Project: Self Portrait – Check and Log

26/09/14

Check & Log

  • Which drawing materials produced the best results? Why?

Over the course of this project I used varying grades of pencil (4B, 6B and 8B), liner pen, watersoluble pencil, soft and hard pastels and coloured pencils.  The majority of drawings were made in my A4 sketchbook which has NOT water colour paper pages and the colour self portrait was drawn on sanded pastel paper in a neutral green shade.  All worked reasonably well.  The liner pen seems to encourage me to be loose and expressive with my marks, yet still allows me to see what I’ve done.  The graphite pencils, as long as I keep them sharp, are good for more delicate shading and tone in smaller studies eg the Neck Shapes, although I do find them hard work for anything over A4.  My favourite, and therefore the best for me, was the combination of pastel and coloured pencil as in the self portrait – this was also helped by the neutral green tint of the pastel paper.  The pastels were great to block in tones, shapes and intial colours to establish the bulk of the head and neck.  Once the bare bones of the drawing were established it was nice to use the coloured pencils for more accurate drawing, although, once I realised which alterations were needed, I also used them for vigorous hatching and blocking in.  The main problem with doing this was that the pastel paper had a strong, abrasive tooth and wore the pencils down very quickly.

  • Does your self portrait look like you? Show it to a couple of friends or family members and note down their comments.

I think in general it does look like me.  As detailed in the exercise notes, it was fascinating to me how it evolved through a couple of family likenesses before it got to me.  I could definitely see my mother in it at one stage, which is very interesting as our features are quite different.  She used to say she had a “Bob Hope” nose, which although an exaggeration, I could see what she meant (realise this reference may have to be Googled by younger readers!).  I have to say I think the nose I drew is too small.

The Bob Hope nose

Disconcertingly, the next resemblance was my middle brother, we have a strong likeness to each other but I needed to bring in more feminine features.  As to what friends and family think, I bravely posted it on my Facebook page for critique!  In general, the comments were “I only remember a much more smiley Gina”, “looks like an older version of you”, “you’re definitely much more smiley than that”, “…looks even better than yesterday, was worth the re-work”, “eyes are spot on”, “an older version of you”, “…but you’re much more smiley”.  Very interesting I thought, I also noted the caption beneath the example in the course notes: “Boccioni’s frown of concentration is a frequent characteristic of self portraits!”  My conclusions are that: when attempting a portrait, self or otherwise, the sitter will relax into an expression and with the best will in the world can not hold a smile for the duration; a portrait is more than a moment in time, as may be said about a photograph, it is about a living, breathing person that should capture the essence of that person, the viewer should probably feel a connection or some sort of emotional pull that makes you feel you know something about them or have at least met them.  If I take my conclusions, then I probably failed on these aspects because people had specific recollections involving a lot of smiling (apparently), they thought I’d made myself look older, however, I think I got that part right, but I am quite animated when I talk so they don’t often see a “freeze-frame” serious me.  Well enough about me, let’s move on…

  • Did you find it easy to convert your sketches into a portrait?

No definitely not!  My portrait from memory was of my neighbour, and whereas a couple of my sketches do actually have a good likeness – or at least how I remember her, I could not replicate that likeness, try as I might!  I did put it down to the fact that Linda did not want her glasses on when I was sketching, yet that was how I’d always seen her and how I remembered her.  However, going back to the previous point, I think it was more than that, I needed to see her in front of me for the drawing to “be” her.

Court Artist Elizabeth Cook www.theguardian.com

Court Artist Elizabeth Cook http://www.theguardian.com

I have renewed admiration for court artists, such as Elizabeth Cook, who can capture not only a likeness but also the emotions and expressions of the players in a court of law.  They have to remember all these things and have their drawings displayed to the world as a realistic record of events denied to TV cameras and photographers.  See link:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/court-artists-quick-on-the-draw-9091848.html

 

  •  Were your preliminary drawings adequate?

At the time I thought so.  After leaving it a couple of weeks before re-visiting the drawing, I was still confident until pencil hit paper.  I should have concentrated more on the solid head shape, BOTH eyes and more tonal structure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project: The Moving Figure – Check and Log

26/09/14

Check & Log

  • How well did you manage to create the sense of a fleeting moment rather than a pose?

