Action Plan: Visual essay.

Moving forward with my project, and taking on board the advice that I received in my latest feedback sessions, I’m setting out with a new action plan and a new drive to start producing the work that I will present at the end of this year.

The Plan:

  1. With reference to artists Greyson Perry and Stanley Spencer, begin looking at a ‘visual essay’ style of illustration.
  2. Expand on secondary research sources: Ie, check out the Wallich published Cardiff statistics, buy the Big Issue more regularly and do more research into government programmes aimed at ‘solving homelessness’.
  3. Explore use of negative space and composional strengths in my work.
  4. Create only large and ambitious pieces that feature more text and present more positive ideas of action and change.
  5. Continue to do more observational drawing and attend life drawing whenever I can.

This is about as far as I have been able to plan so far. As I am due to begin y volunteering with the Wallich next week, I’m hoping that the experiences that I gain from doing this will give me greater inspiration and really start to drive my production of work in response to the things that I learn sand the interactions that I have.


Benoit Peyrucq: Courtroom Illustration

My research into reportage and single image narrative illustration has lead me into the fascinating occupation of Courtroom Artists, a dying but very interesting art. With national and international legislation becoming more and more lenient towards photography being aloud into the courtroom, there is barely enough work available for trained professional illustrators anymore and no work for newcomers. So, in terms of future careers, this is no longer an option open to the artists of today. But while it still lasts and while we still have examples of this creative legacy, it will continue to fascinate me and make me wish that it were still a viable career option.
One of my favorite artists in this profession is Jane Rosenberg, who has had the fortune to sketch the cases of many high profile defendants, such as: Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Martha Stewart, Tom Brady.
But the most recent artists to catch my eye , Benoit Peyrucq, has done so because of his impressive use of layout and his much more illustrative technique. While skimming through the BBC world news pages on their website, I spotted an article with a really interesting looking graphic.

The composition of which really impressed me. The role of the courtroom artist is to capture as much of the scene and the emotional response of each individual as is possible, this is by no means an easy job. In both american and english courtrooms it is becoming more and more camera friendly and less and less artist friendly. In England, artists are permitted only to take notes on the character that they have been commissioned to draw, as the law forbids them from sketching during the actual trial. While the sme cannot be said for american courts, the number of jobs commissioned on both sides of the pound is scares.
Benoit’s work caught my eye and fascinated me because he use of mediums and the narrative characterisations that feature in his work capture the scene in beautifully condensed and from strangely narrative perspectives.

BP18.jpg  The way that he looks at the scene before him and picks such an interesting and engaging angle, reflects that narrative of the room and how the emotion of the defendant’s case is being presented to the jury. Focusing in on key characters and firgure in the room, while still retaining basic line drawings of the other inhabitants of the courtroom, gives the audience a real sense of how the cases are unfolding and the roles at each person is playing at any given time through the case proceedings.
BP15.jpg This interesting use of different perspectives and angles, as well as the varied character focus of his work is something that I want to start emumulating within my project work.
Starting this week I will be going out and drawing on location along Queen St, observing and getting a feel for how the figures that I have been sketching might fit into their surroundings, in away that I can play with when i start to build my BP11_2.jpg

In another life, I think I would of quite liked to have been a courtroom artist, given my interest and nack for observational drawing, I like to think that I could of been quite good at it. One can only hope that there might be a resurgence in the need for this profession, or that the laws surrounding cameras and filming in a court of law might suddenly fall in artistic favour… but that is increasingly unlikely. So, unfortunately it seems that I might have been born slightly too late to enter into this role and will just have to find something else to do with my life… Oh well.

Vertical Studio: Graduate Talk

24.01.18 Vertica studio was held by two graduates of CSDA illustration BA. Jamie Stevenson and Thomas Rolfe both came in to talk to us about what they have been doing since graduating from our course and gave us some ideas of what we should be trying to do next after we’ve finished our own studies.

listening to them talk about how they have continued to carry out their different practises and the ways that they have kept up with the creative communities in both Bristol and Cardiff really left me with the distinct impression that I should be taking better advantage of the creative groups and communities that operate in and around Cardiff.
The communities and weekly/monthly events that engage creative peoples in the Cardiff area are very open but also quite small. Compared to Bristol, Jamie and Tom, pointed out that it is much easier to become more prominent and involved in the Cardiff scene. while it is smaller, it is also much less competitive, Bristol is such a hugely creative and art based city that getting involved in the high profile projects is that much harder, because more people are applying or trying to get involved.
Things that I could start doing to help get better exposure is to go along to move of the casual artists meets in town and to try to get more involved with the smaller exhibition spaces; like the pop-up shops in the arcade or 3 doors down in Princes Shopping Centre.

