Overall Comments A well-developed submission with focused contextualization and promising developmental work through sketches and experiments. Submitted via blog: https://kategriffblog.wordpress.com/ sketchbooks (3) submitted via post. Feedback on assignment Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration of Creativity Your final outcome for assignment shows many good qualities, not least the ambitious scale and the soft mark making where you explore partial erasure technique (there is room to go a bit further with this – as you said – mental note for part 4 with Auerbach’s expressive handling of tone). Perhaps most important is your self evaluation here – that you recognise that your love for detail can hold you back, and charcoal appears to be the “happy medium” giving you sufficient control yet also more generous mark making possibilities. I don’t dismiss your interim study as much as you do (A3 gesso ground, mixed media) – you find it too messy, without seeing the original hard to fully comment, but it looks promising to me that you experiment with a wider range of media here. Persevere.
You were not content to leave it with the expected, and thumbs up for trying further and testing John Virtue’s approach with ink. I enjoyed the upper detail here more than the overall composition for reasons see below.
This cropped version (I took the liberty) highlights the contrast between ink/ sepia drawing and fluid washes of ink. Check out Andrew Wyeth to push this direction further? The framing device in foreground (grasses) is more interesting in the preliminary drawing below. This may have to do with the strong blue “stealing the show” and so the grasses (or maize) lost that wonderful skeletal feel that you created in the drawing?
It is good to hear that you pushed yourself and tried new approaches like working on gesso. This all needs more consolidation. Ready-coated supports for drawing can be obtained commercially and they can be very useful for fine drawn work also (have a look at silver point which needs to be executed on gesso). Overall this is a successful assignment development. The supporting body of drawings belongs to one another. Make sure that all of them are included when it comes to assessment. Sketchbooks Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity Your sketchbooks are coming along, especially the smaller sketchbook A 5 and the cartridge A4 sketchbook show real ‘sketch’ moments, where you are taken in by a particular angle of view or atmosphere, and don’t worry so much about making a page present a perfect finished drawing. This is happening more in the Ingres sketchbook, each page a mini composition. Think of sketchbooks as a trial and error area, it’s ok to make mistakes, cross out and rub things out – you can take risks here. I can see that the format of the Ingres encourages a more ‘precious’ take. Possibly think about using paper like this more in consecutive serial sketches, for example a series of fruit; a series of clouds. Confining a new Ingres sketchbook to one subject only would give it more coherence. This could work well for part 4 – the human figure. But let’s focus on the achievements now – there are many good pages in your sketchbooks going somewhere good! For example:
Project work on trees.
Developmental drawing for assignment (see above):
You use tree branches to frame and subdivide the picture plane.
You do a similar thing here using the grass as a screen, and inverting the relationship of house (normally large) with grass.
In below roof top studies you create a lovely dense surface of roofs, like a patchwork. You use limited colour for the sky and thereby avoid the oversaturation sunset scenes can make appear ‘kitsch’.
In this series preliminary to assignment you show how you persevere with a theme exploring different drawing media and a more tonal approach.
I particularly like the freedom and looseness of above landscape sketches. The cloud studies are good and the Ingres paper is well-suited for rendering such amorphous structures. A whole sketchbook of clouds would be wonderful. Having practiced daily weather observations as a project myself, I can assure however, that this need not take big chunks of one’s day. Even just 10 minutes a day when possible – you’d be amazed how quickly you fill a book.
However, both above studies are beautifully observed and have clearly taken much longer, and the one on Ingres paper has an old-masterly quality. Allowing the figure to enter some of your finely observed town scenes and architectural settings might be another useful sketchbook project – also in advance to part 4.
I like the honesty of these pages, the way the eye guides you to details you are interested in (the doorframe, the passage way), and the human silhouettes, observed primarily for gait/ posture.
This drawing is atmospheric and drawing media are handled spontaneously. This is refreshing as it shows that you can break out of the very carefully crafted studies you are mostly comfortable with The sketchbook offers opportunities to think about unusual formats. By interpreting the page across double spread new possibilities for construction and composition emerge.
Here I cut across the page – accidentally as my scanner was unable to take the whole length of the spread. But new interesting relationships emerged. This is of course how it should be read across both pages. The two images impact on each other and offer a new viewing experience, than either offers on its own. Having both images together allows for narrative readings.
