Though I was told several times in the last two Professional Projects crits that my ink drawings weren’t as expressive or interesting as my pencil sketches, I wasn’t in any mood to pass on this inking exercise. I still think it’s fun to look through for the details of the different people behind the shower of Elvis facades, though there are a few faces/bodies in there I really buggered up. I want to redo that kneeling one ASAP, but a slump in motivation has found me blogging instead.
These bits please me:
I have been given a great opportunity to exhibit some drawing at a student-led exhibition here in Leeds at the start of December. The theme being ‘Impersonators’, I couldn’t see a better subject matter than a full party of the world’s favourite breed of impersonator: The Elvis Impersonator.
Research sketchin’ – Google image referencing due to the distinct lack of Elvis in my real life:
As I have never really exhibited any drawing before, I have been feeling nervous about the quality of my pictures, and unsure that the standard is ever good enough to actually call them finished. Reading Taiyo Matsumoto‘s Blue Spring, and having some Moebius art round my bedroom walls has been stirring up jealousy in me for their crisp but crunchy linework. The detailing on the Elvis suits is something I really want to include too – this pointillist-y technique with the 0.1 pen pleases me to some extent, but I think I’d need to make my other lines much more delicate for them to sit well together.
I’ve been fairly engrossed in the much freer, curvier inking of Wesley Allsbrook too, and would like to keep practicing with the ink-and-brush techniques until my hand/wrist muscles feel strong enough to control a smoother line.
So I fell to sketching out the Elvis party, figuring I could decide the best course of action to take as I went along:
Luckily, while I was drawing, Tutor Graham came into the studio, informing me that I had a tutorial with him just then. With all the festival-going of the past two-three weeks, I suppose I lost sight of the course and my responsibilities as a Visual Communication student. Time to get back on track.
This surprise tutorial was immensely helpful. Graham was able to point out the fact that the ink tests I had done (above) lacked the animation of my pencil sketches, which I could not argue with, and asked why I didn’t just submit a pencil drawing for the exhibition, but I don’t think I could do this. I feel as though I need to finish this with ink to feel satisfied with it – and now I’ve had a second go at the overall sketch, I feel more confident with the image as a whole. The composition seems better, the characters are more varied, and I have found a place for the kissing Elvises. It still needs some work around the edges and between the heads and on many badly-proportioned body parts, but I think this could turn out to be a good piece of work.
I’ve been dwelling more on the Ralph Steadman exhibition I visited during the summer too, and the punches his work delivers on my brain. I’d like to get that punchy, so I must work on my ink drawing. I should really get a new nib for my dip pen too, but the finest ones are so difficult to find!
I like to paint. I want to do it more often, get better at it, and enjoy it more. I was given a great opportunity to flick the wrist at something useful last week, when class/housemate Sarah asked if I’d like to work with her on the ‘Face in the hole’ board for the Nest launch party. She had already drawn out the Jabba with slave Leia basis, so I worked on the interplanetary sky and the slave girl body. Here is a blurry photo of the sky, and a quick Instagram video from Fizz (event coordinator), evidencing our process:
The board in action:
One move in a series of actions I’ve been taking to advance my progression in getting my act together this year was contributing an illustrated article for our Student Union’s Magazine, NEST. The next edition had a science fiction theme, which I was very ready to get behind, and each issue has an ‘Interview with a Dead Artist’ article, so I took this as an excuse to reanimate one of my very favourite artists, and bother him with pointless questions.
Thumbnail sketches working on the beautiful Beardsley face:
Whistler’s Peacock Room, which he raved about once upon a time:
I’d been trying hard to push myself into action in illustration for a long time. With this drawing, I wanted to try out the methods outlined by Yuko Shimizu on her website. It felt good.
This was also a good opportunity to exercise writing. I talk a lot about how I’d like to write more, and more disciplined, formalised, sensible writing. I tried, and did this:
Recent attempts to bring cohesion to our increasingly fragmented world have resulted in collaborations between the Military Forces and the Arts Council. One such project – Operation RE:BOOT – revisited the experiments in reanimation first pioneered by Giovanni Aldini in the 17th century, and was largely successful in its mission of bringing back to life a number of influential artists from different major artistic movements of the past two centuries.
