Experimentation

For Assignment 5 I will be starting my research and drawings around a number of ideas that have highlighted an interest for me throughout the course so far. I want to explore a few avenues before focusing on one idea because I feel that assignment 5 can be a chance to explore and push these ideas further.

Ideas and thoughts I would like to explore:

  • bodily fluids
  • Family relationships
  • Language
  • The world
  • space/ astronomy

These points will be explored with a wide range of mediums that I have found exciting to work with so far.

I have bought a world map that I have stuck on my studio wall as a point of inspiration and direction for me. I think the more ‘stuck in’ I get to my work as an artists and growing up, becoming more mature and understanding the world differently, I have started to find every part of life and the world form a very creative and artistic point of view. Within my mind i have started to question a lot of things going on in the world, politically but also the world as it is from a visual point of view. The good and the bad that is all around me. I wonder if my research into Karl Hyde’s work started to bring this to thew forefront of my mind. But I am in a place of wonder and question and I feel that this might start to be a process for me on my artistic journey.

In regards to my research I’m not sure what artists to look more closely at but I have been really intrigued with Russell Crotty’s work. I have been slowly working my way through Katherine Stout’s, Contemporary Drawing book and I decided to have a flick through to see if there were any artists for me that stood out. I found a chapter on ‘Drawing the World’ which I think fits in quite well with my current place of mind and wonder. My plan is to read this chapter to move forward for this assignment.

This lead me onto the next chapter of the book called ‘Rethinking Mimesis’ which had Russell Crotty’s work as part of the chapter. There is also another chapter I found called ‘Language’ which I am also keen to read. Lots of reading to do!!!!! I’m loving this book.

I am keen to experiment with the visual of the world map on paper. I want to do a quick drawing that had been on my mind for a while. Plan is to create a suggestive outline of the world map with the glue gun and then fill the space with mod rock dripping and red ink (from part 4). I don’t want to waste the mod rock that I don’t use (as I will jus the using the drips) so I decided to use the mod rock like the glue gun on another piece of paper. I chose to use graph paper as this seemed to coincide with the sea of geographical location etc. As I placing the mod rock to create the suggestive shapes of each country on the map, I started to realise that I was creating the boundaries that we have in this world. Using the red ink, I still have this strong sense of family connection and blood line. I’m starting to see the boundaries of the world, of each country are cutting of this idea of human connection? The most obvious example of this in the real world would be of Donald Trump creating the Mexico border wall.

Having a lot of thinking time whilst in the studio today and I am thinking about assignment 1 work and starting to think about creating an imaginary world. Imaginary space encompassing all the good things in the world?or highlighting what I think the world should be perceived as. Or my understanding of the world and how I perceive it. Play around with scale in this idea. Things I collect on walks. Shells bigger than buildings. Things I hear.

Slowly starting to realise the importance of reflection in this artistic journey.

I feel like I need to start doing some preliminary drawings to get some visual background going.

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Leading on from my initial research for part 5 I have started drawing from the points that MOMA Learning recommended. 

1. Make a mental map. ‘Draw your city, town, or neighborhood from your own perspective. What places do you often visit? How do you get there? Without looking at an official map, draw and label places such as your school, the stores you visit, routes you take frequently, your home and the homes of your friends, and other favorite landmarks.’

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2. Identity Mapping.

‘Create a map of your own identity using colored pencils and paper. Your map should encompass aspects of your outer, physical world as well as your inner self and state of mind.

Before drawing your map, brainstorm a list of words to include. Consider your ambitions, fears, and character traits as well as geographic places of interest. Then think about how to best represent these elements on your map. What kind of geographic landmarks represent the different aspects of your identity?’

Ambition – artist/helper/save the world/change someones life for the better/art therapist/ see the world/go to Africa

Fears – losing family members/death/knowing where to live/loosing Aaron/being alone

Character traits – kind/caring/funny/bubbly/depressed

Geographical places of interest – woods/beach/London city/ Richmond Park/ Dartmoor Devon/ Kew Gardens (Moving to the City has made me love nature even more – my fascination for trees).

