Actually drawing and the techniques

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This lecture seemed to focus less on the technical side of actually drawing and the techniques, but more on famous artists and their styles. Below I have researched and wrote about the artists from the lecture that interested me.

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci (15th April, 1452 ? 2nd May, 1519) was an Italian polymath; skilled as a painter, sculptor, musician, writer, designer, architect, botanist, anatomist, mathematician, inventor, engineer and scientist. Often described as the quintessential Renaissance man, one of the greatest painters and some would even say the most diversely talented person in history.

He was born near Vinci in Florence, Italy as the son of landowner, Piero da Vinci and a peasant woman, Caterina. He studied at the studio of the renowned painter, Verrocchio.

Leonardo is primarily known for his painting, with the most famous being his Mona Lisa portrait and The Last Supper. His painting skills are renowned for his accuracy in figure drawing, the way he handles space, his use of light and shade, his landscape representations, his evocation of character and his narrative technique. His iconic Vitruvian Man drawing has been reproduced in many forms and on many things, such as on the Euro, as the logo for many medical companies and groups, as a symbol used by NASA, on t-shirts and many other places.

Not very much of his work survives, however. This is in part due to destructive experimentation and his excessive procrastination. Although only about fifteen of his paintings survive and some of his notebooks, his influence on later artists could only be rivalled by his contemporary, Michelangelo.

His scientific influence is also revered. He greatly advanced understanding in areas of anatomy, civil engineering, optics and hydrodynamics. He also preconceived the idea of a helicopter, a tank, a calculator, a double hull, concentrated solar power and he also described a vestigial theory of plate tectonics.

Leonardo da Vinci is probably my favourite artist. His general ingenuity is astounding and his painting shills are incredible. It?s not, however, his paintings that make him my favourite artist, but his sketchbooks. His analytical drawings are fantastic, with their quick and simple style while being beautifully accurate and informative. They are, in my opinion, the best evidence of his brilliant mind.

Being annoyingly perfectionistic and OCD myself, the problems Leonardo da Vinci similarly seemed to face are reassuring to see in someone so great.

Rembrandt van Rijn

Rembrandt van Rijn (July 15th, 1606 ? October 4th, 1669) was a Dutch painter, draughtsman and etcher. He is considered one of the greatest painters and printmakers and the most important Dutch painter.

Rembrandt achieved early success as a portrait artist, his later years, however, were marked by financial hardship and personal tragedy. Throughout his life though, he remained popular and very much reputable. For twenty years of his life he is said to have taught nearly every Dutch painter of note.

His work is characterised by the Baroque interest in dramatic scenes, using strongly contrasting light on dark imagery. The subject of his work was often scenes from history, both secular and biblical. The rest of his work tended to be portrait art, landscapes, depictions of animals and the like.

Rembrandt created around four hundred paintings, a thousand drawings and about three hundred etchings.

I must admit, I don?t find the Rembrandt work I have seen to be immensely inspiring. Though that is my general feeling on most the work of the old masters; while obviously I can appreciate the skill, the subject matter is not usually something that grabs my attention.

I do, however, see that his minute attention to detail is certainly something to be applauded and the feelings invoked in some of his paintings is very interesting, such as the feelings of energy, hope and despair in The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, shown below.

The etchings Rembrandt produced are my favourite of his work; I like the detail and the depth that he is able to give them, such as in the etching below.

Salvador Dali

Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dal? i Dom?nech (May 11th, 1904 ? January 23rd, 1989) was a Spanish Catalan painter, draughtsman, illustrator, sculptor, writer and film maker. He was a skilled artist, widely known for his bizarre surrealist work. His style of painting is often said to have been influenced by the Renaissance masters.

Born in Figures, he was named after his older brother who had died 9 months earlier. At the age of five he was taken to visit his brother?s grave where his parents told him he was the reincarnation of his brother, something Salvador came to believe. On the subject of his brother, Salvador said, ?... [we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections?. He ?was probably a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute?.

In 1921 Salvador?s mother died of breast cancer, when he was sixteen years old. This event, he later said, ?was the greatest blow I had experienced in my life. I worshipped her ... I could not resign myself to the loss of a being on whom I counted to make invisible the unavoidable blemishes on my soul?.

In 1922 Salvador went to Madrid?s School of Fine Art where he would later be expelled in 1926, not long before his final exams, after stating that no member of the faculty was competent enough to examine him.

Dali was a highly eccentric character whose flamboyant and unusual behaviour often drew more attention than did his artwork. He had a ?love of everything that is gilded and excessive?.

Dali produced over fifteen hundred paintings, along with book illustrations, lithographs, a large number of drawings, many sculptures, and various other pieces of work, including an animation for Disney.

I really like Dali?s work. From a technical point of view, he clearly had a lot of talent; with his very nicely balanced colour palette, his eye for composition and his fluid painting style, I do however, feel his paintings can lack depth, whether this is intended or not.

