Research Point

04/11/14

Research Point

Find out more about the golden section.  Find at least six examples by a range of artists and look at how they have used the golden section in the composition of their pictures.  Work out what is good about certain compositional arrangements and what works less well.  Make notes on your thoughts.

The golden section has several aliases such as the golden ratio, golden mean and divine proportion. It’s a proven mathematical ratio that is seen in nature and repeated in architecture and design.  The ratio being 1:1.618…, where 1.618 is infinite and denoted by the Greek lower case letter phi. I must be a bit slow as it took a while for me to get this. If an area is bisected at the point of this ratio, this produces a square and a rectangle, the resulting rectangle can then be bisected at this ratio again and so on.  An area can be repeatedly sectioned like this and elements of a composition may be placed in this golden section, which has been said to be aesthetically pleasing to the human eye, it has been proven that we are hard-wired to recognise such patterns.  It is loosely equivalent to the rule of thirds, which I understood much more easily, where elements are placed asymmetrically to avoid centring which is deemed to be less pleasing.  However, the golden ratio is more complex and therefore more varied, for example it can even be applied to creating spiral in nature as in a snail’s shell etc.

Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci – The Last Supper

Leonardo da Vinci, not unsurprisingly with his scientific approaches, was known to make use of this compositional aid.  With the Last Supper, he has on the surface, placed his main focus directly in the in middle. The image may be divided in several ways using the ratio, something is happening in each section – length and width ways. Although, again to me, the rule of thirds is more obvious.

Seurat - A Sunday on la Grande Jatte

Seurat – A Sunday on la Grande Jatte

 

In this example, it is more obvious to me that Seurat has used the Golden Section.  The figures on the right are placed in the rectangular segment widthways and the reclining figures on the left are in the rectangular segment top to bottom.  A slight spiralling effect can be seen where the ratio split is repeatedly around the canvas.

 

 

Ingres - The Small Bather

Ingres – The Small Bather

 

 

Initially, I looked at Ingres – The Small Bather and thought yes I see the ratio at work here, yet again, when I try to put it into words, what I really see is the rule of thirds.  Why do I struggle with this? Maybe it’s putting a natural inclination into a scientific formula and it just doesn’t feel right.

 

 

 

 

Dali - Sleep

Dali – Sleep

 

Salvador Dali’s The Sleep, is a simpler composition and I can see that the main structure of the face is in the square and the “tail” end is in the repeat of the ratio split.

 

 

 

Corbusier - Red Violin

Corbusier – Red Violin

 

Botticelli - Slander

Botticelli – Slander

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more complex a composition, the more difficulty I have in explaining how the formula fits, yet I can see it working. I think the conclusion I must come to is, I see but can’t explain. The feel of a composition with a good sprinkling of the rule of thirds is more understandable to me. I have had another look at my final assignment work and, I think, the golden ratio formula may be applied – this made me chuckle as I certainly didn’t consciously work this through – I think I may have just proved the hard wiring theory to myself at least!

 

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Assignment 5 – Option 3: Drawing Outdoors

27/11 – 08/12/14

Assignment 5 Option 3 – Drawing Outdoors

Process and Progress:

 

 

Fig 1 – Watercolour wet in wet washes

Fig 2 – Building watercolour layers and defining the middle ground trees

Fig 3 – Adding in acrylic inks and building tone and colour

Fig 4 – Adding definition, tone and colour to focal point iron work.  Washed out the indigo blue watercolour as seems too strong

Fig 5 – Middle ground woodland still too strong.  Added creased tissue paper with 50:50 PVA glue and water – fresh start but with some colour and marks showing through. Began adding texture, colour and tone to the concrete buttresses.  Adhered torn hand-made paper to the bottom left corner and added inks and watercolour for foliage

Fig 6 – Adding brighter ink to the woodland and watercolour washes into  the river

Fig 7 – Using water-soluble Derwent Graphik pens, sepia drawing and brush pens to draw into the under-painting, bringing in the details and building more texture with mark making.

Fig 8 – Addition of more washes, completing all features, building tone in shadow areas, adding colour, definition and texture with oil pastels and colour brush pens.

