Month: October 2015

Adding Colour

As an extension of the panel of 12 sketches we were asked to produce a 13th image using a little colour.

I sketched a close up view of the top of my camera & added a bit of warmth to it using some Polychromic pencils, adding a touch of brown to the handle & body. There’s not a lot of colour in my subject to begin with so I needed only to add a light touch of brown.

Camera (10)As a quick exercise we used 3 colours, Red, Yellow & Blue to mix complimentary colours. So by mixing Blue & Yellow we create Green, which compliments Red, and so on.

Camera (11)

Drawing Skills. First Steps

Drawing Skills. First Steps

The first steps in our Drawing Techniques class were to me just a bit of a shock. The first step, creating a shading gradient, was a simple enough exercise, in principle. I’m familiar with gradients but creating one by hand was interesting.

Camera (20)
Gradient Exercise.

The next step however was quite daunting for someone who has never picked up a pencil in anger before. 12 images of a chosen object, (I picked a camera…..obviously)  focusing on detail, shading & perspective. So, one at a time I guess.

20150928_155540Here is the object I chose to sketch. Not the plainest of objects but I felt it would provide both plenty of details to draw & also enough of a challenge. No point in making it easy.

I was actually fairly surprised by my first 2 attempts. While they’ll never win awards I did manage to get some level of detail & shading onto the paper.

The images above show 2 levels of shading on the same image. The one on the left gives a much better definition to the finished image.

“Black pushes back, Light brings forward”

Image number 2 below is a closer look at the front of the lens. This introduced a problem for me in that there was an area of black with white  text on it. I could have drawn the letters & then avoided shading them in but I wanted to find another solution.

Camera (12)
Image 2

What I came up with was the idea to use the point of a compass to inscribe the lettering on to the page before shading in, creating a depression on the paper. When I shaded in, the pencil skipped over the depression leaving the fine white writing instead of chunky drawn letters.

Image 2

Image 3

The 3rd image was a bit of a come down. To be honest, I think I may have missed some details & then just lost patience with the job. Lesson learned… Pay attention to the details.

The next couple of images worked out quite well in that I was happy with the details & the shading. I used the compass technique twice more, on one occasion I tried doubling up on the lines to make it a bit more defined as it was a closer view.

Camera 8
Rubbing of grain for back door.

Image 8 found me struggling for ideas a little. I chose to sketch the back panel of the camera which only had a small port on it. I felt it would be cheating a bit if I were to just draw that so I looked for a way to reproduce the detail on the body of the camera. In the end I decided to take a rubbing from a piece of timber I had, transferring the grain to the image to represent the grain on the back door of the camera. I think it worked out quite well. I added the shading to give the image a little more depth.

Of the last 4 images, I am least happy with image 10. I don’t think I gave myself enough detail to work with, what I did have I didn’t do great with, and the shading on the background is very uneven.

As a body of work for this exercise I don’t feel I did all that badly considering  I had never done this kind of work before, however, I am sufficiently disappointed in some of them to make me want to try again on some other subjects.

Here is the finished panel of images along with my initial ideas for what views to draw. as you will see is the note beside one sketch I was thinking of shading the image in one direction but it didnt look right when I shaded in so I went with the other direction.

Final panel of images

For your viewing pleasure…

In keeping with the new world of sketching by hand that has recently been opened to me, I thought I would share a video that has always inspired me in terms of its artistic bravery & inventiveness. It has won many awards over the years & I hope to use it as inspiration for our mid-term project for the class Drawing Skills.

Mind you, it’s also a great way to take a break for a couple of minuets. 🙂 Enjoy.

A Ha. Take on Me

Introduction to Supremitisim & Constructivist Art

Design of the early 20th century.

Written task based on a visit to the IMMA September 25th 2015.

The Artist & The State

An exhibition of the works of El Lissitsky

Cultural & Social Context

Being born at the turn of the 19th century I believe El Lissitzky was a product of his time. Raised & educated at a time when his country was in political & cultural flux. The ideas & beliefs of the art community in their ability to usher change unto the world through their art influenced him greatly & lead him down a path that would see him very literally in the Avant Garde.

Heavily influenced by his colleague Malevich, Lissitzky was fully involved in many disciplines such as education, architecture & exhibitions.

