Assignment five

Image one    ” Life goes on”


“Life Goes On”    the final picture:



could the technique be freer?

could the image be less  obvious?


Final assignment Observation in Nature drawing from different angles, with different backgrounds and in different media

This section involves the investigation of seed pods in variety of media and techniques and the comparison to lace which is investigated as a background.

The honesty seed pods drawn in different media: 8B graphite, pen and ink (stipples) and pencil with felt tip:


the pen and ink drawing in spots shows the greater clarity of detail

Thinking about the nature of the seed pods: Then looking at the possibility of incorporating a lace like effect with the honesty seed pods:IMG_9529

drawn with wax resist, frottage and ink (lower image).

Using wax and ink to produce a lace effect:


Looking closer at lace as a background effect and using frottage over lace and over the seed pods:



Using wax resist to try to emulate the lace effect of light on the undergrowth and playing with the idea of incorporating the hand images reminiscent of neolithic man’s cave drawings:



And then the dried leaves, their beautiful crisp colours:

A delicate image in wax crayon:


wax crayon and felt tip:


I started at this point to look at images by Georgia O’Keefe. She focused her work on small areas of flowers or plants to produce a simplified, almost abstract images.

Images photographed Feb 2014 from the book: ” O Keefe” Published 2006 by Grange Books ISBN:10: 1-84013-926-9


My Autumn  Oil on Canvas 1929 (at time of book publication held in a private collection Gerald Peters Gallery Santa Fe)


Jack-in-the-Pulpit No IV  oil on canvas 1930 (Original in National Gallery of Art Washington)


Single Lily with Red 1928 Oil on Wood (held in Whitney Museum of Art New York at time of book publication)

Inspired by Georgia O Keefe :Two images of the leaf above, in which I filled the paper with the image, concentrating on the abstraction of the colour and lines -the first in wax crayon, the larger (A3 sized) in bright felt tip.

I liked neither of these, they shout too much -too big for detail yet too small to be entirely abstractions. They are unlike O Keefe’s in that they are not smoothly drawn -she puts little texture in the images using relatively flat colours over large areas, often blending into darker or lighter tones.



Returning to a more delicate approach with the air of lace ,delicacy and frailty: sketches of the honesty seeds and the twig with dried leaves


An interesting drawing using coloured pencils of the honesty seeds intertwined with twigs: the contrast between the darker pencil background and the plants makes this image glow similarly to the seed pods when I first spotted them in the garden and makes the image quite peaceful. It feels closer to the way I wanted the final image to develop and is reminiscent of a style that was provoked by my previous studies of Michael Landy’s plant drawings:


and an even more “exciting ” drawing in coloured pencils using multiple colours


Assignment five reflections what did I do:

note from advise at beginning of assignment:


Be objective and highly critical

How can I achieve an image which reflects the colourful, the mystical and the flow of life but retains a frailty?

I have drawn and collaged quite a few images through this, the final part of the drawing course.

My aim was to produce an image which had some of the mystique of the sun on the dried and empty frail seed pods of the Honesty plant, to link that to human life –the life lost but on going  –and I have discovered that the Ash in Norse mythology was the tree from which man sprang , spanning the universe and delving deep to the past and lower worlds (ref: Looking at the soft and intricate structure of the Honesty seed pods I wanted to use lace as a background to emulate leaves by its multiple shapes.

I have looked at several artists and these have both developed and changed my initial  ideas

Rennie Mackintosh,  Margaret MacDonald , Herbert MacNair the three members of the Glasgow sect who developed the classical art nouveau images of flowing lines and stylised flowers and plants and of Alphonse Mucha who also used flowing lines in the depiction of  images as simple as dishes and cutlery.  I have tried some images with flowing lines and some that contrast the woven pattern of lace against the natural forms of seed pods to emulate the images of Rennie Mackintosh but I find his images too stylised and lacking in colour, however the patterns of the lace black and white produces an interesting background.




