Project – Exploring Coloured Media

Research Point – Jean Ingres. A nineteenth century master of detailed drawing?
Jean Ingres was born in Montauban a small town in France in 1780. His father, a multifarious artist, encouraged Ingres to learn drawing and music and whilst his early education faltered due to the French Revolution in 1791 he enrolled at the Academie Royal de Peinture in Toulouse where he studied painting and the violin.

In 1797 Ingres went to Paris to study at the studio of Jacques Louis David, considered Europe’s leading painter at the time, He  followed his master’s neo-classical style and was inspired by the works of Raphael and was an impressive student. He stayed at the studio for about four years and during this time he was also admitted to the Ecole des Beaux Arts and following a tied second place in 1800 in 1801 he won the Grand Prix de Rome a grand achievement bearing in mind he was only twenty-one.

In 1806 he travelled to Rome where he studied, drew and painted but also spent time in Naples. When the prize money ran out he supplemented his income from State commissions with many graphite portraits of tourists and dignitaries. These drawings, although probably menial in Ingres’ mind, were much acclaimed as accurate likenesses and were held to be “skilful, concise masterpieces” and also “Ingres’s outstanding evocation of place, light, and character in these seemingly casual portrait drawings established him as one of the most revered draughtsmen in art history.“

Ingres left Rome in 1820 and went to Florence for four years returning to Paris in 1824. However he returned to Rome in 1834 as the Director of the Academie de France a Rome and then back to Paris in 1841. He had his own atelier through which many students passed he was recognised as a good teacher.

His output as a painter during these periods won him plaudits such as “one of the greatest painters in France” and he was awarded the Legion d’honneure in 1845 and a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1855.

Ingres was an active painter until his death from pneumonia in 1867. One of his most famous paintings was painted at the age of 82 – The Turkish Bath.

the-turkish-bath-1863[1]

Despite some criticism of his early works, albeit fine paintings, during his lifetime Ingres created a considerable number of paintings in a Classical or Renaissance style. His range of subjects included portraits, sensual nudes, groups and landscapes and from his middle age was in good demand for commissions and able to command high prices.

His style was traditionalist but his painting talents were noted by “he was moved by the impulse to penetrate the secret of natural beauty and to reinterpret it through his own means”. He subscribed to clear and precise form, balanced compositions, and idealised beauty. He shared much of the same interest in exotic and erotic subject matter that had attracted the Romantics.

It was probable that Ingres was a perfectionist reflected by the time it took for him to complete a painting and it was usual for him to make many alterations to a piece.

However it was not just his paintings that Ingres was famous for. He was very much, and maybe mostly, admired for his detailed drawings of which many of his best came from his years in Rome.. His technique was to use finely pointed or chiselled graphite pencils on a smooth white paper usually woven. His portrait drawings would take about four hours and required little later retouching.

His style of drawing, contrary to his painting, was fresh to the age and the following quotes provide an educated view of his drawing talents –

“His drawings are distinguished by their careful containment of form, perfect lines, and subtle shadings,” says Phillip Wade, a painter and painting instructor at the Art School at the Austin Museum of Art, in Texas. “I’ve never seen anyone who could do outlines as well as he could.”

“Ingres was a miraculous technician,” adds Frank Wright, a painter and professor of art at The George Washington University and the Corcoran College of Art and Design, both in Washington, DC. “He was one of the most remarkably assured draftsmen who ever lived. When he put a line on, he did it with such certainty. How did he draw with such authority? It’s one of the things you can’t teach about Ingres, but you can be aware of.”

“Ingres draws with a more subtle and various line than any of his contemporaries,” wrote the late Agnes Mongan, who directed the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1969 through 1971 and was a pioneer in the study of drawings. “Shading is sometimes done with fine hatching; sometimes by smoothing with a stump, and there is an occasional discreet touch of wash. But these types of modeling are kept to a minimum. Line is supreme,” she wrote. “With a graphite line that is constantly and finely adjusted—now narrow, now thick, pressing firmly or more swiftly—he defines contours with a remarkable range of modulations. Form is described above all by such calibrations of contour as well as by direction of a line.”

“He was excellent at gesture, but contour held that musicality for him,” says Wright, who as a graduate student working under museum director Agnes Mongan researched and analyzed Ingres drawings in the Grenville L. Winthrop Collection at the Fogg Art Museum. “Of course, Ingres stacked the deck in his favor by deliberately using a frontal light. “If you have light coming from the side, it emphasizes the sculptural effect. But front lighting emphasizes the edges, the arabesque line that Raphael, who was Ingres’ god, involved himself so much with. Raphael did a lot with the curves of the form, the edges of the form. Raphael, Ingres, and others knew when to interrupt the line, to allow the light to come in, so the line is not continuous. They let it be broken to show the saturation of the form in light, or be bolder on the other side to show the form is turned away from the light.

