Thursday, October 26, 2006

"Drawing as a Verb"

Week 4 at Art School - p.2

Today's 2D studies title was "Drawing as a Verb". Uhuh, had all of us stumped as well. The tutor came round last week when we were doing our life drawings and gave us a list of things to bring, including LOTS of pens, paper plates and cups, tape of all descriptions, rubber bands, all kinds of other things, and last but not least, "an open mind"!

So we turn up with our supplies and are asked to team up in threes or fours. I get together with L and R (and later on we had A join us - she was a late comer, but was useful as our camera woman in the end). The tutor sat us all down, gave us some notes (1 & 2), and explained to us what we were going to do. He also showed us photos of some things that students had done in the previous year to give us an idea of the kind of activity needed. I'm not going to even ATTEMPT to explain it. If anyone reading this is interested, read the notes.

First though, we had to come up with some ideas. L, R and I all first made a list of our own ideas - then we shared our ideas with the each other. Once we'd gone through them all, we picked one idea that we liked from each of us, and did some preliminary tests.

  • R's idea that we liked was to use the door as a prop and see if we could incorporate something to the room door being opened and closed - ie let everybody else do our work for us!
  • L's idea was to have one person with drawing implements, one with the paper, and maybe another one somehow manipulating the person with the drawing implements to make marks.
  • My idea was to make some kind of box with markers arranged in a random manner through which you can feed a long piece of paper - the paper comes out the other end with marks (for any scientists out there, the idea is based on protein translation).

Then we sat down and reviewed the three test runs.
  • Door machine - lovely marks, but not much potential for expansion.
  • "Porn video" - seemed to have a lot of potential, and we had fun doing it.
  • Paper feed machine - lots of potential, but would take time, and several of the other groups were doing machines.
So, the decision was taken - we would go with L's "Porn Video" because it was the one that made us LAUGH the most :) . We worked through the idea to get it a bit more concrete, did a couple more test runs, and off we went! A had turned up by now and was put in charge of taking photos and filming so here is the making of our first masterpiece ...

L was drawing, I had the paper sheet, and R was "directing". We had to repeat the "performance" over 1 minute, 3 minute, 5 minute, 10 minute and 20 minute time periods - thus making 5 final pieces you see at the top of this entry. A video of the 1 minute one can be found here (right-click-save-as). The photographs don't do the pieces justice - they actually had a lovely quality. It was incredibly tiring, and WAY beyond most our comfort zones, but we had a laugh and "expanded our minds", and that's what was important. Some really beautiful pieces were produced in the class that day, but I doubt any of us are going to go down the "abstract performance art" route ...

Thank you to the team!

Project extension: to make a typed up and illustrated document which is basically an instruction sheet on how to do our activity. I will post it here when I've done mine.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Photography 2

Week 4 at Art School - p.1

Today was our second day of Photography workshops. Since the session last week, I managed to book myself an informal session at my old laboratory to take some photos of "scientific people and scientific stuff". And I'm really glad I did! One, it gave me a chance to go visit my old friends there (and find out that I've probably got a scientific publication coming out in my name of the work I did while I was there!), and I also got to take some photos, looking at things that I spent years of my life around, but seeing them in a COMPLETELY different light. I picked up my set of processed negatives and photos this morning and here's the contact sheet (click for a larger image):

The tutor then helped everyone pick out two pictures from their sets to print bigger versions of. She marched us all to the developing room and we all got assigned an individual "enlarger" to work with each. It was very similar to stuff I'd used in my lab before so I picked up the basics fairly quick - others took abit longer to get to grips with how it worked. We all then made several "test strips" on photographic paper - testing out different exposure times (to get the best brightness for the picture), and different filters (to get the best contrast). Here's a couple of mine:

Once we were happy with our choice of exposure time and filter, we made large prints of our chosen photos. Anh here's my final results (both exposed for 43 seconds, using filter 4.0):

Art and design history lecture today was "The arts and crafts movement" - William Morris and his friends were a very interesting group of people. I also need to look up John Ruskin and his thoughts about how the Victorians needed to get away from mass-manufacturing, and get back to craftsmanship and handmade things.

In other news, one of the other parttimers managed to convince one of the tutors to give us a quick overview of his "perspective drawing" project. As parttimers we don't get to do it - but several of us were interested so he agreed to quickly talk us through what he does with the fulltime students. "Quickly talk through" became an hour-and-a-quarter long fascinating talk! Here are some sketches I made during the talk:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Life Drawing

Week 3 at Art School - p.2

Finally! Some CLASSICAL style of drawing - today was life drawing day. I'm not going to say too much as I think most people know what life drawing is. Like I've mentioned before, I find drawing the human figure quite difficult, but by the end of the day I was really getting into it. As they say, 'practice, practice, practice'. In the morning we did "Proportion and Shape". Here are my drawings:

In the afternoon it was "Light and Space" and here are my results from that:

Right at the end we did a couple of 10 minute (by my watch it was more like 5 minutes!) drawings trying to be as free as possible. So these are the last drawings from the day:

Homework is to do one more line based drawing, and two more shade and form based drawings. Hmm... am going to have to find myself a willing volunteer to be a model!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Photography 1

Week 3 at Art School - p.1

Workshop today was photography. It was quite quick and consisted mainly of having depth-of-fields, F-stops and shutter speeds explained to us. We were given black and white film to play with - mainly because our tutor specialises in it, but also because there's less stuff to learn. Some people borrowed cameras from the college, but I had come prepared with The Flatmate's big and chunky Canon EOS-1. BEAUTIFUL camera - although slightly large for petite little me. The tutor brought in some lovely books of famous photographers work - and I realised that I had seen a lot of those already - how fortunate to live with a photographer!

