Working with the briefs given to us, has been awkward to begin with, although they have been the perfect opportunity to try new media and to increase my skill in previous areas of drawing.
The deconstruction project was the one I had the most trouble with; I tried to find a topic within the briefs boundaries that I was interested in and could produce work well. After tutorials I realised I was going about it the wrong way, I should pick an image and start. With my previous obsession of the sculptural I decided to pick Damien Hirst’s “A Thousand Years”. Originally I thought it was just another performance piece with his usual gory twist, then I realised that the light to shock the flies wasn’t necessary, the piece could have worked just as well, explaining we are insignificant, and are all trapped in our own little worlds with no more recognition of it as the fly in a glass box.
At first I tried to use the light bulb for things other than killing flies, and then I switched sides. I was aiming to mimic Hirst’s use of the fly’s bodies, although rather than using them to decorate a battlefield in victory, I tried to appreciate the beauty in them. I namely tried by using the shadows of their bodies, rather than the corpses themselves, to personify their lives. Eventually the shadows bled into just the wings, whose shadows were limited to faint lines of the segments of the wings, the translucent designs leaving smudges of grey in between the light source and the black of the bodies.
By that time the end of the project was I realized I had completely removed myself from the original meaning of “A Thousand years”, after producing a few graphic pieces of work, I was assured I was meant to leave the original image far behind. Despite all my confusion the project was enjoyable, namely through my continued freedom to explore what art really means.
The drawing transformation project was different in a way I didn’t expect; it had no determined area of research, no serious outcome and no definition of what we needed to do; aside explore our methods of drawing. At first I thought it was another body of work to be produced, so that’s what I did, and despite being corrected, that we didn’t need to separate it so distinctly, I think it helped me define what I did for drawing and what I did to achieve a particular outcome.
I kept to the basics, I decided to use shading, and the three basic shape forms; square, triangle and circle, and eventually I added the three primary colours. This happened after stumbling onto one of Kandinsky’s studies, this particular one about the correspondence between colour and shape, which I used throughout the rest of my project. I originally decided on this because I wanted the work to be about how I achieved it, not the content in it, although there is no shortage of work based solely on the three shapes.
I used the opportunity to experiment, without worrying about how the outcome will look, or how it will affect the response to the work. I realised that I work haphazardly, in that when I have a particular method working well for me, I will stick to it, but when I’m unsure of what I want to work about or what I want it to mean or look like, I will doodle around the edges of my plane and never settle, until there is something in my way. Either a random quote I wrote down a year ago, or another drawing or a splatter of ink, maybe a piece of work by a famous artist or an illustration drawn by my mother, even if the something is something to be fixed, like a slow computer, or broken charcoal; I seem to find a way to use it, to create something else from it.
I understand that inspiration is one of the main components that keep any of us drawing, and I agree wholeheartedly with Greyson Perry when he said “originality is those with short memories”, however my lack of own thought process when starting a new project is something I need to correct.
Finally there is the Reading and Responding project, which I looked forward to, namely because of my own fondness for literature, which coloured my choice in text a little. “The hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse” by Robert Rankin, appears to be not as well known as I had previously thought, however the plot of a crack murder mystery is both intriguing and funny, and the use of the nursery rhyme characters gave me a large wealth of history and other readings. Overall I was not lacking in any research areas.
To begin with I stuck to trying to personify the characters into an appealing form, however I got lost on the first one; Humpty Dumpty. It was harder than I thought to put a face on an egg, so I started to make collages to help, cutting up newspaper photos of people and mixing them up to achieve some rather strange forms. It was then recommended to me to scan the collages in and use them through the computer, I did so, and then promptly got lost in illustrator. I have had very little to tempt me into using computer programmes to create digital art, so I just messed around and pressed nearly every button I could find to see what they did.
I soon forgot about scanning collages in and just used illustrator to mimic the different faces and out them all together. I did try to create some ‘proper’ Humpty Dumpty figures, using “Through the Looking Glass” as a source, which I replicated in paint in a form of pixelated art. But I swiftly moved on. I preferred my monsters to the asymmetrical beauty, but I had no idea what to do with them.
It was recommended I use them in a scene together; like the Mad Hatter’s tea party, or the Last Supper or the House of Commons. The latter struck me, the plot of the book is fairly bog standard as a murder mystery, secrets, liars and a hidden killer, who is later revealed to be an evil twin of the aptly named toy maker god, Anders Anders, so a political scene wouldn’t go amiss.
After I had tried a few drawings of the scene, I thought about populating the image with the characters I made. They seemed a little off, so I went back to seeing what I could achieve with the characters alone. The only though I had, was to animate them; I stuck with the first one with the eye, and tried to make it blink; like a creepy old painting in a cheesy horror movie. I didn’t know what other method to use, so I use illustrator to move around the pieces of the eye to gradual make it close through screenshots, and then I imported them into Photoshop.
The result wasn’t very accurate, as not all the screenshots were the same size, nor in the same place. The video itself ended up being fuzzy, and misplaced in the presentation of the images. I then tried to use Adobe Flash, which didn’t end very well, in that it took several days to understand the basics of its use, and another couple of days to produce the short clip of the character moving its eye to the right and left, before beginning the sequence again. The end product is workable, although still stiff, mainly because I made it the same way only with the imported images rather than screen shots; rather than redraw the character all over again in Flash. I should have re-drawn it.
Overall throughout the projects, I’ve become a little more aware of my bad habits, and my need to find an effective method of inspiration, and a little more digital; through my work in illustrator and a short experiment with a wacom tablet, which although a little tricky to begin with, and with an appropriate drawing program that is not paint, the basics are hard to mess up and thoroughly enjoyable when they succeed.