Morgan O’Hara

When talking to my tutor, we discussed a way of drawing whereby I would use both hands to create pieces of art. By doing this, I am able to create my freedom in my art because I am not necessarily worrying about the image produced itself but focusing on that which I am responding to or interrupting.

Morgan O’Hara is a contemporary artist who uses both hands in her art. By using both hands she is able to create fluidity and movement in her work and able to create interesting shapes and lines. Born in LA in 1941, O’Hara grew up living in Japan but travelled back to the US where she gained her Master Degree in Art at the California State University.

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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: On Stage, 2018
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Morgan O’Hara, Live Transmission: The English National Ballet, 2012

Not only does O’Hara do this but, she also has created work using words. Quoting the artists, “My main practice is drawing, and writing and drawing are not so far from each other”. I believe this to be true because they are both forms of creativity which use the hands whereby the brain is directing your pen or pencil on the paper to form shapes and patterns. When writing, words are just recognised shapes which we associate with language. One of O’Hara’s most known written pieces was when she decided to rewrite the US constitution and declaration of independence when Donald Trump came to power. Trump gave his address to the public on January 20th 2017, the day of his inauguration into power. O’Hara placed herself in the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library where she sat surrounded by pens and pencils with the hope that others around her would join in in the activity and “reflect on the words of the constitution”. Quoting O’Hara:

“hand copying a document can produce an intimate connection to text and its meaning”.

I think she is onto something with this statement because you are really focusing on the words when reading them to be copied onto the page. When reading the text in order to copy, your brain begins to interpret it and starts to think of different ways it could be reworded. Copying the text does not require you to reword it but your brain automatically does this.

Patrons of the library and family and friends of O’Hara began to join in with her and her activity throughout the day. The reasoning behind this piece was “a way to remind the public of the bedrock of our democracy at a time where political unrest is at a high”, which is fascinating because it brings the constitution into light and makes people think about the foundations of their rights. When looking at political it is a useful tool to look back at the first laws put in place in the constitution because they were written for a reason and are still valid in today’s politics.

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Linda Stillman, a handwritten copy of the Constitution, part of Morgan O’Hara’s “Handwriting the Constitution” project. Courtesy of Jeanette May Morgan.

Alison Lambert – Practice and Inspiration

Alison Lambert is a contemporary artist who specialises in large scale human portraits uses charcoal and torn paper as her medium. Alan Dyer explains in the book ‘Emotion and Expression’ about how Lambert, over the years, has managed to perfect the ability to create many emotions in the work and make the viewer question which emotion is most dominate in the work. Esi Edugyan wrote an article where she talk about how she experience Lambert’s work in person and emphasised that this was so much more empowering than seeing it in books and on the internet. She explains how you can feel the physicality of the work with the large scale and intensity of the charcoal and black pastel she uses.

“the expressions are impossible to pin down in a single word and always changing combination of emotions that depend entirely on the mood of the viewer”

Two of full bodied pieces names ‘Grip’, 2001 and ‘Emergence’, 2001, were influenced by the eroded statues at Rouen Cathedral in Normandy, France. The emotion forms an expressiveness which is also evident in Lambert’s work. The faces of these two portraits shows so much pain with the intensity of the pastel and the way Lambert has framed in so much charcoal to almost blackened out the whole face.

Looking at the Emotion and Expression Book in the library, I discover the method in which Lambert uses to create the work. It is fascinating the way she uses the charcoal to create shadows and the white paper to create highlights. In the book, you can see a stage by stage break down of her process. The reason for looking into this is to discover different ways for me to produce my own work. Rather than using the extra pieces of paper to add size to the work or to cover up any mistakes, the use of paper will create highlights which can then be worked on with charcoal to create tone. The torn paper added into the work also creates texture and so the materials together form this real empowerment in her work. I feel this is a really interesting and innovative way of using your materials and feel it could be something I use in my own work.

Francis Bacon’s Life Drawings

“Every movement of the brush on the canvas alters the shape and implications of the image”  (Francis Bacon, unidentified newspaper cutting, 1960).

This quote by Bacon is fascinating because he understands that every brush strokes should be thought through and the artist should understand that every mark they make changes their work for better or for worse. I feel this quote can also be applied to drawing because no matter how big or small the marks you m are are, they all alter your work.

Francis Bacon used life drawing as a form of ‘notes’ as part of his portfolio of works. I am fascinated by his use of graphite and charcoal because he uses it kin a way which create long marks forming fluidity and movement in the work. As he uses them ‘notes’ you can almost see he’s thoughts in the work. Bacon is looking at the shape of the figure to understand it before beginning more complex interpretations. Bacon’s work has inspired me because the use of life drawing has helped develop his ability to draw and apply this to painting. The way he uses to graphite adds a sense of emotion and mentality to the work because although they are just ‘notes’, he still manages to add his feelings into the work.


