Saturday, 2 January 2016

A New Year Requires New Creative Inspiration

Wow.. It has been so long. University really sapped out all of my creativity and after a long break and finally graduating, I have sought out to start 2016 with artistic aspirations which will inspire my own creative output.

Where better to start than the Huddersfield Art Gallery, promising artworks by legendary names such as Francis Bacon to the local talented artists capturing the beauty of the surrounding landscapes.

The first room I entered held some very impressive works by the local talent. In the first exhibition I viewed, 'Gallery 6: Yorkshire Makers', I was impressed by the diverse range of artworks. From painting to jewellery, it definitely made me proud to be from Yorkshire, especially as a fellow creative.

Ross Moore's beautiful landscapes really capture the true essence of the Holme Valley in Yorkshire, Europe and Africa. Inks and dyes provide striking vibrancy helping Moore find a balance between reality and expression. These encaptivating works are sure to grab the attention of any viewer, tones and detail which cannot be ignored.

Another artist to capture my attention was David Froggatt. Working in watercolour, the artist transforms his subjects into wonderful geometric forms. Careful lines and shapes are colour blocked to bring an original quality to intriguing yet simple scenes.

Continuing the geometric theme, the next exhibition held a variety of permanent artworks based upon perspective. This included Anthony Hill and Mary Martin's abstract pieces where simplistic shapes are used to challenge the viewer to a new perspective. Heavy notions of Constructivism are seen within both works through the use of geometric shapes, order and contemporary use of materials. 

The next exhibition has to be my personal favourite. Immediately when I walked into the room I was enthralled by the beauty of Claire Louise Mather's pieces which reflect the simplistic charm of nature at its best. Using mixed media, textiles and machine embroidery, Mather was able to portray the softness and details in the landscapes.


Furthermore, Jenny Thomas' excellent use of printmaking made for some spectacular pieces displayed in the exhibition. Drawing upon nature for inspiration, Thomas reinvents the landscape in abstract form. The tones used in each piece reflect on the atmosphere in every scene. There is still a sense of mystery in the artist's prints; only a partial frame is given to the viewer which tempts them further into the natural composition.

Lastly, the 'Thought Positions in Sculpture' exhibition displayed some interesting and contemporary works. This included some visually fun pieces by Jill Townsley involving a lot of nail varnish, and some delicate drawings by Juliet MacDonald. Unlike some of the artworks previously seen, these were particularly thought-provoking as they responded to various archives.

And there you have it, my journey through Huddersfield Art Gallery. The first of 2016 and many more to come. 

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Developing Final Illustrations

When developing my illustrations, I take into consideration the compositions of my pieces. The page needs to be filled out effectively without making the content too busy. These first two images are on A4 sheets of watercolour, however when I had my formative assessment and through tutorials, I have been encouraged to work on a larger scale. This has faced me with a challenge as I have been taken out of my comfort zone, but I believe it has work out well.

Below, these pieces are all on A2 sheets of watercolour paper. Scaling my work up has allowed me to explore the composition more and experiment with bolder strokes and washes of colour, As a whole, a larger scale has more impact and creates stronger illustration. The scale also reflects the greatest of the animals and their physical size. They are important to the wild and through up-scaling my work this is portrayed more effectively.

Above, I have incorporated elements of the issues faced by the animals in the wild. The Asian elephants main crisis is the threat of habitat loss through deforestation. This has been applied to my illustration through the great expanse in the composition. The elephant is more defined in order to bring it to the foreground of the image whilst the tones become lighter in the right half of the composition to create a sense of distance. The light space really enhances the idea of space and distance as the elephant looks out into the background wondering where his home has vanished to.

In the illustration of the orang-utan I have included symbols with an aim to be thought-provoking for the viewer. This could be interpreted in numerous ways by the viewer although a main sense of human-wildlife conflict is apparent. My intention was to reflect the illegal pet trade which orang-utans are often succumbed from the wild. In this illustration the dark tones of the ink reflect the human conflict towards the animal. The hand is grabbing the orang-utan and the chains are a symbol of being trapped and controlled. This illustration is particularly strong for depicting the threats to the species by humans directly. The subtle orange tones used for the fur create a sense of vulnerability and also define the animal as it's specific species, an orang-utan. 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Experimenting with Drawing on Frames

After producing some A4 watercolour and ink animal portraits, I felt they needed an element of imagery which reflected the issue faced by each species. Therefore, not wanting to spoil the original imagery, I directly drew onto the glass in permanent marker. The left illustration reflects deforestation with the stumps of trees and the right illustration reflects the illegal pet trade of orang-utans with the bars. Scratching into the thick lines gives the impression of depth for the bars and also adds texture. 

