Assignment 4

Part 1: Seated Model in Chair

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Positives

  • I started off by sticking sheets of lined paper on a thinner A1 page, in order to strengthen it. I then pained over with a thin layer of gesso to mute the harsh lines.
  • I really tried to get the curve of the spine accurate.
  • The foreshortening of the thighs whilst shes sitting is something I’ve drawn repeatedly over time and have become a lot more comfortable with, so am pleased with how the muscle sits and the length of the leg, it really looks like shes sitting.

Improvements

  • This is my least favourite of my assignment pieces.
  • I tried really hard with the foreshortening of the foot but could definitely have done with more practice in order to more accurately depict them.
  • When I receive this back I will firstly try to ground the stool she sits on, and then add a whole load of mid tone shading all over. I will then use a putty eraser to bring out highlights, such as on the knee and top of the thighs and breasts, and a darker pencil within the creases and shadows. It feels like I stopped working on it too early and just needs to be drawn on more. I could have made the darkest contrasts a lot stronger, and used white paint around the figure to draw your attention to her.
  • The right arm looks very large and out of proportion, it needs to be tightened up.
  • I started drawing in the facial features but ended up with a rather scary looking unnatural face, so I erased it and blanked it out using white paint.

Part 2: Reclining Model

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Positives

  • This drawing is incredibly dramatic. There is accurate foreshortening, with a larger bum and a smaller head. I drew guideline circles in order to get the shapes within her body regular and even.
  • The protruding ribcage makes it appear as if she is breathing in, and works accurately with the arch of her back to give her life .
  • I’m glad I kept it in black and white pencil, I think the simplicity enhances it. If I had used colour I believe the intensity would have been lost.
  • I made the decision to make her look as if she was kicking her legs and moving them about, to give the piece some movement and life.

Improvements

  • Something that doesn’t quite look right is the breast that is furthest away, it sits just a little too high and perky, and so to look more natural I think it would need to be even less visible, and much lower down on her chest. When laying down, boobs naturally roll out almost towards the armpits, which is what I need to remember.
  • I struggled a little with the hair, and trying to make it not look unnaturally like a troll. I could have used a little bit of artistic license perhaps and spread it out behind her perhaps.

Part 3: Self Portrait 

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Positives

  • I used acrylic paint for this final piece. I started off with a very light pencil drawing so that I could be confident that the facial features were all proportionally accurate. I used my pencil lightly, holding it loosely and marking areas of shadow rather than harsh outlines. I then quickly painted in the background, and decided on using yellow after consciously thinking of which complimentary colour would go well with the pink skin tones.
  • I began mixing the lightest skin tones, and made an effort to spend more time looking at myself in the mirror than at the paper. Instead of looking at my face as a person, I looked at my face as a map of highlights and shadows, and slowly began painting those areas in. I used a smaller brush eventually for the more detailed areas such as the eyes and nose, and used darker colours as time went on. Eventually what emerged was an incredibly accurate representation of my face.
  • I am so pleased with my tonal range and colour choices within this painting, from the more purple toned dark shadows under and around my eyes, to the highlight on my nose and cheekbones. It strongly suggests the bone structure under my face, and I found it so much easier to depict with paints instead of pencil.
  • I painted in my shirt using quick marks and a thick brush.

Improvements

  • The lower lip looks as if it almost has a harsh lipliner on.
  • I also wanted a hint of a smile on my face, I’m not an incredibly moody person usually but my mouth in this painting ended up looking deadpan and emotionless.
  • I could have used a lighter tone and a smaller brush to get more detail in my hair, but as I was primarily using the sun as a light source, it would constantly move and wasn’t particularly dramatic either. There could also do with being a more obvious parting, I could have used the skin tone colour to blend it out subtly.

Demonstration of technical and visual skills – materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.

I have definitely branched out in my used of materials, including skillfully using paint, coloured pencils and charcoal but I think I could definitely have pushed myself even more to use things like ink or pastel. I found myself simply using HB-8B pencils time and time again as I felt the most confident with them. My observational skills have improved incredibly since working on the face and body, I now make such an effort to draw using shading and shadows rather than outlines, and my compositional skills are instinctive and natural, I am more able to place items comfortably on a page.

