Over the last two months I kept looking at the brief for this final assignment and I was wondering how I could demonstrate a significant amount of new skills I had learnt not just i this last part, part 5 but throughout the course.
My strongest idea was a full figure semi nude sitter in the shadows of a lamp lit apartment I did for a brief moment think about a self portrait stood in the kitchen with the sky and clouds behind me, but in the rainy season that wasn’t a good idea.
I was definitely including the background and I wanted to use the background to create a unique mood, to try and influence the drawing as much as possible. I imagined my subject sitting against a wall with long shadows depicting how small and insignificant she was to her surroundings, like Gerald Scarfe’s illustrations of the main character in Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
As this module was all about experimenting, what was I going to experiment with? What techniques was I going to use? And would I use experimental techniques in my final drawing?
I decided that I would try to experiment more with water soluble media, pencils, watercolour pencils, watercolour paint, and gouache and see where that took me, I bought the book ‘Drawing and Painting with Water Soluble Media by Fiona Peart’ just to give me some ideas.
I had plenty of low quality watercolour paper to mess around on and but not so many different types of water soluble media but I thought I’d have a go at some of the techniques in the book to see if I could use any in my final piece.
The first technique I tried was dropping salt granules on to a watercolour wash, see above. I had several bottles of Ecoline liquid watercolour so I dropped some in a jar and watered it down. I haven’t done much messing about or drawing with watercolour (probably haven’t been brave enough) so I still have a lot to learn about how much water to use in a wash etc. So I did a wash (the one on the right) in 30+ degrees heat and it seemed to start drying as soon as my brush left the paper, then i started to try and drop single granules of salt onto the wash. They didn’t do much and so I rubbed my hands and let the lot fall over the top of the wash. The result was a discoloured blotch effect that looked like fungus.
I decided to water the wash down some more and start again. this time I sed less salt and as you can see above the results are a bit better. However I wasn’t sure how I would use this technique in the finished piece.
The second technique I used was soap suds. On the left I used a small amount of soap suds scooped up and placed on a watercolour wash, this time with more water added. The results were very different to what she had in the book where she had used them to depict pebbles on a beach, the patterns that mine made (after 2 hour of drying) resembled a cloudy sky.
I wasn’t sure whether it was the paper I had been using or whether my washes were too thin that made my experiments look nothing like anything in the book so I had another try with a thicker wash on a higher quality 200 g/m2 watercolour paper, the results were almost the same.
My girlfriend came round that evening so I decided to stop with the experimenting for the night to do a series of sketches of sketches in water soluble pencil to see which worked best.
My first sketch was a very sorry effort indeed, I did exactly what I’ve been trying to stop myself doing in this last section, misuse the paper. I wanted to use the background but the figure still had to be a good size on the paper.
The second sketch was better but was still not that great and by now I decided that her clothes would be replaced with the orange cloth. The third sketch was a lot better and probably one of the best so far over the last two modules and the face was almost spot on which was an added bonus. However, I really wanted the background to play a bigger role in the finished piece.
The next one was even better but I stopped at drawing the door, even though I knew this one would work it was a different mood to what i wanted to depict in the final piece. To me the pose in the drawing below was warm, welcoming, even romantic like she was waiting for her lover to come home, I wanted a totally different mood altogether for the final drawing.
By now I was working towards the pose that I had my mind set on and the next pose below was pretty close but still it looked like she was waiting for someone rather than hiding from someone which is what I really wanted to show in the ideal pose. Because this was a 100% perfect in looks, proportion, the long shadows and everything else I nearly went with this but I decided to squeeze just 1 more sketch out.
In this last sketch I decided I had got the pose that I wanted, it still looked like she was waiting for someone to come through the door rather than hiding behind it but I decided to go with it in the hope that the medium and technique that I chose to complete the assignment piece would help me to depict the mood that I wanted.
To give my girlfriend a break I decided to do some colour drawings working from the sketch above, the first one was a total abomination. Until now, apart from the Fish on a Plate exercise I had used my watercolour pencils dry, as a substitute to my Derwent colour pencils which I wasn’t keen on the waxy feel of, the awful attempt at being artistic below was a very tired try at sketching with wet watercolour pencils. I decided that was it for one day.