Wright believes Ingres had a wonderful feeling, a sensitivity toward people. Mongan notes, “He even captures their self-consciousness in posing.”

Ingres once said – “To really succeed in a portrait, first of all one has to be imbued with the face one wants to paint, to reflect on it for a long time, attentively, from all sides, and even to devote the first sitting to this”. Indeed, he had a way of capturing the core personality of a sitter. Ingres believed that his accuracy came from careful observation and to achieve this he would draw a sitter in the morning, enjoy a lunch with the sitter, presumably to capture a more relaxed person, and then complete the drawing in the afternoon.

henry-iv-playing-with-his-children[1]         mr-and-mrs-woodhead-with-rev-henry-comber-as-a-youth.jpg!HalfHD[1]

In addition to the above comments, my observations of his drawings reveal an apparent simplistic style where very little detail is given within the outline of the drawing. However the internal marks that he does make convey significant statements.

There is also an absence of the usual shadows to accent form which effect is presumably obtained by the use of direct, frontal lighting. However the outcome is to give a flat appearance to his subjects who were nearly always facing him. The artist’s view would therefore be that of the observer of the drawing. His drawings are not devoid of shadows though he is sparing in their use.

He appears to portray depth or solidity in the image by light shading and many of his edges are defined by shading, albeit with a solid finish, and not line He uses shading again to portray surface changes.

In portraits he features the head with his highest tonal values as to make it the most important element of the drawing.

otto-magnus-von-stackelberg-and-possibly-jackob-linckh.jpg!HalfHD[1]       madame-charles-hayard-born-jeanne-susanne.jpg!HalfHD[1]

He was known for accurate anatomic drawing. Even when the model was clothed he would be aware of the physical being beneath the fabric and adjust the drawing to fit. To accentuate anatomical detail he would feature, say, a muscle by continuing the outline along the muscle before returning to the line of the body again.

His style, whilst superb, does appear a little dated by modern standards, perhaps a little harsh in places. Maybe if he had the range of graphite implements that are available nowadays his drawings might have been a little more subtle.

Does Ingres “exemplify mastery in detailed drawing”? His use of detail is not extreme but then in general it wasn’t in his day. There were no photo-realist draughtsmen then. His use of detail was understated and led the brain to believe there was more than meets the eye.
madame-johann-gotthard-reinhold-born-sophie-amalie-dorothea-wilhelmine-ritter-and-her-two.jpg!HalfHD[1]       study-for-princesse-albert-de-broglie-born-josephine-eleonore-marie-pauline-de-galard-de.jpg!HalfHD[1] study-of-hands-and-feet-for-the-golden-age[1]Quotes – http://www.artistdaily.com

Images – Wikimedia.

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Project – Exploring Coloured Media

Research Point – Kate Atkin. A modern master of detailed drawing?
There are a number of modern artists who produce detailed drawing work and a brief internet trawl reveals the following examples  by Paul Cadden, Jane Peart and J. D. Hillberry respectively –

Paul-Cadden-art8-550x831[1]       sheeponmoors   Onions%20and%20Garlic[1]

A couple of these artists’ examples might be described as photo-realistic which fits the “detailed” bill of the research point as the finished product requires delicate work and tremendous skill. Probably this effect is aided by the advances in drawing materials which have enabled artists to produce more fine and varied marks than before.

For my artist of detail I have chosen Kate Atkin of whom little early information is available other than she was born in 1981 near Salisbury and now lives and works in London. She has gained an MA in Photography and a BA in Fine Art and exhibits her multi-disciplinary artistic work internationally. Her website is at http://www.kateatkin.net/ and there are many articles about her online.
29_45-head-2010[1]    28_study-the-body-2011[1]
My reason for this choice is that by varied use of detail she creates drawings that are abstract but could be real. She incorporates shapes and textures that one would find in nature and when combined result in an object that might exist but doesn’t.

Her application of fine detail is obvious but she uses extremes of tonal value from white paper to solid black to give form to the image. In fact in some drawings the amount of depth she has given to the image projects it off the paper.
28_study-stirling-2011[1]      28_study-the-body-ii-2011[1]
Blow up some of the pictures and it becomes apparent that much of her texture is created by fine shading rather than line. Probably an examination of the original drawing would reveal that even the finest shading has tonal variety.
31_30-maw-2008[1]  29_48-creep-2010[1]
I consider that whilst her work may not incorporate the finest detail her imaginative use of detail produces an image that is original and beats the traditional photo-realist.