Dali?s imagination is clearly fantastic; out of all the artists from this lecture, Dali is possibly the one whose work I would rather look at, with perhaps, the exception of Leonardo da Vinci.

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid (31st October, 1950) is a well known Iraqi-born archtect. She studied at Beirut in Lebanon achieving a bachelor?s degree in mathematics. In 1972 she moved to London where she studied at the Architectural Association, a vanguard in progressive architecture during the 1970s. After graduation she started work at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture with her former lecturers.

During her career?s early years she struggled to get commissions, mostly due to the fact that her ideas seemed unworkable. In 1980 she set up a London-based practise.

Her awards and accolades include many competition wins, although many were never actually build. Winning designs include the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales, Singapore?s one-north master plan and the Peak Club in Hong Kong. In 2004 she became the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize and was awarded a CBE for her services to architecture. She has also been commissioned to design the London Aquatics Centre, a main stage for the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

Zaha has taught at many well respected institutions, including her former school of architecture, the Architectural Association, Harvard?s Graduate School of Design, the University of Illinois at Chicago?s School of Architecture, the Knowlton School of Architecture at the Ohio State University and others. She is now Professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.

More recently Zaha has designed some non-architectural work, including the Mind Zone exhibition space at the Millennium Dome in London, the Moon System Sofa for B&B Italia, a prominent Italian furniture manufacturer, a boot for clothing brand Lacoste and a hydrogen-powered, three-wheeled car known as the Z.CAR.

I don?t really feel qualified to comment on Hadid, as architecture is something I don?t understand all that well. I do however, think that the London Aquatics Centre is a very interesting building, and would love to see it in person. The Z.CAR is also rather nice looking, though I am interested as to what would happen if it went through a muddy puddle, aesthetics it would seem, are more important than mud guards.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat (December 22nd, 1960 ? August 12th, 1988) was a very influential American painter, considered the first African-American painter with international acclaim.

As a child he showed an early interest in art; his mother having an interest in fashion design and sketching would encourage him and his father would bring him paper from his work. As young as five years old his mother would take him to Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and MOMA. From six he was a junior member of the Brooklyn Museum.

As a child his reading of English, French and Spanish texts influenced him, as did his interest in cartoon drawings, Alfred Hitchcock films, cars and comics.

During high school he came across the Upper West Side Drama Group and the Family Life Theatre. It was here he came up with ?SAMO? (standing for ?Same Old Shit?), a fictional character that made money out of selling ?fake? religion.

He also met Al Diaz. The two of them collaborated as graffiti artists, creating much interest in their work around Lower Manhattan, where they spray-painted aphorisms on the D train on the IND line. In these graffiti works appeared the character SAMO, when the friendship of Basquiat and Diaz ended in 1979 ?SAMO is dead? could be found sprayed by Basquiat around SoHo.

By 1979 Basquiat had achieved something of a celebrity status among the Manhattan art scene through his appearances on the live public-access TV programme, TV Party (hosted by Glenn O?Brien). Around this time he also formed a band, known as Gray, which played at various clubs and whose music featured in Downtown 81, a film starring Basquiat.

The 1980s was when Basquiat first started to be noticed as an artist when his work was featured in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist exhibition. Rene Ricard published an article about him in 1981, helping to launch him internationally.

As 1982 came by, Basquiat?s work could be seen alongside many acclaimed artists. He also started dating an ambitious but then-unknown performer known as Madonna. In the same year he also met and befriended Andy Warhol, with whom he would later become very close and collaborate heavily with.

Basquiat was a part of the neo-expressionist movement of the time. Critics praised his work for its use of colour, its composition and how it balanced between being spontaneous and controlled. He continued using words in his work and he often depicted skeletal figures where the images expressed an obsession with mortality, racism and identity. His work always sold for high prices, being sold around the time of his death for tens of thousands of dollars and today originals can find themselves going for millions.

Basquiat was an excessive drug user; his friends noticed an increase in his erratic behaviour and saw him become more paranoid. With Andy Warhol?s death in 1987 Basquiat?s life took a turn for the worse, seeing him spiral into depression and severe drug abuse.

Often he would use a mix of cocaine to stay awake all night painting and then heroin in the morning in order to sleep. This proved fatal as in 1988 Jean-Michel Basquiat died of an overdose at just 27 years old.

I love Basquiat?s art; I think his work is fantastically expressive, intense and emotive, with a lot of power and energy. Although given that, I still don?t quite understand the immense interest the formal art world has in his work.

Colour and Composition

This lecture intended to highlight the importance of colour and composition, how we view colour and how different artists have used it though out the centuries. Another point this lecture wanted to get across was how seeing many, many different colours all around us as we do now is something of a recent development. Before colour photography, mass advertising and other such inventions of the twentieth century ordinary people were quite often only exposed to the colours of the environments they were in.

