Monday, 4 February 2019

A good morning in the 4th-Dimension

Braque: He described "objects shattered into fragments… [as] a way of getting closest to the object…Fragmentation helped me to establish space and movement in space”.

So, here goes.....Moving through space and time, from one part to another, different perspectives and varying scales, with the amazing Clare, at Extreme Poses on the last day of January 2019. Drawings from five 30 minute poses.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Space, Geometry and Ambiguity

I am starting this post by going back to 2.30pm on Thursday January 10th and I have just sat down with a pint and awaiting my beer battered cod and chips in the Kings Head in Usk, after returning from a morning at Paul Fowler's 'Extreme Poses' over in Stroud in England. In front of a log fire I open my note/sketch book to reflect on the morning's experience...…………….

"If I had an 'intention' it was to try to see what the 4th-Dimension is. I had really set myself up for today (reading Miller, reading about Cezanne and Picasso and Cubism, and spending time on a number of postings on my blog). I felt to be on an 'intellectual plane', distant from my immediate reality, and ready to engage my mind with the process of engaging with the model/pose/body/person/muse/specific anatomical characteristics - I would be pursuing my academic engagement with my subject thro' the act of drawing. Yes: my drawing will become much more a part of my thinking, part of my searching, part of my seeing, part of me! My drawing is no longer outside myself, something I am looking at, not an 'object' any longer. So, the model is not an object. And, now, the drawing is not an object.
I experienced/felt a 'floating' feeling, and was devoid of any goal(s) when I sat down to draw. The model is Clare: no wish/desire/urge/challenge to draw the whole pose, as a representational response...………. but just to start with that which 'attracted' and to explore/go-in-and-around/bring those 'key parts' together thro' 'overlap', 'transparency', 'conscious juxtapositioning' - simply to engage with.... With what?...… her, or the act of drawing?"

Now, a jump forward, about a week, and I have been delving into the catalogue of the Arts Council's Picasso exhibition held at the Tate Gallery, July to September 1960. Why this particular publication? Well, I was there. I had just left school in the June and waiting to go to art college in the September. Now, I recall very little, except that this was my first sight of Picasso's work, and I had little or no understanding of Cubism. But I do recall that I was aware of the importance of Picasso. So off I went.

58 years later, I still have the catalogue, and reading the chapters by Roland Penrose, who had a long-standing friendship with Picasso and an exceptional knowledge of his work, I can now begin to understand what Cubism is about. So here are a few extracts from Penrose and specifically from the chapter entitled 'Analytical Cubism' which describes the period 1910-1912 before Picasso moved on to a period called Synthetic Cubism...…………………..

"In order to understand form and interpret its existence on a flat surface they felt it necessary to break into the form, separate its elements, penetrate beneath the surface and become conscious of that which cannot be seen because accidentally it is at the back of the object in question. The appearance of an object taken from one point of view was manifestly insufficient. It should be conceived from all angels. They painted what they knew to be there. The traditional rules of linear perspective were completely abandoned, and modelling in the round gave place to flat crystalline facets which, built up together, gave the appearance of a solid form"

[at this point Penrose also talks of the 'close relationship of figures or objects and their background. A sense of homogeneity throughout the picture was created by uniting the background closely with the objects so as never to allow a rift to appear between them'. This is where I differ significantly as I rarely, if ever, introduce background or context into my drawings. My figures, or the parts I select to bring together, exist within space. There is space within, there is space behind, there is space beyond, there is space extending outside the paper. I have gone further in recognising the significance of the space between myself and the paper, and the space between myself and the model. I have referred to the way I operate and perceive within this space as my kinetic approach].

"The eye as it travels over the picture finds itself above, behind, and in front of the object at the same time, but the movement is in the consciousness of the spectator rather than in the object itself. All these varied aspects are woven together into a new realisation of the totality of the object"

So, I believe that thro' my own analysis and critical appraisal of my own life-drawing, and in my attempts to select a descriptive language about my perceptual processes and ways of seeing, and my endeavours to understand what emerges on my paper, I have touched upon some aspects of that amazingly radical new approach to art that took place just over 100 years ago. My reading about Cubism, and about the mathematicians, philosophers, scientists, who met over a glass of wine, or a joint, in Montmartre with Picasso, Braque, and others, and who influenced each other and helped each other to more understand their own work, provides a refreshing context for me to continue my journey. I talked in the early days of this blog of my philosophy that 'Paths are made by walking'. I cannot recall having come across the work of an artist and responded that I would love to emulate the work and have never 'copied'. I believe I have always explored and experimented in my own way. When something recognisable has occurred I may then search for something, or someone, similar in a quest to understand myself better. When this has happened I have written about it. But, there emerged a time, when I truly felt that my art was coming very much from within myself. Perhaps four or five years ago, but much more strongly within the past year. I then talked of my ownership of what I was doing and thinking and the way I was drawing. This is not about product or outcome, it is about process. It is not about having a plan each life-drawing day, or about having a long-term goal. I relish viewing and talking with others about what happens on my paper. It is so often a surprise.

