Final Assignment Reflections and Wrap-Up

At the close of the previous assignment, I had set out with two specific goals in mind for the final assignment: to improve my understanding of a particular subject and  to further my ability to work in a particular medium, As for subject matter, particularly the human figure, it seemed a natural choice to pursue the figure drawing option for my final part of this module.

Goal 1: Improving Understanding of Anatomy

My first priority was to rectify the problem that seemed to plague me a bit during the previous unit: my difficulty with incorporating the entire figure into the sheet of paper. I wanted to take care of this before returning to creating more abstracted compositions — although I do enjoy cropping other features in the composition for interest, I had concerns that I was using this as a crutch to cover up some problem points. To resolve this, I did several pencil drawings of my husband (thanks again to him as always for being my patient model!!) .

While the drawing I did for submission ended up with a head that was slightly disproportionately large and with an elongated torso (why do I never notice these flaws until after I’ve put these drawings away for some time??) I am pleased that I have managed to render a figure in pencil without it looking too cramped or overly deliberate versus previous sketches, some of which felt belabored to me as I drew them. As always, there is room for improvement, but I’ve chosen to share this particular piece as it shows my progress in working towards the goals I had set.

For my tonal study, I decided to stick with my challenge of containing the whole figure in the paper, while using a more unconventional perspective (in this case, looking downwards) as per some of the artists I have been investigating, such as Lucian Freud. I was particularly struck by Girl In A Striped Nightshirt:

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as I examined his portfolio, as I observe a sense of unease/anxiety and vulnerability here, and in many of his portraits. The sense of emotional isolation in portraiture is an avenue I wish to explore further in my own work, and is a theme thought about while carrying out my drawings of commuters. While I deeply value and need my own space and privacy when going to work, there is always something a bit unsettling but intriguing to me about my fellow commuters. What are their stories? What are their joys, their unspoken burdens? To, me, observing a portrait that conveys this loneliness is actually a comfort, as it reminds me that I am, ironically, NOT alone. It’s something I hope I can pass on to others.

I have not worked on tonal paper to a large extent, and so I think this unease with using the paper as the ‘middle’ tone rather than the highlight is evident here, as some of the shadowed areas are a little overworked. I was actually happier with an earlier phase of the piece as opposed to the final result. However, I think the composition is successful, especially when compared to the drawing above which has more of a feel of a technical exercise to me. I hoped to convey a sense of smallness/isolation using this point of view. Here is my progress with this piece:

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I attempted to expand on this sense of vulnerability further by taking a photograph of a commuter I wanted to draw from a similar perspective, and used it to work on a more extended piece (with watercolor pencils), exploring how I utilize line to delineate anatomy.

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Goal 2: Improving Skill with Ink

As stated in an earlier entry, I enjoyed working with ink for the final drawing of the previous assignment and hoped to further my use of it, but felt that my understanding of how it behaved was lacking.  Luckily for me, at the start of October, a friend of mine altered me to INKtober, where you are challenged to do an ink drawing each day for each day of October (pencil underdrawings are permitted). This was an excellent idea for me, as it established regular working habits for me (something I have struggled with, particularly as I have been dealing with health problems, working overtime, and moving house parallel to attempting to complete this module!) that I have been able to retain. Here is a selection of what I produced, which I think illustrate my growing familiarity with the medium over the course of the month (these are all working from reference photos I found online or took myself):

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Additionally, as INKtober had a corresponding hashtag for the event to encourage people participating in it to share their work, it was a good impetus for me to start sharing my work more publicly. I began posting them to my Instagram account (crossposting to other social media sites as well), which was difficult for me to to do at first, but a confidence builder that  proved to be very worthwhile. Since participating in this event, I have actually received a few commissions and sold a few of my drawings from the project! This was helpful for me — as this is an introductory class, I had a self-imposed mental block that it wasn’t ‘time’ for me to participate in selling my work yet and I now realize this was a falsehood.

I should note that halfway through the month, I met with an occupational therapist regarding my motor/dexterity concerns, and now use special grips with my pens, pencils and brushes while I draw. I also have a special cushion that I sit on while drawing to give me better core support — and I do think these have made a real difference in terms of the quality of my work (the grips are great because they absorb some of the force from when my hands occasionally spasm). I continue to be astounded by just how physical an activity drawing is. I’m able to work so much faster, and I was so happy about it that I decided to take a photo of a quick hand sketch I did with it!

