Wednesday, 29 February 2012

History of Art and Cloth & Habitable Space

I've had another two classes.  The History of Art tutorial made me feel quite anxious.  There seems a lot of work about subjects that I know nothing about, and we were asked to pick topics for our presentation and first essay.  The timetabling is out of sequence, as I get the tutorial before the lecture.  So I am not in command of the lecture information, before we start working on it in the tutorial! I prefer to get the presentation done early in the semester, because I like to work steadily, and not to have several assessments all at the same time.  This semester I have 2 essays and a presentation for Indigeneous Studies, 2 essays and a presentation for History of Art, and for Cloth & Habitable Space, 2 practical assessments and a written proposal.  I prefer to have them spread out a bit, and only one assessment in each week.  Given some assessment dates are defined by the tutors, I prefer to get the presentations done as early as possible to get them out of the way.

However once I got into the textile module, I started enjoying myself.  We started with group work.  I'm in a group with girls from last year's module and this makes it a lot easier.  We are looking at how to change the dressing of an area of interior architecture.  Each group has a different material to work with, choosing from industrial felt, plastic and wire net, gauze, foam sheeting, and plastic.  My group, with Ellie, Cassie and Victoria is working with foam sheeting.  We chose a corner in the dye room that has a mirror and brick wall.  We drew patterns from the brickwork, that were affected by the reflection from the mirror.  We had to put it into a repeat on a macquette, then apply it to the foam sheeting.  We ended up with a simple line pattern that we are cutting into the foam sheet, which will stand in a quarter circle around the corner with the bricks and mirror.  As you look through the pattern cut into the foam, you will see the bricks on one side and reflection of the back of the foam in the mirror.  I think next week we will be using the cut out shapes to add to the surface. 

It was slightly irritating to receive the class handout and find that on the first class, we were expected to bring a camera to document our progress.  Which none of us had.  Photos really add to your visual diary, especially when it is someone else's idea/sketch that the group choose to take forward for the project.  I will be in the History of Art lecture today and I think I will take my camera and go to the textile workshop and photograph the work we have done so far so I can put work to date in my visual diary.  It is quite apparent from the class specification that extensive documentation of testing is expected.  And this needs to start now.

This module will cover laser cutting, tufting, pleating and machine felting.  I'm happy to learn about this, but I do find it a bit odd that in a third year module, Curtin is still teaching.  In the UK, by this stage, people would be working on their own projects.  As I am a 2nd year student in a third year module, it is suits me to be learning new techniques, because I am here to develop skills. But in my heart, I want to be developing the printing and pattern making skills that I learned last semester.  And I'd like to use the repeat printer that we mastered last year, and we don't have one of these at Herts.  So I am a little frustrated but admit that I've learned so much more by being at Curtin, that I just need to get on with it.  Take the experiences that are offered and don't fret about not expanding the ones I've enjoyed so far.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Indigeneous Studies - first class of new semester

This is a much smaller class than I expected.  There are about 17 of us for the main lecture, and two tutorial groups that fit with different people's timetables.  Our tutor, Ken Hayward, is from the Noongar aboriginal group, and played the didgeridoo for us as part of his Welcome to Country.  He looks like he will be a wonderful lecturer - very articulate and with a broad ranging knowledge of his subject.  I'm looking forward to it.

There are 7 in my tutorial group.  There are a group of 4 students from the USA - all from the same university in Texas; all studying business.  There are also 2 other mature students: one is an archaelogist studying for her masters, who has worked extensively with indigeneous people in the Broome/Darwin areas; the other is a business student. 

As Jim commented on email, I'm having my usual wobble of confidence before the semester gets going.  There seems so much to cover and knowledge to gain.  I wonder whether I will keep up.  I've been reading the course specifications for my 3 modules and am feeling slightly overwhelmed.  But at least I have only 3 modules.  I can give myself credit for getting one module done during summer school so I will be less pressured. 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Back to School!

Tomorrow I am back at uni after 4 months summer holidays. 4 months is too long really - I was very glad to have 6 weeks of summer Drawing school during that time.  I packed a lot into the holidays - 4 week road trip to Cairns, created a sketchbook, entertained Maurice for 3 weeks, summer school and a 5 day coach trip to Ningaloo Reef - but I'm ready to return to class.

