As I am looking at figure drawing as my final assignment but with a focus on using drawing to add form and dimension with the use of mark making – I have looked at the work of some artists that record the complexities of figure drawing.
HENRY MOORE 1898-1986
One of my all time favourite artists is Yorkshire born Henry Moore. Moore is chiefly regarded as being one of the greatest and finest British Sculptors . But Moore was also an excellent draughtsman – and produced during his long career some haunting and emotive drawings. With his sculptors eye he observed the physical form of what he was drawing in an original and experimental manner. During the Second World War Moore produced a series of haunting drawings of Londoners sheltering in the very bowels of the London Underground – this subterranean world is rendered in a powerful and visionary manner. The “sleepers ” ghostly , skeletal and unearthly appear to inhabit an uncertain world. Moore used mixed media in an experimental way with wax , charcoal , and watercolour washes all in black and white monochrome. Over the greasy texture of the wax crayons , Moore applied an wash and defined the structure of the form with ink. I liked the way the medium adds a luminosity effect to his drawings. Moore uses lots of curves to convey the fullness of the human form. I like the way he has produced the unruly nature of sleep, mouths open, and arms thrown back. My favourite image is ” tube shelter 1941. ” The drawing shows the rounded curves of the tube tunnel receding into the distance with a clever use of perspective. Within the rounded structure of the curving walls of the tube we see lying rows of people – faceless , gender- less like pale deathly white cocoons trapped and penned in – faceless and nameless. – there is a sense of stillness , as though time has Stood still. The drawing is very emotive and atmospheric – are we looking at ghosts?
Several years ago my grandparents gave me a book for Christmas ” Henry Moore sheep sketchbook ” today it still reminds one of my favourite books , when researching Henry Moore I had another look at the book. In 1972 Moore was living in a small Hertfordshire Village outside his studio window were gathered in a nearby field a flock of sheep – which Moore observed and recorded in his sketch book. These drawings are more figurative than the tube drawings but still allow an insight to Moore’s working and thought processes. I can sense his love for nature and his empathy for the sheep. There are several elements in the sheep drawings that he revisits often in his art including Mother / child relationships – the drawings of the ewe and her lamb are very powerful , affecting and certainly emotive. I also like the way Moore explores his drawing medium mainly ballpoint pen to capture the roundness and the solid physical form of the sheep. He uses a variety of experimental marks in a vigorous manner – using swirling zigzags , scribbled lines, bold marks and hatching to convey the skeletal and muscular body of the sheep beneath the fleece. Moore altered the pen pressure and used lighter marks to record the texture of the scorn sheep . I also like the solid form of the heads of the sheep and the way he has captured their personalities and expressions. It is clear to me that Henry Moore had a very unique and clear vision.
JENNY SAVILLE BORN 1970
Jenny Saville a figurative painter was born i n Cambridge in 1970. Saville is concerned with the body particularly the female body and body image . For many years she recorded obese bodies – with fleshly mottled skin and seems often to be compared to Lucien Freud with a feminist viewpoint? When researching Saville I found quite a lot of debut in the media on whether she is a feminist artist – which I found quite interesting. Saville’s work is very graphic and not always easy to look at – I feel a little disturbed by one particular large work “Torso 2″ 2004 – the painting brings to mind a large heavy frailed torso hung up as though displayed on a butchers hook. Saville interest in the female figure envolved and she began to question the physical ideals of feminist beauty. Saville went as far as looking at distorted body image and looked in depth at cosmetic surgery producing several works as a response to perhaps the reality of the beauty industry and the harsh practice of plastic surgery. Her pictures of woman about to undergo surgery show a sense of the sitters vulnerability . I feel these works are extremely powerful , visceral , harsh and have an element of despair. ” Knead” 1995-1996 depicts just the head of a woman she is heavy faced as she Has clearly been anaesthetised – the tube can be seen inside the sleepily lopsided month. It is a very emotive and poignant painting. In 2014 Saville told journalist Mark Hudson ” I like the Down and dirty side of things ” ( source http://www.telegraph.co.uk ) certainly during her career Saville has been concerned with capturing all bodies and also looked at transgender bodies.
Later Jenny Saville became a mother and changed her direction ” I used to be anti beauty ” ” it was having children that changed her work. ” I find watching them so beautiful That I have accepted that sort of beauty into my life” ( source wwww.theguardian.com 16th April 2016) I found this u-turn quite interesting and fascinating. For the Ashmolean a Museum in Oxford Saville worked on a series of drawings using various drawing mediums including charcoal. The drawings are Saville’s response to the museums old master drawings. These drawings are much lighter in tone celebrating motherhood. The drawings have a much more delicate feel , yet are incredibly expressive. She uses gestural marks to build up subtle layers of the form of the figures. The end results are some beautiful drawings with a pure ethereal quality but imbued with a Comtempory feel that appears very emotive and expressive. Saville’s working process Is interesting as she layers delicate figurative drawings on to the paper overlapping , erasing , and drawing some more over the images , to Build up the form in layers. On top of the finished drawing she sometimes adds bolder gestural expressive marks to add interest to her drawing. I enjoyed researching Jenny Saville as she seems to have a passion for her art and I like how she explores her themes .
ARIANE LAROUX born 1957
Ariane Laroux is a contemporary artist that really interests and excites me – she has an unique style of drawing that really inspires me. I first became aware of her work on a study trip to the British library drawing room. I really liked Laroux drawing processes – while working on a sitter she interviews her models. Laroux uses really precise drawing marks placing each Mark carefully. The marks seem feathery and remind me of a series of carefully drawn veins flowing over the planes of the face – the marks are Placed carefully to build up a sense of texture on the flattened plane of the paper. Laroux appears to demonstrate that portait drawing is a careful process and is primarily about decision making including where each indidual Mark should do . Interestingly Laroux omits areas of the face and figure leaving the viewer to fill in the gaps. The eyes seem very important element of Laroux”s drawings as they are really well developed – I wondered if she drew in the eyes first? Before adding the other facial features? An approach that I find fascinating and really works to add something novel and new. After the study visit I decided to find out more about this intriguing artist. Laroux is certainly a mystery as there is very Little information on her on the Internet.
All I could find is that she is French and studied history at the Sorbonne before attending art school in Geneva. She seems to be primarily a portrait artist although I did find some examples of some urban landscapes using a similar drawing technique that were interesting .
FRANK AUERBACH born born 1931
A recent poll in the media placed Frank Auerbach as Britains most important living artist. He certainly is interesting and has a very long and successful career. I agree that he is an interesting artist but I feel that his drawings are often overlooked. I really like his drawings in charcoal and find them very inspiring. The drawings are often in in monochrome – worked on and re-worked on sometimes for a number of years. Auerbach uses the charcoal medium in layers building up the form then erasing the drawing , drawing ontop of the erased drawing then erasing and repeating this process. The effect is powerful and very visual. He appears to have an obsessive quality to his art. The drawings are lively with movement and structure. Interestingly Auerbach only did around 5 self portraits, he gave an interview once saying he prefers to draw other people. I think Auerbach must be a perfectionist as he often drew the same sitter regularly for a number of years. Auerbach also seems not to be concerned with capturing a likeness but with recording the form and structure of the body.
the drawings of Henry Moore – Tate gallery publication 1977
the sheep sketchbook by Henry Moore published by Thames and Hudson