Drawing the line Selected by Micheal Craig Martin

Craig-Martin, M(1995)Drawing the line. First Edition. White Devon Press. London.

Micheal Craig-Martin curated this exhibition around drawing, specificly that without shading, cross-hatching or chiaroscuro. This means the art can hail back from the neolithic period to modern day work. Pictures represent all aspects of preparation work through to completed line drawings in pen and ink. The emphasis is on the line.

The works displayed 1 a page, have been placed next to each other to show similarities in pictures created hundreds of years apart. (p54-55) Cy Twombys 1971 crayon over a dark gauche on one side compares to Abrecht Altdorfer 152 picture titled St Christopher Carrying the Christ Child from 1512 (pen and black ink heightened with white body colour on dark brown prepared paper), the contrasts they used creating the same striking effect nearly 400 years apart.

Twombly’s piece untitled is a series of white lines descending from the top right to bottom left, they form an elongated figure of eight that is finished above the paper. there are layers of them, the palest also the longest at the back, getting stronger and shorter at the front. These are also partially rubbed away. The repetition of the same mark gives some of the strength to the image, to me the overall effect is like rain or a really bad electrical storm. The faint rubbing out gives me a feeling of warmth, the marks are not all exactly the same which I think helps my feeling of the piece as natural. They have a strong energy, even as their effect is to hide whatever is behind them.

Altdorfer’s Saint is battling the elements and the weight of the child around his neck, his clothing billowing in the wind, shown more from the light above it than the shadow below, holding a bending tree, showing both his weight against it and the weather pushing it back into the picture. The beautifully controlled accurate lineshow us the strength of the individual to continue on against the challenges befalling him, its a much more obvious message of energy than Twombly’s, I do prefer the former picture though.

 

This exhibition would have been truly great to see, spotting the links Craig-Martin found between pictures and techniques that changed over time.

 

The Artist and the Camera -Degas to Picasso.

Kosinski, D(1999)The Artist and the Camera – Degas to Picasso. First Edition. Yale Press. Seatle. USA

Tinker, C(2015)BP Portrait Award 2015. First Edition. National Portrait Gallery Publications. London.

 

Vision and Visionaries: in the Context of Symbolist Aesthetics

Dorothy Kosinski

Photography didn’t take away from art, it allowed a look at the normally unseen, x-ray, macro etc. Henri Bergson reality is about internal perception of place in space and time instead of what we see around us “external Construct”.

Degas ballet dancers can be traced back to negatives, varied artists photo’d models in their studios.

However, publicly they categorised it as nothing but a tool (Gauguin) as photography started to define itself as a fine art.

Talks of Simulacrum, where the photo is held as the truth over the reality in front of your eyes, or used as truth to base work on when you have never been to a place (Khnopff).

Picasso and Russo embraced photography as a way to play around with their work and to bounce extra ideas off to create new ones, to the extent that Russo played with his photographic technique so the photos enhanced whatever he wanted the observer to feel when they looked at his work.

Photography is an integral part of art now, its how we often have our work viewed (Berger’s figures on gallery viewing) given the prevalence of the internet, and its the easiest way to record a moment to play with at a later point, as Richter does in many ways, over painting photos or rendering old ones large but blurred (many reasons on that that I’ve gone into in Part 2’s accompanying sketchbook on Richter). I use photos because my memory is pretty shoddy and I’m generally accompanied by my children and stopping isn’t always an option. Using photos from magazines is good for practise, I see what Kosinski is saying though in that if I am copying down that image, it is acting as a simulacrum as its a professional photo staged of a person I have never met and I am taking it as real, potential photoshop and all.

The photographic muse

Elizabeth C Childs

Explanation of photographies journey to sit alongside art, how it was compared unfavourably (Baudelaire) “Charles Blanc, who dismissed photography as an imitation that shows all and expresses nothing.”

Artists when asked if photography meant the end to second-rate portrait artists wood-engravers etc out of 18, 3 declined to answer 7 said it was a good tool for various reasons, 8 where opposed, including Sickert who attested that art in galleries should account for origins if they where photographic.

I’d also agree with whichever one said that photography is an aid to the sketchbook, not a substitute. I’ve found sketching helps define the important points you wanted to capture, the definitive lines. Photography records the whole thing (unless you understand about aperture/shutter control) however something caught your eye and noting that is important.

Dulled down copies of art printed onto merchandise…

The photos that the artists had a hand in have an extra trace of their ideas over photos of their work taken by others.