Fig 9 – Working in the texture in the wooden plank walkway, increasing tone in the middle ground taking down the brightness. Worked into the foreground foliage increasing darks with dark blue brush pen, working negative spaces to bring out natural shapes of leaves with highlight of Graphik pen.

Fig 10 – Water built up with ink pens, oil pastel and washes.

Final work

Final work

Self Assessment
Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
material, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skills.
I continued experimentation with different media and drawing tools and tried to push them and myself by letting them find their own way in a sense. As well as inks, pens and oil pastels etc.  I tried textural effects with different papers and salt.  Compositionally, careful planning and the trying out of different views made it easier to be free with how the work was made within a considered design.

Quality of Outcome content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, discernment, conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.
Initially, I was excited to try all sorts of ideas and techniques and if I hadn’t gone through the lengthy process of experimenting and trialling effects in my sketchbook and elsewhere, I think there would have been a definite lack of coherence.  By following the process, I achieved a loose and fluid under-painting which I feel has been successfully pulled together by drawing and mark making with detail and accuracy where necessary yet the image remains lively.

Demonstration of Creativity imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.
I used my imagination to create a version of the scene that I hope has enhanced an autumnal feel by my use of colour and texture.  All of the planned elements are there, yet I was determined to avoid a photographic representation, the feelings that the location evokes in me are demonstrated by the treatment given.  Textures, smells and sounds inspired the work and helped develop a representation of a favourite walk.  I didn’t want to rely on laborious, detailed and intricate drawing of branches, mosses and foliage but make the best of what the media and techniques gave me and work with whatever effects occurred.

Context reflection, research, critical thinking (learning log).
I have continued to use my blog to record my reflection of progress and exercises.  I have learnt lessons and recorded them clearly, together with the research undertaken this has informed my decision-making and direction in the making process.

Reflection of Final Work

I have left the assignment drawing for a couple of days and returned to it to re-evaluate and decide whether I am entirely happy with the result.  My thoughts:

  • From a distance the trees immediately to the left of the iron girder appear too vertical and are not distinct from the girder itself.
  • The whole image may need more “pulling together”.
  • The texture and tone in the foliage in the foreground is too flat and indistinct.

Rework to Address the Above

Assignment 5 Option 3 - Drawing Outdoors Final and Complete Piece of Work

Assignment 5
Option 3 – Drawing Outdoors
Final and Complete Piece of Work

Points Above Addressed by:

  • Lightened the end of the iron girder to bring it forward
  • Added more tone and texture to the offending group of trees, plus made them less vertical by adding tonal branches.
  • Brought colours across the drawing to unify and using oil pastels on their side to bring out the relief of the tissue creases to indicate branches.
  • Added lights and darks to the foreground foliage with oil pastels and worked into the negative shapes with dark brush pens to bring the leaves forward.

Detail Photographs

As this particular assignment is being assessed purely on-line due to time restrictions, I have included close-up detail photographs to further illustrate the textures and details.

Detail 1

Detail 1

Detail 2

Detail 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail 3

Detail 3

 

Detail 4

Detail 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detail 5

Detail 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assignment 5 Drawing Outdoors – Media Experimentation and Selection

17 & 18/11/14

Assignment 5 Drawing Outdoors – Media Experimentation and Selection

In my mind I wanted to use water based media to produce washes particularly with wet in wet effects. The following experiments were mainly focussed on the woodland in the middle ground of my composition and which colours to use for what.  I was also keen to try out salt effects both with sea salt and table salt to disperse the ink and watercolour to produce texture. I’ve taken some work in progress photos to show how the layers were built up.

Colour media experiments with notes

Colour media experiments with notes

A mixture of watercolour, acrylic ink and oil pastels.

Sketchbook page showing the colours I intended to use following the colour studies. Also, the adding texture with screwed up tissue and hand-made paper,
A mixture of watercolour, acrylic ink and oil pastels.

 

From the above studies and playing around with colours and media, I made a rough plan in my sketch book of the colours of ink and watercolour I wanted to use.  I had seen some mixed media work using tissue paper as a textured base so thought I’d try this, plus I had some hand-made paper that was very absorbent and frayed freely at a torn edge. Texture is a key part of this drawing so I also wanted to try using salt  sprinkled onto wet media and see how it reacted, I used large grain sea salt and fine grain table salt.  I imagined that the larger grain would be useful to describe the moss on the

Further experimentation with textures using: Oil pastel as a resist Salt to diffuse pigment Hand-made paper to use wet in wet pigment.