The sculptural artist, Giacometti widely used drawing in his work however, he did not work from a model in his work. The reason for this is because the drawing accompanies his though process. Working from a model means you are focuses solely on the shapes and contours of the model in front of you but, as Giacometti worked with his thought process, the pencil was able to flow more so accommodate his workings. Giacometti worked through a stage in his artist career where he would draw old creations through memory. This exercise may mean the new work are distorted recreations which may even push for new ideas and new works.

Much of Giacometti’s work is categorised under ‘Surrealism’ which is art that releasing the potential of the unconscious mind’ As he worked mostly from memory in his drawing, Alberto allows his mind to flow in the creations of his work. I enjoy the way Giacometti works because he does not only use his surroundings in his work but he also uses his own mental state and thought process to interpret and influenzas ce the way he draws and creates work.

Surrealism is a more conceptual way of working and brings in the potential of the unconscious mind to take control and interpret the idea independently.

Figurative Art in the modern world.

Figurative artists were once identified after the arrival of the abstract art because they continue to apply parts of the real world in their work whether this is the human body, the environment or both. However, the style of working can be traced back to ancient times implying it has been a very popular way of working throughout history including Frida Kahlo, Reuben’s and Ancient Greece.  This style of working steers away from strongly conceptual work, being the polar opposite too abstract art, where it gives a clear depiction of the environment and real life. Figurative art is a very aesthetically pleasing way of working because the use of paint or drawing creates beautiful works. Being the opposite of abstract art where the audience is challenged in a more conceptual way and where they may be question ing the meaning of the work. With figurative art, the mean ing is more obvious and can be interpreted easily.

I am fascinated by figurative art because sometimes we overlook our surroundings and become too conceptual as artists so, I want to explore my surroundings more in order to stay in touch with them and have a better understanding of them. Although I enjoy abstract art, I prefer working with my environment and tackling social issues in my work. The reason for this is because I want to incorporate my understanding of the real world into my work and show it to the work for them to comment on it. The reason for this is to question society and to involve the audience in my arguments and encourage them to comment themselves. I find in today’s society many people, specially young people,  don’t comment on today’s issues including politics and cultural and so through my work I want to encourage them to begin commenting and form an argument themselves.

Lucian Freud, Girl in Striped Nightshirt, 1983-85, oil on canvas

Alison Lambert

Alison Lambert is a contemporary charcoal artist who produces large scale portraits using willow and compressed charcoal and ripped paper. Lambert uses her materials in a way which form expression and emotion and create a great impact on the audience. [1]“She furthers her attempts to explore more deeply the elusive theme of human subjectivity and to intensify the emotional charge which her later drawings of human heads began to display”. The large scale of her work is almost overpowering and too extravagant because she uses so much compressed charcoal on huge surfaces increasing the power of the work and allowing her to make such expressive pieces. I am really fascinated by her work because I too like to exaggerate lines and tones to create dark punchy charcoal artworks on a large scale. The way she overlays ripped crumpled paper means she is able to redo parts of the work and change and develop her ideas as the work continues.

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Alison Lambert, portrait, 2006

Lambert carries out a complex and effective process in order to complete her artwork which has been documented in the Emotion and Expression book of Alison Lambert. She starts by smearing charcoal over a sheet of paper and then using ripped paper and white pastel to highlight parts of the portrait. The build up of paper creates a great deal of texture and charcoal and forms an emotional atmosphere to her work.

I was introduced to Lambert during my Art Foundation year during a one day project and immediately fell in love with her style of art and the texture she creates using the charcoal. I aim to continue to use her as inspiration as well as other artist throughout my artistic career.

[1] Emotion and Expression, Alison Lambert pg9, p3. Essay author: Alan Dyer


The Sculpture Centre

In 1976, Henry Moore donated work to the Art Gallery of Ontario which started the existence of The Sculpture Centre. Since then, the collection of work has totaled to around 900 sculptures, drawings and over pieces of art.

When walking around the gallery I was not expecting to stumble into his work but it a lovely surprise. The sculpture centre is full of his works. As you enter, your eyes automatically journey around the room taking in the sculptures. Each piece of work is raised on a platform so they are at eye level for the audience. The positioning of the art is so important. The eye level positioning of the work empathising the size of the work. If it was on ground level, the work would look smaller so by having it at eye level the audience can almost compare themselves to the size of the work.

Throughout his career, Moore was inspired by two things: the mother and child and the Chacmool. The mother and child is the idea of combining Christina imagery with the humanity of African art. The mother and child is a concept explored a few artists and professors. Hebert M. Cole is once of the professors who explored the concept during his doctoral dissertation.

Henry Moore Collection, Toronto Art Museum


I am so glad to have stumbled across his work whilst in Canada and was able to experience it in real life. I have attended exhibitions with his work before but, never have I had the opportunity to experience over one hundred pieces of his in the same exhibition.