Photography and invisibility

Douglas R Nickel

William Henry Fox Talbot likened the camera to seeing as it recorded what was in front of it, with the anatomy of the camera not dissimilar to the eye and processing  capability. Photography arrived in 2 parts, the actual camera and act of taking photos and the language around the process that described it and aided its insertion into a sceptical society.

Photography as originally an entertainment progressed through recording and became a tool that showed more than had been expected of it at its inception,

so the artists who used it where themselves responding to it in a way that society was responding to photo realistic copying, which was then reflected/rejected in aspects of their work.

Peter Henry Emerson “the father of art photography”. What I consider a hermit type of photographer, dealing with the natural and untouched aspects of photography, probably suffered for his art before telling everyone about it (achieved high up placements in photographic societies and clubs. Wouldn’t have gotten on with Ansel Adams if they had been the same generation). He espoused about artists who painted in the same way, probably unaware of the elements they chose not to add into their paintings which is essentially practical photoshopping for artists.

His argument that the photo should be as we would see it, however focus is arbitrary to the individual and as a result, photographs should try to copy this and only have the target area in crisp focus. His view was counter to the victorian one that photography was the answer to mimicry because of its clarity. The eye was imperfect and linked to a whole system designed to unravel the data whereas a camera was merely a machine.

Muybridge and motion photography (the galloping horse series) and its effect on artists (Degas horse sculptures p38). Muybridge’s horse showed its motion at an unstable point not recognised in art previously and existing only in film to prove it occurred at all.

Move on to X-rays as another form of photography that helped push art into the existing over perceived, the view that now we could see inside of things, like Freud’s theories on underlying issues not visible to the human eye, art started to explore the possibilities with futurism and cubism (likened to the effect of a prism).

Another Nature: or, Arsenals of memory: Photography as Study Aid, 1850-1900

Ulrich Pohlmann

The effect of photography on art. (likened by Gleeson White to asking if the invention of gunpowder had good or bad influence on human progress). Not exactly publicised by artists that they were using photos to help their work, rarely do the archives of images survive. Pierre Caloine noted that photography was an ‘aide memoire”, photos of fleeting object, like waves and clouds kept to work from.

Photo albums printed showing old masters (etchings or drawings because colour mucked up the tones in black and white photography) or natural scenes and objects for artists to use as models

Photos of sculpture came into their own.

Books of nude models were censored because of decency, it meant that the poses where contrived for acceptability in society rather than an expected stance for someone to display in a painting.

Personal collections of photos where more specific to the requirements of the artist, Italian set designer Mariano y Fortuny had 1500 photos that were applicable to his designs, not kept as art.

Photography developed further, emulsions became easier to handle so more photos could be taken, more controlled, so as to take the photo in seconds. They became more sensitive so colour could be rendered more recognisably, cameras became smaller,  film could be taken to a chemist to be developed and printed. The process got smoother.

Artists were using cameras to take specific photos relevant to the work they were doing, of the work they were doing and the stuff that was done. The photos weren’t technically brilliant, they full-filled the function of memory and ideas.

Photos taken of the artist, by others, used for promotion through the media etc.

The book continues onto individual artists. linking photos with the work.

My own personal use of photos has always felt a bit fraudulent but since the advent of photography, the laypersons expectations on clarity in pictures has gone up. looking at the national Portrait Galleries selections for the last few years, you can see the evidence of painting from photos and a leaning towards hyper realistic imagery with the whole painting in focus. Also, as a learning tool, photos are cheaper than sitters. I still prefer to get out and sketch, my understanding of a place or object is better informed by my eye studying it in 3 dimensions and drawing it in situ. However, the photo can jog my memory of the emotions that go along with why I felt the need to take the photo and help guide medium, size and content. Photography is always going to be a tool I use, sometimes in frustration as I used to have a darkroom before number 2 child needed it for a bedroom and I understand where I’ve gone wrong taking a photo.

 

British museum study visit.

Cambiaso. L(1597) The Marriage of the Virgin, [Pen and brown ink, brown wash, black chalk, squared in red chalk for transfer]. The British Museum. London

Kollwitz. K(1938) Studies of the back of a right hand [Grey crayon and felt tip pen] The British Museum. London

In December I attended an OCA study visit to the British Museum to view some sketches of work in progress.

The building is an impressive place to house and view these works, solid dark, warm wood cabinets, a gallery floor and atrium windows to keep the light in give an immense feel, before you get to within an inch of the Michealangelo sketch, however, his work did not capture my interest as much as others. His overemphasis of muscles that quite possibly don’t exist complicates his work for me.

