Saturday, 1 August 2009

about beginning again

In response to your beginning again with Rousseau, I was away looking at pictures for a week (teaching) and got such a strong urge to go back to looking by copying as a result, so it was great to see your posting. Haunting the National Gallery in London just served to inflame my interest in 17th century works full of gloomy passion by artists such as Poussin, Caravaggio, or Gentileschi, as here in Judith and Holfernes c.1625 which is in Detroit Institute of Arts I was drawing from today:

Quite apart from the questions about use of light, pose, gesture, etc that copying answers more clearly than anything else, I also began to get a real sense of how fully realised this event has been through drawing -in the book or the gallery you just go 'oh yeah that's Judith, etc.' but folllowing through the decisions about profile, costume, etc on the page with my own marks made that dreadful but ludicrous strategy -how do you go about chopping off an enemy general's head in a seductive guise begin to resonate.

The tiger in the rainstorm drawing and mine of Judith also starting me thinking about the different qualities of fright and violence in each image through drawing. In the tiger image with the coloured pencils there is that sense of lashing and striping that seems to fit so well. I'm trying to put into words the feel of the Judith image -guilty silence, the pause between violent actions. Are the marks I've used correct for this feeling?

Friday, 17 July 2009

Beginning again. Again.

On my wall for the last nine months I've had a postcard reproduction of Henri Rousseau's Tiger in a Tropical Storm (Surprised!) 1891. I have been getting to know a new set of 72 colour pencils by trying to reproduce sections of it on to paper.

Monday, 16 March 2009

A Page from my Sketchbook

The difficulty I had in choosing just one image out of so many demonstrated to me how much I value variation  in my artwork. This a page taken from a sketchbook done during a trip to India and is the result of wanting to find a way of recording particular moments of my experience. With only a short time frame to do it in, drawing from live situations like this always provides me with a sense of urgency, and gives my drawings more fluency, as it requires the eye to analyze what it sees in a split second. Through this particular drawing I noticed how transferable the skills that I am taught in life drawing are: working rapidly from a moving figure in the studio is no different to attempting to capture the sweeping movements of these birds as they filled my surroundings.


What I love about the independent drawing project is the way that not knowing what's ahead and working with the others in the group has been really creative in terms of drawing and storytelling. First of all we spent an hour drawing characters just as they cam eout of our heads -one generated another, so to speak, then we looked at all of this vast parade of people and animals and cast a few leading characters by voting. But that crowd still swim around in our imaginations, along with the selection of significant objects we also elected to our story. After that, as I said in the last blog, taking someone else's character and manually remastering that drawing--internalising it--made the person come to life: it's strange that attempting to copy someone else's drawing faithfully made that character live much more strongly than my own invention. We had already agreed a time (the present) and a setting (rural), so my next move was to draw a page, a fragment or episode of a larger shadowy narrative that was stirring in response to the elements we had agreed (i.e. what is happening between the twins, bad lady, little girl with dog and the key, looking-glass, black hole magnifying glass, etc. down in the country?). This shop was generated by an image I didn't use in the end (a sleazy character looking at their tongue in a looking-glass) but this suggested to me a fat lazy shopkeeper who was too idle to serve two identical customers and then called in his overworked drudge (bad lady) from the unseen fat lazy and vain shopkeeper the whole shop swam into being and its atmosphere of rustic superstition, poaching, and trees creaking in the wind on the village rugby pitch...

I set up the independent drawing project to work with the idea of the fragmentary -to go against the grain of starting with a subject and to allow us to think about how we compose a page, or an atmosphere, or a narrative from drawn marks. At the moment we have just started out: it could go on to form a whole epic. Michelle drew some chilling arctic-looking mountains, whilst Sarah presented a frightening carousel of windows, black holes, and pictures within pictures in which our characters suffered alarming changes in scale and shifts in power. In all the pages we made, the same characters came and went, and in turn these suggested what might happen next. Having written my description of how I've been refelcetin gon storytelling, I'm now ready to give a title to this post in honour of the great Ovid and his Metamorphoses -his sea of stories that grow and evolve out of each other and sweep away in a glorious example of how not to structure an academic essay

Saturday, 14 March 2009


Gustav Klimt’s ‘Medicine’ was one of a series of three paintings commissioned for the ceilings of the University of Vienna. This is a photograph of the original in its final state before it was destroyed in 1945 to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemy. I am fascinated by the ambiguity and unrivalled aesthetics within Klimt’s paintings, but this one in particular for the narrative that unfolds through imagery, symbolism and metaphor. ‘Medicine’ is a testimony of man’s struggle to break away from birth and death – the suffering in life, the finality of death, and the refusal to accept the concept that birth is merely the beginning of a journey towards death. On the left side of the painting: a woman with a newborn child at her feet represent birth into life; on the right side there is a thick entanglement of figures, within which a skeleton can be seen – representative of death within life. Barely visible amidst the confusion of figures is a Wheel of Fortune which is a metaphor for instinctual life, where one figure can be seen trying to break free. The female figure in the foreground of the painting is Hygieia (daughter and wife of Asclepius, god of medicine). Her full frontal stance not only emphasizes her importance, but also that she turns her back on humankind.
On completion of the work, the Faculty of the School of Medicine were up in arms over the message it conveyed – or failed to convey. ‘Medicine’ communicated an “ambiguous unity of life and death”, and failed to pay homage to the role of medicine or the science of healing, as the Faculty of the University would have expected. Such Professors of Medicine, who would pride themselves on their journey in search of truth, confronted by Klimt’s painting – a mere demonstration that science is no solution for human suffering.