I have also completed some drawings and experimentation from my own thoughts playing around with materials and trying not to worry too much by ‘going with the flow’. 

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I think using the collage was a good way to get a starting point for the drawing so I have taken the imagery into my own sketches. I do like this, however I wonder if that means its taken away from the brainstormed words and I wonder if I would have drawn something completely different if I didn’t have the collage that perhaps subconsciously guided me. Because of this I would like to make a drawing without collage. The world (Earth), does it have to be perfectly round? Could it be; like a bubble; Circle of life – flipping the idea of death and loss; woods – the trees growing the planets? – surreal – referencing back to my interest in assignment 1. Respond to the world around me – the recorded conversations. 

I had a started a journey of personal realisation of what death ad life meant to me. Life is so precious. 

With the collage i’ve used I seemed to have picked up on the idea of a figure. A ghostly figure. The black and white photography has sparked an interest in history, family history, world history. 

I’ve included collage as I feel like I want to piece all the bits together that I have brainstormed. The black and white photograph of the people stood out to me, I think because of the amount of people looking like they were on a journey and it is clearly an old photograph which resonated the idea of death for me. This was ripped up, disconnected and an image of the beach was slotted into the gaps. Perhaps a moment of reflection. Happiness in-between sadness. Although these ideas are perhaps coming to the forefront of my drawings without e thinking too much about it but I would like to bring my focus back to responding to the wider world. Making a link between perhaps portraying my understanding of the world and my place in society along with understanding other people. I’m feeling that I might be lost in what I’m attempting to do at the moment. 

I’ve made a little sketch of a tree, planets and a stag. These are to pinpoint the other bits from my brainstorm. 

The activity said to use colour pencils, which I shy away from when I’m sketching or drawing. I drew in fine liner and then added colour oil pastel (as I didn’t have any pencils to hand). 

Oil pastel – I like layering the oil pastel marks. I like the parts that are almost rubbed away whilst also drawing – erasing and making the mark at the same time. 

Sections of life – look what images are coming from my self conscious. Drawing – just draw – makes things one out too don’t even realise stuff that I can see in my drawings. 

Are the trees talking? Are they hiding secrets, of my personal journey? Are the speaking what I hear?

Completed this oil pastel drawing in response to ‘just drawing’. Not thinking too much about the meaning behind it.  

Studio 15.3.19

  • reverted back to the activity instructions and bring myself back to what I should be doing – physical world and inner self. Briefly I looked through my D2 book for some guidance and came across artist Shuvinai Ashoona. 
  • From a personal point of view I’m quite moved by all the protests and action that is happening in regards to climate change at the moment. For the past 2 weeks at work we have focused on this as a topic around the school using recycled materials to make things for reception to year 6.
  • I think maybe my personal response to the world around me, it perhaps focusing on climate change at the moment and I feel I would like to create a piece of work to reflect my feelings towards the changing world, politically, socially and geographically. I feel that all these 3 things are as important as each other and I am stuck between moving forward focusing on people or the earth itself (landscape). Carrying on from assignment 4 it feel as if language between people would be the option. However my passion it the world that we are surrounded by, nature. Although the question I pose is: is the world, manmade and natural, the way it is because of human activity? We all know the answer to this, but portraying this through my work is now the challenge. 
  • I think the answer for my work it to somehow include social interaction and the physical effects of change on the earth. 
  • I would like to produce work that is in a surrealist style like my work in assignment 1, exercise 3. 
  • Developing this surrealist style, I think, will allow me to continue to add a more personal approach to this topic of climate change. 
  • Along with the surrealist style, the narrative of an image is becoming a key appearance in my work – text, newspaper. 

I have a selection of travel magazines that I find really inspirational so I took some imagery and text and played around with ‘editing’ the paragraphs. 

I started to draw pictures of trees but nothing was different about them, nothing exciting, nothing that got my creativity flowing. 

