Masters of Detailed Drawing 2, Modern Artist, Eliot Hodgkin

Eliot Horgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing 1 from the 19th century or earlier and a modern artist. I already researched the 19th century artist Thomas Hartley Cromek in ‘Masters of Detailed Drawing 1, 19th Century, Thomas Hartley Cromek‘ and it was now time to find a Modern artist. Again I wanted to find an artist that I wasn’t familiar with so I started my search on Google looking for British artists of the 20th century. A list of names of British artists came up on Wkipedia so I went down the names looking at their work 1 artist at a time.

I came across the name Eliot Hodgkin, a name that I was very familiar with but I’m not sure from where so I took a look at his work to see if I recognised any of his paintings. I had never seen any of his paintings before but what I did see was truly inspiring and perfect for this part of the course. With the image below Large Leaf 2 particularly catching my eye as near my school there are some very similar large leafs that I would love to draw for this part of the course.

Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card
Eliot Hodgkin Large Leaf 2 Tempera on Card

Curwen Eliot Hodgkin was an English painter born into a Quaker family in Purley-on-Thames on 19 June 1905 and was the cousin of abstract painter Howard Hodgkin. Eliot Hodgkin was educated at Harrow School but his artistic life began at the Byam Shaw School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools where he studied under Francis Ernest Jackson.

Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts
Eliot Hodgkin Seven Brussel Sprouts

Hodgkin had already established himself as a still life and landscape painter by the mid-1930s and regularly exhibited at the Royal Academy. In 1937 Hodgkin started working in egg tempera a recipe that was given to him by his close friend and former teacher Maxwell Armfield.

Hodgkin stated that he wasn’t attracted to tempera as a medium as it was used by Italian primitives and their work did not do anything for him, he simply used tempera as it was the only medium that allowed him to express the unique character of the objects that fascinated him.

Hodgkin said that his conscious purpose was to ‘show the beauty in natural objects’- that people would usually think unattractive such as ‘Brussels sprouts, turnips, onions, pebbles and flints, bulbs, dead leaves, bleached vertebrae, an old boot cast up by the tide.’

When i did a search for his paintings and saw his work the first thing that went through my mind was how beautiful his paintings were and yet his compositions are so very simple. I have heard of tempera before but as far as I know I have never seen anything painted in it until now and I knew at firs glance that they were painted in a medium other than oil or acrylic.

He depicts the texture of his objects wonderfully and his paintings are so crisp and life-like but still he manages to express them in a way that makes u aware of the beauty of these objects for the first time with wonderful contours and a brilliant balance of light and dark tone, whether it be a dead leaf or a toilet roll.

Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin
Toilet Rolls Eliot Hodgin

Like Eliot Hodkin Says ‘ People sometimes tell me that they had never really ‘seen’ something before I painted it, and I should like to believe this… For myself, if I must put it into words, I try to look at quite simple things as though I were seeing them for the first time and as though no one had ever painted them before.’

For me I agree with others that to see these objects in his paintings is to ‘see’ them for the first time with detail and beauty that you would never notice before. Hodgkin really makes you notice every part of the object, every leaf, every crease and every pattern on the objects surface.

Bibliography – Wikipedia

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Masters of Detailed Drawing 1, 19th Century, Thomas Hartley Cromek

Study of Plants, Ariccia Watercolour, over traces of a pencil underdrawing.

For this research point I was asked to find two artists who exemplify mastery of detailed drawing.

I used to have a reproduction painting site and am familiar with the works and lives of quite a few but since starting this course I’ve been introduced to new artists and new techniques so I thought I’d carry that on by typing in a few keywords on Google to see where they took me.

The first artist I found was a 19th century artist called Thomas Hartley Cromek and after seeing that his place of death was Wakefield, my home town, I made the decision to research this artist a little more.

Born in London in 1809 Thomas Hartley Cromek was the son of Robert Hartley Cromek the  engraver and art dealer who allegedly cheated William Blake out of potential profits. In his childhood he moved from school to school starting off his education at Enoch Harrison’s school in Wakefield and then onto the Moravian School in Fulneck. He then moved back to Wakefield to study at the grammar school there before returning to Harrison’s.

Thomas Hartley Cromek received his first art lessons from a Wakefield based portrait painter, James Hunter but then in 1826 he moved to Leeds study landscape painting under Joseph Rhodes, while studying in Leeds Thomas also taught himself anatomical drawing.

He travelled to Italy in 1830 to study the old masters and spent most of the next 20 years within the country mainly in Florence eventually reaching Rome where he attracted much attention for his ‘excellence in drawing and his careful colouring’ – Wikipedia. While in Rome he gave drawing lessons to several distinguished visitors including the British artist and poet, Edward Lear.

Between 1831 and 1849 Thomas Cromek spent most of his time drawing the major buildings in Rome as well as Greece but then was forced to leave Rome with the outbreak of the first Italian War of Independence.

There’s not much information about Thomas Hartley Cromek online about techniques, ideas, influences etc but I did find quite a few images.

Study of Plants, Ariccia Watercolour, over traces of a pencil underdrawing.
Study of Plants, Ariccia
Watercolour, over traces of a pencil underdrawing.

I found many of his works online but it was the drawing above that caught my eye and I thought it was quite relevant to this module. The drawing itself is only 7 1/4 x 8 1/8 in in size and yet his brilliant use of shadow amplifies the detail of the drawing. I enlarged this image on my computer to the size he would have worked at and was amazed how much detail he has got into such a small drawing with what I still regard to be a messy medium, for me that is anyway. He has managed to depict some very thin leaves and blades of grass and makes this picture seem a lot bigger than what it is.

