Assignment 1: Recording and sharing your work

I didn’t start out with a specific plan for this assignment. I think it gives scope for an explorative way of working where I am free to follow any direction I wish and respond how I wish. I did have a loose focus on object drawing though because this is something I have felt I am not very good at or haven’t practised very often. I wanted to explore new techniques and allow my mark making to feature more. I started with a continuation of the working fast activity, in particular the drawing of the lamp and water jars. I love the gestural awkward perspective and thought it would look effective in black and white so I explored creating different effects in photoshop.

The ones on the black backgrounds look really effective, particularly where threshold and threshold, invert and fade were used. I love this sort of contrast work and hope to be able to use it in my work in the future. After creating these digitally, I wanted to experiment with traditional media to create the same contrasting effect.

Before going any further with this assignment I wanted to mind map ideas about ‘everyday’ in response to the questions on page 18 of the course handbook. I did this on the ‘foldy’ sketchbook I made as part of exercise 1.0 and tucked it in a pocket I made in my sketchbook. While noting down synonyms of ‘everyday’ from a thesaurus, I became interested in the words that have opposites and highlighted these. I liked the idea of turning the usual into the unusual, the ordinary into the extraordinary and wanted to use this theme in my sketchbook for this assignment while still focusing on ‘everyday’.

I felt that my drawing of everyday, ordinary items done during the working fast exercise had resulted in an image that was extraordinary due the skewed perspective and effects applied digitally. With my wish to practise drawing objects and turn the unremarkable into the remarkable, I used the same quick drawing gestural approach to sketch food and bathroom items. This technique removes my fear about drawing correctly and produces interesting results. The objects have more character and look quirky.

The work of Candy Jernigan was mentioned in the course booklet and as she creates artwork based on everyday items, I did some research and analysis of her work before moving further. This research can be found in my sketchbook with a photo of it below.

The main elements of her work that inspired me were her slight use of distortion which I feel I have from working fast, and also a sense of unity of the objects depicted created by a limited colour palette. This is particularly evident in the Roman artefacts piece.

I went back to my food items and tried out different compositions.

Before starting the full drawing, I practised different techniques and media and annotated with my thoughts and refections. For the milk I was trying to achieve a different look for the part of the bottle containing the milk and the empty part which I finally achieved by using a cream pastel against the whiter empty part. The pickle took longer. I just couldn’t get it right. I couldn’t achieve the same quirky character I had got in the milk bottles. I tried lots of techniques with it as well. One of these was the white oil pastel under paint which is a technique I used earlier in this sketchbook for the lamp.

I think the struggle with the pickle helped develop a rhythm though because drawing the other items came quite naturally. The final drawing is shown below. I like the distortion I have used and I think shown where the light source is. I developed different techniques for rendering although I don’t think I have let my marks do the talking as much as I identified I wanted to after looking at Van Gogh’s sketchbooks. I have tried to make things look too blended. Although the objects are distorted, there is a realistic style to them, as inspired by Candy Jernigan. This means I haven’t really made the ordinary extraordinary. The following are elements of Candy Jernigan’s work that I have tried in my own.

Distortion

Soft shadows to add tone - use of pastel

Creating an aged look to the edges of the picture. (This is more evident in sketchbook.)

Unifying colours

Everyday I sit at my desk in my studio and look out at a tree in the garden. As it is Autumn, I thought I would draw this tree everyday to document the changes. It would also be a good opportunity to try out different techniques. The photo below shows my drawings with annotations about media used. It ended up being a lot more about experimentation than observation and I am really happy with some of the things I discovered. I approached each tree in an expressive way, putting marks down quickly. In each one I coupled this with detail in the outside leaves with coloured pencil. I like the contrast between the expressive marks and the more controlled detail. This is something I would like to develop further. I found that I really like using pastel in a certain way. I like to apply quite a lot loosely, then apply water but not too much. Just enough to blend parts but also leave some of the pastel effect evident. I definitely want to use this technique more. I also like the effect created by the gouache in the tree second from left at the bottom. Gouache is always a medium I am keen to improve my use of.

