Tag: artist

Drawing a Life-size Sauropod Vertebra illustration

Drawing a Life-size Sauropod Vertebra illustration

Apologies for the length between posts life as ever has been incredibly busy however, I am striving to create some new posts inviting you into a glimpse of my current art practice along with some exiting fossil trips and finds. Since leaving university I have come to realise how important it is to still challenge and push yourself in your practice, the illustration that I will be discussing challenged my practice through new ways of approaching specimen illustration. I will share with you the creation of this piece, I think this is probably the most difficult thing I have ever drawn… well so far anyway.

What is it?

I get this question a fair bit, this is a sauropod vertebra, it would be found late cervical or early dorsal (a later neck bone, yes a neck bone imagine having this for one bone in your neck, it must have been enormous)!!… The specimen is really large considering it is only one bone it sits almost half a meter high, this size gave me the inspiration to create a life size illustration. 

The further challenge,

For some unknown reason apparently creating a life-size illustration of a giant sauropod vert isn’t enough, so I ended up creating the work in colour. I have previously created other smaller scientific style illustrations but nothing on this scale. Using artists coloured pencils was vital so that I can apply great depth and manipulate the material to create a range of tones and textures. Bone is complex at the best of times but this was another level, there were areas of incredibly detailed texture within the surface layers of the bone, alongside this I have the challenge of showing where the bone ends and the matrix (rock) is still present after preparation. This fossil was found by Jeremy Lockwood a local researcher and was prepped by Martyn Hornett a volunteer at dinosaur Isle, I have great respect for the amount of patience that this specimen will have required. 

Day one,

As some of you know I have various sessions throughout the week so fitting in a drawing session can sometimes be quite tricky, fortunately I found a couple of hours a few months ago to begin this process. The first steps to creating the piece are to mark things out roughly with light pencil marks, here I used a very light ochre as I knew this would be covered by later additions of pencil. By the end of day one I began to realise just how much of a challenge I was taking on. If I was simply working in graphite the process would have been a lot easier as lights are darks are much quicker to produce than colour, this is a whole new game so to speak. Although by the end of the few hours I didn’t have much to show I had already began to spend time with the object and get to know it, this understanding is so pivotal to creating a good drawing.

Day two,

By the end of this drawing session I was feeling more hopeful and optimistic, I had started to create some basic shapes and some tones were beginning to build. I’m pleased with the top left edge of the bone as it curves round and meets the underside (its just a nice bit of shading). I began to see the challenge of colour as I approached top centre of the specimen, here although the bone is receding it still isn’t that dark this is where the balancing act of colour and shade started to play. 

  

 

Some understanding,

By this point I had some real understanding of the fossil and I was beginning to get to grips with the forms of the bone. This helped enormously as I could begin to show and use the understanding,  developing colour and tone which often juxtaposed the real colour of the bone so therefore I continued the balance of pushing and pulling the tones to give the specimen shape.

And play it did,

Not only did I have the bone receding but as previously mentioned there was now matrix too and some of the matrix is closer that receding bone, however if I use the true tone of the matrix this appears further forward than the bone in front of it, so to fix this I had to adjust the shade to make the piece “work” as the shape receded…. Sigh 

Finishing touches,

This was primarily looking at how the lights and darks balanced through the fossils form, I decided to deepen the shading of the matrix to show how the bone recedes in the space. Although the actual tone is lighter the adapted tone makes for a better drawing. There were some other minor tweaks and changes but generally it was increasing the contrast between different areas to show the overall form yet retain smaller details. 

Directional shading,

This is KEY I’ve often used directional shaming before but since I started working in paleoart the directional shading is so key to creating a drawing that works. I find that shading mainly in the direction of the bone growth and following the minute almost grain like quality is what helps gives these pieces the shape and for want of a better works life. 

I think my background as a sculptor comes in to play a lot when it comes to specimen drawing, having the understanding of 3 dimensional form and the ability to translate from dimensions is very useful. 

vert-neralyu-finished

Would I do this again?

To be honest I’m not sure exactly how I would approach this a second time, I know that using simply graphite makes this process a lot more simple and the tone becomes easier to create and read. I do however think that this style of drawing has its merits and place as when compared to a standard colour photograph the drawing is simpler to read. Personally I enjoy the contrast of colour to the grayscale images we normally see in this environment.

The other thing I would like to mention is the choice of palette, I feel that often there is a huge jump in palette between grayscale graphite specimen sketches and our over the top bright colourful dinosaurs aimed at children. I feel that all of these have their place but that perhaps some more natural palettes could also become part of this artistic vocabulary. obviously I was driven here by the natural tone of the specimen, but this is also a nod to my own sculptors palette. For me I consider where these skeletons of previous beasts were found and wish to note the subdued palette of our English coastline throughout my work. 

The Finished Piece 

Materials used were. Dayler Rowney A2 Paper, Fabercastell polychromos pencils, and a few caran D’ache luminance pencils. With thanks to Dinosaur Isle for access to specimens and working space,

I recommend a visit to the museum if you get the chance, you can find more about it here 

Visiting the Grant Museum

Visiting the Grant Museum

A short Discussion on my recent trip to the Grant Museum.

