Part 5 The personal project

Reflection on tutor feedback

For this final assignment I submitted three drawings related to the urban landscape. They were broadly influenced by the work of Leon Kossoff and in particular his Arnold Circus series. I was pleased with the comments received by my tutor and will use them as a guide for future work and for formal assessment.

Drawing 1 – The main avenue

The mark making you use to suggest the movement of the cars works quite well. Being economical with detail has helped emphasise the vehicles in motion. This also applies to the figures that are suggested to the left……..Compositionally it is well balanced with a good use of perspective. I also like the use of a limited palette with vivid colour only used sparingly in certain areas.

Using the work of Leon Kossoff was always going to be a risk in this last assignment as there is a lack of fine detail in his work – relying more on observation and expressive use of line with limited colour. I worked hard on my expressive mark-making and use of a wide range of media throughout the course and this has shown through in this work.

Drawing 2 – Plaza de las armas

The figures are well rendered with subtle suggestions of movement. The use of shadow is strong and effective and there is some delicate linear detail where you describe the building in the background and the lamp post to the left.

I have always liked images with people and movement, and this was an opportunity to include elements that I enjoy rendering. Leon Kossoff has many figures included in his works – some hidden, or made with light gestures – others more obvious. He also includes subjects that he has used for portraits and figure works – even family members.

Drawing 3 – Terminal O’Higgins

You use a slightly lighter touch here and the results are quite effective. You are
allowing the linear qualities of charcoal and pastel to inform the results and avoiding too much blending – except to suggest shadows. Again, the moving vehicles and figures are well described with subtle, fragmented mark making….You have made some strong preliminary work for this piece. The bold pencil sketches work very well, they have a real confidence.

I enjoyed the preliminary work for both this and the main avenue drawing. I now realise more than before the effect of better preparation and sketchbook work to influence the outcome and quality of the final pieces.

There were some obvious points that I will need to improve upon such as:

  • Avoid overworking – step back more and think about what benefit or effect additional marks and layers will have on the final outcome.
  • Observe more closely the forms/elements of the scene before making rapid energetic marks – if necessary make more detail sketches prior to final drawings.

Sketchbooks/Learning log

It is good to see you using your sketchbook more rigorously, making some lively,
energetic studies of your local environment – this has helped you develop your ideas
for your final project. Your quick sketches are confident with an active quality of line that is engaging.

I worked hard on my sketchbook work and the learning log – I will continue to develop this further to reinforce future coursework.

 

 

 

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Part 5 The personal project

Reflection on Part 5

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I have continued to experiment with different media – in this part I tried different types of graphite and would like to explore this more in future. I also experimented with oil pastel on mylar and started to use gouache for the first time. Finally I settled on using soft pastel and charcoal for my final pieces.

It was apparent from studying the works of Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Dennis Creffield, John Virtue and Leon Kossoff that observational skills are key to the success of their work – sketching obsessively over a long period of time – on location, in the street (or rooftop) to use as a final work, or as a study for much larger painting projects. I did not feel comfortable in taking an easel and large board outside in the street – which may have required a second person with me for safety/security – so stuck to making sketches in my A5 sketchbook and a sketchpad – transferring these to larger sheets at home.

My use of the sketchbook has been limited during this course and for Part 5 I have filled a sketchpad with ideas, experiments and location sketches – nearly all related to the Urban Landscape.

My experience of drawing outside particularly with moving traffic and people was interesting and enjoyable – I found myself drawing blind to capture as much as possible:

The above was an experiment in drawing moving traffic – it is interesting how accurate you can become by practice.  This is also a good exercise for brain/hand coordination.

In my final pieces which have been influenced by the work of Leon Kossoff, I have included a great deal of information, detail and also movement – movement in line and subjects, such as people or traffic. I believe that this was successful and captured the atmosphere and colour of each chosen site.  One of the comments during the coursework was if something did not seem to work – keep drawing – this really helped me, as these final pieces required patience and a building up of layers of colour, of detail and tonal variation.

Kossoff’s work includes many fleeting details – sometimes blindly drawn, often difficult to discover but still there in his drawings and paintings. I have also included these type of details in my work – moving cars and people in the main avenue, people standing at the bus stop in the terminal and people chatting, reading and moving about in the main square.

My compositions were very similar – in a wide-angle triangular format that relied on diagonals and employed the use of foreground, middleground and background details to assist the viewer in moving around the drawing.  I was conscious of the viewer as I constructed the drawing to include as much detail and interest as possible without overworking the drawing.

After experimenting with various supports – both smooth and textured and the relationship between line/mark making with these supports, I chose to use a Fabriano paper for the final works with a medium grain to be able to hold more layers of pastel and to allow for a more expressive broken line in both pastel and charcoal. This choice was a good one – this paper being excellent for pastel work. I did try a Strathmore Bristol heavyweight paper with a smoother vellum surface which could also have worked but not exactly what I was looking for on this occasion – When pressing the pastel and charcoal hard on this paper, the mark-making was without grain – with a lighter touch grain is apparent.

Quality of outcome

I was very careful during this final part of the course to heed the advice and guidance giving both by my tutor and the course content in general with respect conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas and application of knowledge gained throughout Drawing 1.  This I believe I have achieved and in particular demonstrated in arriving at my Main Avenue drawing – with several sketches, different ideas – relating these ideas and outcomes to my original concept/research of Leon Kossoff’s work – and incorporating improvements and a little of my own voice in the final outcome.

Leon Kossoff’s work encompasses a lifetime’s work in drawing and painting his immediate environment in all weathers and different times of day – this was obvious in his masterly use of line/brushwork in capturing the atmosphere, movement and details of his subject matter.  Appreciating this after studying for this part, I will take this forward into my work for POP1.

The most successful drawing in my series of three was the Main Square because of the range of tones, colour, detail and atmosphere captured in the scene.

Demonstration of creativity

During Drawing 1, I have been criticised for overusing line to describe form, where greater tonal contrast would have been more effective.  For me therefore using Leon Kossoff was a risk, as he uses heavy line/mark-making in his drawings – particularly in his Arnold Circus drawings.

In taking this risk, I have demonstrated that it is possible to combine a tonal background with expressive line – and that the building up of layers of dark and light colours/tones to describe form coupled with expressive line can work.

I am beginning to have a personal voice in both style and in subject matter – this personal voice has a long way to go yet and I intend to continue with OCA studies to continue improving and building on everything that I have achieved so far.

Context reflection

During the course of Part 5, I visited 4 galleries, 3 in London and 1 in Santiago. In the next few weeks I have an opportunity to visit galleries in Taipei and Shanghai. I have reflected on 4 important exhibitions within the galleries visited and have also watched several important art videos on YouTube – one memorable video was on the work of Tawara Yusaku – a Japanese artist who worked for the latter part of his life exclusively in ink.  I hope to see similar ink and watercolour works in Taipei and Shanghai.

Tawara Yusaku

My research into artists working in the urban environment was limited to those who either worked/studied together or whose work was influencial upon each other – they have been mentioned before but I believe that David Bomberg was a catalyst for all of them and it was a shame that he was not recognised sufficiently during his lifetime.

My interest in the work of Leon Kossoff (and Frank Auerbach) can be further developed during POP1 – in particular I have an interest in gouache and watercolour – a medium that Kossoff used often, in addition to his work on the human figure and portraiture.

My learning log has improved in that it is starting to be much clearer in demonstrating my thought processes and journey to final pieces.

In POP1 I intend to separate the learning log from the coursework/exercises and have a separate section in the blog for a sketchbook/sketchpad gallery.  The idea is to be much clearer in my working processes/experimentation.  It is also my intention to change the format of the blog into a fully working website.

Conclusion

In my artist’s statement which I used as the basis for my work on the Urban environment:

Combine line, space and form to create depth, movement and atmosphere in the urban landscape exploring a wide range of media to include graphite, charcoal, pastel, ink, markers, crayons, water-based paints, and collage.

The final work will be a series of up to 5 urban landscapes in a chosen media or use of mixed media.

I believe that I have fully met the brief that I set for myself – I feel limited only by time and want to move forward on to the next module of the OCA Painting course.  I feel that I have only scratched the surface of what can be achieved with drawing and drawing techniques.

In my 3 final pieces I created unique spaces with their own lighting, movement and mood. This was created using colour, incorporating detail/interest and incorporating greater depth by the use of tonal contrast and complementary colours.

I chose dry media for these final works but in POP1 I hope to have the opportunity to explore wet media in the Urban Landscape on a variety of supports.

I could have included 5 works for Assignment 5 but limited it to a series of just 3 as these were my strongest pieces.

Assignment 5 – The Urban Landscape

Assignment 5 – The Urban Landscape

Drawing 1 has been quite a journey for me and I have enjoyed every part of it.

Even from my early beginnings in painting at the age of 14 years old I was interested in movement and people, cultures and history – something that was with me during this end part of Drawing 1.

For this part of the course I knew that the Urban Landscape would be a challenge for many different reasons:

  • I would have to sketch outside
  • The outside environment – particularly in the City – in Chile can be dangerous with beggars, drunks and thieves ever-present
  • I wanted to find or at least start to find a voice
  • I wanted to draw in a series
  • I wanted to capture the spirit and movement of the chosen places

Among the subjects chosen for this series were the cemetary, the marketplace, the main avenue, the bus terminal and the main square.

Along the journey I also explored ideas from John Virtue, David Bomberg, Frank Auerbach, Dennis Creffield – however my greatest inspiration for these works were from Leon Kossoff’s drawings and paintings of London Landscapes.

In particular I was intrigued by his Arnold Circus drawings from 2012. They are like a documentary of the lives and people who use this area daily to walk their dogs, take their children to school, pass by on their way to work, feed the pigeons, rest, sleep off too much drink? – also there is a record of blustery days, calm days, trees with and without leaves, traffic and bicycles – Kossoff must have produced a huge amount of drawings throughout the year to record such a range of work.  Something that was not possible for me over the course of just two months working on this project.

