Project 1, Exercise 1 – Detail and tone



I have found this drawing really hard and it hasn’t been very successful and I could feel myself getting very frustrated with it. The focus of this drawing was detail and tone. I was unsure if this task was to be completed in coloured pencil or not. I feel that I had to really focus on the pattern of the pine cones and I found this really difficult to do. The exercise was time consuming and I think that is what I found the biggest challenge. Building up the cross hatching and shades of colours. I tried to think about composition this time however, I think that the position of the objects on my age were good and i was happy with that. I’m not sure that I  have sufficient contrasts in shadow and light areas. I think I need to step away from the picture and perhaps maybe try again with a different object. My next step was to ‘go deeper’ with this exercise. I decided to complete a drawing focusing on various tones and another focusing on the detail of the object.


After drawing these other objects I feel slightly more confident in being able to understand this task. After my first assignment I realised that I needed to in more depth with these exercises and I feel confident that I have done so for this task. I could improve my drawings further, developing tone slightly more but I feel confident that I have understood what needed to be completed.

I found it hard to achieve tone using various layers of coloured pencil. The oil pastel however is easier to blend and I could blend various shades of purple and white to imitate the flowers in my drawing, however when using the oil pastel  it was hard to pick up the smaller details. This is why I decided to return to the colour pencil when I came to draw the next object (the orange) as this drawing was to focus on detail. After reflecting on my work I have many more ideas and I feel happy that I have really experimented in this one exercise and I have pushed myself. I believe that there are improvements to be made but that is part of the development process. I will take what I have reflected on, with me to the next stage. I feel so relieved I finally got ‘deep’ with something!

Below are some other composition possibilities that I could have used and I will take this idea of brainstorming this for the next few exercises.


Research point: Negative and Positive space


Gary Hume is an English painter, draughtsman and printmaker. In the 1990’s he emerged as a leading artist in London. His imagery captured and defined a moment in time when the art scene was becoming professionalised and implicated with the media. He graduated from Goldsmiths University in 1988 and achieved success early with his paintings on hospital doors rendered with gloss. These works had an international appeal. Hume abandoned the door paintings in he 1990’s. Homes choice of subject matter meant he adopted figurative imagery as reason to his primary fixation with structure, surface and colour. The concentration on both literal and metaphoric surface was enhanced by the change from panel to aluminium support. At this point he began to focus on ‘flora, fauna and portraits’. He is known for his abstract figurative paintings on aluminium panels which are often vibrant colour combinations. His iconic works in this style are ‘Beginning for it’ and ‘the polar bear’. (Art Rabbit, 2017


Fig 1. Begging for it (1994)


This piece uses blocks of very vibrant colour. He creates this sense of background, mid ground, foreground. I feel unable to say much about this piece as it is very simplistic and I am struggling to find meaning, regarding the image itself


Love Love's Unlovable - Gary Hume
Fig 2. Love Loves Unloveable (1991)


This piece creates a deep sense of confusion. The positive and negative space is played around with and the black image on the left is almost unrecognisable as it is blends in with the background. Our mind is only assuming that there is an image of a person as there is a suggestion of this type of image on the right. The more I look at this piece I find the idea of it very reflective but disturbing. The image on the left almost creates a ghostly figure that can’t be notified as a figure, we only assume this. Both images are flip reversal of each other. Looking at it from another angle it almost looks like it is a rabbit with perhaps a person behind.


Gary Hume - The Polar Bear
Fig 3. Hermaphrodite Polar Bear (2005)


Art Rabbit. (2016) Gary Hume. At: (Accessed on 18 April)

Figure 1. Hume, G. (1994) Begging for it [gloss paint on panel] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 2. Hume, G (1991) Love Loves Unloveable [oil on panel] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 3. Hume, G (2005) Hermaphrodite Polar Bear [screenprint] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Rene Magritte was an internationally acclaimed surreal artist. He described his paintings as ‘my painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks one self this simple question, “What does it mean?” It does not mean anything because the mystery means nothing, it is unknowable’. (Rene Magritte, 2017)

Magritte was born in 1898 into a wealthy family. His mother committed suicide and the family were publicly humiliated because of it. From 1916 to 1918 Magritte decided to study art in Brussels but left because he thought that it was a waste of time. After this all his paintings reflected cubism. In 1992 he got married and took a number of small jobs to pay the bills. In between the times when he didn’t work he would work on his paintings which was when he realised he enjoyed the surrealist art form the most. The threatened assassin was one of his earliest surrealist style works that he showcased. In 1927 he had a solo exhibition and this was the time in his life when he was creating one piece of art a day. Critics were extremely negative about his solo show so he moved to Paris where he became friends with artist Andre Breton, founder of surrealism. From 1927-30 Magritte became more involved in the surrealist group and his paintings were described as cavernous showcasing bizarre scenes. To Magritte what is concealed within a painting is more important than what can be seen. If he wrapped a body in linen, if he spread curtains, if he concealed heads under hoods then it was not so much to hide as to achieve, an effect he employed this technique at a early stage. (Rene Magritte, 2017)

This is a really interesting ideas as I feel that you can put a spin on the ideas of positive and negative space and what can actually be seen in a painting is the positive space but the hidden meaning, the things you can’t see, the objects that aren’t present are the negative space. He’s not ‘hiding’ anything he’s creating an ‘effect’ on the painting that you see in front of you.


