Having experimented with different ways of capturing movement I decided that I wanted to use the technique of adding clear gesso to produce some textual drag lines and then work over these with a time-lapse type set of poses in a soft fugitive medium. I decided to work in charcoal rather than pastel as I find that this allows more reworking and more conducive to a removal technique. The soft edges that charcoal provides also lends itself to soft outlines of the body in movement. My preparation studies for this drawing is outlined in my previous blog post.
I used an A2 piece of heavyweight cartridge paper and applied a couple of random sweeps of clear gesso onto the middle section using a wide wallpaper paste brush. I kept to the middle section of the paper as I didn’t want to over do the background effects. My idea was that the lines that would show up with charcoal would indicate the movement of the jump and so I didn’t want them at the beginning nor at the end. Once the gesso was dry I rubbed charcoal over the whole paper to reveal the patterns. I was quite pleased that I had managed to get a lovely clear up-sweep of gesso in the centre of the page, which would follow the line of the jump. Around it, there were some interesting lines of a more random nature. Using the base of the upward sweep of lines as the starting point of the actual jump I started to plot onto the paper in charcoal the first two poses: the initial run-up point of contact and the start of the jump off phases. In order to get the limb positions into believable movement poses I found that I had to draw on each image separately and then remove and rework lines over the top for the next pose.
My photos were taken looking up at the sky which had the effect shortening the exposure such that all of my models were in shadow. Copying this was not going to make for a successful tonal drawing so I chose to draw light coming from behind the left hand side of the viewer.
Once I had a clear representation of the relative height of the first two poses I added in the third of the series, the point of take off for the jump itself. The model still has the toes of the take-off foot on the ground so there is quite a bit of overlap for this image and the previous one. However the leading leg is raised along the line of the gesso in way that suggests drag lines. This was the effect I was hoping for, a sense of quick movement up through the air.
Finally I added the flight phase of the jump to complete the series. I regretted that I had started a bit too big and that drawing the arms in the positions of my reference photos meant that one ran off the page. Having got this far, I left the drawing for a few days, unseen in the hope that my subconsciousness would work on the problem.
On returning to the drawing I instantly realised that I had created two poses both with the left arm in almost identical positions (and both running off the page) which doesn’t lend to a strong composition. Clearly I needed to alter an arm position but the problem was which one. Moving the arm in the flight pose may have made the final pose more solid but I could not have avoided drawing over the face of the preceding pose. Whilst the flight phase is the end product of the jump I feel that it is the take off pose that actually gives the drawing its momentum and obscuring the face would detract from that. Thus I decided to alter the arm pose of that take off phase. This had the added advantage of the arm sequence continuing in one direction (upward, along with the jump).
The finished drawing
I think this drawing displays a believable sequence of a jump. I am pleased with my choice of media. The upward sweep of gesso adds a sense of movement in an upward direction. There are odd areas of high charcoal density where is has collected on the gesso. I have mostly been able to use these to darken shadow areas, adding interest by deepening the contrast of the tones. The fugitive nature of the charcoal has enabled me to add marks to the figures and the background to maintain atmosphere. I have used a putty rubber to remove marks to add to this. There is a softness to the figures. The viewer’s eye is drawn to the figures and tends to follow the gesso line upwards. On reaching the point of the jump the eye follows the faint charcoal arc down the left hand side back into the drawing again and across the front of the bench. After that the erased arc on the right hand side draws your eye up again into the jump for the process to be repeated. Comparing this drawing to my ballet dancer series, I find this to be more successful. There is a looseness about this drawing not evident in the ballet dancers. The movement and energy is evident across the whole drawing here, where as the ballet dancer was more static and any energy or movement very much a consequence of the background only. This drawing works as a whole.
In my previous blog post ‘Anatomy of movement’ I stated that to depict movement in a drawing the characteristics explosive, energetic, muscle power and directional must be shown.
Explosive: The sequence depicts a jump which inherently is an explosive movement however in this particular drawing it is the incorporation of the third pose (just before take of) that really shows the explosive nature of the jump.