I was taken by a preparatory work by Luca Cambiaso in pen and brown in and red chalk. (my version in pencil the only medium you are allowed to use in the room)

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His use of blocked figurines to model his people from gave his sketch a feel of a much more contemporary piece than the creation date of 1567 suggests. Apparently he was one of the first artists to sell his preparatory work as well as the final paintings and looking at this figurative study I can understand why. His understanding of fabric drapery and form gives his people a suggestion of emotion even though there is no expression and scant detail. Mary’s bowed head and Joseph’s lowered position in front of the person conduction the ceremony still manage convey the options of embarrassment of standing in front of everyone saying the marriage vows-awe of the religious moment- man/woman in front of friends and relatives celebrating everything a wedding leads too.

Even the shape of the priest’s(?) headwear strikes me as a middle of the last century depiction over something 500+ years old. I enjoyed the shading simplicity in the blocks with the emphasised important lines with the most information on the weight bearing limbs.

I also looked at Kathe Kollwitz’s sketch of her own hand in felt pen and crayon. it was a sketching style I am drawn to, as accurate and imperfect.its not single line graphic

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over observed sketched, the detail is in the hand, where your focus should be over the fact there is a shadow but it has less detail and is less important. I appreciate that.

Overall the trip gave me a chance to connect with 2 artists I had not heard of before which was useful.

Arundells as a collection

Arundells. 2018. The Collection. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.arundells.org/the-collection/. [Accessed 13 January 2018].

Arundells was the home of Ted Heath on the close before he died. as an ex prime minister with an interest in sailing and music and a history of travel and military service, his house is filled with a diverse range of items. He curated it carefully so the elements only really touch on one another. The volunteers that now oversee the house are knowledgeable and keen to impart as you walk around. My goal as a member of Salisbury Plain Arts is to create art based on the collections and/or property. The front hallway is dedicated to sailing with a vast glass cabinet filled with awards and models of his masted boats, grand paintings adorn the walls showing these sailboats battling waves and on the window wall, ivory and bone carvings sit in glass boxes. The drawing room has a grand piano and impressionist art (including a John Singer Sargent and a Lowry with fine antique Chinese porcelain and jade around the fireplace. The top of the piano sits an impressive display of photos of dignitaries and the famous.

The hall itself has a more subdued art collection more sketch based leading past the diningroom with walls lined in John piper prints and originals. These are fantastic, displayed against a darker pinky/orange wall, one of a garden pings out the flowers equally bright and verdant greenery. Smaller than A2, the picture has more impact to me than the picture Piper did of Arundells for Ted Heath next to it on the adjacent wall, it glows in comparison in a brightness that I’m not used to seeing in Pipers work.

His work always looks so alive to me, a lack of lines and hurried paint depicting an impression of the place and the depth of its history The painting of Arundells clear and accurate line but totally Piper with its imprecise application of colour.

Grave goods sit on shelves, horses not modelled docile, in a garish collection of glazes, fine porcelein displayed as if to be used.

Unfortunatly my visit was to prepare art about the place rather than study specific paintings.

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Pt 2 Assignment 2

Arundells. 2018. The Collection. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.arundells.org/the-collection/. [Accessed 13 January 2018].

 

Looking back through the exercise work, the pictures that are the most striking are from 2.1, 2.2 and research on surfaces.

Experimenting with different mediums and supports was good experience, my resistance to a couple of the options comes down to size and longevity. The amount of coffee required to make an A1 painting of my chosen collection would probably put me off coffee for life(not good, it’s one of my chosen life giving liquids), the amount of layers required to complete a picture means you have to have it around for a while and in its strongest form (probably just add minimal water to the jar) the stench of coffee would be overpowering… Graphite as a paint? nice effect, not nice enough for this assignment in that size.

Oil on copper would cost about £70 for the surface. This side of Christmas it’s just not happening and I want to complete this part of the course, I’m already looking at 4 pictures waiting to dry and am going to have to have a conversation as to whether I send off Pt2 to be reviewed without them to aid moving on with the course.

My choice to work with ink and stick (chopstick, I have a selection littering the house as I buy them to stick my hair up with, which is about the limit of my follicle decoration ability) is in part from repeated views of the work of John Piper. In this part of the course, I have been creating pictures based on Arundells, the former home of Ted Heath in the Cathedral close. His art collection was a varied thing and the dining room is hung with Pipers work on 3 walls, vibrant works with depth I’ve always admired, the Young gallery in Salisbury also had a room with Pipers (and Graham Sutherland) in and Mottisfont has one or two in its permanent collection in the hallway, so his work is always cropping up. I admire his use of the ink line with either a strong area of colour or a light wash, overlaid with a tone to darken the picture down, suggestive of darkened days or a bad mood. So I recognise where this style is coming from, I think I’m going to have to do a sketchbook on Piper just to see if I can get him out of my system.