Friday, 13 March 2009

recent drawing

This is a page of recent life drawings done with a calligraphy pen and water. I'm most comfortable working on poses for 5 minutes or less because i'm easily frustrated or become cautious of overworking a drawing. Also because I'm not really interested in making a life like study. I prefer to describe the figure in a way that I can relate to my studio practice.
I often find my most successful drawings are those I can't remember happening, because they have been an uninhibited reaction to what is in front of me. It is important to me to maintain an element of expressionistic mark making. Although they are minimal and I have selected the information I want to leave out, this is an instinctive process and the lines I do use are very immediate.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

"Oor Wullie"

Immediately when I think of successful narrative drawing “Oor Wullie” springs to mind. As a child I used to love reading "Oor Wullie" books and would find myself in fits of laughter or at times feeling sad or sorry for poor Wullie who had accidently ended up in trouble again. For this blog I started to look up the comic strips and I found that even now I enjoy Wullie's adventures every bit as much as I use to. I absolutely love R.D. Watkins illustrations, which are simple yet so compelling and entertaining. Each comic strip seems to capture the essence of the story perfectly allowing the reader to engage with Wullie’s character. Written in broad Scot’s dialect, the illustrations help make the words universal, without taking away from them. The relationship between the words and pictures are so close- I always feel as I read the story that I actually know this little boy who is at heart a little gem but with a naughty streak and inquisitive nature. The popularity of the comic strip in Scotland (Estimated readership of Sunday Post in 1971 just after Watkins death was 3million, 79% of population) reinforces how successful the illustrations and stories are at engaging with all sorts of people of all different ages. No colour appears in the strips and this in no way hinders the drawings but in fact adds to their simplicity and success. Each block is cleverly drawn to give you just enough information to make sense of the story, yet still giving enough way for people to relate to Wullie’s working class lifestyle. I find it quite magical how alive the characters look considering they are simple black and white flat images. There is no denying the look on Wullie’s face when he is sad, happy, fed up etc – something which shows how talented Watkins was as an illustrator. The careful marriage of words and pictures allow a clever balance of information which the brain can comfortably process while also evoking a real mixture of human emotion.


Pictures presented are from pages of graphic novels I loved to read when I was a child and later a teenager. I discovered graphic novels quite early but I'm not a graphic novel reader at all. Those pieces were published in Poland in 80. in times, when country was isolated from "cultural influences" from western Europe. There were very few publications from the west and graphic novels were probably seen by authorities as rather unharmfull and safe. First picture comes from "Yans" by Grzegorz Rosinski (Polish ilustrator working in France) and Andre Duchateau (scenario), second two pictures - page and fragment of the cover come from series Thorgal (Rosinski & Jean van Hame), the last one is Polish graphic novel Funky Koval by R.Polch and G.Parowski. Those graphic novels were probably targeted for older audience, but were collected by younger also because they were a good alternative for infantile books and graphic novels designed for children. Those graphic novels were also more universal, telling stories about heroes, friendship, fight of good and evil. Characters were obviously special and outstanding persons, but not superheroes in fancy suits. Series Thorgal has been published for many years (if is not still in progress) and contained almost 30 books and because of that has even more fans, who grew up with their favourite character. Reading Thorgal alowes to observe how artist style was developing, changing, bringing new techniques (watercolor exchanged by oil-paint looking ilustrations - quality of ilustration - that was a real reason that I liked Thorgal or Yans). To be honest I didn't appreciate further changes in Thorgal's style that much and probably story should end up some time ago. Or perhaps I just like those novels from my childhood and new ones don't atract me any longer. Variety of graphic novels nowadays doesn't atract me either. I read some manga or American "Marvel" style novels, but I guess superheroes with super powers can't really compare with noble Viking warior with bow and sword fighting with evil to protect his family.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Jan Pieńkowski

Jan Pieńkowski is an illustrator most famous for the ‘Meg and Mog’ series, but I particularly like his silhouette work, which is a very different style. He has illustrated a number of fairytales like this; the image shown is a story about Baba Yaga from a collection called “The Kingdom under the Sea” and I think that the swirling, marbled backgrounds give a sense of a magical, otherworldly setting.

On top of the marbled paper are black silhouettes which create dramatic contrast, and are often highly detailed. A good thing about silhouettes for narrative work is that it gives the reader space to imagine the appearances of the characters. (I read in an interview that this style came about when Pieńkowski got frustrated with the facial expressions of the characters and just inked over them before a deadline.)

Although his silhouettes are detailed I don’t think his work ever looks particularly cluttered. In this picture there are a number of narrative elements – I find the chicken-legged house particularly intriguing, and you could probably come up with a story just by looking at this single image.

I owned this book as a child and really loved the sense of atmosphere in the illustrations, some of which were quite dark/creepy. I’d recommend his older work as I think in more recent books the silhouettes are more cartoon-like and less elegant, though it may be that they’re aimed at younger children.

Jean Basquiat

I am of the opinion that within every image, we can find evidence of narrative. Certain artists use it explicitly and one such example is that of Jean Basquiat. His works (and not only the one illustrated here) form the narrative of thought processes, issues of identity, ethnicity and urban life. Throughout his oeuvre, he utilises the simplified form to formulate symbols which are universally recognisable, thus creating an incredibly strong narrative element. He is telling a story of process with his wildly compulsive and childlike mark-making technique. He also tells us of context in his works which are painted onto walls, doors and furniture and his experience as a grafitti artist is made apparent. Simple, black figures deal with black ethnicity and its supposed connection with primitive art. Tying in with that, there is a strong use of primary colours, re-inforcing a primal narrative as well as the disregard of perspective within the pictorial space. This lack of perspective also has a diagramatic effect, which again, coupled with his use of text, is strongly narrative.

Basquiat's work contains a strong sense that his drawings contain a direct and urgent story that needs to be read immediately, however, his deceptively simple use of diagrammatic pictorial space, is not as straighforward as it appears to be and some research and thinking is required if one is to understand the pieces.

