Exercise 4.2 Labour and time

This exercise carries on from exercise 4.1 and the work scrunched up zig zag sketchbook I used at Brighton.

My first step towards producing a ‘labour intensive’ piece was researching some artists that I could base my ideas on and give me some direction as I was a little lost in how I was doing to approach the drawing using the creases in the paper.

Vitamin D: New perspectives in drawing was a good point to start and I found an artist named Vik Muniz, I took some notes:

  • Muniz works imagery he has collated from memory, photographs, art history and his surrounding using various mediums for chocolate to dust, clouds, lint (the common name for visible accumulations of textile fibers and other materials, usually found on and around clothing. materials used in the manufacture of clothing, such as cotton, linen, and wool, contain numerous, very short fibers bundled together), toys, string, dirt and holes punched from paper. He then photographs the result and discards the original.
  • He has reproduced historical art work in both 2 & 3D – drawing in wire or thread
  • Cathedral drawn in chocolate
  • The artists images are related to the process of psychoanalysis – using chocolate to sketch from memory then photographing and finally discarding the chocolate composition. He gives a physicality to childhood associations and then wipes them away.
  • The artists work are also about translation – from one socio-cultural viewpoint to another, from one material to another, from one person to another and what is lost and gained in the process.
  • His materials are associated within our culture and his subject.
  • His choice of materials often relates to subjects that he draws. For example when he draws with sugar the image is of children working on sugar plantations
  • Muriz’s work forces us to detach ourselves from our initial perception. We realise that what we think is a true-to-life representation, is imagery intercepted and interpreted by Muriz, a vision that requires our participation to comprehend as we bring to bear our own experiences, memories and misapprehensions.


Russell Crotty:

  • As a caretaker in the early 1990s he reconnected with a childhood hobby – stargazing
  • The works made from there on fuse a private obsession with something that is public property: the cosmic sublime
  • His works began as ‘detailed hobbyist books memorialising his observations of celestial bodies (an astronomical object or celestial object is a naturally occurring physical entity, association or structure that exists in the observable universe. In astronomy the terms object and body are used interchangeably)’.
  • After expanding his works to ‘point-of view’ drawings, his interstellar imagery was vignetted (a decorative design placed at the beginning or end of a book or border of page) as seen through a telescope, Crotty began to draw on paper covered spheres. I am thinking this could fit in with my ideas linked to ‘edges’ in my drawings. These works by Crotty are very fitting with my ideas of the physicality of drawing, producing a 3D object.
  • The expansion of media suggests an attempt to get closer to the intimate experience of hands on astronomy.
  • Links to minimalist practice due to the repetition of marks – this is something that interests me
  • His tiny scratchy ink marks create an image that are realistic and the unfathomable signalling the artists own pleasure in sending his eye out into space – scratching the surface to make the marks.
  • Crotty has considered making art out around the local landscape on a cloudy night
  • I really like his work and the final product of his drawings are evident of intense labour. His composition are fairly simple but his marks invite you to look closer and gaze for a length of time at his works. – this is something I would like to try and produce


Cai Guo-Qiang:

  • 1984 used gunpowder as a drawing medium (how exciting!!!!)
  • His experimental work combines drawing, painting and performance works
  • His hometown has long been engaged in war and the ongoing conflict has clearly left an impressions on the artist
  • 1989 he started a series of gun-powder related pieces
  • In these works art becomes a dynamic form that embodies the human desire to harness nature’s energy and power as well as human aspiration to rise freely above and beyond the earth
  • In his project ‘Extraterrestrials’ (1989) Cai created an image that turned the viewers attention not only to the sky, but also to the realm beyond our planet, suggesting our place within a greater universe and the possibility of other life forms in outer space.First Look: Can Guo-Qiang’s Extraterrestrial Vision (2018) – video showing the work. I think the combination of the materials used and the visual power of the work is quite breath taking.
  • As part of this body of work, the artist also produced eight large scale (13 foot) drawings on rice paper. He lays down trails and lines of gunpowder over large sheets of white paper then ignites one end to produce a series of small explosion that leave behind marks and lines
  • These spontaneously produced images recall both the abstraction of western modernism and lyrical from of Chinese ink painting
  • For Cai drawing first assumed a performative dimension
  • He also began to explore land as a form of draftsman’s ground, comparable to a sheet of paper – link with my ideas of using the landscape/ ground as a basis of my drawing.
  • Process and land art
  • I like on his drawings that he’s to a diagram of his plan to execute his performative drawing


Drawing Now: Eight propositions:

