Tuesday, 13 March 2018

March 8th 2018 - two scales

Each of these five drawings are from five different 30 minute poses. The common aspect is that I have used at least two different scales. I am also following my anagrammatic approach of deconstructing the pose before me by reconstructing within the new composition the parts which for one reason or another are attracting my attention.

The next drawing is also an example of my 'morphism' preoccupation in which I have moved together the two sides of the pose, fusing them into a new whole. The two sides are also drawn at different scales.

Sometimes the use of two or more scales allows me to include the whole of the pose (which occasionally I feel I must include because it is so attractive) but also to focus in and explore in detail parts of the body. Here you will see that the raised arm and hand, at the larger scale, has been placed in the lower part of the drawing, whereas the lower dangling foot, at the larger scale, has been elevated to the top of the drawing. The right foot is seen turned on its side and resting on the plinth.
The sequence of making the drawing was as follows: I wanted so much to include the full pose. But having done this I asked myself  'How can I make the 30 minutes, and the drawing, more interesting?' So I homed in on an aspect which is perhaps becoming a signature component of my art, close-ups of hands and feet.

With the above example, and the final drawing, I am beginning to consider whether my process is entering a 'surrealist' phase. If this is so then perhaps I am following, in microcosm, the path which developed in European art in former times. I was reading recently, with respect to my engagement with Cubism, the American poet Kenneth Rexroth who said that Cubism in poetry "is the conscious deliberate dissociation and recombination of elements into a new artistic entity made self-sufficient by its rigorous architecture". He maintains the Cubist poets influenced both Cubism and the later movements of Dada and Surrealism (I must find out what Dada is all about).

Personal footnote: the quote from Kenneth Rexroth is synonymous with the wording used by Hans Bellmer in his definition of his anagram approach to which I make reference at the start of this posting. 

February 22nd 2018

More of Paul the model with his two swings.
This first drawing uses at least two different scales but this time I have included parts from two 30 minute consecutive  poses. 'Overlap', 'transparency', 'superimposition', 'spatial' and 'anagram' are the principle thematic ingredients of the exploratory process.

'Exaggeration' is an aspect I frequently employ and here the right hand and to some extent the left knee are brought forward towards the beholder.

And finally two drawings in which different scales are played with, and different parts of the anatomy are juxtaposed to see what the outcome might be.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Insights into my Cubism

What you see is relative to your position in time and space. Most life drawers place on their paper or canvas what they are looking at from a single position. From this position there is one perspective in operation. Every drawing and painting that uses perspective proposes to the beholder that he or she is the unique centre of the world. However, for the Cubists the visible was no longer what confronted the single eye, but the totality of possible views taken from points all around the object or person being depicted. 
Upon many occasions I have broken away from the single perspective viewpoint in order to make life-drawing a bit more interesting for myself, but lately I have become much more fascinated by its possibilities. Here is a recent example of where I started by drawing the pose from one location then moved my easel across the studio to add what I was looking at from the opposite side. I moved back and forth a number of times. By this process of exploring the pose on my paper from different directions I seem to be engaging with the pose, with the model, with the anatomy, with my understanding of what I am seeing, at a much greater depth. In addition a narrative often emerges during the making of a drawing in this way  (perhaps in this example one might be asking 'what is the relationship between the two?' or 'who's hand is on who's knee?' (I must add that the idea of a narrative emerging is of little consequence during the process, it only really becomes apparent in a post-analytical phase, and is then only an amusing side line).

When the artist has completed the process then the beholder of the drawing will be observing the subject from different points in space and time simultaneously, and yet this single image will derive a complexity from the incorporation of multiple viewpoints, a mobile perspective, simultaneity and multiplicity. Plus my recent fascination with 'overlap' and 'transparency'.

And now for an opposing process but equally significant in contributing to understanding my own Cubism. In these next two examples I do not need to move myself because the model is herself presenting multiple sides to me.
Firstly, the model acrobatically moves within a suspended hoop which is twirled around every so often at varying speeds. Feet and arms are raised and lowered as she twirls. I feel the movement in the drawing.

Secondly, the model sits on a swivel chair which is turned through 90 degrees every 5 minutes for a number of revolutions. The four sides of her head with her chin supported by her hand comes into view a number of times and each time I am able to add and refine. Whereas the symphony of forms of arms and breasts, tummies, thighs and bottoms, roll and blend together and challenge the beholder to unravel and identify which parts of the anatomy have been drawn, or maybe just accept its complexity. Whichever is the response I feel there is a real feeling of mobility in this aspect of my Cubism.

I've just been reading again John Berger's 'Ways of Seeing' Penguin Books 1972, so you may note a phrase or two and some vocabulary of his in the above text, which I acknowledge and I am indebted to his contribution to helping artists to more understand their creative and perceptual processes.

A reminder that all my recent drawings are the outcome of a two-handed mark-making process using fine-liner pens on A1 220gsm white cartridge paper. Occasionally I revert back to graphite pencils and may utilise Derwent tinted charcoal blocks.

Monday, 12 February 2018

The man on the swings

Paul the model has made himself two swings which are suspended at different levels for him to explore some creative poses, as an alternative to the usual suspended ropes.

My first drawing uses two scales. I started with the leg and foot on the upper swing and then introduced behind this the full length of the pose from the right foot resting on the lower swing up to the head.
The next two drawings also explore what happens when two parts of the pose are juxtaposed using different scales.