Further experimentation with textures using:
Oil pastel as a resist
Salt to diffuse pigment
Hand-made paper to use wet in wet pigment.

concrete and the finer grain would give a diffused effect to show rough texture.  I could, of course,

have used rough watercolour paper to show this, However, I made a conscious decision to use smooth hot pressed paper as I can add roughness but not take it away and be more selective in where this was done.

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies

7-12/11/14

Exercise: Detailed Studies

… Explore all of the features of your subjects in detail.  Alternatively, could you present these objects in a simplified or less focussed way?  Beware of sentimental or fussy elements.

As I have narrowed down my composition to a specific sections of the gates with a back drop of receding trees, bushes and foliage, I will be relying on enlarging all aspects to at least an A2 scale. This means the details of the mechanics and the natural forms will be important regardless of the expressive nature of the treatments and techniques I hope to use.  I have tried to make studies from differing angles to help me understand the three dimensions, shapes and forms.  The pencil drawings assisted with this and the limited palette colour studies aided the tonal considerations.

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies 4B Pencil - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
4B Pencil – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies Graphik Line Painters & Dark Sepia Artist Pen - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
Graphik Line Painters & Dark Sepia Artist Pen – A6

 

Exercise: Detailed Studies Watercolour - Indigo & Burnt Sienna - A6

Exercise: Detailed Studies
Watercolour – Indigo & Burnt Sienna – A6

Now, and before I begin the final piece, I want to fully explore colours, textures, materials, tools and mark making options to decide on the overall style and atmosphere I want to achieve.

 

Exercise: Composition

03/11/14

Exercise: Composition

Exercise: Composition Study 1 - Landscape Orientation Looking North Study 2 - Portrait Orientation Looking North Water-soluble Graphite Stick (plus pen on study 1)

Exercise: Composition
Study 1 – Landscape Orientation Looking North
Study 2 – Portrait Orientation Looking North
Water-soluble Graphite Stick (plus pen on study 1)

Notes:  Having already explored a portrait orientation for my view, I may struggle to incorporate all the “required” elements.  It was good to explore the landscape possibility too.  This may, however, include too much.  With the portrait version, I have to be careful not to give the tree too much prominence and move it away from the central position it occupies here.

Exercise: Composition Study 3 - Portrait Orientation Looking South Study 4 - Landscape Orientation Looking South Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Exercise: Composition
Study 3 – Portrait Orientation Looking South
Study 4 – Landscape Orientation Looking South
Water-soluble Graphite Stick

I still haven’t quite let go of the possibility of using the South view for my final assignment work.  As I was unhappy about including the mill houses in the background, and I had already decided to zoom in on the sluice gates in the North view, I thought I should do that with this one too – just to be sure.  My notes are written at the time of drawing and are interesting to compare with my table of assessments against considered criteria a while later – see below.

Exercise: Composition Study 5 - Portrait Orientation Looking North Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Exercise: Composition
Study 5 – Portrait Orientation Looking North
Water-soluble Graphite Stick

Not entirely satisfied with the variety of composition studies so returned to the North facing view and zoomed in even more.  The tree is less centre stage and the mix of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines are more interesting.  The criteria I felt were important to me are listed and have been incorporated into the upcoming table, checking each composition against each point.

 

Atmosphere & Appeal Opportunities for Media Effects Representational or Abstract Perspective – Aerial and/or Linear
Study 1 Traditional not overly appealing Features may be too small to work on the iron rust etc Too representational – boring Good for perspective, both aerial and linear
Study 2 Middle ground could be atmospheric, has more appeal as more focussed on subject Able to use effects in wooded area, plus some on sluice gate features Quite design led – abstraction could come from the media effects Linear and aerial perspective
Study 3 Atmosphere low, although subject does have appeal for me Success would be purely down to media handling Definite abstract possibilities Linea only – not a bad thing but may be better to illustrate both
Study 4 As Study 3 Opportunity for effects but think a flat approach may be better Definitely abstract – from a distance this looks an interesting design – a completely different direction Linear only
Study 5 Both – softening of hard structure with mid and back ground trees Opportunity for effects to show textures etc An element of both – the patterns, shapes and lines of the interest have shifted to the right Both incorporated but to a lesser degree – yet doesn’t detract from the view

This was a good process to go through – I left it over lunch to be able to come back with fresh eyes and stood my sketchbook up on an easel to view from a distance.  This clarified the whole effect of each study – taking each in turn and applied my assessment of my criteria.