Sunday 24th March:

Im at point where I am struggling to create work in relation to how I want to progress.

Yesterday I said to myself that I would try and not think too much about what I am trying to produce and just complete some drawings to which would hopefully lead me to a discovery. I decided to conduct some research yesterday to help me move forward. I am reading a book I bought (from my suggested reading on feedback from assignment 4) about Cy Twombly which has got me thinking again about gestural marks and not drawing so literally. I would really like to engage my work in this style but I am finding it a real challenge to move forward with this in mind. I am keen to include and keep my ideas of surrealism, family links, trees, the world but I think I need to start considering all these points in a less obvious way. (maybe coming away from family slightly and into humanity itself) 

I am now thinking that perhaps I need to lose some control over what I am drawing and start some drawing exercises to help me do this. 

  • blind drawing
  • Long stick drawing
  • Non dominant hand drawing
  • Short timed drawings 30secs/1 minute drawings
  • Continuous line
  • Draw negative space
  • Upside down drawing
  • One line or a few lines to suggest a shape 

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Starting to think about automatic drawing – touched on earlier in the course. Automatic drawing: For your own practice, automatic drawing can be a great way of making your drawing more free and fluid. Simply take a piece a paper, try to free you mind of all thoughts and start randomly making marks with your drawing tool, whether it’s a pencil, charcoal, graphite stick, pen or brush. The results maybe quite rough, childlike and abstract, but should give you plenty of ideas to work on. Ideally, if you have the space and room in which you can make a bit of mess, pin large sheets of paper to the walls and attack the picture with a large brush dipped in ink, wielding your brush as you would a fencing sword. The experience can be truly cathartic and should leave you with some powerful pictures.

https://www.finearttips.com/2013/11/six-creative-drawing-exercises/ 

But drawings of what… trees?

HELP. I FEEL SO STUCKKKKK

Then how do I link all these drawings (above) to family connections. Trees and people. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eFiZbB9aJQ 

I think perhaps the key was to loosen my drawings up rather than simply focus on artists to give me the inspiration. I need to keep drawing. 

Also including working from memory 

I decided to work through this problem and take control of my journey:

Trees are a constant theme in my work. I wanted this project to be different and move away from trees but everything I do seems to come back to trees. How they are connected to humans, how they connect to each other, how vital they are our planet, how they have families, how they are living organisms, how people don’t recognise the importance of them. I wanted to combine my thoughts of humanity, family, the world and trees and I was stuck on how to show this through a drawing. It’s almost as if to me trees are symbol of our planet. To help me move forward I decided to use social media as a platform to gain some inspiration. 

I posted this on facebook: Hello everyone… I am conducting some research for my current art project. Could you please comment a few words/sentence of ‘What trees mean to you’? this could perhaps be in relation to the wider world or to you personally. Thank you in advance!

This evening I also completed some drawings using the exercises I listed above. I have a book called ‘Remarkable trees of the world’ which is a wonderful source of unusual and not so unusual images of trees. I decided to make some drawings from these images.

I only did a few but I actually really enjoyed the outcome of these drawings and as I take time to reflect on it now – from my notes – (10 April) I find myself wanting to produce more of these types of drawings. They have informed my next stage of development of my printing and photo transfers. Amongst the more abstract drawings of trees I’ve also produced drawings that are recognisable as trees which I find work well.

I have considered different techniques and processes that have worked well so far in this course and I am keen to return to the idea of printing. From these drawings I came up with a plan of action for the next day to develop some of the ideas I had around printing. 

During this time I received many comments from my post on facebook. 

Comments
Response 1:
To me, trees create the atmosphere/mood of a scene or situation x
Alice Powell could you also comment if you feel they have a relationship to humans
Response 2: healing- we often go out in nature to ground ourselves in stressful times and also trees are used for medicinal purposes.x

Response 3: Shelter, home to birds and the beautiful colours
Response 4: The lungs of the planet.