Quality of outcome – content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner with discernment (good judgement).

I have shown application of knowledge of the structure of the face in my very last assignment painting especially. I have grown massively since my very first sketch of my sister, constantly pushing myself to try new things and leave my comfort zone. I drew from life, from photos, family members I knew well and strangers I knew nothing about. I feel like my ability to draw a female nude grew and became sophisticated and anatomically accurate. Something I would like to continue working with and become more comfortable with drawing is the male body. I would also like to become more confident drawing clothed figures as well, depicting those small creases of fabric within a larger drawing.

Demonstration of creativity – Imagination, interpretation, invention, personal voice.

I can slowly see some personal style emerging through some interesting drawings, especially with the second part 2 of this assignment, I pushed the simplistic live model to make it more dramatic and interesting. I did find it difficult to be completely imaginative when trying to accurately depict figures at the beginning, I found myself trying not to make anything appear too stylised so that I could be sure everything was accurately in proportion first. Now that I have some basic foundations, I could definitely try to add even more creativity and risk taking within my art now.

Context – reflection, research, learning log.

I could spend a lot more time going through my learning log and completing all of the of the to dos and tasks I have written throughout. I’m constantly updating this full of details of what I learn on a daily basis, however sometimes my reflection can appear very superficial since I don’t always get round immediately to adjusting little things, such as erasing a mark or moving the position of something. The research is one of my favourite elements of this course, I believe that it has become incredibly detailed and thorough as time has gone on. Each essay is bursting with inspiration and information that I can use, however I could definitely create more sketchbook trials in the style of other artists, it would be fun and experimental. I reference carefully, but could definitely try to use books and the library more as my sources can be very heavily internet based.

Research point: Self Portraits

Self-portraiture is a vast and individual subject matter. It can involve anything from a photographic likeness of your appearance, to an abstract depiction of your mood, using any material from 2D paper to 3D sculpture. Sometimes it is incorporated within other genres of art such as landscapes.

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‘Self Portrait at 28’

Albrecht Durer was a master of perspective and proportion, and his skill was so great that he wrote four books on the subject. Even with his academic approach, he managed to remain incredibly creative. He produced many woodcuts and engravings, cutting into the surface of metal and wood with a handheld steel tool, giving a textured result. He was one of the first to actively paint self-portraits in order to show off his appearance and self reflect on his image. ‘Self Portrait at 28’ was painted with oils on a wood panel. He portrays himself face forward, usually a position reserved only for Christ, and has an almost blank expression on his face. Resting on his chest, his right hand also seems reverently held out in self importance, highlighting its role in creating art in an almost holy blessing. In a time where your clothes indicated your position in society, and his father was a simple goldsmith, he painted himself in a noblemans coat, indicating he was of a higher class. This came after studying in Italy where he was accomplished and celebrated as an artist, but upon arriving back home in Germany he was seen as only a mere craftsman, undermining him. He was determined to showcase his skill and for his art be taken seriously. The contrast between the dark background and the highlighted face and shadows gives a sense of drama to the painting, and he appears very superior and serious. The engraving to the right of the painting reads ‘Thus I, Albrecht Durer, made an image of myself in appropriate colours in my 28th year’. The positioning of these words at eye level is significant too, drawing your attention to the face, very similar to Hans Holbeins King Henry VIII painting.

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Bedbound whilst recovering from a severe car accident, Frida Kahlo began to paint as a form of therapy and to help her get through the long and pain filled days. Her story has stuck with me, as it mirrors my own life. Having been hospitalised regularly as a teenager, I began using art and painting to help me deal with my medical conditions and illnesses, losing myself in creativity, just like Kahlo. This painting is entitled ‘Self-portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird’. This necklace is cutting into her neck and drawing blood, yet her expression is strong and focused. It is one of my favourite images ever, I see this as Frida Kahlo enduring the pain she is suffering with dignity and courage.