Conclusion

My favourites were between studies 4 and 5 much to my surprise.

Study 4:  An interesting composition for abstract treatment.  Something I could revisit but for this assignment, I’m thinking it could all be too new and would not demonstrate what I have learnt over the duration of the course.  I will, however, have these sketches and studies in my sketchbook, should I want to develop this further.

Study 5:  This has all the elements that would show progress and learning eg:

  • observation
  • mark making
  • perspectives
  • atmosphere
  • composition

I think that this study, compared with number 2, which is similar, has shifted its focal point to the right hand side with interesting shapes.  It is simplified with less elements ie no water to speak of, less vegetation but enough to soften the overall composition.  Some interesting effects clan be added for textures without throwing the “kitchen sink” at it and making the overall result incoherent.  I hope this will produce a pleasing, interesting and engaging take on the subject I’ve studied a lot over the last couple of weeks.

 

Exercise: Aerial Perspective

29 – 31/10/14

Exercise: Aerial Perspective

29/10/14

Using tonal media such as charcoal, soft graphite, conte crayon, soft pastel, oil pastel or watercolour, make several tonal studies that analyse receding features of the landscape from foreground to middle and far distance… You can work in colour or monochrome at this stage or work with colour purely as a tonal medium without attempting to replicate the actual colours before you…

Monochrome Study in Charcoal and Black Conte Stick

In order for me to begin to understand the aerial perspective in my view, I chose to use a monochrome method to illustrate the tonal range. Using the off-white of the paper for the lightest to black conte for the darkest tones.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Charcoal and Black Conte on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Charcoal and Black Conte on Paper – A5 work area

 

Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel

In this study, I tested out four pastel colours to represent the tonal range, and chose dark green for the darkest, burnt sienna, yellow ochre and a pale blue for the lightest tone.  As is often the case with pastel, I struggled to obtain the darkest darks, so had to improvise with a black pastel to intensify these areas.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper – A5 work area

As with all my studies as I am working on a project, I stuck this up on the window (or wall if room) and was struck by the luminosity of the light coming through the thin paper – it made quite a different image.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper - A5 work area

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Limited Palette Study in Soft Pastel on Paper – A5 work area

29-30/10/14

Colour Study in Watercolour, Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper –  approximately A3

With no initial drawing, the paper was dampened completely so that watercolour washes could be laid in wet-in-wet. This was to block in the main tonal areas to denote distance, middle and foregrounds. Again the darkest darks were difficult to establish with the intensity required, after many attempts at layering washes resulting in various shades of mud, I fell back on soft pastel and stated the sluice gate features loosely in pen.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Colour Study in Watercolour,  Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper - A3 approx.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Colour Study in Watercolour, Soft Pastel and Pen on Watercolour Paper – A3 approx.

30-31/10/14

Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper –  approximately A3

Another watercolour study with no pre-drawing.  Again, laying down washes wet-in-wet, but using stronger colours.  Once again I was remiss in not photographing work in progress as the initial washes were very vibrant and interesting to see – and, again, the main problem was creating the intense darks.  This time, I used tube watercolour paint rather than student pans, this made it easier to obtain a larger quantity of stronger pigment on my brush, I also found some indigo which produced the required level of strength in the dark tones.  I felt no need to add other media because of this and did not add all the features of the view as I was purely attempting to produce the aerial perspective and generate distance rather than a faithful reproduction.