We were sent off to spend the rest of the day to finish off a roll of 36 film, using the composition hints the tutor had given, and to try and photograph a theme of things, not just a random collection. Having used to live around the area, I went down to the canalside and took photos there. I've also organised to go visit my old lab on Monday so I can get a set of photographs of scientists doing science with scientific objects! We have to get the film developed by next week when we'll then pick a couple to print physically - can't wait! It'll be like being back in the lab! So, until next week, here's a drawing I did of The Flatmate's camera that what I borrowed.

Art and design history lecture today was "Victorian Tastes" - and MY, did they have eclectic ones!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Contact tree

Mithi's design project for the day has been the "Contact tree". Sunshine is currently busy writing a book about "contact juggling", and he wanted to have at the end a tree showing how the each of the moves and variations relate to one another. He's already had a bash at it, but considering how much ELSE he has on his plate now, he decided to give me a go at designing the graphics for it. Its not yet finished, but I think we've got something we're happy with in principle.

1. My initial ideas etc. Looked up some pictures on the web, and had a look through what Sunshine had already done. Eventually decided that as nice as it would be to have a tree (with leaves and fruit!), it didn't quite go with the asthetic of the book. Also, the format of the book meant we had to do it in two chunks (hence the "tree from the top spreading out both directions" sketch was also no-go. So I went with the first graphic.

2. Sunshine wanted to see a mock up so I started making something that looked more like what it would appear in the book (the thing at the top is Sunshine's tree that I was following).

3. The overlapping branches meant that I needed to put in a bit of shading to delineate the lines. We might eventually also do a complete gradation of grey in each section of line.

4. Did as much as I could before the grey marker started to run out ... Then I scanned one of the pages on the book, shrunk it down, printed it, and cut out little pictures which show each move. Sunshine is not convinced that it would work so small, so we might end up drawing some kind of icon for each one.

Anyways, we've decided the wide flag-like line works much better than the skinny one he had. His text boxes were also all sizes, so we're happier to have those little squares which make it all a bit more uniform (the text will go just outside the box, on the bottom right of it, inside the grey bit). Hopefully the next thing will be to try and edit his illustrator file and make it look a bit more like my drawing.

If anyone is interested, the idea for the graphic is a variation on this. It is a double page spread from the Penguin Book of the Natural World, 1976.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Exercise 1 Extension

This is what I've been working on all day - am not completely happy with it, but I had to call it quits after 8 hours of leaning over acrylics. This is homework from the first week's drawing exercise as explained at the bottom of this entry. Its actually 6 separate pieces (each A5 in size) that make up a full image, but each piece is also supposed to be standalone. It (pieces that are part of a whole) wasn't a requirement of the brief, but I quite liked the idea of a puzzle like painting so I went with that. I also spent a lot of time sketching out possible combinations of elements. Here's a couple of pages out of my sketchbook with my 'thoughts'.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

EDM Challenge #6 Childhood Toy

Ok so this ISN'T one of my childhood toys, but it is a children's toy. Sunshine actually bought it for about £3 from the junk shop near his old house a couple of years ago. He's an engineer and was completely taken by this lovely robot arm. Pretty much everyone who's visited and played with it has absolutely loved it. So I imagine that at one time in its lifetime is was someone's favourite childhood toy...

It took such a long time to draw that I gave up on colouring it! You'll also notice that as much as I tried to get it centered and scaled correctly, I still managed run out of space and had to snip off just a tiny bit on the top left. Oh well - keep learning ...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Developmental Drawings

Week 2 at Art School - p.2

Today was our second drawing session. I haven't got a brief for this so I'm going to try and explain it as I go along. Firstly the media - we were given black waterproof indian ink, and some pointy sticks to dip and draw with. I actually found this very difficult and struggled with the stick for quite a while before I began to get to grips with how to make marks without the stick dripping ink all over the place. So I appologise beforehand as I'm not very happy with the results (although both the tutor and Sunshine were!). Here's the final result anyways so you don't have to scroll all the way down to the end of the entry to see it:
Right, Chris, the tutor, came in with two sets of printed sheets with about 8 black and white pictures each (one sheet was horizontal pictures, the other vertical). We had to pick two of the pictures and draw them (either the whole picture or some part of it). I felt uninspired by any of the pictures, so picked the LEAST-inspiring ones (I'm such a sucker for punishment - and a challenge!). Here are my first two drawings (1st and 2nd above):

