A musical rhythm that exists within nature’s organic forms.
“La Chambre de Musique VII” featured magazine article Recitals Musique De Chambre
Photo taken from the magazine page
Linking this inspiring artist’s artwork to my assignment 5 theme, it is within these organic wing structures that the musical rhythmic pattern of the feathers exists. And as these composed layers of markings build up the composition it begins to sound like music and movement; the choir of cherubs hovering around a divine higher power which I call God.
Borrowing Jena Bazaine’s red tone color palette and paint markings I decided to do a series of three A2 size drawings, the first using red oil paint with cloth to wipe away paint and add the child figure cherub with a darker tone outline. This marked the beginning.
For the next two child cherub A2 drawings I used charcoal in an expressive determined to begin breaking the stereotype cherub image with movement; movement that I tried to capture through the use of a monochrome tonal value and balance between the darker, lighter and intermediate tones.
On one of the two I decided to add a limited selection of soft pastels to give more energy to the drawing.
The series of A2 preparatory drawings: Breaking the Seraph Form
The first charcoal/soft pastels drawing of this series of preparatory work made reference to the Byzantine depiction of the Seraph angel that appears stiff, static. The objective here was not consider this drawing a successful composite on, artwork which was far from all this as it had issues with the too centered subject matter, the facial characteristics that were too prominent and it would have been better to wipe out and so on. I could easily have discarded this drawing but I found it relevant to include the stages of the breaking, liberating process.
And this is where the fun began. I actually find this drawing where I only used charcoal, a cloth and a wet flat brush to create further dragged line markings that gave the impression of movement. I decided to stop at this stage of the drawing practicing the virtue of “knowing when to stop” and that “Less is More”!
Another “Less is More” drawing where I had applied faint charcoal markings that were toned down further with the big flat wet brush. The only darker tone focal point give the impression that this divine entity is captures within the split second of movement. I considered not working this drawing to include lighter tone drawings.
For the remaining preparatory drawings of this series with every stage I would decide to take it a step further or not. The way I worked was drawing up to a certain point stopping and moving onto the next drawing; like a conveyer belt, when reaching the final one then going back to the 4th one applying more line with the use of the chosen media and line marking. For this drawing I carried on with the use of soft color pastels and flat line markings. Here the brilliant red tone took the role of the warm light as blue tones created color contrast.
In this drawing the charcoal line marking became thinner and sharper that was interrupted with a flat wet brush and later more line marking took place. In the next phase flat soft pastel color tones were added to create more noise.
Drawing different versions of the more liberated Seraph form started to produce interesting abstract compositions. Off course some more successful than others. What made this drawing different from the rest was that the smudging of the soft pastels created further intermediate tones onto which I could reapply fresh ones. Having documented the stages of each drawing adds more fun to the journey. For me this drawing radiated energy.
And the drawing will become what it wants to……. With every stage I made the decision to add red soft pastel, use the wet brush with plenty of water that dripped, and later come back and use a monochromatic red and white soft pastel application capturing the contrast of light and dark. Within that chaos of expressive line marking a familiar human like form starts to appear as lighter red tone specks are added to add a more dynamic essence to drawing.
This drawing was all about line and achieving balance although I find that in the end where it started to pick up energy and movement it became static again and retook the original form. There was definitely a struggle here but I chose to stop as reviewing it one begins to acknowledge the mistakes, learn from them and move on.
Both # 9 and #10 were about working beyond the comfort zone until something resulted in the whole art making process, different to the previous drawings. Where it began with charcoal and smudging it continued with color soft pastels later dripped with a flat wet brush, masking fluid to attempt to trap the most desired compositional areas that would serve in the not so controlled form it continued on with applied dripping acrylic paint more masking fluid trapping, removal of the dried up masking residue that revealed a skeletal structure of the original form. Even though the soft pastels added more depth and high light to the composition in my opinion the end result was static.
Number 10 drawing began with the lighter tones. Having to decide between drawing #3 and #10 I decided to leave the third one at the initial less line marking stage. Number 10 continued with soft pastels, addition of light entering the composition from the left side in the form of white acrylic paint paste where masking fluid would later on trap the white light. Once dried at a later stage to be enhance with turquoise watered down acrylic paint tone, trapped again with masking fluid and darker turquoise tones after the removal of the masking fluid. Looking at the end result although there is not so much movement there is definitely the element of the sparked energy.
Looking at Contemporary artists
At this point of my investigation research I felt that it was time to look into contemporary artist; looking at how they tackled the concept of some sort of divine spirituality, technique, composition, suggestion of use of media and so on.
Frantisek Smejkal (1988). Sima. Paris: Odeon.
(Photo taken from the art book of Sima Josef)
The first contemporary artist that I looked at was Sima Josef. I was fortunate to look through his art book with most of his artwork but unfortunately it was written in Czech which I could not understand. I did decide to photograph some of the art book pages. I tried to look into the internet for more information which was very limited especially about the particular 1964 painting “Absence de Lieu” (Absence of place). Looking at the composition of this artwork one could sense a divine sensual presence. Traces of familiarity in a luminous angelic form but through the use of light the form becomes fused with the whole process of abstraction. The intention here is not to depict a clean cut depiction of an angelic form but convey some sort of connection to the sensual experience.
Frantisek Smejkal (1988). Sima. Paris: Odeon.
(Photo taken from the art book of Sima Josef)
Although it is better not to replicate a study of an artist’s artwork, I found it relevant to challenge myself to capture this luminous abstraction of light and form through the use of mixed media such as acrylic paint, soft pastels, chalk & pencil. The whole attempt became a challenged mesh of the mixed media to try and capture the original artwork. As luminosity, light was involved it was the basic reason for having looked at this artist. Both the Seraph and Cherub angels are the closest to God’s throne. I am imagining this as an explosion of light radiating outwards. To be fair I am just looking at artist. It is later on that I will decide which one will inspire directly or indirectly the outcome of my theme development.
IL LEE and Chiharu Shiota
Referring to the A2 drawing #8 (where I used more bold line marking) I could definitely connect to the contemporary’s artist IL LEE’s compositions that consist of an accumulation; build-up of a versatile means of line depiction such as cross-hatching black lines, intertwined line markings that eventually create the abstract illusion of the presence of a composed form that appears behind the mesh of lines. Using thin strips of black card I tried to create a composition of the seraph abstract form with the build-up of just cross-hatching lines. And this is where it became more fun bringing contemporary Japanese Chiharu Shiota’s art installations composed of everyday objects engulfed within this mesh of intertwined threads that expand within the installation room space. It is not by surprise that her artwork touches upon a spiritual level of the relationship between the past, present, living and dying and the memories implanted into the objects. I could just imagine being there and the emotional impact of this whole visual experience would have had on me. It is these threads that create this abstract concept of the persisting imprint of memory. One the one hand it maintains some form when you see it as a whole but when focused in it becomes incomplete and infinite. Just like memory works.