I have 3 modules for the coming semester.  Mondays I work on Aboriginal Studies, Tuesday and Thursday is History of Art, and Wednesday is Cloth and Habitable Space. 

Roll on tomorrow.

Day 5 Kalbarri-Perth continued

We stopped in the Kalbarri National Park at the coastline and looked at the amazing cliffs facing the sea.  This time the rock was white, presumably limestone.  It was quite surprising, when only a mile or so inland the river had carved a gorge through red sandstone, such a short distance away. 

We drove along the side of a shallow lake in Karatha.  This lake was an astonishing colour - from a distance it was a purple/pink colour, but on getting closer it was bright terracotta red/orange.  This lake was full of a marine algae - dunaliella salina - which creates beta-carotene.  This is part of the A vitamin group.  Carotene is the substance that makes carrots and cantaloupe melons orange.  Also flamingoes that feed on lakes with this algae, have a pink colour to their feathers, and those that do not ingest this, are white.  The company BASF use this lake to produce beta-carotene, and export it commercially.  It was an astonishing sight.

Beta carotene being produced by algae in the lake

Alongside the road there were round gourd like objects growing.  The leaves had withered away.  We were told that these were paddy melons.  They grow freely along the roadside and are a very, very bitter fruit.  So bitter that even the ants won't eat them. 

Our final stop of the day was for a walk around the Pinnacles.  These were in a large sandy desert area. Some spires of stone protruding up from the ground were about 2 feet high, but others were 7/8 feet high.  There are a variety of complicated theories about how these stones were formed, but basically it is thought that limestone has eroded to form spires, then sand has blown in to cover them, and now the wind is blowing the sand away again, to expose these astonishing forms.  We walked around this area for about 90 minutes, and saw hundreds, and hundreds of pinnacle stones.  We also saw kangaroo footprints, although no animals in the desert area.  We saw kangaroos from the coach when we left, and they had found shaded areas under big shrubs where they could easily overlook the surrounding scrub.  The information centre had displays on how different types of limestone were formed, and typical animals that came out after dark, including snakes, emu and bats.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Day 5 Kalbarri-Perth

We set off about 8am from Kalbarri and drove into the Hawks Head area of the national park.  At this time of year, the environment is normally arid and dessicated by the end of summer.  But because of the cyclone rain a couple of weeks ago, everything was sprouting green, and looked as if spring flowers would blossom before we went back into autumn and winter.  Very unusual.
River from high ground in Kalbarri National Park

Hawks Head rock

Hawks Head rock, looking to the right over the river.
Same river, to the left

Friday, 24 February 2012

Day 4 Carnarvon-Kalbarri

We woke up this morning, wondering whether or not we would be able to head south.  When I put my head outside my door, I realised it was raining.  There was no smell of smoke.  I thought this felt promising as hopefully, the rain would have extinguished the bush fire.  At breakfast the local staff had varied opinions on this - ranging from "this type of rain is associated with lightening and may start different fires in places that have not yet burned", to "the road will be opened, and will stay open". 

Our driver contacted the fire authority and received confirmation that the road south was open.  We all leapt into the coach.  The original plan was to look around historic parts of Carnarvon, but because of the road conditions we headed south straight away.  We had a quick look at the Overseas Telecommunications Company (Australia) Satellite Earth Station, which was originally a Government listening post, but is now defunct.  Quite an impressive dish for the 1960s.  It tracked the Apollo moon landing and provided live coverage to the Perth area and also tracked Halley's comet.  The dish is 30m across and apparently has parabolic and hyperbolic reflectors (whatever they are!).  It is the only remaining satellite dish in the world that still has both of these.
Defunct satellite station at Carnarvon
And a suitably defunct looking sign.
A little way along the road, we were driving on metalled road, but with gravel roads leading off.  When the rains come, these gravel roads are often closed because they turn into a bright red quagmire.  As we had had rain the previous night, the driver said some gravel roads were likely to be closed but even he was surprised when the road sign said all local gravel roads were closed.

