Worskhop: Mechanical Aids to Drawing

In this workshop, We looked at David Hockney’s book “Secret Knowledge”. Within this text, Hockney talks about how Vermeer and Renaissance artists used optics and mirrors to aid them in creating accurate portraits and art works. There was a highly interesting timeline in this book which opened my eyes to how new technologies affect art and the way artists work. Until 1839, artists only had the use of optics such as mirrors and lenses, in 1839 the first fixed photographic camera was made which made the use of optics in art more elaborate. The 1930s saw modern art spring up and interestingly so did television and then computers which gave possibility to digital art.

In  this workshop we looked at 3 mechanical aids to drawing: Camera obscura, Camera Lucida and Projection. We worked with a kind of Camera Obscura using a lens and a mirror to project an image onto paper than can be drawn from. We got into pairs and drew each other using this method, one sat opposite the camera under light and the other went into a dark space and drew them for just 2 minutes.

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Here is the result I achieved below: It was incredibly difficult to draw accurately because you couldn’t see the lines you were drawing very well.

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We also worked with projection in this workshop and used flash photography to produce images of each other to project onto the wall and draw on top of to create accurate portraits. Below are images of my partner drawing me and my projected portrait of her.

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After drawing one image of my partner, I decided to project another one on top and draw it to create an abstract kind of outcome. Projection is a modern-day aid to drawing, but is it cheating? you are not really drawing the image and I feel as if it becomes more the creator of the piece rather than an aid. However, this was a useful exercise in helping me developing my portrait skills and facial proportions.

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Lastly, we explored the Camera Lucida. The Camera Lucida is an optical device that enables you to look at something in front of you through glass and it reflects the image onto the paper. Unfortunately, using an authentic Lucida was not possible so we used a modern-day version in the form of an App on the Ipad. The result I produced from working this way is shown below:

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I’m not really sure how I feel about mechanical aids to drawing. I think if you are an artist purely making art for a commercial sale and need to make many successful pieces in a short space of time it is quicker using these methods and I guess would be beneficial. However, technically this is not your own drawing, it is like tracing something and if you are an artist like me, distinguishing your own style and creating art that has a personal reflection on you, it may be classed as cheating and the personal element is gone. I found that even the portraits I created in this workshop, even though I enjoyed creating them, were lifeless.

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Further Experimentation with Tracing Paper

Previously, I have drawn on top of tracing paper to portray the fact that everyone else around a person in the city might as well not exist and to show the ghostly bodies of the city that move around you with zero interaction or conversation. I have now experimented with cutting a single figure out of the tracing paper and placing it over my photographs which I feel is more successful in its portraying my concept but not as visually appealing as drawing on top is.

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As with my more recent photo manipulations, I started experimenting with ways of showing that vice versa, you may as well not exist to all the others around you and that not being noticed or acknowledged in the city can make you feel extremely lonely within it. The manipulation below is highly unsuccessful in my opinion, It hasn’t really worked in showing that you may as well not exist and looks unprofessional as the tracing paper shows the glue underneath it.

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Due to this being unsuccessful, I experimented with cutting out all the people in an image apart from one. That one person is definitely unnoticed in the image and I feel this method of manipulating the tracing paper accurately shows that to all the other people in the city you might as well not be there. I am glad to see successes coming out of my exploration and continuous working.

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I am glad my tutor suggested I continue experimenting with these materials as I believe I have created some successful outcomes here. I have also learnt what doesn’t work and progresses within my project.


More Photo Manipulation Experiments: Loneliness in the City

As my tutor suggested, I have been conducting further experimentation into portraying the hidden loneliness of the city through photo manipulation.  He suggested I considered the fact that I didn’t have to cut out the whole of the figures from my photos and that I could make statements by just cutting out certain parts. Below, I have experimented with cutting or blocking out the face of all the bodies bar one to portray the fact that in the city, all the people around you may as well just be bodies with no identity just moving around you. As you do not interact with them, they may as well have blank faces. I think this definitely shows one person to be singled out and portrays the feeling of being alone, but I do not think this manipulation is as successful as cutting out the whole figure and for me does not make as bigger impact. The white cut out faces are clear, but I feel the image below where I have blacked out the faces is highly unsuccessful and the act of manipulation is unclear.

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Throughout my exploration of photo manipulation, I have focused on the fact that all the people around you in the city may as well not exist, but until now I haven’t portrayed the fact that you may as well not exist to them either. Below are some images I have worked with in portraying this idea. Feeling unnoticed and unappreciated by others is a massive contributor to feeling isolated or alone.