In silence by Chiharu Shiota
I could definitely find a correlation between IL Lee and Shi0tas’s use of line. In my sketchbook I decided to connect two pages together created a miniature art installation placing a print statue of an angle suspended within the sketchbook pages and supported by cross-linked threads.
Playing around with the concepts and suggestion of line marking technique gave me the possibility to flirt with the ideas of using this art installation effect. Perhaps…. Who knows for the time being? Photographing the miniature art installation produced interesting photo compositions that consisted of invasive threads, cast shadows of lines and the angelic image print.
As the specification states in Part 5 that initially I have to touch base with some previous sections this actually takes me back to last exercise of Part 3 Statues. Trying to create an abstract composition is one aspect of a challenged effort but to base this on an abstract concept makes even more difficult. This is why I need to go back and look at the angelic human form initially.
Going back to the statues, with reference to a web image of an angle image I tried to draw it using charcoal and kneaded erases trying to capture movements, while still obsessed with the idea of breaking the form where the line begins to misbehave and break away from the original form. All this while still trying to maintain tonal value.
Abstraction through Photoshop
As abstraction can become the means by which the original form begins to break up and change form I decided to use this once more as previously done in Part 3. Taking a selected image and carrying through different stages of filters while manipulating the various applications this resulted in the abstraction of the original statue image of the Seraphim. This image is a statue of a group of Seraphim angles facing outwards while forming a circle. Unfortunately when I saved the image but when I tried to search the web for more information so that I could include in my blog the artwork title, location etc. I could not find the image. But none the less having acknowledged and mentioned that it is a borrowed image, carrying though Photoshop.
At this stage of my theme development I found it necessary to experiment with the concept of technically breaking the original form as done in the previous sketchbook page by editing the original image through Photoshop. I considered another means of breaking the form by fading out with additional mixed media effects. In this experimentation I began by collaging a reprint of wings of a statue angel so that there would be a total of 3 pairs just like of that of a seraphim angel. The next phase was to dry brush white acrylic paint using a flat brush. With gradual paint application the image began to fade out into the negative white space. I repeated this stage in the next page as I appreciated the simplicity and luminosity of the faded angelic form. Referring to the first collage white dry brushing image I then used white and black glass paint liners where I used just line to create some sort of kinetic movement impression. To finish it off I used a diluted watery white acrylic paint. I had used this technique in my assignment 4 drawing a figure using line. Reflecting on this result I am not sure at this point if I am going to use it for my final therefore I find the need to carry on experimenting.
Research of angels within the biblical context of the concept
Even though I am specifically focusing on the first two ranks of the angelic hierarchy, the seraphim and cherubim, I considered the importance of looking into the biblical accounts of the angelic presence in relation to subject matter of historical artists depicted in their artwork.
The sacrifice of Isaac: Genesis chapter 22
“9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide” as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”
15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.” Genesis 22 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22&version=ESV)
The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1634 by Rembrandt
Sacrifice of Isaac, 1598 by Caravaggio
How does one begin to describe and analyze the artwork of masters of painting such as Rembrandt and Caravaggio?
In Rembrandts 1634 painting “The Sacrifice of Isaac”, Rembrandt captures that startling scene moment where the angle of the Lord stops Abraham trying to sacrifice his son. It is within this tense dramatic scene that suggestion for movement; as the angle pulls back Abraham’s hand the knife appears in the process of being dropped in midair while the chiaroscuro effect adds a more drama to the whole narrated scene. When comparing it though to Caravaggio’s earlier 1598 painting “Sacrifice of Isaac”, the chiaroscuro painting technique is more subtle revealing more tonal transition from light to dark and vice versa. It is subtleness that allows the viewer to visually discover fine detail that exists throughout the composition where as in Caravaggio’s artwork there is sharper contrast between light and dark and this is obvious in the prominent pitch black negative space where the angel, the ram, Abraham and Isaac emerge from the darkness.
I was fascinated to discover Chagall’s interpretation of the same subject matter, the Sacrifice of Isaac where he manages through his unique and more contemporary painting style and significance of his symbolic use of color that he conveys a sense of spirituality to his viewers. Here the color red that trickles down from the background scene of Jesus carrying the cross (upper central right side of the canvas) suggests Jesus’s blood line linking it to Abraham. This transition of red tones to yellow ones that flows onto Isaac’s forced reclined body and the body becomes part of a burning flame of light and hope. In the top left quarter of the composition the sky is dominated by the blue tone that represents the sky and heavens; the ethereal realm. And it is within these blue symbolic tones that two angles are depicted. The main angel protagonist engulfed within the blue sky while the angel in the far top left corner of the picture plain radiates pure divine white into the blue section of the composition and direction of the blue angel.
The Sacrifice of Isaac, 1960-66 by March Chagall
Other biblical accounts of the presence of angels that I researched into were:
The image of gold and the Blazing Furnace: Daniel chapter 3
The freeing of Peter from prison Acts chapter 12
….. and there are more but my intention here was to carry out research so as to acquire an adequate amount of relevant knowledge that would lay the foundations onto which I would be able to continue with my theme progression. This was about gaining a good insight, knowing my subject matter. With every biblical reference I made it a task to look and compare the artworks of other historical artists.
In the account “The image of gold and the blazing furnace”, Daniel chapter 3 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203) I looked at byzantine wall fresco painting depicting this account. Unfortunately this was the only available image from the web which did not include further information as to the location of the painting.
As I have mentioned in an earlier research point post, the intention of the Byzantine painting style carried onto the Christina Greek Orthodox is to simply visually narrate the account for the then illiterate Christians. Within this composition everything is relevant and appears in the forefront even though there is line and use of tone. Comparing it to the pre-Raphaelite painting of the artist Simeon Solomon’s 1863 artwork has captured a more realistic human form but with more intimate human posture with intention to romanticize the concept theme.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, 1863 by Simeon Solomon
The freeing of Peter from prison Acts chapter 12
The Liberation of Saint Peter, by Bartolome Esteban Murillo
The Angel Frees Peter from Prison, 1630 by Gerrit Van Honthorst
As both of these paintings of the same subject matter are of the renaissance era with the distinctive chiaroscuro dramatic contrast of light and dark what becomes interesting in this comparison is the source of light. In painting “The Liberation of Saint Peter” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo the light radiates from the human angel form whereas in Gerrit Van Honthorst’s 1630 painting “The Angel Frees Peter from Prison” the light enters from the opening of the door (right side of the composition) by the angel. This is where most of the light appears to be casted onto the back of the angel. Light is definitely one of the main elements I will be considering when doing my final as it one of the main characteristics of the seraphim and cherubim angels.