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While my main goal for Inktober was to master use of tone with the medium, I also began to generate more expressive pieces using my colored inks, and have found myself exploring patterned motifs, In a way this harkens back to some of the earliest exercises for the course with markmaking — I have returned to putting music on and seeing what results from my markmaking, albeit in a more structured way. I create a ‘coloring book’ for myself of sorts by laying down black ink and then filling the remaining space with pattern. This was a fun exercise for me, as it made me think about how to render different tones in methods other than traditional hatching. I have also been considering Kandinsky and synesthesia while creating these pieces, and find myself itching to do a side project involving sound, to analyze the songs that produce certain patterns or colors for me (I have some musical training as I played piano for ten years).

Here are some examples:

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Development of Final Assignment:

With all of this in mind, I set to thinking about how I would approach my final assignment for this course. I addressed Freud earlier in terms of compositional work, but also the way in which he renders different tones in distinct shapes that still have a sense of movement to them, as seen in The Painter’s Mother IV:

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This portrait by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibits a similar quality, although the ‘sections’ of color are a little less distinct and it is overall more gestural:

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When I am drawing a portrait, I find myself delineating out each shadow as a preliminary step; this helps me to see how each shadow relates to the whole. Here is an example of a portrait of my husband from one of this section’s exercises, before I colored it:

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Throughout this part of the module, I have felt that some sort of essential quality about these preliminary sketches has been lost when I work them further. I decided to do a self-portrait for this assignment simply because of the sheer amount of preliminary work I felt needed to go into achieving this end, and it would be easiest to ‘find’ this quality using myself as a model for logistical reasons.

I attempted to explore what it was I liked about these initial pencil drawings in a more abstracted way at first, though I wasn’t particularly happy with the results. Somewhere along the line, this one went a bit too cartoonish than I aimed for–perhaps this was due to color choice (I couldn’t unsee some sort of horrible mixup of Kandinsky and Ronald McDonald!) even though I was happy with the initial sketch.

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I also did some studies where I challenged myself to use solely the paper tone for highlights, a mid tone and black, but the end result felt too…choppy for what I wanted.

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Since to be quite reliant on line when drawing (this is evident in my sketchbooks, in how I use strong black outlines to almost ‘trace’ the sections I draw) I decided to think about how I could retain the distictness of these ‘shapes’ without having the drawing look quite so much like a tangle of wires (which is an interesting look, but doesn’t really convey much in terms of sense of space, volume etc). I decided to do a study that was more focused on tone, using more naturalistic color, in gouache.

Here is my process and result for this study:

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Overall I was quite happy with the result. Some of the ‘patches’ were a bit too strongly colored and dark, but the sometimes unforgiving nature of working with inks and gouache meant I had to accept it and move on. I found myself wanting to fall back into hatching in a few spots however, by force of habit, which kept the portrait from having the sense of ‘fleshiness’ I was striving for. Still, I was happy with how I ‘colored in’ many of the ‘sections’ (particularly parts of the forehead and eye socket), and realized that particular technique was what I wanted to focus on doing exclusively for the assessed piece. I debated whether to use color or black and white for the final piece, but ultimately went with black and white as I have had more practice with it for this module. I admire Maxi Quy’s haunting black and white watercolor potraiture (and he’s still a student himself!!) as it also possesses that same sort of unsettling nature I get from Freud’s work,, though I personally prefer more strongly defined areas of tone to washes:

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Another theme that I have been drawn to while working on this final drawing is portraiture where the viewer is challenged, either subtly or explicitly, to examine their preconceptions of gender, such as in Bella in Her Pluto T-Shirt by Freud and Passage by Jenny Saville:

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I also admire both of these works stylistically, as both Freud and Savile are able to produce work that encapsulates the sense of controlled movement I appreciate–to me a good balance of gesture and realism.

My tutor had also pointed out Rembrandt’s body of portraiture to me, in which he assumed the identity of individuals from different circumstances than his own. This idea resonated with me, as one of my other hobbies (as I think I’ve mentioned here) is playing World of Warcraft, where  I have characters who are wildly different from me in appearance (yet, as I learn to inhabit them and think about their backstories, I inevitably end up learning more about myself). I even have a few quick sketches of these imagined characters. Below is one of my favorites, by Avali:

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Therefore, the challenge of taking an aspect of the characters that I inhabit and layering them onto a naturalistic representation of myself appealed, as it is the inverse of what I am accustomed to doing (self-insertion into another character). I found myself wondering what Rembrandt learned about himself–or even about his fellow man-during the process of creating these works. I find Self Portrait as a Beggar to be particularly emotive for the same reason I enjoy Freud’s portraiture; there is pain there that is universal to the human condition.

