We have been given a project at our NatSatClub to choose a word from the Devon Dialect and then illustrate it. I made a long list of words, some of my favourites are:
Snishums : Sneezing
Flink : To sprinkle
Zummit : Something
Drumbledrone : Bumblebee (apparently this one was inspiration for Dumbledore’s name!)
I chose to illustrate the word ZART which means “daft”. I looked up the meaning of daft and its synonyms. They fell into two main groups, one with words like “stupid”, “idiotic”, and other not very nice words. The other group contained “eccentric”, “absurd”, “peculiar” and “crackers”, and I thought that this group had a more fun and friendly character, and would be good to illustrate.
I thought about this group of synonyms and tried to make a list of my visual ideas. I came up with lots including Wonka, circuses, spirals, dizziness, wonky, uneven, twist, and drunkenness.
Next I made sketches with the letters in “zart”, trying different forms of the letters and playing with the sizes and the way they came together.
At this stage I had chosen a basic shape I liked. I drew it out bigger and tried it out as an outline and a sort of silhouette version. I started adding extra parts, like a Mad Hatter top hat and drunken bubbles popping. I felt that these would give an eccentric dizzy feel to the illustration.
After I had a good idea of what I wanted I tried a sketch using a thick graphite stick to help me make the letters flow better and to be more expressive. I played with this a bit erasing and adding to it, thickening the letters, changing the way they sloped and trying out stripes. When I was happy I copied my design out in ink using my Pentel brush pen.
I really liked my design as it was but I wanted to fill in some of the stripes with the black ink to finish it off. I haven’t coloured it yet but I think that this piece would work really well in a purple shade with either a green or an orange as a secondary colour. The final black and white version is at the top of this post.
It is fun learning about different words and doing this project reminded me of the Devon Words art project by Caitlin Hennessy which I saw at last year’s Weekender exhibitions and which I wrote about here. I really enjoyed this project and will definitely be doing more lettering and illustrating with words in the future.
I have added a Gallery page to my blog. It collects together a selection of my work as a young artist in Plymouth. There are examples of my illustration and game art work as well as examples of other types of creative work I have completed or participated in. Don’t forget to check my instagram as I add new work there regularly!
I’ve been following a long course on drawing anatomy on Udemy called Anatomy for Figure Drawing: Mastering the Human Body by Neil Fontaine and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I have learnt how to draw a simple skeletal structure from the front, the basic shape of the human body, and a bit about proportions.
Lesson 1 is a briefing about the course. Lesson 2 is called “Proportions 1” and covers the proportions of the human skeleton. I really enjoyed this lesson and it is fun assembling the skeleton on the page. It has definitely started helping me with drawing more in-proportion characters.
Lesson 3 is called “Proportions 2” and I am about three quarters of the way through the lesson at the moment. The lesson looks at how to draw a basic proportionate human body quickly by using what we learned about the skeleton in the previous lesson but imagining skin and muscles over it. The above sketch shows some of the steps.
The screenshot above shows the figure from the Lesson at the point where I am at this morning (drawn by Neil). Below is my own sketch at this stage:
I am happy with my sketch and the course so far. The course includes 65 lectures over 68 hours of video. I am going to carry on working through them in order but I am really looking forward to the sections on hands and feet because I struggle with these and want to improve. I have not been able to find figure drawing and life drawing classes to go to in person because they usually have an age limit, so being able to work through online tutorials is really helpful. I will keep looking for local workshops as well though because it is so much help having a live tutor to talk to and get advice from.
At 6am our coach was in front of the old Plymouth museum. I found a seat next to a friend and chatted while we waited for the rest of the group. It was my first time on a coach and it had soft seats with buttons to make them recline and red curtains in the windows. We set off at 6:20 and me and my friends were excited but tired from being awake so early. A lot of my group slept for the first part of the journey but after we stopped at Exeter services to stretch our legs and get some snacks almost everyone stayed awake. We had another five hours or so of travel ahead so we talked about visits that each of us had made to London in the past and told each other funny anecdotes from our lives. I did some sketching trying out different character faces but my lines were a bit wobbly from the movement of the coach, and I kept dropping my rubber down the side of the seat.
As we travelled through London we took pictures out of the coach windows and pointed out buildings we recognized, like the Gherkin, MI6 and Big Ben. Our coach dropped us off close to Central Saint Martins and we walked the rest of the way. Central Saint Martins is a huge building and we noticed that the inside room was so vast that it was almost as cold as it was outside. We were given stickers to wear to show we were from Plymouth College of Art and ‘perylene maroon’ goodie bags from Cass Art. In my bag I had an A4 sketchbook, some pencils, a bottle of water and some snacks. We sat down to have some lunch while our student ambassador Ben played on a piano and we waited for some of the other groups from around the country to arrive.