Looking at Contemporary artist
Looking into the artworks of artists is vital as it will enhance my theme development and come to the rescue with always something to suggest.
Justine Khamara is a contemporary artist who constructs complex 3D collage sculptures using photographic reproductions. http://www.justinekhamara.com/about.php Her 2013 sculpture artwork “Vertical Alliteration” is composed of collaged strips of a portrait image. It is this means of breaking down the image and re-assembling it in a new refined manner which at the same time conveys an eerie visual response.
Vertical Alliteration, 2013 by Justine Khamara
Borrowing her technical image break up I attempted to cut the original image of an angel into strips and collage them in a broken simple uneven alignments with spaces in between them. It is this scattered strip collage that I found relevant to the breaking up of the form through distortion.
In the next two sketchbook pages I decided to photo manipulate another image of a statue of an angel with intention to use different filters, manipulate the settings in each filter effect. This lead to a series of photo edited effects of the same image where in each line, light, tone, form was manipulated and distorted. It is the last final 6 images that began to suggest the fading out of the original form as if barely to suggest some sort of presence.
“Write On” Ink works by Il Lee
IL LEE, IW-105, acrylic and oil on canvas
Il Lee’s drawings are not just about the process of line marking but a clear comprehension of the coexistence between light and dark. It is as if light cannot exist without darkness and vice versa. And the more I stare at it work the more I am beginning to see. How he creates an abstract form from meticulous patient layering of line marking that gradually starts defining tonal existence. Here line takes the role of creating tone.
Going back to look more at IL LEE’s drawings triggered a response, a need to attempt the expressive line marking but this time bearing in mind the purpose of the line in relation to form, light and dark. Before though I could begin the process creating a more free expressive angelic form I had to “lean” onto concrete source of imagery. Browsing through the web I always save wanted images into an archive system. One of these images that I came across was a glass stained artwork of cherubim angels. Unfortunately the artist is unknown. None the less I still went ahead and used the image.
I was particularly interested in compositional suggestions so that I could apply IL LEE’s line marking. I then proceeded with a Biro pen technique to create a series of abstract line compositions taking into consideration the aesthetics of tonal balance; that is building-up focal areas of the composition while allowing a gradual scarce line existence. Searching into my historical and contemporary archives I remembered to find the images of photographer Solve Sundsbo who’s photograph series of the Fabric Dance theme “Invitation a la Danse” where the photography compositions depict female dancer figures intertwined within a white fabric that seems to be moving due to some air being blown towards a certain direction to create movement that reminds the viewer of a Baroque like rhythm. Within this human fabric a sense of familiarity arises while at the same time an abstract occurrence of figure form.
Fabric Dance “Invitation a la Danse” , photography by Solve Sundsbo
Looking again at Solve Sundsbo’s photograph composition it makes me wonder the source from which an artist draws her/his inspiration. Sundsbo’s composition reminds me of the American symbolist artist Elihu Vedder’s 1885 pre-Raphaelite artwork “The Pleiades” where his seven female figures (Greek mythology nymphs) appear to hold similar posture although in a more circular format, holding fabric that appears to be flowing through the compositional picture plane.
The Plaeithes, 1885 by Elihu Vedder
Going back to re-look at this photographic artwork “Invitation a la Danse by Solve Sundsbo I realize that apart from the postures of his figure model, it is the movement of the fabric that gives an impression of a flow like aerial dance. This brings to mind the kinetic sculpture 2009 artwork “Magic Carpet” by Daniel Wortsel where a large shimmering sheet of red fabric is centered in the middle of a room and surrounded operating fans that set the fabric in motion; elevating, turning, turning and twisting in midair. http://www.danielwurtzel.com/air.cfm
Magic Carpet, 2009 by Daniel Wortzel
The reason why I chose to look into this artist is to get a better understanding a feel of the flow like movement of the fabric; basically a means of visually observing the fabric in motion with the intention to acquire a 4D perception of the fabric concept. One can actually view this on YouTube:
While viewing the video there are intervals within the duration of the featured recording where for a split second one can get the impression that there is a figure wrapped within this swaying fabric.
While viewing the video there are intervals within the duration of the featured recording where for a split second one can get the impression that there is a figure wrapped within this swaying fabric.
Ascension (Red), 2009 by Anish Kapoor
After discovering Daniel Wortzel’s Magic Carpet, I found it relevant to include Anish Kapoor’s in a way kinetic as well, 2009 red art installation Ascension, where it involves the a vacuum suction of red powder, causing it to ascend upwards towards a centered focal suction tube on the ceiling. While this tornado like motion causes the powder upwards it gives the impression of the ascension of some sort of divine happening; reminding on of the angles depicted in historical paintings, within cloud formations.
I am still finding it a challenge as to how to incorporate inspiring elements of this contemporary artist’s work but I can definitely find common ground on the spiritual approach to work as his quote mentions:
“In my work, what is and what seems to be often become blurred,” said Kapoor. “In Ascension, for example, what interests me is the idea of immateriality becoming an object, which is exactly what happens in Ascension: the smoke becomes a column. Also present in this work is the idea of Moses following a column of smoke, a column of light, in the desert.” http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/how-anish-kapoors-venice-installation-went-up-in-smoke-2291993.html
Back to the sketchbook
I found Solve Sundsbo’s compositions together with Daniel Wortzel’s kinetic red fabric sculpture as a rich, inspiring source of reference because even though my intention is to break the form with an evolving line marking within or out of the compositional space I still need to start with something familiar and concrete in hopes of developing towards more expression and abstraction so as to achieve some sort of sense of spiritual impression.
Victor Vasnetsov 1885-1896 artwork “Seraphim” also was a good point of compositional reference.