In this image, she has depicted herself honestly, her brows overgrown and the shadow of hair upon the lower lip, proving that brave and courageous women like her have enough strength and inner beauty to know that conforming to cultural ‘norms’ (such as wearing makeup, shaving, straightening your hair, wearing expensive clothes) will never make you truly happy. Validation has to come from within yourself, not from external sources. The animals around her are symbols, the thorns around her neck maybe a reference to Jesus’s crown of thorns, the butterflies are a symbol of resurrection, and the hummingbird is a Mexican symbol of luck and a new love. However there is also a black cat waiting to pounce in the background indicating bad luck. The monkey could be a symbol for her ex-husband, as he tugs on the thorns and causes her to bleed even more.

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Van Gogh created 36 self portraits over the ten years he spent as as an artist, almost obsessively using it as a way of finding his identity. The act of self-portraiture is so different from photography as you are able to creatively manipulate colours, features and settings to capture a likeness of your personality that no camera could show. The reddish/orange beard complimented against an almost animated swirling blue background are instantly recognisable as a Van Gogh palette choice. The cool tones create a sense of peaceful calm, however you can see the underlying agitation in his tight-lipped stare. His jacket almost blends into the background, making your eyes focus on his detailed face. This was painted shortly after leaving the asylum that he was committed to, and his far-off gaze shows that he probably still had a lot more psychologic issues to deal with.

He wrote in a letter to his brother stating that ‘…the best pictures, and from a technical point of view, the most complete, seen from nearby, are but patches of colour side by side, and only make an effect at a certain distance’. It has stuck with me and I am definitely going to incorporate it into some of my own pieces, the idea of building up small blocks of colour side by side, cleverly mixing both abstract marks and realism depending on the viewpoint.

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Tracey Emin

Self Portraits don’t always have to be drawings or paintings. Sometimes they can be sculptural items, such as a bed. The only thing that defines a portrait is that it represents you. At school, Tracey Emins teacher told her that she didn’t have ‘it’ – natural artistic talent. For the next seven years, she went to every drawing class she could, but eventually, after realising it was pointless trying to conform and being unhappy, she found her own rhythm. Instead of drawing things with accurate foreshortening and perspective, she relaxed, and just drew however and whatever she wanted. It was incredibly liberating, and although she is controversial and many would argue that she is not an artist in any shape sense or form, I believe she has made art work for her, no matter what medium she uses, and that self enjoyment and satisfaction is way more important than any strangers opinion.

Within this image, entitled ‘Self Portrait, sitting in high shoes’, Tracey Emin depicts herself as a pair of long legs wearing heels, the hint of body, shading as an arm and a mass of hair covering her face. So much of her art involves female sexuality and empowerment, as simplistic line drawings, but are incredibly clever in that they tell a story in the quickest way possible. She has created this piece by monoprinting, adding water based ink to a glass plate and rolling it out to an even flat base. She places a piece of paper over the top, and then draws her image or text on the back of the paper. When the paper is lifted, the revealed image will be printed back to front perfectly on the other side. The unique texture and gloss that monoprinting gives is completely different to paint. It is more spontaneous and free than linoprinting, but has a more polished finish than drawing. I would definitely like to give it a go one day.

Peter Blake

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My first memory of seeing this painting was in Year 6, aged 10 in art class I think we were asked to create our own self portrait inspired by Peter Blake. We went outside and our teacher took a photograph of us, then we painted ourselves using a mixture of blues and greens. Luckily our school uniform was blue and green as well. I wish I knew where my finished painting is, it would be incredibly interesting to recreate it now.

At first glance this piece of art feels like it depicts the pop culture of Britain, the muddy green gardens and brown fence represents an English garden so well. However, when you look closer into the details you notice it’s actually incredibly American. The United States flag is embroidered on the denim jacket, he is holding an elvis magazine, and wearing american baseball shoes and a plethora of badges advertising things like pepsi. The bold colours are bright against the dull garden, reflecting the shiny appeal of America against the dreary UK. His stature is slumped, his face seems unhappy. It almost feels like he’s trying to be young again, decorating himself with so many badges as proudly as if they were trophies, pledging allegance to all these various causes just like american children pledge allegance to the flag every day. It tells a story, of someone sucked in by culture, fascinated by the the lights on the other side of the ocean, but maybe isn’t brave enough to leave the countryside yet.