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However, in this case the context of poverty applied to the piece by Rembrandt forces the viewer to acknowledge suffering on a grander scale than just the mutual understanding between artist and viewer that life can be terrifying. To me, the portrait is a vehicle for an important message, giving voice to those who do not have one, although we can never know for certain whether this was his conscious intent.

Keeping the idea of alternate identities in mind, along with the theme of gender ambiguity, I chose to do a close-cropped drawing of myself, eliminating any contextual/anatomical clues as to my own biological sex (I also prefer short haircuts, which in Western culture tends to read as masculine), focusing on tonal shading with ink and minimal use of line. I was pleased with the results, and also that my face seemed to be much more naturalistic than in previous attempts, even from the previous section of this module.

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The background here is simply our living walls (the one to the right is a deep turquoise! sadly it’s a bit cropped in this photo). I felt adding too many elements would detract from my face as the focal point, and thought that the blankness of the walls/lack of items as compositional context clues also fit in with my aim to create a gender-neutral portrait. All items in art have some symbolism or iconographic code–even a blank room, even nothingness–and so I had concerns that putting something else in it would give a layer of meaning to the portrait that I did not intend. However, perhaps by doing this I did not push myself as much as I could have in terms of creating a technically challenging composition, and in future I believe I need to focus more on how figures relate to their surroundings (perhaps a month of drawing just ‘backgrounds’ each day is in order).

Final Module Reflections:

At the start of this module, I set up several initial goals for myself. To close out my reflections, I’m going to address each one individually. In truth, all of these are ambitious lifelong goals, but I do feel that I’ve made progress with them since the start of the module.

1. Become less precious about my work.

As a child, I used to draw two lines on a sheet of paper, only to crumple it up and throw it away as soon as I deemed it to be ‘wrong’. As I chose to work in indelible media while sketching for this module, particularly in public (and also because I was paying for my own art supplies), I gradually learned to live with offending ‘errors’ taking up space in my sketchbooks. Inktober was especially helpful in getting me to work towards this goal, as I had no choice but to accept what I had done once I had laid down my marks. Every ink drawing felt like a useful, if brutal assessment of my weak points with the medium.

2. Become more comfortable with vulnerability.

Again, this is one of those incredibly broad goals that could apply to all of life! However, I think that choosing to share my work regularly via social media represents a positive step in this direction, and one which has (quite literally) paid off. I had a hard time putting myself back into the headspace of ‘artist’ again after so much time away from it initially — I couldn’t help but think that I’d ‘lost my chance’ at art due to circumstances out of my control and had effectively given up on it, and thus myself. Allowing myself to have a degree of legitimacy over my process and my work is probably the most meaningful outcome I think I have had out of this module.

3. Improve my technical skills.

I wrote at the beginning of this module that I’d hoped to regain the skill I had when I was younger. There was a particular pencil drawing I used to point to and say ‘I could draw, once’.  And as I expected, there was no ‘magic bullet’ towards regaining that skill. Just practice, practice, and more practice, but I am able to see myself achieve that degree of realism more easily, and more quickly. That sort of momentum is self-sustaining, and it’s a great feeling. I am really grateful for the structure and feedback I have gotten via this module, as it’s been invaluable for helping me achieve this goal.

4. Begin the process of developing my own voice.

This point is still in its infancy, but reflecting on themes that I am drawn to and the reasons for that is a solid start. This seems to be one of those goals that will happen accidentally, when you’re not looking. I understand this module is primarily centered around technical improvements, but I think the reflections I have made in terms of approaching this self portrait and thinking critically about my motivations are the beginning of achieving this end.

5. Build my portfolio.

Again, I think this is self explanatory. 😉 I’m very happy to be producing work again, simple as.

Overall, I’m very happy with how this module has gone, and achieved what I set out to do. It took a little longer than I anticipated (part of this dealt with my health and moving house) but I believe I have a ‘rhythm’ set for future modules and coursework.