"Local area closed due to rain"
Imagine how quickly this would churn up if people drove on it in the wet

We were shown the Gasgoyne River, which surprisingly for this time of year, had some water in it.  Apparently the rivers here spend large parts of the year appearing to have a dry bed.  But in reality, they only have flowing water during heavy rain.  For the rest of the year, the water is flowing under the sand.  You can tell that the river is healthy and contains underground water by the condition of the River Gum trees that grow all the way along the riverbank.  They were a bright, healthy green, indicative that their heads were in full sun, but not under stress because their roots were in water.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Day 3 Carnarvon-Ningaloo Reef-Carnarvon

This was a wonderful day out.  We drove through extensive areas of the bushland.  As we have progressed through the most part of summer, this land is normally very dry and arid, completely scorched by the sun and very often recently burned because of lightening strike during electric storms.  However, about 2 weeks ago some cyclones came through (cyclone Tracey?) and deposited huge quantities of water over extensive areas, sometimes of hundreds of kilometers.  As a result, the grasslands were green!  The soil was very red, and had changed from pure sand to some sort of clay base, so in places the water was pooling and standing, not draining away.

Storm cloud forming

We crossed the Tropic of Capricorn and started seeing extensive colonies of termite mounds.  These were dome shaped moulded mud which the ants had designed to have extensive air conditioning, by creating air vents and labyrinthine corridors inside.  They looked very dramatic surrounded by clumps of eau-de-nil coloured grass, already forming seedheads, contrasting with the terracotta red termite mounds.  Some termite mounds were 1.5m high and to achieve this height, they must be at least 100 years old.
Me standing on the Tropic of Capricorn line
This anthill is over 7 feet high and is well over 100 years old.

We drove through an area where a small bush fire was burning with smoke drifting across the road.  From a distance we could see the bushfire smoke rising into a cloud, changing colour from pale grey, and lightening to white as it rose. 

Ningaloo Reef was a fascinating place.  We had a boat trip to the reef itself, which is only about a 10 minutes away from the shore.   The boat came very close to the waters edge, and we waded through crystal clear water, about knee deep, before climbing onto the glass bottomed boat.  Everyone knows about the Great Barrier Reef on the east coast, but this reef is much less known, and much closer to shore.  This reef is less colourful than the Great Barrier Reef, but is much more textured.  There were brain corals, stags horn corals, boulder coral - all sorts of different shapes.  We were also shown areas where there was coral regrowth.  Decades previously boats crossing the reef had pruned the top off the coral reef, leaving great broken areas.  However a rare type, lavender coral, is revitalising the dead areas and is apparently very rare.  It looked just like growing lavender in flower. 
Not the greatest picture as it is taken on the glass bottomed boat,
but it gives the impression.
As you can see, lots of different shapes and textures.

We snorkelled for about 45 minutes.  My mask fitted perfectly (last time it did not) and I had fascinating session trying to look in detail at the fish and coral, to remember and correctly identify them.  I definitely saw a blue finned parrot fish and red spot emporer, a sergeant fish but the rest I can't remember.  There was definitely one with electric blue and fuschia fins but can't remember the name. 

On the way home we crossed the Murchison River.  This shows the level of water, very high for the height of summer, in comparison to the old bridge.  The flood markers which were often submerged by flash flooding caused by cyclones.

The new bridge with old bridge as a speck in the distance. 
The authorities plan for the new bridge to be able to handle the river in spate.

We returned to our hotel, heading south back to Carnarvon.

Tonight at dinner, we heard that the road north from our hotel had been closed, due to bush fire, after we came through. We were all relieved to have got through before the road closed, but unfortunately, there is an advisory alert out that the road south from Carnarvon may be closed by tomorrow because of a bush fire there. This will put our trip out. I'm not bothered at all so long as I am home by Sunday night, but we are meant to be back in Perth on Friday, and some tour members are meant to fly home from Perth on Friday evening, and Saturday. My attitude is "if we can't travel, we can't travel". I'll make the best of it, whatever. I do hope that if we get stuck, we can find rooms. When bush fires close roads, the hotels fill up, with firemen and other staff who deal with these events. Whatever happens, it will turn out ok. As our driver said, the authorities have all night to deal with it and we can just hope the road is open.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Day 2 Monkey Mia-Carnarvon

Monkey Mia gets the mia part of the name from an aboriginal word meaning foul water.  The water in Shark Bay is very salty - twice as salty as usual, and this is because there are extensive meadows of sea grass in comparatively shallow water and the sea grass reduces the ebb and flow of water, and evaporation makes it become more salty.

People waiting on the pier, at about 7am, for the dolphins to arrive.