For the Fleeting Moments exercise, I went along to a local Carnival – there were many people there of all shapes, sizes and ages – some static and some very animated, particularly the little children and street entertainers.  For a fleeting moment, I had to be drawn to something very quickly, sometimes I only had a flashed glimpse of something through the crowd – two moments were very vivid in my memory in particular,

the “genie” walking by balancing a crystal ball on his head – I really only just caught sight of him in my peripheral vision – I almost believed I had imagined it. So it really was just an extremely quick impression of him.

the hair bunches of a little girl being held up by her dad – that’s all I saw initially in tiny gap in the crowd and every now and then I could see more of her as people around her moved and I continued drawing.

Some of my studies were more descriptive than others, however, the atmosphere was so joyful and fun with excited children all around me, that it rubbed off and my adrenalin was high which made me work quickly and without too much consideration for any real accuracy.  However, this seemed to work in my favour and often resulted in capturing the mood and general figures.  The drawings are much more lively than static long poses, which give more time to consider, ponder and re-work for accuracy.

  • How successful were your attempts to retain an image and draw later?

I suppose this depends on the definition of successful in this instance.  Is it measured by accuracy, catching the atmosphere or general “action” of the scene?  I think realistically, unless one is in possession of a photographic type memory, it’s a combination/compromise of all three.  I think the tendency is to overly try for accuracy as the time limitation is less after the event, and the spontaneity may easily be lost as a result.  After the two exercises Sitting and Waiting and Fleeting Moments, my memory of a scene was heightened because of the emotional experience and attachment of actually being there.  If I could relate to or gain something from a memorised image it was easier to recall to draw.

  • Were you able to keep to a few descriptive lines to suggest the person’s movement or were you tempted to keep introducing more elements into your work?

I suppose the honest answer is a little of both.  However, I only seemed to continue working on a study until the next opportunity presented itself and I just moved on, so as long as I had continual visual stimulation I could be succinct with my mark making.

Project: Structure – Check and Log

15/09/14

Check & Log

  • How accurately did you depict the overall proportions of the figure?

    Project: Structure Exercise: Three Drawings - Sitting Black, Sanguine and white conte stick and pencil - 1 hour

    Project: Structure
    Exercise: Three Drawings – Sitting
    Black, Sanguine and white conte stick and pencil – 1 hour

Slightly mixed results regarding the success of the figures’ proportions.

The seated pose was working proportionally, or so I thought, until I examined the hands, they were a little too small. Regardless of scale, the hands should be big enough to cover the owner’s face and I can not quite imagine them doing so in this drawing.

 

 

 

 

Project: Structure Exercise: Three Drawings - Lying Black conte stick - 45 mins

Project: Structure
Exercise: Three Drawings – Lying
Black conte stick – 45 mins

 

 

The lying pose, however, I was much happier with.  My viewpoint of being at the head of the pose looking down the length of the figure was great fun to draw.  The head was a particular challenge as there was a large amount of foreshortening. So rather than thinking of head, chest, arms, legs etc, I decided to think landscape – hills and valleys, and just drawing the shapes I could actually see. This worked and gives a fair representation of the pose. My only annoyance is that I didn’t quite fit the left foot onto the paper!

 

  • Did you try to imagine the sitter’s skeleton and muscles? Did this help you to convey the figure’s structure and form?

This technique was more obvious in the standing pose of the three drawings. Although it was easier to imagine as the model is muscular and the structure was actually visible. I tried to pay attention to the joints, particularly in the legs. Initially, it appeared a simple pose, however, the way the model was standing, emphasised weight on his right leg and the slight bend of his left. Positioning of the knee and ankle joints were crucial to depicting the stance. Also the overlap of chest over upper arm, forearm over upper arm and wrist over forearm on his left side, helped establish the weight on his left elbow. Initially, I couldn’t quite see what was wrong with the model’s drawn right side. Quick measuring seemed to confirm the outline I had drawn, however, the torso and shoulders seemed too small. I took photographs and stood the drawing up for a while and kept going back to look at it. It then dawned on me that the tones were incorrect, the shoulder needed to come forward to give a more rounded appearance, rather than the flat result I’d achieved. Taking down the tone established a highlight that made the shoulder appear to come forward, this worked much better.

Project: Structure Exercise: Three Drawings - Standing Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils 45 mins with model  (Work in progress)

Project: Structure
Exercise: Three Drawings – Standing
Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils
45 mins with model
(Work in progress)

Project: Structure Exercise: Three Drawings - Standing Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils 45 mins with model - plus adjustments ie taking down tone on his right shoulder to bring it forward and darkening his left side to send it back.