THE TEMPLE OF ANTONINUS AND FAUSTINA, FORUM, ROME - WATERCOLOUR 18 1/4 X 13 INCHES
THE TEMPLE OF ANTONINUS AND FAUSTINA, FORUM, ROME – WATERCOLOUR 18 1/4 X 13 INCHES

 Just like his drawing of plants and flowers his watercolour paintings of buildings such as the Temple of Antoninus above shows brilliant detail and colour as well as amazing shadows which really amplify the bulkiness of the stone structure.

Bibliography

Wikipedia

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

Check and Log – Exploring Coloured Media

exploring coloured media - Soft and Hard Pastel

Which of the media you have experimented with did you find the most expressive?

From experimenting with the different colour media in this exercise I would probably say at this stage that the oil pastel is the most expressive. Oil pastels seem to allow more sketchy fluid strokes and seems to work well with all the techniques that I have practised so far.

Which medium do you think lends itself to more detailed work?

From what I have seen so far I would say coloured pencils as well as ball point pen but then again I do not think I have worked with nib pens and ink enough at this stage to dismiss these as a medium for more detailed drawings

Exploring Coloured Media

exploring coloured media - Ball Point and Felt Tip

In this exercise I set out to explore the different coloured mediums I had available which included oil pastels, soft pastels, felt tips, markers, different coloured inks and dip pens as well as coloured pencils and a pack of coloured ball point pens. Just like I did in the Making Marks Project in Part 1 I decided to go at this project using a mixture of doodling and filling in squares with different techniques.

Coloured Pencils

I started out with coloured pencils I had recently bought some Derwent coloured pencils for the composition development of assignment 1 but have yet to discover their full potential. I began by putting together a rough colour wheel based on one that I found online to see how the colours would blend together, there are much more possible colour variations  to be had from blending this medium but it gives me some idea and will help me in the future.

exploring coloured media - Coloured Pencil
exploring coloured media – Coloured Pencil

In the squares i tried different hatching techniques such as cross hatching and horizontal hatching. some techniques work better with this medium but I think all can be utilized in a drawing and this gives me some idea of what each technique can be used for,

exploring coloured media - Oil Pastel
exploring coloured media – Oil Pastel

Oil Pastels

With the oil pastels I decided to do some experimenting by doodling just to get a better feel for this medium as I know I will be using them a lot later. I found that they were quite good forstippling and leave a lot more colour on the page when stippling than coloured pencils which weren’t great and found myself drawing circles with them. They were also really good for hatching but can also be smudged quite well, so all in all a very versatile medium.

exploring coloured media - Soft and Hard Pastel
exploring coloured media – Soft and Hard Pastel

Soft Pastels

At the start of the course I bought some soft pastels but haven’t really used them until now. I hadn’t noticed that they were a portrait set so I didn’t have much choice of colours, however I did enjoy working with them. They were very good for stippling and hatching and depicted tone very well, in one box I did some stippling and then smudged over the top and was rather pleased with the result.

Hard Pastels

I’ve used these a couple of times now in both the Study of Light Reflected from one Object to Another exercise in part 1 of this course as well as in my finished piece for the Natural Forms part of Assignment 1 but yet still have to discover their full potential. Hard pastels are great for hatching and smudging as well as layering. They are also quite expressive when using certain techniques and they blend very well.

exploring coloured media - Ball Point and Felt Tip
exploring coloured media – Ball Point and Felt Tip

Ball Point Pens

I bought a cheap pack of Staedtler coloured ball points that were in a sale in a local art/book store and tried out different techniques, now I know from the work I have seen of other artists in ball point that they are a great medium to use, however techniques have to be improved, when hatching they seem to work better when you lift the pen off the paper towards the end. I get a feeling they are probably better for small pieces rather than large drawings.

Felt Tip Pens

The felt tip pens that I have here are not a normal felt tip but a watercolour pen, I didn’t know they existed, the colours are very vivid and seem to better when used for darker images. Stippling is great with this medium but when hatching they tend to clot on the paper towards the end of the stroke so like the ball points I found that they work better if you lift your pen off the paper towards the end of the stroke. These watercolour pens also blended quite well, I have yet to try out normal felt tip pens but shall be doing so quite soon.

exploring coloured media - Markers and Dip Pens/ Coloured Inks
exploring coloured media – Markers and Dip Pens/ Coloured Inks

Markers

I used markers for the Patrick Caulfield Research point but only used them in blocks of colour, I really enjoyed using them just as I did in this exercise. They were brilliant for stipling and hatching and depicted tone very well, I also filled a square with hatching using both the pointed nib and the chisel nip and found it to be very expresive. Again they tend to clot but not as much as the felt tip and I found that that they are probably better for darker drawings.

Nib Pens and Coloured Inks

This is a medium that I am still struggling with I have a good few Ecoline colours to play around with and have been experimenting with different papers but I think my nibs are letting me down, I shall be investing in some quality nibs very shortly. However, i did get some decent results this time. Starting off with a bit of doodling I got used to the feel of the pen on the smooth paper in my A5 drawing book then did some stippling and hatching. I get the feeling that it is best to let the inks dry before using other colours. I found that they were great for stippling on the smooth paper but then on water colour paper not great at all the same went for hatching. This is a medium that I want to see myself using more of as I love pen and ink drawings so it is going to be worthwhile exploring this medium more deeply.