I then found excitement in bringing back media techniques that I had used for my assignment 4 “Figure using line”, where I had used ink and bleach but also with the biro mark making process to begin with and later on proceeding to use ink for tone and bleach for high lights. The warm tones that are revealed from the reaction of the bleach on the ink, brings a sense of warmth to the drawing. At this point I began to carry out an experimental development path playing around with the order of the art materials, adding new ones and eliminating other but also creating my own compositions.
In my opinion this next composition where I completely covered the paper surface with ink and then dipping the dip pen in bleach to draw expressive line marks while taking into consideration compositional arrangement. Twirling line marks suggested movement which made this actually the most successful out of all the ink experiments.
When I am in the mood for experimentation I literally cannot stop. I keep trying to use a combination of different materials on various surfaces. In this next sketchbook page I use a white graphite pencil on black card. It is not one of my best results but this is the whole purpose of using a sketchbook….; for a lot of technical, theme development and conceptual elements to be resolved.
Repeating the ink and bleach dip pen line marking.
As liquid UHU glue was squeezed out of the tube but not to be used as intended but to draw line impressions. Once dried, dilute ink was applied over the whole composition to clearly reveal the true nature of the line marks. The small round brush dipped in bleach came to enhance more light into the composition. Finally dipping the dip pen in ink and adding a few more dark lines completed this composition. For me this composition was a bit too heavy in line marking but this was more about experimenting with the mixed media.
I then had the idea to first draw with faint ink line an angelic like form. Deciding to leave it as something interesting was captured; I proceeded to the next page this time switching the order of the media used.
Untitled Anish Kapoor drawing
As I am trying to prepare myself for my final there are still technical and theoretical aspects that I need to look into so as to gain more knowledge and therefore more self- awareness of what will start to occur in the final stage of my project.
Making visual reference to Anish Kappor’s drawings became a mission of trying to understand his sense of light and dark but at the same time it is his abstract curvilinear marks that create oval/round framed forms around a centered space as his intuitive, sensual and referential lines dance around the paper surface creating a constant impression of motion. I am content to discover reading that his drawings give life to the depths of internal spaces; exploring the spiritual within the corporeal realm. I can definitely connect to the need for this intimacy that is based on one’s own personal and spiritual exploration. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/event/article-2475071/Queen-art-Yes-Maam-art–From-David-Hockney-Tracey-Emin-Royal-Collection-gets-Brit-art-makeover.html
To be honest I am still trying to comprehend the symbolic importance of his limited choice of color being red, orange and purple tones. Instinctively being drawn to the color red I found myself enjoy making quick studies of his circular framed circle drawing but through my interpretation of choice of media. From using water soluble color pencils to soft pastels and ink I then started playing around with the circular subject matter and even taking some aspects of his 1981 artwork “As if to Celebrate, I Discovered a Mountain Blooming with Red Flowers” such as the raw powdered pigment of vivid hues. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/anish-kapoor-1384 On some of the circular forms I actually applied power flakes of soft pastel.
I even appreciated the accidental stains through the next page of the sketchbook and decided to leave them intentionally. In these next four pages I introduced the biro, pencil bleach, black card and charcoal and just started to enjoy the effects of every combination but in a rather organic manner which reminded me of Antony Gormley’s ink drawings of figures where he captures another dimension of the human presence; the human and the spirit.
Bodies, from the series of figure drawing by Antony Gormley
Visit to the Leventis Art Museum
In my opinion to get a well-rounded source of inspiration and knowledge, apart from reading and looking at art books and making reference to web audio, visual sources, taking the opportunity to visit an art gallery or museum to actually view the artwork in “flesh” become a whole different visual dimension. What separates you from the artwork is a considerable small distance, the opportunity to live and breathe for that visual sensation where your mind and soul is trying to take it all in.
I made it my mission to make a visit to the Leventis Art Museum in Nicosia with the intention to look art drawings and paintings whose compositions consist of the angelic presence or concept. There was not much but considering that Cyprus in general is not as fortunate as the UK with Tate modern and the National Gallery, in this case less is definitely better than nothing.
The Last Communion of the Magdalene, 1600-1650, Lombart School
(photo taken at the Leventis Art Museum)
With the mission to look for this angle artwork, the first of which I spotted was the monochromatic 1600-1650 artwork title “The Last Communion of the Magdalene” where the humble Magdalene kneels before the presence of the main features angel figure who offers her the Holy Communion. As this main angel protagonist occupies most of the compositional space more angels appear in the picture plane; two cherubim taking the child human like form, holding the Aër, the altar cloth between Magdalene and the larger scale, almost centered angel. More angles in smaller scale appear in the top right side background space of the composition giving depth to the painting. This depiction of the cherubs in particular where they are depicted as childlike angels comes to conflict with the biblical descriptions of the two winged, bearing four heads; the ox, lion eagle and human head. And there is a dilemma here as one is not sure if this biblical description is a symbolic one or literally the true natural form of the cherubim.
Annunciation of the Shepherds, 1610- 1677-91 by Jacob Willemsz De Wet
(photo taken at the Leventis Art Museum)
In Jacob Willemsz De Wet’s painting, as the anthropomorphic winged angel occupies the almost left central area of the chiaroscuro painting it also becomes one of the two main sources of light source. The other light source appears from the upper left hand side of the composition; the extremely high-lighted clouds suggesting the heavenly origin of the light.
Cupid, 1853 by Nikephoros Lytras
(photo taken at the Leventis Art Museum)
Even though there was a limited amount of artwork in relation to my subject matter out of the three artworks of interest the most exciting for me was the 1853 sketch drawing of artist Kikephoros Lytras. There appears to be three cupid angels with the front left one being the most prominent as a result of the strong darker use of linear line and faint tonal suggestion. The remaining cupids take a more abstract form composed of a thin mesh of quick, expressive and fainter line markings. It is within these almost abstract mark makings that some movement is captured which adds excitement to the drawing.
Reading: Encounters New Art from Old
Morphet, Richard, Robert Rosenblum, and Judith Bumpus. Encounters. London: National Gallery Co., 2000. Print.