1964                                                  1985        

I was not sure what to choose for this blog entry, and started to think about illustrations that I like and enjoy and my mind went to Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, a children´s book that I have read a lot for one of my nephew, has lots of lovely colors and simple forms. The book is after the illustrator and author David McKee Owns, I googled him and then found images from one of his books Two Can Toucan, which is about a South American bird who can carry two cans of paint atop its enormous bill. I absoluetly love this image and need to find my self a copy of this edition of that book.
Its simple and clean lines, but still it´s not so simple the drawing of the flowers have many details. With the use of only red and black it seems more simple that it in fact is, and with the use of solid black in the bird gives him our full attention. This image is from the edition that was published in 1964 but the book was reillustrated in 1985 with more modern effects, I prefer the old version, don´t know about you guys,
 thank you. (above is the old and new versions)


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

An interesting illustration

This illustration from the list of Scholarship Competition of Academic illustration student. Sorry about I don't know the artist's name of this illustraion.
When i looking for the illustration on web, this is the most interesting one which i like. As we aware about this work, flexible line with bold brown ink. The whole illustraion seems bold, however when you focus on the head part in particular it has numbers of fancy details and attractive points. The hair of the girl is looks like drawing quite simple-just several brown parts however it is accurate shows the movement of the hair in wind.
Artist use his/her drawing forms and skills to show the spirit of people. That is the most significant point which i need to learn and practise. The way and effect are quite flexible and harmony.
Another interesting point is the drak color contrast with blank shows a space between legs, stocking and the decorations of her cloth is fashionable. A long cigaret between her fingers indirect shows the spirit the the girl. I quite like this way that i can use a lot in my own work.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Sir David Low Cartoon

This is a drawing by Sir David Low. His cartoons (published in the Evening Standard between 1927 and 1950) are infamous for their scathing attacks on the dicatorships in Europe at the time and British foreign policy. Low's cartoons have always appealed to me because of his ability to depict characters like Hitler and Mussolini in a recognisable but often funny way. I also almost always agree with what his cartoons are saying.

In this image the narrative present is about the incident now known as the Night of the Long Knives (June 29th/30th 1934), when Hitler consolidated his power by getting rid of the SA. We are able to read this thanks to the date above the cartoon (July 3rd 1934). We see Hitler standing with a smoking gun (which he has just used to shoot the soldiers behind him who represent the SA). The piece of paper infront of the army which reads "Hitler's unkept promises" is reference to Hitler's betrayal of the SA. Also, the caption which reads "They salute with both hands now" indicates how the one handed Nazi salute which symbolised loyalty has become a two handed salute of surrender. The narrative in this piece is evident although it does take some piecing together of evidence to get the full understanding of the cartoon.

Storytelling Entry

When you mention storytelling and image in the same sentence then its an easy step for me to think of Tintin novels. I read them time and time again when I was younger and if I pick one up nowadays I still enjoy them immensely.
Part of the reason for this I think is down to the skillful manner in which the narratives are depicted. The line used is simple, and yet so distinctive.
Take for example, this image which is used as a "Tintin logo" with seemingly not too much effort, the artist has created a sense of atmosphere, made the image dynamic through the suggestion of movement and depicted a typical type of scenario that one would often encounter if they were to read the novels.
The atmosphere is created by the inclusion of the distinctive shadow behind the figure, which puts a spotlight and subsequently, all our attention on Tintin. There is no doubt as to who is the hero in this narrative.
The fact that he is drawn mid-dash is significant, as it adds to the excitement of the drawing. It also is reflective of Tintin's character; as during the course of the novels, Tintin is often hurrying in or out of perilous scrapes. This image serves to enhance this perception of the hero.
Finally, these few marks also contextualize to some extent, due to the clothes that Tintin wears. A viewer/reader is able to immediately make a guess as to the type of narrative this character will star in because the clothes suggest reasonably wealthy society and also appear to us today, quite dated.
This type of drawing would pretty obviously be regarded as illustration, however I do not think that it should be at all disregarded for this reason, this drawing is extremely successful in not only creating excitement but also being very distinctive and straight-away identifiable with the recognizable, successful Tintin series.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Although I’m not usually a huge fan of Salvador Dalí’s paintings I am interested in states of consciousness and came across this drawing.  As we are all aware Dalí created work based on dreams and premonitions.  In this drawing filled with Dalían props, such as the piece of tongue like meat draped over the harp, or the lobster and apple that rest on Harpo’s head, the viewer has no option but to allow their mind to engage and wonder about meaning and intended narrative.  The props suggest Dalí’s early interest in themes such as edible beauty, cannibalism and the legend of William Tell.

The subject of the drawing is Harpo Marx of the Harpo Brothers whose film (Animal Crackers) Dalí placed “at the summit of the evolution of comic cinema”. Dalí likened their humorous antics to his own practice and singled out Harpo “whose face is that of persuasive and triumphant madness”.  The two of them became friends resulting in Dalí sending an elaborate harp made from barbed wire, teaspoons and forks as a Christmas present.  Later Dalí went on to create this portrait of the comedian.  This exquisite pencil and ink drawing shows Harpo strumming the barbed wire strings of torture with long, graceful fingers.  The drawing has been painstakingly made with loving detailed illusionism.  I appreciate its compositional aesthetics as well as the contrast between highly detailed, intricate marks and delicately suggested areas.

So, to conclude, so much narrative has been crammed into this drawing that the viewer cannot possibly be expected to read without having some background knowledge of both the artist and his subject.  