After lunch we looked at all the other self-portraits from the different groups and a photographer took a picture of us in front of our own portraits. It felt amazing to have my self-portrait up in a gallery with other young artists’ work. There was a lot of variety in the style and techniques used in the portraits I saw. One group, from the Victoria and Albert museum, had used concertinaed paper with two portraits drawn on it so the one that you could see depended on the angle you viewed it from. Some of these were quite creepy to look at because one side would be a regular portrait and the other side looked strange or demonic. Other groups had worked with print, photography, pencils or collage. My group used acrylic paint on pieces of wood and I wrote about that process in a previous blog post.
After looking around the portraits all the groups were shown into a large room for a series of talks. We learned that even though there were hundreds of us there that day we only represented a third of the total members nationally! Some groups were so far away they couldn’t make it together and so one family had come alone. Those of us from Plymouth spent at least 12 hours travelling to London and back that day! We heard from Cecilia Weckstrom who told us that when she was younger she didn’t know what she wanted to study, and got an apprenticeship with a children’s book company and learned about graphic design, and now she works for Lego and is a Trustee for the NA&DSC. The director of the Saturday Club Trust, Sorrel Hershberg, and Jeremy Till, the Head of Central Saint Martins, both gave us information about the Saturday Arts Club and thanked the founders Sir John Sorrell and Lady Frances Sorrell.
When we came out of the room, ginormous pieces of paper were rolled out for us all to draw on and there were people holding big buckets with tons of crayons, pens and pencils for us to use. My group didn’t have a lot of time before we got back on the coach but we sat on the floor for a short while and I drew my friend and myself. There were a lot of cool doodles and there were tons of kids drawing each other. After that I bought myself a big red NatSatClub hoodie and we got back on the coach for the next part of our trip.
All the groups headed to different venues around London and mine headed to the Tate Britain gallery. We got a short tour around a few of the pieces of art on display and our tour guide and our tutor Kate encouraged us to talk about and critique what we saw. We studied each piece for a few minutes and tried to think of single words that described how we felt or the impression we got from the artworks. One piece that I found intriguing was Fiona Banner’s Break Point which is a huge canvas painted white with red marker pen text describing a chase scene from the movie Point Break. The shade of red that she used and the way the text got closer together towards the bottom of the piece made me tense and it seemed very aggressive. I haven’t seen the film, but I hope to soon so I can see what happens next!
We moved on to the Turner Prize 2016 Exhibition. The Turner Prize is a contemporary art award given every year to a British artist chosen from four nominees. My favourite piece on display was an installation by Michael Dean which was a pile of pennies equal to one penny less than its title, United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016. Me and my friends thought it would be fun to roll around in it all. It sounds like a lot of money but it didn’t feel like it when I saw it as a pile of pennies. There was an enourmous gold sculpture of a butt by Anthea Hamilton called ‘Project For Door (After Gaetano Pesce)’ and people were laughing and taking silly photos near it. I thought it was absurd in a funny way. Visitors were invited to write their thoughts about the exhibition and pin them up outside the gallery, so we did that and then left to make the long trip home.
On the journey home I took some more pictures of London lit up at night, and everyone was wide awake and in the back someone was playing music. It was such an exciting day, me and my friends ended up having laughing fits for ages for no real reason. We stopped at services to get dinner, but we panicked because we thought we had taken too long but it turned out we were back before most of the group. We settled down eventually and it got quieter and some people fell asleep, and I carried on working in my sketchbook. We got back to Plymouth at around 11 and I was exhausted. The whole day was absolutely amazing and I’m really thankful to have had the opportunity to be part of it.
This post is going to cover what I did during the first half of autumn term at the National Art and Design Saturday Club at the Plymouth College of Art. My tutor is Kate Marshall. Kate is an artist who works in all sorts of media and enjoys experimenting with unusual materials from the sites she is researching. Our student ambassador is Ben Lintell. Ben is a student at PCA studying Contemporary Crafts and he creates paper and glass sculptures.
During the first half term we were working with self-portraits and figure drawing. We started with drawing our self-portraits with paper and pencil. I used a mirror and something I found difficult was that any small movements I made would throw me off. I worked entirely in HB pencil because that was all I had with me that day. I think I captured my expression pretty well but I think I could have made it more realistic if I used different pencils.
Next we were given a square of wood each to draw another self-portrait on. I’ve never drawn on wood before and it was hard to erase the pencil marks so I had to use less working lines than usual. I worked from a photo of myself on my phone this time and it was slightly easier than from a mirror, because there was no movement and I could zoom in to investigate details.
I then started painting my self-portrait on the piece of wood with acrylic paints. Kate advised us not to use one colour for our skin as that would make it look fake, but to look closely for blues, greens and other hues. I studied my photo and found lines, shadows and different shades of pinks, browns, greens and blues. I mixed up the different colours on a palette and used two different brush sizes, a medium-sized flat one for covering bigger areas and a slightly smaller round brush for details. I wasn’t able to find a very small brush for fine detail. I don’t normally work with acrylic paints but I enjoyed testing them out. Acrylics are opaque and not transparent like the watercolours I normally use. I watered my paints down a little to make them easier to use and I noticed that when I used colours on top of a layer of white they were more vivid.