We spent part of the morning waiting on the beach to see whether the dolphins would come in.  They come in, if they feel like it, between 7.30 and 9am.  This morning we waited until almost 9, before they turned up.  Two days previously there had been 8, the day before none.  Today 3 families of dolphins assembled plus some that are not part of specific groups, and we saw 18 in total.  The dolphins all have different names and are identified by fin scars, and other body markings.  Monkey Mia is in an area called Shark Bay and these sharks are they cause of most identifying scars.  Some dolphins have had chunks bitten away, as dolphin is a main course in shark dinner.  Every day the dolphins seen are logged and this is part of a long term ecological monitoring system.  The staff know which calf belongs to which dolphin, and often the calves are lost to shark predation. 

Dolphins waiting to be fed.
 Food given is only 20% of their daily intake and they are not dependent upon it.
This is their usual dinner.  A shoal of fish.

The hotel at the Shark Bay site was a set out a bit like a holiday camp - lots of small chalets very close together, with little areas to sit out and planted beds between.  There was a family of 5 emus that wandered around.  An adult and 4 teenagers.  The adult was the father, as the mother only lays the eggs then wanders off, leaving the responsibility of rearing the offspring to the father.  Their favourite food is the round seedheads that grow on the palm trees.  You could tell that they ate a lot of these, because their droppings were all around the site, and obviously, they do not fully digest the seeds!  They were lovely birds and this was a small penalty in comparison to the delight of watching them.

We left Monkey Mia and had an early lobster lunch (locally sourced) which was wonderful.  We ate at 11am, because restaurants are very few and far between, and this was the best time and place to eat. 

We went along to a viewpoint called Eagle Bluff, where there is a walkway 50m or so above sea level.  from here you could see clearly to the bottom of a shallow inlet, sheltered by a meadow of seagrass.  In this water we saw about 6 stingrays, and at least 20 small sharks.  It was an astonishing view. 
Eagle Bluff

This little island is visible from the viewpoint at Eagle Bluff, and is only inhabited by birds.  Back in Victorian times it was heavily damaged by prospectors who identified the guano which is high in phosphates.  Extensive collection was detrimental to the seabirds and the bay, but since the guano is no longer harvested, the environment is recovering.

We then drove to Shell Bay where the beach is comprised of tiny white shells, which are the only things that will live in this particular area, and can accommodate the extreme salinity of this piece of coastline.  It was stunningly white and bright, and the water was incredibly clear. 

We then drove to an area with Stromatalites.  These are bacteria that live on the seashore, just underwater, give off oxygen and very, very slowly die off and form rock.  You could actually see the bubbles forming and floating to the surface of the sea.  We walked around a boardwalk and you could see the various different forms of bacteria because of slight differences in formation and clear differences in colour.   Apparently these are very ancient bacteria that changed the course of evolution.  When they formed, the oxygen level on planet earth was about 4% and these bacteria, over millions of years, raised the level to 20% and this enabled life forms that require oxygen to evolve. Amazing.  And we actually saw these stromatalites giving off oxygen bubbles!

Stromalite rock emerging from seawater at low tide.
More stromatalites
Different shapes in the rocks mean a slightly different type of bacteria.

We then had a few hours on the coach while it drove to Carnarvon, where we stay for 2 nights.  We passed a recent roadkill sheep, and there was a wedge tailed eagle, acting as nature's dustman.  The carcase was very recent, possibly today, and was starting to blow up already in the 40 degree heat.  But the eagle looked very keen to tuck in, so I don't suppose the roadkill will be there for long.

Only about 400k today.  Comparatively easy.  Tomorrow we go on a glass bottomed boat and go snorkelling. 

Shell Beach

Five day trip to Ningaloo Reef - Day 1 Perth-Monkey Mia

I had an early start on Monday. I caught the 6.42 bus into Perth, in order to be in good time for the coach tour that departed from Swan Bells at 8am.  The traffic into Perth is notorious at that time in the morning. 

There are 12 of us on the tour.  A group of 4 danish people, a german mother and son (Rosemary and Tobias), 2 retired Sister of Mercy nuns on holiday (Kate and Therese), a married couple from Essex(Samantha and John), a retired man from Stratford on Avon (Peter), and me.  The first day was a long one - 840km.  We had plenty of stops but not a lot of sightseeing.  There were huge distances with no habitation.  Just the occasional roadhouse, where we were encouraged to buy something to eat or drink, in order to keep them functioning.  We drove through the Nanchep National Park, where I drew a series of balga (grasstrees) and through a windfarm where apparently they generated 100megawatts an hour.  We had to pull over while a wide load came through - a low loader carrying a fully assembled house on it!  It was 7.6m wide and had an escort vehicle front and rear.  It was huge. 