Below I have researched two artists, one before this burst of colour and one after.

Pablo Picasso

NB: I know I said this artist would be before the twentieth century and it media inventions, but for one thing, out of all the painters in the lecture Picasso?s use of colour is my favourite and also he was arguably at his height before mass media had really begun.

Pablo Diego Jos? Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Mar?a de los Remedios Cipriano de la Sant?sima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso (25th October, 1881 ? 8th April, 1973) was a Spanish painter, draughtsman and sculptor. Co-founder of the Cubist movement and with his use of a wide range of styles, Pablo Picasso became one of the most prominent and recognisable artists of the twentieth century.

From a young age Picasso showed an impressive ability when it came to art. Born to an art teacher, Picasso began formal art training from his father at the age of seven. At thirteen Picasso?s ability was as such that after observing his technique, Picasso?s father apparently felt his son had surpassed him and vowed to stop painting, though this is probably just a myth.

At thirteen, Picasso gained entrance to the School of Fine Art in Barcelona, where his father now taught. At sixteen Picasso was then sent to Madrid?s Royal Academy of San Fernando, his difficulty with accepting formal teaching would lead to his attendance dropping. Madrid?s attractions and galleries, however, heavily influenced Picasso in his later work.

Picasso always seemed to have a strong interest in how colour can convey a mood or a feeling. Two of Picasso?s main artistic phases are known as first his blue period and then his rose period.

Picasso?s blue period seems to have been inspired by a more sombre outlook on life he must have had at the time; it featured prostitutes, beggars and drunks and its use of cold blues and blue-greens reflect this. The suicide of his friend Carlos Casagemas was probably one of the reasons for this outlook, not helped also by his financial hardship and lack of success as an artist.

In 1904 Picasso?s style took a turn for the cheerier; he entered into a phase now recalled as his rose period, which featured many oranges and pinks. This was perhaps a change caused by the happiness he now found in being in a relationship with Fernande Olivier. Depicted during this period were many harlequins, circus performers and clowns.

His revolutionary artistic achievements gained him international acclaim and a very large fortune. Picasso was an extremely prolific artist with a total number of artworks produced said to be at around fifty thousand, this being comprised of nearly two thousand paintings, over a thousand sculptures, nearly three thousand ceramics, around twelve thousand drawings, thousands of prints and many tapestries and rugs. A lot of which remained in his possession as he didn?t sell his work after his fortune meant he no longer had to.

Picasso?s work now ranks among the most expensive to be sold at auction, with a few reaching the one hundred million dollars mark.

Picasso is one of my favourite artists of the twentieth century. I find him particularly interesting as a person. His cubism seems very clever, though I must admit, I don?t quite understand it as well as I would like. Picasso?s greatest talent, I think, is his ability to give even simple paintings of mere objects and shapes lots of emotion and feeling.

Ernst Haas

Ernst Haas (March 2nd, 1921 ? September 12th, 1986) born in Vienna, Austria was an influential photographer and an innovator in the field of colour photography.

Haas studied at an Austrian medical school during his earlier years but later, in 1947, left in order to become a photographer for the magazine Heute. Here he gained recognition and acclaim for how he documented the return of prisoners of war returning to Vienna.

With this, an offer came from Robert Capa to join the newly formed Magnum Photos agency, a photographic cooperative. With his photographic career having gained its feet, he moved to New York where Life magazine asked Haas to produce a 24-page colour photo essay based on the city. With this having been a success, Life then asked him to produce similar photo essays on Paris and Venice.

In 1962 the Museum of Modern Art put on a one-man show dedicated to Haas. Shortly after, Haas? first photo book, Elements, was published. Haas later went on to produce quite a few other photo books and work on a few films, while also working as a photographer for some of Marlboro?s advertising campaigns. In 1986, Haas received the Hasselblad Award for his photography, the same year he died.

Common features of Haas? photography included them being highly saturated, out-of-focus and blurry (not all at the same time).

Haas is my favourite photographer. The colours in his photos are very nice, like the fantastically saturated blue of the car photo; Nature and Machine. I also love Haas? Snow Lovers, which is greatly enhanced when its title is taken into consideration, with the smooth, sensual and flowing lines of the undisturbed snow.

The ?Fab Four?

In this lecture, the lecturer highlighted four of her favourite artists, outlining why they have influenced her like they have.

James Turrell

James Turrell is an artist that focuses on light and space. Little is really documented about him as a person with interest in his work seeming to dominate. Turrell did his undergraduate studies at Pomona College, where he focused on psychology and mathematics and it wasn?t until graduate school that he began to pursue an interest in art, receiving an MFA in art. He is most known for his light installations with the most notable being his ongoing project to turn an extinct volcano he bought in Arizona into a naked-eye observatory.

