In my current work, I am exploring gesture and body language, in particular I am interested in hands. I feel they are not always recognised as a powerful expression of emotion however, they have such a strong ability to do so. Hands can be a physical communicator of thoughts and emotions despite what the mouth might be saying. They are able to reflect conscious and subconscious thought through both intentionally expressed and automatic responses.
What is it about hands that make them so expressive? They move freely with the voice and the rest of the body; they are at the forefront in conversation. Hands can convey anger, can be pacifying, questioning, conciliatory and much, much more. The gestures illustrated in my drawings are powerful enough to convey emotion without verbal explanation. The monochrome effect of charcoal on white paper is dramatic and intense, and focuses the eye on the structure and pose of each hand.
My body work consists of charcoal drawing and video. These media combine contemporary technology with traditional materials to explore a genre that has been relevant in Western Art Canon and Cultural art practice throughout history. They are an ideal medium to explore the variety and versatility of gestures that reflect body language and emotion.
After beginning to develop some film and editing work and then hitting an obstacle of no motivation and being a little confused on where I was taking the work, I decided to produce a few large drawings. I started by thinking about what gestures I wanted to create which resulted in different simple movements. I decided to use minimal amounts of charcoal compared to the earlier drawings I had produced because I felt they movements were light and so the materials I used needed to use needed to be light with not too much tone and shading. I have produced five drawings in this series all focusing on the fingers with different angles to distort them. I found some of the movements more difficult to produce due to the angles and the distortion from these.
Not only was I using this exercise to refocus my mind on your idea, but also to expand my portfolio to strengthen my ideas. I found this exercise enjoyable because I was able to get myself away from my computer and focus on the drawings. In the back of my mind whilst producing these was how my own hand was being manipulated to produce these. Although I was working from an image of my own hand, I also use my real hand to reference the drawings and to create a more realistic piece. The photographs give a very flat 2D interpretation but they do provide a decent foundation. Working from life is more beneficial for me and has allowed me to create a better interpretation and record the movement and fluidity. Although my work has developed a lot further than just sketches and simple drawings, it is always beneficial to go back to simple drawing to refocus and clear the mind. With everything going on in the world today, things have become unsettled and unknown and so taking those times to refocus and calm are essential. Not only this but, an artist should continue with small or simple sketches to keep the creativity flowing.
The Canadian artist born in 1965 is a contemporary artist known for working with the figure in performance. These performances consist of a collaboration of film, digital editing, prosthetics, audio and a range of different environments.
Brueckner explains in his artist statement which unfortunately is dated back to 2007 but still provides a strong idea of what he explores through his art. Through the film, painting and drawing Brueckner is portraying the human figure in a way which explores gesture and emotion through its movements and stances. In his drawing, Brueckner has created a blurred effect with the pencil by fading out the figure. In the digital work, Brueckner captures the image on a digital camera, manipulates said image on Photoshop and then present the work on paper or on a canvas. The artist goes through a process of combining numerous images and versions of the images and mirroring images together to form collages. These create a repeating pattern which looks microscopic. It is interesting to see the way Brueckner has manipulated the images of the figure which he has taken to form these pieces. It is clear from these that Brueckner is exploring the figure down to the molecular level to truly understand it.
The film art Brueckner has produced has evoked the idea of internal and external journeys the body goes through daily. Through these Brueckner is combining technology with the figure to create what he calls ‘cybrids’. These creations are making that connection between the two phenomenons and provoke responds from the audience about the relation between technology and the figure. Brueckner is the only artist to have explore this idea but, he is the first I have come across which explores it in this way.
From the artist statement, it is clear Brueckner wants to continue explained his knowledge on the subject though his art and continue expanding his body of work. I am fascinated by his work because the way he blurs the images in the film and overlaps raw footage to create his films. This is also evident in his digital imagery work which I think creates an interest still with movement.
I feel his work is very relevant to mine at this current time with the way the artist uses this effect and creates illusions in his work.
As well as drawing in charcoal, I sketch in pen which creates quick scratchy sketches of hands. I incorporated some colour using watercolour into the sketches to give them life and realism. I created many small sketches to create a ‘wall’ of drawings. These drawings reflect an array of emotions and feelings through the range of gestures. I played around with different amounts of pen and watercolour in to change the intensity of the drawings. The drawings are not part of my exhibition because they are just sketches and don’t belong in my exhibition making them more part of my consolidation module. I produced these sketches recently but, they are in reference to the gestures I produced in the film art. The idea of these drawings was to keep the emotions flowing and explore the different gestures and the emotions associated with them. Creating the ‘wall’ was for the documentation of the sketches but, also a way of me to bring all the drawings together and bring the power to the whole image.
I am really enjoying working with film art with my theme because it allows me to show the emotion in a more natural environment and through movement.
I started to play around with the idea of hands drawing hands. I filmed myself drawing sketches of different gestures. In the video you can only see the drawing, the pen and the hand so all of the focus is on the movement itself. Editing the film took place on iMovie and Premiere Pro where I edited three separate films into one. I also increased the speed of the film by 200% because I felt it gave the audience I sense of the emotion rather than dragging out the process by having it at normal speed. I decided to keep the sound on the film because I found the scratchiness of it interesting and contributed to the gesture I am expressing through my hand movements whilst drawing.