Blake regularly uses collage and mixed media ephermera in his word, but for this painting he uses oil on hardboard, comfortably cutting his composition vertically using the rule of thirds.

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This is one of a series of startlingly haunting portraits that I have fallen in love with. Its raw honesty and candidness has taken me back a few years ago when I was in and out of hospital having multiple surgeries. With the yellowing skin of jaundice and the NG tube, anyone who has stayed in the hospital can relate to this image. The clinical blue pyjamas, and the angle of the head indicate that he is laying down.

At the age of 40, after years of alcoholism, depression and heart attacks, John Bellany underwent a liver transplant, and as soon as he was awake and able to talk and function again, instead of asking for painkillers, he asked for paints and paper, and set about drawing portrait after portrait of himself. He charted the course of his lengthy stay, depicting the world around him as he knew it. Within this series of drawings you can see the journey he went on, from the grimaces of severe pain, to beginnings of smiles, celebrating the new lease of life he was granted. In hospital, every victory is a milestone to be celebrated, whether big such as getting through a surgery, or small, like having a bite of dinner, and using art to make sense of the monotonous days that blend into one, is so important.

Sources 

http://www.tate.org.uk/learn/online-resources/glossary/s/self-portrait#incontext

Albrecht Durer

Peter Blake

John Bellany

Van Gogh

Frida Kahlo

Tracey Emin

Exercise 2: Your own head

For this exercise we were asked to draw two portraits of our own head. I found this incredibly difficult, as I have never accurately tried to draw a face before.

I forgot to photograph my first self portrait, but will include it once I have my sketchbook back from assessment. I started off using a photograph of myself, using coloured pencil. I didn’t look closely at the individual highlights and shadows within the face, I was more concerned with proportion and getting the features sitting correctly within the face. I struggled with the eyes primarily, I used a biro to add definition but ended up ruining it with heavy blue tones. I would make the lashes so much more subtle if I were to do it again, and use a softer grey to outline the eyes. I need to keep practicing drawing hair, as I found it difficult to depict realistically.

I kept drawing it over and over again and binned about 6 sheets of completely inaccurate attempts at self portraits. I decided not to worry about the ‘finished product’ for a while, I just needed to practice getting marks onto a page and becoming familiar with combining all these elements together to create a complete face.

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Eventually I decided I needed to change the position of my face and try something completely different. I ended up with this profile angle of my face, which I am really impressed with. I used a mirror and drew myself from life. It is an accurate a line drawing, with only the merest hint of tone on the neck. It shows the upturned angle of my nose well. Something that could be improved is the swell of my upper lip, as it is thicker and more heart shaped. I struggled with the angle of the chin, I think I made it a little too indented under the lip, and also made the gap between the nose and mouth too long. However I am pleased with the hair, the style is obvious and used shading well to clearly show where the light has hit it and where the darkest areas are. I could also have added more thickness to the brows, the shape is accurate but just needed the individual hairs to be built up.

Research Point: Artists whose work involves the face

Portraiture by definition is a painting or drawing of the face and shoulders, of a solidary person. However, family and group portraits are also relatively popular. Historical portraits were mostly reserved for royalty or the rich, people deemed important enough to warrant the time and money that would be spent on a painting. Religious portraits of sacred figures were also hugely important. As time went on, artists began to realise the significance of painting ‘the common man’, people in everyday life doing regular tasks, and producing art that more people could relate to. As a variety of people got access to more affordable painting supplies, the wide variety of art styles began to emerge, leaving the perfect blended photorealistic portraits behind. As the camera evolved, painting became more than just describing your external appearance, various colours and textures were able to show your personality and mood in a much deeper way than before.