I looked at the work of Henrik Simonsen whose  light plants against the dark background in a ” photographic negative” manner an idea I rejected as being too hard “flashy” and harsh

The delicate pencil crayon drawings which emulate some of Michael Landy’s


In this image I like the blending of different colours, it has a clear, clean and peaceful feeling, but is not sufficiently active and lively.

Nanako Kawaguchi took me back to the love of Japenese origin artists, In her drawings I loved the colour and unusual forms. These images are reminiscent of the Art Nouveau flowing lines and plant life which I like  but I chose not to reflect through in my work as they are a little too “girly”

Looking at the image by Astrid Bowlby in the Drawing Now book in which she has made a table of safety pins look as though it stretches to eternity I have attempted to produce perspective with the seed pods -the final image did not succeed but I liked its clarity. However it is not close too the image I would like to finally produce:


Goergia O Keefe lead me into looking at leaves from a closer quarter but I did not seriously follow this up as the overall image is too solid, lacking the busy-ness that I am hoping to produce:

IMG_9543I also ventured into one or two sketches based on the Hockney image Fruhe Zeichnung but his drawings are too clear and well defined although I love the colours:


Andra Ursuta’s influence produced an interesting tonal image in ink and crayon which I worked on later in further images:


Some of the images that most impressed me were those of the tulips of Wardell Milan who I emulated in the drawing of a leaf:IMG_9466and took the idea of colour dripping from the image  into a later drawing:IMG_9592

I will certainly try to produce some of this displacement of colour from the main image to the background.

And although I liked the ghostly image of the galleon by Friedrich Kunaith I felt it was too delicate and “simple”for the final image I was trying to conjure although I felt the use of colour on black was exciting:



The closer I came to abstraction the more I was excited by the images:

IMG_9518and my discovery at this point of the paintings of Kandinsky were uplifting in colour and activity


Jiri Kolar German artist in collage and paper -I thought may lead me into a lace like pattern but his work is more solid than the open effect I was looking for.


on the basis of these drawings: I  conclude that I like the colourful images inspired by Kandinsky and Wardell Milan and the detailed ink additions of Wardell Milan and Andra Ursuta. I am also very fond of the delicate pencil crayon drawings but feel that in order to produce a strong image  I will use oil pastel or chalk pastel with charcoal or graphite. Plus placing the image on a black background produces a lighting effect on the colour of the image which I find very attractive

My final image was on black and consisted of colourful and flowing lines with incorporation of lace like patterns in the background:I think the image depicts the frailty, has the flow and activity of life, it incorporates the Neolithic hand images in the form of leaves in the background, it is abstracted, busy and colourful and the glow of the honesty seed which first attracted me is enhanced by the black background. The initial final image on white paper has a greater solidity which although pleasing, lacks the ghostly glimmer  of the image on the black surface. The ghostliness helps with the aim of depicting the seedpods and the hands of life past and the manner in which the image lives and moves up the paper helps with the idea of life on going.



I am very pleased and like the final image and its depiction, not only of the seed pods that I had been studying but also the further meanings I wish to incorporate into the image.

Final Assignment Observation in Nature – Line Drawings

In different media without taking the pen or pencil from the paper:

In pencil:  the hydrangea


In pen and ink :   honesty seeds in the undergrowth


In felt tip with added line in ink:


In graphite:IMG_9574

In pen and ink: Ash branch and seedsIMG_9560-001

In pencil with the background of lace involved in the drawing in continuous line:


I also looked at the image in the book “drawing now   Between the Lines of Contemporary Art” edited by Downs, Marshall, Sawdon, Selby and Tormey  Published by I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd for TRACEY   ISBN 978  1 84511 533 3 by Astrid Bowlby in which she draws a table full of safety pins and bits at such an angle that they appear to recede into the distance

Photograph of :”On some far : Detail” Ink on cut paper pg 6.