Meantime, my knowledge of the exercises drew me back to the nail varnish bottles, I recognised at the time their structural value and felt it would work well in a larger size.

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Setting up the angle and lighting was challenging but possible and the picture I created was a scraped background of gouache, this is mostly because my acrylics are at school at the moment, where I and the schools art/design leader are helping guide some children to create an exhibition piece to hang alongside 11 other local schools at the Young gallery. Carting stuff up and down from the school is a pain in the arse, so it can stay there till Feb when we should be done.

The problem with this is that the white ink I chose to use to show the lighter tonal aspects of the bottles dragged up some of this waterbased black and turned some of my lines more grey, it lost some of its impact because of it and needed a second coat upon drying. fullsizeoutput_24b1

Overall, it was the lack of distinction between the bottles and their background I was most disappointed with. It works and in A1 as I expected the bottles have the qualities of a city centre block, however, half the joy of the nail varnish is the jewel like colours that the black and white has lost.

My second attempt started with scraping over coloured acrylic inks to block in the interest I felt had been missing and then working over with the stick and white ink. This produced an image that still blended the bottles into the back too much (I should have taken a photo at this point to show) so I surrounded these lines in a dark blue ink to bring the bottles forward repeating the white lines after into the blue to emphasise their shapes. I still wasn’t happy with the representation of the light so I added black lines in appropriate places to deepen the shade.

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This piece has the vibrancy that is missing in the first attempt, some of the scale is lost in the bottles because it is less stark? but the colour more than makes up for it. I think that it could be cropped in tighter to lead with the strongest coloured bottles, I’m not convinced the bottle far left has any value.

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Review of Pt 2

“In Part Two you’ve essentially been ‘curating’ objects to edit, create and organise your own collection and this relates to the way you may choose to present your work later on in the course. A familiar concern for artists is that everything has been done already and that making new work is now impossible, but it’s the way in which you make a collection or present your ideas that can make your work unique and reflect your motivations. Each student who embarks upon this project will make very different collections and very different work. Understanding and reflecting upon this in your log demonstrates that you understand the context within which you’ve made your collection and the resulting paintings.”

 

By making art from collections, the course has told us what to paint, I have fulfilled these requests within the exercises based on my thoughts that the objects could look good within the medium tried. This means that the subjects lack any motivation from the perspective of an alternate story to go with the created pictures. I haven’t done saucepans because as a female I believe they show my oppression into the role of a household cook (for example), more they are a part of the space I inhabit and make art in. They where handy.

• Demonstration of visual skills: Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

I believe that the pictures I have made reflect good composition, I have looked at ways to make items formally placed (like Lisa Milroy) and randomly placed, the ink and nail varnish bottles worked in different ways for me because of the formal sizing of the ink bottles versus the variation in the nail varnish. The nail varnish pictures as a result are (to me) almost architectural in comparison. The saucepans in the cupboard are more appealing to me as an organised mess, it has more interest and by showing the enclosure explains the shadows and highlights.

I have enjoyed working in different mediums, experimentation is always good, creating something that has no future because of degradation is a different message to the contents though and not one I think I am interested in at this time.

• Quality of outcome: Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas. 

The research has clarified my position on portraits, I understand that ambiguity of features can show the artists reticence to create a facsimile because a painting cannot show a persons soul. This is fine, a persons actions show their soul, however, between looking at Richter and Freud, the difference between them is vast, not least in Freud painting from a sitter over a photo.

I need to improve my accuracy, it bugs me that I get portraits wrong unless I start off with a sketch I’ve checked is accurate, it seems like cheating to me, as does projecting an image onto the canvas to get the lines in accurately.

I think that my pictures accuratly depict what they are trying to do (as long as a portrait is seen as ‘A’ portrait over someone specific) I think that I can accuratly emit a feeling based on the medium used (thus three things is in the delicate watercolour as it is dealing with other peoples choices). I also still have hope, so I can’t degrade pictures after they look the way they should like the person they should, representing a point in time that is not repeatable. Multiple pictures of the event should show something different, study  of the image should slowly give that up, playing with the image in different mediums should reveal something different each time, either a clarity in the background, emphasis to the left or next time, the right.

