Exploring Klecksography

Having read about Klecksography all those months ago, I just had to have a go myself. I remember doing ink blots as a child and showing my own children how to do them, but hadn’t really ever turned them into other drawings.

First I tried the standard art of dropping some ink of different colours onto an A2 sheet of paper, then folding in half and smoothing down. When using paint I remember that the viscous nature of paint produced wonderfully veins on the surface where the paint parted. This doesn’t happen with ink, however the colours do blend beautifully. Here are two that I subsequently drew on with pigment pen liners.

Sheep Skull
Sheep Skull
Classic butterfly
Classic butterfly

Other interesting patterns that I will make into other insects at some point include the following.

 

I then tried making ink blots by placing another piece of paper over the one with the ink on, rather than folding the paper in half. This gets rid of the crease but you do lose the symmetry (although you do gain a mirror image on the second sheet). I went a bit over the top with these, and tended to use a lot of black ink. One I developed into an image of my dog for a previously published post for part 2, project 5.

Alys in mixed media
Alys in mixed media

Others (a select of the many is shown below),  I have yet to turn into drawings. I am not sure what I see in them so am keeping for future inspiration.

The last experiment that I did was to lay some wet sheets of paper underneath a vase of Oriental Lilies that I happen to have on the table. The Lilies were just at the point of dying and the petals had started to fall along with the anthers covered in bright yellow pollen. Knowing how the pollen stains everything a sunset yellow I thought I would capture it where it fell and use the resulting accidental marks. However,  the results were really boring The pollen did stain the paper, but not a vivid colour the way it stains cloths or the table!!! The result is rather a mess, but you never know when it may come in handy!! Interestingly the camera has picked up a faint pink tinge that isnt’ really visible when viewed directly!pollen stain

 

 

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Exploring Klecksography

Klecksography

Who would have thought it, the art of making a humble ink-blot painting has a name – Klecksography. My tutor suggested that I look at ways in which Victor Hugo and Alexander Cozens used the ‘accidental marks’ to invent compositions. This I did several months ago but appear not to have written anything about it (until now!)

It seems that Cozens produced a wide variety of landscapes based on instantaneous blot paintings using ink that had been drip,thrown or splashed onto a page and a landscape fashioned out of the result. He used the technique to invent compositions. They are amazingly effective. http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/cozens-11-objects-or-groups-of-objects-placed-alternately-on-both-hands-gradually-retiring-t11458

Victor Hugo seems to have been less discerning using just about anything that stained a surface to create marks which he then turned into more dark surreal drawings, such as his Octopus (licensed by creative commons). Others are more indistinct ink blots formed from folded paper producing symmetrical shapes

 http://www.matisse.lettres.free.fr/rubriqueleves/marionhugo/pliages.htm

Victor Hugo Octopus
Victor Hugo Octopus

Justinus Kerner practised the art of klecksographie. In the late 1870’s he used smudges on letters to ‘doodled’ on creating little creatures, real or imagined. I love these. 575px-KernerKlecksographie 296px-Kerner_Kleksographien_07

There is a real entomological beauty about some of his work. Check out others here: http://www.theinkblotbook.com/552/justinus-kerner/

Reference

Turner, C (2011) ‘The Deliberate Accident of Art’ Tate etc. issue 21 http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/deliberate-accident-art

Klecksography

Project 6 Exercise 5 Mixed Media

The Aim

Assemble a range of drawing media including coloured media. Glance through the studies you’ve made so far and notice which have been most successful in terms of pictorial effect. Work either from direct observation of your interior view or from one of your exercise studies. Try mixing media you are less familiar with and experiment with several studies of the subject, looking at it from  different viewpoints.

This exercise is more about experimentation than accuracy, so let elements of abstraction or distortion enter to help you to express your subject.

The process

Given the general drawing limitations I am experiencing through the school holidays i though I would try drawing from one of my previous studies. I chose a view of 2 sofas coming together simply because I had written underneath ‘I enjoyed this’. All my sketches are on A3 cartridge paper in a spiral bound sketchbook.

Living room 2
Living room 2

The drawing I think has some pictorial effect simply because of the loose nature of the lines of the textiles in the image. The charcoal is quite expressive and the softness of the sofas and cushions contrast with the harder lines of the table football and the wooden chest behind. I was interested to see if I could reproduce this in different media.

