One of my favourite underappreciated factors of life is when you have those very personal moments to yourself where your mind wonders completely, and it seems as though everything that is happening around you slows down entirely, and you’re left with a thought that you conjured up entirely by yourself and you don’t quite know what to do with it.
When the brief for ‘Time Passing’ was delivered to us by Anna and Georgina, I was filled with great excitement and an overwhelming urge to dive straight into the project. We were sent into the wild to find a spot, a place, a hideout, whatever it may be to you, in which we would spend our time for the majority of the project. I wasn’t sure where to go at first, and I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to draw. I started with people. My feet carried me to the train station where I soon found myself sitting on the floor attempting to draw some travellers. Whilst I was sat people-watching and thinking about all the different concepts of Time Passing, I realised that I was looking closely at people waiting.
I sat and drew a few people here and there but I wasn’t happy, and I knew instantly that I didn’t want to spend an entire project working this way. Shortly after this realisation, a gentlemen walked by me and I watched him take a sip of his tea, coffee, whatever his favourite might be. I remember specifically describing him as “hopelessly romantic looking” and “lonely chap: tweed suit”. What caught my eye the most was his hands, watching them move and handle his cup as he took a sip in that short second. I was quite shocked at how much this fascinated me, and immediately I knew where to go next.
I really enjoyed having an hour or two at the market. I started by having a walk round having a look at each stall closely to see what sort of things happen; the exchanging of items for money, the gestures shared and light-hearted conversations and so on. I then found that the stalls that seemed to be the liveliest were the bakery stall, and the Meat market. I started with the bakery (because, well, the old women are always full of Monday afternoon banter and gossip) and I spent around 30 minutes there. I really enjoyed watching them as they worked, and at the end they were happy with the drawings I had produced and I went away with 3 free doughnuts. (win!)
I then wandered the streets of Cardiff looking for a little more inspiration and came across a man busking. I asked him politely if I could draw him and so I did. I then photocopied all my drawings I had made that day and placed them neatly in my sketchbook (above).
It was at this moment in time that I knew for sure that I wanted to spend the rest of my project focussing on hands, and the idea of focussing on them showing things such as habits, work, hobbies and simple gestures as a concept of time passing. Another realisation that I gained when I was placing my hand drawings, was that I much preferred the drawings without the objects in the hands. This was because the focus is then kept on the hands, and it also leaves it to the imagination of the viewer to comprehend what they are doing.
Part of the brief was to complete 4 tasks:
4 images imagining a sequence happening within a year
20 images imagining a sequence happening within the space of an hour
12 images imagining a sequence happening within ten minutes
7 images imagining a sequence happening within a week
Left to right: 4 images in a year- this is imagining somebody’s exhaustion and disintegration throughout the year. 20 images in an hour, is my lecturer during one of the constellation lectures. 12 images in ten minutes is a friend of mine making a paper swan. 7 images within a week is my flatmate Felicity holding her cup of tea in the morning of each day of the week.
I really enjoyed these tasks that were set for us and they really helped me to define what I might want to achieve out of a final piece. I knew that I didn’t want to work with colour, although we did have to chance too. I do like the larger scale drawings but I feel like with my smaller drawings, that I can really develop a sense of time passing, showing a sequence in greater detail with smaller images yet more of them.
So for my final piece for this project, I decided to video record a personal habit of mine ready to illustrate: smoking. I recorded myself rolling the cigarette and also smoking it. I then drew 16 small images (6.5x4cm) of my hands rolling the cigarette, yet not including the objects in my hands. I then did 4 larger drawings (14.8x9cm) of my hands with the objects included.
So we had a second part to our Personification project, and this was titled ‘Trenches’.
With this, we had to take away what we had learnt and developed through the first part of the project, Rumpelstiltskin: Things such as knowing how to illustrate different emotions through inanimate objects, and working in a storyboard format.