Fig 4. The Pilgrim (1966)

Magritte has thought about positive and negative space and composition. We only assume that the face is meant to go between the hat and the clothes due to the negative space that is left. The question is perhaps asked, ‘where does his head belong’/’why is his head not where it should be’ which is one question that I feel Magritte wanted the viewer to ask.

Fig 5. Decalcomania (1966)

I really like this piece. It is as if the figure has been cut out and placed on the opposite side. It has been taken from its original place and re-used. The definition of Decalcomania is ‘an art process of transferring pictures and designs from specially prepared paper’. I feel that this is what Magritte has done. the art process is used by surreal artists. The idea that he has transferred this image of a figure to another part of the paintings. Again we only assume it has been transferred due to the negative space that is left behind.

Fig 6. The Unexpected Answer (1933)


Fig 7. Personal Values (1952)


I think I have found a new favourite artist!!!!!!

Rene Magritte (2017) Rene Magritte and his paintings. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 4. Magritte, R. (1966) The Pilgrim [Illustration] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 5. Magritte, R. (1966) Decalcomania [oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 6. Magritte, R. (1933) The Unexpected Answer [painting] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 7. Magritte, R (1952) Personal Values [oil on canvas] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Avinoam ‘Noma’ Bar is an Israeli born graphic designer, illustrator and artist. His work has appeared in many magazines such as: Time Out London, Random House, BBC etc. His work is known internationally and he has won various prestigious awards such as: Yellow Pencil Award.

‘I am after maximum communication with minimum elements’. His works are very minimal but they create a very startling and punchy appearance. When you look at the work/paintings, you almost have an initial reaction to the picture and then you look again and notice a different thing about the picture making you think in other ways. Is the negative space really the negative and the positive space really the positive. They are just as important as each other. (Dutch Uncle, 2017)

Here are some examples of his work:

Fig 8. No title / Fig 9. Tea for Two

Dutch Uncle (2017) Noma Bar. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)


Shigeo Fukuda was a sculptor, graphic artist and poster designer who created optical illusions. His art pieces usually portray deception, such as: ‘Lunch with a helmet on’ – a sculpture which is made up from forks, knives and spoons that have been cast together to create a detailed shadow of a motorbike.

At the end of WWII Fukuda became interested in minimalist swiss style of graphic design and he graduated from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1956. He completed a wide range of commercial work including an official poster for the 1970 world’s fair in Osaka. A pair of posters created to celebrate Earth Day include a design showing the Earth as a seed opening against a solid sea-blue background and ‘1982 Happy Earth Day’ which shows an axe with its head against the ground and a small branch sprouting upwards from its handle. His work ‘Victory 1945’ won him the grand prize at the 1975 Warsaw poster contest. (Fergo, R. 2013)


victory Shigeo Fukuda
Fig 10. Victory (1945)






Fig 11. Happy Earth Day (1982) 


As a designer Fukuda feels a sense of moral responsibility and because of this, some of his designs reveal his convictions. His famous poster ‘Victory 1945’ is a comment on the senselessness of war. At the time war was a big business and the simplicity of the poster and his simplistic ideas of peace is what won him the grand prize. The natural trend for designer of Asia is to look towards western trends and ideas but this was something Fukuda didn’t want to do. He had strong anti-war influences – think of the larger scale of things. Nuclear, the more life changing effects of war. (Johnny 2015)

In 1980 Fukuda created a poster for Amnesty International which features a clenched fist interwoven with barbed wire, with the letter ‘s’ in the word amnesty at the top of the poster formed from a linked shackle.