The the idea is to evolve from each of those to two new pictures. You were free to choose what inspired you - the actual subjects, the style of marks, whatever. I found that with the first picture I really liked the stripy bits on the hills, so worked mainly on that; and from the second picture I liked the effect of the shadows on the wall and how they look different when they interacted with different bits of wall, so I expanded on that. Here now are the 3rd (based on the 1st) and 4th (based on the 2nd) drawings:

Finally, the idea was to start integrating the two images - I only managed to do one drawing by the end of the day, which was mostly like my landscape one, with abit of the shadows one influencing it. If you look carefully you can make out some shadow shapes at the bottom of the hills. So here is the 5th integrated drawing:

Eventually I'd like to do a few more drawings with different levels of integration (the tutor said we could do as many intermediate drawings as we wanted). I was one of the few that actually got to picture 5. Most people spent a lot of time on the first two drawings - which is great because that gave them lots of material from which to expand into their next set of pictures. I probably spent the least amount of time on pictures 1 and 2 and the most amount of time on picture 5. The other thing I noticed was that several people had opted to zoom into bits of their drawings to get the next drawing. I quite liked that idea and may give it a go - will of course post my experimentation here.

I asked Chris what the purpose of the exercise was, and according to him it was
1) To get the students to try new tools for mark making (he knew most people hadn't tried using a stick before),
2) To get the students to discover new types of mark making - lines, dots, cross hatching, and variations on those and others, and
3) To get used to the idea of expanding our work. ie To not just do a picture of something and finish there, but to try and use that drawing to bring on further ideas and projects.

Project extension - to make another drawing based on these and try and make somekind of 3D thing with it - for example get the drawings on the sides of a box, or the drawing folded up in a fan shape so it would stand upright.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ceramics 2

Week 2 at Art School - p.1

Today was our second session in the ceramics studio. I had also gone in for a couple of hours yesterday to do some "experimenting" with dipping things in slip (liquid clay). The gist of what I learnt was that slip shrinks as it dries, and if you try and cover waxy, non-absorbant stuff with it, it either simply slides off, or cracks as it dries. Bummer. The trouble is, it is not always obvious what things are NOT non-abosorbant. Anyways, we all brought in lots of different things to dip, so it will be a collective learning experience.

Here are some of the things I made and experimented with (pre-firing):

And here is a picture of me "slip-trailing" some tiles I made based on the drawing exercise from last week.

This stuff needs to be left to dry and will go in the kiln for "biscuit firing" next week. I will edit this entry later with a picture of the stuff that survived!

A couple of books on ceramics found in the library that I liked:
1)The Ceramic Process, by Anton Reijnders (ISBN: 0-8122-3932-6) and
2)Ceramics and Print (2nd Ed.), by Paul Scott (ISBN: 0-8122-1800 0)

Art and design history lecture today was "The Impact of Industrialisation".

Monday, October 09, 2006

EDM Challenge #1 Shoes

Being part of the Every Day Matters Yahoo Group I thought I should actually try and start doing the challenges. So here's number one, Draw a shoe (or a pair of shoes in my case).

Our neightbour Z came round the other day to try and sell off some of her old shoes. This is one of her pairs.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Drawing Towards Design"

Week 1 at Art School - p.2

Gosh, This was SUCH an intense day. We were drawing non-stop for about two hours - break - another two and a half hours. I could hardly make coherent sentences after - it was a GREAT experience though. Really opened up my mind.

Here's what we did:
First, 16 little quick line drawings of a pen cap, and another 16 of a chilli pepper (inside and out).

Next, 64 very quick (10-15 seconds) drawings based on these 16. Using the formal methods of Exaggerating, Distorting, Simplifying, Enlarging, Reducing, Repeating, Rotating, Combining, Cross-referencing, Layering. The first set are based on the pen cap, and the second set are based on the chilli pepper.

Lunch break. Then, analyse the two sets of 64 drawings, and use the formal methods again to make a single set of 32 new drawings. This time we were allowed to combine the pen and chilli derived information. After the 32, refine (still using the formal methods) to 16.

Then, doing similar but paying more attention to layout, negative spaces, blocking out spaces etc, reduce to 8. And FINALLY refine and reduce to 4 final "complete" drawings.

If anyone is interested, the brief is here. As homework I have a project extension which is to take four to five elements from these completed drawings, use the formal methods and then to produce six A5 sized colour paintings. PHEW!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ceramics 1

Week 1 at Art School - p.1

Wow, what an inspiring day its been. I've started my art foundation course!

Today our group of 15 were in the ceramics studio. WONDERFUL! I like ceramics, but have never been really inspired to actually make anything out of clay. I was SOOOOO inspired today though - even got a ceramics book out of the library to get ideas for small projects. We learnt about clay, slip casting and making plaster of paris. This explaining of all the methods took a while and so we only had a couple of hours in the end to PLAY. But we did. And we have another full day in the ceramics studio next week, so I'll update with pictures of stuff I've experimented with and made, then.