Using this sketch as a reference point, I tried drawing the sofas in pigment pen liners with the cushions in water-soluble wax crayons, neither material having had much use in my hands before (Cushions 1).

Cushions 1
Cushions 1

The trouble was that the original looseness of the textiles was lost. The negative spaces that defined the relationship between the cushions and the sofas was lost. The resulting drawing of the furniture was very flat. I tried to add the hard lines of the table football and chest behind. I think that I show than they are made of different materials, but I am afraid I had completely lost heart with this drawing by this point and the wooden structures ended up looking like they have been superimposed into the composition!  I added further colour to the cushions with water-soluble wax crayons dipped in water, really only to allow this to become a mixed media study. I then cut my losses and abandoned the idea of using a previous drawing as a reference point, reverting to drawing from the real view instead.

For my second attempt (Cushions 2) the table football was in use, so I added an Indian drum to the scene as a point of interest instead. I had quite enjoyed experimenting with an ink wash in the previous exercise so decided to give it another go here. I drew the scene in black fine drawing pen. I then added white oil pastel to areas of highlights on the curtains, and parts of the sofas and cushions. I then brushed over the sketch with an indigo ink wash using a large mop brush. I dropped further undiluted indigo ink into the shadows. I then added colour to the drum and cushions using water-soluble wax crayons. Finally I blended the colours using a brush and water.

Cushions 2
Cushions 2

The indigo ink is apparently the real, plant-based thing and was much paler than I expected. I do however like the effect of it over the oil pastel, especially on the left hand sofa cushion. It has added texture to the area suggestive of textile.

Cushions 2 detail
Cushions 2 detail

 The drum didn’t work, partly because I drew it wrong and was unable to correct it (and for some reason blocked the shadow space in with a line!!) I think it may have worked if it had been in muted tones like the rest of the room, leaving the colour accents of the cushions to stand out. As it is the colours are too busy and conflict with those of the cushions!

For my third attempt (Cushions 3) I drew a few guide-lines in with charcoal then flooded the page with water using a mop brush. I then blocked in areas of shadow using an Artbar (which appears to be very much like a water-soluble wax crayon but in a triangular shape (end on)).

Cushions 3
Cushions 3

The Artbar was quite good at drawing broad lines when using one edge and glided over wet paper. However it seemed to soak the water up so that very quickly I was dragging a dry Artbar across the page. In areas this created interesting differences in textures, but in other areas I had to re-wet the page to get the flow going again. Often drag lines were left which didn’t really do anything for this drawing. Once I had blocked in the main areas, I darkened the deep tones using the same technique before drawing over the whole lot with charcoal. This allowed me to find some edges along the sofa arms and the side of the drum. I simplified the colours of the drum so that they weren’t in conflict with the cushions. The result was certainly an experimental drawing!

For my final sketch (Cushions 4) aware that the brief suggests changing view-point, I moved myself around a little so that the drum was less central in the page. I kept myself at the same height (sitting on a coffee table) as going any higher resulted in a lot of empty wall space, and going lower caused the edges of the sofas to be quite large and dominating. In addition I decided to use a landscape format. The course notes suggest this promotes a more intimate feeling to a drawing which seemed applicable for sofas.

Cushions 4
Cushions 4

I drew reference lines with a fine black drawing pen, then used coloured pencils for the drum, to try to reduce the gaudiness seen in Cushions 2. I drew some grain type lines on the chest with white oil pastel, then coloured the cushions in with felt tipped pens. I then took a mop brush and wet parts of the sofa that were in shadow with water. I then sprinkled grated tinted graphite over these areas in the hope this would look like a textured material sofa. I used a brown wash to colour the chest, then dropped a mix of blue and brown ink into the deep shadow areas. This mixed with the graphite and water to produce a strong greeny colour that did go a bit messy in places. To compensate I darkened a few of the deep shadows with a black felt-tipped pen and the drawing pen but was very conscious of overworking it. The result was certainly an experimental mixed media sketch rather than anything overly accurate.