Response 5: I think trees are definately relatable to humans and how they show different moods throughout the year!
Response 6: If I’m allowed another comment I’d say that they are a measure of the changing seasons.
response 7: Life
Alice Powell Thank you everyone for your comments so far!
Response 8: During the day they evoke a feeling of Calmness and safety. At night eerie and scary xx
Response 9: They enable the human race to exist on earth

Response 10: Trees remind me that things are not always as they seem. A dormant tree in winter looking dead is very much alive and thriving within. They remind me to search deeper before making my decisions about life. X
Response 11: Love old oak trees. So majestic and seen so much history and things change around them over the hundreds of years they may have been there.
Response 12: Calm and peace a time to breath and relax in the beauty of nature

The comment that stood out for me was ‘The lungs of the planet’. I had mentioned in some of my experiments in assignment 4 that I was thinking of family blood connections, bodily fluids which reminded me of artist Louise Bourgeois which I researched at the beginning this course. Bourgeois used red ink in her hand drawings (which was something I looked at most) and I feel that this is fitting in my work at the moment. Reminding myself of her drawing would be a good way to move forward. Moving on from this I started to complete some initial drawings of lungs with red ink. I also experimented with sugar, to soak up excess ink, which I think looks like a blood vessels on the paper. 

Throughout this development process I am weaving in between the idea of lungs and internal human body parts and drawings and prints of trees. I wanted to experiment with mono printing and Lino printing. At this point in time I didn’t have any Lino available so I tried to imitate the process with cardboard however all this did was print the texture of the cardboard and the image was pretty much unrecognisable. Thinking of recycled materials such as cardboard it got me thinking about handmade paper. The school I work at, recently took a trip to a recycling centre for our topic of ‘sustainability’ and ‘climate change’ and we made our own paper. Thinking about my initial thoughts on wanting to portray my current status on how I feel about climate change and trees being so vital, I felt that making my own paper would be another good experiment to work on. 

Fortunately my class had extra hand made paper so I took this home and printed onto it. I discovered that the ink needed to be thick so that the printed image would stand out and not get lost amongst the bits of recycled lumps. I think the more successful prints are on the newspaper print because you are able to distinguish the detail of the tree and texture of the bark which is something I really like in the prints. 

I had some fun experimenting with different ways to make marks in the ink to create the wood effect of the bark. To make the thicker parts of the trunks I used a cloth and my finger to rub away the ink, which to my delight, left a scratchy linear surface portraying texture of bark. I then used a craft knife to scratch into the surface to create the finer branches. I used different sides of the knife to create different thicknesses of the lines. For example, the tip of the knife (the sharpest part) I used to create the very fine almost twig like branches and the side of the knife to create the thicker branches.

Developing on from simply drawing a tree as you see it, I wanted to experiment with interesting view points as I felt this produced a more exciting print. I also didn’t want my work to simply replicate a photograph of a tree, I wanted to see trees in different ways, show how majestic and impressive they are. 

From these experiments I wanted to push the boundaries of identifying a tree as a tree. I experimented with producing a collage from my mono prints to distort the image further. I tore up some prints and stuck them on a larger sheet of paper and started to fit them together like a photomontage, joining bits of branches with each other. I also experimented with extending the lines of some of the branches onto the new surface. I didn’t really like the end product. I think it was probably a little rushed and my reflection on it at the time was rushed as I wanted to move onto the next thing. I felt the for this collage it was too clear that the pieces didn’t ‘go’ together and it felt very disjointed, which I thought I wanted to show but perhaps this could be done with overlapping prints rather than with a collaged image. So at this time, I am not dismissing collage completely. 

Pushing my ideas further I wanted to think about producing something with a sculptural element rather than just on a flat piece of paper. I came across a fellow students work, Marina WitteMann, who had also drawn trees but she had curled the paper to look like a tree trunk. I attempted a photo transfer print (which I did without the proper medium and just used paper) and then curled the paper. I would really like to introduce a sculptural element, perhaps having a sculpture as the final outcome and I feel like Marina WitteMann’s work has sparked a process of development. I’m excited to see where it will take me. 