When Amelia and Georgina delivered this project to us I wasn’t too sure what to make of it, but I think that was mainly due to not enjoying the first part as much as I had hoped (I really wanted to enjoy the Trenches part, too!). It also felt rather restricted, with the allowance of only 2 colours and 1 collage element. However, when I began to work on the project I came to the realization that actually, those restrictions were so bad and in fact, I liked it. For this project we were asked to make a 8 page book, including the front and back cover. No words, just illustrations using the 2 colours that we chose (including all of their tones) and the collage element.
We were first asked to grab a empty cardboard box and create a sort of ‘setting’ or ‘scene’ for our illustrations. All of the free ones at University got snapped up pretty quick, so I went on a little inspirational walk to get some ideas into my head and mull over the brief, and during this I managed to snap up my own free box. I was pretty stuck on what to make for this, and how to deform the box into a scene from WW1. But then I got to thinking more and ideas began to flow. I chopped down the sides of the box to give the impression of being inside a trench, and then stuck down some parts the I had cut out from an empty egg box. I then paper mache’d the inside of the box to show a sort of discomfort and instability, and I then painted it all white. By mixing in some red paint I painted on a pinky-crimson trail to mimic blood shed .At this point I wasn’t sure what was missing, but as I had previously brainstormed in my sketchbook, and decided that I wanted my characters to be parts of nature that was decaying or already dried up (flowers, leaves, twigs etc), I decided use dental floss to hang a piece of Heather from the top of my box. I’m happy with the outcome of my cardboard box.
Once we had finished our box we were then allowed to dive into making our book. We had the choice of making it in reflection of two poems: Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen or The Hollow Men by T S Eliot. Both poems are very powerful and they both approach the conditions of the trenches in similar ways, with the emphasis on the many cases of innocent and young men losing their lives. I chose to use Dulce et Decorum Est as for me it was the most powerful.
So here are some sample photos of my completed book. I ventured out to Pen & Paper and found two beautiful sheets of handmade paper. I decided the cream on with mustard petals was perfect for the covers of my book. I chose to used poppies as my characters, I thought this tied in lovely with the tradition of wearing a red poppy for remembrance day. On the third page I change the focus from a group of soldiers, to just one. This is so I can really focus on the impact of the Gas attack within one character. My two chosen colours were mustard tallow and burgundy. I used the colour very subtly and I worked closed with negative space- this was to clearly show the impact and devastation of the attack.
I wanted to start off my (very sleepy and cosy) Saturday with showing two of my favourite books that I own, and one that I took out of the library just yesterday.
I absolutely adore Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (..both the story and illustrations!) And for once I can say that the film that was then produced from this book has also become one of my favourites. Its always sad when a film ruins a book.
This is for You by Rob Ryan is a book that I stumbled across in Waterstones whilst studying on my Foundation course back in Nottingham. I sat down in one of the chairs (all Matilda style) and read through it. n first impressions I wasn’t expecting it to actually tell a story, but it does, and funnily enough it related almost perfecting to the subject and theme of my Final Major Project. It seemed rude and ignorant to force it back in-between those other books, instead of take it home with me.
A wonderful wander through Library on Friday, after my tutorial with Anna. I stumbled across Angela Carter’s Book of Fairy Tales. During my A-levels studying English Literature, we focussed a lot on studying her book of short stories, The Bloody Chamber, and since learning more about her as a person, the way she webs stories into your mind and the deeper meanings behind them all, I think it’s safe to say she’s made herself comfortable in my ‘Must Read More of’ section of my mind. (Note to self: Do not use this as a form of procrastination)
c o l o u r
So, after the inspirational overload from Anna, we were then sent into our own worlds to experiment and explore the colours we brought with us. I worked with watercolors: I chose this medium because I truly adore that wishy-washy, almost confusing and eerie effect that it can create. Ever since being introduced to negative space during my foundation course, its been very difficult to stay away from (the same goes for continuous line drawing and blind drawings) so I thought it would be a nice idea to combine that atmospheric effect from the paints, with the negative space from the white paper.