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Rob Ryan is a British print maker and illustrator. He mainly works by creating paper cut outs and screen prints. He has collaborated with Vogue, Paul Smith, Liberties and many publishers. His first book of exclusively his own work was published in 2007 called 'This Is For You'. It is an adult fairy tale following themes of love and loneliness. 
For me Rob Ryan's work can be overly sentimental as he likes to write in quite a poetic style, almost always about people and lost love. He likes to feature people, birds, trees and clouds, all surrounded by lots of hearts. Its the tiny intricate shapes I like. The image is initially quite simple  - all one colour and very flat in appearance. But once you appreciate how much care goes into each image, with every part painstakingly cut out, they seem even more special. 
In his book Rob Ryan told a story through a series of images, but I like the way often tells a story through a single image. In his Christmas window for Liberties he created a large scale paper cut out and in the one piece of card told the whole nativity story.

Lost by Adi Oren

This is an illustration by Adi Oren, a fellow student at RISD, from last semester’s Illustration I class. The project was simply to illustrate being lost in however way we saw fit. Adi’s piece captivated me the most out of all the illustrations that were presented. It is a wonderfully unusual concept, executed simply with graphite.

The originality of the idea, combined with the sensitivity of the mark making makes for a very touching narrative. What speaks to me most of all is the expression of the banana. It really is its own character with the saddest little face and I feel that it is exactly how a banana would look like should it be animated. The scratchiness of the pencil marks adds anxiety to the atmosphere, and the space, which not defined also speaks of the “lostness”. This illustration captures a moment in a story and leaves the door wide open for the viewer to imagine all the possible narratives leading to this moment, and onward.

To me, this is an example of how an original concept and the sensitivity by which it is rendered results in a successful and interesting narrative. I wonder if a more abstract, less narrative approach could work as well in this case.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

STORYTELLERS and narratives in drawing

Hi! Frances here with a post for the new topic 'STORYTELLERS'. My idea is to think about whether narrative can or should exist in drawings, and how it's conveyed. -It's also a way of opening up the field away from a fine art/gallery type context and letting in graphic novels, illustration, design presentation drawings, etc.

However, to start out I am posting a gallery artist, Yun-Fei Ji. He was artist-in-residence at Yale 2006 and some of his work and a video of him talking about himself can be seen on

I think I first read about him when he was in an exhibition called 'Dargerism: Contemporary arts and Henry Darger' -or maybe it was during the Yale residency. Anyway, I got interested in him because he said that looking at traditional Chinese painting and using it as and for a political statement gave him 'permission to use narrative' in art. Most of us will have had our work slapped down at one point or another with the put-down that it's 'illustrative', and straight narrative is a difficult area for fine artists, maybe because the pull of the story seduces the artist and the audience into accepting a weak visual statement. So, in short, and for starters, I'm posting this image, the ideas of this artist, and some suggestions about storytelling.

Apart from using the cultural resonances of the technique (mineral colours on mulberry paper) and the contrast between the harmony in landscape normally conjured by traditional Chinese art and the unhappy landscape story pictured by Yun-Fei Ji (the 3 gorges dam, the flooding of vast areas and disruption of society caused by this project), Ji also uses the Chinese perspective constructions to illuminate the story at all places and right across the surface, rather than concentrating in one area which is the effect of Western illusionistic perspective constructions. So Western perspective tends to concentrate attention on one area which creates a kind of driving narrative, analogous in my mind to Western classical harmonic structures that also have a forward driver.


This is the first page from the graphic novel "Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Kid on Earth," by Chris Ware, which tells the story of Jimmy's estranged relationship with his father in the context of the Corrigans' wider family history. I have started to really enjoy comic books and graphic novels and I finished reading "Jimmy Corrigan" most recently. The imagery really stood out to me as having a brilliant sense of pace and storytelling due to it's unusual composition and attention to detail; we can see on this page that while we focus in onto the bird in the tree time passes, the seasons change, and the house deteriorates. I feel that this is an interesting use of narrative which borrows alot from film, and for me it is really exciting to see this kind of cinematic storytelling in the context of a comic book. (in the sense tha tthis is definately not an action or scifi comic!) If you choose to read the whole novel, you will notice large descriptive illustrations to describe a setting, coupled with very small, quick sequences of drawings to describe a fast movement, or a hurried moment. Furthermore there is a constant movement in and out of the main storyline, we move to look at Jimmy's dreams, and zoom in and out of the details of his life. Intriguingly, Jimmy even has a "cartoon version" of himself inside his own, cartoon, mind. (Who looks strangely like Stewie from family guy!) While I realise this kind of narrative in drawing is not considered "high art" I would implore anyone who has their doubts about the intelligence or effectiveness of the medium of the graphic novel to read Jimmy Corrigan, it gave me a whole new perspective on the format. (Maus by Art Spiegelman is also great but I love the muted colours in Jimmy Corrigan; for example in the images I have included below; and I guess you can only choose one book at a time!!)

Sunday, 1 March 2009

(Sorry for this being so late) 

Cai Guo- Qiang draws using an unconventional media- gunpowder.  This gives rise to issues of control.  The artist has an idea of the overall image he wants to create but what degree of control does he actually possess?  He says he wants the process to give him problems to overcome and for it to take him where it wants to go.

Guo- Qiang's work deals with cultural issues and takes a lot from Chinese philosophy but on a purely aesthetic level the large-scale  images recall both the abstraction of Western Modernism and the lyrical forms of Chinese ink painting.  I was shocked by the shear scale of these drawings when I came across one for the first time in the flesh last year at the MoMA, I'm interested in the performative aspect of these drawings and Guo- Qiang's sky drawings and the fact that they are spontaneous and cannot be completely controlled by the artist. 