30_37-leaning-structure-2009-detail[1]

Assignment 1

Reflections on Submitted Work

The past couple of months spent on undertaking this section of the course have been a very steep learning curve. I have had little formal art education/training and went straight into a very detailed and structured course.

I have found the course so far very difficult but also very satisfying. Whilst I was mostly able to achieve the objectives of the exercise to a reasonable standard I have spent a considerable amount of time to undertake the exercises particularly the drawings. Hopefully I will become quicker. I was certainly not able to complete the assignment drawings in the times recommended, more like double. This became a problem insofar the little time available to practice or develop skills readily.

In terms of strengths and weaknesses with regards to the assessment criteria points here goes –

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills
Materials
I was comfortable with the use of graphite pencils but certainly charcoal, ink and coloured pencils/crayons/pastels were not familiar to me and obviously more practice is required.

Techniques
I haven’t yet developed an overall style though probably that is to come. I am pleased with the way in which my pencil drawings have improved and particularly being able to define form and portray solidity.

Observational Skills
A good improvement. The course has taught me to look at objects differently, i.e. to examine texture and shadow and  consider how to reproduce these aspects.

Visual Awareness (looking at life as a painting or drawing)
Also a good improvement. When you need to reproduce an object, even mentally, you think of it differently to it just being there.

This aspect broadens your view. I look at objects and consider their design and how it was derived.

Design and Compositional Skills
I am probably a little limited in this skill.

Whilst I can just about reproduce on paper an object that is before me I still find it difficult to portray what is my mind.

Similarly with regard to composition I have learned what makes a good composition and can probably put it into practice though in the few relevant exercises so far undertaken this may not yet be apparent.

Quality of Outcome
Content
I am pleased with what I have produced in the course so far. Where shortcomings have occurred I think I have been aware of them and “will do better next time” rather than continue trying to correct the work in hand, i.e. I have made a warts and all presentation.

Application of Knowledge
I have a lot to learn but I am happy with my application of what I have learned so far. I can look at some of my drawings and learn how I can do better.

Presentation of Work in a Coherent Manner
Hopefully the formats, i.e. a sketchbook binder and online learning log will present my work in a coherent manner.

I note that some students work with a bound A3 sketchbook but a loose leaf binder works better for me. I shall keep an informal, bound sketchbook which will be submitted when I have time to put something in it!

Discernment (keen insight and judgement).
Probably a little early to tell. I am learning what it takes to make a good drawing/painting and I am appreciating what it takes to read a good drawing/painting.

I am certainly not at the stage where what I have learned can be applied by myself other than in basic form.

Conceptualisation of Thoughts (Thinking with the concepts of pictures and ideas)
Do I have pictures in my mind that I didn’t have before?

Not there yet. If my primary objective of learning to paint is to be able to reproduce what is in my mind rather than what I see then I am a long way from it.

I need to know and use my materials better before I will be able to do that to my satisfaction.

Communication of Ideas
Again, not there yet. However I have done abstract drawings previous to this course that I have thought afterwards “where did that come from?” and that is an area that I wish to develop and will be included in my informal sketchbook when I have time.

Demonstration of Creativity
Imagination/Experimentation/Invention
I have probably answered this topic in the previous heading

Certainly from the abstraction element I have a long way to go. In some of the exercises/assignments I have produced textures that I am pleased with and did not come from a book so maybe there is some individual creativity there.

Development of a Personal Voice
I mention this above.

If my drawings are distinctive rather than photo-realistic then maybe that is my style but I do not think I have yet developed a personal style which is disappointing but will happen.

I tend to concentrate on detail and I am happy commit the time that the detail requires. So, maybe my style will entail depicting minutiae.

Context
Reflection
Other than above, an overall reflection of the course so far is – extremely hard work, generally enjoyable and most satisfying in what I have achieved.

My only concern is that I am very probably taking much more time than the course expects and probably other students are taking. For that reason there have been many moments of frustration.

Research
I have only been to one exhibition since starting the course and my reading has been confined to the subjects of the  two Research Points.

A little disappointing but if I speed up as I develop I hope more time will become available for these aspects.

Whilst I have acquired most of the essential and recommended books I have not found time for any serious study of them.

Critical Thinking (Reasonable, reflective thinking that is aimed at deciding what to believe or what to do)
If my online  Learning Log is to be the indicator of my critical thinking throughout the course then I have honestly recorded my thoughts and learning and when I reflect on those notes I hope that they will enable me to recognise my progress.

I expect the Learning Log to become not only a learning reference but also a record of personal development.