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This image of King Henry VIII is printed in most history textbooks, and was commissioned and painted by Hans Holbein the younger. The composition makes him look incredibly dominating and full of authority, physically filling the canvas with wide broad shoulders. He is also indicated to be extremely wealthy, wearing robes in rich golds and reds embellished with jewels and diamonds. This image started as a group portrait, including Henrys’ parents and his wife at the time, Jane Seymour. However the portrayal of Henry within that was so powerful that an individual portrait was made, and encouraged to be copied and distributed all around the country. However, we have to question, did he really look like this? This painting brings up the vital idea that a portrait could in fact be enhanced by the artist, equivalent to photoshopping a model so they look airbrushed and perfect. We know that around this time King Henry was struggling to gain support, over-taxation and a complete upheaval of church and new religion made the public cautious of him. Overweight, falling ill with thrombosed painful legs, and with no male heir, he was desperate to improve his public image. It’s the ultimate in Photoshop and artist flattery, his legs were lengthened to balance out the broad shoulders, and his position was so vulgar it was only considered acceptable for representing heroes such as St George. He defiantly stares at the viewer, daring them to challenge him. It oozes masculine sexuality and competence, his codpiece in the centre of the image, the complete picture of a trustworthy and powerful king. Your eye is drawn to the gold lettering, and by looking at that you are forced to look directly into his eyes. In reality he was struggling towards the end of his life, and for all he was trying, the Tudor line could very well be over soon. Thanks to Hans, however, this painting is how he will forever be remembered.

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In this painting, a young girl sits reading, with a plump cushion behind her. I was so drawn to this piece of art, since I absolutely adore literature. The colour combinations of purple/pink and yellow complement each other so well. It so clearly shows a young girl lost in the magic of reading, absorbed in the words she’s reading and not aware of anything around her. It almost feels intimate, like you should look away, but the artist invites you in to join in the magical moment. The book she holds in her hand is tiny, enhancing the dainty elegance of the girl and showing the cultural love of portable literature at the time. This type of painting is not primarily to depict an accurate portrait, but more simply to evoke a mood, memory or feeling within the viewer, and that’s exactly what it did for me. When you can see yourself in a piece of art, it has a much bigger impact on you. This was quickly painted with energetic brushstrokes, and thee light source is obvious and the contrast is dramatic, highlighting the face and the cushion. Her yellow dress enhances the sunny atmosphere, and I really like the satin folds and intricate detail, created by dragging the end of a wooden paintbrush through wet paint. The simplistic and loose background highlights the intense detail and beauty of the girl. There is a juxtaposition of hard geometric structural lines against the soft rounded face to enhance this. It feels calm, content and quiet. It’s an incredibly inspiring painting.

 

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Seated Woman – 1927

Picasso pushed the definition of portraiture to the extreme. Abstract art was practically revolutionary at this time. This is a portrait of Marie-Therese, the woman Picasso was having an affair with.

He has painted flat blocks of colour, outlined in black and white strong lines. You would think that block colours would make the image appear flat and one dimensional, however the corner of the room converges to a point in the background, giving the illusion of depth and pushing the portrait into the foreground. The intricate detailed patterns of the dress and face contrast with the plain background contributes to the illusion of depth.

Picasso regularly painted himself as the joker/harlequin, seeing himself as a sinister trickster. One of those paintings has him in nearly exactly the same contemplative hand on head pose, and also uses the same intricate patterns, linking the two images. This painting is also reminiscent of a queen playing card, an opposite but almost identical image having been made of his next lover, Dora Maar, as if playing the two queens against each other. Tonally, it is actually so much brighter than many others of Picassos work, he tended to stick to neutrals. Picasso had a child with Marie Therese, but with all his affairs, she became incredibly jealous and eventually committed suicide.

Lucian Freud

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Freud fathered over 25 children with various women. As his children grew up they never even had access to his phone number, nor were they ever aware of their many half siblings. Relationships would be on Freuds terms, and as he found the most inspiration from painting portraits, his children ultimately became his regular subjects.. He painted his eldest daughter, Annie, at the age of 14, naked, tucking her knees up and her long hair covering her chest, so nothing was visible. To him, it was no big deal, just basic anatomy. He believed the physical body to be a separate entity and nothing to do with Annie herself, simply lines and shadows to form an overall image. The most striking thing about the finished painting is how happy she looks however, laughing heavily. It was a way for father and daughter to talk and connect, in the only way he knew how. However, the nude didn’t strike my interest as much as this one did. This shows such raw emotion, and I think it’s much more hardhitting and vulnerable than any naked painting he produced. He obsessively captured the realistic detail of faces, wanting to portray their uniqueness. This was almost to the point that some of his work could be seen as unflattering to the model. He worked loosely with long haired brushes, moving about constantly to keep his mind and work fresh. The only tight and contained about him was his painting routine that started in the morning, with a break in the afternoon, and continuing working all evening.