Nest speaks to Aubrey Beardsley, an important figure of the Art Nouveau period who used his revolutionary stylistic methods to explore the decadence, pomp, and often condemnable subject matter of his natural lifetime, at the close of the 19th century. The artist has taken up residence in Whistler’s Peacock Room, and requests at all times to be addressed as ‘Monsieur Beardsley’.
N: Your work, your choice of subject matter, at that time was incredibly brave. How did you deal with the damning reviews and overwhelmingly hostile reception of some of your more risqué work?
AB: I lapsed into depression, again and again, and often that would go hand-in-hand with episodes of blood-spitting. However, after a time I came to understand that one may affect cool indifference and mask despair; moulding that outward cast to a befitting shape, and feeding on the attentions of your critics. Sensationalism is a stimulant not solely for the audience. Though your generation may find it much more difficult to produce even murmurings of novelty.
N: Do you have any advice to give to the students of LCA on being successful in the art world?
AB: What can I relate? The atmosphere of our fin-de-siècle was potent, tangible, and we posed our questions or solutions as befitting the time, but that century was long ago. Yours is simply madness to these poor eyes. How could I advise you here?
N: What do you make of the state of the world today in comparison to that which you left over one hundred years ago?
AB: Being here, I feel nothing more than a minor character Dante never cared to bring beyond his Inferno. This torturous dismemberment from everything I had known and loved, only to be positioned here; some godforsaken fortune-telling box, answering drivelous questions that wound me deeper and deeper still, an excruciating and constant reminder of this fallacy of an existence, all to ‘bring about a greater understanding of my work’, ‘establish direct contact for future art’s inspiration’. This is nothing more than a final drastic and sordid attempt to peer behind the lace-trimmed curtain of my bedchamber to see what demons I did keep as bedfellows.
N: You were Catholic-born, and returned to the religion at the end of your life. How was that possible for you – mentally, spiritually – returning to your childhood beliefs at twenty-five years old? Secondly, what do you believe today?
AB: My life was plagued by frightfully common fears – illness, hatred, debt – but I lived. My death I do not remember so much, but to be welcomed into the arms of a Heavenly Father whose embrace promised me an eternity of peace was surely a calming respite from the terrible nothingness I was facing. I was not so painfully lucid as you find me now. Brought back as curio on display in this lifeless Peacock Room – I can see clearly that this is an overwhelming sin. I never did accustom to speaking about my faith in my natural life, and now, my context has made the task insurmountable.
N: I am curious to know why you decided to settle here, in Whistler’s Peacock Room, after there had reportedly been so much animosity between the two of you?
AB: Whistler’s peacocks are beautiful dead things. I simply wanted to be near them.
N: You contemporaries were famed for their sharp wit. Do you have any bons mots for our readers?
At this moment I was escorted from the room, and the interview was terminated.
– END –
I enjoyed playing out the things I’d been studying for CoP for this restricted, defined purpose. This bit was, I thought, worth putting up here (though I cut it from the submission for print as it was already too long), if only as a harrowing reminder of what I think sometimes:
This reanimation – this confounds any semblance of existence I had come to understand on my short mortal term on this earth. While I occupied it, I would curse the consumptive, flesh-made form I had been burdened with, and now that I am freed from the brunt of it, I cannot accept that I am alive, and from that, it confounds the very ideals I lived by in that time. It is a strange and terrible paradox beyond the powers of my brain, and indeed, truly that is all that is left of me.
– REAL END –
Reading through his letters was effective in researching how I might steal his voice. The affected dandy was a fun character to play.
I did this:
One day drawing pressure is a good thing, I should do this stuff more often. It’s not the greatest drawing, but I did it and it’s finished, and that is vast improvement for me. Ain’t heard nothin’ ’bout no iPad being won by no one neither.