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Assignment Four and Reflections

Below are my two drawings for this assignment:

Drawing 1:

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Drawing 2:

photoDemonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

In terms of technical skill, I consider the first drawing to be more successful. While the proportions are not perfect, they are the closest to correct for any drawing I had produced during the course of this chapter. Additionally, I managed to shake off the ‘cut-off legs’ bugbear that had been haunting me through many of the preliminary exercises in this chapter. The head is a bit too small (again, a common mistake) but not distractingly so. I ran out of time, however, and was unable to complete the background–I’d only just begun to draw the stool he was sitting on when time ran out. The face does not resemble him at all, either. This surprised me as I usually am fairly decent at capturing the likeness of others, even when drawing commuters. However, I left the face until the end as well (I have a tendency to dwell on facial features for too long) and was conscious of rapidly lapsing time while drawing it. I think that’s reflected in the quality of that part of the drawing as well, it’s more crabbed and less confident than the rest of the piece.

The proportions of my husband the second drawing are awkward (in this instance, I made the head too big and the torso too long, making the figure look as if he has the proportions of an infant!). Since my first drawing was in conte–something I worked with fairly consistently in this chapter–I wanted to incorporate something more adventurous for the second piece. I’d enjoyed working with ink earlier in the chapter and thought it was a useful medium for giving the sense of folded fabric as it allows for broad, smooth swathes of tone, so chose to create a mixed media drawing that was both ink and conte on cardboard. I chose cardboard for this piece as I’d learned from previous drawings that the way it absorbed ink resulted in very rich colors, and its ‘tooth’ worked well with conte. Plus, I enjoy working on papers that are tonal rather than white.

Plus, it is a looser medium than conte, and I thought that using it might alleviated some of the ‘crabbedness’ I felt I produced in the first piece. In that regard I think it was more successful, although perhaps more in the background (that’s one of our apple trees in the background as we’ve just moved house and have a lovely little mini orchard in our back garden) than in the figure proper. As with the first drawing, the face has a tightness to it that I’m not happy with at all — I almost feel as if rendering it as a simpler, more abstracted face (as I did in the clothed figure piece) would have worked better for this drawing. I also wish I had omitted the flowering weed growing between the bricks in our garden (we haven’t plucked it because it has such lovely purple flowers!!) because I think it distracts from the pattern of the tree branches and apples, which are probably my favorite part of this drawing. I chose to omit the leaves from the branches for this piece as I thought it would make the drawing look too busy, and instead tried to convey the ‘warmth’ of the afternoon with yellow ink and ink strokes (similar how I had tried to give a sense of warmth and energy with patterned backgrounds while working on my gesture drawings).

I felt very much as if I was ‘racing against the clock’ with these drawings, which I think unfortunately shows in the places I’ve touched upon. This again plays into the same old chestnut so many people deal with — trusting judgement and letting go. I still feel I spent too much time ‘dwelling’ and working/reworking various parts for both of these pieces (though the first one in particular).

Quality of Outcome:

As I have documented the pitfalls I have worked through during this chapter, I do think that both of these drawings illustrate progress. Both drawings show a whole figure, and the first one is relatively successful in terms of proportion.  I also am quite happy with the line work in the first drawing, which asked us to try and challenge ourselves to find ways to render the folds of fabric through methods other than tone – I think I could have left the folds at his shoulder as is and not included hatching and it still would have conveyed the ‘pull’ of the fabric. It reminds me a little of contour drawings, and this is something I am keen to explore further as I progress.

Although this next point was not something addressed specifically in this chapter, I also feel I’ve made some progress in branching out from my ‘safe zone’ of media and grounds to work on as it were — much of my work to date has been in ink pens, markers, and pencil or colored pencil. I definitely have room to push myself further in this regard, but as I’ve said many times over since beginning this course, one has to walk before they can run. I’m glad to have taken that first step — I’m very happy with the color quality and ‘flowing’ nature of some of  the markmaking in my second drawing, so I’m planning to focus on ink in particular for the next group of drawings to round out this module. Any formal training I have had in the arts to date has been very rigid and by-the-book, so while it may not look like much, allowing myself to explore alternative media in this way feels like an enormous step for me personally.