Testing some new watercolours

Testing some new watercolours

Dayler Rowney Artists Range

I found the Dayler Rowney paints to mainly be of a good mix and little separation had occurred in the tubes, apart from the mars violet which required emptying some liquid  for some time before any paint came out of the tube. This is not uncommon even in good brands of paint I find this more often when they are a little older, and have had this even in Windsor and Newton artist ranges. 

A couple of days ago I visited an art shop I hadn’t been to for years, hidden at the back there were these older tubes of watercolours (there is something oddly charming about old art materials).  I’ve been wishing to expand my collection of watercolour tubes for some time so I thought lets give them a go!  These paints are Dayler Rowney artist watercolour as apposed to the more affordable student ranges.

 

From Left to right the top four are Dayler Rowney followed by Windsor and Newton and the turquoise at the end is a Daniel Smith.

To begin with I started some simple loose colour swatches, here I decided to include some of my other tubes to create a nice comparison plus I was yet to actually swatch any these other paints. There are three different ranges in total, the first is the mentioned Dayler Rowney artists range, the second some Windsor and newton artist range and a Daniel smith watercolour. 

Some quick mixes overlaying various concentration washes
Windsor And Newton Artist Range

After the Swatches and Quick mixes I began to notice some differences in the various paints. Unfortunately overall I found Rowney to be of a lesser quality that the other two brands, some of the paint dried a little ‘chalky’ in comparison however, the bismuth yellow was fantastic and a really strong pigment (shown as thee yellow in the mixes above) requiring little paint to water for a rich colour. 

The Windsor and Newton do range slightly in there quality, generally it is very high however there is often some separation in the tube which for the cost is a bit of a let down (we all know there not exactly cheap). For some reason my series 2 ‘potters pink’ is terrible for separating not only in the tube but also on the paper, it tends to behave completely differently from all my other watercolours (it behaves more like my Japanese Gansai Tambi Pallette), perhaps the chemicals haven’t been balanced correctly as you can see from this small swatch and my cliff painting here.  Although it separates I still love the colour of this  it compliments my new mars violet (Rowney) very well. 

Daniel Smith Watercolour
Windsor and Newton Potters Pink
Close Up Of Unfinished Cliff Painting

This is the first Daniel Smith watercolour I have used and I have to say I love it, it works so easily and is so richly pigmented it will last and last, it easily beats Windsor and Newton for its quality. I have had no separation issues and the watercolour is so much easier to use mixing the right opacity just becomes effortless, the colour always dries beautiful im yet to have an issue with this paint. I will definitely be investing in more of this range. Below is my unfinished cliff painting using a mix of these different paints trying to use each ones various properties to my strength. 

Unfinished Cliff Painting
A New Chapter

A New Chapter

The Past few months have been a strange period of mass adjustment and what they tell you in Art School is true… staying motivated may be difficult but for me finding the time has been harder. However, in spite of the lack of time left […]

50°39’21.0″N 1°28’06.9″W

50°39’21.0″N 1°28’06.9″W

Moving away from stacking directly on the shelf, I began using sand to support fragmented porcelain pieces. This placement allows for distance between the individual pieces meaning I can make my work larger whilst the negative spaaces still retain interest. I initially used a board […]

Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean

I was recently introduced to the work of Tacita Dean and found her work in a volume of Vitamin D in the library, from the start I connected with her notions of landscape and what landscape can be. In her recent exhibition at the Royal Academy she showed a collection of clover leaves, I  have since discovered she often collects this notion of collecting nature resonates with myself and my own collecting from the landscape. 

 

I am also interested in her chalkboard drawings, she plays with the ideas of the sublime whilst the piece itself may have deeper meaning such as “The Montafon Letter”. this piece depicts a mountain landscape where an avalanche killed a number of people, I engage with the impermanence of this piece I feel it reflects the idea of human life yet still remains beautiful and romanticizing the landscape. I feel this can relate to my own practice through my interpretations of cliffs that I walk, I often draw referring to memories of my walks, which speak to my personal life with my partner who suffers with memory loss from brain damage.

Tacita Dean, Four, Five, Six, Seven and Nine Leaf Clover Collection, 1972-present
Tacita Dean, "The Montafon Letter"

Tacita Dean also works with rocks from the landscape, here she has used chalkboard paint then printed a photograph of her collected stone onto this surface, it becomes about materiality and real surface along with the depicted surface of a real stone. some of these pieces were bought by a Falmouth art gallery which you may read and article on here.

 

Her collection of round stones also intrigues me, i find her exhibition of her encounter with landscape similar to my own, she often returns back to Falmouth as I return to the cliffs. 

Tacita Dean , Riesenbett II (floating)
Tacita Dean, Round stone collection

Dean also collects round stones, I can find little reference to this particular collection, although I have found that it is ongoing so perhaps we shall see more of these stones in the future.

 

Dean has always used chemical film and has now expanded into making film instillation, in the film below she discussed her latest work at the royal academy, and it’s origins. I believe that her use of film will be useful to me as I try to further my own film making. 

Studio Thoughts

Studio Thoughts

                                                                                                                                                    My heads too crowded There’s someone screaming about memories, whilst other calls to the cracks in my work. This porcelain is like skin, but its delicacy is sharp. The charcoal lines dance on paper before me, black fading to […]