• Demonstration of creativity: Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

My skillset is improving, my list of things I wish to paint shrinking, this I think is my voice coming to the fore. This has been quite tough as a part of a course to do, not least of which was no fixed end date to aim at. Work has been difficult too and getting at my studio (which is only at the end of an average sized suburban garden) has been interesting with builders in getting the terracing wall up to make our garden more useable (its only taken 10 years of living here, why they had to choose a week I had off to close access to the bottom half of the garden till the cement set I don’t know). I hope that my logbook shows more analysis of my and others pictures, its still a work in progress though.

 • Context: Reflection, research, critical thinking (learning logs and essay). Have you looked at a diverse range of artists from those suggested in the project brief? Have you digested these artists’ work and is this evident in your work? If so, how? Write this down in your learning log.

I think looking at Milroy, Richter and freud has opened my eyes to technique and content. Richter’s work informed some large scale pictures of my children that as a series I will happily continue adding too, the softness of his use of oils is inspiring especially the way he does focus on the photos of the people he has the strongest links to, Freud for his studied overworked execution, which will be something I aim at over time, I think there is space here to look at Orpens work too, its a point where the likeness is the point at which you stop, not every crease, although a study of hands a-la Freud would be interesting. Milroy for her neat ordered arrays, this proved useful for the ink pot set, which I enjoyed creating, but I don’t think I wish to take further.

My portraiture still hinges around my children, I will get the courage together to ask someone to sit for me at some point…

I am not really restricted by size in my studio space, storage is a problem when you are dealing with drying times, which would be the greatest long-term problem, however, as long as I can flit between sizes and mediums I have room to move.

The mediums I want to continue playing with are ink drawing with a stick, my accuracy is better in drawing at the moment, and I’ve been playing with mark making in ink over pastels, the line is finer for the detail I’m trying to create that way and I can still create the blended areas that pastels lend themselves to.

Oil paints are becoming a favourite, I want to do more painting on copper, and try my acrylic techniques with oils too, so more of a Piper feel but with a longer open paint. I don’t know if that will work, but I’d like to give it a try.

 

 

 

Research on surface for Pt 2 and Lucien Freud

National Portrait Gallery. 2018. Lucian Freud. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp01684/lucian-freud?search=sas&sText=lucian+freud&OConly=true&role=art. [Accessed 3 January 2018].

Tate. 2018. Lucian Freud. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/search?q=lucian+freud. [Accessed 3 January 2018].

Painting on metal has apparently been around for a very long time (renaissance), the choice made due to its archival properties over the lustre that may have shone through the paint.

In modern times, longevity may be the passing thought over the backing colour adding to the effect of the painting., but extra depth to the work is a must.

Lucien Freud (as our course material tells us) used to paint on copper, not all the time, certainly his works I saw at the National Portrait gallery and the Tate Modern were on canvas, his later works have an overworked life that isn’t totally evident until you are in front of the paintings, I can appreciate this, although as his average time for one of these paintings was 140hours, I can’t say I have the patience still. DSC04673

The picture to the left, of Jacob Rothschild (Man in a chair) oil on canvas [1983] shows a man under harsh lighting sitting uncomfortably in a chair wearing a suit. The colours are all earthy and there is a hint of the space we are in with what looks like a doorway behind the sitter. Freud showed the mans age through the receding hairline, the wrinkles (none of them spared) on the face, the light hunch to the shoulder.

The suit is uncreased but the hands have me fascinated, they are as much in focus and as worked in as the face which meant they had to have interest to the artist, because the suit and background are done in the lighter touch and I’d say where finished in one sitting.

Freud’s only kindness is in the honesty with which he paints people.

His use of copper seems to be in his earlier work which is smoother, more polished and less like the people he has painted, even then though, he worked on canvas too (as below in girl in a bed(oil on canvas) from 1952 this picture has the warmth without the metal.fullsizeoutput_2484

The first of my 2 attempts on copper is the more refined painting, its closer to the photo I was copying and still has texture, the second painting is more like an Orpen  I saw at the National portrait gallery but was a bit high for a photo. Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss, Baron Wester Wemyss [by Sir William Orpen oil on canvas, 1919] is a portrait that seems unfinished, I think this gives them an energy in the sitter, an urgency that they may not sit for long.

I appreciate the warmth of the copper coming through, a shine that can be an uncertainty that makes you take a second look. I need to work on my portraits to be more confidently accurate, it will come with time, and oils take up space to dry, (I’ve still got 2 large canvases of my children hanging off frame in the shed drying) so its going to to take that time, but I am going to return to copper in the future, not for the assignment piece though, a collection of objects sits in a different medium in my head.