Coming across reading this book was the missing link between the formal form of my subject matter and the breaking of the form through liberated expressive mark making. Another justification to the importance of reading this book is the solidification of the importance of making reference to historical and contemporary artists’ works. This reference becomes an acquired attitude even by the contemporary art masters themselves. These living 24 artists were invited by the National Gallery to participate in the Encounters Art Exhibition by choosing from a selection of 17th and 19th century artworks and create artwork response that resembled their source of reference. They had to demonstrate a degree of engagement with their source; historical heritage, with the aim to concentrate and explore in depth the subject matter. Some of the artists’ response was to produce work that was about more than what was literally shown. This collective body of artwork aimed at inviting and challenging the viewer to inquire about how the work was made and why it took that particular form. Some of the artists went beyond of the point of inspired reference to narrate a new or further concept. Encounter was about “When something old becomes new”, where artist engaged in the process of studying their source and then redefining it through their personal response. Morphet, Richard, Robert Rosenblum, and Judith Bumpus (2000). Encounters. London: National Gallery Co. .24-29
Morphet, Richard, Robert Rosenblum, and Judith Bumpus. Encounters. London: National Gallery Co., 2000. Print.
One of these artists who participated in the Encounters Art Exhibition was Leon Kossoff. He was also one of the few artists who’s artwork response to Ruben’s painting “The Brazen Serpen”, was closer to the resemblance of the source where he would combine observation, memory, the presence of the subject, the properties of light and color and the means of media use; and expressive, dynamic swiftness of intense mark making.
It was interesting to discover how this artist holds a rather humble stand in this whole work engagement deliberately stepping down to become a once again student where observation is a requirement to begin to try and understand the art master before him. Looking at his drawings, the directness of his response becomes obvious as he aims by the whole process not only to learn how to draw but gain a better insight of the greatness and importance of the paintings from which he works from. Artwork that are a result of rediscovery of movement, of directional thrust and how the figure occupies the compositional space; the capture of energy of that moment of the dramatic scene.
Looking at his repetitive drawings of the “same” composition ranging from etching techniques to drawing with charcoal and ink this further gives emphasis to his determination to learn from the original master’s painting. His work is about studying rather than copying where in each drawing he sees and captures something new exploring variation in mark making, use of tone while capturing the essence of the studied painting. Each new drawing takes a life and a voice of its own.
Series of drawings by Leon Kossoff
Morphet, Richard, Robert Rosenblum, and Judith Bumpus. Encounters. London: National Gallery Co., 2000. Print.
Series of drawings by Leon Kossoff
The whole purpose of looking at Kossoff’s drawings was the exact intermediate stage of expressive line marking; between extreme fine definition and abstract. Taking the time to focus on this intermediate expressive drawing stage would become the first work progression stage from which I would be able to build up the final artwork gradually with every mark making addition it would eventually evolve into an abstract final artwork.
The next few sketchbook pages purpose was to gain a better understanding of the borrowed composition by Solve Sundsbo “Invitation a la Danse” and Kossoff’s repetitive same composition drawings, beginning with the dip pen and ink creating a flow of mark making where just line was used to draw the drawing.
In the next repetition attempt a wet brush was used to add tone but there was need to come back and add darker and more condensed line marking for depth.
Continuing with trying to come up with different drawing media variations. Drawing with ink and bleach and coming back with a thin round brush to add more line definition I began to become aware that with every repetitive drawing I was visually discovering something new. Drawing, here, did not take the role of compositional precision but capturing the visual experience in relation to the angelic, Seraphim and Cherubim impression.
In the next drawing I aimed at trying to create a lighter composition of tone and line. I was actually excited with the result as it was the first time I used a dip pen on a wet paper surface. As the tip of the dip pen would scratch into the paper surface it would become further embedded. Out of all the previous drawings and the later ones to come this for me was the most successful as it captured a cloudy, airy flow of the angelic presence. I also could appreciate the variation in the different areas of the drawing some being lighter with faint line suggestion while in other harsher line marking to be engulfed into a darker tone watery flow spread of ink revealing the now dried up faint dip pen line scratches.
Using the soft black pencil while still trying to maintain a free expressive line flow together with the importance of creating tone.
As my intention for the final would be to work on a once again bigger than A1 scale preferably to use the charcoal and soft pastel media that would allow expressive abstract line marking to take place, for the next drawing I used a charcoal pencil and white soft pastel for high lights. Once again the same composition but with a different feel to it.
I was curious to use again to use the nitro thinner and the results it would transfer onto the sketchbook pages. With two different outcomes, each capturing different areas of the print with more definition or blurriness while both maintain certain qualities of their own worth appreciating, I decided to leave the transfer prints as they were.
And putting nothing to a waist but of good use, I also used the left over prints, stuck them in my sketchbook and used the IL LEE line mesh marking trying to achieve what I had done in my previous sketchbook pages. On the second “recycled” print I used charcoal and a bluish green soft pastel. Here I tried to think of it as line and dance; a feel of swaying movement.
Deciding for the Final
I had to take into consideration the following:
-I definitely knew that to be able to produce expressive work I would need to work on a larger scale bigger than an A1.
-My intention was with the use of line and tone to break the form within the compositional space through abstraction but through a conceptual means to break the stereotype preconception of what Seraphs and cherubim angels are. When the prophet Ezekiel experienced a vivid heavily vision he saw many angelic beings of which the Cherubim appeared almost powerfully frightening; powerful heavenly beings with four faces and four wings. http://www.whyangels.com/seraphim_cherubim_creatures.html
-So focusing on the Seraphs that simplified the task of using sources in a more refined manner. Going back to their characteristics they basically hover over God’s throne so this well narrated for me movement/ energy and light; elements that I will specifically use in my final.
-At this point I realize and recall my tutor’s previous advice on my assignment 3 where she pointed out that not all successful experimentation or elements have to be included in a final as this will overload the composition and the artwork in general. So I have come to the realization that for now I should just concentrate on the 1st rank being the seraphim and keep the continuation of the rest of the rank for future projects. Also as I had mentioned right at the beginning of my project 5 that I intended to set free the liberated expressive line by breaking the confined compositional space. That too will have to wait for another project. I have kept the notes and hope to use them in the near future.
– As I will be assessed on Drawing 1 I have to use mixed drawing media.
-I definitely knew from the start that I would document the work progression producing an audio visual video while capturing this kinetic movement and line drawing progression, starting from an expressive familiar human form that would evolve into abstract form. Following the work progression of one of the OCA students and having read through her posts I was fortunate to come across the suggested artist William Kentridge whose body of work consists of animated drawings, where he actually photographs every alteration of his progressing drawing. He then produces a film that gives an animated effect such as of moving see waves rushing to the shore. This suggested for me to take a lot more interval photos, compose them together to make an attempted video.
-Since the Seraphs are close to the Cherubim who sing near God’s throne the musical audio element would be essential. My choice of music would be “The Song of Songs” by the 16th century Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. While drawing this particular piece of music would be a major source of inspiration, setting the mood to capture something heavenly.
