Monday, 16 March 2009
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
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
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.
Thursday, 12 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
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.
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.
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.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Monday, 9 March 2009
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.
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
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
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 www.jamescohan.com/artists/yun-fei-ji/
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)