Unlikely Encounters – My Father on a Scottish Path

I’ve been working on this for a while in my studio, as a way of developing my current project. I have a few things clear in my mind that needs improving, one of them being scale; this piece is by far the largest landscape drawing I’ve completed.

The image I used is of my father walking down a path on the Scottish moors, an image which I chose because of precarious relationship between the individual and nature, (the path was on a steep hill, with a very long drop).

Using this photo begun my thinking around the idea of including a figure in the landscape, a small, comparatively helpless individual, which is self assured in it’s own survival and intelligence, but ultimately still at the mercy of the natural world. I want the piece to bristle with chaos, and suggest the changeability of the natural world, rather than the wonder, or the sublimity, such is the standard representation.

I’m still pushing the idea of visualising hidden forces, this force being the force of chance, and the random and chaotic encounters which can occur as a result, both constructive and destructive motions. Julie Mehretu has been a big influence in this way – her use of simple shapes or “characters” to represent different social entities was inspiring, and its an idea which I’ve drawn heavily from and translated into nature for this project.

In my previous pieces, the grid cells were so large and so few, that very little complex patterns emerged. With this I created a much tighter grid, allowing for complex and incredibly unlikely events to occur. These random geometric curiosities are to my piece, as a skull is to an Old Masters painting. They are a symbol of the hidden forces at work in the environment, which cannot necessarily be seen.

This piece took a long while, and I think I learnt a lot from it, and I’m currently in the middle of creating a large scale support for another piece. This one shall be in oil however, and I hope to experiment with (minimal) colour. A reduced palette is essential for this, if I don’t want it to degrade into complete abstraction.

I don’t want a geometricised Jackson Pollock piece.

More Life Drawing

I’ve been really busy lately with workshops and other things so haven’t posted for a couple of weeks, but one thing which has been really useful lately has been life drawing! Being a part of my universities Art Society Committee means I have a good say in what it has to offer, and it’s good to get some technical feedback, a type of feedback which is entirely absent in the course itself. These pictures are from two separate sessions, (one of them only one drawing was bloggable).

I think I have a tendency to over-complicate things for myself, with questions in my head regarding style, materials, and even the way the motion of my hand feels. All of this being considered whilst I’m drawing means that I consistently try to run before I can walk. I think it’s time to peel back and focus on getting my basic skills up to scratch, and life drawing is ideal for this. For most of these, tone didn’t get time to rear it’s head unless I’d absolutely nailed the proportions.

I’m fully convinced that regardless of my methods, if I keep practicing I’ll gain a natural feel for proportions, so this is basically me going down that road. Enjoy and any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated 🙂



Life Drawing Study – 10 mins

This was the drawing that took the longest, and the rest doesn’t really warrant blogging them so this is all I’m uploading! I attempt to lead the life drawing class (to fill in for someone else) and it was strange to give instructions instead of take them, but I think it worked out half-decent. And so did the drawings so win-win.

For the first time I tried to implement the drawing style I’m trying to push, into my life drawing. I think it really helps to bring out the tonal subtleties. It’s much more logical in my head to start from a mid-tone than to start from white, because the white looks flat and bloated, and a mid-tone can at least imply some sort of space through it’s imperfections.

I just want to concentrate on the upper torso and the soft tones on the back muscles. Line doesn’t really interest me, and it’s another thing which doesn’t make sense in my head. Lines don’t exist in 3D reality. If I can get my drawing to a mature enough level that I can draw with only tone and minimal line, where the proportions are second nature and therefore do not rely on line to materialise, then I have reached my goal in some ways.


W.T. Roden Study, 2 hours

Study from a postcard I bought at the Manchester Art Gallery, depicting “John Henry Newman after 1874” by William Thomas Roden. This piece interested with for the soft lighting and the extremely minimal background – I erased all background  elements entirely, focusing on the expression of hands and face. I also used this study to further investigate my chalk and graphite style I have been developing. I’m determined to run with this style of working, because it lends itself really well to subtlety and also dramatics of light, and a simplistic and constructive approach to shape.

Just trying out a slideshow format for the images, might give a bit more insight? Who knows.

Exhibition Study – 30 Mins

DSC_0216.JPGQuick study of an exhibit from the Manchester Art Gallery. There’s a section in it which demonstrates some contemporary Japanese pieces of design, some of which were internally light. These forms really interested me, some organic some geometric, all displaying a soft luminosity. Translucency is a hard thing to display in a drawing, and this was what this exercise was for. I think it looks luminous, but not translucent as how the form itself was.

“The Empty Nope”

nopeThe single most terrifying moment of my childhood was watching this thing shamble around asking whether different people were its mummy and make people choke to death whilst transforming into gas mask zombies. Of all the Doctor Who monsters, people who think the weeping angels or clockwork androids were the scariest need to re-evaluate their opinions of fear.

I actually could’t bring myself to look at any circular hole for a good few months afterwards, just because it remotely resembled the eyes of the gas mask. I’m surprised I didn’t develop some deep seated psychosis because of it.

A4, graphite and chalk on paper, I used a base of graphite, red and orange chalk, and charcoal, then used a graphite stick and an eraser for the portrait. Just a study for practice really, which I was drawn to specifically because of my strong childhood fears of it – I used a red base colour, basically because of the intense holy shit runaway emotions I associate with it.



“Does He Always Talk So Much?”

you love herA2, graphite, charcoal and chalk

Composition based off a still from one scene of Game of Thrones. It was a sweeping pan shot and at one precise moment the three characters slotted into their rightful place in the composition. All of their poses are different yet balanced, like a Renaissance painting. A masterpiece hidden in one single moment.

Look how poetic I am this year.

But it was a seriously powerful moment, considering the context as well. For more on that get watching Game of Thrones. Yes George Martin, I can take commissions for these blatant, shameless plugs.