Exercise: Aerial Perspective Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper -  approximately A3

Exercise: Aerial Perspective
Colour Study in Watercolour on Watercolour Paper – approximately A3

Observations

  • Much easier to produce the tonal variations required for successful aerial perspective with monochrome media
  • Choice of coloured media will be a major factor in producing effective results in the final piece of work.  Whereas the watercolour was fun to use wet-in-wet, the intensity of colour was difficult to reach without muddying the colours.  Before attempting the final work, I will experiment with acrylic ink as they have a transparent quality, yet are intensely coloured and vibrant and do not shift as more layers are added – maybe a combination of the two?
  • I noticed that as I worked on more studies, the main features of the views ie the sluice gates and their accoutrements, were less and less prominent both in size and definition.  I will need to decide the main focal points when working out the composition.
  • Although, I thoroughly enjoy using watercolour wet-in-wet and tipping the paper in different directions (a lot of the time the watercolour study was painted upside down), my skill in actual watercolour painting is sadly lacking.  So will utilise other media and drawing techniques to produce the subjects of the painting and look to watercolour/inks to create the mood and atmosphere.

 

Exercise: Linear Perspective

27 & 28/10/14

Exercise: Linear Perspective

27/10/14

I revisited my chosen location of the sluice gates to make studies concentrating on linear perspective.  I decided to work on the two views that gave the most challenge regarding distance, using the sluice gates and the various walkways and bridges along side them together with the river itself.

I spent an hour working on site using line markers and Sharpie pens.  I remembered to mark in my eye level as the horizon line, which unfortunately, aligned with the horizontal centre of my workspace.  I continued regardless as this could be altered when working on the composition specifically.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner, Sharpie and Water-soluble Pens A5 Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner, Sharpie and Water-soluble Pens A5
Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner and Sharpie Pens A5 Looking towards the mill houses

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner and Sharpie Pens A5
Looking towards the mill houses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On returning, I simplified the “looking down river” view into perspective and cross over lines.  At this point I was still uncertain about this view, as it seemed too traditional.  I was originally strongly drawn to the “looking towards the mill houses” view because of the rusty iron work etc, yet I wasn’t enamoured with the mill houses themselves as part of the composition.  There were like an ill placed full stop in a sentence, the image stopped dead at their walls.  I did then realise that from my eye level, I would see more of the bushes between the footbridge and the road bridge in front of the building, but the wall was still visible.  After, making this second drawing, I was more confused than ever as to which to choose.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Liner Pens A5 Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Liner Pens A5
Looking down river

 

Looking back over the first view, I did like the sense of distance, even though the sluice gates were less prominent.  I decided to sleep on it before deciding which to make into a larger drawing.

28/10/14

Back to work and I decided to work up both drawings to a larger scale.

This time using a tinted pastel paper on its smoother side, I used sepia liner and brush pens to help invoke a feeling of an autumnal scene without using a full colour palette.

Exercise: Linear Perspective Sepia Liner and Brush Pens on tinted pastel paper 30 x 40cm Looking down river

Exercise: Linear Perspective
Sepia Liner and Brush Pens on tinted pastel paper 30 x 40cm
Looking down river

Using the previous sketches and reference photos that I could enlarge on-screen to see more detail, I worked directly onto the paper with the sepia pens.  The ratio for this paper was wider to height than the A5 size previously used.  This worked much better in regards to including more of the machinery of the sluice gates.  The distance down river works well and the perspective of the gates and particularly the iron girder on top of them is much more successful.  I also like the fact that the steering/turning wheel is visible together with the planked road bridge adjacent to the gates.  I decided therefore to stick with this view, allowing for a similar paper size or larger with the same ratio for the final work.  I have found a good compromise for describing the distance as well as the workings of the sluice gates that is acceptable to me.  If this happy accident hadn’t occurred I think I wouldn’t have been completely satisfied with either view.  Another plus, is that with the more natural objects ie trees, river etc, I can be more expressive and experimental with their treatment in the final work.  I am also looking forward to experimenting with the various textures of the iron and concrete.

The exercise challenges whether:

  • a sense of space has been achieved – I believe so, with this particular view with the river going off into the distance.
  • the interpretation of the linear perspective of the landscape is accurate – with the slight alteration of the walkway railings that were sloping a little too high across to the right, this is a fair representation of what I could see.
  • it feels right – generally, the entire drawing gives me a realistic feeling of the scene before me, with the additional features to the left ie the road bridge and machinery, adding to the perspective and draws the eye along the river bank to the distance with the walkway allowing a way back in to the image.  It feels like an autumn day, with trees losing their leaves and reflections in the water.

This has been a very worthwhile exercise allowing me to analyse which view would be more successful and interesting in the end – with the added width of frame giving me a complete image rather than two that were not quite right.