Even though these are quite effective for creating a statement about the issues, the harshness of the black draws attention away from the illustrations and the subtly of watercolour is subdued. 

To make the illustrations more prominent and the focal point in the exhibition, white frames could be used, clear with the original illustrations. This will highlight the illustrations and raw texture in the pieces without distracting from the sensitive content.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Combining Digital and Traditional

As experimental development, I used my own primary source imagery combined with illustrations to create new ideas and themes. These have been heavily manipulated in Photoshop so the quality may not necessarily be there although these could be used as reference to create new illustrations.

Here I have used a photograph of bars combined with an illustration to make it appear as though the elephant is trapped and caged.

Left: The original photograph.

Below: The manipulated imagery.

These images reflect the trauma of the Asian elephant when faced with threats from the human race. Rather than elephants being physically caged, my intention is for the cage for be a symbol of how such a large animal is made to feel demoralized and trapped in a number of ways. This could reflect on how elephants are used within the tourist industry in Thailand or even how they are kept behind the scenes of a circus. 

Intentionally, the elephant appears vulnerable and lost. Perhaps this is the only elephant left before they become a long lost memory into extinction? The red hues reflect violence and danger, a sense of darkness which is the elephants impending fate.

Using the same elephant illustration, I superimposed the animal into a forest scene. The forest scene is manipulated from a primary source photograph and put into a new context. The in the left image the elephant seems vulnerable in its own habitat whereas in the right image the elephant seems to be fading away. This sense of fading reflects the threat of extinction through habitat loss. Whilst the habitat is replaced and preserved, the elephants and forced to survive elsewhere, or not at all...

 Using an ink illustration, I thought about a comment I had during the formative assessment- why not add a background? Whilst I feel white space encourages the viewer to pay closer attention to the main subject, I decided to use a primary source landscape photograph to provide a sense of context to the image. The darkness of the landscape highlights the elephant slaves whilst the red tones in the sky imply a sense of danger and foreboding. Where are the elephants being taken? What is their fate?

These illustrations were manipulated in Photoshop and given a simple forest-like background. This background was painted digitally and fills out the image.

Overall, I believe these experiments were a success in how they reflected the threats of extinction and providing imagery which is more thought-provoking for the viewer. The colours are vivid and the use of photography brings stronger compositions. However, the manipulation in Photoshop can appear over-worked so it could it effective to replicate similar imagery in traditional media.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Introducing Orang-utans

To progress on the development of my project, I have decided to focus on threats to orang-utans in the wild. The threats include habitat loss through deforestation, the illegal pet trade and agriculture for palm oil. These facts were all sourced from the World Wildlife Fund website and Orangutan Conservancy.

The choice to focus on orang-utans came from when I initially looked into endangered species of the Sumatran forest. Then when I went to Chester Zoo to take primary source imagery I felt I sympathised with the animals, especially one who was by the glass and looked to somber and sad.

Although the animal was hard to photograph due to the reflection from the windows, I cannot explain how emotional this made me feel, how sad it was to see such a grand animal being observed in a cage which resembled not even a small portion of his original habitat. This made me want to make a change even more through my illustrations so that perhaps people will become aware that these animals were put on the Earth to achieve more than be viewed as an object in a zoo. If people are ignorant to the threats of orang-utans in the wild then they will be destined for a life in containers until they eventually fade from this planet entirely.

Here is a couple of experimental illustrations defining the character of this beautiful creature:

Saturday, 21 March 2015

WWF Donation Box

As part of the final exhibition, I wanted to include a World Wildlife Find donation box alongside my displayed work to encourage people to donate to the charity. Choosing the WWF to fund raise for was an easy decision as I have based much of my research on their website. My aim is to hopefully encourage people to want to make a change through my artwork and therefore donate as little as possible. 

After contacting the WWF through Twitter I emailed the contact given and was pleased to received a positive response and it seems that it will be possible to get a couple of donation boxes.

I gave them my address and received the boxes soon after I contacted the charity. Here is one of the boxes pieced together, I received two others which I can display with my exhibition.