The idea of this stage was to find different arrangements of shapes within resource images. I have done this before during a quilting course and find this fascinating – you can have an overall image of something very beautiful and then use a viewing frame to scan over the picture and find little nuggets of shapes and colours that you would not otherwise have noticed.
I have used L-shaped pieces of black card and Blue Tack to create viewing frames of differing sizes that enable me to look at images that are postcard sized or larger – some images require my larger L-shaped card frames and some smaller and this way seems to work well for me. I tried various images downloaded from Facebook and Google images and it is obvious below which ones became favourites to use. I spent some time looking through the frames to find the areas I found most interesting and then spent time drawing them onto paper.
The whole idea of this stage is to increase my visual awareness and find arrangements of shapes that are interesting to me and have visual energy or tension or even those that are dull or boring. I have tried different ways of recording the images through this stage including oil pastels, coloured pencils and my dreaded collage (the first trials of which were unsuccessful but then by using a different scale, and taking advice from my 16 year old daughter, the last one I am really pleased with).
The first photograph is my least favourite of my sketches and one I did mid-way through – I cut out a rough and very child-like stencil of a garment and used that to look at two images. One image was of a street scene and the other of a butterfly. As I state in my sketchbook I do not see these as successful but do the potential of a different shaped stencil or viewing frame.
The first actual image I chose to look at was one of an old sailing ship I found on Google (photographer is unknown). I loved the strong shapes and edges of the sails and rigging contrasting against the moon and the sky. My first image at the top I used oil pastels and have freely admitted I detest my sketch – the lines are not sharp enough and although it shows textures and energy it is dull and boring to me.
However when I moved the viewing frame around I found an arrangement of shapes I preferred and that were move visually exciting to me. I decided to change the image and kept the rigging and the ship white and colouring the background in a grey/black pencil to produce a negative effect.
The next image was another from Google images of a Hibiscus flower. I decided to try doing two versions of one small area on the flower – energetic and calm.
For the energetic version I used Inktense pencils and water and drew quickly to define marks and shapes but concentrating too on the bright colours of the flower. The pencils I did not feel portrayed the shapes of the flower well although they capture the colours and textures.
The second I used very simple collage and concentrated purely on the shapes in the centre of the flower (zooming in in with my viewing frame as if using the zoom lens on a camera). I like the simplicity of the collage but felt it lacked something and added energetic pen marks for texture which I now regret as it takes away the calmness of the piece.
Of these first two sets of images I do prefer the second version of the ship with the negative style black and white and the overall composition. I like the energy of the strong lines but for me it still retains a sense of calm – I could see this working in other colours and with a variety of stitches. However the second image of the Hibiscus works too – the shapes are organised simply within the space.
The next image I chose I found on Facebook some time ago (photographer unknown) and as is apparent it became a firm favourite. For me this image has everything – colour, shapes, form, line and texture.
I first did the larger study pictured below using a combination of Inktense pencils and water on NOT watercolour paper – the pencils were relatively new for me at this stage and this gave me the opportunity to see how they worked for me in a larger image. I wanted to capture the essence of one small area I found within the viewing frame and encapsulate the colours and strong shapes along with the textures. This small section had the best composition for me – a sense of calm and peace if you walked up the street whilst still having energy created by the bright flowers over head and the light on the walls. The lines are energetic but the shapes calming.
From this image I went on to do one of two smaller studies as seen above with the original photograph. I decided firstly to look closely at the main shapes and created a photographic negative style image to emphasize the shapes and lines – I like the composition with the more energetic area concentrated towards the middle of the image with calmer lines and more space towards the outer top and bottom edges,
The second image I moved the frame slightly on the photograph to try to find another area I liked and created the bottom study seen above. Again I concentrated mainly on the shapes and colours – I chose to block the colours rather than concentrate on texture. I am not too sure on the composition as feel it is almost too random for me as I like organisation rather than chaos. I do however like the colours and the shapes created and even though I now feel they could be reorganised within the space this study was useful to do – I get a sense of energy from the image caused the by colours and the shapes and they are interesting but it just does not work for me somehow.
After these initial sketches I did a series of general sketches that I could use for reference in the future and these continue to be added to – it is interesting now to look not just at an overall image but to use my viewing frames to look at smaller areas for the shapes (repetitive or negative or large or small) and to find different ways of recording what I see. I have found that when out with my camera I am no longer looking at the larger scene but at the composition of smaller shapes within a small area and this has become really exciting as I am noticing more around me.
This exercise I found daunting but it ended up being really good fun! I took my favourite image above and did 3 drawings as instructed by the course material. I did these 3 initially one one A3 piece of paper divided into 3 – this worked really well as I was able to see 3 very different outcomes on the same scale using different media.