After seeing a production of Victory Over the Sun, Lissitzky was inspired to recreate figures of the opera’s main protagonists as suprematist automatons. The movements of figures are suggested by using shifting axes, multiple perspectives and directional signifiers. (Source: data is nature.)

New Man – El Lissitzky

This image, shows one of the principle characters, New Man, a dynamic configuration of geometric shapes, lines & strong colours.

For me this piece could have been done at any time up to the present day, its futurisim & animation seemingly withstanding the test of time and it retains an energy that you would expect would make it leap from the wall.




Lissitzky’s piece, Street Celebration, is wonderful in that it brings together and shows his passion for a number of different fields. Design, Architecture & photography.

Street Celebration
Street Celebration – El Lissitzky

In this montage the artist shows a number of designs placed in-situ on the façade of a building, suggesting perhaps the embracing of the new social & political environment through public display’s of Avant Garde art. Lissitzky believed that art and life could mesh and that the former could deeply affect the latter. He identified the graphic arts, particularly posters and books, and architecture as effective conduits for reaching the public. Consequently, his designs, whether for graphic productions or buildings, were often unfiltered political messages. Despite being comprised of rudimentary shapes and colors, a poster by Lissitzky could make a strong statement for political change and a building could evoke ideas of communality and egalitarianism. (Source: The Art

Through his carreer El Lissitzky continued to both learn & educate, teaching from the age of 15 and continuing through most of his life. While spending time as a cultural ambassador in Germany he spent some time working with and influencing important figures of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Obviously utilising his talents as an accomplished polemicist or debater to their fullest.

Red Alert – Hito Steyerl

In September 1921, five Constructivist artists–Rodchenko and Stepanova, together with Aleksandra Ekster, Liubov Popova, and Aleksandr Vesnin–each contributed five works to the first part of a two-part exhibition in Moscow, titled 5×5=25. Rodchenko exhibited paintings titled Line and Cell, plus three monochrome canvases dated 1921: Pure Red Color, Pure Blue Color, and Pure Yellow Color. 

3 Colours, Red Yellow, Blue
3 Colours, Red Yellow, Blue

Years later he recalled:
I reduced painting to its logical conclusion and exhibited three canvases: red, blue and yellow. I affirmed: it’s all over.
Basic colors. Every plane is a plane and there is to be no representation.

Distilling the art of painting into the primary colours from which all others can be made, the triptych realized a key imperative of modernist art: to pursue formal investigation to its logical end. In the eyes of Rodchenko and his fellow Constructivists this sweeping gesture had political as well as artistic significance, for his renunciation of painting put into action the words of his colleague Nikolai Tarabukin: “Current social circumstances dictate new forms of art.” Having enacted the death of the old forms, Rodchenko embarked on an adventurous quest for new ones. (Source: MOMA NY)
This work by Rodchenko was to inspire the work of future artists including that of Hito Steyerl who in 2007 created her piece Red Alert.

Three vertically-oriented monitors each show the same solid red shade. The monochrome three-screen film provides a humorous “new-media” take on Alexander Rodchenko’s triptych of painting from 1921. Also referencing the terror alert system introduced by Homeland Security in the wake of 9/11, Red Alert signifies, in Steyerl’s words, “the end of politics as such (end of history, advent of liberal democracy) and at the same time an era of ‘pure feeling’ that is heavily policed.” (Source: The Artists Space)


Modular Font

Modular Font

In this exercise we have been asked to produce a set of images using any medium. I chose to use Indian Ink, not having any experience with paints, charcoal, pencil or indeed Indian ink, I felt that the latter would be a lighter & perhaps a more easily managed medium.

Modular Font Marks

I created a number of marks on paper from which I chose to work with four. Not knowing in advance the purpose of this exercise for obvious reasons, I chose the four marks as the four that were most visually interesting to me.

Once selected, the four marks were scanned to create a digital file from which we are to make a new type face. Importing them into Photoshop I removed all the white space surrounding & contained by the marks.

Once the marks have been cleaned up & saved as PNG files to preserve transparency they were imported into Illustrator where they were converted to vector graphics.

As vectors, I was able to disassemble them into constituent parts & separate them to be used as a modular font.