Concurrently with the trees I started thinking about the crazy amount of packaging that fills our recycling box and bin everyday, in particular the unnecessary plastic on supermarket fruit and vegetables. Greenpeace have a petition about this and it inspired me to create some drawings on the theme. My idea was to draw the produce in and out of the plastic as a comparison into which looks most appealing. I was really happy with these because I didn’t do a practice version, I just went for it with the marks.

Analysis and reflection of this is in my sketchbook.

I like the contrast of black ink against colour so I did some experimenting with peppers. Here I was also thinking about form and showing it with limited use of line.

We are advised to eat five types of fruit and vegetables everyday so continuing the vegetable theme I remembered the antonyms I generated in my mind mapping around everyday. I came to wonder what is more extraordinary than everyday ordinary things coming alive. Creating an illustration of the ordinary vegetables first gave me another opportunity to practise the pastel technique used for the peppers and mushrooms. I also used wax pastel and coloured pencil. I then used thumbnails to work out the composition for the extraordinary alive vegetables. I used a different technique for the vegetable characters version because I felt it needed more of a flat colour look to suit the comic context. I used gouache and wax pastel to create it.

This illustration gave me the chance to think about characterisation which I developed in other quick drawings. For some reason I did these in a different sketchbook despite wanting to keep everything in the same one. Maybe because they are small drawings. Next time I will put them in the main sketchbook.

Having practised some object and food drawing, I wanted to have a go at drawing some everyday scenes. I made some rough sketches which looked very everyday but not very inspiring.

I wanted to depict everyday scenes that are full of life so I thought about some of the everyday things that happen in my household. One of them is my daughter and her love for overfilling her cereal bowl. The other is a shared cup of tea with my partner. I made some sketches of us and tried out colour options before starting the illustrations.

At this point in time it had been raining EVERYDAY for what seemed like forever! So I decided to do some rainy day sketches. I find it easier to capture human figures more accurately quickly if I use wax crayon to create shapes rather than a pencil to depict line. I made quick sketches of a child playing in puddles in this way. I then use the outline of my sketches to make a tracing on which to make a more studied drawing.

I used the pastel technique I have been exploring as the main medium in this image because I wanted to see how it would work in a different context. I like the loose effect it gives and I like being able to allow the marks show form naturally. While I was working I was cleaning off the pastels on kitchen roll and really like the effect it gave. I like the streaks of different colours unblended. This is something to explore further in future.

I used the same process to create another rainy day drawing.

I used this drawing to really explore the possibilities of using slightly wet pastel experimenting with how it behaves layered under and over other different media, as shown in my annotations. I’m interested in the idea of use flat tone ink against a more textured colour render so I explored this a bit. By accident I discovered that the ink blooms when added to pastel that has had fixative applied. Could be interesting to use in the future.

I really feel that with these last two drawings I have started to use my sketchbook in a way I would like but have made the decision to finish my sketchbook for assignment here. Due to its open ended nature I could end up carrying it on forever if I don’t make a decision to stop at some point.

Reflection on assignment 1

As a reminder this was my vision for my sketchbook:

There were pros and cons to my use of a hand made sketchbook. It did allow me to use different papers but it felt quite bitty and a big part of my vision was that my sketchbook would be one visual journey. There are a lot of blank sides of paper where I have only drawn on one side then swapped to a different type of paper and I don’t like seeing blank sheets. I’m also not sure the drawings can be seen properly, especially the part of the picture nearest the spine. I think I will try a pre made one for Part 2. I have been thinking about the format that would work best and think square would work well for me. I like working square and a double page spread would also give me landscape option or portrait if I turn the sketchbook round. Although I have had my reservations in the past, I am going to use a spiral bound because it allows for adding extra bits in.

I have explored different techniques to a certain extent although I’m not sure I’ve really gone out of my comfort zone. I have discovered new techniques that I wish to use in the future though which has been really positive. I think I am developing my mark making and allowing myself to be more expressive without trying to perfect all the time.

Although using my hand made sketchbook felt quite bitty, I think I have been able to achieve more of a visual journey than I have in the past by including everything in one place. I have included more research and analysis of other’s and my own work than I have previously. I think it is clear to see the journey and flow from one peice to another. I didn’t have an outcome in mind, I just let my ideas move on the the next thing.

I definitely feel more positive about keeping a sketchbook now and can see the enormous potential it has for developing and improving my illustration. I am excited to move onto part 2.