In preparation for the workshop, Anna asked us to jot down some answers to a few thought-provoking questions. Below are my interpretations of my feelings towards my answers:
A time of day: 8pm. (top left) My mother works at the local hospital as a dialysis nurse, working 13 hour shifts 4 days a week. She gets home around 6:30pm and then begins to cook dinner. It’s not until around 8pm that she finally begins to relax, before she gets into bed at 9pm for the next early start for work at 4am. Through my painting I tried to show her aching and tiredness that she feels, using throbbing reds and dense oranges. Then with the yellow I wanted to show the relief and comfort she feels when her head hits her pillow.
A place that you love: Sutton on Sea. (bottom left) This has always been a place of comfort for me. My Grandma, Iris Foster (although we called her mamma seaside) lived here with her husband Norman Foster (he was practically our granddad, from being there since we were born) lived here in Sutton on Sea, and both died here too. By using washed out mustard yellows and pale blues, I tried to resemble the beach front where we used to walk to together. I then added the blood red colour to show their death, although I added this only slightly as their great achievements and beautiful stories overlook their deaths.
A taste: a cigarette. (middle) I’m not particularly proud of this answer, but seeing as it was the first thing that came into my mind, I thought it better to be honest then to be what I think people should expect. So there it is.
A Piece of Music: Wonderful Life – Black. (Right, the left one) My father wasn’t the best of dads, but this song takes me back to when he was at his prime. He’d always play it, as loud as he could, as much as he wanted. I feel as though it has been drummed and sewn in to me, and whenever this song comes on it instantly takes me away from the happenings around me, and I become dazed. For me, I think the purples resemble my anxiety, and the blues and greys show the gap where he should be.
A Smell: Old Books. (right write rite) This one was easy for me. There is nothing that I love more than the smell of old and forgotten books. Using mustard yellows, olive greens and empty greys, I wanted to create something that almost looked as though it was decaying and falling away into the soil, however not wanting it to posses a negative vibe.
Anna then sent us away with a little homework: to experiment more on what we had been doing that day, and have one finalized painting. We had two options. (1) Take an extract from Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and create a piece of work using colour to present the feelings you take away from that, or (2) create something have has truly and honestly developed from your own imagination. I chose option two. Below is my finished piece.
I wasn’t too sure what to do for this final piece, but I knew that I wanted to do something similar to what I had been doing in my experimental pieces. Whilst trying to figure out what I wanted, I found myself sat on my desk with a cigarette in one hand, a paintbrush in the other and my headphones on. I put my music on shuffle so that a mixture on songs would come on, and I just started to paint. Each song made me feel something different, and I just continued painting until I saw fit.
We were then again asked to create a set of 5 final pieces. I took what I learnt from myself with the first final piece, through working from my reflection of my music, and took this technique into my five pieces. Below is what my mind threw at me.
Songs (left to right) City and Colour – Waiting… Dean Martin – Memories, William Fitzimmons – Passion Play, Bon Iver – Blood Bank and Carla Bruni – Pas Une Dame.
So Anna delivered a wonderful colour workshop with us last Monday and Tuesday. I was in the second group therefore I was scheduled in at 2pm-5pm on both days. Monday was good fun: we started in the small lecture room where Anna had prepared a slideshow for us of some artists and illustrators that work very closely, or in some cases loosely, with colour. I actually really enjoyed the slideshow (although after a while I did get very agitated as my bum fell numb), but it managed to fill me with inspiration, which is what is important.
She highlighted to us how important primary colours are, and the many different ways in which they can be used to create completely different spins on your piece of work. I also learnt a lot about Grey.
grey grey grey, it’s even a grey word to say.
My eyes were opened to how much grey can impact your work- it doesn’t have to be straight-out-of-the-tube black and white mix. With a hint of another colour, for example blue or pink, you create a completely different atmosphere and outcome to your work.
Howard Hodgkin works closely with grey, and before visiting his exhibition at the National Gallery (Cardiff) with the tutors, I hadn’t quite realized just how much grey can affect the finished outcome of a piece of work (note to self: stop under-estimating, okay?) Below are some photos of the pieces that caught my eye the most at the exhibition (I couldn’t find better images off the internet). They grabbed my eye because of his meticulous attention to detail. I really admire the use of the orange against that bluish-grey, combined with subtle (yet not dismissible) line drawings. Using that tone of grey, for me, creates quite a mellow and almost calming effect, however also a little chilly.