Importing and editing
Editing and combining separate clips into one
Editing the speed
Editing the speed
I found the exercise quite intriguing because when I looked back at the film, I was able to see my technique.
After looking into the work of Lee Krasner, an artist suggested by my tutor. I decided to tear up and play around with a few of my drawings (Figurative Charcoal Sketch & Figurative Charcoal Sketch 2). This idea comes from the intention to rip out torn work to distort it even more. The reason I wanted to use these drawings, it because I wanted to use already produce work to make more.
I started by using masting tape to hold the pieces onto the paper just as a temporary hold so I could move them around and decide where I wanted them. I began to add in coloured paper and use my charcoal to draw over this. By doing this I was creating the connection between the original drawing and the coloured paper. I enjoyed using the lighter pink with this collage further than the dark pink painted paper because the dark was too rich and didn’t give as much contrast as the lighter paper. As I continued to work with this collage I felt a strong positive feeling towards it and felt as though my work was going somewhere.
I did encounter problems during this process. As you can see the biggest difference between the second and the last images below. After placing more and more of my torn figurative drawings onto the canvas, I decided the pink paper did not work. I was able to overcome this problem by covering it up with more charcoal. As well collaging old artworks together, I wanted to incorporate fresh charcoal to create links between all of the works. The reason for this pieces was to refocus on mind on gesture and body language.
My work is continuing to develop and I wanted to start thinking about how I could develop it into a final show piece. I started to think about a few ideas one of which was to include a video of myself producing a large scale drawing. I wanted to do this as a way to show a hand drawing a hand. Then movements I make through producing the drawing and how my body reacts and response to my progress through the drawing.
I want to show to the audience the physical and mental strength needed for this sort of work. I am experimenting with drawings of my own hands at the moment because I feel hands tell a lot about a person. The gestures through a person’s hands and body language tells a lot about an individual’s mood. I am also producing drawings of a friend looking at the way she can distort her body to show her ribs and bones. These distortions come from her insecurities and eating disorders. That connection between the mind and body is so important as the body is the physical communicator for the mind.
I decided to experiment with film. Here I have experimented with a time lapse of a drawing to show the essence of the drawing process rather than display a long film of my time and production. Using a time lapse is interesting because not only does it allow me to see the way I work from a far but, also makes it a great way to show to the audience how I produce my work. For this piece, I used iMovie to edit the film.
To continue drawing in charcoal, I produce a fourth drawing on the back of a hand. This hand did not show any particular gesture but I still found it very interesting because it showed the wrinkles and knuckles in the back of a hand. Like the other drawings, I used torn paper and glue to fix them together. For this piece, I used a great deal of charcoal to produce an intense drawing. I wanted to produce an intense drawing because although this gesture is not particularly intense, the whole idea of gesture and body language can also be heightened through emotions.
I did decide this drawing was not doing to be used in my exhibition because of the lack of gesture and emotion. For the exhibition, I want to use art which strongly reflects emotion through the gestures. I feel this drawing would not reflect this or bring anything to the work. Although this is the case, I still produce this to build my portfolio and thought process of body language and explore the array of different gestures. As well as this, this piece has develop said though process and developed ideas in which I can pursue.
The figure is becoming more defined in my work as I include to build my portfolio of life drawing and sketches.
I wanted to include the idea through distortions of the body. Using the same model as the other figurative charcoal sketch (Figurative Charcoal Sketch), I have produce a drawing from the back view as the model pushes her shoulders back and holds her hands behind her back. This position draws out the should blades and top of the spine. I have used more charcoal on this drawing to intensify the bones of the model. Using the compressed charcoal as well as willow charcoal has helped to create detail to the figure but, also allows me to the smudge to material on the paper.
Figurative sketch using charcoal
Figurative sketch using charcoal
Figurative sketch using charcoal
After experimenting with this drawings, I have decided to simplify and focus my interest in the figure and begin to focus on hands and gesture. I have used some torn paper in this drawing but I want to continue this method of creating my canvas because it is something I have used in the past and thoroughly enjoyed.
After my tutorial I was given Morgan O’Hara as an artist to look into. She responds to human activity through her drawing, if a person moves aggressively, the line will simultaneously be aggressive. The lines also following the direction of the activity.
I decided to take this idea but work with it using classical music. Classical music is so beneficial and along with scientific research is helps whilst studying. I isolated myself so I could only heard the music and using both hands, placed ink on paper and allowed my hands to freely respond to the music. I participated in an activity similar to this during my art foundation year and found it quite useful for my drawing. I found this exercise quite freeing and thoroughly enjoyed it because it allowed me to just focus on the music and how it made me feel.
I focused on the music and documented my movements through the drawing. After completing each, I looked for to see how my hands responded to the music and its intensity. I found these experiments very interesting and conceptual but I want to continue my develop and look further into hand movements and gesture.