His use of charcoal over soft pastel was interesting as was his use of broken – fast drawn (possibly blind) line work.

My final works for this assignment are a selection of what I believe to be the most successful drawings taken from Part 5.

I dismissed my Cemetary drawing as not being strong enough and for not using sufficent depth of tone/interest. I also completed several studies in graphite, and on mylar but in the end I was more attracted to the use of charcoal upon a tonal background of soft pastel.

In all of Leon Kossoff’s Arnold Circus drawings he used a portrait format, however because of the wide open spaces in my city I chose a wide angle landscape format – nearly the same size (approx. 60x30cm).

My first successful drawing was the result of several visits to the same site within the Main Avenue. Within some of my sketches of this area there were elements of blind drawing – which I feel Kossoff included in his work.

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The Main Avenue, Alameda, Rancagua. Soft pastel and charcoal on grey tinted Fabriano Tiziano paper (160g)

The main avenue was drawn around midday in what is now our autumn – with the sun quite low.  With the tall trees there is a great deal of shade – like Arnold Circus with surrounding buildings (and low cloud) dulling the light.

The next drawing of the main square was drawn in the morning with the sun rising to left of the view.  The pink building and centre of the square were in full sun with the trees giving some quite heavy contrasting shade.

Whilst there are several inaccuracies in perspective and scale, the atmosphere, colour and light are a good representation of the scene. I also felt that I had shaken off some of the influence from Kossoff and dared to use my own voice in this work.

As in my drawing above there are some strong diagonals and enough foreground interest to keep the viewer’s eye moving around the drawing.

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Plaza de las Armas, Rancagua. Soft pastel and charcoal on cream tinted Fabriano Tiziano paper (160g)

My final selection for this assignment was from my studies of the main bus terminal – this drawing was from a sketch and photo taken around midday with bright sunshine on the building and vehicles. This was reflected in my use of lighter overall tones and some harsh dark shadows.

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Terminal O’Higgins, Rancagua. Soft pastel and charcoal on grey tinted Fabriano Tiziano paper (160g)

 

Part 5 The personal project

Part 5 The personal project

The main square – Plaza de las Armas, Rancagua

The main square was actually one of my subjects within Part 3 of the course and I wanted to return there to try and capture some of the spirit, character and colour of this historical site.

In making the following experimental drawings I was mindful of the work of John Virtue, David Bomberg and Leon Kossoff.

During my trip to Europe earlier this year, I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Cologne.  Whilst there I saw some photos and postcards of the City showing the devastation by allied bombing in 1945.  The drawing below was a graphite drawing made from one of the postcards and was an idea I thought I could possibly take forward to use for drawings of the main square in Rancagua:

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Further experiments in graphite included this watercolour graphite after a charcoal drawing by Dennis Creffield:

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I then spent some time sketching in the square – this rather messy drawing made in charcoal and chalk in my A5 sketchbook does actually capture the square quite well. I particularly liked my statue:

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The next drawing was completed in graphite – with graphite powder, soft pastel (which was difficult to lay on top of the graphite!) and 9B graphite pencil.  Looking up at the scene (drawn from a bench) did not give me enough space to show details of the ground but was dynamic enough to show the two most important monuments – that of the statue of General Bernardo O’Higgins and the cathedral, which again captured the atmosphere  of the history and feeling of this important site.

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The next sketch – made at home – was an experiment to introduce colour.  The pink of the cathedral was particularly important as was the autumnal colouring of the trees – but the most effective point of this drawing was the crop.

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Drawn in soft pastel and carbon pencils 4B and 9B, I was pleased with the style and use of colour.

I made another visit to the square to make more drawings with the idea to make a final drawing (or drawings) of the square in the style of Leon Kossoff.

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The above quite detailed sketch was enough to capture the atmosphere of a cold and bright Saturday morning. The next sketch I finished with some colour to give me some ideas for my final drawings. The bright blue sky, the pink cathedral and the autumn tree colouring.

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As the statue is so important to the square, I decided to make a further more close up study:

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For my final drawings, it was important for me to use Kossoff as my inspiration but also to allow myself space to experiment with my own voice.

This drawing of the square was developed from my colourful sketch above:

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As one of my last drawings of this scene it has many faults – the first and obvious one is that of the composition! No focal point, the battle between the statue and the cathedral for centre stage, and the lack of detail in the buildings and statue. A more dynamic viewpoint cropped tightly would have made a better subject.

My final drawing of this scene was much more successful using my sketch above, inspiration from Leon Kossoff and a photo taken of the same view:

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The drawing was on Fabriano Tiziano 160g paper which had a creamy yellow tint. I first drew in the key landmarks and built the drawing up gradually with several layers of soft pastel colouring and detail.

The pink regional building in the background was the focal point of the image, with a seated figure in blue on the LH side drawing the viewer diagonally backwards and forwards into the scene. The central foreground figures add interest and movement into the quite tranquil scene, with the brighter open pink space to the RH side balancing the darker trees in shadow to the left. Many small details: figures in the background, small trees, shrubs and lanterns allow the viewer to explore the square as they wish.