As part of the exhibition that we are building up to at the end out our field project, we are looking at figurative drawing at interesting techniques used to record our clay creations. This was a self guided session, in which we were given charcoal and paper and left to explore the various ways that we can record our pieces; as charcoal is a great material to draw figuratively with, the weight and position of the charcoal can change the mark and the weight it carries on the page significantly.
With the charcoal, I started out with quite gestural and simple line drawings, using cross hatching shading and minimal smudging. I started off with my hand molds, which looked quite good in simple lines, as the shape and creases of the hands were the most important aspects of the form. In these first drawings, I focused on the line work and the thickness of my lines, as the pressure applied to the charcoal and the angle I held it at showed the change in weight of the figure in different load bearing areas.
When I came to draw the head, it was a little harder to manage, as the head had already been taken to be fired in the kiln; so instead of being able to draw the head from life, I had to draw it from the pictures that I had taken on the day that I made it. Though it did give me the advantage of having images of the head both before and after I finished the features added in the slip.
When I started drawing the two photos that I chose of the before and after the slip, I shaded with dots and charcoal dust, probably really annoying everyone else in the studio. This shading gave me a great texture for the surface of the clay, I particularly focused on this on the final image of the head with by slip and carving, looking at how the surface of the clay held the areas that I pressed into to model the head and to shape different areas. Though I found drawing the unfinished head to be more expressive, as I really got into the dotted shading and the form of the head, looking at the detail in the ears that was covered by the slip and the hollows of the eyes and cheek bones; both feature that where further worked into with the slip and carving, but still looked really nice when they where still unfinished.
Grant Snider is a comic artist, who’s tumblr blog I have followed and admired for quite a while; his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Kansas City Star, The Best American Comics 2013, and all across the internet. A collection of his comics, The Shape of Ideas, will be published by Abrams in 2017.
Grant’s work often features a stream of conscious thought that he has recorded during his day, which he then turns into a full illustration later. These are the kind of works that he posts most often on his tumblr blog, they are also the reason that I’ve been looking at him as part of my subject. The theme of conscious thought has carried through the collections book that I’m working on in my subject, the collection of thoughts and experiences in my day to day has become my main focus in my book work.
So Grants use of both colour and thoughts has really inspired me and I feel it really reflects the kind of feel that I’d like for my book; the terms of the looseness of the text and the sense of being lost in your own thoughts, while still reflecting a general relatable feeling of the day to day.
I also really love his use of simple colour and how boldly he uses it to express emotion and situations. It’s a very simple and effective way of communicating mood and emotion, with short lines of text adding a basic explanation of the situations and the setting to give the work context.
This sense of colour and emotion is something that I’d like to use in my book, with the emotion and the mood coming from the combination of the text and palette used in each image.
As part of our exploration into creating the human form in clay, we looked at a some different types of clay mixtures that change the nature of the materiel; adding in the paper pulp to the clay enables the clay to move and behave differently, the paper lightens and strengthens the clay, making it much easier to maneuver and shape. The clay takes on some of the properties of paper, becoming much easier to work with; as it folds, creases and even rips in a similar fashion.
The difference in the weight of the clay makes it much easier to mold and allows you to drape it over things to get the impression of an object or limb. After having a quick play with this new materiel, I had a go at using my arm as a mold for the clay, laying it over my hand and wrist, and then pressing the clay into the gaps between my fingers, around my hand and the joint of my wrist. This picked up the indentations quite effectively, especially around my fingers and thumb, which I held at an angle in quite a relaxed position. The way that the clay folded and creased was very effective around the join of my wrist, giving the clay weight and a more realistic feeling and flesh.
As an introduction to building and modeling, we spent a day of our field module building figurative heads using a technique called ‘slab building’; a ceramics technique that builds using slabs of clay, much in the same manner as coiling when making a pot.
It was quite hard to do without the form folding in and collapsing on itself; I lost my heads neck pretty early on due to the fact that I didn’t build it strong enough to hold up the heavy head, but it was a really fun and easy way to build. getting to spend an entire day building in studio 5 was a great way to spend our time. it had been quite a while since I’d last had the time to do such a large clay build, but I got into it quite quickly and found it quite easy to get back into the modeling of the facial features.
Once we had the hole form and had added in all the facial features of our heads, we then looked at how we could add to the forms with slip and then engraving into the slip to add a pattern or design.
To do this we used two different colours of slip and the scraped it away. I used a white slip for the initial covering and then dripped the pale green slip over the top; dripping off the ears and on top of the head. I then used outlines and some contour lines to add definition of the head and to create a better sense of shape to the head, following the line of the cheek bones and the nose. It was a relatively simple design, but I based it on how I use line work in my illustrations and unfortunately didn’t have time to go back to it once we’d finished for the day.
Our first week of field started started on Tuesday 18th Oct, we began the morning with a brief introduction to the course and life drawing. Figurative modeling is fairly self explanatory, the course looks primarily at clay and ceramic and how it can be used to show the human form, with it’s weight and movement.