Saturday, 28 February 2009


hi everyone sorry for my late entry.
For some reason I have not been drawing much lately, but this is one sketch from my drawing assignment in the Textile department. It is a fast (quikk) drawn sketch of paper cups, carbon on white paper, size 210x297cm.
I like the way the lines are alive, the contrast between black and white, the feeling that it seems not to bee finished and for its imperfectness and also because of the subject. I drew paper cups to draw something familiar that makes me feel good and reminds my of my friends. I love paper cups, their rounded shape and how they fit nicely in your hand, and that they keep your warm drink so you can go anywhere you want.
Last winter I made a sculpture out of paper cups in my preparation course in Iceland, using the used cups from my class mates. I guess the drawing is something more to me than just lines that shape paper cups, its memories that follow the shape of the paper cup.
thank you

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

When the Circus Leaves Town

I feel appeal from metaphysical shapes, swirling light and heaviness of black in Sebastian Hammwohner’s ‘When the Circus Leaves Town’. The black sheet grants heaviness to brightly colored lines so it looks a very meditational moment to me. Like a psychedelic sound of universe. For Sebastian Hammwohner, blackness represents the space of artistic creation and of cosmetic infinity. He said he explores the spiritual relationship between the interior psychic self and the sublime natural world. He shows us his aim through brightly colored spirals and spheres rendered in pastel and chalk.
For Sebastian Hammwohner, his drawing materials, pastels and chalk, represents a form of dust or dirt as an accumulation of inert matter that might possibly manifest into a creation. ‘When the Circus Leaves Town’ shows me altering moment from actual moment to abstract moment.

Monday, 23 February 2009


It is not my very recent drawing but it means a lot to me.Working on this drawing made me realise unifying between my intention and accidental effect. Before this drawing, I was thinking about the judge like a witch hunt. About authoritarianism and shallowness of people easily being swept around and talking out loud.
I accidentally found the way that I can reflect this idea on my drawing in the life drawing class.It came from the frivolous poses, loud laughter and indecent talk of the model that came in for the life drawing class. Actually I felt unpleasant from her but I liked the drawing imagery of her. At that time I tried blind drawing, she gave me a chance to find an interesting shape of figure.
I decided to make the figure on right side as a victim of witch hunter and thought about to put another figure who is playing the role of a judge. I wanted to express shallowness of the public that has two different sides as being active with playing the role of a judge and also being afraid to be the opposing being. So I hoped that these two figures look similar in appearance.
I kept the imagery of right side one on my head and started drawing a judge. The victim’s figure was made accidentally but the judge was made by my intention and instinctual effect of blind drawing. And then, I finished this drawing with a variety of mark-making as following my theme.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Drawing the limits

File:The New Yorker, 1976-03-29, Cover (View of the World from 9th Avenue, priced and dated).PNG
Saul Steinberg was a Romanian born American cartoonist and illustrator whose entry to the US was sponsored by the New Yorker magazine. This picture is entitled 'View of the World from 9th Avenue'. The economy of this drawing in describing the limits of mental geography is what makes it so exciting. It speaks not only of a New York mentality but more generally of the difficulty of understanding things with which one is unfamiliar across spatial and temporal location. Steinberg alludes to the history of cartography and the importance of white space on the page, to convey both information and a lack of it. This image describes how I feel in the world.

Kathe Kollwitz, 'Woman with her dead child' (1903) etching

First of all, I apologise how late these last two posts are!
Kollwitz dedicated her life to bringing attention to the poverty stricken society in Germany during the early 20th century.  This is one of a series of etchings she produced whilst her own son was away, having been called up for war.  
I've always considered this image to be one of her most powerful, and ultimately a psychological masterpiece. It shows a mother tightly holding her dead child. It seems as though she is almost trying to physically engulf the child to breathe in his last bit of life.  She has drawn her leg up and walked her fingers and toes right around the body, just to get that little bit closer.  Her contorted face looks hairy and beastial, as though she has quite literally lost everything and is now solely relying on her animal instincts. A light appears to be shining down onto the face of the child, similar to that in a religious painting, perhaps symbolising the rising of the soul. 
The focus is totally on the figures as they take up the entire picture plane. The use of tone creates a very solid and beautifully sculptural piece, packed with emotion and incredibly moving.
This is a small section from an on-going drawing that I have started this term. (A1) Although the inspiration comes from Scottish land and seascapes and various found natural and unnatural forms, my aim was originally to create an image that does not necessarily resemble anything in particular. I took very close-up photographs of bark, rocks, decaying wood and rusted metal from old machinery; anything I happened to find that had once lived or served a purpose. Essentially, I think we all have an awareness of our mortality and this is visually evident when looking at rusting, crumbling or decomposing objects.  

Compositionally, there is a sense of space in the drawing which is pushing me towards representing this image in a landscape.  I did not start off with this intention, despite having looked at land and seascapes. I think it was more to create a single or maybe a multiple of unknown forms but I had not really considered whether it would be in a setting. As an image though, it seems to be working at the moment but I would like to see what happens if I try to loosen it up. Although the physical mark making is quick, I have found that I could spend an unlimited amount of time going over and over an image or area before even considering moving on to another section. Sometimes when drawing, the monotony of making similar marks and tones can lead to a "trance" state, the mind wanders and the work grows more organically.  This could be due to the scale of the piece and the rather unusual method of focusing on totally concentrated areas.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