It has been a quite curious and revealing experience to put my thoughts on paper as required by the Learning Log and quite alien to all studies I have undertaken in the past.

However it must be said that the amount of time the online element of the Learning Log takes to produce is out of all proportion to the academic or learning element of the course.  The taking of photographs and uploading of the photographs and documents and the allied adjustments takes too much time away from the learning exercises and drawing practice.

Whilst it might appear advantageous to have peer reviewing etc. of the online Learning Log I think the time would be better spent in the more beneficial studies and practice. The same information can be presented on paper, i.e. a combined Learning Log and Sketchbook

Assignment 1

Final Drawings – Natural Forms and Made Objects

IMG_9945_edited-2

Natural Forms

IMG_9951_edited-2

Made Objects

The objects for the finished work were chosen for their diverse shapes and textures, i.e. the roundness and smoothness of the avocado stone to the jagged and rough textures of the branch section, which necessitated very contrasting marks which had to be used differently for, say, the edges and nearest face aspects.

The marks chosen were those that formed the texture of the object and reproduced as near as possible on the drawing. All the objects had their own texture even though fine in places but crosshatching and similar marks were not used.

I have a range of clutch pencils with different size and grade leads which enabled such textures as shading to be readily reproduced.

Graphite pencil was chosen as the tool as I have most experience in this medium and would not have been able to achieve my best standard in another medium, consequently more practice with charcoal, ink etc. required.

However with a range of pencils and leads one can simulate charcoal and incorporate more detail and also more stability from the medium.

1.  Did you do enough preliminary work before starting on your final pieces? I think so. The objects were chosen for their difference in shape, size and textures and within their limitations the final compositions appeared to be the best arrangements with regard to the objects’ characteristics.

2. Do your large drawings give an accurate interpretation of the still life groups? If not what went wrong? For my standard at this stage I was quite pleased with the outcome of most of the pencil sketches and sketches and drawings. (Unfortunately I haven’t learned the skill of sketching yet, i.e. making a quick, restricted detail drawing.)

I have never drawn such size images in my life and so it has been a big jump in the last couple of months to get to this stage.

The Natural Forms could have had an alternative finished drawing as there were probably other groupings that would have  achieved the same result.

I am aware of the shortcomings in some details (ellipses!) in the Man Made drawing but in the main I consider my drawings are realistic and whilst there may be a lack of artistic flair, i.e. they are a bit plain, they do represent the objects as I saw them.

I quite liked the idea of the large leaf encompassing the garlic as the central object with a balance of other items around them albeit contrary to the good principle of thirds.

I was close to achieving the encompassing leaf but I think that the dark shadows have dominated the central area and taken away the enclosing effect. Maybe another way of representing the texture of the leaf would have avoided the situation.

3.  Did you make a good selection of objects or did you try to include too much? Would you change the arrangements of objects if you were to start again? There were a good number of made objects that could have been incorporated into the final drawing with interesting and different shapes but the number was reduced for the final drawing though I am not sure this was absolutely necessary.

For the Natural Forms I think the right number of items was chosen. More would have cluttered the drawing and detracted from the central image. Perhaps the bracken leaf could have been included as a “pretty” but the balanced element would have been compromised.

4.  Do your drawings fit well on the paper or could they be improved by working on a larger sheet of paper?  I have never drawn this large before and so was possibly timid about size. However I think the drawings fit the size of the paper used but obviously they could be drawn larger on a larger size of paper but a different medium might have been required.

Perhaps charcoal could be used on a larger sheet for the man made items where the shape is more dominant than the texture but not for the natural forms which required a greater attention to detail.

If you increased the size of sheet and drawing for the natural forms you would have to step up the size of leads.

5.  Did you have problems with drawing or find hatching too difficult? Apart from some of the ellipses most of the shapes fell into place and I was pleased that I was generally achieving my shapes at the first attempt particularly in the final drawing.

It has been a huge advancement in the last couple of months that I am not making anxious “search” lines in order to define a shape. Mostly I am getting my initial lines right. Also I have learned not to furtively erase search or construction lines as they can often be merged into the drawing or overdrawn.

As commented above hatching was hardly used. Quite early on when I started drawing I was not convinced that representative textures were going to be suitable for me, i.e. I have never seen cross hatching in nature.

If I was to have a style it was probably to reproduce as near as to what was there and where there was a possible shortfall hopefully the eye/brain would fill in the gap. Hence my wide variety of clutch pencils, graphite leads and sticks.

In any event I would find the actual application of any cross hatching quite hard.

I did have a problem with the coloured pencil drawings. I think these drawings are the first proper coloured pencil composition that I have undertaken since leaving preparatory school.