Fig 12. Amnesty (1980)


‘Lunch with a helmet on’


motorbike Shigeo Fukuda
Fig 13. Lunch with a helmet on 


For this piece Fukuda wanted to create a £D object in which the shadow, not the form, represented an actual object. Fukuda remarked that is was very difficult to create a 3D object in this fashion that allows light to penetrate in this way. Fukuda used 848 pieces of cutlery to construct this piece. (Optical-illusionist, 2009)

Fergo, R. (2013) Shigeo Fukuda. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Johnny (2015) Antiwar Posters by Graphic Designer Shigeo Fukuda At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Optical-illusionist (2009) Lunch with a helmet on. At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 10. Fukuda, S. Victory. (1945) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 11. Fukuda, S. Happy Earth Day (1982) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 12. Fukuda, S. Amnesty (1980) [poster] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Figure 13. Fukuda, S. Lunch with a helmet on [sculpture] At: (Accessed on 27 December 2017)

Playing around with composition

Here are some examples of experimenting with composition. I wanted to do a little bit of practical work, rather than just research to really understand what I had just researched. I found that I questioned so many more aspects that will now be another focus for when I come to do the next exercises throughout this unit.

I used magazine cut outs, so I could simply focus on the placement of the images on the page. I used actual objects that I had cut out from magazines and then I also cut up random shapes with different colour harmonies to place the together and see how they worked together. I made some links with each piece of work and what worked better than other aspects. For example; the image with the objects in I found that the varying scale in some of them was too much, so I adapted this approach to the next one, with the shapes to make sure that the size of the shapes were fairly similar with only slight changes in scale. The background of the objects wasn’t very successful, so again I developed this further and decided not to have a ‘background’ as such for the shapes. I’m glad that I played around with this idea.

Research Continued…

Definition of composition:

The nature of something ingredients; the way in which a whole or mixture is made up.

‘And after drawing comes composition. A well composed painting is half done’ – Pierre Bonnard
Do we have to think so deeply into where we place things on a canvas?

As a child, composition and visual harmony comes naturally. Priorities change as we grow up and Crome more concerned of making an object realistic. You are naturally drawn to place objects at the centre of a piece. This is why I think Arikha will be a good starting point to influence my choices as a focus on composition. He does not place things in the centre of a piece. Below are some images of my brothers drawing (aged 6). His use of the page and colour compositions intrigue me but most of all, the thing that I questions is his imagination!

Contemporary artists: still life today

Many artists challenge the notion of composition as it plays with the idea of staying within the orders of the canvas. Traditionally triangular and pyramidal compositions were used as they created a sense of harmony and balance. In the late 1940’s Jackson Pollock challenged this and introduced an ‘allover composition’. This traditional idea of composition became known as relational composition. Although Pollock kept his paintings within the canvas there were come artists who did not, such as artist Barnett Newman. His paintings were relational in the extent that his proportions of the colours were adjusted against each other to create this ‘balance’ and ‘harmony’ but were seen as compositionally radical as the blocks of colour would run off the edge of the canvas. Newman left these paintings unframed. Frank Stella (late 1950s) achieved a composition that was both ‘all over’ and broke out from the confined of the canvas.

Frank Stella

‘What painting wants more than anything else is working space – space to grow into and expand into’.

Frank Stella was a painter, printmaker and writer. He was considered a leading figure of post-painterly abstraction. He began to paint abstract pictures while at school. He studied history at university and attended painting classes. Stella was influenced by Abstract Expressionism but after moving to New York he was impressed with Japser Johns paintings of the flag and this changed his art direction. He started to emphasise the idea that painting is a physical object rather than a metaphor on a flat surface. He wanted to ‘eliminate illusionistic space’. These aims were first evident in his series of black pinstripe paintings. He then began to use flat bands of bright colour. He wanted to work with the picture as a whole when it came to identifying pattern and so he started to work with notched and shaped canvases. In the 1970s he started to experiment with paintings that included cut out shapes in relief and abounded his spontaneous graffiti like manner.

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Avigdor Arikha

I wanted to look into another artists from my own knowledge in relation to still life and composition. I feel Avigdor Arikha fits into this. He was an Israeli painter, draughtsman, printmaker and writer. He created drawings in Nazi labour camps at the age of 13 which saved his life by attracting attention to his talent. In 1944 he emirgrated to Israel and started to study art. He was badly wounded in 1948 during the Israeli war and continued his studies in Paris.

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Research point – Composition and Still Life

What is Still Life?
Still life is a type of art work where a random selection of objects are arranged and then drawn as they appear in front of the artist.

In Ancient Egypt paintings started to appear on the walls of the Funerary Chambers. The paintings were often images of fond items and they appeared to have no awareness of 3D drawing at that time.

In the classical era still life reached it’s height during the 3rd and 2nd Centuries B.C. in Greece consisting of wall paintings and mosaics. Greek painter Zeuxis had apparently ‘painted grapes so life like that birds came to pick at them’ (line 35-36, oxford art online, still life) The Greek artists that painted everyday items were known as ‘rhyparographio’ which means painters of vile objects. In summary, this suggests that the Greeks had understood the notion of still life far better that those who painted in Ancient Egyptian times.