Reflections

I have really struggled with this project 6 on the whole so I am very pleased to have finally got to the end of it way, way over my suggested deadline (and still the assignment to go). It was good to experiment in this exercise. I particularly like the use of powdered (or grated in my case) graphite to produce texture. Controlling the tones with it will take some practice as adding more water causes the grains to dissolve into a paint and you lose the granulation effect. The composition was better with the drum not so prominent, although I am aware that non of these sketches depicted it very well. The landscape format was better too. Whilst these drawings aren’t particularly good, I did fulfil the brief of using combinations of materials that I would not have thought of, including using some new media. I definitely was experiment so am happy to have been able to move out of my comfort zone.

 

Project 6 Exercise 5 Mixed Media

Project 6 Exercise 4 Line and Wash

The Aim

Select a range of media. Warm up by drawing a continuous line in different media without looking at the page. Work on creating interesting tones by using just one or two colours mixed as a wash. For the lightest areas you could try a wax resist technique using a light coloured oil pastel. Experiment and enjoy the freedom of drawing loosely with wet and dry materials

The Process

I found the instructions for this exercise a little vague, but having looked at the blogs of several other students (showing a huge variety of interpretations) I decided that the best thing to do was to follow the last instruction and experiment and enjoy myself. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to do washes over my ‘without’ looking drawings or not, in the end I decided not to. I wasn’t able to use an easel for this exercise so I balanced my sketchbook on a chair and sat in front of it.  I chose a different view for this exercise, one from the kitchen (a light room) into a darker laundry that had odd bits of light coming in from a small (shadowed) window. My warm up drawing in pen was very messy (made worse by subsequent drawings transferring oil pastel onto it).

I tried again in oil pastel, but due to my position (balancing sketchbook in front of me) I found my self looking, so in the this was a bit of looking and a bit of not. I found oil pastel not to be particularly useful at drawing line in this context. It was too chunky and clumsy,

The same looking problem occurred with my quick drawing in pencil. Short of actually shutting my eyes it was very hard not to see the paper so I wasn’t very good at this part of the exercise.

For my line and wash study I drew the scene in india ink and dip pen. I put in the some of the darkest areas with ink although I tried to stop myself over doing this. My preliminary sketches had shown me that little bits of light on the washing and the line were very important, so following the idea in the course notes I used a white oil pastel to draw in selected highlights on the washing, and a grey oil pastel for the washing line. I used diluted Windsor and Newton ink (ultramarine) and a mop type brush to wash over the area. I then applied a second layer to more dark areas, before finally dropping in undiluted ink to the very dark areas.

The results

Laundry - line and wash
Laundry – line and wash

The oil pastel did preserve the highlights but not as much as I thought it would. I let the ink run where it pooled and splashed a little. These areas created some interesting tones and on the whole I am quite pleased with the result. There are lots of errors, but it is a study rather than a finished drawing.

Reflections

I haven’t really used line and wash before so it was good to experiment and as suggested I did enjoy myself! I am quite pleased that I allowed the ‘happy accidents’ to happen. I think I am used to controlling the line and shade (especially with charcoal) in my drawing so that using a wet medium such as a wash which is a little unpredictable took me out of my comfort zone but I found that I didn’t mind. Maybe that is progress. I certain would like to try to use a wash over a drawing again.

 

Project 6 Exercise 4 Line and Wash

Project 6 Research Point: Interiors

One of my favourite interiors that I can across whilst researching this subject was untitled drawing by Basil Beattie (2002). This very simple acrylic on paper depicts (to me at least) a architech-type side view of a dwelling of sorts, accessed by ladder. I love the simple lines that allow the eye to wander through this ‘house’ exploring different rooms. This style contrasts beautifully with the more classic form of interiors depicted by Richard Artschwager in ‘Interior‘. Here Artschwager shows detail of very elegant living in a Regency style house. The drama in these images is provided by the bold negative shapes created by the furniture and the sense of journey through the room. The images work as a pair, one continuing from the other, so again you eye wanders back and forth between the two and stretches into the next room visible though the door on the right. There is very cleaver use of colour in these screen prints, with a single yellow tone used sparingly.

Francis Bacon uses very sparse interior settings for his distorted human figures. In his ‘Figure in Grey Interior” there is no detail to the wall area, however, the figures on the sofa are set in their interior space by the use of a curved sweeping line of the sofa which is mirrored on the floor. Bacon uses this curved line in several images to anchor his subjects in an interior space.