second encounter

I'm publishing my post rather late, but I've been thinking for a long time which picture should I choose. Finally I decided to write about "Vision after the sermon" by Paul Gauguin for few different reasons: the author was the one of the first painters who became my favourites (at least at the very early stage of interest in history of art), this picture was one of the very first downloaded from the internet (in times, when access to it was very rare thing and there were rather few such pictures available). It also gave me a big joy, when I saw it live for the first time when I didn't even expected it - in Edinburgh.
Vision after the sermon was painted in 1888 during the artistic journey to Breton, which Gauguin undertake in his early career as a painter, before later travels to Tahiti and colorful pictures of beautiful Thaitan women and landscapes of which Gauguin is the best known as I presume.
I came across information that this picture is very important because it's the first "symbolic" picture, predicting new styles in painting - symbolism and fauvism. I forgot most of the fact about Gauguin's life and I'm affraid that these information may be also not up to date today, because views on certain things are constantly changing in history of art. Therfore I will focus on the picture itself. Picture represent situation at the Sunday service in the church. The preacher tells the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel as described in the Old Testament. Situation presented on the picture happens in the mainds of listening peasant women - author literary paints vision "appearing" in their heads. For us, used to specific visual language expresing abstract activities (i.e. in graphic novels - we can see what caracter is "thinking about") vision is quite understandable but comparing to previous pictures by Gauguin it must be something outstaning in his work. Breton Women noding their heads in traditional caps are silent in devotion, strong diagonal of the tree divides picture into two realms - earthly and divine, where Jacob fights his opponent. Red background highlight belonging of this scene to the diferent world. (however such space isn't new invention. Medieval pictures or bisantine icons often used such techniques - saints and Christ were portrayed on golden backgroud - and acts hapenning on the pictures took place in different timeless realm not subordinated to earthly rules).
Somethimes I think if it isn't a little bit "old fashioned to like" artists like Gauguin or van Gogh. These are big names very important to certain period in art history writing and I feel like involving myself more in contemplation of contemporary artists. In the other hand their works are simply beautiful (or it's the matter of culture we live, which sets them as higher standard of art to appreciate), and I like Vision after the sermon because is visualy pleseant for my eyes even though I don't remeber all of its context.

This is a drawing by Glasgow artist Peter Howson .The drawing is titled "Jesus is taken down from the cross" and was shown as part of an exhibition in St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral,Glasgow in 2004 as part of an exhibition themed"Presence"where installations and interventions were exhibited by six Glasgow artists.

The drawing is 22x21 cm ,pencil on board (2003) and is now part of a private collection .Howson is renowned for revisiting great themes of western art .This drawing I found to be very inspiring and moving .His style within this drawing has a softer element to it. Where normally the brutality and anger is immediate in his work ,this drawing has a different language,it is contemporary but has a timeless quality to it .

It seems to  me that he has borrowed ideas from the artists from the Northern Renaissance.When looking further at the drawing we see there is a duality within it ,there is the traditional image of Christ and the figures surrounding him,which we are accustomed to.However,the faces ,the clothes (hats in particular) and the materials used to withdraw the nails from his feet are all undoubtedly from the present day .Having looked closely at Howsons work i have also noticed that the overall majority of his figures face to the left or forward ,very rarely do you see a head or body facing to the right

This is an image of Joesph Stella’s Battle of Lights, Coney Island from 1914. As the biggest amusement area in America, Coney Island attracted over several million visitors a year. Luna Park (the largest amusement park) housed a vast tower covered by thousands of electric lights which was an astonishing sight at the time, as electrical bulbs were still a novelty. The site became a glowing spectacle, enhanced by the surrounding elaborate rococo ornamentation caked over the buildings. The place was an expanse of fantasy architecture which I think this image conveys. It is a confusion of colour and shape, depicting the rush of the scene. The artist’s use of line conveys movement and speed as the shapes swirl and collide. It gives an impression of lots of different things going on at once that overlap and intrude on each other; an explosion of activity. The colours used reflect the artificiality of the place, underlining its unnatural qualities. I think Stella has been hugely successful in his depiction of this fantasy world; he makes it seem almost surreal, as if you can be pulled in and engrossed by the painting. Although you can pick out elements (such as the tower) in the image, he has mainly used abstraction, which I think conveys the excitement, speed and colour of the place more successfully than simply painting its literal components.
This is a drawing about drawing by William Edmonds of the nous vous collective, a creative collective of illustrators based in Leeds.

The image depicts a group of people all collaborating on one really long multiple table spanning piece. This kind of reflects the whole ethos of the nous vous collective- they collaborate in a lot of their work, sharing ideas and skills, keeping things dynamic and moving which is essential in the very fast paced competitive world of illustration.

The detail within the image is not on the drawing the people are creating but the people themselves, the focus not being on the activity but the people. The people are very stylised, fitting in a good amount of detail but still remaining quite simple in form. His style of drawing people reminds me of Henry Darger, very narrative without being over the top.
The perspective in this drawing is quite confusing all the tables are at a slightly wrong angle, which kind of makes the image seem like its in a naive dream world, floating about in white space.

I really like the drawings produced by this collective, I think they are beautiful images but more importantly an exciting way of thinking.

Recumbent Fmale Nude with Legs Apart, Egon Schiele

The drawings of Egon Schiele hold an erotic yet elegant quality. The use of negative space isolates the figures and perhaps suggest the female has been abandoned. The composition feels sexual; the perspective emphasised with the females legs spread open and the distorted and elongated limbs add a quirkyness and elegance.

I really like Schiele's use of line. To me, it is cutting yet organic suggesting an influence of Art Nouveau. A sense of form is created through continuous line making the drawing confident and definate.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Mother, Bradford 19th Feb 1978

This drawing by David Hockney is of his Mother on the day of his Father's funeral. He manages to capture the feeling of loss between them through her intense sad stare. He conveys the closeness and understanding between them through so few lines. "It was my way of sitting with her" he said.

Like many of his drawings, most of the detail is held in the face. The facial expression of his subject is of paramount importance to his works. To create the variation in the density of lines Hockney used sepia ink and a reed pen.

