Friday, 30 March 2018

composition: using drawing as a tool for analysing portraits

The second of two Art Circles which turned into one-to-one sessions.  This time at the Harris Museum Preston.

The task
put the planned tasks, back in my bag (sounds familiar!)

After discussion, we decided to look at composition.  The original plan was to visit Lubaina Himid's exhibition but as that was closed we looked at "Hannibal's Sister", a piece of Lubaina's work which is permanently on display.

Analysing composition is an interesting way to unpick meaning in artworks which, as we learn, increases our vocabulary of visual art or gives us more ideas to put into practise.  

Although I led the way, it was through open discussion we explored the meaning behind three portraits that were exhibited in the same gallery space;  
"Hannibal's Sister" (1989), Lubaina Himid - acrylic on canvas, approx 72 x 72in
"Dorette" (1933), G L Brockhurst - oil on canvas, approx 39 x 36in
"Susie & the Wash Basin" (1929), Dame Laura Knight - oil on canvas, approx 36 x 39in 

We started by breaking down or simplifying the portraits using pencil on paper.  

Our drawings started with the main shapes & significant lines placed in a rectangle of similar proportions to the art work.  These initial marks were modified as we progressed.  Then we looked at the use of colour & added it in blocks if we considered it to be significant.  In discussion we considered...
  • subject or person depicted
  • intensity & direction of the subject's gaze
  • main shapes & significant lines
  • the relevance or purpose of the colours used  
  • context or background to the subject 
Once the three paintings had been studied we brought the drawings together and looked for similarities and differences including noticing frames and when the paintings were bought by the gallery compared to when they were painted. 

Most enjoyable!
[When time allows, I may write this up and share via the pages on this blog.] 

The day continues below the morning's images.




Image: Eugène Boudin (1824-1898), Deauville, 1893,
© The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London 

In the afternoon, we considered aspects of Boudin's beautiful painting of Deauville; moved to the history of Preston gallery and after deciding not to decorate an Easter Egg, we settled near the model of Preston as a mill town and worked from the portrait of "Frank Hollins of Horrockses".

The same process was applied as in the morning.  We also discussed another portrait nearby and compared them to the figures depicted in the photographs and posters that formed part of the exhibition.

The final task was to use the figure of a man in a photograph and place him in another context using the information we had gathered in the morning.

Christine:  from "Frank Hollins of Horrockses" &
final drawing of man & child watching a boat - what else...
Mike:  from "Frank Hollins of Horrockses"
Mike:  final drawing, "man at wash basin" influenced by Dame Laura Knight!

Brilliant outing!

Thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Well done Mike and thank you for being an excellent art companion. 

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