The first drawing was with the aim of concentrated on using marks to express texture (left hand study in the photograph) – I used purely pencils for this one and as mark making is not one of my strong points initially found it the most challenging but in the end this is my favourite of the 3.
The second image was to look for the colours – I was not to worry about the shapes or textures. I decided on the Inktense pencils and water plus water colour paints too. I felt this image had a looser quality than those I have before as I am steadily gaining in experience.
The third image was looking at the shapes. Considering this has been something I really enjoy I found this the most difficult and feel that is because I decided to use collage which is something that is very hit and miss with me at the moment. I have a selection of different patterned papers and felt that by using these would be good to use but in retrospect I now feel just using black and white paper would have been better. However I could see the collage has definite potential.
The next exercise was to select from all the aspects of the marked area and use them together but also to select the point of view I feel is the one that is most important to me i.e. whether it is the shapes, textures or colour. I thought I would use the colours but ended up concentrating on the shapes.
The course material talks of ensuring that when drawing to keep in mind the point of view you wish to emphasize, the quality that you wish to portray and to be selective in what you put in or leave out. I decided to make my palette considerably smaller than previously – tones of blue, a simple muddy green and tones of crimson which are all colours in the original image but almost down a colour octave as they are much more muted. I left out texture totally except for the lines on the path. I also realised as I tried various ideas on rough paper that I was leaning towards designs from Clarice Cliff designs and went with this inspiration to emphasize the shapes within the image. The image this seems to flow from was in fact the collage so although it was the one I liked least it provided the ideas that I was able to go forward with. I could easily see this working in textiles with applique and stitch and various fabrics that would add texture.
For this last exercise the idea was to do 3 further drawings based on the one I had just completed but keeping in mind my point of view and using different media again.
The left hand study in the photograph was the first one I completed and I used oil pastels. I do feel in this image I should have emphasized the shapes much more as this study seems more textural. I feel this study lost its focus on the shapes.
The right hand image I tried wet media (gouache paints) and the shapes are much clearer as the study is more ‘true’ in point of view to the drawing in Exercise 2. The only thing I do not like is that I had my drawing board slightly tipped up and the paint ran slightly on the flowers which was not my intention but at the same time is useful to see as I could use this in future to an advantage.
The third study was done in collage material – there are two versions of this as the first was not at all successful as can be seen in the left hand study in the photograph. In my view that drawing was a disaster – too simple, too chaotic and badly done (a lesson in how not to do something!).
The second version I did after picking up some new papers and mixing the collage with some paint. Although the colour can be seen I have kept it muted where possible and the textures through the patterns on the paper. I still very much wanted to concentrate on the shapes from the drawing in Exercise 2 and feel this was more successful.
This exercise went on to drawing from real objects which is somewhat daunting at first. I chose a rose I had let dry last summer rather than a collection of objects as I just love the shapes and colours of the petals and the wonderful textures – I took a photograph for the purposes of this learning log and my sketchbook and a future reference point.
I used my viewing frame to concentrate on one particular petal as can be seen and used different media to do a series of studies. For the two images on the left I used firstly Inktense pencils with water to gently emphasize the textures but also concentrating on a combination of the colours and shapes (my focus at this stage was the shapes). The second image on the black Murano paper I used oil pastels with focus again on the shapes first, colours secondly and with some texture created by the marks. It took a few days to like this study but now I am really happy with it and love the colours against the black paper.
This was my first actual sketch of the rose petal where I tried to capture the texture and tones. I do not feel this is successful and question whether this is because I tried to do this on a larger scale than I am used to working on – the study in the Inktense pencils was half the size but much better.
I did question my subject choice for a period of time as I questioned whether it was ‘exciting enough’ but on looking further at both the rose and the photograph I can see my observation skills improving – I still have the rose along with the rest of the bunch that dried for further studies. I am still not happy with my mark making on this drawing but they do portray the shapes I wanted to and to an extent the differing tones too.
For my final drawing I used watercolour paints and my emphasise was still very much on the shapes. In some areas layered them in washes to build up the colours whereas in other areas I used the paints straight from the tube with barely any water added – a combination of both techniques enabled me to build up a rich colour palette that was much stronger than the original flower. To convey texture I tried colour blocking in some areas and exaggerating the differing tones of the colours. I realised as I was painting this I was losing focus and my point of view so took the decision to outline the various shapes using black paint to give a slightly stained glass effect and in doing so the emphasis was brought back to the shapes of the petals and leaves. I do like the shapes created by the colour blocking as this in itself adds to my focus and I am realising sometimes deceptive simplicity is a key technique for me.
Overall this stage has been really interesting to do although at times it has been really frustrating too. I do feel that my observational skills are improving stage by stage as I learn the new techniques and my experience is growing in being able to select what I do and do not like about an image. I am learning to leave out what I do not like and work with what is right for me but at the same time not be worried about drawings that are just disasters as they are in themselves learning tools.