Richard Hamilton’s now iconic 1992 image of ‘Just what is it that today’s homes so different?’  uses stark imagery to get across his ideas. Perspective (and thus positioning of objects) is very important and distorted. This gives a sense of unease to the imagery. This work is a digital remake of an image Hamilton previously made in the 1950s ‘Just what is it that makes today’s homes so different, so appealing?” In each case (the original and the remake) Hamilton has filled his house with objects important to the period in which they were made for instance, the 1992 image has many references to the digital age, including circuit board wall paper. Current affairs are also addressed, with the 1992 image depicting a bust of Margaret Thatcher and scenes of war apparent through the windows.

Roy Lichtenstein made a series of interior paintings in the 1990’s such as ‘Interior with Waterlilies’ (1991). The paintings are very basic in their features,  with typically bold outlines and blocks of colour associated with pop-art. To me these images are quite sterile. I find no emotion attached to them and hence find it difficult to say something about them!  I think it is the lack of tonal variation that causes me to think this way. I much prefer to look at something less regimented such as ‘Sketch of a family at a meal, seated around a table‘ by Josef Herman (date unknown). Although still simple in its design and execution, the range of tonal values allows the eye to roam the image and engage with some emotion. For me it s feeling of contentment looking at this image, a feeling that the family is acting as a unit and enjoying each others company.

Project 6 Research Point: Interiors

Project 6 Exercise 3 Tonal Study

The Aim

Chose your view-point based on the previous exercise. Work on a large-scale (A1/A2) using a soft medium like charcoal, soft pencil, conte or pastel to produce a tonal study.

The process

Reviewing the last exercise I decided that I wanted to have a fairly low view-point for my study but not as far down as seated on the floor. I also decided to follow a portrait format to allow the height and the drama of the stair head to come across. However to get this view without the sideboard completely dominating the scene I had to position myself on a low stool right up against the kitchen door frame. My view ahead was clear, but there was no room to put my drawing board (let alone an easel) as the there is another wall directly to the left of all my pictures with all the coats and shoes stacked against it. My only option for the view that I wanted was to take a photograph of the scene and work from that. This had the added advantage of capturing the light at a moment that I wanted: steaming in from the front door and window. In addition it meant I could tuck myself away in a corner in the evening to work on the study. I am fast discovering that trying to draw in the school holidays when I have no space to call a ‘studio’ is nigh impossible. As I am so far behind with this part of the course I felt all these reasons justified my use of photographs. Not sure how that will be received, but I have seen blog posts by other students that have used photographs so hopefully all is well.

I worked on A2 drawing paper with willow charcoal and a putty eraser.

The result

Buddha in hallway final
‘Buddha in Hall’ in charcoal

Reflections

I am quite pleased with the result. I wish I could have done it on A1 size paper (didn’t have any) as it was difficult to deal with the tones on the wooden statue when small (and I don’t think that it necessarily looks like wood). It certainly is shiny which comes across. I particularly like the play of the light on the banisters and the wall of the stair case. The light on the sideboard was complicated by additional light coming in the hall from the kitchen behind me. In retrospect it may have been better to have darkened the tones on the nearest end of the sideboard as if it wasn’t in some light. Some tonal gradations haven’t quite worked, the junction between the right hand cupboard and draw is too dark. Also on the back wall, there is a point where a wall shadow ends too abruptly (behind a bannister rail). In reality there was a more gradual transition. The recesses on the sideboard are another area that could be improved. I actually had a lovely tonal gradation at one point that just wasn’t quite dark enough. In trying to rectify this I made a mess and  now it just looks scratchy. This was a difficult study to do, lots of small vertical lines alternating dark and light! Again a larger study would have made this easier. I did discover that it was very hard to draw long straight lines! I have a tendency to draw to the right as can be seen with some of my bannister rails!! The back edge of the sideboard is also not quite right and appear a bit disjointed. This in part is due to there being a radiator behind the nearest end which I elected to leave out. However I negated to compensate for this at the other end – a good learning point!

The best thing I like about the study is the fact that it makes my house look clean and uncluttered and has a rather false sense of openness to it. If I could ascribe any emotion to this view apart from my fondness for the statue of Buddha, it would be wistfulness! I would love to live here!

