Cy Twombly is one of the most easily recognisable abstract artists of the twentieth century. His work is incredibly influenced by the natural world around him and his rough markings and use of media reflect this. He attended the Black Mountain College, an institution renowned for experimental creators. Much like a lot of his contemporaries his work remained incredibly negative space dominated with the raw paper or canvas showing through.This is a property I think really makes his work stand out from others. Although his work is obviously landscape, because of its huge scale the brushwork starts forming natural frameworks. This has encouraged me to start even doing rough work on larger scales in order to allow my self to become more expressive throughout processes.
Over the course of the summer I have decided to explore and research spaces without humanity and technology, i wanted to do this with the objective of improving on my draftsman ship and develop my personal visual language. After the feedback at the end of last year I have tried to create more context for creating. I started off by rough story boarding a potential short book about a young girl obsessed with her phone trying to escape the city and technology, running into the forest and realising this is where she feels most comfortable and at ease. In the short narrative I wanted to keep the pace interesting so created a mixture of close up, first person and far out compositions. Initially I started working with my preferred traditional media of gouache, watercolour, pen and ink. However I found myself quickly getting frustrated with my lack of references.
With the combination of gouache and watercolours I find myself trying to be too precise and losing my initial organic movements for fear of colours spreading and becoming murky. I am going to try a new approach and potentially try using digital media in order to get the cleaner crisper lines that I first imagined.
For my subject work this year I really wanted to focus on developing my own visual language, this hasn’t fully developed yet but I have really enjoyed the process of experimenting with different mediums and exploring elements of illustration I haven’t before.This year I really wanted to work on improving my hand rendered finishing skills as this is an aesthetic choice that I’m really drawn to in work in wider contexts as I think it’s more relatable to viewers.
At the start of the year, I started working on a collections project inspired by illustrating a theoretical list instead of physical things. However, after starting this I wanted to overhaul the project after the visit to Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, I wanted to switch my collection to Skulls and exploring their position within history and popular culture in modern day society and compile them into a short book, I initially started the work hand rendering it but I found that the pages became to minimalistic and white space dominated do after a tutorial I decided to use my own images that I had taken on the trip to Pitt Rivers and illustrate them using my iPad and Apple Pencil. I found that digitising them enabled me to put them into InDesign and experiment with words and context more.
This year I really wanted to work on improving my hand rendered finishing skills as this is an aesthetic choice that I’m really drawn to in work in wider contexts as I think it’s more relatable to viewers. By creating my work hand rendered and then digitising I feel my work is starting to look more finished and professional because it’s ready to be put into wider context.
I’ve been pushing myself to try and be less contained by creating work in my sketchbook and try and use it for rough notes and sketches instead of finished final images in order for my work to be more accessible and finished. I’ve found that by working bigger I have more room to be more expressive with my mark making and compositional choices and be more confident creating hand-rendered work. A lot of the work that I’ve been really pleased with this year has been created out of my sketchbook for the entirety of the projects and I think working bigger is encouraging me to think about the finished images more and putting them into context.
During this year I have tried to take on bigger projects in relation to the outside world, during the Creative Conscience brief, I decided to look at Men’s Mental Health an incredibly sensitive topic. I decided to approach the topic with more subtly and encourage self-reflection on the viewer, instead of overwhelming them with information on a sensitive topic that might scare them. During the editorial project, I also illustrated an image for an article regarding prisoners mental health in Guantanamo Bay, I wanted to illustrate the article in a way that it intrigues the viewer to want to read the article instead of demanding attention over it. I think creating a piece to aid attention instead of demanding it was interesting as an illustrator because we really had to pay attention to the articles we had chosen and how to represent them to the best of our ability.
I have already seen such an improvement within my mark making and ideas within this year and I can’t wait to see the work I produce in the next.
This year I took part in the field modules Circle Line: Experimental Documentary and Magical Objects. These two field modules encouraged me to expand more on my wider material practices which is something I really wanted to focus on and explore this year.
Circle Line was a video and animation based project which encouraged me to explore more abstract ideas and perspectives on creating. We worked within groups of around 4 or 5 and were encouraged to think outside our given disciplines to combine ideas into a final abstract outcome. For a lot of the process, the group had harmony in making choices and much of the angst came from collaborating with other groups within the module when compiling the work for presentation.
We were encouraged to make links between Insole Court in Llandaff and The Brecon Mountain Railway in Merthyr Tydfil and their joint pasts and abstract them. We took a trip to Brecon and recorded material on phones, GoPros and Video Cameras, our group decided to focus on texture and movement for our film since we felt this was the full extent of abstraction whilst still using the raw images. We combined with music students from The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, to create soundtracks to go with our experimental films who also came on the trip to Merthyr.
For the project, I also created a promotional poster image for the showing of the films we had at Insole Court with the Music students we teamed up with to create the soundtracks for our films. I created the image on Procreate on my iPad with input from Chris Glynn for composition and what information was needed on it.
