Monday, 31 August 2015

Assignment Two

For this assignment I want to carry on exploring the possibilities of using the mallard skeleton. What is interesting to me is:
- the contrast between the idea of a duck that I have in my head vs. the actual complexity of a real duck.
- explore further how to use a darker background and lighter tones to bring out the structure of the object (and this difficulty I seem to have getting the whole range of tones into my drawings)
- I don't want it to be completely naturalistic - perhaps exploring the funny side of skeletons doing things?

But what I kept coming back to was the lovely photo of a duck with her ducklings on a , and the difference between what a duck looks like and the strange distortion that I see in my mind's eye.

I had a go at drawing one of the more extreme versions of 'mental duck':

Rubber duckie in a more accurate range of colours

Rubber ducky in Sharpie
Clearly far too naive, glossy, and
yellow to be an actual duckling.

Photograph by Charles J Sharp (see earlier in blog for website link)
It has great composition - are those ducklings on the golden section? - and the warm feelings you get when you see a mother and children. The water looks as though I could manage something like it in a drawing.

I tried it out using crayon, which was too scrappy and low intensity.

Using watercolour was more effective. This was a bit too deep and green, so would need more white and less yellow.

The marks I did initially underneath the watercolour to show the movement of the water did not work as wel as the ones I did afterwards (with crayon). My attempts to scratch the surface were not so effective in this case.

So, by this time I was wondering if I could use ducklings and skeleton together in this composition to illuminate my point about mental images and reality?

Sketch of my idea for final piece
Various titles came to mind, but as the point is about the differences,
my preferred title is Generation Gap
I have decided on cream paper that can take watercolour and have a bit of texture but not too much. My intention at first was to use narrow masking tape round the outside to make it look like those Audobon type paintings, but on reflection that plan was in fact for one option of the previous exercise, and would not add to the meaning or appearance of this one.

I have already worked out which media I will to use - colour pencils for the skeleton; felt tip pens for the ducklings; watercolours and pencils for the water background.

The blue flash on the mallard would not be necessary as the water will be showing through between the bones.

My intention is that the yellow and red ducklings on the blue background are quite intense and attractive colour combination, and the skeleton bones and delicate tone detail only dawn on you later.

I haven't done anything with watercolour background like this before, but I'm hoping it will work OK.

First stage
It was helpful to have the phrase 'Spend time gradually building the drawing' to calm
my nerves at this point. I tried to emphasise the boniness of this, and the amount of empty
space, with the marks I used. I really like the way that, because it comes from a standing rather
than swimming duck, it seems to be craning forward a little in a slightly anxious way,
which will go well with the role of it as mother of rather too many little ones.
At this point I realised that where it touched the water would be different from in the photograph
I was adapting for this drawing. The colours and material I picked were intended to
give a feeling of age and dryness. You can just see where I lightly sketched in the ducklings
to make sure they would be in the right places.
Second Stage (sorry about the wire across the photo)
Drawing in the rubber ducklings. I tried to put the shadows where I thought they would be.
Doing this it seemed wrong to give them black felt pen eyes (they would stand out too much), so I went for brown instead. I tried to make some of them look in other directions so they would look more characterful. In retrospect I think having them all looking exactly the same might have been better. Anyway, After this I put in some of the reflection marks and looked at it as a whole in terms of composition. I found that I had put the ducklings too high up after all, so I would need to remove some of the bottom of the paper to compensate, and perhaps some from the sides too. 
Stage 3
It took me some practice to be able to make the right marks with the watercolour and brush (cobalt blue). This is ok but I'm sure it could be a lot better. And I made the heads of some of the ducklings green and/or different shapes where they overlapped. Anyway, it does give the impression of wavelets and the water going off into the distance, as I wanted. The shadows were a bit more difficult and I think not so effective, especially under the mother duck, and in the top righthand corner. I think, having looked at this photo, I will do a bit more work on them before sending my assignment to my tutor.
Assignment 2
Generation Gap
Coloured pencil, felt pen and watercolour

1. Development of technical and visual skills
Well, I don't think there can be any doubt that my skills in these areas have improved, but they're still in the adequate or limited boxes. Lots of work to be done, but I feel that I have made a good start on this.
I've just been reading lots of emails from other Drawing 1 students and there seems to be a groundswell of feeling that this assignment is a long and difficult one for many. I certainly found it a challenge at the beginning, but in retrospect I can see how much I have learned, and have perhaps an idea of some of the areas I could explore to learn more.
2. Quality of outcome
I think the quality of outcome varies a lot for me - partly due to ignorance of the effect of particular techniques before I do them, and partly because I'm still learning what is needed in preparation for a drawing (as opposed to a piece of textile work). I think I have presented the work for this part two quite coherently despite doing the exercises the wrong way round, and understand conceptual/ visual ideas ok.
3. Demonstration of Creativity
Well, I haven't always been so creative during this part of the course as I would normally expect myself to be. I find it much easier to be free and experiment visually when I am working out how to make a particular thing eg in my preparations for the assignment piece, for example, rather than in the exercise trying out different materials for its own sake (although of course that has been useful). As for a personal voice it seems a bit soon, considering how much I still have to learn and try out.
4.  Context
I guess I think I have done some research, some of which has informed what I have done myself. eg I found the research about animal drawings enlightening - that they are not always realistic (or even real animals), and often used metaphorically. Which freed me up to make a lighthearted but serious point with my duck skeleton.

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