Moving onto the Roman paintings, these seem to be very much inspired by Greek traditional still life art. The Roman still life paintings were realistic although there were are range of styles applied by different artists of that era. The four primary styles were as follows:
Pompeian – The is the sole found in mosaics
Hellenistic tradition – Contains mural decorations
Reductionist Reaction against realism – These paintings were minimalistic
Trompe L’oiel – This is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create an optical illusion and was arguably the most prolific technique of the Roman era.

The 15th Century still life paintings produced in the Christian and Byzantine ‘periods’ became strictly symbolic and decorative.

From the 14th Century leading to the 17th Century painters places their religious scenes within domestic interiors. In 1440 painters in Europe included: Konrad Witz, Stefan Lochner, Hens Multscher and more. These artists incorporated still life elements in their religious compositions.

Still life painting further developed in the Netherlands during the 16th and 17th Centuries. Hans Merling painted the earliest flower painting ‘Vase with Lilies’. Hans_Memling

This led to the flower still life paintings being produced by Jan Breughel which seemingly set the standard for this type of painting. In the 16th Century kitchen and Market Place scenes also started to appear are were notably produced by Pieter Aertsen and Juachim Beuckelaer. Ambrosius Bosschaert introduced the notion of flowers, fruit and shells into the still life paintings. In early 17th Century still life painting containing symbols of death emerged. Evaristo Baschenis painted still life pictures with musical instruments.

From the 18th century onwards trompe l’oeil became more popular. In the Netherlands asymmetrical flower pieces marked a new compositional type. Artists started to paint decorative flower still life that replaced more traditional waiting. Major painters were Jan Pieter Verdussen, Gaspar Verbruggen and Jean-Francois Van Dael. Cardin was a crucial artist in the 19th century as his work of trompe l’oeil and decorative pieces inspired so many artists.

While trompe l’oeil was disappearing in Europe it was adopted by the USA. In the 19th century art in Europe was less restricted to national boundaries. Moving on new techniques and medias made artists increasingly aware of other cultures. Artists found this very inspiring and there was very little demand for still life. Edouard Manet’s still life evokes atmosphere and abstraction.Edouard Manet still life

Manet’s still life objects that defy gravity opened the way for cubists still life in the 20th century. Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir concentrated on the light, textural effects and analysing the surface of objects. Pierre Bonnard started up an unconventional use of colour using still life in his landscapes. Cozen was influenced by Manet and was focused on nature and qualities of light and volume.

In the early 20th century there ware influences from artists such as; Gogh and Fauvist artists such as Maurice de Vlaminck and Henri Matisse, who focused on rhythmical and bold application of colour. The influence from Cezanne, Seurat and Gaugin combined with African art developed into the work of Picasso and Braque. This led onto cubism still life which depict patterned objects reduced to geometric shapes, collaged techniques and different viewpoints. Surrealists painters bought together unrelated elements of realist and objects in imaginative settings. This is clear in the works of Dali and Rene Magritte.

dali_04 Dali

The possibilities of still life in the 1950’s and 60’s were fully explored in the imagery of Pop Art. Pop artists extended the symbolic role of still life in contemporary art. Claes Oldenburg reduced everyday life objects to simple shapes through the use of contradictions in scale.Claes oldenburg

Jasper Johns occasionally made still life sculptures using case objects in metal and then painted them. Photorealists, super realist and hype realist experimented with light on reflective surfaces, producing dazzling displays of everyday objects.

Tutor Feedback – 5/4/16

After speaking with my tutor she was able to iron out various concerns about submitting my first assignment. I was able to reflect about my assignment whilst talking to her. I feel that I have not immersed myself into this assignment as much as I should have. I felt that I was completing each exercise as an almost tick box and once it was done I was moving onto the next exercise without really understanding what I had just done or what the activity was asking of me. Although I was pleased with I a few of the outcomes the smaller tasks I felt were almost useless. I have realised that this way of working is not going ‘deep’ enough into making it a personal and approachable exercise for my to actually complete in a artistic manner, understanding my own practice and comparing it to others.
I feel that I do thorough artist research and I really grasp an understanding of the artists work but I do not compare this to my own work and how it relates. When I come to start assignment 2 I will be concentrating on understanding each task and completing, even small bits of research, to perhaps help me to go ‘deeper’ into the task. I will be putting these thoughts onto my blog.
When I was completing my temporary drawings I felt really involved with the work and I didn’t want to stop creating. There is not reason why I shouldn’t carry on exploring this way of working, however do not lose track of continuing through the unit.
When I am exploring into more detail, with the exercises or artist research try and relate this into the wider world of things.
For my assignment I will need to select and edit my own work that I chose to submit. The submission does not need to contain everything I have completed for assignment 1 but it needs to show a development of work that I have immersed myself in, unfortunately I do not think I have a decent amount of work to show. This is a learning curve and I will now put all these things into practice for my next assignment.