Category Archives: Artist profiles

Artist profiles: Dryden Goodwin

In the Guardian Guide to Drawing Goodwin says he believes “drawing is about how the mind processes what the eye sees”. This intrigued me as I think with my recent abstract pastels I find drawing to be about how the mind processes what the heart and mind feels. These two quotes about his work also stuck out:

“Over the time spent looking there’s a sort of fantastical element that enters in – an almost hallucinogenic thing where your sense of what you’re looking at changes”. To me this relates to flow.

“That this speculation is always fluid, that no one act of representation, no one point of description, can ever be finally resolved in time” (David Chandler, Plymouth University). This relates I believe to a large degree to his above and below drawings and red studies. These capture several moments which means you also view the drawings in a time lapse too so what he is trying to achieve is in unison with his method. I would like to know if he draws from photos or life to achieve this.

Although I don’t ‘like’ the drawings, I like the concept of exploring what is hidden or revealed between the two moments the drawings capture and that what the drawing is what is between the drawings. I see that as with Paul Noble the choice of style and medium perfectly suits what he is trying to say with his work.

At a personal level I find Goodwin’s drawings jarring. There’s something – almost a sense of disintegration – about them that makes me feel uncomfortable. This is a shame because I’m sure this is not what he intends having read other articles where he talks about the intimacy of the approach and his sometimes close relationship with his subjects.

As a beginner wrestling with even getting the technical basics right on top of telling my inner critic to take the high road, it feels I am some way off from knowing what is right for what I want to produce. I am however very grateful to my tutor for bringing this need to consider technique and medium in relation to subject to my attention.

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Artist profiles: Paul Noble

My tutor suggested I look at Paul Noble (among others), specifically looking at how he uses technique in relation to subject matter. In this short Guardian interview from the series ‘Guide to Drawing’ he talks about using technical drawing with no perspective and  rarely less than a sharp 4H pencil to “shine the sharpest light on the things I depict”. I can see what he means with the cartographic sense you get from his drawings. Weirdly for a style that is so ‘black and white’ there is nothing straightforward about the surreal worlds he creates.

There is so much detail in Nobson Newton and perhaps that’s the point – that we can’t see what is going on in the world with a glance, there’s a huge amount going on, nothing is what it seems and we need to look in detail and think about what it all means. Also ironic as my art tutor at work commented recently that the amount of time people spend looking at single pieces in galleries is ever reducing. Criminal really, when you think about the hours that go in the works. The precision Paul Noble uses is incredible. There’s also quite a vintage tone to his work which I like given he’s commenting often on the new.

On the Tate website he says ‘My drawings begin with their title….What was writing on a page becomes a building or place’. At the beginning of the course I was prone to writing down concepts in my sketchbook to explore and develop ideas before I was ready to think about representing them visually. It’s heartening to hear someone else work in a similar fashion.

By coincidence I got a book on Hieronymous Bosch from the library recently and I can see a connect between the styles. I was amazed to read Paul Noble has been working on this drawing project for 16 years. Could I ever love an idea so much to work on it for so long.

The monumental scale obviously works for what he is trying to say. He knows what he wants to say though. I am starting to be drawn to what I want to explore and say as I am very interested in people’s inner emotional lives and how they are hidden or not, on the psychological pressures of modern life, on the capitalist obsession with extroversion. What medium is the best for this? What technique is best for this? I don’t yet know.

Artist research: Alexandra Blum

My tutor suggested I look at how this artist investigates positive and negative space. I began with her Boundaries 2014 work which are drawings from her flat window that ‘combine spatial illusion with the materiality of negative space’. There is an odd filmic quality, perhaps due to the off kilter viewing angles and strong vanishing points she uses. In one drawing, airplanes are repeated on different trajectories showing the flight path. This reminds me of some Giacometti drawings where movement is conveyed by multiple outlines of the figure in slightly different poses. I have complained about my fidgeting cats and daughter but maybe embracing this and using the above techniques may produce some interesting results. 

The sky plays a strong role and she achieves almost a fisheye lens effect in some drawings. Using ink means the sky is quite blocky in places but this is softened by wavy edges and finer lines drawn over the top. I haven’t yet mixed brush pen and fine line pens.

Some drawings are in almost negative photo style with the brightest highlights and in one case all of a tree’s branches except its trunk conveyed using negative space. Again not a technique in its own right I have considered. 

These drawings are vastly more complex on studying them than they appear. I can’t say I’d have them on my wall but there are interesting techniques to experiment with.

Gallery visit: Jo Broklehurst and Quentin Blake

This weekend I visited The House of Illustration to see the above two exhibitions. 

Brocklehurst’s work was new to me. It was great to see an artist focusing on unconventional subjects. A lot of her work was large format pastel, quite sparing in how she filled the paper with more focus on line than shading which I am now keen to try and has given me confidence with larger formats which my tutor has encouraged. 

