Monthly Archives: January 2011

Steve Duncan – anatomy 2011

Direct Drawing

We started the term with a great week focused on anatomical drawing taught by Steve Duncan. Steve is a sculptor specialising in human anatomy and its representation. The week was taught in detail and despite having a good amount of theoretical and physical experience in anatomy, I got a lot from it.

I guess that the key learning was to understand the value of knowing what to expect to see and understand how that is translating into what you are actually seeing. I would like to do a lot more practise of this, perhaps I should focus on self drawing.

I also used the week to focus on my drawing technique. Most of my usual drawing is preliminary to painting rather than an end in itself and I do that by focusing on where forms break. Here the drawings are an end to them selves and I was experimenting with very direct mark making and using different types of marks, especially linear shading overlapping where appropriate and line.

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Half Term Review

Plenty to Work On

We were lucky to have a mid course review session with an excellent group of commentators, including Alistair Adams, Susan Engledow, Tony Mott and John Walton. They spent half an hour commenting on each of our work, its strengths and weaknesses. In general, I came away happy with the direction that I am going (I was particularly pleased with the reaction to the picture here top right), but that there are several things that I need to work on. The main points that I came away with to work on were:

More variation in marks. I have a tendency to use relatively similar types of mark making across the picture, at least not planned differences. AA suggested looking at John Virtue (also Paul Wright). He also suggested practising tonal drawing to work at different marks.

Colour consistency and planning, while I do this naturally on similar paintings, I can lose it on larger and more complex paintings. An early colour planning process would help.

Giving equal weight to the non object part (background) of the paintings, in composition, paint application and thought of colour use.

Colour integration, in particular the impact of reflections so that the image settles into one. JW in particular sees my pictures as having a stain glass effect where objects do not relate enough to each other, although in fairness that is more oriented to my older work.

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Linda’s Challenge

Learning by Challenge

The last project of the year was a challenging pair of portraits with Linda Nugent.  The challenge was set in a number of ways, first, by limiting the picture construction to a square and filling the frame with the full figure.

Second, by working with limited local colour, white walls, white/cream sheets, white skin tones and one colour wraps. Lastly, using time pressure with 40 inch square canvases, the morning on one and the afternoon on the other.  Inherently, considering the difference between having the light behind and the light in front, ie. contra jour.

For me there were several key points, many of which I would like to focus on more in my coming work.  Perhaps the most interesting to me is the idea that resolution and strength in a work largely comes through struggle, deep involvement and commitment to continuously improving, looking for the weaknesses etc.  When things are going ‘easily’ it all too often means that there is not enough content, at least in my work.  Although I start out working on the main lights and darks and the main points of colour, I have tended to work on it a point at a time, rather than thinking of it as tone/light and colour planning.  This has become much more noticeable in this exercise where local colour is quite limited and so colour consistency is an issue.  I think that the focus should be the flow of light across the image and how that is used to make both the form as well as the abstract image.  Similarly, the use of colour and temperature equivalents to make the form as well as the abstract image.  The third issue that I want to work on is the shapes across the whole of the picture plane, in particular those that are not the object itself, ie the pattern of negative shapes.


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