Just come across a blog 'Ownerless-Mind' and found this...……

"You have to be your own Guru.
 You must reach that point from where you guide yourself 
in such a way that the guiding lines become part of you"
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

And finally this evening: I now know that my understandings and my manipulations of space as an architect have been severely challenged by my explorations and discoveries in life-drawing, and my appreciation of Picasso's radical experiments in Space, Geometry and Ambiguity.

"Because there are different ways of viewing an object, there is no single reality" Princet.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Four continuing from last week (and one not)

Following on from what I have referred to as my engagement with the 4th-Dimension. The first, second and fifth are working well. The third, a hand on the plinth, is the outcome of a rage of frustration as I failed to deal with the foreshortening of the lower arm and its perspective going away from me. The last-minute quick sketch on the right suggests a bit better how it should be.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019


January 10 and 17 with the model Clare at Paul Fowler's 'Extreme Poses'. Five 30 minute poses on each day and it is rarely that I feel really pleased with all ten drawings.

Prior to the start of my life-drawing journey in this new year my thinking and reading had begun to home in on the 4th-Dimension. We can draw (in) the 3rd-Dimension, but we cannot draw the 4th-Dimension. The 4th-Dimension is experiential. And fundamental to this experience is the role of 'space' and 'time' within our perceptual processes.

In 1884 C H Hinton wrote an essay 'What is the 4th-Dimension?' "Why, then, should not the four-dimensional beings be ourselves, and our successive states the passing of them through the three-dimensional space to which our consciousness is confined"  Wow!

So, as I have felt for sometime now, one is in the 4th-Dimension during the making of the drawing:
  • moving from part to part
  • from one perspective point to another
  • moving beyond and behind something
  • from one scale to another scale
  • the time from start to finish
Then, the beholder enters the 4th-Dimension when exploring/interpreting/trying to understand/moving through, the drawing and the particular spatial aspects noted above.

I am not so much interested in seeing the same thing from different viewpoints simultaneously (perhaps the essence of Cubism) although I really enjoy that concept , more moving through space and time in one drawing process/experience (but perhaps this is also an essence of Cubism).

Another definition of the 4th-Dimension is the act of perceiving (consciousness) or feeling (sensation). Artists and writers have often thought of the 4th-Dimension as 'the life of the mind'.

All of these ten drawings emerged from a slower pace than in recent years. Looking and thinking now play a role. Mark-making and their lines are more considered. I feel that perhaps I have begun to enter and to explore my 4th-Dimension.

From my note-book: January 2019

This is my Yew sculpture made from some of the blocks cut from a four hundred year old yew which had to be taken down due to it having grown to a massive size and consequently cutting light from the windows of the house and the newly erected solar panels on the barn. The pollarded trunk is now regrowing and I pay homage to the tree through my live-sculpture.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Is this where I am (going)?

My posting on the first day of this new year asked 'Where Am I Going?". My suggestion was that to find an answer I was to look within myself. This is not a new response. I have answered in this way before. Picasso talked of "listening to the propositions of his heart". Others have talked of a concept known as 'Duration' which as I understand it, is what we know as reality is what in retrospect we have experienced as the sum total of a continuous uninterrupted flow of sensations. This 'duration' is a dynamic process that permits us to reflect all at once - simultaneously - on the inner unconscious experience that constitutes our memory and is the source of all we know. Many times, I have seen emerge in my drawings things from the past, which I have 'noted' (sometimes on this blog, perhaps in my notebook) at the time but not understood/seen the significance of/really appreciated, but eventually they come to the surface as 'profound' aspects of my art.
I believe I entered one or two revealing areas when compiling notes on my drawings from the 3-day event at Extreme Poses (see earlier postings) and this has encouraged me to perhaps describe what I think is happening in a different way. Before I come on to that let me summarise how I have recently described my work. 
I have talked of my Cubism and my Morphism, 
simultaneity is regular term, 
there is frequent reference to my de-constructive approach to the pose before me and a re-construction into something new, 
I do collage and overlap and transparency,  
I talk of dialogue between artist and muse thereby going way beyond the model as object, 
I attempt to understand the complexities of the perceptual processes, sensing beyond what I am looking at, responding to the parts which constitute the whole thereby seeing the whole differently,  and I have begun to realise there is a 'space' and 'time' dimension or component in my activity of life-drawing, 
I have become aware that I have included different scales in a single drawing, and 
I have made attempts to discover the significance of my drawing with both hands at the same time and how my kinetic perceptual/motor system works. 
So, I have asked a few questions. 
But let me now try a new sort of summary (of where I am).................with hopefully a different way of talking about my art and my life-drawing process:

