Category Archives: Part 1: Ex.1: Warm-up – temporary drawings

Warm-up… Summer Walk

Following feedback from my tutor (see in reflection) that this was a time based exercise and not an outcome based exercise… and that I didn’t have evidence of the process on my original ‘Warm-up’ entry I have done another one with evidence.

My idea was that my drawing would be a physical record of a Summer walk.

I picked flowers and grasses from by the path… IMG_0021

 

Then ran a bowl of water… IMG_0023and added washing up liquid to make the surface more interesting…

IMG_0024This created interesting bubbles, broke up the reflection of the light and reduced the surface sheen revealing the dirty bottom of the bowl.

Now I was going to add the beauty… my Summer walk. First the grasses and white flowers. I thought the grasses would give it some lines and structure…IMG_0026I was lighting it from one side with an angle poise light.  This was already more interesting. I liked the simplicity and the 3D ness where the stalks disappeared into the water… on this they could be 2D lines but as we know how a seed head works read them as having depth. The picture place becomes 3D which is interesting as this is a drawing not a sculpture. The flowers are ‘captured’ in the surface.

The shadows on the bottom of the bowl also become part of the drawing. And begin to add a dappling effect.

Next I added some brilliant white petals as highlights… IMG_0028This took the focus back to the surface.

I love the way the petals turn in different directions and the delicate lacy (tiny) flower isolated in the seed head top left. It also changed the colour of the elderflower and made it look ‘greeny’ white. This made me think how adding one dab of colour in a whole drawing could change the way you see all the colours.

Next I added all the yellow flowers.IMG_0033

Suddenly it leapt to life and started to sing. The yellow harmonised with the greeny white of the florets and bounced the eye round the drawing.

It was simple yet I could almost hear the birds sing!

When I was adding the flowers I did it intuitively.

Next I added the brown seed heads.IMG_0037

This darkened it and made it a bit fussy. On one level it had the complexity of a natural hedgerow on the other some of the life had been taken away.

I didn’t like the dark brown seed head at the top reflected in the water as this made the picture plane the water surface (flowers  floating in water) whereas in the rest of it it’s not exactly clear where the picture plane is which is much more interesting and ambiguous. More like the real hedgerow.

If I edit that seed head out you can see what I mean…IMG_0037

The picture plane is not obviously the surface of water – I think the washing up liquid helped as it stopped the surface reflecting.

Now came flowers with red and blue mixed…this included pink and purple. The petals became my palette. Instead of mixing pigments to copy flowers the flowers became the pigment which felt really cool.

It’s difficult to explain but it released the colours rather than the colours being imprisoned by trying to copy another colour.IMG_0039It’s just a shame the light was so poor as the bottom half of the drawing loses colour… a bit like the sun setting. Which it was…

So this temporary drawing also shows the passage of time.

(But if I could photoshop maybe they could be enhanced… but that would defeat the object as what I like about this warm up is that it is free and natural.)

Finally… my imaginary walk was over and I was in the house. The hit of the flowers and birdsong faded so I videoed tipping the bowl of flowers down the sink…

OCA Drawing 1: Summer Walk (Warm-up – temporary drawing).

But an impression is left… the beauty stays with you. And here’s the last photograph of the flowers in the sink. I like the way there’s a little residue of the washing up liquid in the foam… which was invisible for the whole of the temporary drawing.IMG_0043

 

This was a fantastic exercise to do and the reflection really made me think about it.

The way colours affect other colours , the way thoughts affect how we see, how even outcome based drawings have a process… and how the experience of the painting and the experience of the seeing, hearing, feeling that went into it are all part of the final drawing.

Warm-up-temporary drawings

I was dashing out to the car and it was iced up. This was a quick 20 second sketch before I drove off to work.

Ice Hand

Ice Hand

What struck me was this is a surface that will be soon gone – and because I’m in a rush I can’t make considered decisions about my mark making.

The handprint went on first – this was both to make physical contact with the surface and because it felt very basic. Then I added the finger ends to turn it into something else and very quickly the scratched out marks in the ice.

The ice burnt into my hand so I had a memory associated with that mark… and it took a physical effort of my whole body making the long curved finger marks.

This is a memory of that morning in way no photograph could ever be.

That made me think that art is a physical act.  The marks are more than intellectual, they embody and preserve the moment they were created. This was not drawn in a museum… it was real and human and felt good.

I can’t entirely explain it but I felt connected with the surface and the drawing in a new and very physical way.

Hopefully I can keep some of that physicality next time I pick up a pencil and paper.

 

On a different point it made me think whether there is any link between the durability of art and its artistic value.

My ice hand can’t be sold and so has no value as a business commodity, but had this been a Mona Liza would it have had any less artistic value because it only lasted 30 seconds?