Claude Heath

The drawing I have chosen for this blog is taken from "The Drawing Book". Which i found to be an amazing visual source for drawing, which made my choice very hard. but a drawing i found myself interested in was 'Epsteins's Hands' by Claude Heath, drawn in 1999. Which is a simple ink on paper drawing, but this is what i like about it. heath has used quick, expressive lines to show the movements and because of this stye of drawing it gives a sense that the hands Heath is trying to capture are also moving fast, in a soft flowing motion. This idea is also put across with the choice of drawing the hands one after the other. i also like the fact that the subject of the drawing may not be at first look known and so draws the on looker into the drawing taking a closer look and these interesting lines and shapes.

Monday, 9 February 2009

This is an etching by Lucian Freud. I came across a book of his etchings and drawings a while ago which I love to look at. This etching is of his mother, who incidentally he only used as a model after his father died. She had lost all interest in everything, including her son; before this time he felt uncomfortable drawing her as he felt her intuitivity invasive.

What I love about his etchings and drawings is they have the same force as his finished paintings. They have that unrelentless quality to them, by which you can feel and see something of the models’ innermost thoughts.

In this etching, Freud’s wiry mark making is minimal, yet it has the same feeling of completeness as the painting of his mother. If you compare the mark making around the eyes to his painting, you will see that he can map out the planes of the face as expertly in his etchings as he does with oils, and feel exactly the same persona shining from the etching as you do from the painting.

What this brings home for me, and excites me, is that you can be just as successful with the very basics. You can portray with line with as much emotion and intensity which you can with the most expensive cadmiums.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

This is a drawing by Glasgow artist, David Shrigley. This is an excerpt from an animation which he made called "Who I am and what I want". The thing that I really love about Shrigleys work is his honesty and humour. It is usually the text in his images (typically his own hand writing) which adds the humour to his simple and rather childish ink pen drawings.

Shrigley's manic sense of humour is also conveyed in his sometimes rather disturbing images. His figures rarely have eyeballs, and often resemble scrawny looking birdlike creatures. He treats images of gore and horror with a light-hearted and comical attitude (maybe he appeals to my sick sense of humour?)

His use of line is often rather shaky or scribbly and can seem out of place in the gallery context. Also, much of his text is crossed out, or written over, as though it is nothing more than a private doodle, not meant to be on show to the public. I am interested in the debate about whether or not Shrigley's doodles are actually art. I suppose I'm kind of attracted to the idea of his work as being, for use of a better term, "fuck you!" art. And it's always nice to look at a drawing that makes you laugh out loud.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Quentin Blake- Matilda.

This is an illustration by Quentin Blake for Roald Dahl's well known children's story 'Matilda'. As a child, I was a big Roald Dahl fan and so have been brought up with Blake's illustrations and have really learned to appreciate them.

Quentin Blake has a unique style, usually using pen or ink which is very effective and subsequently also my favourite way to draw. I really like the unpredictable yet natural marks that he makes, managing to create successful images by using only a few lines.

A sense of freedom is created in his work which can be easily seen in this image, in areas such as Matilda's hair. The nose has been exagerated and proportions expiremented with in an almost childlike way but I feel that this only creates more of a sense of character as well as being fun and playful, thus relating to the appropriate audience, in this case, children.

Movement is also visable in both the piece as an image and the way in which it would have been drawn- it looks to me like it would have been done quickly, possibly this one chosen from many similar sketches that had been drawn before he managed to achieve the perfect illustration to match the words. I find Illustration interesting in the way that the artist has to try to bring to life scenes and characters by using only the relevent text and their own imaginations. In this sense, the text could be considered almost as a brief.

The simple lines and equally effortless colours compliment the shapes and childlike qualities of the piece with the only shading on the ground. Even this is in only one tone.

Although Quentin Blake's work is probably best known for his illustrations in the Roald Dahl books, he is unique and recognised world wide as an artist in his own right.

The Triumph of Death.

This is an image of Pieter Breugel's The Triumph of Death 1562. The painting is a panoramic landscape of death where burning cities in the distance blacken the skies and people are cruelly being slaughtered, drowned, burned and hung by armies of skeletons ploughing their way through the living - whose feeble attempts to flee or defend themselves are to no avail. The skeletons are representative of death itself, symbolic of man's inability to escape mortality and his ever impending doom. The painting depicts that people from all walks of life are subject to the same fate - Death does not discriminate against race, age or status and Breugel makes this apparent by including a cardinal and a king amidst the massacre. In the foreground a baby is having it's face nibbled at by a skeletal dog, and, to the left, the death knell of the world is sounded by skeletons hauling a cart full of skulls. In the distance (on the right) we can see what were known as "Breaking Wheels" - a form of torture typical of the period. These were large wooden wagon wheels mounted upon vertical poles where the condemned would be lashed and beaten to death with an iron cudgel.
Breugel's scenes are fascinating not only for their content and the apparent message that they convey, for the narrative within them and the endless amount of information that can be found, but also, most importantly, for the practical skills and expertise of Breugel himself.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Helen Dryden American Vogue Cover 1922

This drawing is a fashion illustration for the cover of American Vogue in January 1922 by artist Helen Dryden. I have chosen this particular image because I think it demonstrates well the power of fashion illustration. There are many layers to fashion illustration which tell us not only about the current fashion they are depicting, but also about the social and cultural issues of that particular time. In this example, Helen Dryden who illustrated numerous Vogue covers during the 1910s and 1920s used an exciting palette of colours and took design inspiration from children’s books, Japanese prints and Art Nouveaux to name a few. These influences are evident in this cover which has a child-like innocence to it. Through the use of a brightly coloured background filled with bright, simplistic shapes, your eye actually picks out the fine, detailed, black and white line drawing of a women strolling with her dog. Clearly depicting the glamour, elegance and modern shift in fashion during the twenties, it also conveys an element of fantasy which a photograph is unable to do. The outfit is typical of fashion at the time – especially the v-neck, almost sport-like top and the intricate pattern on the scarf tied around her waist. The twenties saw the introduction of casual and sporting clothes for women allowing them more freedom and practical ability. The female in this drawing looks content and carefree as she walks the stylised dog alone. Cosmetics became very popular at this time and this too is evident in the cover since the only colour applied to the figure is the make-up on her face and her nail varnish. Her brightly coloured jewellery is also highlighted with colour. This drawing uses ink and watercolour to delicately balance intricacy and vibrancy. The reader of Vogue at the time would have found this cover appealing and I would say that even with all the advancements in technology today, I as a Vogue reader would still find an image like this appealing. I feel that a stronger, more powerful mood and atmosphere is conveyed in a drawing as opposed to fashion photography which can often look flat. Fashion Illustration declined rapidly in the 1930’s with the introduction of the photograph, and today it is rare to find a hand drawn/printed illustration gracing the pages of any glossy magazines. I think this is a great loss since the majority of fashion illustrations are beautiful pieces of art work which not only depict fashion but also tell a story about the social culture and the intended wearer.