The Sisters of Mercy ladies were very interesting.  Therese and Kate were novices together about 50 years ago.  Therese is still working, and lives in South Africa and works in a community with adults and children with Aids.  Kate is retired, but now lives in Sydney in an apartment and does a lot of pastoral work in that area.   Kate left school at 15, worked in railway admin for 3 years, then trained as a nurse, and decided to become a nun, commencing her noviciate when she was 23.  Therese started her novitiate when she left school.  They both worked in general practice as nurses, and also obstetrics.   Kate said the order had become much more flexible since they entered - they do not wear a habit, or veil, but have their symbolic cross, ring and rosary ring. They are both lovely, kindly, intelligent, articulate and humorous women.   They are both really enjoying their holiday. 

The driver said at the beginning of the day that he expected we would arrive at the hotel in Monkey Mia at about 7.15 - and he was absolutely spot on.  There are not many places where you can estimate time of arrival that accurately - certainly not in London where I come from.  840k and an accurate estimated time of arrival.

Friday, 17 February 2012

An interesting half day trip

As part of the package for the Ningaloo Reef 5 day trip, I got a free half day trip to Swan River.  This was an excellent half day.  We started by going to a wildlife park where we had a two hour tour with a guide.  We saw kangaroos, walleroos and wallabies (3 different sizes of the same type of animal), a wombat and koalas.  There were dingos (wolf family, not dog family) eagles and kookaburras. 

The guide was very fond of his animals.  We were allowed to stroke and feed the kangaroos with pelleted food (they were obviously used to being fed by tourists).  The fur was quite soft and fluffy.

Me feeding white and red kangaroos

Teenage joey having a drink from inside Mum's pouch
Wisely having a sleep in the midday heat.

We were shown a wombat, that was happily sitting on the lap of one of the rangers.  Being a marsupial, the wombat gives birth to unformed young, and incubates them in her pouch.  This wombat was lying on the lap of the ranger, with her pouch on display.  The entrance to the pouch looks like a large belly button and the pouch lies up towards the ribs, rather than downwards like a kangaroo.  Apparently normally, there are several wombats that are used for education but this particular wombat likes being brought out of her living quarters, and sulks and shows off if any other wombat is chosen, so she is usually the animal they use.  Her fur was quite coarse to touch.

Wombat showing her pouch entrance

Wombat enjoying being made much of.

After the wildlife park, we went to the chocolate factory and sampled excellent dark chocolate, then were taken on to a vineyard.  Others on the tour had the chance to sample about 10 different red, white and fortfied wines.  I sat drinking water and eating the muscat grapes grown by the vineyard.  We arrived back in Perth about 7pm.  It was a jolly good half day tour.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

My identity - Artist (Applied)

I've been thinking about the importance of art in what I make.  During Drawing class, I've drawn all sorts of things - still life and life class nudes.  As I work, ideas and concepts come to me and inform how I draw. After this process, or sometimes during it, I am struck with an idea of how to apply the art that I have made to an object.  This appeals to me because I want the art to be critical to the things that I make.  My subject happens to be textiles, so I practice art in order to inform the textile design process.  What I am not, is a manufacturer or maker, who looks for things to decorate the objects that I have made.    I am an artist, not a manufacturer. 

Today, I have been making up handmade sketchbooks.  During Drawing class, I had created at least 60 A1 drawings, plus A2 pieces for homework.  This is just too much to take home to the UK.  I have photographed them, and put a lot of them on this blog, but was resigned to just throwing them away.  Then my friend Lisa was talking about looking at the whole, and the detail, and reviewing my work.  So instead, I have selected about half the drawings, and cropped them to A2 size, and made them into a concertina sketchbook.  Or rather two concertina sketchbooks.  One on life drawings, the other on still life drawings.  They now only weigh about a quarter of the original weight, and each sketchbook has about 18 pages.  I am pleased to be able to take them home.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Today, I nearly got my knickers in a twist!

