Tuesday, 27 September 2011

From Sheep's Skull to 'a Personal Practice'

The second year of the CLFA is underway and despite the support of fellow course members and the tutors we are 'on our own'. The challenge is to map out a project that will allow us to develop a personal practice and will culminate in our first show in July next year. So where to start?

One of the things that Chris Hough said at the start of the first year was that they wanted us to try and sustain some thematic links between the various aspects of our course. I took this a little more seriously than others especially after a session on sketchbook development (which should have been three but I missed two!). We were asked to take images from our sketch books and try to develop and extend them. I chose a rather mundane sketch I had done of a sheep's skull:
 Then through photocopying it in different sizes and collaging them I came up with a rather pleasing page int he sketchbook:
There were other versions and it became (as a good sketch book should) a source of ideas for the next stages. So, I took the image into my printmaking and started to think of other ways to develop the theme. I did more sketches of the same skull and then started to photograph it:
I then started to import those images into Brushes on my iPad and used them as the basis for a series of abstract explorations of colour and shape.
What I was interested in was the way they started to look like landscapes and indeed Welsh landscapes: the place where the skull came from in the first place.

Just as I was starting to think I had run the course of the idea I went to visit the Henry Moore museum at Perry Green and in one of his workshops I discovered his enormous elephant skull which he had spent two years drawing and etching.
 Of course, anyone who knows anything about Henry Moore knows about the Elephant's Skull drawings, but it came as an encouragement to me. Especially when I started to read what he had said about it:

“By bringing the skull very close to me and drawing various details I found so many contrasts of form and shape that I could begin to see in it great deserts and rocky landscapes, big caves in the sides of hills, great pieces of architecture, columns and dungeons and so this series of etchings is really a mixture of observation and imagination.”

So I seemed to have some motivation to pursue this rather mundane and I suspect rather well worn path: at least for the time being. Over the summer I took it one stage further and tired to take one of my iPad explorations and turn it into a painting. It is not really finished and is still a little flat: but it suggests that there is some promise here and I shall stick with it.


  1. Hi Andrew, great blog - I've just started the first year of the CLFA course and, like you, decided to start a blog to document my progress. I was researching the best way to do this when I found yours. It's a strange experience reading this - like a glimpse of my own future. I'm really interested to see how you use the second year. The prospect of having pretty much a whole year to do your own project is exciting and a bit terrifying! I'm glad i'm not there yet...

  2. Thanks so much fofr your comment. I am embarrased to say that I have only recetly discovered it. I am now going to search for your blog, which I shall be keen to follow.