Turrell?s more conventional light installations generally focus on enclosing the viewer and controlling their perception of light. One such well-known installation is his ?skyspace? concept, which consists of a room large enough for ten or twenty people with a large opening in the roof and benches outlining the edges of the room. In this room the viewer?s attention is naturally drawn to the opening in the roof, which acts as a frame for the sky above, alluding to the sky being the art. This causes the viewer to contemplate the sky above them. He is also known for his light projections and light tunnels that make shapes that appear to have mass and weight.

The aforementioned volcano is known as Roden Crater and is located outside Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. It is a four hundred thousand year old, three kilometre wide extinct volcano bought by Turrell in 1979. It is meant to house various light experiments that allow the viewer to interact with the sky above. The idea is for the various tunnels and rooms in the centre to control the incoming light in a way that brings the atmosphere and the stars closer, making the viewer feel a part of them. There are also rooms and tunnels that interact with various celestial events in various ways. Work is still ongoing, despite plans to be finished in the early 1980s, public viewing is now meant to open in 2011.

James Turrell?s grasp of light is extraordinary. He is probably my favourite living artist, mostly because of his Roden Crater project.

Shirazeh Houshiary

Shirazeh Houshiary is an Iranian-born installation artist and sculptor working in Britain, previously nominated for the Turner prize.

In 1974 she left Iran and moved to Britain, then in 1976 she studied at Chelsea School of Art, after which she spent a year at Cardiff College of Art as a junior fellow.

She is often compared to a group of her contemporary sculptors, including Anish Kapoor and Richard Deacon. However, her work often can be distinguished by its strong Persian influences, and its aspects of spirituality. Her work draws on aspects of Islam and also ancient Persian poetry. She attempts to interpret her background using the language of western sculpture.

Her work can be found at the St Martin in the Fields church, the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate and has been exhibited in various respected venues.

Personally, while I feel I must be missing something, all that I have seen of her work seems to follow the same two or three themes. It seems she had a spark of creativity when at university and has been riding on that ever since. Kind of like the Bob Geldof of the sculpture world. Again, I must be missing something.

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon (October 28th, 1909 ? April 28th, 1992) was an Irish figurative painter. His style is known for its stark and severe imagery, along with its homoerotic leanings and its bold, violent, distorted and nightmarish feel. His paintings often depicted masculine figures isolated on their own against quite plain backgrounds and they were regularly confined inside a metal or glass cage.

Bacon started painting in his early 20s, during the time in which he worked as an interior decorator, and also a furniture and rug designer. He wasn?t, however, particularly committed to painting at this point in his career. It wasn?t until the mid to late 1940s that he began to gain a reputation internationally.

Early in his career, Bacon?s paintings often took from the work of other artists, in which he would use their imagery and distort it expressively. He tended to go through phases of what it was he?d depict, they included crucifixion, papal heads and then portrait heads of his friends. After his lover committed suicide in 1971, his art began to be rather more introspective and focussed on death.

He never wanted to work on a large scale and worked in the cramped environment of his tiny London-based studio and apartment. Apparently, this was down to how as a child his nanny would often lock him in a cupboard while he screamed for hours on end. Years later, Bacon said that that cupboard was the making of him.

His later life seems to have been characterised by the eating, drinking and gambling he did at Soho in London, before dying at the age of 82 while holidaying in Madrid.

I like the surreal nature of Bacon?s work and his skills as an expressionist are very good. He seems particularly good at injecting feeling and emotion into his work.

Odilon Redon

Bertrand-Jean Redon (April 20th, 1840 ? July 6th, 1916) or Odilon Redon, as his mother nicknamed him, was a French symbolist painter, lithographer and etcher. He was known for his sensitive and imaginative work which was often dark and macabre. However, It wasn?t just his subject matter that attracted the attention; his work with pastels and paints gained him the admiration of Henri Matisse, amongst others, as an important figure in colour.

Rather than focussing on detailing what he could see, Redon?s art is more from his imagination. In 1979, Redon began a series of lithographs collectively known as In the Dream and in 1882 he completed a series he had dedicated to the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe. Poe?s poems were translated to French by his friend and symbolist poet, Stephane Mallarme along with Charles Baudelaire. Rather than being literal about it and merely illustrating Poe?s poems, Redon?s lithographs can be seen as a sort of visual poetry in themselves.

Before now, Redon hadn?t been using paints or pastels. This changed around 1890 and they dominated his work for the rest of his life, with a sensitive study of still-life flowers and dreamy portraits of heads. His colour palette was rather unique, and although his work did resemble that of the impressionists and the realists, Redon rejected these movements for their wholly perceptive approach to art.

My favourite of Redon?s work is his Cactus Man, shown below. His strange symbolism really appeals to me, while his technical ability is clear. That said though, the nose of the cactus man is slightly strange, perhaps it?s intended though.

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