Energetic: In this drawing I think it is the time-lapse sequence itself that conveys the most energy. The poses were chosen for their limb and torso angles, they show a body undertaking an energetic movement. This has been coupled with textural, directional lines that add energy to the image as well as atmosphere.
Muscle power: These figures are fully clothed and so active muscle groups are not on display to show the power being used for this movement. Rather I feel that it is pose 1 that conveys a sense of the effort needed for the jump. Specifically it is the angle of the torso, the figure is really leaning into the task of leaping up onto the block. The limbs are rotating believable around their joint centres in a way that counter balances the movements of the torso.
Direction: The jump has a linear direction to it, jumping across and out at the viewer. The limbs also have rotational direction associated with them. The arms and legs rotate around the shoulder and hips bringing a sense of balance to the series of poses.
Areas to be improved
Most obviously it would have been better to use an A1 piece of paper and thus not cut the hand of the final figure off! I could also have drawn each pose smaller to the same effect but I think I would have struggled with some of the detail in the faces and hands if I had done this. maybe I should have left off the facial detail entirely. I did struggle with them and they do look a little flat compared to the rest of the picture. Are they entirely necessary? Possibly not, after all the drawing is about the movement not the detail of the people.
I don’t think that I have got the orientation of the final pose quite right, the torso and head are turned away from the viewer slightly too. It would have been better for this figure to be leaping out towards the viewer a little more. As such at times, pose 3 seems to be in front of the last pose. There are two reasons for this error, firstly my photos were taken with the jumper leaping off the bench in this direction and secondly my interpretation and compensation for this directional difference was not as good as it could have been.
Whilst there are areas of contrast throughout this drawing it was extremely difficult to keep the paper completely fresh and it is always more difficult to get a lovely bright white once you start erasing the charcoal. The highlights could be slightly stronger if I hadn’t had to rework so many areas in the execution of the drawing.
The time-lapse sequence works and I feel there is just the right amount of overlap between the poses. However it may have been better to have found a technique by which the first three poses were lighter than the last one. This would have the effect of drawing the eye to the final leap but also give the impression of time passing by the memory of the preceding images fading. This would have been extremely difficult to achieve in charcoal at this scale, I would struggle to find enough tones to produce convincing poses. A more mixed media approach may have helped this.
Sadly, I am disappointed with myself for the work I have produced for the whole of this assignment. With possibly the exception of the drawing on this page I don’t feel that any of the work I have produced for this assignment is of the same quality as my previous assignment/coursework. I have tried new ideas in this part (for instance light drawing and kinetic drawing) but my experimental work and studies for the larger pieces seem to fall flat. Even though I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do, I think without the direction of the specific exercises I floundered a little. I struggled massively for time too which didn’t help as there were long periods when I was not able to draw. Consequently I found myself under pressure of time passing which just made things worse and I grew frustrated when things were not working out as I would have hoped. In previous parts of the course some of my best work has been experimental and quick! My studies for this project mostly just look rushed, a subtle but important difference. It was hard to put together my best pieces for my tutor. What do you do when you don’t have any ‘best’?
It wasn’t all bad however, I did find myself enthralled with the way pastel created whorls on paper and acted as an optical illusion in a slightly hypnotic way. It is why I ended up doing so many in that style. A little formulaic perhaps, but the bright colours and satisfying marks did lift me out of the doldrums for a bit! I found I wanted to do a yellow one, then a blue one then a purple one and so on, the colour very much became the driving force for producing more drawings but it doesn’t really lend itself to the project as a whole. I was using it for the wrong reasons and I had to make myself stop so that I could progress with my project! I also found the light drawings exhilarating and quite addictive. I could have spent all night drawing in the night sky. Partly they were successful because I could do lots, then pick the ones that worked!
Do I feel I progressed over this part of the course? Overall I think I did, even if it is from learning from my errors and disappointments mentioned above. I certainly have ended with a greater artistic understanding of what movement in a drawing may mean and how it may be conveyed thorough different techniques. Whilst I may be expressing disappointment with much of my work I do feel I managed to demonstrate those techniques in my charcoal drawing of the jump.