Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Assignment One: First Drawing - Natural Forms

Pages 76-82: Sketchbook 1 (larger drawings also submitted)

Starting Point

Via a thread on the OCA website, I was introduced to Klaus Pichler's photographs of decaying food which can be seen Here. These are stunning images which are beautifully illuminated with bold composition of the subject matter in the centre of the page against a black background. They inspire a mixture of attraction (because the images are beautiful) and revulsion (because the subject matter is rotting food with variously mould, flies and maggots.) The title of the work is 'one third' and each image is accompanied by details such where and how the item was produced, how it was transported to its point of sale and, therefore the carbon footprint. It is a comment on the amount of food wastage that occurs in the developed world and the amount of the worlds resources which are used to produce these items which are ultimately wasted.

These images resonated with me for a number of reasons. The first of these is that I have experienced this strange mixture of attraction and revulsion myself when throwing out mouldy fruit. Citrus fruit is in season at the moment and we are regularly given large bags of oranges by our neighbours and relatives who have orange trees. Despite having very good intentions to juice and freeze them or make marmalade there are inevitably some which go mouldy before I have used them. Although logic dictates that as these fruit are inedible they should be unattractive, I nevertheless  find the texture and the colour of the mould that grows quite beautiful. It is a chalky/powdery pale blue-green which sets up a vivid contrast with the bright orange of the fruit. 

Allied to this is the fact that January is a time of resolutions which causes reflection on personal failings. Being preoccupied with my own decay, one of my resolutions was to eat more healthily and get my 'five a day'. After an initial rush of enthusiasm and the purchase of lots of interesting fruit I then let my purchases sit in the fruit bowl quietly festering while I reverted to coffee and biscuits. I console myself that my carbon footprint is not huge as the fruit was all locally produced or home grown. 

So - my first idea was a still life of five pieces of fruit at varying stages from unripe through to macerated and mouldy. However, I quickly decided that this composition might end up looking too similar to the elongated composition of vegetables that I did previously. I decided to expand the theme to include death in general because I had a large hippo vertebra that would provide some interesting shapes. I thought this would provide a focal point as a surprising item amongst all the fruit.

Initial Ideas

Rough sketchbook work

Initial Ideas worked from left to right from immature/unripe to mouldy in a sort of chronological sequence with the vertebra as focal point in various positions. The first two just look cluttered and jumbled with too many items. I wanted to be closer  to each object to get a good view of the textures. The juicer was included to expand the theme of decay and death to include violence!

 I quite liked the top sketch with the pineapple on the left and the vertebra on the right behind the other fruit.  However, I though that it was a bit too symmetrical with a large object at each end and a gap in the middle.  I decided to simplify and remove several items and use a diagonal/triangular arrangement.

I did a rough sketch of this arrangement in my sketch book using drawing pen, graphite and black marker. The dark background was provided by a suspended blue sheet.

Tonal Study A2 Charcoal on Cartridge Paper

This quick reference study was done to get an idea of the tonal values. I had moved the apple slightly. It was only after I had finished this that I realised that  the position and shape of the vertebra were incorrect. One of the wings is just touching the pineapple  and the other is just kissing the top of one of the mandarins so that it looks like the vertebra is perched precariously on top of this fruit. I realised I either needed to go back to overlapping these items or to separate them completely.

A3 Coloured Pencil Preliminary Study

I tried drawing the vertebra at a different angle so that it was overlapped by the mouldy clementines. I prefer the bolder composition when it is seen face on to this arrangement. I thought the oblique positioning might enhance the feeling of depth but It just seemed to reduce the impact of the bone as a focal point. I liked using colour here. Unfortunately I was running out of paper. I'd ordered some more but it hadn't yet arrived so I tried drawing this on some Bockingford paper. I though that the texture of the paper might help the pencil crayons to build up colour. In fact the opposite was true. The paper didn't have much 'tooth'. It was really difficult to use coloured pencils on this surface. 

Mark Making

Sketchbook experiments based on the texture of the pineapple.

Final Drawing: A2 Soft Pastel on Cartridge Paper

For the final drawing I decided to work in soft pastel because i thought it would suit the chalky texture of the bone as well as the powdery texture of the mould. The other consideration was that as my paper had not yet arrived, I only had white cartridge paper left to work on. Pastel would cover a large area rapidly when blocking in the blue drapery in the background. I like the bold colours that have been produced and the contrast between the dark background and the light vertebra.

I have scratched into the thickly applied pastel with a graphite pencil to represent the fine striations on the bone surface,

I had changed the composition at the last minute to separate the items given the problems with 'kissing' before. I though this implied triangle would give a good bold composition. Unfortunately it lacks any great sense of depth.

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