You can tell she studied life drawing from how well she draws the figure, and her background in fashion shows in the swaggering poses she captures – presumably executed at speed if she was working in nightclubs. I liked her unusual mix of media and colours too – paint and pastel, neon, metallic and uv paint as well as a range from muted to garish colours depending on her subject. Below are a few pieces I found particularly interesting that show this. It was encouraging to see her pale blue lines where she sketches out forms first before committing using a darker colour on the first two below which are large format pastels. 

As someone who costumes for charity, her approach to art as performance with her Alice in Wonderland pieces has given me ideas about how I might be able to draw my fellow costumers before and after events. 

I adored the Quentin Blake exhibition which was a selection of bird drawings. I tried to identify the media used before looking at the hand guide and was pleased I got it right in all cases. I was surprised he uses watercolour pencils as I always thought these were perhaps a poor  relation to painting and drawing ‘properly’. I love the uneven, loose way he draws, the amount of expression and emotion he conveys with such sparing lines. I grew up loving his work and characters from things like The Muppets and The Labyrinth. Inspired, I did two cartoon sketches this weekend in Blake’s style. The first is the winner of the worlds hairiest man competition, inspired by an idea in a book about illustration. The second is my friend and I having a coffee after the gallery visit. 

When drawing these I was beaming from ear to ear and laughing which doesn’t happen when I work in other styles. Joyous, I’d say is the right word for how this style makes me feel. It’s ironic I can’t loosen up when I’m doing what I previously saw as ‘proper’ drawing – a view that has changed since studying Blake’s work which may look simple but is not. 

My daughter and husband laughed and really liked my illustrations. I loved that I could bring them pleasure in this way. My husband says I have a great sense of humour and keen observational skills. I feel this style is where I belong and am at my happiest. This may also be due to its immediacy as it feels I have a mountain to climb with eg pastel. I was able to use skills practised on this course in both drawings below e.g. perspective.

The surprising outcome is I think I will be more suited to the illustration modules of the degree course so I will investigate their content and see if this is the case.

Artist review – Lucien Levy-Dhurmer

Going on from my research into David Blackburn I have discovered Lucien Levy-Dhurmer (1865 – 1953), a French symbolist / art nouveau artist. There’s some great high res pictures and details of him as an artist on Michel Koven’s blog.

I am knocked out by the beautiful, ethereal effect he achieves with pastels, particularly when combined with a surprising level of detail in Vision d’Automne. My favourite is Harmonie en bleu and I am looking forward to experimenting with some new Unison pastels I have bought to discover how he achieved this effect and how this might differ from David Blackburn‘s approach of layering and masking.

Through this process I have found also found the following:

  • A good review with other pastel artists to explore from Artists Daily.
  • Ruben Belloso Adorna is a contemporary pastel artist and shares some of his techniques in an interview on Jackson Art Supplies’ site e.g. not using fixative due to colour distortion and when painting on wood he uses a preparation comprising acrylic gesso with pumice powder tinted with acrylic colour as needed. In the technique of pastel, Adorna references Vicente Romero
  • Artists in Pastel lists lots of pastel artists for exploration

 

Artist review – David Blackburn

Following my tutor’s recommendation in my assignment one feedback I have been looking into David Blackburn’s work and technique. I found this documentary including interviews with him and footage of his pastel technique.

I was pleased to see him using Unison pastels as I bought two recently to experiment with but have not yet tried them. I would like to try how David masks his work, beginning strokes with the pastel on the masking paper and across onto the piece he is working on. This provides interesting blending but also introduces an element of surprise into his work. I am particularly drawn to the way he gets the colours to sing so vibrantly. I love the magic of the northern lights, and his colours and blending has this ethereal quality. I suspect this is lots and lots of layering.

He talks about transformation and the beauty of the landscape. His work also shifts you from small to large, the way something could be a leaf or a horizon. He clearly loves his local moors. This has given me some thoughts about how I might reflect my Essex surroundings. Essex has such a bad reputation and it would be nice to show the parts people miss in their stereotyping of Essex girls and suburban sprawl. There are many beautiful little areas, not to the scale of the moors but lovely nonetheless.

David also produces several pieces and then arranges them into a larger piece of work. Again this is not something I’ve seen done with pastel before. I’m really looking forward to trying this out. I’ve also discovered Chardin and Levy-Durmer from this OCA post on pastels. There’s also some interesting techniques described in this OCA post New ways with pastels.

Addendum: 07/03/2017

In my sketchbook submission for this assignment is an A4 page of blocky pastel colour. I followed David Blackburn’s method which you see a little of the in the video I mentioned above to see if I could replicate his effect. It’s fair to say – after trying different things such as blending with my fingers, a brush, a stump, applying a sweep of one colour over another running it across a piece of paper on top of the drawing and then onto the drawing – I ended up with a muddy mess. This was with Unison pastels too which he uses. How he blends his colours so effectively and conveys such luminance is still beyond me. I have a lot of exploring to do yet!