At this stage I wanted to have ago at painting this in watercolour but basically I wasn’t ready for drawing in a painting medium and so I had another go at watercolour pencil to get myself ready for a more permanent medium, this was drawn from the water soluble sketch.
That afternoon I went and bought some Louvre watercolour paints, a jar of white Gouache and some brushes. I still really didn’t have a clue what I was doing with the paints which were in tubes and so I decided to take minimum risks and draw the figure in watercolour pencil and use the watercolour paint for the floor and walls.
After completing the figure with watercolour pencil and wet brush I painted the shadows on the floor with watercolour paint using a brush and then dragged the paint off with the paper with a tissue, I’m not sure if there’s a special name for that technique. I painted the rest of the floor and the walls with a brush but I needed to show the light reflecting off both and so when the watercolour paint was dry I stippled the gouache paint over the top with the same brush. From there I finished the door off hatching with watercolour pencils then going over them with a wet brush.
I wasn’t worried that I hadn’t used any of the experimental techniques that I played around with earlier as this was an experiment just on its own but I wasn’t satisfied with how this turned out, it was stagnant there was no mood to it and I decided to change to a different type of painting medium.
I wanted to make a bigger connection between the door handle and the figure and i wanted to do it with a visible energy field and swirling hatching came to mind and the perfect medium for this would be oil pastel. And so I went from water soluble mediums to oil pastel.
I knew I would need a lot of white oil pastel as I planned to draw it on an A2 size paper and so this was my first experiment at trying to get the lines that I needed without using the valuable white. I really don’t know what I was doing here and it started to look more like a kids drawing from an horror movie.
The second experiment was with much lighter colours using more of the white and trying as many different techniques together to see which one worked. From this it was obvious that the only one that was going to work and join everything together was circular hatching, or at least that’s what I call it, like a vortex drawing, spiraling out from the door handle connecting everything, or spiraling in.
I bought some dark grey Ingres paper and taped it to my largest drawing board with masking tape at the corners. I was still drawing from previous sketches including the latest watercolour/watercolour pencil drawing.
Two hours in and something was beginning to form but it was more like the blurred image in a dream than anything else. I started with black for the hair plus pinks and various oranges for the skin, cloth and skirting board then white circular swirls for the walls and floor, with the white lines further apart for the darker shaded areas to let the grey show through. I wasn’t hatching in the same circular motion for everything but I kept going over the top with white to give the impression of doing so and only two hours in I was already on my second stick of white oil pastel.
The next day and a few hours in and the picture was looking a bit too light as I added more and more colours to the vortex including pinks, yellows, greens and blues, I liked where it was taking me as long as i could darken it eventually. The figure looked unnatural and out of proportion and also two far away from the door but I wasn’t worried, I knew eventually she would be right where I wanted her. The most worrying thing at this point was that the door handle was too low and had to be lifted up and that was the starting pint of my vortex so everything had to be reworked.
After about a good few hours it was proving to be a very long process but knew the end results would be worth it. by now I had got everything marked out and re-positioned the door knob and I was starting to draw in the shadows which would tell me if the figure was too far to the right or not on the paper…It was. What was niggling me at this stage though was if I should draw the face or leave it blur as at this stage it reminded me a bit of Francis Bancon’s work, still blurred between the point where the face was and where I had moved it to.
It took me a few hours longer to finish the drawing and as you can see between the drawing above and the drawing below a lot more work went into this piece, moving her even more so she was in a more natural position against the door but that’s not where all the work went. No longer is there any grey from the paper showing through the oil pastel, the darker parts are darker layers of oil pastel on top of the lighter ones and the shadows took at least two hours to correct.
I would say in all this piece took me the best part of twenty hours to complete. No sure if it was all drawing though, there was a lot of thinking during the process, as with any lengthy process like this I tend to get lost in my thoughts as I step back and look at the drawing from different angles.
I chose to do something completely different with her face, so far I’ve only managed to get my girlfriend’s face right with a pencil or water soluble pencil, I wasn’t taking any chances and used the face to help me create the vortex effect, instead of just circular hatching, all the way to the door handle.
Things I’m Happy with
I like the way it turned out.
Things I’m not happy with
It didn’t turn out the way I expected it to.