Project: Structure
Exercise: Three Drawings – Standing
Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils
45 mins with model – plus adjustments ie
taking down tone on his right shoulder to bring it forward and darkening his left side to send it back.
(Work in progress)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project: Structure Exercise: Three Drawings - Standing Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils 45 mins with model - plus adjustments

Project: Structure
Exercise: Three Drawings – Standing
Black conte stick and tinting with coloured pencils
45 mins with model – plus adjustments

Project: Form – Check and Log

15/09/14

(NB Due to working around availability of models, the Projects, Exercises, Check & Logs and Research Points do not follow the order of the course material)

  • Were you able to maintain a focus on proportion at the same time as creating a sense of weight and three-dimensional form?

Yes, I think this was successful in the main, I struggled to maintain proportion mostly when I omitted to make quick warm up sketches. This is clearly illustrated in the Essential Shapes exercise, where my first drawing is very tight and “scrunched” up, then the final of the five drawings is much more proportionally correct.

Project: Form Exercise: Essential Shapes

Project: Form
Exercise: Essential Shapes
15 minutes each
Charcoal, Conte Stick and some Sharpie Marker

Project: Form Exercise: Essential Shapes

Project: Form
Exercise: Essential Shapes
20 minutes
Charcoal and Conte Stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Which drawing gives the best sense of the pose and why?

I am a little torn on which to choose for this, it is between two of the Essential Elements drawings:

Project: Form Exercise: Essential Elements

Project: Form
Exercise: Essential Elements
Charcoal – 10 min pose

Project: Form Exercise: Essential Elements

Project: Form
Exercise: Essential Elements
Charcoal – 10 min pose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first drawing on the left captures the pose best, I think, in that it’s just as he was sat, however, the drawing is lacking in weight and I’m not convinced that he is really connected with the chair.  The second drawing, right, brings the chair and model together more, he is definitely sitting in that chair and supported in the corner by the chair back and arm. I think I’ve convinced myself on the second drawing now and was probably drawn to the unusual seating position in the first pose.

  • Was there any movement or gesture away from the model’s central axis. If so did you manage to identify this and put it into your drawing?

Out of the eleven drawings made in this project, half of them deviated from the model’s central axis to lesser or greater degree.  When posing the model, it wasn’t a particularly conscious decision as such, but a result of trying to identify a more interesting shape to draw. I did try to incorporate some twists of the body and legs and taking different view points, and these added to the less than upright poses.  The most extreme of my drawings that showed movement away from the model’s central axis is shown below. The leaning on the sofa from a seated position on the floor together with my viewpoint of standing over the model, gives an exaggerated example.

Project: Form Exercise: Essential Shapes

Project: Form
Exercise: Essential Shapes
10 minutes
Charcoal, Conte Stick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project: Gesture – Check and Log

20/08/14

Check & Log

  • How well have you managed to capture the poses? What could be improved?

In the Stance exercise, the poses were simply depicted and most are captured fairly well. Number 3 is a little upright I feel, although the weight is anchored on the model’s right foot correctly. The shoulders are maybe a little too level and not following the diagonal.  With the Energy exercise, as I had a moving target, I think the sketches are representative of what I saw with the exception of the very first one where I was too late to get the arms down convincingly.  Also, it would have been good to have realised the brief and gone larger on the paper to try to get feet and hands in all the sketches, although with hind sight, as I was being a little covert, an easel and bigger sheets of paper would have been trickier logistically.

  • Do you think that your figures balanced?  If not where did you go wrong?

In the Stance sketches, most are balanced and have the weight distributed as was, however, as before, sketch 3 looks a little unnatural. As does number 2, yet he did look that way in life.  With the Energy drawings, although they are moving, waiting for the repetition of a position did allow for fast reworking which probably assisted with correcting any imbalances.

  • How did you go about conveying a sense of energy?

By using the opportunity to watch and draw while my model was doing a workout, it put me in the right frame of mind to be quick when both observing and drawing. I kept working the lines even when waiting for the position I was drawing to re-present itself so there was energy in the marks and in the “poses”.  The first two sketches are the most static as I was a little late with reacting and didn’t have a second chance to get the movement in the mark making I would have liked.

Example of Exercise: Stance

Example of Exercise: Stance

Exercise: Energy Quick pose.