  • multiple perspective: I am seeing a pose and parts of a pose from many different points of view more or less at the same time (but, as an architectural student, well over half a century ago, we laboriously constructed perspective drawings of our designs, and became skilled at 1-point and 2-point perspective drawing, this enforced a limited engagement with 'perspective' and severely conditioned the way we saw the world)
  • moving one's eye a few inches changes the view (one can change a viewing position by moving the head yet seated in the same position, but this phenomena is enhanced when standing at the easel and moving back and forth and from side to side)
  • one can't take in all the parts at once (Hockney talks about this)
  • non-Euclidean geometry: (we were brought up with the rule that the sum of the three internal angles of a triangle, whatever the lengths of its sides, is 180 degrees. But, place the triangle on the surface of a sphere, i.e. the planet Earth, or on the curve of a thigh, then the sum is greater). This Euclidean geometrical principle, as with the limited rule of perspective, has severely conditioned and limited our perceptual mechanisms and insights.
  • viewing from multiple perspectives  introduces concepts of 'space' and 'time' into the perceptual process with significant consequences in the form and content of the drawing itself. This raises the whole issue of the 4th-dimension which I have not yet started to research.
  • transparency: as parts move within space they can move in front of, and behind, other parts, and the stages of these movements can be recorded as part of the drawing.
  • different scales...….. How and where does this fit in?
    a) it can handle and enforce concepts of distance, perspective and space.
    b) the larger the scale then the more detail is possible, the smaller the scale it becomes more of a gestural suggestion.  These contrasting inclusions can lead to challenging outcomes in a drawing.
  • holism: I used to not draw what I could not see, in case I got it wrong, but often needing to move to take a peep at what is hidden from my direct view.  I have come to realise that I do now include what I can't see because I feel I can see it.

    I trained as an architect, I lived my life as an architect. I have thought as an architect. However, I find it fascinating that in my engagement with drawing the nude I have for most of this time considered that thinking needed to be different. I seem to have now re-engaged with some fundamentals. Its a learning process, which can be a re-learning experience.

Friday, 4 January 2019

3-Day Double Model: What's to come? Intro 1

I have said something more about the double-model event just before Christmas 2018 in the preceding postings. Here they are together but I refer only briefly to him as he turns his back on what to me at the time was a classic seated pose given a statuesque quality from my looking up as she poised on a plinth. This drawing took place within a run of four or five in the middle of the second day, a sequence of similar bold, flowing, exploratory, searching engagements, responding to the approximately 30 minute poses as the models moved through the setting of ropes and plinths. I recall feeling very relaxed and really enjoying what I was experiencing and fairly oblivious to the outcomes on the paper.
But now, as I write this note and post this drawing, I can see why I like it. Firstly it is a whole pose, and not the outcome of my usual deconstructive, cubist, parts or morphic process. Then the advancing knee and feet, the perspective of her slim waist beyond the strength and power of her thigh and her hip, the high left shoulder taking the eye of the onlooker into the upper realm of the composition, and then the face, not two eyes a nose and a mouth, just that partial suggestion which then does not become a distraction. And yes, we are looking upwards to the underside of her chin as it casts a shadow on her neck.
I said above that "I refer only briefly to him" ......... yet perhaps that is not the case. Perhaps this was a very conscious feeling/decision on my part to simply introduce a contrast or a complement to the curvilinear female form. If I were to take this analytical and post-rationalisation activity further I can add that on the evening before this 3-day event I sat down and made notes on the differences and similarities of the two models (we knew some weeks ago who the models were to be, and furthermore I knew them well having drawn them on numerous occasions, bet never together) in preparation for my engagement with them. As a result an immediate narrative emerged as I started to respond with my mark-making to that which I perceived before me. A narrative about a relationship between the two within the pose they had created. Having reminded myself of my preparatory exercise I shall go though my drawings and try to discover where else it paid off.