From this I took my eye level down to approximate to the table on which the seed pods had been placed and tried to give them some perspective:


Although it produces quite an intereesting image it has not captured the feeling of perspective found in the Astrid Bowlby’s image, partly by virtue of the nature of the subject (as the seed pods could be any size and so a recession in size is less noticed) and partly because of the loss of reference of other receding objects. I used colour to try to differentiate between those in the foreground and those further back.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and artists of the art nouveau

Mackintosh Images and most of life history derived from the book :  “The Life, Times and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh” by K.E. Sullivan  published by Brockhampton Press 1997 ISBN 1 86019 798 1

Rennie Mackintosh was born in Glasgow in 1868. He had a love of nature and became an architect as well as attending art school.


Early Flower study in pencil and watercolour  obtained by photographing the image from “The Life Times and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh” by K.E. Sullivan  published by Brockhampton Press 1997 ISBN 1 86019 798 1

After visiting Italy in 1891 mackintosh returned to Scotland vowing to give his country “its own architectural language”. His style was assisted by the art of Japan. With three other artists, Herbert MacNair  and two sisters Frances and Margaret MacDonald a style was developed which was based on their interests in poetry, the celtic world , symbolism and mysticism. With MacNair he started to  work with animal and vegetable forms and strong colours.

Images by Margaret MacDonald:

November 5th   1894

Herbert Mac Nair:

Fountain Pencil and Watercolour on paper

Frances Mac Doanald

Golden Heart by Frances MacDonald MacNair


All these images by the three other artists in MacKintoshes group show the characteristic lines, tall “vertically stretched” images and swirls found in Mackintoshes work. The swirls represented plants or hair. In the image by Margaret MacDonald, the characteristic roses found in Mackintoshes images appear.

These four artists were influenced by Audrey Beardsley’s Yellow book images :

Design for title page 111  The Yellow Book   ref:

and by Patrick Gedde’s images in his magazine “The Evergreen”

Natura Naturans  Robert Burns 1891 from “The Evergreen” magazine  ref:

“Mackintosh focused on images of roots, stems, branches and flowers with vertical lines and swooping elegant lines”. The four were involved in poster design. Mackintosh also designed furniture and incorporated his details on glass. He often used the stylized rose motif in his images and developed a balance between geometric shapes and the curves of nature:

One of the commonest features of Mackintosh’s designs is the contrast between  black and white squares and coloured floral designs:


Floral and chequered fabric design  image obtained by photographing image from book “The Life Times and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh” by K.E. Sullivan  published by Brockhampton Press 1997 ISBN 1 86019 798 1

IMG_9602Detail of a wall stencil from Hill House

Image obtained by photographing the image from “The Life Times and Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh” by K.E. Sullivan  published by Brockhampton Press 1997 ISBN 1 86019 798 1

copying this image:


and adding my own twist to the honesty seeds and grasses:



In a similar vein ans around the same era Alphonse Mucha was using the long tresses and curves of natural plants to produce images often used in posters:

Alphonse Mucha 1860-1939

A Moravian (Austro-Hungary) painter of the late 19th century Art Nouveau movement famous for his ideallized paintings of women with flowing hair and clothing, often for posters.

Alphonse Mucha study of dishware and cutlery 1902  in gouache


The use of black and white gouache and pencil on coloured paper. Swirling patterns and arrangements with paper showing through to indicate the reflective surfaces of the objects

David Hockney’s drawings

Hockney’s drawings are frequently of human beings, however as I am concentrating on plants and seed pods -I have looked for examples of plant life drawings by Hockney.

Fruhe Zeichnung, 1959 charcoal on paper, 22×14 1/2 in.  (translation: morning drawing)

Image sourced on line January 2014 ref:

This sketch could easily be a seed pod similar to the honesty seeds I have been drawing. It is done in charcoal, The round area (? the seed pod ) dominates the page in light block shade and is overdrawn with determined strong lines and circles which are within the “circle” and by a harsh almost horizontal line (is this an horizon?) and harshly drawn diagonal lines below the horizontal. Perhaps it is a rising sun in view of the title -but it could easily be a seed pod in the grass.