-Since trying to create an abstract composition can prove to be difficult as a starting point, choosing to use Solve Sundsbo’s photograph composition would give me something tangible onto which I could build on especially at this early stage of my learning journey. In my sketchbook I did try various compositions borrowed from artists.
A2 Preliminary supporting study
Usually up to now I would carry out preliminary studies prior to the final. I decided next to the large scale final piece to work the preliminary A2 in stages; that is drawing up to a certain work progression stage where line marking, composition, use of media, basically technical elements being visually resolved and then transitioning onto the large scale final and apply what was previously resolved on the A2 and vice versa.
Even though this was worked alongside with the final I realize that the due to the difference of scale the act of self-expression. What occurred on one artwork could not be reproduced in the other. At the end even though they appear to share the same color palette and of the same theme concept, each is a different outcome.
Having set the camera on a tripod, taping a large sheet of canson charcoal paper, a thick piece of charcoal in my hand with the Song of Songs playing in the background I was ready to try and conquer the blank large sheet of paper. It is worth mentioning that a lot more photos were taken to produce the video but for my blog I will just make reference to the major stages of work progression.
The issue that encountered right from the beginning was that my work location was a busy walk through common studio area which meant I could not set up a permanent steady camera. Another issue that became apparent was the lighting which not owning the studio space I could not control. None the less I still carried on with documenting each work progressing stage, carrying each photo through Photoshop, aligning manually each image slide with the previous even through 70% successful but I did not mind as this would add more movement to the final video.
With some reluctant faint markings on the paper to sort of map the composition marked the beginning.
Even though I was documenting the process of drawing up until this point, I had to step back and re assess what I was doing. There was something missing…….
I have noticed that my fonts on my blog keep changing. Even when I try to copy past from my electronically saved word document it does this randomly and I cannot find the way to control this.
I just stopped for a minute, closed my eyes and listened to the music. I realized that I had to synchronize my hand drawing movement to the music. Slowly generally building up the line that initially created block areas of the figure form.
Which led to gradual more overlapping of line marking while it began to capture some sort of energy.
The next phase was to use a cloth to wipe away, but more like the hand holding the cloth dancing and swaying to the music piece. Wiping away enhance the impression of movement and tonal value.
As soon as I felt that there was enough use of the cloth I then considered the challenge of using just line switching on the soft pastel media, particularly with the green blue tint.
Gradual build-up of line marking with the color soft paste.
Picking up a thick flat brush dipped in water I continued the swaying motion of the hand creating further tones; darker as it would pick up the black charcoal markings and lighter as the dragged color tint would fade and blend into the composition. As I gained more confidence I became more daring with the thick flat wet brush and continued with dragging the blue green line marks that started to take a more tonal form.
To enhance the use of line I introduced a soft warm grey soft pastel tone. With rigorous hand rhythm that aimed at creating more energy through movement that would hopefully drive the work towards abstraction of the obvious visible human form. As this choice of color tone began to overlap the previous mark making it also added balance to the cool previously applied blue green color tone.
Black charcoal line marks were applied with the intent to contra challenge the direction of the compositional rhythm.
With a wet sponge more swaying and wet but wet dry motion was set onto the paper plane as it blended certain areas of the previously applied media while adding tonal value, depth; compositional depth to the composition.
More expressive line marking build up with a flesh like soft pastel color tone.
I went back to use the charcoal media to carry out some simple mark making; deciding on some of the main fabric forms.
I always tend to think of heavenly light as consisting of warm tones just light the warm yellow tones of the sun that radiate warmth and brightness. Baring this in mind and assessing the work from a distance, it was time to introduce a gold, ochre, yellow tone that took the form of more expressive line marking full of energy. More of this yellow ochre gold tone was applied to the top right area of the composition suggesting the orientation of the “heavenly light” that gradually scattered more scarcely throughout the composition.
Since I wanted to build-up the line application in respect to the direction of the light source, I transitioned to a lighter yellow gold tone and basically worked in the same manner as done with the previous yellow color tone.
From the light yellow gold color tone I then used white tone line as the highest soft pastel light tone making sure to keep the top right side of the composition the main light source area.
With a large piece of cloth I started to wipe and blend some areas of the composition. This would add more tonal base and form onto which I could build-up on but also create further movement.
Trying to imagine that the seraphim angels are this mass of energy flutter and light I wanted to play with perspective. By using the charcoal I considered drawing these wing-like forms that would remind winged structures but in a more abstract way. This use of charcoal line was applied along the previously smudged areas.
With the intention to give the composition more depth; that is with the use of a blue grey tone, apply it along the underlying areas of the charcoaled drawn line markings, this would push the dancing fabric figures further into the background and the new smudged, charcoaled outlined forms to be brought to the forefront giving the impression of a more 3D compositional plane; angels being captured upfront.
A darker blue grey done was used to further emphasize compositional depth while bringing the winged forms further to the forefront.
As I wanted more solid white light to penetrate into the compositional plane (from the top right hand corner) I use bold acrylic white paint with a thick flat brush; applying thick paint paste closer to the light source that eventually became more dilute flowing throughout the composition. Stepping back and assessing the work I became apparent that the composition started to change from the former borrowed Solve Sundsbo “Invitation a la Danse” into a more personal outcome, which was my intention. Solve Sundsbo’s composition bas a starting base onto which I could start building on. I was starting to look forward to the next phases of work progression…… the unknown.
There could not have been a more perfect timing in receiving my tutor’s feedback report for part 4, where a valuable critique was offered which made me realize certain aspects of this personal project but most important the awareness and the mentioning of my intentions with this assignment but even more important the underlying reasons behind the intentions. Perhaps working on my final, every Saturday, where I would commune to the art studio in Nicosia would prove to be essential as the time gab would allow me more time to think and reflect on what has been done and where I am heading. And taking my tutor’s comments on boards to step back and assess the progression of the work with a fresh eye every time.
It is upon reading this part 4 feedback report that I realize that I have not really tacked the reason as to why I chose my theme topic of the Seraphim and Cherubim angels in relation to line, shape (form) and space.
Pausing to think, reassess and reflect on the purpose and intent of my theme concept
I wake up every day and go to sleep every night asking, wondering and sometimes doubting the spiritual dimension of our very own existence. In a secular world where science has claimed to challenge the very essence of religion although I prefer to refer it to faith and belief in a higher power, it has become almost a taboo to express personal faith in some sort of spiritual inclination. In Greek the word for sciences is “Fisikes epistimes”, that is the study of the physical science therefore the focus of study and research relies on what is physical and physically possible to observe and discover. So how can science touch upon this invisible spiritual dimension which is a rather abstract concept?