 

Part 1 – research on artists mentioned in course materials

I have spent some time looking at art work and reading about artists mentioned in Part One of the course materials. These are my notes and reactions.

Jean Dubuffet – source: theartstory.org

He developed ‘harloupe’ from a doodle and believed the style evoked the manner in which objects appear in the mind. I can see this plainly when looking at his work. I wonder how this would translate to me as my ideas tend to come when I’m walking to and from work and go into a dream like state. My ideas appear as words and concepts first but I would not want to be tied to reflecting those words in all of my art work.

I spent time with a number of his works (L’Arnaque, Rue des Petits Champs, Portrait de Jean Paulhan, Lever De Lune aux Fantomes, Textural Transcription, Soil ornamented with vegetation, dead leaves, pebbles, diverse debris). I was pleased to see him using gouache which, like drawing, often feels like the poor relation to oils. Like many artists influenced by the surrealists Dubuffet had a disdain for high art and used childlike images and muted colours which I confess I don’t enjoy. They don’t lift my spirits like the colour of Odilon Redon‘s work or that of Dali.

Franklin McMahon (1921-2012) source: illustationart.blogspot.co.uk

McMahon was an artist / reporter who produced some 8-9.000 drawings mainly with charcoal pencil which he coloured using acrylic watercolour after. I was impressed with the speed with which he seemed able to work.

I looked at several of his drawings of (or featuring) buildings such as Pope John xxii, The Vatican and The Duomo Milan. I love Italian architecture so may have been biased by these but I really liked the effect of line and wash with such ornate buildings and this is something I would like to try. I have some very interesting buildings near my office which I can try this on.

Rachel Evans source: rachelevansart.blogspot.co.uk

Rachel was the first artist I researched from the course materials before I had begun reading Contemporary Drawing. I was surprised to see drawing taking central stage and becoming part of performance work. After reading the first few chapters of that book I now see how much drawing is now being accepted and respected as a medium in its own right and not simply as part of the learning and  process of preparing for a painting. This is confirmed by wider reading on the internet which has challenged what I thought in my first post on this log. I also read today the rumour that Tracey Emin has privately been taking drawing lessons. All of this, coupled with the fact the OCA are offering an entire degree pathway for drawing is an exciting sign of times.

David Shrigley – davidshrigley.com

I went to the drawings section of David’s website. My initial reaction was that I did not like his flat style of drawing although I enjoyed his wit (he seems to enjoy taking the p out of Damien Hirst e.g. with ‘Nutless’ and ‘I’m dead’. I was surprised to read he was a Turner Nominee – not because his work isn’t good but because I didn’t realise a broader spectrum of work receives that level of recognition. His work has grown on me as I have gone back to look at more of it and I will consider what I can take from his willingness to ignore correcting lines in his work which gives it character and realism.

Liz Harding, Michele Whiting and Ruby Stoyle – unable to find web sources

Paul Cesar Helleu – see this post

Connor Ragus – see this post

Eva Hesse (1936-1970) source: theartstory.org and notationsaboutdrawing.org

Hesse isn’t mentioned in Part One but I came across her in my wider reading and saw the connection between her repetitious grid  based work and guess that is where the first exercises in the course with circles comes from. On paper as it were, we should ‘get on’ artistically – she produces feminist art and apparently has a self proclaimed fascination with absurdity.

However in practice she seems to be a minimalist (which I’m not a fan of) who subverts the grid “to reassert the hand of the artist”. I spent time looking at Hang Up (1966), Ringaround Arosie (1965), and Untitled (1963-64 and 1967) but her drawings leave me cold.

Claude Heath – source: claudeheath.com

He produces 4D drawings and drawings made blindfolded. His is conceptual and process based drawing which “show the human mind” and “ask us to question our perceptions while viewing the results of his process of working”.

I have mixed feelings. I didn’t like Drawing 188 or Eucalyptus 2001 but Thorax, a print, showing a metallic style rib cage I found breathtaking. I love the monotone and unusual background colour as it lets the beauty and detail of the piece speak. The industrial almost metallic quality of the piece really jumps out at me and I can envisage this as a sculpture.

claudeheath-thorax-jpg-827x465

Tom Marioni – source: tommarioni.com

Marioni is a concept artist who uses various media including both drawing and sculpture. I looked at a variety of his drawings (Line Drawings, 1997, Out of Body, 2004, Drawing a line as far as I can reach, 1972, Drum brush drawings, 1972-2015 and A Rose 2008). I’m not a fan of concept art so struggled to find anything I liked enough to want to study in detail and consider what I could take from it. However I really liked the drum brush drawings and have some ideas for objects I can use that I can douse in charcoal dust and see what happens when I attack the paper with them.