I copied this image and then drew the honesty seeds in a similar manner:

Copy of Hockney sketch entitled Fruhe Zeichnung:


An image in Hockney style of the honesty seeds:


Pershing Square Study 1 Pencil


This image contrasts what appear to be cress seedlings against against an angular background, a box through which the stems escape. The stems seem to originate in a bed of pebbles but these have no depth and are shaded ovals with borders. In the background the words “Pacific Mutual Life ” seem to refer to insurance. The image makes no sense to me, although googling Pershing square it starts to make more sense -the square in Los Angeles has palm trees, pools and angular buildings some of which dedicated to finances. He has used only pencil in varying pressures and intensity and has produced a feeling of constriction by the enclosing of the plants by the angular lines.

My hand 1981 ink

sourced on line January 2014: ref

I enclose this as a reminder of minimal light line to represent the artist’s hand, reaching out across the page.

3 Trees With Rock, 1991  gouache, felt marker, uni-ball pen on foam core   sourced on line January 2014 from:  ref:

This image drawn in felt tip with gouache and pen. Three trees with lined trunks and foliage with three different forms of marks (swirls, dots, leaf like marks, stand in a line, their bases at the bottom of the paper and their positions slightly unevenly spaced between each other and from the edge of the paper. Behind and at the edges of the paper are the rocks, swirls, dashes and lines of light on dark browns and black/greys. In the background is a red area of swirling lines bounded above by the representation of a fence in line. The brown “blob ” of the sun surrounded by two blue marks of colour sits in the upper left corner. The image has a fun appearance and gives a feel of warmth,dryness (perhaps due to the colour) of tropicality.

Untitled  111, 2009 charcoal on paper

sourced on line Jan 2014 from ref:

This image has such perspective leading into the forest by the bend of the harsher lines which run from mid and left foreground  to the left of the image and  link to  softer lines running in the opposite direction. A tree trunk sits at the golden section on the left and rises up and out of the image helping to give vertical power to the forest. This tree is drawn in soft block shade with additional lines of the bark in fine harsher lines and twigs crossing its trunk and its base in darker line. The background to whee our eye is lead,is drawn in varying pressure charcoal as trees fade into the mist and their canopies get lower than those at the front. The forest floor is dotted with small marks adding interest and contrast to the almost vertical lines of the trees. These dots also extend into the upper canopy taking the contrasting dots upwards adding interest for the eye and breaking the harsher though softly drawn lines by the soft “dots” of the remaining leaves.

Final assignment Observation in Nature Tonal Studies

It was my intention from the start to try and depict the seed pods of honesty in a soft velvety and silky texture with harsher elements of leaves or twigs as background.

Looking at the work of Andra Ursuta ( images from the Vitamin D2 book New Perspectives in drawing)


Man from the Internet 34 2012 Ink on Paper Andra Ursuta

Image photographed from the book containing a collection collection of contemporary drawings: “Vitamin D2 New Perspectives in Drawing” Page 299  Published by Phaidon Press Ltd 2013, ISBN 978 0 7148 6528 7

I was taken, not by the subject matter (although death and decay could be applied to the plants I am involved in drawing, I am more interested in the ongoing rebirth in the elements of nature) but by the manner in which she has used ink and possibly a form of resist.

Image in development:



the depiction of negative space using ink, conte and wax crayon.

tonal study using wax resist and pencil:


Emulating Patrick Caulfield in the depiction of negative space between the seed pods:

© The estate of Patrick Caulfield. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2002Patrick Caulfield  Coal Fire 1969  sourced on line Feb 2014 from :

Seed pods negative space:


Charcoal and biro:


Tonal drawings in graphite:



incorporating the background:

Drawing of one of the pieces of lace, in soft pencil, which I used as background :


Toanl study in “sepia” using brown conte:



of dried leaf:


seed pods leaf and lace background:


and tonal sketch in colour in felt tip ink crayon and pencil: