I have been thinking since starting this course that my sketchbooks are hopeless. I spend a lot of time working on the set exercises and rarely feel able to work on my sketchbook to create anything interesting beyond what I need to do for each bit of coursework.
Each time I pick up my sketchbook I feel that all I produce are empty, dull images that have no depth and no character to them. I keep writing in them that they are boring and I so want to try and transform my sketchbook into a dynamic, exploratory experience that can feed my other work rather than conflict with it.
So, today, when putting out my recycling I found a mouse that had drowned as there was water in the bottom of the bin. Initially I thought how sad it was to see this tiny creature having died in such a way. I then suddenly remembered another OCA student (Renate Maas) having done some work using dead chicks and I realised there was potential in this discovery for me to work with in my sketchbook.
I am vegan so I rarely deal with anything that has died so for me to spend a day drawing a dead being was in itself a new and unusual experience. I initially did 3 quick sketches in my sketchbook and I then decided that I wanted to take my experience from the past two exercises in Part 1 of Drawing 1 and work on A2 paper even though the mouse was really tiny. I wanted to use the composition of the piece and the size to change the viewers perception and I spent time trying to use dashes and crosshatching to further work with the ideas that I have been presented with during the work I have done so far.
As I worked on the piece I really felt a connection with the mouse and it has brought up possible avenues for me to explore regarding the connection of the living with the dead, the question of what constitutes being alive or dead, and also about connecting with something on an energetic level.
I spent quite a long time working on the first picture using only oil pastels. I haven’t really used these pastels before other than in a rushed way during life classes so this was a really enjoyable and different experience for me. I tried to incorporate everything i have learned with the last two charcoal exercises that I have done when using these pastels – to really consider each mark that I make, to really look at all the shadows and light areas that I can see (rather than what I think is there) and to also spend time working on the image so that I can bring depth to it.
Having completed this image I then chose to do a smaller picture on A3 in my sketchbook. The first layer was some felt pens which I then washed over with water and when it was almost dry I used soft pastels to add light and shade.
My final image was then back to the pastel paper on A2. I chose a darker paper as I had imagined that I was going to produce a piece using the opposite to the colours I could see (so using white for the dark shadows etc). However, this just didn’t work and it ended up looking a real mess so I used it as the base for adding further layers on top. I was really pleased with the way this final piece turned out as I feel it has a lot of depth to it and the mouse is drawn in a way that I would like to try and replicate with other drawings. All in all, a very satisfying day!