Demonstration of Creativity:

I’ve touched on this to some extent already in my previous point, but I think the second drawing in particular emphasizes this point.  With these assignments, I tend to become so focused on the first point (demonstration of technical skill) that I lose sight of how I ought to use that skill to convey the emotions or sensations I am experiencing and observing in the moment I am trying to capture. The second drawing has a warm, almost dreamlike feel to it, which is due partly to the branches in the background, I think, and the disproportionately large apples (I drew them overly large and bright on purpose!). I also noted that this drawing shares some aspects compositionally with my previous assessed drawing in the way the branches are represented — clearly the patterns of trees and branches is something that appeals to me ‘visually’ and I find myself wondering if this is possibly the first hint of an artistic ‘voice’ coming through.

Context:

As I addressed in the first point, I think both of these drawings, for all their foibles, do indicate a progression in skill and an easily decipherable metric (for me) of where my strengths and weaknesses are. I need to continue to work faster and more loosely and expressively (honestly, one of my favorite pieces I’ve produced in this entire chapter is my self-portrait sketch that took up two pages in my sketchbook), because the accuracy will come in time. I felt as if I tried to do too many things all at once with these drawings — especially in the second piece — but on the other hand, it is perhaps better to be overambitious and fail than to be too cautious and end up with nothing done at all. It is with this in mind that I’ve chosen to pursue the figure drawing option for my final part of this module. There is so much I want to explore further in this area — more ink, more mixed media, the incorporation of organic motifs into my work.

Project: Self Portrait

Below are several examples of preparatory sketches and drawings for the self-portrait segment of this chapter. In order, they are:

  • preliminary sketches for observed self-portrait
  • observed  self-portrait
  • preliminary sketches for self portrait from memory
  • self portrait from memory

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I worked primarily with conte for this part of the unit, largely because it has been my medium of choice for rendering commuters/other people for this chapter. Surprisingly, out of all of these, I feel that my observed self-portrait was the least successful, and my observed preliminary sketches the most, with the memorized portrait a close second. The face for the memorized portrait is a bit elongated, but actually resembles me a great deal more than the observed one, which was an interesting discovery to make.

The observed portrait feels restrained, almost cramped, even though I tried to experiment with mixed media (I used swathes of ink, chalk, and conte) and tried to focus on loose markmaking. There is no real composition, and the expression reminds me of a forced school portrait. The preliminary sketches are far more emotional and evocative  — some of them even look pained, which surprised me considering they were just quick sketches that I wasn’t purposely imbuing any emotion into, at least not consciously; merely trying to render different expressions as per the exercise instructions.

I’m not sure where the disconnect happened between my preliminary sketches and the portrait proper, especially as I was able to produce them rapidly and with ease. Maybe it was another case of attempting too much too soon; I’m unsure.

On top of that, the ‘memorized’ sketches clearly indicate that I know how to do this, ‘it’s all in there somewhere.’ It’s actually for this very reason that I’m considering pursuing Option 4 for the final assignment — I want to engage in more practice with figure drawing/this subject matter.

 

Project: The Clothed Figure

While working on my squares for this exercise, I was reminded of another of our initial assignments — drawing textures in isolation in similar grids, and remembering how for me it was often bearing in mind the physical ‘feel’ of drawing a pattern to represent the texture that resulted in the most successful squares. I used this opportunity to explore india ink a bit more (since I’d enjoyed the quick sketches I’d done earlier in the unit), and chose that as my medium for this section’s figure drawing.

My husband has a long, hooded bathrobe, which I had him wear for this drawing. We both had a bit of a laugh after I’d finished it, because we both think he looks like ‘a very sad monk’.

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On the plus side, I got the whole figure into the paper again! Unfortunately, the foreshortening in this pose (combined with the fact that I was seated on the floor below him) made it difficult to render and was perhaps a bit too ambitious for my first full sized drawing  in an unfamiliar medium. As a whole, I think this drawing is more successful as an instance of exploring a new medium than in the task I was assigned. The tones and folds in the hood and (his) right arm are fairly well defined, but the remainder of the drawing  is a bit muddied.

As this was the first time I was using this medium on such a large scale, I attribute this to oversaturating the paper with ink and water — next time, I would allow/allot for more drying time while working (perhaps by working around the paper in layers rather than focusing on one thing at a time,). I think that ink is well suited to this sort of exercise, as it does an excellent job of replicating the soft smoothness of fabric (which is sometimes the problem with other media that show bits of the paper ‘tooth’ or texture).

Project: Structure

As with previous exercises in this chapter, aspects of what I was assigned to do felt iterative of other tasks presented so far in the text. This is not a problem or a criticism, mind you, but rather an observation on how an individual can always take away something new from a particular lesson — we are never done learning. 