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Here, I have scribbled out one figure. I think this is successful in making a subtle statement about people feeling lonely and going unnoticed in the city, It is not immediately obvious until you really look at the picture and draws you in to think about the reason behind blacking out a person. Below, I picked someone who goes unnoticed and is ignored by many on a daily basis, a big issue salesman and scribbled out their face to heighten the fact that their identity is unappreciated.

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In my opinion, these below are my two most successful manipulations in showing the fact that you may as well not exist to others in the city, and how lonely it can feel being unnoticed. The figure is obviously singled out and prominently taken out of the picture portraying the fact that they may as well not be in it in the first place. Being different can evoke feelings of loneliness and here a white silhouette differentiates the figure from the others.

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Experimenting further with photo manipulation has definitely given me new angles to explore feelings of loneliness in the city and I have explored different ways of portraying these angles. As my tutor suggested, I am now going to do some more experimentation with tracing paper and combining it with my photographs.


Quick Stop Motion Animation inspired by Collaborating: – Lonely in the City

After producing a collaborative stop motion with my field group, I was inspired to create animation within my individual project. Here is a quick stop motion experiment drawn in my sketchbook portraying the hidden loneliness of the city, where the person is “surrounded by others but alone”. I hope to create more of these and maybe work with animating my photo manipulations or cut out photographs.


A Walk in Cardiff: Photographs of People in the City

I took some more photographs of people in the City, again there was minimal interaction and I noticed many lonely beings. I will use these images to produce some more photo manipulation experiments and to explore ways of showing loneliness in the city by editing my images by hand.

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I had a tutorial today and the tutor seemed to like my photo cut outs and tracing paper experiments so I plan on using these images to work with those ideas and develop ways of portraying urban loneliness through photo manipulation further.


Combining Drawing with my Photography: Sketchbook Work

Here I have attempted to illustrate being alone in the city, and feeling overwhelmed by its mass structure and buildings through combining the drawing of simple city outlines and my photography of people in the city.

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I have experimented with a few different medias when creating these kind of collages including pencil, fine liner, black indian ink, nut-brown ink and ball point pen.

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I think the outcomes show the figure to be isolated and I like the contrast in detail and complexity between the drawing and the photography. I am enjoying exploring displaying urban loneliness artistically and even though these are simple images, they do portray being alone in the city.


REFLECTION: Update to Studio Space: Moving forward

I have been highly interested in the project I am working on and have experimented with different ways of portraying the hidden loneliness of the city, I have worked with a variety of techniques including sketching, painting, mixed media work, photo manipulation, monoprint, working with drawing inks and photography. In order to take a step back and look at all the things I have created and worked with, I decided to update my Studio Space. I felt this would inform my decision to move on in the project and ponder over the work already done to progress to creating new work within this project.

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Looking at my experiments all together allowed me to analyse how well I am portraying my chosen subject, I think I am showing the hidden loneliness within cities quite successfully in my work as a whole, but particularly when working with the idea of one person in detail within my work and all the others portrayed as silhouettes or painted in white, so this is something I will continue to work with. I also think the painting experiments using dark colours are a particularly successful element and I am now going to work on a larger piece using these techniques. Looking back, the monoprints are not as successful as I would like them to be, so I think I will produce a few more and take more time on them.

From attending the grounds workshop, I have learnt that the ground can affect the way the end result of a painting looks massively so I would like to experiment with creating experiments incorporating lonely figures working on top of a variety of grounds. I would also like to create a piece iincorporating multiple layers of glazes to build depth into my loneliness work, so this is something I will also work with. Considering all this work together has made me consider the fact that the colouring of it all is very monochrome, sepia and dark. It has encouraged me to think about maybe trying to show loneliness when using bright colours or to experiment with the idea of colour showing how the city is glamourized and a lone figure portraying the reality for many. I would also like to experiment with a few mediums, inspired by the workshop I attended on Wednesday.

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From looking at this work all together and thinking about what I have learnt in the workshops I have undertaken, I have plenty of work to be getting on with and can start working with ways to move my project forward and focus on its success. Last term, one of the criticisms in my feedback was that I didn’t really reflect and may have disregarded it as I’d been so hard-working. I see this as incredibly valuable feedback now because It was definitely worthwhile updating my studio space and looking back and reflecting on what I have produced so far. It can undoubtedly kick-start your ideas on how to progress and help you decide what you would like to produce next.