In this particular portrait of Annie, what looks like a monobrow rests on her forehead and reminds me of Frida Kahlo, a beautiful artist I greatly admire. The gaze in her eyes is full of emotion, begging for something, maybe a relationship with her father? Or is she just concentrating on something in the distance? The textural, unblended brushstrokes and various shades of skin tone are so effective and will definitely be something I want to incorporate into my own work.

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This painting is called Odalisca VIII, made in 2004 by Spanish artist Manolo Valdes. I absolutely love the mixed media texture element of this portrait. He takes elements from other portraits and stitches them together like patchwork. His colour palette, bold black outlines and the disproportionate eyes are reminiscent of Picasso, but the four different sides of this painting are inherently unique. His use of collage is almost revolutionary, but in this particular portrait he uses tactile burlap fabric and oil paints to create depth and texture. He was inspired when he went into his art academy one day and a tutor put a huge canvas on the floor, dumped layers of paint on it and used wood to spread it around. From then on, he had a revelation in which he realised he could use whatever materials he wanted to make art, he wasn’t confined to using a paintbrush, he had complete artistic freedom. This creativity is definitely something I need to remember, sometimes I get stuck in a rut and a way to recharge myself would be to do something different, use a different or unusual tool, medium or technique!

He has a huge passion for art history. Most of his work involves taking his favourite images from other artists and redesigning them to fit his personal style. I am learning about art history using books and online resources and finding it to be such an endless source of inspiration. You could argue that no idea is truly unique, that every piece of art is created from an amalgamation of a selection of previous ideas the world has already thought, and Valdes’ end goal is to put his own stamp on that. He also uses literature commentating on the art world to inspire him, another aspect of Valdes’ work I would like to incorporate into my own pieces. For him, the best result would be that his work engages people enough for them to have a response or opinion of it, whatever that might be.

Graham Little

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The first image is of a girl, laying on her stomach in bed, propped up by a pillow and hugging a stuffed toy monkey close to her, bringing a sense of childlike vulnerability to her. She is also looking out into the distance. Most of Graham Littles work involves effortlessly beautiful women, usually posing elegantly. Compositionally, he has split his canvas into horizontal thirds, with the centre being the most detailed, and the surrounding areas above and below being filled in block colour, drawing your attention to the figure. Each of his intricate drawings take months to complete, and his main source of inspiration are fashion magazines such as Vogue. Although his style is incredibly traditional, and the women he draws never seem to have a huge personality, they are still absolutely striking.

This second image is the most daring and intriguing of the three, Graham Little has made clever use of negative space and handled light with incredible skill. By simplifying the entire image so only the darkest shadows are marked on the page, he creates a sense of heightened atmosphere and allows the viewer to fill in the blank spaces themselves. By having a dark focal point and allowing the drawing to fade out, he creates an aesthetically pleasing piece of art to look at.

I have always loved using coloured pencils in my own artwork. This final image was created with both coloured pencil and acrylic, and has an incredibly realistic feel to it. It’s neat, and as she is well dressed with her hair up in a bun, it feels like an accurate choice of medium to represent the model.  The dark shadow covering most of the face perhaps gives an indication to the models’ mood, she is glaring as if she’s not incredibly happy, and the gloomy grey haze across the entire image accentuates the atmosphere.

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This first painting by Elizabeth Peyton, by extreme contrast to Graham Littles neat portraits, feels messier and freer, exaggerating the dark shadows under the eyes and loose brushstrokes. This messiness creates a sense of intrigue, what’s his story, who is he? Even the background has a beautifully uneven texture to it, and is bright and airy.