When we started with the life drawing using only charcoal, we were told to look closely at the movement and how the body leaned and holds it’s weight.for the first set of drawings, we had only 10 seconds to do each one and capture the basic movement and weight. this was a really fun exercise, as it made me look over closely at the model and really think about how the movement of my hand effected the drawing. Only using charcoal sticks tto draw with makes you really think about your drawing style and how you use the charcoal on the page, light and gestural movements can look very different to heavier and quick movements; the difference in movement changes the mark quite a lot when you use charcoal, as it responds really well to pressure. Once we had done about 12 of the very short drawings, we moved on to do longer 2-3 minute drawings. This had a similar effect to that of the 10 second drawings, but allowed me to consider my drawings a bit more and to go a little slower when looking at how the pose the model had adopted; these drawings could be less gestural and more solid, while still looking at the weight distribution of the model, once we’d done about 5 of these drawings, we moved on to longer poses.We extended these poses from 10 to 30 minutes, every time expanding the focus on the pose and the way that the model held herself.
Overall, I feel that the best drawings that I did, were the more gestural and brief 10 second to 3 minute drawings. The way that the time limit restricted me and maybe me think less about the actual drawing and more about how I was showing the movement and the models pose, was really beneficial to my drawings and gave them a lot of movement and weight. Though I enjoy taking more time over the longer and more detailed drawings, after spending so long doing the collection of smaller and more expressive drawings, I felt that I struggled to properly time myself and pace the drawing to make the most of the time given; therefore I think that the work that I produced was defiantly not the best that I could have done, nor was it as good as the first two sets of drawing.
In the afternoon, we met as a group at the ‘Craft in the Bea’ center down at Cardiff bay, we had to make our own way there and I was a little late, and so missed the first few minutes of the activity that we did in the conference room upstairs. This was an inconvenience, but I did use the time to look around the exhibition a bit before I realized that everyone had actually arrived, I was just not in the right place.
Upstairs in the work shop we looked at modeling with paper and had to make spoons. This was a bit rushed on my and my partners part, but we got it done while listening to the other groups spoke about their designs. we were looking at the different elements of design and where they come from; material, tool and environment. within this we looked also at how we transfer skills, pre-design our ideas and develop ideas from the outcome (iterative).
We then went to look at the exhibition, looking specifically at how ceramic and gesture was used in each of the pieces, as well as talking about each artists practice. Some of the artists that we saw at the exhibit, Christie Brown ect, will be coming to speak to us as part of a symposium.
Working from Philip – my alpaca key ring – my collection will grow to include all the items that I typically interact with in day to day life, on a day when I’m feeling anxious and or down, and how emotions can be projected onto them through the use of colour and a stream of consciousness like narrative – which will consist of thoughts, lyrics and general phrases and snippets of other peoples conversations that I catch.
The zine that I presented to the group was quite a rough and basic view of what the book might include, but within the Zine I did try to incorporate a good use of colour; and particularly on the first page, how I would like to include the text into my images and how this composition might reflect the stream of consciousness that it is supposed to represent.
The zine is done in a very simple way, with a basic zine layout, using the 3 double page spreads that this creates. By limiting my space and creating large and bold images within the larger pages, I do much more detail and use many of the materials to more effect than if I’d used each page individually. The images themselves followed a very basic narrative, that followed me from my bedroom in my student flat (featuring some important objects in my room, as well as a wall of text and an emotional pallet), to walking along the street outside with the things that I typically carry in my pockets where ever I’m going and also the things that might be in my subconscious as I go and finally finishing with the coffee that I’m most likely heading for. With in the zine I’ve looked most prominently at the use of colour, text and a layered 3d aspect with different papers.
However, looking at other students zines, I’d noticed that people had used the full zine much more effectively. One of the key things that I have noted that I could do with the zine format, is the aspect of using all the available space in the zine: front, back and inside, creating an image that you can open out on both sides. This can create a zine with a much more effective flowing narrative and a flip side that can relate and reflect to the other side of the zine.
At the moment I’m considering creating a concertina book that uses both sides of the fold to maximise the use of colour and also maybe add more of a coherent narrative to the work. Though in light of the tutorial and looking at how much potential the zine format has, I will consider continuing with this style of book a little longer.
As part of the starting point of the project, Barnaby had us discus our objects in groups and suggest how they could relate and interact with each other. In our group we had a group of objects that included a tiny tea cup, a solar powered Buddha, a shoe and my alpaca key ring Philip.
For the first scenario we were asked to make up a funny story about our objects; my group came up with the story that all our objects where unlikely objects used to smuggle drugs, or alternatively, things that would be left unsold at a car boot-sale. We were then asked to make up a more serious scenario including our objects, but this time more serious and dramatic. From this we lead on to changing our objects that were confiscated items that were taken by a dirty cop that then lead to the lama killing a small child with an overdoes.
The workshop was a great way of opening up the possibilities of our objects and how they could lead on to further collections.