Project 6 Exercise 3 Tonal Study

Project 6 Exercise 2 Composition – an interior

The Aim

Choose a view from exercise 1. Explore in 4 quick sketches differing view points and differing paper orientation

The process

I choose my sketch of the hallway. I like the journey of a room at the back (the study), a staircase and the focal point being a wooden statue of Buddha on the sideboard presiding over the whole scene! It is worth noting that whilst Buddha has no religious significance for me, I inherited this statue from an elderly relative and thus I have an emotional attachment to him stemming from my childhood – we used to try to rub his tummy without laughing, something that as kids we found extremely difficult to do. I love the fact that he now lives in my hallway and greets everyone with his effervescent smile.

Hallway
Hallway

This ‘Hallway’ sketch from exercise 1 is quite detailed and took a while. However, my sketches for this exercise were much quicker, being more interested in the composition. I removed the stand of floor ball sticks. I think they add something to this whole interior view, but I wanted to develop Buddha standing in his domain. I did have to be careful that my quick sketches of the statue did not turn into wacky versions of Homer Simpson!

The images below are my 4 sketches. All were done in charcoal pencil in an A3 sketchbook

The room that leads off the hall in the original sketch was as it is, with a window visible through the doorway. I decided that these light tones didn’t really add much to the picture, rather complicating it with lots of vertical lines. I simplified the issue by drawing the curtains, making the room appear much darker than the hall. The dark tonal value helped pick out the foreground in places, most notably in Buddha 2 and 3. I think all these sketches have something going for them. Buddha 1 is quite a close up, drawn whilst standing up. I like it as a still life but it is more about the statue than it is as an interior. I love the drama and sense of journey in Buddha 2, drawn whilst sitting on the floor. The stair-head provides an extra dimension to the drawing, as does the dark room behind (as previously mentioned). My only issue with this drawing is that from the floor the front of the sideboard is large and imposing, and quite boring. Buddha 3 done in landscape format does what the course notes suggest, offers a sense of intimacy. However, in this format I miss the drama that the stair-head provides. In Buddha 4 I tried the idea suggested by the course notes that objects could be ‘cut off’. I like the fact that Buddha is only partially visible, but unfortunately i don’t think quite enough of him si. WIthout his face at least, the main focus of this drawing becomes the jumble of coats on the back wall, all in shadow. the sense of depth provided by the dark study leading off the hall is also missing which lends to a weaker composition.

The result

I am drawn to the idea of developing Buddha 2 more. I like the portrait format with the stair-head visible leading the eye on a journey up to the first floor. I think that sitting on the floor is too low however, as the boring sideboard is quite dominant. I would like to develop this view but maybe from a low stool so the view-point is somewhere between Buddha 2 and Buddha 3.

Project 6 Exercise 2 Composition – an interior

Project 6 At Home, Exercise 1 Quick sketches around the house

The Aim

Work your way around the house sketching 4 quick sketches in each room. Use a variety of materials. Look at all your drawings carefully. Which are the strongest and why? Which drawings did you enjoy the most? Which area in the which room do you want to study further? Use this exercise both as practice in fast observational drawing and to locate the area that you’ll study in greater details in the following exercises.

The Process

This exercise has taken me weeks to complete and definitely comes in two parts, pre-holiday sketches and post-holiday sketches. Pre-holiday I was desperately trying to get the end of this whole section before going away and had hurried through a couple of exercises in the previous topic. Reaching this exercise was like hitting a brick wall. I found that my ‘quick’ sketches were taking about an hour each. With 4 per room to do, there was no way I was going to get anything completed this year!! So I stopped, went away for 3 weeks, came back, waited another week, took a deep breath and finally was brave enough to continue from where I had left off. This time I was more relaxed and found I could do quicker sketches and (as the brief said) didn’t get bogged in detail. I didn’t always sketch the whole view rather concentrate on interesting parts. I even managed to try a variety of materials. Some areas of our house are rather pokey and I wasn’t able to get 4 images of each space on all occasions.

The Results

Kitchen and Hallway in drawing pen (pre-holiday)
Living Room in charcoal pencil (post holiday)
Study in conte crayon and charcoal pencil
Upstairs Landing in compressed charcoal

Which are the strongest sketches and why?