The most striking thing about the last two images are the vibrant colour choices of red, orange and pink. They should clash, but somehow work together. That moody, intense stare brings a barrier between the viewer and the subject, almost resembling a fashion illustration. The middle drawing accentuates that tall effortless beauty that models have, which almost takes the attention away from the face.  This is why the final image is important, it feels more stripped down, you can really focus on her features. Elizabeth Peytons art is tiny in size, but still feels open and fresh. She has a relaxed hand, it doesn’t seem like she gets caught up in tense intricate details. Like Graham Little, she often works from magazines and photographs.

It also encourages me to ask the question, where does a drawing end, and painting begin? All of these images are taken from the book Drawing Now: Eight Propositions, but can images created with wet mediums like acrylic paint and watercolours be classed as drawings? Ultimately, I believe it’s up to the viewer or artist individually to decide, just like a rough sketch on the back of a paper receipt is still a piece of art in its own right.

Sources

  • Drawing Now, eight propositions by Laura Hoptman

Hans Holbein the younger

Jean-Honore Fragonard

Picasso

Lucian Freud

Manolo Valdes

Graham Little

Elizabeth Peyton

Project 6, Exercise 1: Facial features

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On the top left of this page I forgot to stick in a reference photo, and the entire page looks a little incomplete, but once I get this sketchbook back from being assigned I will finish it off. I also am going to write a whole load of my annotations and comments all over this page.

Lips are one feature I really struggle with. I can exaggerate them to look ever so slightly cartoonish but struggle to get an accurate lifelike portrayal. I was very aware of how dark the inside of a mouth is, I tried to shade the lower teeth so it looked as if they were in shadow, and also added lines to indicate creases on the actual lips themselves.

The shape and curve of the eyebrows are very accurate, and I like how dark and thick they appear. However, to make them look more realistic and less like a barbie doll painted face, I need to make the eyebrows more ‘messy’ and less perfect, maybe including more stray uncontrolled hairs. I could also have highlighted just under the brows and shaded in various surrounding facial areas such as the eye socket.

I am really pleased with the ear I drew in pencil. I used multiple shades from HB – 8B, which enabled me to show a wide tonal contrast and I was able to get intricate and accurate detail. There isn’t anything I would do differently. I also really like the shape of the nose in the top left. Something I definitely want to add more to is the drawing of the hair in a bun, it looks very messy and I need to be a lot more careful about where the root of the hair grows from. I am going to use various shades of coloured pencil and highlight where the light hits it strongest.

On the bottom left there is a womans face in profile. Initially I used a piece of tracing paper and traced it in order to get a feel for where the features are. Once I was more familiar, I tried freehand, and considering it was my first attempt, I am fairly pleased with how accurate it is. The only thing I will change once I get my sketchbook back is that  I am going to lengthen the bridge of the nose slightly and shorten the gap above the lip.

I spread the central eyes across the two page spread in order to see my sketchbook not as two individual pages, but as a complete surface to experiment on, without an obvious divide down the middle. I didn’t colour in the left eye, but am really pleased with the slight droop of the eyelid and lifted pupil, it makes the eye appear realistic and not staring uncomfortably at nothing. I used coloured pencil for the right eye, as I can get intricate detail within such a small space. I included a white reflection of the light, but could definitely have darkened the surrounding iris to add more contrast. I struggled with the eyelashes, initially making them far too long and fake. They need to be subtle and slightly curved with a flick of the wrist, but they cannot be too ordered and neat either, they can overlap and clump and twist. Even though I coloured one eye in and not the other, so they look different anyway, the pupils and shapes of the iris are slightly different and there needs to be similarities between them to make them look as if they are believably sitting on the same face.

I wish I had used more mediums whilst experimenting, such as charcoal, ink, pastels etc. I have barely skimmed the surface of drawing facial features, so am going to try and continue this exercise over and over again. I find it a lot easier to draw accurately when I only have to focus on one single element, it’s when there are multiple things to focus on that I struggle and loose accuracy, so I need to push myself out of my comfort zone. I have realised that ‘imperfections’, such as moles, gap teeth, dark circles etc, make faces look more real and unique, and gives the resulting art a lot more character too, which is a really wonderful way of looking at your own ‘flaws’.