So why do I need to maintain such spiritual stance? I think the answer would be the fear of death but mostly the residue of the aftertaste…..; The pain of loss. In this life where I chose to live by the norm of love and compassion I have witnessed the pain of loss but also unexplained twists of last minute happenings that science cannot touch upon; that medical science pronounces out loud the words “unexplained miracle”.
I wonder if it takes a stronger human to accept death as simply the end. Lights out and that is it. But what about all that earthly love for your children, your parents, friends and pets? Does love end here as well? In a world where humanity has diminished itself to a corrupt, impersonal social unit that has eliminated spirituality, values and humane norms, with the misinterpretation of true spiritual faith verses religion, the conflict between the values and the vices has resulted into this massive chaotic anaesthetized purpose of life. But in this discord world I maintain my stance and choose consciously to hold onto hope. Hope in this life for that always something better but hope in life after death; a promised hope, the optimistic possibility that there is light after the darkness (death). One has nothing to lose by holding onto hope.
Choosing to inquire about the angelic hierarchy is my attempt to come as close as possible in understanding but also connecting to this higher power called God. These divine beings called the Seraphim and Cherubim are the closest to God. This struggle to comprehend such abstract concept is narrated by a wondering line that travels persistently throughout the compositional space with the intention to break away from its confined shape and become energy and light that suggests orientation from its main upper right main light source.
At the beginning of my final drawing I fell into the trap of producing figure form that was once again angular and harsh with outline. From the point where I took a pause and started to dance with the line giving the impression of movement to my composition something started to happen. I am aware that my line even with the light warm color tones still maintains sharpness just light the brightest source of light that stings your eyes. Smudging it at times gives the composition some subtleness while the sharpness and direction of the line together with the choice of the bright yellow warm tones evoke a sense of optimism; the need for hope and determined need to seek the light, the spiritual truth.
Continuing with the final assignment 5 project
*Going back to the studio to continue with my large scale final assignment art piece before I started to set up my working space I decided to just take a few minutes and look at what I had done so far, as advised by my tutor, I had left it to come back to it and see it with a fresh eye. At this point I had to make a bold decision and that is to create some contrast in the composition; that is create tonal gradation from the dark left side transitioning towards the light top right corner of the composition. The choice of media would be a bold decision as well; oil transparencies so as to be able to gradually build the balanced contrast while still maintaining the underlying layers of work consisting of line marking and tonal build up. This choice of media even though not fitting into the drawing tool category, would allow the history of the layering of work progression to still be visible; the history of self-conflict and at times spiritual struggle but always with an intentional purpose to orient towards the light. The next aspect I had to consider which would require a bit of soul searching was which color tones I would use. The choice of color would have to be one of which I am instinctively inclined to being the deep red, red crimson tones. The task would be now to further conceptually give intention to the color but first make the attempt to understand the deep red connection to it just like Anish Kappoor’s drawings that capture his spiritual exploration and personal significance. For me red is an emotionally intense color that is associated with energy, strength, power, sensitivity, determination, passion, desire and the desire to love. As the color red actually causes stimulation, perhaps adding it to the artwork would intentionally draw attention. One reason why red causes so much stimulation is that it falls right at the top of the color spectrum which causes eye muscles to tense up as the upward focusing occurs.
I came across this web site about color therapy and I was particularly captivated by this text:
“The body is an outward expression of that which is taking place within the mind, the soul (subconscious), and the spirit (super conscious) of the individual.” (http://www.deeptrancenow.com/colortherapy.htm)
If color takes the role to narrate healing of the body as the color red has healing properties, bringing warmth, energy and stimulation. “As red causes hemoglobin to multiply, thus increasing energy and raising body temperature, it is excellent for anemia and blood-related conditions.” (http://www.deeptrancenow.com/colortherapy.htm) Having just recently tackled my almost one decimal away from blood transfusion low iron mark band level this color therapy explains the conscious but also subconscious need to relate to the red tones.
The color red here also takes the role to narrate the language of the soul, and the spirit (super conscious) the symbolic meaning which is perhaps directly connected to the sub consciousness. My preference for red definitely describes aspects of my character in my physical life journey that aspires love, passion, energy, determination, and ambition but also conflict, struggle, revolt and revolution.
Assessing the current stage progression up to this point where technically the red transparency has begun to gradually flow throughout the composition while at the same time trying to maintain a balance but also give emphasis to the contrast between the left darker side and the top right corner of the composition it begins to convey a sense of energy and flow, just like the blood flowing through the veins with the intention to maintain life and energy.
But the true ambitions of my conceptual intention for my project 5 is the outward expression of the spirit; the super conscious. Again moving away from the artwork and coming back after a five minute brake it becomes apparent that at this stage my cherubs and seraphim angel composition has become a battle field of contrast, conflict of the dark and light and I just realize that this has become the depiction of the struggle of my soul. But in the midst of all this chaos; I stubbornly still hold on to this spiritual possibility called hope; called God and strive both my line and color tone towards the light.
At this stage of my work progression I started to transition into darker, deeper reds but also stopping again so that I can further reflect on the direction onto which I will go from here. If at this stage there is chaotic depiction than perhaps the “Less is more” does not apply. My concern though is when to know when to consciously stop.
Going back to the studio a week later again I tried to see it with a fresh eye and it became clear that I had to tackle certain technical aspects of the artwork. The first being I had to apply intermediate tones between the high-lighted white tones and the rest of the composition. As I am being pressed with time I made the decision to use acrylic paints so that they could dry fast so that I could progress further with the use of other drawing materials.
Since I was planning to use more of the oil transparencies again I had to come back and create further high- lights bringing the light into the darkness. Hmm….. I like this…… “Bringing the light into the darkness”. I can definitely interpret this in a spiritual sense.
Due to the application of the both the oil transparencies and dilute acrylic paint I had to bring back the soft pastel line marking while taking into consideration again of the balance between cool and warm tones but in a more conscious and selective manner. I appreciate the history of the each layer of work being built on a previous one.
After applying the soft pastels it was obvious that the drawing was screaming out for the application of the charcoal line marking. From a technical point of view since charcoal had been used previously and still appears on the underlying layers of work progression, it was necessary to re-introduce it back to the composition. And with every stage of work it becomes apparent that the new expressive line markings begin to create new shapes and forms while still maintain a sense of liberating flow of energy and orientation towards the light.