Project development Trees: sensitive studies, one does look like a sequoia or redwood tree to me (illustrated above in sketchbook section). Paying attention to a tree’s habit and organisation is part of the objective here. The second exercise (twisting tree branch) shows micro expressivity: if you go close up you can see the shadow areas of the twisting branch and the texture of the bark. Scaling up might produce some interesting alternative results? Several tree studies – this is quite meticulous and very detailed. Not sure if it is to do with the place as “Constable Country” is really kept in a time warp by the National Trust, and so there is something slightly out of sync or unreal about those landscapes. Landscapes we would encounter in Dutch painting by Ruysdael for example, of a different time, with different land management. Technically this is a strong drawing which invites further thought. The bleached stems feel more contemporary than the background. How would these three trees look against a plainer ink background or even just without it, reduced to bare outline? This could go Rembrandt direction, or Horst Janssen for line and expressivity or alternatively go for tone and plane: Andrew Wyeth/ George Shaw. Your research on Tacita Dean also of relevance here.
You say this was a much larger study – how large?
Sketchbook walk – see above.
Foreground/ Middleground/ Background: this inevitably requires much thought and detailed consideration of scale of objects, tone and texture – also foreshadowing aspects of illusionary perspective. Good is the way you ‘bleach’ the trunk of the dead tree in the left foreground, letting the whiteness of the paper speak and create a counterweight to all the detail in the middle and background. Overall the composition seems a little too weighted to the left. Turning your study on the side or upside down will make that imbalance more prominent. The horizon line is well executed with just enough detail to distinguish between different types of foliage and the church tower.
360 Degree studies: here you are more economic in your interpretation of what you see, and begin to filter what information you really want from the landscape. Being selective is important for developing a more personal view of the world, and letting go of detailed photographic description of everything you see. Working with the left hand has freed up your marks in a very positive way. Try and practice more plein air drawing when you get a chance for your own benefit.
Cloud studies: see above
Project Perspective/ Project Townscapes: you apply angular and parallel perspective correctly in your drawings of townscapes and houses and rooftops. (I agree that the interior study is flawed but never mind. Take a photo of this and then see if you can draw in the major perspective lines to see where they meet).
You demonstrate such sensitive mark making here with much invention, not bored with the even texture of grasses and water, but always attentive, creating a lovely sense of stillness. You translated this into an ink drawing –with ink letting go of control to some extent is quite important. Study Alexander Cozen’s blotting technique (see Tate resources on this) and also Chinese landscape painting. In the pastel drawing you do explore aerial perspective well, and the middle ground/ background works well. This is much more painterly study and would lead on to exploring different coloured grounds as background for painting with brushes. The Chrissie Norman inspired watersoluble pen drawing is interesting for composition (see also Gustav Klimt’s painting of birchwoods); and there is good attention for texture in the tree in the foreground.
Project Sculptures: these more so than your limited palette townscape drawings prove to me that you can handle limited colour very well. You cropped statues in interesting ways and exploited extreme viewing positions, like in the study below: This is a dramatic and personal interpretation of a sculpture . The use of blue is atmospheric, the mark making in the background works well. It mitigates your tendency to want to go into detail – elements of this still in the fence/ gate in middleground, but that is set off nicely with suggestive branches of trees emerging into dusk and night. Foggy weather is helping to create atmosphere and to go for the more essential elements in a landscape, it helps with form and balance.
Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis Chrissie Norman, George Shaw and also older artists like Lorrain in particular – I can see affinities and influence in your approach to trees and compositions like that of Shaw’s housing estates (using tree as a divider of picture plane, and as a filter to look through – also with Peter Doig). Relevant context research in various sections of your log. The contrasting works of Tacita Dean and John Constable make a great comparative project helping you to define contemporary qualities further. Nicholas Herbert, Peter Doig, Cezanne, Hockney – all worthwile research. Victor Pasmore is a very suitable context for your approach to landscape – I forgot how beautiful his work is. You discovered some less well-known John Virtue. Good idea to look at Virtue’s drawings (also his etchings – they have a much more intimate quality and are far less overdramatic than his paintings).
Suggested reading/viewing Context Alexander Cozens http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/alexander-cozens-118 Andrew Wyeth http://andrewwyeth.com/