My key takeaway from this exercise is how pleasing the delicacy of the shading is when holding the pencil at the tip.
The physically of using my shoulder was interesting as I had never tried this before. My nervousness of drawing again leads me to often work on very small paper and just using my hands and fingers to draw in a very precise way so this is quite a change! I was happy to let the charcoal jump across the page to see what happens, noting that seeing can be both what happens on the page in the process of drawing and whether anything recognisable or appealing has happened by the end of the exercise.
In response to this exercise I research Rachel Evans and was interested to note how how recording her work as it being made using photos and video is becoming work in its own right.
For this exercise I was determined to slow down, embrace my nerves and try again to take on board my learning from the earlier exercises. As a result I found this a fantastically enjoyable exercise. I continued with diagonal lines to begin with and noticed the middle looked like an orchestra. This may have been my subconscious as I had been reading about Kandinsky a few days before. For fun I went with the thought and drew ellipses from the earlier exercise to the right, suggestive of an audience. As a conscious nod to Kandkinsky I added a conductor’s stick in the middle bottom of the drawing.
By now a particular piece of classical music had found its way into my head so I went with marks that reflected what I was hearing. This is unusual and has not happened to me before, perhaps as I normally draw portraits, so this is an an exciting departure.
A fun continuation of this exercise would be to listen to a specific piece of music and more deliberately reflect it as marks and see what happens.
I was interested to note how very apprehensive I was about this exercise. On reflection I suspect it is because I am not used to just mark making without any plan and have not really done that many drawing exercises.
I felt frustrated because the lines were smoother than I expected and I didn’t feel I conveyed sufficient energy. This was partly as the charcoal was cracking as I drew which affected the lines. I also subconsciously didn’t stick to the half inch long length. My instinct was to fill the paper with larger marks as it intuitively felt like they would convey more energy. In practice, this was not the case so I decided to take a second short round of smaller marks. I was pleased with how they seemed to convey more energy particularly when they intersected with the earlier lines I had drawn.
My takeaway is that nervousness was creeping in again and I should be willing to try the exercises a few times and stick to what is asked as the course has been designed this way for a reason!
I consciously applied the learning from drawing small and approached this exercise with an open mind. The paper felt daunting to begin with but as soon as I started I felt more relaxed. The charcoal was unpredictable which I enjoyed as the ovals changed as the stick work down in ways I could not control. It felt more meditative, like I was using more of my body. My mind drifted to raindrops and English summer holidays, watching the rain run down the caravan window. I noticed afterwards at this point some of the ellipses had become raindrop shaped.
I had not considered the relationship between my perceptual and physical self prior to these exercises so I was curious to see what I learnt. Since rediscovering drawing early in 2016 I went straight back to using the pastels and soft blending I enjoyed so much as a child. However I am conscious of the risks of becoming dependent on working in just realism and so was keen to see if these exercises open up new styles of mark making and drawing to me. I have mainly focused on portraits this year (see example in the banner of this blog) so anything approaching conceptual is a new area for me.
When drawing small my fingers seemed to do most of the work and I only moved my hand when necessary. I got bored quickly and began varying between clockwise and anticlockwise ovals. Anticlockwise felt less comfortable and as I was a little bored kept drifting towards drawing circles. My hand and upper arm were tired by the end of the first sheet and I decided to adjust my chair as I had only recently set up a place to draw regularly.
When I swapped to my weaker hand I was inaccurate which I found frustrating. I am naturally relatively impatient and this is something I will have to be mindful of during this course. I decided to loosen my lines and I felt instantly more at ease. My lines seemed more expressive. I continued this looser style when I returned to my good hand and noticed this meant using my whole arm. The ovals were larger but more pleasing.
I was skeptical I would learn from this exercise but it was very useful. If I were to do it again I would embrace ‘the unknown’ and going with the flow of the exercise to see what happens more, slow down and try to enjoy the unexpected.
Beginning my course made me wonder whether any artists from Essex have gained particular recognition, not least given the county’s recent history of being ridiculed for its stereotypical mindless Essex girls and chavs.
The Spectator reviewed an exhibition with this online piece, The only art is Essex. The article states, “From the early 1930s to the 1960s there was an informal artist’s colony in the north of the county, centred on the village of Great Bardfield. It included, among others, Bawden…Eric Ravilious…plus the painters John Aldridge, Michael Rothenstein, Sheila Robinson and Walter Hoyle”. Grayson Perry lived there as a teenager.
Additionally Cedric Morris had an art school at Dedham which was attended by the teenaged Lucian Freud. The article also refers to John Wonnacott’s Thames estuary landscapes.
I am excited to see there are a number of local artists whose work I can explore and I will include links to further posts exploring their artists work in due course. When completing my course work for Part 1 I was surprised how my local landscape was subliminally finding its way into my work. There are many pylons in the fields near to my house and my post about the coursework for ‘Using the body’ will explore this further.