Symbols expanded
Symbols expanded

As soon as I had this preparation done I was ready to create my working file. This was an A2 print at 300dpi. I placed the font parts in the top corner of the page & began to set up my guides. I placed a full set of upper & lower case letters & numbers on the page so as to set my guides to a universal size.

Taking parts from my collection I began first by designing the “a” then “b” & “c”, then found that it would be more efficient to create multiple letters such as the “b, p, d,” etc.

When I had my full set of characters completed I created a new library of Symbols & dropped them in to it. This would allow me to open a new document & use this library of characters to write whatever copy I needed. This is simply done by dragging each letter from the library onto the page.

However, I found that on some letters such as the “O” & “P” etc the letter was saved with a white section that was not transparent. This would show up if I placed a colour or another letter behind it. I resolved this issue by opening each problem character, expanding it & unpicking the white area & re-saving it to the library.

Sanscrit 53 Task 04
The Mesh Tool.

I had one final issue in creating my characters which was with the letter “J”. I didn’t have a mark that I could use easily to create the curved end. To solve this issue I used the Mesh Tool. This works by placing a grid over the object, sometimes called an envelope, which can be distorted to achieve a desired shape, distorting the object below. I feel that this was an acceptable solution to the issue. My font was now complete & I was ready to construct my type sampler.

Transforming objects using an envelope.

The final part of this brief was to create a type sampler on an A2 Print. I looked at a number of styles of type sampler & was really impressed by those done by Nevil Brody for Fuse.

The marks I have used range in tone from the light blue to a much darker tone of blue. I wanted to design a sampler that would, on one hand, show this colour off as part of its character, while on the other hand staying with as simple a style as I could. My own preference being to tend towards the uncomplicated clean look.

I created my A2 layout & placed a grid over the page. Then, choosing from my library of Symbols, I placed each one in a roughly straight line on the right hand half of the page placing the Upper Case on top & the Lower Case below as they would be in a traditional print studio.

I used the align panel to first make sure that the base of each letter was level with the others, with the exception of the lower case where some of the decenders go below the baseline. I then used the Distribute Spacing option, aligning to the selection, to evenly space the letters  along the line. This also allowed me to align the x-heights.

I placed the original marks on the top of the left hand side with the Font name below, set against a yellow background to emphasize the blue font. The numbers were placed vertically down the center of the page to provide separation between the information on the left & the font on the right.  I placed a white panel above the grid on the right hand side to allow some clarity when reading the font. The left side of the page shows the grid and also some ink stains both as a nod to the process in making the font. I am quite happy with the finished product considering this is my first attempt at anything like this.

SansCrit 53 Type Sampler

Incidentally, The name I have given the font, SansCrit 53 is a bit of a play on words. I had thought the type in its earlier stages resembled Sanskrit….a little…. & my tutor independently mentioned this too. However, being my first attempt I couldn’t be too critical of the result, hence Sans (French for Without) Crit (For Critique). 53 refers to the latitude of the town where I live & where most of the work on this was done.

I could have called it “Bob”……. but where’s the fun in that…???

De Stijl Movement

“We speak of concrete & not of abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a colour, a surface.” Theo Van Doesburg.

Partly in reaction to the Art Deco style, the founders of De Stijl preferred a more simplistic approach to art, envisioning nothing less than the ideal fusion of form and function. De Stijl artists applied themselves to many types of work other than the fine arts, such as industrial design, typography, literature & music among many others.

The style consisted of precisely rendered geometric forms such as straight lines, squares, rectangles and of primary colours.

The movement has known members such as Theo Van Doesburg & Peit Mondrian and was advised for a time by the Russian cultural ambassador & Constructivist artist El Lissitzky.

Some important works remaining today include the Rietveld Schroder House (1924) in Utrecht, Holland &the Red Blue Chair (1923) both by Gerrit Rietveld, & the Gray Tree (1911) and Composition A (1920) both by Piet Mondrian.

The Art

Interestingly, although the De Stijl movement lasted only from 1917-1931 it continues to inspire artists today. Here is a very interesting piece inspired by Piet Mondrian’s Composition A, by the artist Yiannis Kranidiotis which breaks the painting down into areas of sound. Well worth looking at this one. Just press the image to view.

Compostitioon A - Musicon
Click to see the Musicon in action.