At the weekend I booked a coach tour to Ningaloo Reef, up the coast from Perth.  This is a 5 day tour, costing around $1200.  I wavered about booking it, because that is a lot of money for a student, but decided to book it as Jim is back in the UK for another two weeks so I'm on my own until university starts on 27 Feb, and it's probably my last chance to do a tour before I return to England.  Ningaloo Reef is a place of outstanding natural beauty so I really wanted to see it, and I am unlikely to have the opportunity again.

So when I received a phone call from the tour company reservations clerk, stating I had been undercharged, I was staggered.  Then the clerk informed me the tour cost was actually $1700 and I had been undercharged by $500!  I was appalled at this, stating as a student, if I had know it was $1700, I would not have even considered booking the tour.  I did not have this money available, and would prefer a refund. The clerk stated the brochure had the wrong figure, because the prices for 3 and 5 day tours had been confused.  Fortunately I queried whether it was legal for the company to impose the price increase as it was not my fault.  (I know my UK consumer law, but was not sure about Australian consumer law).  The clerk started hedging, saying he did not know about whether it was legal to hike the price after the tour was booked.  At this point I got on my high horse, and told him it was his job to know whether it was illegal or not!  I said it was illegal for him to change the contract terms, after the brochure was published and after I had booked the tour via the tour company agent.  He went off to refer to his manager, and about half an hour later, the Company Sales Director rang me back confirming the tour was sold at $1200 and they had to honour it.  I was relieved and pleased.

I was quite surprised at my reaction to this incident.  I have been very hard working and dedicated to my studies since I've been here, and by my standards, quite calm and placid.  But the moment someone sprang an unexpected situation on me, all my old volatility returned.  I'm so glad my life is mostly peaceful now.  I don't need hassle or grief - I just want a nice life with my husband, being creative.

So, back to the subject of a nice life with creativity. 

I had my Drawing summer school assessment today.  I was delighted with 78%.  I said to Michael, the tutor, that I would probably put the work in the bin as it was too heavy to take back to the UK.  He advised me to select the best bits to take home, as some were good, rather than bin it.  Then I spoke to my friend Lisa, via email.  She gave me an idea to take the work and turn it into a handmade sketchbook, by cutting, cropping and rejoining the best bits.  Some pieces to portray the whole object, but others to focus on details.  And this gave me an idea for some new formats for the postcard project.  Chinese books can be made by cutting and folding A4 paper, so I might try this on bigger paper, then sealing the edges and using them as postcards.  Just need to create some isolating bars so I can identify the most interesting parts. 

This will keep me occupied for the next few days.  Yippee.  Life is SO exciting.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Final homework for Drawing class

Battered trainers and soft hat. 
Trying to focus on contrast between texture, soft effects and hard effects.

Four versions of my hat.  Soft effects
Brushwork and charcoal.  Looks better in actual drawing.

Different soft brush effects.

Michael commented in class on Friday, that not enough people practice art.  He said there are a lot of people writing about it - but anyone can do that.  Good art needs to be practiced in order to develop a wide visual language, and quite simply, not enough people do it.  I agree that it takes a lot of effort to put in the necessary time to keep drawing, but it is often a case of the motivation to do it.  I am really impressed with my visual diary for this class, but had I not really stuck with it, I could easily have not used it at all.  And now I look back at what I have done over the last 6 weeks, some of my best work is in the sketchbook, not on the large paper.  And the sketchbook is small enough to take home, whereas the large work is likely to go in the bin, simply because it is too heavy to take home.  So the only record of my work, will be online in this blog.  But the important thing is to practice your art.  This is why I like and need art classes.  They motivate me to keep drawing.  

Reflections on last Drawing Class

I took my 4 homework drawings to class on Friday, and had some interesting feedback on them.  I think they showed a broad variety of styles.  They were definitely not the best in class - some people had made a massive leap in what they produced - but my drawings had a wider scope in how I had used the media. 

I think Michael liked the way I had thought about what might be in the mug, in order to alter the way in which I drew it.  I don't think anyone else in class had approached the exercise in the same way.

Michael said I could have knocked back even more the drawing of milk in the mug.  If it represents dark, sleepy, bedtime milk, I could have made the right hand much darker in the shadow, so that it could hardly be seen, and also done the same with the arms that extend off the page.  This was fair comment, and although I had already darkened the image, I could have made it a lot darker with smoky, fuzzy, effects to give the sleepy effect. 