Exercise: Energy
Quick pose.
Liner pen – A4

Project: The Clothed Figure – Check and Log

14/08/14

Check & Log

  • Did you find it easy to approach the figure as a whole or were you distracted by details of the sitter’s dress?
Form and Movement in a Clothed Figure

Form and Movement in a Clothed Figure
Warm Up Sketches in Liner Pen

By completing some warm up sketches initially, using no detail and drawing quickly and with little sight of the actual drawing as I went.  I could concentrate on the whole figure, clothes and chair together.  These were done in pen and have flowing lines and are lively.  I decided to employ the same technique as the warm ups but with pencil, going over and over the figure all around the form and clothing as one.

  • How did you create volume in the folds of the fabric?

Once the proportions and pose appeared correct, I knocked back the pencil with broad sweeps of a putty rubber.  This retained the impression of the drawing but allowed the coloured pencil to take precedence and avoid muddying the colours with graphite.  I blocked in the clothing with one pale colour and then worked into the folds with tonal hatching.  As the first stage included the full figure and clothing it was easier to create the illusion of volume in the fabric.

  • Does the finished drawing give a sense of the figure beneath the fabric?
Form and Movement in a Clothed Figure Mirror Reflection

Form and Movement in a Clothed Figure
Mirror Reflection Drawn in 8b Pencil and Coloured Pencil

I think there is a strong sense of the figure beneath the fabric, as the folds have enveloped prominent features such the knee and shoulders, plus the folds on the seat of the chair help define the thigh.

  • How would you tackle a drawing like this again?

I think I would repeat the warm up sketches as it focussed my mind on the whole subject and loosened up the drawing.  I would have liked to have made the drawing bigger but as I was using a refection of myself, I had to keep the sketchbook small (A4) to avoid it covering up too much.  If I was drawing another model, I think at least A2 would be good and would still try to keep it loose and flowing.  Maybe using conte and pastel for a larger drawing.

Project: Proportions – Check and Log

07/08/14

Check & Log

  • Have you managed to make a complete statement in this time? What were your main problems?

Short Poses: the 2 minute poses forced me to look at the figure and simplify the drawing.  The first one always instills a sense of panic and I try too hard, subsequent attempts are more fluid and show outline and placement of key parts of the figure and its environment.

Quick poses 2  minute 1

Quick Poses – 2 minutes each
Charcoal on approx A2 sugar paper

Quick poses 2  minute 2

Quick Poses – 2 minutes each
Charcoal on approx A2 sugar paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 10 minute poses were the most problematic for me – it’s enough time to repeat the steps in the 2 minute ones but then I begin to fiddle with certain areas instead of looking at the overall subject.

Quick poses 10 minute 1

Quick poses 10 minute
Charcoal on approx A2 sugar paper

Quick poses 10 minute 2

Quick poses 10 minute
Charcoal on approx A2 sugar paper

 

 

 

 

 

 
The Longer Pose: I enjoyed this exercise and splitting the hour into 20 minute sittings with a 5-10 minute break worked well.  In the first third, I concentrated on outline, placement and proportion, in the next, tone and limited colour – finally in the last 20 minutes, I reiterated line and structure and worked on the face and  folds in the T-shirt. The breaks also allowed me to stand back from the drawing and re-evaluate progress.

The Longer Pose

The Longer Pose – 1 hour with breaks at 20 minute intervals
Conte sticks in Black, Dark Brown, Sanguine, Grey and White, on buff coloured pastel paper.
50 x 35cm

The main challenge of the longer pose was for the model – I don’t think my husband believed how hard it would be to keep still for 20 minutes, I did try to warn him. Hopefully, he’ll still be willing to volunteer.  Plus the ratio of the paper and fitting in the entire drawing – see last point below.

  • How well have you captured the characteristics of the pose?

I think this was a little hit and miss in the beginning, short pose 2, 4 ,& 5 came across, but am not sure about the 10 minute ones. In the longer pose I think the character came across strongly – more so than the accuracy, which is probably why I like it.

  • Do the proportions look right? If not, how will you try to improve this?

Unexpectedly, I think the proportions look better in the 2 minute sketches.  The hour-long pose tends to look right but I know the struggle I had, so I’m not totally convinced.  It was interesting that the model said immediately that the proportions were right and he hadn’t been prepped beforehand that this was the purpose of the project. I need to look at it with fresh eyes.

To improve, I could either draw smaller to avoid the feel of squeezing the figure on the paper, or, which I’d rather, re-think the ratios of the paper.  The 10 minute sketches were the same size but the paper ratio was better in that the width and height were closer in size.