Of the ‘whole’ wall views I think kitchen 1 and 3, hallway, and landing 1 are the strongest sketches. They all have a sense of journey about them. All but kitchen 1 have open doors that you can just see through drawing you in. In kitchen one it is the perspective of the ‘dead end’ that draws your eye in  (even if only to the kitchen sink!!) This sense of journey adds the illusion of depth to the images. Whilst I quite like kitchen 4, it doesn’t really have this sense of depth even if it does have lots of quirky angles. Kitchen 2 is just plain dull.

Of the ‘partial’ wall views, I think the strongest sketches have the more unusual viewpoints, for instance study 1 and 2.  Here strong diagonals lend a sense of depth to the image and draw your eye to the rest of the drawing. This was rather serendipitous as the room is very small. I was sitting on a swivel chair in the middle and was close enough to the ends of the room that I couldn’t see the floor and the ceiling in one view so ended up looking down on the surfaces. This diagonal leading line also occurs in landing 2 but unfortunately in this image there is no where for your eye to go!. For this drawing I knelt down with my sketchbook flat on the floor. I really like the viewpoint of this image, but if I developed it any further I would have to alter my position to allow more of a journey to be taken by the eye.

Which did you enjoy drawing?

I have to say that whilst I am happy with several of the resulting drawings, I didn’t enjoy the process of this exercise much. The images with a sense of journey were definitely more exciting to draw as were the interesting perspectives. I found the clutter of my house really hard to deal with, mostly it is not in the images!! I am amazed at what I can see through.

 

Project 6 At Home, Exercise 1 Quick sketches around the house

Project 5 Exercise 4 Using source material

The aim

The aim of this exercise is to start with a found image but then build on it to create something more personal. Find scientific and biological sources for animal anatomy; look for images that clearly show the mechanics of different animal’s bodies. Copy interesting images loosely, but make them into something more than a replica of someone else’s work by adding your own touches. Think about the parts that make up the whole, and about movement and stillness, emotion and detachment.

Use your compositional skills to position the subject within a believable scenario or space. Think about negative and positive space, measuring, gestural and expressive line to help you create more interesting drawings.

The process

I decided that I wanted to draw something based on the anatomy of the horse. As a biomechanist I am very interested in mammalian locomotion and spend many years researching the mechanical properties of tendons and their roles as biological springs. I decided I wanted to add these mechanical devices to a drawing of a live animal. My found image had to be of quite a specific pose: I wanted an image that showed a horse galloping at the point of set down of one back leg. This is not the way horses are depicted in anatomy books so I resorted to searching the internet for found photographs. I found one image suitable for my needs – ‘Silver Horse’ from http://miriadna.com/preview/silver-horse a site that allows you to download this image for use as a computer wallpaper. I reversed this found image so the horse was moving from right to left. Using a large (a bit bigger than A2) beige pastel paper I made a pencil sketch of the outline of the horse with very slight shading to show the main limb muscles evident in this pose. I used Skerritt and McLelland (1984) as a reference text to work out important landmarks : bones, muscles and tendons on my image. (I ended up altering the right foreleg hoof after this photo was taken. I had heard hooves were very difficult to draw – they most certainly are!)

Once the pencil drawing was done I set about adding three detailed parts to my drawing using coloured pencil in a way that I hoped would look like I had stripped away some of the skin to see inside:

Firstly I drew in the large hindlimb muscle the biceps femoris (part of the hamstring group). Its main (but not exclusive) actions are to flex the hip and stifle and it provides much of the power in a galloping horse. I used a red/brown coloured pencil to draw represent directional lines of muscle fibres of this fan-shaped muscle.

Secondly I ‘stripped’ away the skin over the left hind cannon bone and added a spring in coloured pencil, overlayed by conte crayon. The tendons from the deep-digital flexor muscles situated higher up the leg are arranged in such as way as to act as springs during locomotion. As the foot is placed on the ground the tendons are stretched and put under great tension. When unloaded the tendons recoil in a manner similar to an elastic band. I thought that the stretching of an elastic band would be hard depict here, however, energy is conserved in a way similar to that conserved with the recoil of a compressed spring of a child’s pogo stick. As the scientific community refers to tendons that act in this way as biological springs,  I decided to show this energy conservation mechanism as a coiled spring.

