Sunday, 9 October 2011

At the start: deciding on a way forward

Like most of the group, I have been somewhat uncertain as to how to start off on what will be a ten month journey culminating in our show next July. It is hard to plan a journey when you really have little idea where the first stop might be, leave alone the end destination. My skull development, described in the last post, is clearly a place to start, but after a tutorial with Chris and discussions with others, it all suddenly seems a little predictable and even aimless.

But it was clear I could easily think my way into stasis and after an encouraging chat with my good friend and art mentor Pete Sanders I felt encouraged just to loosen up and try a few things: in particular, some collage. So first session, spent the morning putting together a collage with torn up pieces of cardboard, and one of my first lino cuts. It was satisfying and indeed suggested one way forward. It had a feel of those English abstract landscapes that I admire and aspire to:
As well as the collage I worked in some detail in pen and colour with oil pastels.

The other direction I have been pursuing has been the very traditional type of research which is merely to do a lot of closely observes pencil and pen drawings of skulls of various kinds. Started at the Hunterian Museum at the Royal College of surgeons, where I spent time on a tiger skull:
 Then took one of the teeth formations and used pastels to develop the landscape idea:
Later in the week to the Science Museum and Pitt Rivers where I worked on a baby elephant's skull in charcoal and pencil:
And then the feet structure:

The close observation is always good and also finding the appropriate mark making to render the detail is also valuable. I am trying to focus my attention on fragments, looking for the shapes and the formation that lie below them. In one sense forcing myself to explore the abstract potential.
Back in class I took some of those sketches and went in another stage. Here is a close up study of a filigree segment of the skull:
Then an attempt to use light and shade in charcoal to isolate another set of shapes.
 I am still not sure where it is leading, but there has been some development around the collage and the detailed observation so I shall continue for a week or two to see how it builds up. In a couple of weeks I am going for a week in Wales, where I am going to follow this work up with a series of colour sketches in oils and pastels.

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