I was disappointed in the drawing of a mug containing iced water, and explained that I was trying to make a image that was not busy.  For this reason it was the most difficult.  Michael suggested I could have floated sketchy ice cubes in the space around the mug, and suddenly it all came clear - this would have enhanced the cold feeling I was trying to achieve, without making the mug itself more busy. 

He liked the busy, layered drawing that represented the over stimulation cause by tea.  We had a discussion about the drawing of movement for the mug with beaten egg.  I worked hard on this one, but was a bit disappointed with it.  I felt it was very static.  Which it was because I had drawn the "moving" fork in a very static, defined way - when it should have been smudged in one direction to give the illusion of movement.  So a smudgy media was required and I had used hard pencil.  Also Michael suggested drawing several right hands, to give the impression of movement - which had not occurred to me.  And would have been so "right" for the drawing.  I had used a linear movement to describe the mug as the whisking movement will scratch the surface, but had used pencil again, which was too soft for the effect I wanted.  Michael agreed the scratchy idea was appropriate, but I think I used the wrong media for the contrast between the hands (oil pastel) and mug (pencil).  I wanted the mug to be the focal point, but it ended up being the hands because of choice of media.

Michael summed up my work as representing an honest struggle from interesting thought processes.  I found that conclusion to be very complimentary.  And I can show that I listened to the feedback!

In class we were working from our own composition of still life.  I decided to work from my flask (very hard clear lines) and my hat (very soft straw).  I was still experimenting with different media and styles. 

Then the final homework is to produce 2 A1 drawings of a subject of our choice, by Monday (!).  Only 2 days!  I think I will work on my battered trainers and straw hat. 

Photos to follow

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Angst over my homework

I have really struggled with this homework.  The first image of my hands around a mug of milk went well, but after that I found it difficult.  This is probably because I was comfortable with the drawing style of the first image (charcoal), but the purpose of the homework was to challenge us to develop different drawing styles, that are not the techniques that we use repeatedly. 

I find I am inhibited by working in the flat.  At class, we stand at an easel, can make mess with charcoal and ink, and can step back regularly to see how our work views from a distance and get a feel for the perspective.  In the flat, I am inhibited because of the need not to make a mess, I'm working on a horizontal surface and don't have the space to step back easily to review.  I'm sitting against a wall and to view from a distance need to turn everything round to face the other way and stand on the other side of the table

The homework was certainly a challenge.  The second image was a mug holding iced water.  I was trying to draw in a simple style with a variable (and inconsistent) line using black oil pastel.  This was the most difficult drawing and I had to restrain myself from continually working back into what I had drawn.  This was meant to look cool, iced and simple.

The next image was comparatively easy, but not the most successful.  This time I thought about the phenomonological effects of tea.  This is a stimulant, so I drew the mug quite quickly, layering several times with different techniques (indian ink, quink ink, charcoal, white oil pastel, water soluble pencil).  It certainly looks as if it was drawn when hyper from strong tea!

And the last one I've tried to get the feeling of movement.  The only other thing I put in a mug is an egg when I am cake making.  So this one has a beaten egg in a mug, drawn with oil pastel for the hands and pencil/water soluble pencil for the mug and egg.  I even managed to get an egg shape, where my hand grips the cup. 

Pity the hands are different sizes!
I worked myself into paralysis before this drawing.  I was trying too hard - attempting to create a different effect from all the others.  But I think I have achieved the 4 different phenomonological effects - sleepy darkness; icy coldness; stimulation; and movement, when portraying one item.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

St Mary's Cathedral, Perth

Drawing homework has ground to a halt, so I've spent a morning looking around St Mary's Cathedral. This is the one that has been dramatically altered from a traditional stone cathedral to having a modern glass extension added.

Front view, note modern side pieces

External view of side extension
Side view of external walls
Inside left hand window, showing extended seating capacity

Inside right hand window extension,
showing steel supporting pillar and old window over

View of organ, entrance and increased light levels, from the alter
Steel girder and exposed brickwork beside organ chamber

Ancient and modern glass behind the alter

Steel girder supporting new extension, facing alter
The photos don't capture the light airy feel that the modern extension has created.  I was not convinced from the outside, but I do believe the light environment would enhance the feeling of worship.