At this point it becomes interplay between the soft pastel color tones and the charcoal line markings.
Back to using the transparencies I begin once again the process of the lighter spiritual red tones but this time starting faintly from the light and transitioning it towards the darker left hand side of the composition while gradually starting to increase the darker tones as I have decided to give emphasis between the two contrasting worlds of light and dark but in a more gradational manner.
A week later at the studio: So the focus on this stage of the work progression was to start using dark ultra-marine blue and a dark green oil transparency, contrasting tones to the red so that I could build up on the dark left side corner of the composition. As I have mentioned earlier on I have made that conscious decision to be bold, take the risk and carry on as I want to convey this sense of contrast; my realization of inner conflict.
Sometimes it becomes obvious what the human eye can see the camera cannot. None the less I am still photographing this darker paint application and what becomes one of the most interesting aspects of this continued risk taking progress is that new things start to happen. It is within this contrasting, conflict that new angelic forms start to appear, and it becomes this mass of kinetic winged frolic.
By darkening the lower left side of the composition I felt that to bring the light forward I had to intergrade some these darker tones into the top right corner. This would also bring more unity to the composition.
At this stage I made the decision to shift the focal light source; still keeping to the upper right side but place it lower and a bit more to the left. As I would continue with the oil transparencies I had to prepare the lighter base by using both the brush and palette knife to create bold white acrylic paint markings. Acrylic because it dries fast enough for me to be able to progress a lot faster.
Before I would use transparences again, and having time to self-assess my work progression I felt that the art work was almost coming close to completion but at this stage it needed for the focal white light to disperse scarcely. Since I the composition was related to the Seraph and cherubim angles I considered using the prints of actual feathers dipped in dilute white acrylic paint while consciously deciding where to allow them to exist and travel throughout the composition. I even printed them onto the heavy white focal area. These delicate white print markings while they created balance and further enhanced the flow of movement suggesting the presence of these divine heavenly entities, on a symbolic personal level, at this point light; hope, was reaching into the darkness with the intention to redirect one towards the white focal source of light and energy.
Darkening the top right corner with blue green color tones to bring more depth, contrast and balance throughout the composition while allowing the white focal area to protrude further outwards.
Bringing some of the existing color tones in a more subtle way into the white focal area so as to reduce the heaviness and allow it to fuse into the rest of the composition.
Reapplying more white feather prints onto the tinted white focal light source and applying some contra paint markings onto the top right corner of the composition marked the completion of the composition. And it all gravitated towards the light. I gravitated towards the light….. It was no longer about trying to understand what the Seraphim and Cherubim angels appeared as and resembled or liberating the line, form within a space but upon completion of the artwork feeling an emotional charge, realizing that this inner spiritual struggle is an ongoing effort; a hard task to stay on the path of truth, hope……the LIGHT and the need for it to exist.
I also took photos of close-up of this large scale 1.5 meters by 2 meters composition. As it became clear by OCA that artwork larger than A1 scale should be electronically captured and submitted. These close-ups would serve as focal windows into detail although it is the audio video that would hopefully give a better insight of work progression; it became a documentation of line marks that appeared and then became more subtle allowing more fluid flow to occur with the use of the transparency oils. As the artwork went through inevitable course of change, what once appeared as a borrowed composition eventually and gradually evolved into a new composition.
The video was the result of having taken 205 photo slides of the work progression. There were difficulties that I encountered one being that the studio space is shared by a lot of people and therefore I could not set up a temporary spot for the camera. Changing the camera location every drawing session changed the alignment of the composition which is why I had to carry the photos through Photoshop. Unfortunately I do not have the technology to align the slides 100%. On the other hand I did not mind as it created further movement of the video. I have not had any formal education on video editing and I am sure that my video is very primitive but still it was fun to create and somehow touch upon my idea. The ideal result would have been for complete slide alignment but to be able to control the pace of the slide show in relation to the audio music, giving longer seconds at one slide and then running through another series through a faster transitional pace but with connection to the music. I hope in the near future to take up video art.
YouTube video of the work progression of the final: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v53rKcVWGlw
Conclusion on Realization:
Reading through the specifications I am not going to elaborate or repeat as I think my part 5 personal project has abided by them. In my opinion, it was not excessive but extensive as having to work with such spiritual concept involves the need to engage with new knowledge and depth. For me to arrive at that final realization I had to take this journey which might appear as overwhelmingly too much but having done way less would have produced a superficial response and therefore outcome. I did not hesitate to work beyond the expected level or restrict myself to just drawing media. Consciously I was aware of every stage of progression appreciating successful line marking and tonal build up and knowing that I would lose these appreciated captured drawing moments due to the need for compositional work progression. The big question for me is at what point I should have stopped. That will be for my tutor to decide and I am looking forward to her commentary critique. It is this critique that completes this circle and will allow me to continue from here onwards hopefully having acquired a higher level of technical skills and theoretical knowledge. As far as the final outcome is concerned I am content with the end result and it became apparent to me that towards the end of the execution of the artwork I became more emotionally charged in tears so perhaps maybe I managed to capture something. I also realize the importance of making connection to contemporary artist as they always tend to suggest something important and of essence. Having taken into consideration of my tutor’s previous feedback reports, specifically for part 3 where she commented on that I have to be careful as not to overload an artwork with all the successful experimentation. So having taken this on board, I kept my choice of media and techniques to the appropriate point and under control. Half way through my final piece my tutor brought to my attention the need to be careful not to focus too much on being technical but also search beyond and give emphasis to the conceptual aspect of my theme; the personal spiritual significance of the color choice red but also how to achieve the importance of the flow of movement. So the choice of media, technical approach in relation to the concept of the theme project. One last aspect of this final piece was the glossing of the artwork which brought out the colors. In my opinion it definitely needed this but I could not photograph this as reflection would appear on the glossy surface. In my opinion if I were to select a section of my composition it would have to be the top right hand corner where there some faint history of the original face of the dancer “angel”. What I particularly appreciate is how the cool and warm colors co-exist giving it subtleness but also adding depth to the composition while allowing the focal light area to protrude outwards.
I am concerned on how this artwork will be assessed as I will only be able to send it in digital form with the close-ups and the video. It is different when the artwork is seen in flesh. Fingers crossed this will not work against me. There is no way I could have captured such a vast emotional and expressive journey on an A1 final. Involving the whole body movement, the arm swaying and drawing back and forth, in continuous motion gave me the freedom to achieve this.
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