Alongside thinking of ways to produce my prints and take my drawings further I went back to the idea of the lungs. I started to introduce blue ink, looking at the idea of arteries in the body and started to think of these in relation to tree roots. I started to think of other surfaces that I could use other than paper or recycled paper. As I said previously the recycled paper made it hard to distinguish what the print or drawing was and I am finding it ironic that I am looking into climate change and the effect on our world, drawing trees on paper. I considered using material. I had previously used weaving in assignment 3 and was thinking of ways with how I could link material to my ideas of fragility of the planet along with the fragility of humans and trees. I remembered Emma Talbot’s exhibition and artist talk that I attended at the Drawing Room in London back in September. Drawing is at the core of her work, even though sometimes her final outcomes are perhaps not so obviously drawing. Her silk drawing installation was most intriguing to me and is what I am focusing on now, looking into material and drawing as one. I looked back over my notes I made whilst visiting this exhibition. She likes using ‘silk as a surface – the thinness and in this particular work she didn’t want the strong materiality of paper.’ This resonates with my idea of the fragility of all that is on the planet. I think most importantly for me, when listening to this artist and reflecting on her work, in relation to my practice, I found myself considering my own personal place and position on earth and that actually on the front of it, I might be concerned with the planet as a whole, trees, humans, landscape, whatever it may be, but actually the work I create is reflection of myself finding my place in this world. Wanting to protect everything from hurt, from decay, from death – a subconscious extension of my fathers death. 

Whilst my inspiration has been flowing I have got very excited about this project and I am finally feeling in control of what I can do. I came across a further artist which works with fluid media, which is also why I was reminded of Louise Bourgeios work. I think I will take Emma Talbot’s work forward as a prime point of inspiration and complete my 500 word write up. 

After briefly looking back at my research into Emma Talbot, I decided to do a little drawing on some silk like fabric that I had (to imitate her materials) I had organza to hand, and create it into a form. I drew two sets of lungs, with felt tip pen onto silk and then I stitched the two pieces together creating a 3D form. I considered putting some stuffing into the lungs to ‘puff’ it out but I really liked the effect that they looked tired. There was no strong form to them, they were almost like ‘saggy’ and has the life sucked out of them. I’m not sure if i’ve written it anywhere on my blog so far, but from open trunks that have been struck by lighting – that i’ve seen in Richmond park – I wanted to produce a suspended pair of lungs to demonstrate that trees are alive, they are living things, like humans and the relationship between humans and trees are so similar. Everything in nature is fragile and in regards to climate change at this present time, everything on this planet is fragile. Stemming from this discovery and combining the idea of the columns of the trees (from a fellow art student), I started to think about having the lungs suspended inside a huge silk tree sculpture. The transparent nature of the silk material means that you will be able to see through the trunk of the tree, to see the lungs. 

My plan is to combine all these ideas and experiment further with different kinds of prints, drawings (different view points of trees and different ways of drawing i.e. blind, non-dominant hand, to inform my prints). Re-introducing other experimentation that I may have touched on in past assignments such as; photo transfers, stitching, sculptural work, frottage etc.

I have been experimenting with photo transfers, Lino and mono printing. I really enjoyed experimenting with photo transfers in some other work earlier on in this course and I wanted to see if I could fine tune the techniques. I also felt that this process of printing is a great way to introduce collage into your work and to me it creates a dated photographic effect which again makes me think of history, fragility, memory and sentimental value. I started to complete some experiments on paper but edited the photograph to black and white. Firstly because I think the contrast in tone is stronger than when it is in colour and also because I have been working dominantly in black and white for printing etc. In the back of my mind I was still considering experimenting with collage so on top of my photo transfer I produced a Lino print.