I decided it wouldn’t but there would be no way of quantifying that as no one would see it and it wouldn’t enter the artistic world to be judged by my peers.

Also the smell, changing light, temperature, and my need to rush would all be missing for the casual viewer … for me the photograph is a record of personal art.

Berries and sticks

Amoeba

The next day I wanted to make something organic. To use something living…

I had no idea what I wanted to draw when I started.

My starting point was the cane… this made me think of straight twigs… at first they were parallel and I started filling in with berries and leaves but it didn’t look right. So I found a bendy twig which contained one side… this led to wanting a similar shape the other side… but I wanted something alive not abstract lines and berry dots.

It took about an hour moving bits around until I came up with this.

What surprised me was that I didn’t have a plan as I went along but the materials and colours suggested other colours and shapes to me.

Maybe one way to draw is to let the painting ‘speak’ to you and see where it goes.

In doing this I had to hunt round the garden and think how I could use different materials and adapt them to what the drawing was asking. I could do the same thing with my art materials and experiment.

When I’d finished I wanted to give it a ‘meaning’ and called it Amoaeba… because it suggested a cell wall to me. Maybe this is like looking in clouds and seeing shapes of lions and horses.

In the past I’ve always either tried to draw ‘something’ or had a meaning in  mind… letting the materials and marks take control might be a great way to free up my art. The marks don’t have to be ‘right. I should try to be looser and freer in my mark making and not judge them.

Living

This was an experiment in surfaces following an exhibition of I saw of Mark Rothko several years ago where the different layers gave the painting depth. It also followed on from 1st page of my course which referred to the soft lines a plane leaves as drawing.

That seemed more like sculpture with smoke (the sculptural version of temporary drawings) as no flat plane was involved and the sky though transparent is very much 3D.

To add into the mix I was then sitting in a hall looking out of the windows and noticed the reflection of the strip lights in the massive window. It looked like a great 3D installation hanging in the trees.

My starting point was that glass is a flat surface but I didn’t want the revealed 3D world beyond it.

I taped bubble wrap to the patio door to give the glass ‘texture’ and then taped white paper to the bubble wrap to block out the room beyond and smeared mud on the glass.

The little dots of light are from the bubble wrap.

 

I liked the way the swirls interlace and the little dots of light show through. It doesn’t ‘mean’ anything and yet it pleases me and entertains me – takes me somewhere else inside the drawing… and my eye is constantly moving.

On reflection this made me think about the backing you put a drawing on. Unless your drawing is totally opaque the flat plane is also part of the drawing… it’s not just that the drawing is put on top of it or etched into it.

Letting the white paper shine through would be a valid way of drawing – in just the same way as adding to the backing.

Leaves on glass 2

On the patio door again but without the bubble wrap… just the paper. Here I used the light and shadow that fell on the picture plane as part of my drawing.

It’s got light, dark, whips of muddy smoke… grass leaves…

If I look at it through half closed eyes it reminds me of a flowerhead in an early morning mist just before the light develops the colours. It’s part real and part not real.

The three leaves at the top right hand corner please me very much. Something to do with the colour, the shapes they make? The way they fall very naturally? I’m not sure and can’t answer that question at the moment.

I did it very quickly so perhaps one way of working is to work without thought… find the bits that work… keep those… and go again. Each time learning and keeping one or two happy accidents until the marks you make create something wonderful.

Food for Thought

Bird Food

This was berries smeared onto my garage wall.

The idea was to experiment with textures… the wall is rough and the berries smooth.

And complimentary colours – green and red.

For me this doesn’t work – it just looks like random things thrown together.

On reflection I did this as a mechanical exercise – it wasn’t spontaneous – I didn’t let the materials lead me – I had no plan in mind. The berries were difficult to apply and didn’t do what I wanted them to.

This tells me that a drawing has to engage the mind of the artist (consciously or subconsciously). I gave up on this and it gave up on me!

Starfish

Starfish

I saw an image on the internet today of thousands of starfish washed up on the beach. When the sun comes out they will all die.

I couldn’t throw one back so decided to make a temporary drawing of one to commemorate its death.

Had it not been for this exercise I would never have done this. I would have been sad and thought about it but made no record. Now this temporary art will stay with me as a permanent reminder.

I don’t think I’ve achieved any sense of what I felt in the drawing but the intent was there.

On reflection this is art rooted in a personal, social and historical moment.

Drawings may often commemorate events that are totally lost to the viewer… be they historic or a personal event in the life of the artist. But if the drawing is great art the humanity will live on and speak to future generations.

Art is therefore much more than a copy, it is also an emotional record of the artists connection and understanding of the subject.

This has been a fantastic excercise in freeing me from my preconceptions and habits about what drawing is all about. It’s made me think about the physicality, spontaneity and emotional content of drawing in a totally new way.

I hope I can carry some of that over into this course!