Vertical Studio: The Drawing Year.

In Vertical studio on January 31st we were introduced to the post graduate course offered by the Royal Drawing School. The ‘Year in Drawing’ course is an observational drawing based postgraduate qualification at the London Royal Drawing School with a full scholarship programme.
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The course overview:
The Drawing Year is a full scholarship MA-level course offering up to thirty students the opportunity to focus on drawing from observation for one academic year. There are no tuition fees for The Drawing Year – all students are awarded a full scholarship and receive a free studio space.
Every course offered at the School is taught at postgraduate level by distinguished artists and teachers from leading institutions including the Royal Academy, the Royal College of Art and The Slade. In addition to a minimum of 21 hours tutor contact time each week, students are also offered tutorials with visiting tutors. Recent visiting tutors include Michael Landy, Jock McFadyen RA, Celia Paul, Andrzej Jackowski, Deanna Petherbridge, Tom Hammick and Gus Cummings, David Dawson.


After listening to the talk on the content of the course and the kind of work that is generated over the year of study I was pretty much sold on the idea of applying. As an illustrator with a very keen interest in observational drawing and just drawing in general, this course sounds so incredible and so inspiring that I feel like I have to apply. Their focus on observation and the connections that the school has with the London art scene, as well as within London based museums is something that I would love to experience and learn from.
Applying requires a portfolio of 10 in traditional drawing mediums and 10 pieces in any other medias, as well as two sketchbooks as a physical hand in. The course only has 30 spaces each year and takes about 400 applicants, so getting on to the course will no easy feat, but this course is too good an opportunity to miss and simply not apply too.
The scholarship that the school offers goes to every student on the course ad covers the whole cost of their studies…but the course and the facilities are still London based and located in Hackney and Shoreditch. Which will be undeniably expensive and most students work part time to help cover living costs. While my current plan is too take a year out between studies, assuming that I am successful in my application, this does give me time to save some money too make living in London a little easier, but I cannot guarantee that this will go particularly far, due to the simple fact that London is just so painfully expensive.

However, I am willing to take this risk, the ‘Year in Drawing’ course just looks far too good for me to miss out on. Therefore, there’s a high likelihood that I’ll apply at least 2 or 3 years in a row if I don’t get in the first time.


Wallich Volunteer Open Day

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Since coming back into Cardiff after christmas, I’ve been working on finding volunteer positions within Cardiff with any of the local charities, so far I’ve had the best luck with the Wallich and am going into the open day on the 16th of February. Getting the opportunity to talk to frequent volunteers and help support the regular service users that they deal with on a daily basis is a very important part of my primary research. As well as research for my project, the volunteer work that I’m long to take part in is very important to me because I don’t want to just be sat around drawing and observing homeless people without doing anything to actually help them.
My aim is to volunteer at least once a week so that i can give back to the homeless community in Cardiff and get a good amount of research material to base my project on. during my time volunteering, I will be doing as much observational drawing and note taking as possible, so as to make the most of the exposure that it can give me.

Testing Different Reportage Observation Styles

As I get ready to start moving to creating more and more observational pieces on location, I’ve been working on testing out a few different observational style and looking at how I could develop the rough drawings that I produce.
When working on observations in real time, I wouldn’t have the time to add colour to my work and will, at first, be creating quite rough fast drawings of my constantly moving subject. In preparation I wanted to check out a couple of different ways to create the bright and colour focused work that I want to produce.

I started by working directly in colour in a very loose shape based way that would be easy to recreate quite easily on the street…or more easily if I could grab a seat on a bench or by a street level window in a cafe. I like the effect that this way of painting without drawing first creates, the figures are quite simple and emotive, the less detail that they have the more weight they seem to carry.
Looking at my practice from a slightly different angle, and to see the effect that it might have on the tone, I then tired a more drawing based process. Starting with very rough and figurative drawings, that I could very easily recreate on location and would work well with moving subjects. Working in this way is much more traditional and very similar to how many reportage illustrators work, creating the initial drawings and then taking them back to a studio space to develope them further.

I really like the effect that this creates and the much more sober mood that it communicates compared to the other, simpler, way of working. Using more muted colours and detailed loose line work has given the figures a really great mood and sense of abandonment.
Moving forward with these two styles, I really need to use them both in the practise of observing to see if I can get a different feel from them from creating them in a different environment.