Archives for the month of: April, 2013

Visited Bristol yesterday with the course, primarily to visit the drawing exhibition being held in the RWA. The exhibition was really impressive, a huge selection which covered most areas of drawing including many which are relevant to me area of study at the moment.

Some artists that had work which interested me were Janine Parthington with scalpel cuts in layers similar to what I dabbled in during the 3d project.

Rachel Nee had an interesting process which I couldn’t work out, the image was made with burn marks using matches which had left their print:

Rachel Nee – Terrorium II


This process is great, combining two techniques, laser cutting and a candle which are the two extremes of a technology spectrum. The drawings created have an added atmosphere from the burn/soot marks.

Ilse Black had a piece of work which seemed to be a representation of space, or attempt to create an illusion of space. Searching her website I picked up on the use of cyan and red to be used with 3d glasses which again I have touched on but not fully explored.

Peter Matthews had a drawing:

Peter Matthews – 4 hours in the pacific ocean

This wasn’t the drawing he had in, the one in the RWA was titled 4 hours in the Atlantic ocean (England). I cannot work out what is happening in the drawings, I thought he was on a boat mapping or recording something but after visiting his website I found out he is actually in the ocean, I don’t know what he is recording but I love the rust addition and the map quality the drawings have.


Sax Impey had a huge drawing of a storm, titled “night, wind and sea increasing” what I  enjoyed about the piece was it was a large dramatic emotive, expressionist blur but it was within a measured frame and marks and ruled lines were poking out at the corners which suggested there was a measurement to the whole thing.

An artist called Ross Wallis had put life drawings made on his ipad forward. These were quick looking sketches which ran on a slideshow. I should use my ipad casually more often.

William Rounce‘s drawing “The accumulation of marginal gains” seemed to use isometric projection from a central point, i liked it because it was a working drawing and so had that aesthetic to it.

William Rounce – Accumulation of marginal gains


Doug Burton used a 3d scanner I think to scan the ground of various places including the North Devon coast path, he then made print and videos of the resulting “drawings” that were created.

Doug Burton – untitled linear land-study (freshly mown lawn)

I liked these because of the concept of scanning little patches of ground, I like the way the drawings look and prefer the print outs to the fly through videos he had on. 3D printing and 3D scanning is exciting stuff, it would be great to get my hands on it.

Toni Davey had two great pieces on was called wave 2 and was a laser cut pice of paper with a grid on it. The image is illusional creating curves which morph put of the grid.

Toni Davey – Wave 2

I especially liked his drawing Burn 27 however which was a grid which had been burnt, some areas had been burnt through more than others. I had experimented with this before and really enjoyed some of the results but again never invested much time into it. I think the new Thursday sessions will give me the chance to explore these various mediums I have neglected over other duties in the past.

Toni Davey – Burn 27


David Miles had a piece called love story which was a sequence of crosses (or kisses) filling a page. This struck me as a simple systems drawing and I wonder what came first, the drawing or the idea.

There was also a drawing machine at the exhibition. I was a tad disappointed by it to be honest though. It was not the machine advertised on the front cover of the catalogue and turned out to be a simple hanging gondola type machine much like what I have researched many of before. The idea of a back pack which maps your position and journey has been done before as well. But it was interesting and enjoyable to see a drawing machine in an exhibition.





These are two pages of test marks made using Bideford black. In its different forms I can create a different mark; while it is soft and moist (its original form from the cliff) it has a waxy, greasy feel to it and makes a mark like a wax crayon. When this substance has been left out in the heat to dry it hardens and becomes crumbly and resembles charcoal  in the marks it makes. I can then crush this into a powder which I can use to smudge large areas like a graphite powder or I can mix it with other things, a bit of water creates a paste or an ink similar to black drawing ink or indian ink when used with a nib, or with a quality I find similar to gouache when used in a wash or to block areas with a brush having a matte and dusty look.



These are two tests, the top image is using Bideford lack which I have mulled with copper plate oil to make an etching ink paste, the image below that is using regular etching ink. The Bideford Black made such a sticky ink it pulled the paper off instead of depositing the ink from the etched lines, I think I can fix this by using a looser plate oil which should make the solution much more runny, it may also help the process if the powder was finer then I got it so I have ordered a spice grinder to try and get the Bideford Black to as fine a powder as possible.

These are the links to where I found more information about Bideford Black as well as other pigments, artists using them etc:

The Burton Art Gallery

The Bideford Black Blog

Peter Ward’s guide to earth pigments in N.Devon.

Todays objective was to experiment with new medium, scales or techniques and we were asked to bring pin objects for a still life and materials etc for using. I think next week will be much more exciting because I get what we are doing and I can have a few ideas during the week leading up to it.