 

From this I took the opportunity to start experimenting with silk further. The reason I started to use silk material, was because (like in Talbot’s work) she didn’t want her surface to be too heavy and she liked the weightlessness of silk over a more durable fabric. I also want to use silk because of this, combining its fragility with its transparency. To my surprise, the photo transfers worked well on the silk, however I couldn’t decide if it was too heavy for the material, removing its transparency. I carried on experimenting and printed a Lino on top of it. At this stage the transparency of the silk was lost, making the fabric heavy and took away the whole point of using the silk (being a more fragile material). 

I noticed that by mistake I had rubbed the photo transfers on the paper a little too much and some of the photograph came off the paper. I started to think about doing this on purpose on the silk which would make the qualities of the silk, like transparency more apparent. 

I will now be experimenting with this on silk and seeing what else I can do with my printing. 

I am also keen to complete some further drawings of trees to fine tune my printing techniques. 

Forward thinking, I have started to consider the roots of the trees to imitate the arteries of lungs, blue and red being a poignant colour range in this. 

22nd April:

Today marks the day that my ideas are starting to come together for my final piece. From the experimentation that I have been doing I am able to start selecting pieces of work that have been successful and pushing them forward into my final outcome. 

I plan to work on the ‘silk tree sculpture’ bit by bit, stopping and reflecting to solidify any experimentation into a successful outcome. For example I am going to focus on producing the work for the tree trunk first, I will then go onto developing ideas for the branches, lungs and roots. The tree trunk will be completed in the style of my laborious exercise from part 4. My aim is to produce a 3D life sized tree using this technique, printing it onto silk and then stitch together. 

27th April:

It started to dawn on me the amount of work I had given myself to complete. I panicked and decided that I was no longer going to be able to complete my degree. I had over estimated the amount of work that I thought I could complete for this final drawing. I was able to talk to my tutor about this who advised me that I had set myself a completely unrealistic task to complete for a level 1 course. I was also advised that in level 2 there is a parallel project in the course that I would have the opportunity to pursue anything I wanted. I felt that it would be the perfect time to complete this huge drawing for level 2. I would have more time and more of on an in-depth research base to complete this task. I wanted to show the work that I have completed so far for it so I videoed myself for an hour, showing the extent of the labour that goes into making each mark. The video here is to demonstrate the various emotions and frustrations – the repetitive nature of the piece can be extremely tedious, the restriction of the speed of the mark making can be frustrating, but also whilst drawing I find myself in a state of meditation. Unfortunately because the file is so big it will not upload to my blog.  I spoke to my tutor about moving forward and she advised me to make a smaller version of what I had in mind. She explained that if an artist was to go for a commission, he or she would first only make a maquette and then once the commission was finalised, would she produce the ‘real’ piece. I was finding the pressure I was putting myself under was not necessary. I decided to take my tutor’s advice and create a smaller version of what my idea was. 

Here are some stills from the video:

Whilst completing my drawing for this maquette I started to notice that there was going to be an issue in transforming this 2D drawing into a 3D silk sculpture. Because of how I have drawn some of the branches, they overlap and when cut out (which I planned to do with the silk) they would not be independent from the others they are attached too. I think I would still like to create it as an experiment to see what my original idea was. On the other hand, I took a moment in my studio to reflect on what I had produced so far for this whole assignment and if there was a different direction I could take my ideas encompassing, life, nature, humans etc. I cast my eye back to my comments that I had received from my ‘facebook research’ and the word ‘life’ jumped out at me. Early on in this assignment I mentioned that I wanted to produce something in relation to trees and people however I simply didn’t want to create a drawing of a tree, I wanted to make something that would provoke the viewer to think beyond the life of a tree. 

My new idea is that I could produce a pair of lungs (the lungs now becoming the main piece rather than hiding in the middle of a tree), in silk, and photo transfer a collage montage of my laborious lines that I have been doing in A4 of the tree bark. 

I think I could go on forever thinking of how I could take this project further but I am being strict with my decisions. I will create my silk tree maquette as my final piece. 

 

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