Thirdly, I added a spring at the position of the biceps brachii on the fused radius/ulna of the foreleg. This spring acts in a slightly different way to that found in the hindlimb. Rather than storing elastic strain energy that is returned to reduce the cost of locomotion, this spring stores energy and releases it is away that allows a horse to move its legs faster. As a horse is galloping the muscle and its associated connective tissues are stretched as the leg is straightened and is load-bearing. Contraction of the biceps brachii is important in flexing the elbow joint which enables the limb to be drawn up and forward in preparation for the next stride. When a horse is travelling at speed however, the muscle on its own can not contract fast enough to cycle the limb through the air in time for the next stride. The recoil of the spring provided by the stretched tendons and connective tissues associated with the muscle act as a catapult, propelling the leg upwards and forwards enabling the horse to cycle its legs faster than it would if relying on muscle contraction alone.

Finally having positioned my three areas of detail I used white and dark grey conté crayons and soft pastels to add an area of skin texture around each window. I wanted to show some surface detail that would draw your eye to the areas of interest rather than make it look like an unfinished drawing!

Running machine mixed media
Running machine mixed media

Reflections

I am pleased with the concept and the results but there are areas that I struggled with. I feel the initial pencil drawing became a little over worked especially around the feet and the head. The surface detail around the exposed muscle was very hard to get right as well, the contours of the other muscles show through the skin but with the section missing it was hard to make them into a coherent muscle pattern. As a result this area became overworked too. I also struggled to work out what to do with the background. I didn’t want anything that would detract from the areas of mechanical interest. I ended up just putting in a horizon line which was really a cop-out! I did toy with the idea of blending some muted shades of grey and white pastel behind the horse (possibly the head) but I couldn’t see where I was going with this idea beyond doing it for the sake of doing it, so I have left it as it is. Any suggestions?

Reference

Skerritt, G. C., and McLelland, J. (1984) An Introduction to the Functional Anatomy of the Limbs of the Domestic Animals. Wright: Bristol

 

Project 5 Exercise 4 Using source material

Project 5 Exercise 3 Live animals – using line and tone

The aim

Using both line and tone can create a sense of volume and movement through space, Work in any combination of media you like. Work on large paper so that you can explore tonal values freely. Remember to vary the pressure and speed of your lines to create a sense of dynamism or stillness, enhancing the stance, gestural posture and strength of the animal.

The process

We have a large colony of jackdaws in the village that have just finished nesting in surrounding chimney pots and trees. When nesting we mostly we hear them rather than get close views of them, but recently the fledglings have been appearing so much more activity happens on the ground. I love the sleek look of these (usually rather unpopular) birds. I have a very early memory of an old lady keeping one as pet and to my child-eyes this was both fascinating and scary at the same time, with stories of witches familiars in my head. I decided to draw jackdaws searching for insects amongst the grass. My sketches were not very good!

However I finally struck upon a pose I liked with proportions that looked jackdaw-ish. I had been sketching in a drawing pen. I decided that I wanted my drawing to be fairly loose so decided to work this one up using ink, a quill and conte crayon on its side to add tone. I tried conte crayon in this fashion over my original sketch.

Using A3 cartridge paper I drew a rough pencil sketch of the key areas then layered ink from a quill over the top of this (I didn’t trust myself to go straight to the ink). I tried to keep the lines loose and flowing and not too ‘outline-ish’ I think layered on black, grey and white conte crayon in sweeping strokes to try to build up the tones. I left parts of the paper white for highlights and had to darken areas considerably by layering on more black.

Jackdaw in ink and conte crayon
Jackdaw in ink and conte crayon

Reflections

I am pleased with how the head turned out – it makes it a jackdaw. However I found the ink line too thick along the back of the bird and on the line of the wing.The legs also have not come out as I would have hoped. I was aiming for a rough sketch but the two legs have become a little too merged making it look as if the jackdaw has one thick leg! The feathers of the furthest wing are also too black, making them come forward in the drawing and appear attached in some strange way to the tail. I like the use of tone around the wing area, but towards the tip of the wing and the tail, the area has become overworked and has flattened somewhat. I am pleased that I set out to do a quick drawing and this didn’t take very long, even allowing for the initial pencil sketch. I would however if I have time at some point to re visit this one and try again as I feel there is potential for this bird to have a lot of character.

Project 5 Exercise 3 Live animals – using line and tone