I primarily wanted to use my new Bideford Black discovery and play around with it in its various forms, unfortunately I forgot all the different forms! so maybe next week I will include that or continue it some other day when I have free time. I did bring the ink form of the stuff though which I began using just on some paper with a brush, it has a very strange feeling to it, at first it is like ink but it drys completely matte and quite dusty a bit like a gouache would and when watered down it has a “gouachey” wash look. I was fairly pleased with the drawing, it wasn’t very exciting and I jumped in with the heavy black from the start and if I did another in the same way I could get a better result and even better if I could use the dust form, dried form and natural waxy form all together.



I also used the Bideford Black to cover a board completely, I was thinking I could use it as a scratch board and scratch back into. It was extremely satisfying to coat the board with this stuff, it created a really matte think black, solid looking like a slate, they used to paint boats with it and I felt as if I was harking back to that somehow. I haven’t scratched into it yet, but it’s a nice long piece of board so it might suit a landscape.


For my third drawing I wanted to collage using solid things (Raqib Shaw was my inspiration). I smashed up a plastic toy into little bits and used them to collage a pattern on a dress hung up. Peter suggested running it through the press when it was finished and seeing what happened and if I can I will, I quite liked it, it is very labour intensive and my fingers became too sticky to continue, if a whole page or patches of a drawing were collaged in a similar way I think it would look quite impressive. I need to find a better way of glueing the pieces to the paper, I also need more bits, perhaps bits of metal etc.

collage2 collage

Peter and I talked about the placement and my project and how it was going, where it was leading etc…
I felt before Easter I was far too obsessed with the creation of a machine without letting anything happen naturally in a normal progression of ideas which is the way my (and usually anyones I would say) best work usually is made. So just doing things without worrying about the outcome, letting the process take over, and ideas will follow. In hindsight I was far too worried about making a “cool” drawing machine when I should have perhaps just been experimenting sculpturally first of all without concerning myself with the mechanics.

Peter let me know what he could see and the connections between my work, he advised that doing something like machines and scientific drawings and all these very methodical processes should be connected emotionally, or connected to an idea or anything, so that I have this reason, a motivation and personal drive to make these things.Then the creation will be personal, it will be a better outcome than junk thrown together. Even if the outcome doesn’t show its personality in that way the story behind it should give it a depth. I see it as limitation = creativity. When limited you have to work around what you have, I think this was the success of the garage as an environment for creation and processes in printmaking which offer a similar set of limits.

So My next steps will be using maybe just one box of things to attempt making things, what will I make? I feel like making some sculptures firstly, not necessarily moving or even making a mark, they could be figurative or abstract, motorised or analogue it doesn’t really matter but then I will see where this leads. I feel far better about this work after this talk, I am free again to do as I fancy and the new timetable means I will have a set time every week to draw from observation and play with materials.

Bringing me on to the next thing: While at home I saw a small advert in the Burton Art Gallery for a substance once mined in Bideford known as Bideford Black. I went off looking for the seam which runs under Bideford but comes out at the coast near Greencliff (where I have camped before) I found it and took some clumps of it. It was a thick black clay and it got everywhere. There were other colours available I think, there was a ochre coloured clay and further along at peppercombe theres red rocks similar to those in S.Devon which apparently can make a nice red colour. I mixed the Bideford Black in water and it clumped up a bit but the solution was far more impressive than I thought:





I then took it to Falmouth where I dried some and ground to a powder, when this is mixed with water it makes a very impressive ink and can be used with a nib pen the same as indian ink, in fact I found it slightly thicker and so using the nib was easier because it could hold more within the surface tension, so drawing with it was enjoyable:

bidefordblack2 bidefordblacksketch

When I showed Phil the substance he reckoned I could produce a printing ink with it. I went up to the print room with David where Tom fetched a muller and some copper plate oil, and when the bideford black is crushed and mixed with it makes a convincing etching ink substance which I will test out tomorrow.

Tom mentioned the various shades of blacks that can be derived from various burnt substance such as bones, peach stones, wood etc and this sounded very cool to do so I think I may make this my Thursday experimenting with materials thing. I just need to buy some peaches. Also tomorrow I will try to compress it into some sticks that I could possibly draw with like charcoal, Phil said Gum arabic might do it but I will need to research it a bit before tomorrow evening.

Dissertation title.

Phil and Peter also helped me out with my dissertation and ideas for it and stuff like that. My idea initially was to do it on technology and drawing and perhaps the developed aesthetic that has resulted from airbrushing to digital but Peter felt it may be too massive a subject and we talked about machines as the replacement to the hand and also about mark making in everyday places, such as lawn mowing or mopping, or dancing etc. Phil talked to me later and reminded me of a conversation we had a while a go about systems drawings and the mimicry of machines by artists. This idea seemed more natural with my interests than the other two aspects of machine drawings and there is plenty I can write and research without becoming over come by the broadness or scale.