They are as good as I can do and with more experience I will do better. For me coloured pencil is not able to represent detail or draw an accurate line in the manner of a fine lead pencil.

Assignment 1 Preparatory Work

Natural Forms and Made Objects

IMG_9939_edited-2

IMG_9943_edited-2

IMG_9944_edited-2

IMG_9946_edited-2

IMG_9949_edited-2

IMG_9950_edited-2

1.  Did you do enough preliminary work before starting on your final pieces?
I think so. The objects were chosen for their difference in shape, size and textures and within their limitations the final compositions appeared to be the best arrangements with regard to the objects’ characteristics.

2. Do your large drawings give an accurate interpretation of the still life groups? If not what went wrong?
For my standard at this stage I was quite pleased with the outcome of most of the pencil sketches and sketches and drawings. (Unfortunately I haven’t learned the skill of sketching yet, i.e. making a quick, restricted detail drawing.)

I have never drawn such size images in my life and so it has been a big jump in the last couple of months to get to this stage.

The Natural Forms could have had an alternative finished drawing as there were probably other groupings that would have  achieved the same result.

I am aware of the shortcomings in some details (ellipses!) in the Man Made drawing but in the main I consider my drawings are realistic and whilst there may be a lack of artistic flair, i.e. they are a bit plain, they do represent the objects as I saw them.

I quite liked the idea of the large leaf encompassing the garlic as the central object with a balance of other items around them albeit contrary to the good principle of thirds.

I was close to achieving the encompassing leaf but I think that the dark shadows have dominated the central area and taken away the enclosing effect. Maybe another way of representing the texture of the leaf would have avoided the situation.

3.  Did you make a good selection of objects or did you try to include too much? Would you change the arrangements of objects if you were to start again?
There were a good number of made objects that could have been incorporated into the final drawing with interesting and different shapes but the number was reduced for the final drawing though I am not sure this was absolutely necessary.

For the Natural Forms I think the right number of items was chosen. More would have cluttered the drawing and detracted from the central image. Perhaps the bracken leaf could have been included as a “pretty” but the balanced element would have been compromised.

4.  Do your drawings fit well on the paper or could they be improved by working on a larger sheet of paper? 
I have never drawn this large before and so was possibly timid about size. However I think the drawings fit the size of the paper used but obviously they could be drawn larger on a larger size of paper but a different medium might have been required.

Perhaps charcoal could be used on a larger sheet for the man made items where the shape is more dominant than the texture but not for the natural forms which required a greater attention to detail.

If you increased the size of sheet and drawing for the natural forms you would have to step up the size of leads.

5.  Did you have problems with drawing or find hatching too difficult?
Apart from some of the ellipses most of the shapes fell into place and I was pleased that I was generally achieving my shapes at the first attempt particularly in the final drawing.

It has been a huge advancement in the last couple of months that I am not making anxious “search” lines in order to define a shape. Mostly I am getting my initial lines right. Also I have learned not to furtively erase search or construction lines as they can often be merged into the drawing or overdrawn.

As commented above hatching was hardly used. Quite early on when I started drawing I was not convinced that representative textures were going to be suitable for me, i.e. I have never seen cross hatching in nature.

If I was to have a style it was probably to reproduce as near as to what was there and where there was a possible shortfall hopefully the eye/brain would fill in the gap. Hence my wide variety of clutch pencils, graphite leads and sticks.

In any event I would find the actual application of any cross hatching quite hard.

I did have a problem with the coloured pencil drawings. I think these drawings are the first proper coloured pencil composition that I have undertaken since leaving preparatory school.

They are as good as I can do and with more experience I will do better. For me coloured pencil is not able to represent detail or draw an accurate line in the manner of a fine lead pencil.

Project – Enlarging an Image

Exercise – Enlarging a Simple Flat Image
A little more complicated that the previous exercise and I made it a little more difficult by using long objects.
IMG_9934_edited-2
How successful were you in copying the lines from the smaller squares to the larger squares?

It was a bit mechanical and there was a loss of continuity on the curves but overall the transfer of the drawing was readily done.

Are you satisfied with your larger replica of the image? What would you do differently another time?

The transfer was reasonably successful but the outcome was a rather simplistic looking line drawing.

On another occasion it probably would have been better to just draft the transfer line then freehand the final lines in to give a more natural line to the curves.

Project – Enlarging an Image

Exercise – Enlarging an Existing Drawing
A simple principle undertaken with little difficulty.
IMG_9931_edited-2
I undertook the exercise by placing and then joining up the dots. Maybe not right but it appeared that it would be hard to produce a fluid long curve without knowing where the curve was going on the way.