Ruling the Metal Workshop with An Iron Fist

A bit of a departure from my usual media but I decided I wasn’t going to let myself produce something completely inconsequential for the HUB workshops this time. Metalwork appeals to me because of its angular, constructive qualities, and its the same qualities which I enjoy in drawing. For the sake of that connection, I wanted to create something I could draw from; something with a simple system of light and dark, a simplified structure.

Also it’s kind of a pun.

I can tick the sculpture category on my blog post now. Word.

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 🙂



Chance Landscape with Figures #2

118.5cm x 167.9cm, ink and pencil on card

Following from Chance Landscape #1, there’s a lot of changes I want to make, along with some critique that I received, so this is the latest development. Above all I wanted to enlarge the scale, because for landscape I feel that bigger is better, because it immerses you so much more. I’m drawing inspiration from Julie Mehretu‘s drawings and paintings where she implies space, instead of representing it, by placing shapes in such a way that suggest movement and therefore an environment to move in. There’s nothing to suggest it’s an environment because it’s made of abstract shapes or “characters”, but it still has a sense of depth and void. That is the quality I want this piece to have, and I’m implementing that with a larger scale and more layers to push some of the figures into the distance.

Sticking with the idea of chance I wanted to leave the process fairly open to external influence. One thing which has happened so far is my dusty footprints getting all over it while I was making the grid, and I was about to wipe them off when I realised that the pattern made by my feet was actually chance based too, but unlike the rest of the process, offered a truthful insight into the human process, as well as the dictation of chance.

I’m going to keep the grid on the piece instead of erasing it after so I drew it in white pencil. While the chaos can spawn ordered constructs, the restrained nature of the grid can also spawn organic, loose shapes. There’s a lot of tensions going on in this piece, so I’m trying to push that quality.

There’s only two layers on it at the moment, so there’s a lot more to go, but I’m too bothered about spending a fair while on this, as I tend to learn more during a process than in hindsight.

Life Drawing

20 minute piece as the final drawing of a life drawing session. This was the only one I was happy with, life drawing can be pretty hit and miss in terms of likeness but I think this worked well, even despite the foreshortening.

In retrospect I should’ve added some sort of context to ground the figure, because without context the foreshortening doesn’t really have a reference point. I have to flip a mental switch to stop myself thinking it’s a really short dumpy woman. But I’m enjoying life drawing, its really helpful.

Digital Repeating Pattern

Using a textiles technique of cutting the piece into four then rearranging it so the outer corners all touch in the center, I was able to create a repeating pattern using some of the figures from the Chance Landscape.

This is just a mock up of what the hard copy version will look like, but it was an interesting technique so I wanted to post it!



Chance Figure Study

Oil painting based off one of the figures from my chance based group of formations

I generated the colours with chance, choosing one for background, light, and dark. This was an effort to investigate the detail in the figures, but I think it loses a lot of it’s initial qualities being isolated like this, and I think colour is best kept to a group of predetermined choices, rather than left completely to open chance.

I do like the dynamic between the two colour of the figure though, it implies iridescence. In a way, the odd combination and the unpleasantness of the combinations helps to portray the mercilessness of chance, capable of making or breaking a piece of work in an instant.

I think it broke it.