Project 5 Ex 1+2: Single and Groups of moving figures

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I did both these drawings whilst out in London at a museum, and decided to push myself to use pen for the group drawing. Whilst a group of schoolgirls were walking by I quickly penciled in the main figure shapes and then shaded the darker areas, giving the bodies depth and and more character when I got back to my hotel.  Even though there are small details I would change if I could, for example I was slightly heavy handed whilst drawing the feet of the nearest girl in the foreground, she looks like she’s wearing thick boots or trainers rather than school shoes, I am overall really impressed with the shape of the bodies, the shading and depth, and especially the knee high socks of a girl in the middle. I learnt that whilst using heavy ink felt tip pens, less is more, and building up two different colours allowed me to have even more tone and depth within this piece. I think this drawing shows the forced uniformity school enforces on children, and the mentality of teenage girls that need to have the same hairstyle and clothes to be accepted among their friends, but their individual bursting personalities shine through regardless.

I decided to just use pencil for my single figure as I wanted to draw him in a lot more detail. There wasn’t a dramatic light source either, but I could have done better by using a wider tonal range, and exaggerate the shadows and highlights, but I only had one pencil on me at the time. I did however manage to show that under his shoes, the inside of his jacket and a small section of his inner thigh were the darkest areas. I used accurate proportions for his body, depth for the curve of his baseball cap, and gave him as much personality as I could with his outfit and stance. I struggled slightly with the fabric of the trousers and giving the hood behind him weight. I find drawing clothing on a person difficult, especially when I’m focusing more the whole picture rather than of details such as a crease. They are not as baggy as I would have wanted, nor did I think enough about the positioning of his knees underneath. I have mentioned this a few times but I need to keep reminding myself that I could create even more depth within my drawings if I used a wide variety of mid tone shades and didn’t leave behind so much of the original white paper. I think using coloured paper as my base with would be a good start, forcing me to add both brighter and darker tones to my images.

I will definitely be repeating this over and over again every time I go out, it will be so useful to sketch the world around me constantly and quickly. The time pressure brought on by drawing a stranger walking past forces me to get the most important aspects down on paper without thinking so much, strengthening my instinctive ability to simplify an overwhelming composition.

Exercise 2: Three figure drawings

Standing

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For this drawing I used watercolours, and am really pleased with how it turned out. The only thing I would do to improve it would be to include a background, and some shadows on the ground so that the figure is grounded and more obviously standing on the ground. I could have also included more midtone colours, but I think the charm of this piece comes from the stark contrast in tones and the obvious light source. I am really pleased that I was able to simplify a complex figure to portray the most dramatic elements of it – light and shadow. I carefully thought about the curve of the spine, enhanced by the raised knee, and tried to make it appear as if her full weight was on her flat foot, however using shadows on the ground would have also helped with that. On her bent arm I tried to depict the muscle bulging slightly, but needed to just make it a little more dramatic.

Seated

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Something I would definitely change in this drawing is the harsh and unnatural triangular angle of the hips. If the entire body had been composed of straight line then it might have worked but it almost ruins the whole picture, pulling you out of that realistic image and reminding you that it is a drawing. I used charcoal for this, but if you look closely you can see I also used the smallest hint of ink as well, in order to get deep blacks. However I outlined the cube she is sitting on and I wish I hadn’t, this was an important lesson in learning that I need to focus on just line OR tone in my drawings, one or the other, and not both at the same time. The box is also a stationary man made item, whereas the body is a movable, living person and I needed to more clearly differenciate between the two.

There is real depth to this body, you can feel the curve of the breast and legs. The shadow coming from the box grounds it, making it sit on the floor.

Lounging

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This woman sits reclining, head tilted completely back, her arms resting on an old mattress. I have used foreshorening of the arm well here, but I also believe that hand/arm is too small in proportion to the rest of the body and just needed to be enlargened slightly. I could also have more mid tone shading on the body to make the brightest highlights really stand out. The ribcage is highly visible and you can see that she is breathing in and holding tension in her stomach, adding to the belief that she is a living person. I carefully added a hint of shadow under the chin, however it’s not extremely obvious that her head is actually tilted back. I could have made more effort with shading and hair to make it clearer. The breasts are also incredibly perky and lifted within my drawing, whereas realistically they were droopier and less full.