Pg 16

  • (Russell Crotty) avid surfer he used stick figures and pen strokes to record observations of surfers
  • He arranged his series of drawings like film strips on a large sheet of paper gridded out like a minimalist painting
  • Crotty drew not just to understand the waves but in a romantic sense to understand them viscerally and experimentally
  • Crotty records planetary activity and phenomena such as comets in a chiaroscuro drawing style of pen-and-ink crosshatches
  • When drawing in his book he sometimes divides his page into individual panels (like in a comic book) and spreads out entire night-caps luxuriously across double pages creating a panoramic view
  • Since virtually all astronomical data today is collected by computer, Crotty’s stargazing is fundamentally a 19th century pastime.
  • For Crotty the telescope is a tool to bring him as close as possible to the stars and the astronomical observations he records are not merely data but evidence with nature
  • Crotty recently said, squinting at the night sky ‘what is this? This is not an intellectual construct. This is actual.’
  • Artists Ugo Rodinone sketches directly from nature. In 1989 he started taking a sketchbook on alpine walks
  • 19th century writings go German romantic philosophers wrote of an Artist taking to the hulls and experiencing nature first hand by sketching it
  • These artists became known as ‘wandermaler’ (wandering painters). They produced a distinctive kind of landscape drawing: eschewing awesome vistas for more picturesque scenes of craggy knolls and tumbledown shacks, they drew highly finished, detailed compositions in pen an dink, outlining forms and inking in dramatic contrasts of light and dark.
  • Rondinone’s larger finished drawings are careful enlargements of sketched he has made on his mountain walks (I really like this idea of bringing his first hand research back to the studio to develop further)
  • The book mentions Ruskin and his term ‘local association and historical memory’.
  • According to Ruskin’s ‘elements of drawing’ nature could not be recorded exactly, but the light and dark shading of massed in space produced the effects closest to it and thus offered the only way to depict it in drawing.
  • Rondinone adopts the light/dark method because if signifieds how nature is drawn art historically.


After conducting this research I felt better equipped with how to move forward with this exercise. This was the kind of thing i was hoping to produce in my sketchbook, using the creases in the book to give me a starting point for shadow and light.


(Relief Shading, 2015)

I wanted to use cross hatching and marks as my drawing technique. I was hoping the creases in the page would act as a relief so when light was applied to the page, it would have areas of dark and light which I would simply draw into.

I started to notice that the creases in the page weren’t big enough to create the shadows I needed. I felt the drawing was going to be flat and not produce that emphasis of physicality I wanted to portray. At this point I decided to cover the whole book in pencil marks and then I thought about adding the finer details – shadow and highlights – on top. By this time I was getting frustrated with the piece. I decided to leave it as it was and come back to it with a fresh mind. On returning to the piece I thought about using charcoal to rub gently over the pages, picking up on the parts of the drawing that were raised. I actually thought this made the drawing look better however I felt that it was simply completed too quickly and I really didn’t feel that I had produced a labour intensive drawing.


After some time reflecting on the piece (and considering what I could do on the opposite side) I thought about taking a step back from the concept of hills/ nature and focussed on my use of line. I wondered if I could simply repeat a line that followed the creases of the page. To be honest, I didn’t think much more than that about it and I went for it. The drawing was starting to form an interesting pattern, manipulating the surface into something almost mesmerising. Normally, at this point I would start to think about what it meant, what I could do next, how could I develop this idea but I forced myself to ‘go with it’. From there, I decided to fill the book with these marks. Each A5 sheet took me 2.5 hours. In total I spent 60 hours on this drawing. For me, that is an achievement in itself as I always rush through ideas and drawings, wanting to make them better or go onto the next thing. The process was both calming and frustrating. All I kept doing was adding up how many pages I had left before I could finish, but it started to become a time for relaxing and ‘switching off’. I just had to focus on the line I was following. I could take the drawing in any direction I wanted and allowed myself to not be too precious. I didn’t rub anything out. If there were any mistakes I left them. Although I found it frustrating it was also addictive. I would always think, i’ll just finish this part, but then a new line would come into focus and I would have to start that part. I enjoyed the inevitable change in my pencil tip. The thin, newly sharpened tip with a fine, neat mark compared to the blunt edge creating a wider, less controlled mark. The exercise has really taught me to slow down and focus on each individual mark that I made during this process. I think I would like to develop the idea into other mediums and perhaps produce a similar drawing for the assignment piece.



Hoptman, L. (2003) Drawing now: eight propositions. New York: The Museum of Modern Art

Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 1. Guo-Qiang, C. (2004) Tide watching on West Lake [gunpowder on paper] In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 2. Guo-Qiang, C. (2002) APEC: Ode to Joy [gunpowder on paper] In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 3. Crotty, R. (2002) NGC 5466 “The Ghost” Globular Cluster n Bootes [ink and watercolour on paper] In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 4. Crotty, R. (2004) View of exhibition “Globe Drawings” Miami Art Museum. In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 5. Muniz, V (2003) Catedral de Leon [Cibachrome] In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 6. Muniz, V (2002) Prison XIII, the well, After Piranesi [Cibachrome] In: Dexter, E. (2005) Vitamin D. New perspectives in drawing. London: Phaidon Press Limited

Figure 7. Crotty, R. (1996) Five Nocturnes [ink on paper in bound book] In: Hoptman, L. (2003) Drawing now: eight propositions. New York: The Museum of Modern Art

Figure 8. Rondinone, U. (1999) No. 135 Vierterjunineunzehnhundert-neunundneunzig [ink on paper] In: Hoptman, L. (2003) Drawing now: eight propositions. New York: The Museum of Modern Art

First Look: Can Guo-Qiang’s Extraterrestrial Vision (2018) Pres. Sotheby’s. At: https://www.sothebys.com/en/videos/first-look-cai-guo-qiangs-extraterrestrial-vision (Accessed on 25 January 2019)

Relief Shading. (2015) Drawing. At: http://www.reliefshading.com/techniques/drawing/ (Accessed on 25 January 2019)


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