This field module was incredibly useful in giving me the confidence to be more active in group projects and gaining satisfaction from being someone that wasn’t asking the questions in meetings but instead being someone that was answering them.
Within the Magical Objects project, we were encouraged to explore 3D based mediums with the focus of magical objects within history and culture. We started the project by diving headfirst into creating 3D pieces in cardboard from observational sketches of James Green’s collection of masks. Being able to see these pieces up close gave us a lot of inspiration for many of us hadn’t encountered masks up close.
The next part of the project was a group of us going on a research trip to Berlin to attend museums and galleries, I decided to link my masks and magical objects to my present subject topic of Men’s Mental Health and raising awareness, since this is contemporary subject I found a lot more inspiration in the contemporary art galleries and especially the Zine shops in Berlin. Whilst in Berlin I found myself really inspired by my surroundings and it gave me a lot of ideas for the rest of the project. For the rest of the project, I created masks based on clowns and hidden emotions within modern men and exploring raising awareness of the issue.
Being able to link my Field project with my subject work gave me a lot of confidence with continuing the work once the field module was finished and I think helped me create a cohesive body of work to finish the year off.
Wendy MacNaughton is an American illustrator whose work varies from visual journalism to commercial commissions, with her main mediums being watercolour and pen. Her work is centred on telling other people’s stories and portraying undiscovered tales.
The relationship between the stark white background and watercolours is what I believe in making MacNaughtons work look incredibly professional and finished. Her composition and perspective is either flat images or main foreground with small elements in a background, with short, broken pen strokes creating a sense of urgency in a static format much like the work of other reportage illustrators however her work is more based on the visual journalism aspect of reportage illustration instead of the journey aspect of it.
Much of her commercial work has a sense of satire injected with the handwritten text in the pieces, I think that this skill to present a beautiful image on first glance with a humour explanation on exploration is what makes her work truly unique in the world of reportage illustration.
Lizzy Stewart is a British illustrator based in London, her ‘reportage’ illustration consists of pieces that she produces on short trips around the world. Much of her work is created through pencil sketches, watercolour and ink, the mediums typical of reportage illustration, however, there is a different atmosphere in Stewart’s work. Her work doesn’t over complicate what she sees in front of her trying to make the compositions aesthetically pleasing on the page instead it’s almost like she works her way through systematically which in turn gives the pages their own individual meanings whilst she is on location. She allocates each place she goes it’s own selective pallet in a way and this coheres the pieces she creates whilst she is there reflecting the atmosphere she is surrounded by.
The work that she produces whilst travelling is a lot more minimalistic that the work that she produces in her studio in London, however, there is a clear relationship between the line and colour work throughout with the varied hand rendered textures. This ability to stay true to the hand rendered nature of her work is something I really admire in Stewart’s work and is something I hope to maintain in my own work as I develop in the coming years.
A selection from the illustration degree show 2017
This is a selection of the work that really caught my eyes in the illustration category in the degree show this year, a lot of the work I was drawn to was the work with bigger imagery on the walls. I lot of the work was most inspired by were the pieces that looked incredibly hand rendered and have a really considered composition in their designated area e.g not having the space too crowded but selecting strong work which speaks for itself. Having work open to the viewer immediately is something I believe to be crucial when work is in a larger context such as a show in order to gain attention instead of people being too lazy to view it. All though a lot of the 3D work in the show was also incredibly the two-dimensional work is what grabbed my attention and I think this is a reflection of my preferences throughout my own practice as well.
A Selection from the rest of the degree show
This is a selection from the rest of the degree show that I was really inspired by. A lot of the pieces that I was drawn to were either 3D and had an interesting layout in their space or 2D work that had lots of different elements combined into an almost series. A lot of the shows that I was drawn to had incredibly detailed pieces, and this is something that I am drawn to especially in my own work. A lot of the work I was drawn to had quite limited palettes and but I think that they stood out well against the plain white walls and the limited palettes made the pieces look incredibly professional showing an ability to be selective.
Overall seeing the degree show has made me incredibly excited to present my own work in the spaces this year and also next.
This is a PDF of my initial rough book of my developmental work. I have been exploring composition and the relationship with words and images and my association with them. I am not entirely pleased with the outcome in this booklet and would like to experiment more with scanning in my images and experimenting with them in photoshop before I collate them. I am going to experiment more with working on a larger scale in order to create more detailed images and mark making, for example filling a single sheet entirely with mark making representing a tree then being placed into a larger image in order to be more expressive.
I want to explore more with creating a more hand rendered aesthetic within my work and I believe that working on a larger scale with help with this because it will force me to have less control over my mark making.
After a tutorial with Anna, I have decided to become more expressive through my mark making and painting techniques in order to have a more established presence in my work. I want to create more of an atmosphere in my work and in order to do so, I am actively deciding to be more exploratory of perspective and composition. Breaking the set boundaries of images is something I find interesting and draws more attention to certain elements of images. I want to explore colour more, whether it be true to life or more exaggerated and surreal. I want to continue to work delicately within my work but I’m going to be more confident with my mark making and decisions.