Matisse Line Drawings

They are classics but also some of my absolute favourite drawings ever- I love Matisse’s line drawings.  I’ve never been a massive fan of his sculpture or coloured work but I find his simple line drawings absolutely beautiful. Usually of nude women and the occasional self portrait, I love the way Matisse keeps lines clean and simple yet adds flourishes and details in the patterns and backgrounds. This particular example is drawn with pen and indian ink and dated 1935. Like many of his drawings, Matisse has drawn a mirror, often his way of adding his own controlling presence as he usually shows a reflection of himself. The lines are so clear but also seem incredibly free, I think it is spontaneous and beautiful. Drawings like this are what made me want to study art.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Camille Pissarro

Image download at:

Camille Pissarro(1830-1903), the one of the most famous artist of impressionnism. In this oil painting, the whole scenery was organized by the bare branches of winter trees, classical country houses , fields and a farmer who is intent doing his work. The relationship between the house and the old farmer are close and balanced. Varied of gray were used in this painting. The mark on this painting is quiver which shaked slightly when Pissarro drawing on is. As we can see from this paiting, the feature object is not distinct. However the impression of the visal of the compositons are authentic.
The goal of this painting, Pissarro wants to show the divine country life and scenery. This old village is not far from Pissarro's house when his family moved back to Pairs. I chose this paiting because the most interesting point that i thought is albeit there is an obvious constract of the colour between houses and trees, the whole painting is still seems peaceful and harmonious.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Belated thoughts on a drawing

Drawn over a period of two days, twenty or so hours, and based on a week's worth of studies, Alan Greenspan still loves me is the end of something and the beginning of something. This is where its success lies. Its success also lies in the meditative quality of its execution and the pleasure I derived from this. It is drawing as learning and unlearning; thinking and not thinking; stepping towards and away from; looking and seeing. It is, as yet, and perhaps will remain, unfinished.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Manifest Post

This drawing, entitled "This is the worst" (translated from Spanish) was made by the Spanish Artist Goya in the early 19th Century using red chalk.
The subject matter depicts a wolf sitting whilst writing on a scroll, he writes (translated) "miserable humanity, the fault is yours". Here Goya's message is plain: that man himself is responsible for the evil that befalls him.
Goya was commenting on the state of affairs as he saw it after witnessing the War of Independence during which time he remained in Madrid and therefore knew and was affected by the violence and atrocities being committed there.
Goya's satirical composition makes for a clear and damning statement about humanity, a similar pessimism permeated through many of Goya's other drawings and etchings, with themes of despair, torture and atrocity.
Whist some of his other work merely depicted scenes of violence and horror, works like this one (with some fantastical element introduced) work even more powerfully I would suggest, as they give Goya's artistic ability free reign in order to convey his message, which he achieves with great clarity.

Friday, 30 January 2009


This is a drawing done from the memory of a dream image. I have been thinking about the unconcious mind, how, and why it is usually unavailable to us at a concious level of thought,but also what a profound effect it has in our being. I thought about dreams as a way into the unconcious, trying to bring some of what is there to the level of concious thought. Dream thoughts and images  are very transient. They seem to evaporate. I wondered if I could catpure some of these remembered images by recording them as 'memory drawings', and if these drawings would enable me to remember and actually 'see' the dream images which I would otherwise forget. To a certain extent, recording scenes and images as drawings has been succesful, in that I can recall what I beleive to be the dream. However, I am aware that this is only my memory of it.
This drawing, and the others in the series of drawings, are done very spontanously, almost like in shorthand, and were really meant only as a recording for myself. I don't feel this is a particularly good drawing, but , for me, it does communicate a feeling . I drew in charcol. I like this as a medium- it's very immediate, and maleable. Looking at this drawing, I think it is interesting how dark and cofused, and mixed up it looks.
I haven't found any other way of imaging dreams than drawing. I wish I could print the images off, like photos from my camera!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Late entry for the drawing blog.

Hi all
Sorry this is so late.

This is my final drawing project for my drawing class last semester at RISD (Rhode Island School of Design). We were to create a tryptic, in charcoal or ink, of a study of an interior space. We had to show good understanding of perspective and portray a change of lighting and mood as the eye moves aross the piece. Each of my drawings was 3ft high x 4ft long. Very big and cumbersome for working in an attic!

For me this was a really important drawing as I'd been struggling all semester with my pieces. Thankfully this one was well received and I find that looking back, the thing that was crucial to success of this drawing is that I was really interested in the subject matter and that it was really personal to me.

This drawing was done in a little attic room on campus. I used photo reference for myself, and the room itself, for the room.

It's an introspective, private piece. Because there was a lot going on personally with me at the time, I just went all out as I drew it and experimented with charcoal of all types, charcoal powder, and all kinds of applicants. The more I let go and stopped worrying about how to draw, the more I got into this and now as a result, can take from it.