This next drawing is more complex. The hand on the knee at first attracted me, and this was followed by the back and sitting on the swing with the right arm disappearing off to the right. The final move was, I recall, quite a bold step as I introduced the foot resting on the other swing smack into the centre of the composition.

Finally Paul sat on the lower swing with arms and legs dangling down and his chin supported on the seat of the higher swing.

The lady in the twirling hoop

Eliza in a leotard is acrobatically moving about within a suspended hoop which is every so often given a spin around. As it twirls and inevitably slows down she sometimes sits with arms outstretched, sometimes hangs by her legs like a circus trapeze artist, and assumes all kinds of other positions. Occasionally she will be given a chunk of charcoal with which she expresses her movements, hanging upside down, by mark making on a large sheet of paper on the floor. At some point I will include a photograph which she gave us permission to take.

I did not find an immediate empathy with this piece of theatre. Feet kept whizzing past, going out of view just as one got an idea of what to draw. But I very soon realised that one could start for example a foot and it would come into view time and time again. Also, as she changed poses and moved around within the hoop then a part one had started to draw from one pose reappeared in a later pose. 

I recall that in other places I had moved back and forth across a studio in order to include in one drawing different views of the pose. I did this simply to explore what would happen on the paper. My previous analysis of this process resulted in my describing it as a 'cubist' approach (see earlier postings).  I am looking at the human body from a number of different view points all at the same time. So the two outcomes above I feel clearly illustrate this cubism I seem to have entered.

So what happened with drawings three and four from this same morning?  For some reason they simply became more abstract. I introduced some tinted charcoal to help me differentiate those parts of the revolving anatomies which I had transferred on to my paper, but some new outcome has emerged. It is not atelier life-drawing, it is not representational art, it is not that which I have previously encountered appearing on the paper on my easel as I respond to the model and the pose before me. So, what is it?  

It's me, enjoying my art. I believe you become what you draw. Unless you become it, you cannot draw it. I now draw lines, and my line has become an 'expressive line'. All by itself it expresses light and dark. It expresses a third dimension. It is spatial.

Re-reading those last few lines (above) I have a feeling that I have begun to understand the philosophy of an artist whose work I have always hoped would at sometime in the future influence me (some of those words are likely to be his).  He is Frederick Franck whose book "Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing: Meditation in Action" was given to me by a great friend and a gifted artist, Marianne Hvass, in 2015. I know that Marianne would see in these last two drawings that I have touched a fulfilment in our shared art. One which Marianne and I talked about together on so many occasions. Marianne passed away in July 2017 but she is here, with me, an inspiration to our intertwined process.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Recent life drawings - 1

These two above drawings are of Robin at 'extreme poses'. They are my immediate responses to two poses which lasted about 30 minutes each. I found myself being very selective both in the part of the pose which I felt held the 'essence of the pose' and in economy of line. I was also conscious of the spatial issues within and beyond the paper surrounding the hand held high and the dangling arm. A favourite quality I embraced is in anchoring the drawn figure to a side of the paper (which emphasise the space beyond), something I enjoy in many of Egon Schiele's pieces.

Once I have let my hands dance the composition across the paper I begin to internalise the 'framework' and the 'strategy' for engaging with the parts of the pose, the anatomy, which attracts my attention. This attraction is an emotional response and is, in part, beyond my 'conscious' control.

Now here is something which contrasts with the minimalism of the above two drawings, comprising parts of five different poses. I am enjoying the degree of complexity which is achievable through transparency.

Here the model is within a twirling hoop suspended from the ceiling, As she slowly spins around responses result on the paper.

The model John presents 4 five minute poses, using a tensioned rope attached to a roof truss and which I ignore. 

Recent life drawings - 6

The above two drawings include parts of more than one pose. The process I follow is I select from the first pose the part which immediately attracts. I draw it. Then from the next pose I select the part which attracts and begin a process of relating in some way this and further parts to each other on the paper. There cannot be a final design, but I await the outcome with an anticipation that something greater than the sum of the parts will emerge.

And now one of those events which I love to explore: the model supports her head on her hand, her elbow on her knee, and all this weight is taken down her leg, with just a suggestion that she is seated. Another 30 minute pose at 'extreme poses' with Shelley on a plinth.

In these 6 postings of recent works I have a number of drawings of Eliza suspended in a twirling hoop. Again I am not seeing the hoop itself but concentrating on legs in the air, arms dangling down, and other parts, but this time adding quick tonal swathes with the finger of tinted charcoal to help differentiate the parts. 

One morning, at 'extreme poses' I felt a degree of satisfaction, and mental exhaustion, from bringing together in three complex drawings multiple parts of the anatomies before us, with extensive use of overlap and transparency, and compositional complexity. So for the final two poses I appear to have reverted to a former approach in which the pose is not destructed, pulled apart, or recreated in a challenging format. Each process starts off with a 0.4mm fine-liner pen in both hands. Once the basic form is outlined then tinted charcoal is caressed across the paper with a tissue. This has a transparency allowing the initial ink lines to show through. Additional lines are added but mostly with my usual hand and some with a 1.2mm pen. Further tinted charcoal is rubbed in with the finger in the more deeply shadowed places.