Another interesting and very enjoyable exercise – I placed a large mirror in front of me and had to make my drawings in the evening with an absence of natural light. The light was from my left reflected against the wall using a bright LED spotlight. In addition there was light from above to give me light to work.
These were my quick studies and the larger one on the right looked a bit like my nephew – so starting to get a likeness. I omitted to measure – just drawing fast.
To achieve a better likeness, I drew a construction in my sketchbook based on the guides on page 109 of the course notes:
I used my pencil to take measurements of key features of my face in front of the mirror.
This then helped in making my second self-portrait – this time in pencil and watercolour:
Watercolour is a medium that I love and want to develop further in POP1 if possible (alongside gouache/indian ink) – this portrait is a good likeness and it helped having the measurements. My wife and other colleagues at work all confirmed this for me.
The portrait benefitted from good lighting, and my use of pencil (4B) and watercolour with limited palette worked well – I was too heavy with the pencil around the mouth and the area around my Adams apple did not look natural. I do not have curly hair but this is artists licence!
These are my notes and thoughts related to the YouTube video made by the Tate:
TateShots travelled to Edinburgh to meet Callum Innes, one of the artists featured in Tate Britain’s ‘Watercolour’ exhibition (2011)
It was interesting to see inside Callum’s studio – it appears almost clinical and the way he works with watercolour – his brushes laid out, the trays clinically clean, continually washing out brushes, masking the painted areas and washing his hands – reminded me of a surgical operation.
The layering of the watercolour paint, the subsequent subtraction and addition of more colour to arrive at a final luminescent result was almost a watercolour version of a Rothko. I liked the way he left small edges of the original paint to give tension to the edges of the piece.
I am reasonably clean in my watercolour working but what was more important in his work was the surface – super white (or at least it appeared super white in the video) and his comments about the paper having a slight defect which had shown up in his subtraction of Paint.
I look forward to working in a similar studio – perhaps not quite so clinical!
After completing Exercise 3 I was keen to make a start on this exercise which I already had in my head.
The use of chinese ink with watercolour had fired up my imagination and I wanted to use the combination again but this time with a little more delicacy and a will not to overwork the drawing.
I started with a line drawing in ink which I then very quickly enhanced by moving gentle washes from the lines drawn to find the middle and darker tones.
At this stage, I let the drawing dry completely (overnight) and the next day moved on to laying washes of blue/purple to improve on the tonal gradation of the eggs, newsprint and bowl.
In trying to keep to the brief, I had chosen three different surfaces to represent in the drawing; each with a different texture – the eggs with their perfect white profiles/shapes, the newsprint crumpled upon which the eggs rested, and a blue fairly shiny bowl.
I did consider really zooming in on the eggs, and just paint them on their own but that did not meet the exercise requirements. I also wanted to use an expressive line but maintaining accuracy of form (ink/charcoal are excellent for this but are punishing if you make mistakes!) As I had enjoyed the use of chinese ink previously I wanted to explore this medium as much as possible with pen and brush (although in the image I used the brush to lay washes and chose to not use it for line).
In considering the format I chose a portrait format on A3 watercolour paper but used a drawn border which I deliberately exceeded in some parts.
The newsprint was drawn in using a very sharp 5B graphite pencil which worked well and did not distract the viewer as much as say ink would have done – there was also the risk of ruining the image with an ink blot/mistake and the pencil was much easier to control.
I finished the image with some more ink lines in the deep shadows which may have risked overworking them.
What worked well…
The combination of watercolour and ink is an expressive combination and worked well. I was pleased with my expressive mark making which did on this occasion maintain the forms of the chosen objects. I achieved a sense of depth in the drawing and feel that I modelled the eggs well even keeping some of the reflected lights in place without resorting to additional means such as gouache/pastel etc. The use of graphite pencil for the newsprint was a great choice and I was pleased with the result. The choice of paper and format was also a positive. (This paper is a joy to work with and I will look to buy some more whenever possible)
What did not work so well…
The deep shadows were overworked and too deep in many places. My final marks with ink in these shadows was a mistake. Next time I need to build the shadows up with layers of watercolour or diluted ink not heavy line. I represented some reflections of the eggs in the bowl but in hindsight these were too bright and distracting /confusing to the viewer.
Project 2 Still life – Exercise 3 Experiment with mixed media
For this exercise I set up quite an ambitious still life with bold colours and several extremely different textures.
I made several small sketches using different materials in my A3 sketchpad and then made two larger studies:
I liked the ideas but wanted to use ink with watercolour and perhaps gouache or/and oil pastel so I continued to experiment but on a larger scale:
This experiment was carried out using watercolour, chinese ink and oil pastel on Hahnemuhle 300g watercolour paper. I felt that the eggs and lemons worked but that I would have to work tighter on the chicken mesh basket and eggs in the basket! Some of the watercolour also needed to be bolder.
My next experiment was using a brush to add wash to the ink:
Whilst I liked the effect of the chinese ink in this image, I was extremely heavy handed and need to be more delicate with this awesome medium. With the eggs I saw an opportunity to explore further with this ink in expressive mark making and use of tone all in one.
Maybe this is something I can revisit with the following monochrome exercise?
Experimenting with the chinese ink, I found that immediately after making marks it was easy to move a wash from the marks made but with EXTREME care or the ink can run disastrously. Also I found that when the ink was very dry it was more difficult to dilute the marks with water, and that I could place a watercolour wash over the top with care. I smudged the marks with my hand accidentally twice which was a disaster – I made two heavy mistakes this way with the result that I had to start again!
My final piece worked reasonably well but I need to work with more care and precision – something that I am continuing to practice. During this final work I started with the ink first, then again I made a mistake but in doing so used kitchen paper to remove the mistake. I then used the kitchen paper to make similar ‘smudging’ of the ink rapidly all over the image. An innovation – but possibly resulted in the image becoming less fresh and a little muddied. Next I laid on some watercolour washes. Once this was dry I laid some heavier watercolour washes on top. Left this to dry and then worked once again with the ink. Finally I placed heavier colour over the piece using oil pastels.
Overall I was pleased with my experimenting and use of mixed media – I feel that I have overworked the piece and lost some of the freshness available with the mediums used. I think the combination is ok and that I made a reasonable attempt at a very ambitious still life – I could have kept going with the experimentation but need to move on (and revisit the ideas in the future). Unfortunately my photos of the final piece do not do justice to the complexities of the build up of colours in the different mediums.
The approach was original and used a mixture of many ideas and influences from a wide range of images in books, Pinterest, and the internet in general.