In this case, the first research point in the Structure section, in which we were meant to research anatomy drawings, reminded me of the research point where we were introduced to George Stubbs and his intricate engravings of equine anatomy. The progression makes absolute sense, of course — two chapters ago, we were attempting to make sense of animal anatomy, and conceptually making sense of human anatomy is no difference. Muscular and skeletal structure of this kind is common to all vertebrate animals.

Indeed, while observing anatomical drawings, I found that many of the muscles or muscle groups ‘lined up’ with the ‘chunks’ of the body I had written about earlier on in this chapter. I was able to take this knowledge on board as I worked on the subsequent drawing in this chapter, and I believe it showed particularly well in the sitting/resting pose of the ‘three drawings’ exercise (as well as its preliminary sketches).

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Project: Gesture

As I worked on the exercises for this section, I recalled much of what I had learned two units ago with my drawings of animals, and of ‘capturing the moment’. Initially, with the Stance exercise, I started with drawings that were fairly straightforward, ‘technical’ gesture drawings, which attempted to convey the distribution of weight and sense of movement through the use of line.

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For the next exercise, Energy, I branched out a bit further and incorporated some color into my sketches. I drew my husband while he was cycling on his stationary bike, as well as his warmup/cooldown stretches. I was quite pleased with the results  — the proportion to me looked the most accurate of anything I had drawn in this chapter so far, and ironically many of these took far less time to do than the others. Many of them also felt more expressive — I sought to capture the energy of my husband’s activities though the use of patterned backgrounds.

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And look! Behold! Feet! On small paper. This page was both a relief and a frustration, as it proved yes, truly, I CAN draw full figures, but that my deliberative nature was still getting in the way/tripping me up at times.

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Another thing I considered–as strange as it may sound–is that the pastel and the marker I used for these drawings are very thick-barreled media, rather than thinner ones, which tend to make my hand cramp up.  I find it easier to be ‘freer’ with ‘thicker’ media, so am wondering if there are ‘barrels’ that could increase the diameter of pencils or pens. To deviate from this blog’s normal fare for a moment, it was identified this year that I may have some traits linked to dyspraxia. With that in mind, I find myself wondering if this is a physical hurdle as much as it is one of practice, and it is something I will be bringing up with my occupational therapist.

 

Project: Form

Everyone has their speedbumps.

Fitting the entire figure into a sheet of paper is still mine. For many of the exercises in this project, our aim was to balance a sense of weightiness/volume with correctly rendered proportion, as well as movement. At times, for me, this exercise felt like ‘proportion, movement, form, pick two!’ Below is one of my ten-minute sketches for this portion of the chapter. My husband was eating here — I  merely omitted the tray and utensils. I was reminded of the first exercise from this course as I worked on these sketches, holding the conte in myriad ways to achieve the ‘broad sweeps’ and hatching that the exercise required.

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The head was, yet again, too small (at least the mistakes I am prone to are common ones!), and again I cut the legs off. As the text suggested starting out from the middle of a figure when drawing, I found myself wondering if that was part of the problem–allowing too much of the paper to be taken up by one part of the figure. By the time I’ve realized I’ve drawn too big, most of my time to create the piece has been used up. And unlike with other assignments, I am dependent on another person to complete it, so starting all over from scratch isn’t necessarily an option all the time. I have a tendency to hyperfocus on one feature or detail in many aspects of my life, so it would not be surprising if this were also the case here.

For the longer drawing in this section, I had my husband pose on his stationary bike, as if he were cycling indoors. I also took another one of my tutor’s suggestions on board, which was to use alternative grounds for my drawings, beyond paper. As we have recently moved house, I decided to make use of some of the leftover corrugated cardboard boxes we were planning to take to the recycling centre. Since this was much larger than even the A2 paper I’d been working on, I’d hoped that perhaps I would be able to get a full figure drawing on here.

….Maybe next time.

At least I was able to determine that it was not size of the surface I was working on that was the issue, but rather some way in which I was processing what I was looking at. Additionally, the foreshortening of my husband’s forearm presented some problems — perhaps this was because I was used to ‘measuring’ it from a different angle/frame of reference.

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However, despite this perennial bugbear, I was quite pleased with the movement generated in this piece, which I think is helped along by the textured surface of the cardboard. It creates a sense of ‘vibration’ forthe drawing, almost akin to blurriness, which is fitting for a drawing depicting an athletic activity such as this one.