Our self-portraits were put on display in Central Saint Martins in London alongside other National Saturday Club groups from around the country. Here is a photo of all the portraits from the Plymouth College of Art group:
We also spent a session speed-drawing each other in different poses and holding or wearing different costume items to practice figure drawing. I did some using my 4B graphite stick and some using charcoal. The charcoal is darker and has a more textured line whereas the graphite gave a smoother line. I found that both allowed me to be more expressive and use bigger gestures than when I use a pencil.
I really enjoyed drawing the different poses and body shapes and found that our quick drawings sometimes didn’t even look human. I want to do a lot more figure drawing as it will help me improve my character design and comic art. I’d also like to do some life drawing lessons but I haven’t found any classes locally that will accept students of my age yet. I’ve signed up to an Udemy course on Anatomy for Figure Drawing (I got this discounted and there are sales quite often on Udemy) and I have been drawing poses from magazines.
Below are some of the sketches I’ve done recently from photos in my NEO magazines. I have been doing very quick sketches of body frameworks using simple lines joined by small circles for joints, and bigger shapes for heads and body sections. I saw this technique used to show figures in action in How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. It is a good way to investigate poses and movement. In some places I have used coloured pencil to add more details later.
In this last picture I made up my own poses from my imagination and memory. I feel that my skills have already begun to improve because of this exercise and the work we’ve been doing at the Saturday Club.
For the last part of Saturday I went to Ocean Studios at Royal William Yard. We started upstairs at Emerge which is “a communal workspace for artists and creative businesses.” I looked at Esin Forster’s ocean inspired clay pieces and paintings, and I really liked her character design and marker work. I looked through one of her sketchbooks and found comic style drawings of adventurous characters and they were full of energy. I met Gabriella Van Der Stelt who was working on vivid and warm feeling acrylic paintings of fruit in bowls and buildings. Gabriella was very friendly and I looked her up online afterwards, she also does manga and videogame influenced painting and drawing. I really liked the open space of Emerge studios and can imagine how peaceful it must be to have an area like that to work in.
We went into Lisa Stokes‘ studio and talked to her daughter. Lisa paints large oil paintings which are dark and ominous. Along the corridor, Mary Hick does linocut printing of animals and insects. Her work is intricate and she patiently carves out every blade of grass and hair. Sarah Smalldon (instagram)and Shayne House share a studio where she works on her illustration work and he works on his photography. Sarah showed us her brightly coloured and cheery pictures of houses and buildings, and her hand-decorated plates and furniture. She primes the surface and then draws on them with Uni Posca pens. I am going to try this on some of my own things and for cosplay. Shayne has been working with pin prick photography and talked us through the process. He takes photos and vintage postcards and pricks them with an awl to highlight certain parts, then places the photo on a lightbox and photographs them again. He said he has been inspired by Amy Friend. Pin prick photography gives a really beautiful effect and I recommend you visit his site and see his work, you can also read the backs of the vintage postcards he has collected to work on. I also met Stella in their studio who is a young artist with similar tastes to me, and who I would like to meet again and maybe collaborate with.
There are so many other artists at Ocean Studios and many of them were happy to talk to us. Matt Tomas works on contemporary sculpture, mixing concrete and glass. He showed us the moulds he uses to create glass spikes. Rachel Darbourne makes jewellery from colourful plastic sheets, similar to that used in plastic bags. She folds and bends lots of tiny pieces to make shapes that look like carnations or coral, or Chinese dragon costumes. She also makes art from dismantling teddy bears! Teresa Pemberton is a mixed media artist whose work is inspired by Devon and Cornwall. We looked at her canvases which included oil paints, wire, bits of metal and other found objects. We didn’t meet her unfortunately but the two ladies in her studio were very welcoming, and her artwork has a sense of being welcoming and natural.
The last studio on the top floor we went to belonged to Martyn Cross. Martyn works with unusual materials in experimental ways, and he has ironed plastic bags and shaped them into the shape of a hat and a shoe. He collects old knitting patterns, cuts parts of them away and rearranges them to create strange images. I really liked his simple character drawings that were framed at the side of the studio. Downstairs Annette Daly and Melanie Cassidy share a glasswork studio where they make jewellery and decorations. We quickly looked into a couple of other studios and glimpsed some acrylic paintings we liked by Mike Hanny, but the Studios were closing and so it was time to leave. Looking online afterwards I found out that the paintings I liked are part of a series called ‘The Architects Glittering Plan’, and involve lots of patterned coloured ‘worms’ on a black background. I would love a poster of one of these on my wall.
Outside me and my brother took part in a ‘sketch-a-thon’ and spoke to Nikki Taylor about her wire mesh sculptures. Nikki uses sketches, photos and exact measurements to create life-size sculptures of human bodies in motion. There was so much more I didn’t have time to see in the few hours I was there, as Ocean Studios is filled with all sorts of artists and craftspeople. The Royal William Yard is a very peaceful place to be and I’d like to spend more time there.
In my next post I will write about the Union Street Party, the exhibitions at Devonport Guildhall, and the fine art exhibition also at Royal William Yard.
Links to previous posts on this years Weekender: