Thursday, 20 April 2017

Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook : final results

I'm rather pleased with  the artists' book  based on the theme of positive/negative I produced as a result of the Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook  course at City Lit. I'd done a lot of preparation in advance of the class : painting the cover and stitching and drawing a variety of pages  so what I did in the final session  was draw with white ink on the cover and tracing the same pattern on the reverse but write the text associated with 'the elusive spark'.  

cover -  based on  fold out etching in book from 1787


inside showing pamphlets attached to accordion

cover folded up

cover laid out flat

Inside with pamphlets towards centre

Inside  with left hand pamphlet opened

Inside with right hand pamphlet opened ( showing reverse of stitched page)

inside with text
However my sketchbook practise  itself hasn't altered that much from the start. Seeing what other  students  had achieved in their sketchbooks was very interesting, with  one page leading  to another, inserts, collage,  space left to add additional material , pages altered.  Overwhelmed with all the techniques demonstrated  and  with so many ideas to explore I tended to work on large separate bits of paper rather than in the sketchbook itself. I'd do it differently if I did it again!

 One of the reasons I chose this course was to bridge the gap ( ok chasm!) making links  between my observational drawings and paintings and the design work for my textile pieces .  It's certainly given me a lot  to think about in regards to my sketchbook practice. I've written before  comparing my lab book  records to my sketchbooks. Now I'm no longer working as a scientist , I'm not sure the lab book approach is as appropriate and I'm in the process of reviewing  how to make my sketchbooks work better for me as I develop as an artist.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

A walk through Kent's history ( and orchards)

I have several blogposts half writtten - on Rauschenberg and  Hockney exhibitions  at the Tate;  ' Entangled Threads at Turner Contemporary and the final class of Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook  , not to mention a heap of chores around the house outstanding. But the sunshine beckoned and we needed some more practice walks in preparation for Greece  so we headed off by bus to Boughton to follow the trail of the Peasant's Last Revolt.  

In the churchyard at Hernhill are buried the local labourers who lost their lives at the battle of Bossenden Wood. Along the way we had a closer glimpse of orchards in blossom and the bright acid yellow of field of oil-seed rape  we've been admiring from the train  along with ranks  of  weirdly shaped trees.

After lunch at the 'Dove' in Dargate( practicing  for Taverna lunches...)   we stopped at marked viewpoints for  spectacular if misty views before heading  into Blean Woods with masses of violets and wood anenomes.  Look forward to coming back at bluebell time.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook Week 4- the spark of an idea emerges!

In between classes of Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook,  with only 2 classes for project work I realised I had to focus on a single, relatively simple subject  to get the most out of it. When I discussed it with the tutor , she was pleased I'd moved away from work based on hand/fingerprints/ x-ray which is going back over familiar territory but looking at something new.
I returned to the sketches I'd done at the Wellcome of the electrical discharge  patterns  of Martin Van Marum( who sounds rather a ruthless character)  in a book from 1787. I loved the format itself with a 4 page fold-out of an etching with wonderful marks and finally managed to track down an image of it online.  

I also managed to find some illustrations of the incredible equipment (electrostatic generator) used to create the discharge.

Once I'd  played around in Photoshop using 'invert' filter I  got very excited with the idea of 'positive/negative'  - how different the same image looks and  the possibilities for exploring the same image in different media and  on different scales.

I did some stitching samples with white on top and black in the bobbin both on black and white fabrics and on black painted papers.
And then looking through book on handmade books I found the structure I want to work with - and accordion with 2 sewn in pamphlets, giving opportunity for long spreads  in combination with changing interactions with neighbouring pages.  Making a small model  help in clarifying  what I wanted to do.

Just as well I had decided on structure and content as we had even more techniques thrown at us ( monotype, colourwash with inks, ballpoint drawing  and scraffito techniques with scoring and rubbed in graphite).  So after I'd painted the strips of watercolour paper I'd brought from home, I had time to experiment  with these. Others were feeling rather more overwhelmed - all these new techniques but no time to explore them properly.  

Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook Week 3

I've not been blogging  because I've been 'doing'  but as I use it to sort out my thoughts, I'm having a quick catch-up between rehearsal and performance of Faversham Choral Society concert.
Week 3 of Contemporary Drawing Sketchbook  involved extending and evolving drawing experimentation. One of the most useful parts was looking at a variety of fold-out  continuous sketchbook space ( concertina /accordion mainly)  and discussing  how the different formats  related to their content ( eg narrative, surprise, variations on a theme etc)
We also  explored yet more techniques, the example above having everything thrown at it, it has a very rich surface as a result.

The combination of graphite powder and shellac was new to me ( and appropriate for topic as shellac was once used in electrical applications) I like the graphite 'washes'  and the marks you could make with brush ( above) . But the fumes were a bit much, I'm going to have a go with PVA/acrylic medium.

Lifting off acrylic paint with a wet sponge when it's partly dry gave some interesting effects as well ( something I've been doing unintentionally for years!) I liked the combination with white ink.
Most of the time though I was struggling a bit, not really engaging with the subject or exploring content  but   engrossed in making brushmarks ( which look great when you focus on the detail of the marks ) That's the problem with a short class - not really time to try new techniques AND work out what you're doing in subject matter. The suggestion in the lesson plan was to try 6 media and techniques  and examine shifts in meaning /communication ! There's a tendency in myself to revert to default mode which is not the point !  
A brief tutorial  recommended Tania Kovats 'Drawing water' for it's combination of text and imagery. As it happens I bought a copy after seeing her work at Greenwich and having studied it again in greater detail, I have a better idea of what I want to  achieve .