College Art Jounal

News / 29 September 2018

Visual studies – Week 2

Today we had our second week of drawing from life. This week, the entire day was focused on still life, instead of half being anatomy-based. To begin with, we had about 15 minutes to draw a stacked up collection of boxes on large newsprint paper using charcoal. The main lights of the room were switched off, so the lamp that was part of the structure provided some really nice strong shadows to play with. It looked a little daunting at first, but I really think that the previous week has given me more confidence when drawing from life. The resulting drawing was stronger, I believe, than what I completed last week.

We then had the challenge of drawing making only 20 marks. This was then reduced to 10, and then to 3. I felt a bit unsure about how to approach these restricted drawings, as it’s not something I have considered before. I have spent a lot of my life aiming for high detail realism in my pieces, so this process meant completely subverting my ideals and creating something far more representative. I don’t think my interpretations were very effective, and I would like to continue to practice this kind of thinking at home to try and help me understand how to properly convey what I am seeing without relying on detail to make it apparent. The other class members had far more recognisable interpretations, and I think it was because they recognised the essence of what they were seeing, instead of the objects themselves. What I mean by that is, the most effective drawings I saw were ones that gave a sense of entropy and “stackedness” instead of just looking like boxes. I think I need to look further into the impression that the objects give, and not just try to copy them to do this well.

For our last work, we were given 2h45 to draw a section of the boxes on slightly toned A0 paper. We were encouraged to use the time carefully, and concentrate on replicating the angles and measurements accurately before working on value. It was nice to have a decent amount of time to work without feeling rushed – it gave me the freedom to get really absorbed in what I was doing and make sure the piece was well planned. I nevertheless did hit a point where I felt like I didn’t know what to do next, and had to remove myself from my work for a few minutes to recharge and look again with critical eyes. I felt like the piece had plateaued, and there was nothing more I could do to it, but it still didn’t look 100% accurate. It is times like these where it is important to be able to self-diagnose the problems that are there, which is something I do struggle with as I usually ask my partner for his input. Having fresh eyes from a third party and honest, sharp criticism is invaluable, but I know I do rely on this too much and it is important that I can learn to improve my work myself, and climb above the plateaus I encounter unaided. I did realise that some parts were in the wrong places, and after fixing these issues (despite them being big changes) the piece looked a lot better. I’m actually very proud of myself for pushing through and not just leaving it as “good enough.” I honestly believe that you should spend all the time you can on an exploratory piece – the purpose of these is to learn from them. If you back off and worry about ruining it, you are holding yourself back from learning as much as you can from your time with it. Never settle.

One recurring theme I seem to be coming across, is that my placement on the paper is often not centred. This is probably due to working digitally so often, as it doesn’t really matter when you can extend your canvas! I’m hoping this is something I will pick up as I have more experience working with large paper.