Anna also showed us some other Illustrators that consider colour to be very important within their work. I’m very grateful of her doing so, as it opened my eyes more to that side of the world- maybe I do shy away from it, under-estimate myself, but being shown that their isn’t anything to be scared of made me want to dive straight into a new side of me. Below are some illustrators that really stuck out to me during that presentation.
left to right, top to bottom: Camilla Engman, Joan Miro, Luke Best, Camilla Engman and last but not least, Saul Steinberg.
All day I’ve had my tongue in a twist.
(again, I’m blogging from past-workshops)
Chris delivered to us a get-stuck-into-it kind of workshop, ‘Words to Draw by’. It was very fun and had that ‘second glance’ effect: looking at something that we take for granted and viewing it in a new light.
Today I learnt to have a conversation with a few words that I wouldn’t usually sit and talk to. Words such as theatrical, Meandering, Lost, Mechanical, Quick, Irrational, Ghostly, Deliberate, Organic, Sticky, Casual.
I enjoyed this project however I didn’t feel as though I could flourish through it. Even so, it did help me to explore into a different dimension of my vocabulary. So, we were given a list of words, and then we were left to ourselves to sit and absorb these words. What do they mean? what do they look like, taste like, sound like, move like? Would you get along with this word? We then were asked to created marks- not sketches or type, marks. Instinctive marks, with a range of different media. I would say this brief allowed me to be more relaxed, not feel the need to ask questions, and just get on with it basically. I like that.
So here are some examples of the work that I produced today. On the right we have 3 words (can you guess?)
Bold: the circles. I wasn’t sure of this one at first. I’m pretty sure most people’s first thought on hearing the word ‘bold’ imagine something distinctive and abrupt- me being one of those people. I began to get to know the word and I began to think of different scenarios something or someone could become bold. I thought of a school play, or any kind of performing artist, and the person that is the lead roll in that event. I tried to depict that through the one solid circle with the empty one shadowed behind it. I used a deep sea green Promarker for this as I don’t get the most positive feeling from the word, and the situation that I put it in. That obnoxious little circle.
Crisp: next to the circles is my idea on the word ‘crisp’. First things that instantly came to mind were actual, edible crisps. Then I began to think of the sound that a ‘crisp’ is- a trampled leaf, a crunch, a smell. What stuck with me the most was the sound of a leaf that has been stood on in the autumn, and the way it panned out in my head was comical, and I imagined a speech bubble popping into the frame saying ‘CRISP!’. I went with it, even though it may be completely bonkers. I wanted to use the flowing shape of a speech bubble but add on a sharp, slim point with a slight curve to also demonstrate the personality of the word.
Underneath those two, we have decorative. I took a more literal approach with this one, going for a sample of vintage wallpaper, that has been stained a little over the years.
Fluid: in the middle is my interpretation of the word ‘fluid’. A lot went through my mind, mainly connotations of the body. My mum works on the dialysis unit in our local hospital back home, so the thought of the dialysis process in which blood is cleaned through pipes, popped into my head. Also, a woman’s water breaking, the process of swallowing water and blood rushing around the body came to mind too. I decided to follow my initial reaction, and illustrate the idea of a fluid traveling through a pipe; however there isn’t a clear start-point of the fluid therefore making it difficult to determine what kind of fluid it actually is, and there is and indefinite end.
Last but not least we have blotchy. I approached this word with the idea of introducing layers. I reached straight for the Blu-tac and began to blotch it about the page. I then crumpled up some paper and stuck that down too. Then I began to think some more.
B L O T C H Y
Its quite an ignorant word, isn’t it? When you’re blotchy, its just a waiting game for it to leave. A rash, a burn, a scar, a blood clot. Its a permanent word, it wont leave you smoothly. So I decided to use bright in-your-face colours, and I used a paintbrush to fan out the colour towards the ends to mimic a rash.
“Colour is your mark” – Chris Glynn